Friday, October 26, 2007

Bonaparte Issues Orders for Provincial Government of Egypt

From: Copies of original letters from the army of General Bonaparte in Egypt, intercepted by the fleet under the command of Admiral Lord Nelson. With an English translation (London, J. Wright, 1798-1800, 3 vols.), vol. 1, pp. 69-72.

BONAPARTE, Member of the National Institute, Commander in Chief, to the General of Division, KLEBER.

Annexed to this, Citizen General, you will find a copy of the provisional organization of Egypt(1).

You will name the Divan, the Aga, and the company of sixty men which he is to have with him.

You will cause an inventory to be taken of all the goods, moveables, and immoveables, which belonged to the Mameloucs. The Intendant, and the French Agent are on the point of repairing their posts.

You will order a general levy of horses to be made, to remount the cavalry.

I entreat you to take every precaution to preserve tranquility and good order in the province of Alexandria.



[Bonaparte’s Attached Orders]

Head Quarters, Cairo, July 27.

BONAPARTE, Member of the National Institute, Commander in Chief.


Article I.

There shall be in each province of Egypt, a Divan composed of seven persons, charged to watch over the interests of the province, to inform me of every grievance, to prevent the contests which arise between the different villages, to keep a steady eye over the turbulent and seditious, to punish them by calling in the military force under the French Commander, and to enlighten the people as often as it shall be found requisite.

Article 2.

There shall be in each province an Aga of the Janizaries, who shall constantly reside with the French Commandant. He shall have with him a company of armed men, natives of the country; with whom he shall proceed wherever his services may be necessary to maintain good order, and to keep every one in tranquility and obedience.

Article 3.

There shall be every province an Intendant, charged with the collection of the Miri and the Feddam; and generally of all the revenues which belonged heretofore to the Mameloucs, and which appertain at present to the Republic. He shall have with him the necessary number of agents.

Article 4.

There shall always be with the said Intendant, a French Agent; for the purpose of corresponding with the Administrator of the Finances, for insuring the execution of such orders as he may receive, and for acquiring a perfect knowledge of the system of administration.



A true copy,


[British Translators' Notes]

(1)We scarce know whether this famous code, which we do not yet despair of hearing some enlightened senator call “a masterpiece of human wisdom and integrity,” be most distinguished for its folly or atrocity. The people whom Bonaparte loudly professes he came to relieve, are to have the liberty of paying the taxes which they paid to the Mameloucs, to an Intendant assisted by a company of fusiliers, in the shape of agents, who, if they (the people) do not appear fully sensible of the blessing thus thrust upon them (As, God knows, may very innocently be the case!) are, in the words of this great constitution-monger, “to enlighten them!”

The reader will find more on this head in our Introductions, to which we willingly refer him. To say the truth we are glad to escape from the subject, as we contemplate with no agreeable feelings, the spectacle of a man (though that man be Bonaparte), thus ignorantly and wantonly, and barbarously playing with the happiness of a nation, which never injured, perhaps never heard of him, or his rapacious masters. One consolation yet remains, and we honestly confess that we have not Stoicism enough, to deny ourselves the gratification of enjoying it by anticipation. Egypt is the last country that Bonaparte will ever insult with the mockery of liberty: he has run his career of impiety and deceit, of pillage and desolation:--

“The sun sets on his fortunes red and bloody,
And everlasting night begins to close him.”

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