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THE MODERN EGYPTIANS.
The total population of Egypt proper was on June 1, 1897, 9,734,405, of whom 112,526 were foreigners.
In a country where an increase in population always means an increase in taxation, it is quite impossible to obtain an accurate census. As far back as the time of David * the idea of "numbering the people” has been unpopular in the East.
It is exceedingly difficult to obtain an exact idea of what the population of Egypt actually was in Pharaonic times, for the inscriptions tell us nothing. Herodotus gives us no information on this matter, but Diodorus tells us that it amounted to 7,000,000 in ancient times. The priests at Thebes informed Germanicus, A.D. 19, that in the times of Rameses II. the country contained 700,000 † fighting men ; it will also be remembered that the Bible states that the "children of Israel journeyed from Rameses to Succoth, about six hundred thousand on foot that were men, beside children. And a mixed multitude went up also with them.” Exodus xii. 37, 38. In the time of Vespasian 7,500,000 persons paid poll-tax; we may assume that about 500,000 were exempt, and therefore there must have been at least 8,000,000 of people in Egypt, without reckoning slaves. (Mommsen, Provinces of Rome, Vol. II. p. 258.) It is probable, however, that the population of Egypt under the rule of the Pharaohs has been greatly exaggerated, chiefly because no accurate data were at hand whereby errors might be corrected. During the occupation of the country by the French in 1798-1801 it was said to be 2,460,200; Sir
* “And Satan stood up against Israel, and moved David to number Israel." i Chronicles xxi. 1. + “Septigenta milia aetate militari.” Tacitus, Annals, Bk. ii., 60.
Gardner Wilkinson, however, set it down at as low a sigure as 1,500,000 In 1821 the population numbered 2,536,400, and in 1846 it had risen to 4,476,440. Another census was ordered by Khedivial decree on December 2, 1881, and it was completed on May 3, 1882. According to the official statement published in the Recensement Général de l'Égypte, at Cairo, in 1884, it amounted in 1882 to 6,806,381 persons, of whom 3,216,847 were men, and 3,252,869 were women. Of the 6,806,381 persons, 6,708,185 were inhabitants of the country, and 99,196 were nomads. It showed that there were in the total 245,779 Badâwîyûn and 90,886 foreigners.
According to the census of 1897 the population in Lower Egypt was 5,676,109, and in Upper Egypt, 4,058,296. The distribution of the population in the cities having governors and in the provinces is as follows :
Cairo, 570,062; Alexandria, 319,766; Port Sa'id and Canal, 50, 179; Suez, 24,970; Damietta, 43,751 ; Al-Arish, 16,991 ; Baḥêrah, 631,225; Sharķîyah, 749,130; Daķhalîyah, 736, 708; Gharbiyah, 1,297,656; Ķalyûbîyah, 371,465; Menûf, 864,206; Asyût, 782,720; Beni-Suwêf, 314,454; Fayyûm, 371,006; Gîzah, 401,634 ; Minyah, 548,632 ; Girgah, 688,011 ; Ķena, 711,457 ; Nubia, 240,382. In the Oasis of Sîwa, 5,000; Oasis of Baharîyah, 6,082; Oasis of Farâfra, 542 ; Oasis of Dâkhlah, 17,090 ; Oasis of Khârgah, 7,200; Donkola, 56,426; Sawâkin, 15,713. The males numbered 4,947,850, and the females, 4,786,555. The number of houses occupied was 1,422,302.
The increase in the population since 1882 is 43 per cent. The Muslims number 8,978,775 ; Jews, 25,200 ; Christians (of all sects), 730,162. Males and females able to read and write were 467,886; and 9,266,519 were illiterate.
The population of Egypt to-day comprises the Fellâhin, Copts, Bedâwîyûn, Jews, Turks, Negroes, Nubians and people from Abyssinia, Armenians and Europeans.
The Fellahin amount to about four-fifths of the entire
population of Egypt, and are chiefly employed in agricultural pursuits. In physical type they greatly resemble the ancient Egyptians as depicted on the monuments. Their complexion is dark; they have straight eyebrows, high cheek bones, ilat noses with low bridges, slightly protruding jaws, broad shoulders, large mouths and full lips. The colour of their skin becomes darker as the south is approached. The whole of the cultivation of Egypt is in the hands of the fellahîn.
The Copts * are also direct descendants from the ancient Egyptians, and inhabit chiefly the cities of Upper Egypt, such as Asyûț and Ahmîm. The name Copt is derived from bi Ķubt, the Arabic form of the Coptic form of the Greek name for Egyptian, Aijuntios; it may be mentioned, in passing, that Apuntos, Egypt, is thought by some to be derived from an ancient Egyptian name for Memphis, Het-ka-Ptah, “ The house of the genius of Ptah.” The number of Copts in Egypt to-day is estimated at about 608,000, and the greater number of them are engaged in the trades of goldsmiths, clothworkers, etc. ; a respectable body of clerks and accountants in the postal, telegraph and government offices in Egypt, is drawn from their community. They are clever with their fingers, and are capable of rapid education up to a certain point; beyond this they rarely go. Physically, they are of a finer type than the fellâhîn ; their heads are longer and their features are more European.
The Copts are famous in ecclesiastical history for having embraced with extraordinary zeal and rapidity the doctrines of Christianity as preached by St. Mark at Alexandria. Before the end of the third century A.D. Egypt was filled with hundreds of thousands of ascetics, monks, recluses, and solitaries who had thrown over their own weird and
* A sketch of their history is given elsewhere in this work (see P 320 f).
confused religious beliefs and embraced Christianity; they then retired to the mountains and deserts of their country to dedicate their lives to the service of the Christians' God. The Egyptians, their ancestors, who lived sixteen hundred years before Christ, had already arrived at the conception of a god who was one in his person, but who manifested himself in the world under many forms and many names. The Greeks and the Romans, who successively held Egypt. caused many changes to come over the native religion of the country which they governed ; and since the conflicting myths and theories taught to the people of Egypt under their rule had bewildered their minds and confused their beliefs, they gladly accepted the simple teaching of Christ's Apostle as a veritable gift of God.
Their religious belief took the form of that of Eutyches (died after 451), who sacrificed the “distinction of the two natures in Christ to the unity of the person to such an extent as to make the incarnation an absorption of the human nature by the divine, or a deification of human nature, even of the body.” In other words, they believed that Christ had but one composite nature, and for this reason they were called Monophysites ; in their liturgies they stated that God had been crucified. They formed a part of the Alexandrian Church until the Council of Chalcedon, A.D. 451, when it was laid down that Christ had a double nature-human and divine-but after this date they separated themselves from it, and were accounted heretics by it, because they obstinately refused to give up their belief in the one divine nature of Christ which embraced and included the human. To the sect of Monophysites or Eutychians the Copts still belong. The orthodox church of Alexandria and its hereticai offshoot continued to discuss with anger and tumult the subtle points of their different opinions, until the fifth Ecumenical Council, held at Constantinople A.D. 553 made some concessions to the Monophysite party. Shortly
after, however, new dissensions arose which so weakened the orthodox church that the Monophysite party hailed with gladness the arrival of the army of the Khalifa ‘Omar, and joined its forces with his that they might destroy the power of their theological opponents. After 'Amr had made himself master of Egypt (A.D. 640), he appointed the Copts to positions of dignity and wealth ; finding, however, that they were unworthy of his confidence, they were degraded, and finally persecuted with vigour. From the time of Cyril, Patriarch of Alexandria, A.D. 1235 and onwards, but little is known of the history of the Coptic Church. The Copt of to-day usually troubles himself little about theological matters; in certain cases, however, he affirms with considerable firmness the doctrine of the nature.”
The knowledge of the Coptic language is, generally speaking, extinct; it is exceedingly doubtful if three Coptic scholars, in the Western sense of the word, exist even among the priests. The language spoken by them is Arabic, and though copies of parts of the Bible are found in churches and private houses, they are usually accompanied by an Arabic version of the Coptic text, which is more usually read than the Coptic. The Bible, in all or part, was translated from Greek into Coptic in the third century of our era ; some, however, think that the translation was not made until the eighth century. The versions of the principal books of the Old and the whole of the New Testament, together with lives of saints, monks, and martyrs, form the greater part of Coptic literature. The Coptic language is, at base, ancient Egyptian ; many of the nouns and verbs found in the hieroglyphic texts remain unchanged in Coptic, and a large number of others can, by making proper allowance for phonetic decay and dialectic differences, be identified without difficulty. The Copts used the Greek alphabet to write down their language, but found it neces