[Illustration: 185.jpg A FELLAH PLOWING]
The opening of this canal gave Ismail much prominence in the courts of Europe. He was made a Grand Commander of the Bath, and the same year visited Paris and London, where he was received by Queen Victoria and welcomed by the lord mayor. In 1869 he again visited London. By his great power of fascination and lavish expenditure he was ever able to make a striking impression upon the foreign courts. During the opening of the canal, when Ismail gave and received royal honours, treating monarchs as equals, and being treated by them in like manner, the jealousy of the sultan was aroused. Ismail, however, contrived judiciously to appease the suspicions of his overlord, Abdul Aziz.
In the year 1876 the old system of consular jurisdiction for foreigners was abolished, and the system of mixed courts was introduced, by which European and native judges sat together to try all civil cases, without respect to nationality.
In the year 1874 Darfur, a province in the Sudan west of Kordofan, was annexed by Ismail. He also engaged in a disastrous war against the Abyssinians, who had ever shown themselves capable of resisting the inroads of Egyptians, Muhammedans, Arabs, and even of European invaders, as was proven by the annihilation of a large Italian army of invasion, and the abandonment of the campaign against Abyssinia by the Italians in the closing years of the nineteenth century.
[Illustration: 187.jpg ARABS AT A DESERT SPRING]
It was true that Ismail had attempted to carry out the great schemes of his grandfather for the regeneration of the Orient, and it is possible that, if the jealousy of European Powers had not prevented the army of Ibrahim Bej from controlling immense territories in Syria and Anatolia, which they had won by conquest, that the regeneration of the Orient might have been accomplished at least a century earlier. No people would have benefited more by the success of Mehemet Ali’s policy than the Christian people who to-day are under the rule of the barbarous Turks. With the regeneration of the Orient, the trade of European nations in the East would have been very largely increased.
The policy of regeneration, wisely begun by Mehemet Ali, was resumed within Egypt itself in a spendthrift manner by his grandson Ismail. Every act of his reign, with its ephemeral and hollow magnificence, moved towards the one inevitable result of foreign intervention. The price of all the transient splendour was the surrender by slow degrees of the sovereignty and independence of Egypt itself. The European Powers of late have withdrawn their interest in the betterment of the native populations in the Asiatic dominions of the sultan, and have concerned themselves exclusively with the immediate interests of commerce and the enforcement of debts contracted to European bondholders. All progress in the later history of Egypt has originated in the desire of the European Powers to see Egypt in a position capable of meeting her indebtedness to foreign bondholders.