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ANECDOTES ILLUSTRATING THE EGYPTIAN CHARACTER
English as She is Wrote in Egypt
“At the First of April 1900. 1" Messrs. TROLLOPE, SONS & Co., Bristol. “Gentlemen,
“Wherefore have you not send me that sope-I am order from you. His it because you think my money is not so good as nobody else.
“Damn you Trollup, Sons & Co., wherefore have you not send me the sope-sent it at once and oblige.
“ Your humble servant,
“ HASSAN, HASSAN EL KAMEL. “After I write this my wife have found the sope under the counter."
Killed by a serpent while it was trying to commit suicide.?
When Cromwell Rhodes had returned to England a Nekla correspondent sent him the following account of what he aptly termed a “strange event":
" While a native from Kafr Awana, which is half a mile from Nekla, Behera, was fast asleep in the middle of the day
"This story under different names is also told against a grocer in North Wales. But surely the Egyptian version must be the original.
? Most of the irresistibly humorous incidents of Egyptian life which appear in this volume were related to me by Mr. or Mrs. Cromwell Rhodes, who were long resident in the land of the Phænix.
under the shade of a tree in the field, some days ago, a serpent suddenly entered his mouth. The fellah got up at once, but, alas, everything was already in. He then kept it in mind day and night for a few days, during which he grew pale and ill and at last died, a murder of the would-be-killed reptile."
Egyptians have a habit of sleeping with their mouths open. Under an arch by the Beit-el-Kadi at Cairo, I came upon a seller of magenta-coloured celluloid bracelets sleeping, with her head thrown back over the stone designed to prevent carriages from going too near the wall. Her mouth was like a black tunnel-you could not see a particle of red on tongue or palate, gums or linings--they were so thickly coated with crawling flies. It was large enough to take in a short snake like Cleopatra's asp, quite comfortably.
Mr. S. Awny is a specimen of the educated Egyptian, whom the Nationalist Press in Egypt considers ripe to govern the country-rather a good specimen, for his heart is in the right place. He wrote this :
" Serious Indictment.
“Of the Egyptian Morning News.
"Have they pitied the Poor,
“ Nay Nay: "Now gently, gently! Thou our reverned Ministry of Public Instruction! Again, slowly ! slowly! Thou our good honourable Ministry.
"Be patient and hurry not in publishing thy recent syllabus of the coming year : have the kindness as to look notionally and attentively at thy poor needed subject whom I supposed thou tyrannized and oppressed over. Oh, Mine tremulous hand just stop shaking, I pray, and firmly hold the glowworm to pen all what thou could for defending about the duties of the poor whom I believe are always downhearted and were to be frequently seen shedding their hot tears from their sweet eyes for being unlucked enough.
“Conveniently thou mine jealous pen arise! Awake! Arise! I did not count you but for such states, and times, weep loudly, cry openly, shout in the vales of the columns of the daily newspapers—despair not of finding what you call a wakeful assistant who may candidly join his cry with your's : dare and fear not any bit of critical ideas, but reality and truth-do favour please and be a good vociferous to public, care not whether they call you an agitator or not, simply you have nothing to lean on, but your duties against your lovely country-home. Stop mockery, I say, you reprehensible criticiser who wants as it appears to me to test for some time shall to come. It is not I who write these pathetic lines, in fact it is the 12 and 16 £E. which the ministry has assigned as a school fees : it is the 4 £E, which our Public Instruction has issued as fees for entering the general examinations of the certificates : it is the poors' mercy which compiled me to write and venture to ask our Ministry 3 questions, and need not but answers if any can.
"1. Why the Ministry increased the school fees? Is it for increasing the teachers' salaries, or, do it to purchase with play grounds for football as usual ...?
“2. Why the Ministry increased the examinations fees? Do it mean to abate the number of the candidates? Do it need not any body to apply ...?
“ 3. What does the Ministry think by doing such deeds ? Do it mean to get away the poor student and not to let them be taught or what it be is ? If so, where do the poor go?
“ If God has given me all tongues, I declure, it would do nothing for me to express my thoughts against the Ministry. Nowadays have we ever heard that any abroad ministry was to issued hard rules and laes for their poor to dismiss them away from schools and colleges ? Have we ever heard from abroad that a pupil was last year in the fourth primary class, then was to be seen appointed as a teacher in his primary school again in year after ? Have we ever heard any country abolished its training college of those whom are certificated with the secondaries' as Egypt, and exchanged it for · Half Central Normal' for those whom are certificated with
'primaries' and would they were to stay all day long, only for sorrow half special days per month to be obliged to go? Have we ever heard a full-teacher being certificated with the deplome' which he had suffered great deal of trouble in obtaining it, and perhaps nearly has lost his health, then was to receive inspite of wishes 6 £E. per month, and for some further time if was fortuned enough 8 £E.? Have we ever heard a secretary insulted and blamed teachers while in a class before schollars ? Have we ever, etc. . . .?
"Now our Ministry think and justly be sure that none in the coming year are to enter your schools' gates, but, few influently moneyed students, whilst the others who are poor and umoneyed students can be kindly welcomed by national schools and colleges which, all the world aware, are more better in teaching and instructing than yours, for it collected most of your wise olden good fitted teachers whom wearied your service.
“ Yours, etc.,
“S. AwNY. “Tanta.”
This is how the Indictment impressed the Editor of the paper:
“We have read the foregoing through and through many times, and have finally come to the conclusion that Mr. Awny's letter constitutes a most serious indictment, and, as such, we recommend it to the study of the Ministry of Public Instruction.-E.M.N."
I am fortunately in a position to give my readers a picture of Awnys in the making, for Berkeley, a friend of mine, who was a schoolmaster in Egypt, and wished to know the Egyptian boy's mind, set his class the following subjects for essays:
1. Write an account of life in the country you would like to live in.
2. Write an account of the life of the boy from his birth to his marriage.
The boys under him were of all ages up to fifty-three, though only one reached that, and the oldest of the rest was nowhere near thirty. The man of fifty-three had a son and grandson in the same class, and he was below both of them. He and his son were not the only fathers. I dilated upon the Egyptian boy's ideas of discipline, honour, and sport in my book, “Egypt and the English," but I reserved the flowers of his composition for this volume, so I borrowed these essays from my friend.
Judging by the minuteness with which they describe the initial stage of our existence Egyptian boys seem to come in for the full amount of sense which they will afterwards enjoy from the moment that they are born.
It is interesting to note what countries appealed most to the young Egyptian. At least half of them put Turkey first, Switzerland came next, closely followed by Syria and the Desert. France and England had three each, Italy, the United States, and Japan one each. None of them desired to go to Germany.
In the essays upon Turkey, they generally began by saying that they wished to go to Turkey because its laws (under the late Sultan) were so much better and so much better administered than those of other countries, or because it had such a beautiful climate-its climate in reality being on a par with its institutions. Gradually it leaked out that they wanted to go to Turkey because it was the chief Mohammedan country, and to see “the good Sultan” (who has recently been deposed because Turkey could not tolerate his vices any longer).
Syria was likewise acceptable in the main because it belonged to a Mohammedan sovereign. But it had the incidental advantages of being the nearest and cheapest place to get to from Egypt, and the cheapest place to live in, and full of delightful summer-resorts well known to Egyptians, and of having Arabic for the country's language.
The boys who turned their eyes towards Switzerland were mostly ambitious of being doctors. Switzerland means education to the Egyptian, for education is cheap there, and much of it is conducted in French, which many Egyptians