View Single Post
Old 09-24-2012, 05:32 AM   #11
fantasyfan
Wizard
fantasyfan ought to be getting tired of karma fortunes by now.fantasyfan ought to be getting tired of karma fortunes by now.fantasyfan ought to be getting tired of karma fortunes by now.fantasyfan ought to be getting tired of karma fortunes by now.fantasyfan ought to be getting tired of karma fortunes by now.fantasyfan ought to be getting tired of karma fortunes by now.fantasyfan ought to be getting tired of karma fortunes by now.fantasyfan ought to be getting tired of karma fortunes by now.fantasyfan ought to be getting tired of karma fortunes by now.fantasyfan ought to be getting tired of karma fortunes by now.fantasyfan ought to be getting tired of karma fortunes by now.
 
fantasyfan's Avatar
 
Posts: 1,305
Karma: 25927196
Join Date: Jan 2011
Location: Ireland
Device: Kindle Paperwhite 4G, iPad Air 2, iPhone IE
Having read Ch 19 I can see why the sensibilities of readers should be so offended. For me, the fact that this incident--which could have resulted in a fatality--was treated in such an anecdotal style was upsetting.

At the same time, Amelia Edwards does voice her shame at the fact that the arrested offenders were brought before the Governor in chains.

"The gaoler marched first, followed by two soldiers. Then came the fifteen prisoners – I am ashamed to write it! – chained neck to neck in single file."

I think that "The Idle Man" is well named. I believe he found that making a complaint embroiled him in further responsibilities which he didn't expect and which would also prevent him from washing his hands of the entire affair; he discovered that he would be directly responsible for the punishment and its intensity.

"One can imagine how the Idle Man felt at this moment.

Sentence being pronounced, the fourteen looked as if they could hardly believe their ears ; while the fifteenth, though condemned to his one hundred and fifty strokes ("seventy-five to each foot," specified the Governor), was overjoyed to be let off so easily.

He was then flung down ; his feet were fastened soles uppermost ; and two soldiers proceeded to execute the sentence. As each blow fell, he cried: "God save the Governor! God save the MudÓr! God save the Howadji!"

When the sixth stroke had been dealt, the Idle Man turned to the Governor and formally interceded for the remission of the rest of the sentence. The Governor, as formally, granted the request ; and the prisoners, weeping for joy, were set at liberty."

{IMO} This should not be regarded as a nice happy ending--whatever the feelings of the visitors may have been. A Political dimension is added. The implication is that enjoyment of the English--possibly because of the money they bring and the political influence they have--is more important than any possible danger to the inhabitants.

"The Governor, the MudÓr, and the Idle Man then parted with a profusion of compliments ; the Governor protesting that his only wish was to be agreeable to the English, and that the whole village should have been bastinadoed, had his Excellency desired it." {emphasis added}

I feel that one must remember that Edwards is coming from a context in which the British Empire was seen as the major civilizing force in the world--that it was the duty of the English to bring "enlightenment" to the lands they colonized. Indeed England abolished slavery in Great Britain in 1772 and throughout the British Empire in 1833. Still, this "White Man's Burden" attitude was a delusion; one which Rudyard Kipling writing well after Edwards still held at the turn of the century:

Take up the White Man's burden--
Send forth the best ye breed--
Go, bind your sons to exile
To serve your captives' need;
To wait, in heavy harness,
On fluttered folk and wild--
Your new-caught sullen peoples,
Half devil and half child.

So I would agree that this entire incident is useful as being revelatory about the author, the English attitude in general. and about the ruling structures of Egypt.

Last edited by fantasyfan; 09-24-2012 at 05:56 AM.
fantasyfan is offline   Reply With Quote