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[Riots at Alexandria]

It is, according to the Times correspondent and others, not believed that Arabi Pasha gave any orders to pillage and burn the city. He appears to have simply marched out, with a portion of the Egyptian army, just about the time when the ostensible negotiations for peace, conducted by Toulba Pasha, Governor of Alexandria, on board the Khedive's yacht Mahroussa, with Flag-Lieutenant Lambton, sent by the British Admiral, were broken off; the Bittern, with that officer, returning to the Admiral's flag-ship at half-past three o'clock. As the negotiations were abortive, Toulba Pasha alleging that lie must refer to the Khedive, at Hamleh, for instructions concerning the proposed terms of surrender, the bombardment was to have been renewed; but one shot only was fired, at four o'clock. By that time, it is now ascertained, the troops still under command of Arabi Paslia had departed, and the disbanded soldiery who remained in Alexandria had begun the shameful work of sacking and firing the European quarter. It is thus described by Mr. Goussio, manager of the Anglo-Egyptian Bank, who likewise tells us of the preceding flight of the townspeople; how, as he says "the whole night long, the native population had poured, screaming with terror, into the interior," and on the Wednesday their flight was continued in still greater numbers. "In the afternoon the exodus from the town had become general. At three o'clock the soldiers gave the signal for pillaging. As on June 11, they begun by opening the doors of the stores and dividing the merchandise which they found. Soldiers, under the direction of the officers and superior officers, divided the booty in a disgraceful fashion; but at the same time having its comical side. Pieces of calico were cut into pieces and handed round; while albums, watches, and fancy goods were carried off and presently pulled to pieces, after having been for a few moments in the hands of men who did not understand their use. The officers frequently carried two or more guns, so as to leave free hands to the soldiers who were carrying off the booty. A Colonel, mounted on a horse, had a pair of new shoes ruder his arm; another threw down and broke into a thousand pieces a clock which he found too heavy to carry. In fact, the property destroyed was of greater value than that which was actually carried away. As soon as a shop was empty, the paper and all the debris that could be Hastily collected were thrown into it; then small explosive pellets were added, and in a moment the whole vas in a blaze. At five o'clock the Egyptian Heroes, loaded with booty instead of laurels, retreated in the greatest disorder. Since two in the afternoon the Bowabs, or house porters, had received the mot d'ordre to desert the houses which they guarded. By six all the European quarter was in flames, and the town presented the appearance of one huge furnace." It is stated that soldiers were seen to pile heaps of bedding, saturated with petroleum, at the doors and windows of houses, and to set fire to these; the French Consulate, in the Grand Square, was fired by it soldier at the very first. The town rabble, bent on repeating their exploits of June 11, were joined by the released inmates of the criminal prisons or hulks, including those whom the Governor of Alexandria had arrested for their doings on that memorable Sunday. The dwellings and shops of native townsfolk were not spared. Predatory bands of savage Bedouins, who had been hanging about outside the city, expecting a chance of plunder in the accidents of war, poured quickly into Alexandria to kill and to rob indiscriminately, and hastened away, laden with spoil, at nightfall, but next day sacked the houses of the English merchants and others at Ramleh, four miles distant, which had been left unoccupied. The loss of property in Alexandria, by wanton destruction not less than by robbery, will be reckoned at several millions sterling. The number of people massacred has not been computed at less than five or six hundred. In the buildings of the Anglo-Egyptian Bank, the Credit Lyonnais, and the Ottoman Bank, a, few score Europeans, among them some women, prepared to defend their lives, and drove off a crowd of assailants. At four o'clock on Thursday morning, when the streets were comparatively empty, they walked down to the Marina, took the boats lying there, and rowed out into the New Harbour, where they were picked up by H.M.S. Helicon, to the number of one hundred or more. About eighty Germans, including the patients of the German Hospital, outside the city, with the Deaconesses or Protestant Sisters of Clarity there, sought refuge on board the German gun-boat Habicht. The French Catholic Sisters, also, with their clergy and the medical officers, had done all they could to relieve the wounded and distressed of every nation, amidst the frightful scenes of murderous conflict.

Source: The Illustrated London News, No.2255—Vol. LXXXI, Saturday, July 22, 1882, p.81