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It is true that a price must be paid in something besides money for the present increase in Egypt's prosperity. The erection of the dam at Assuan, for example, while it has already added to the productive territory of Egypt an area not far from the size of Rhode Island, has seriously impaired the store of priceless antiquities that form a most important asset of the country. It is now proposed to add fifteen feet more to the height of this barrage, which will probably mean the final destruction of the temples at Philæ, already sadly damaged and flooded, to say nothing of other classic soil which as yet has been imperfectly or not at all explored.
Against this, much as one may regret the fact, it is useless to inveigh. Able critics have roundly berated , the commercial spirit which has laid such a violent hand on the choicest of all the Nile treasures, but it is all to no purpose. The modern world simply cannot be asked to halt for the world of the long ago. And while the further inundation of Upper Egypt doubtless shuts in our faces a door that was just giving a glimpse of much that was unknown of the remote past, the demands of living humanity must inevitably outweigh every such consideration. The task of reclaiming deserts seems to appeal with uncommon insistence to our present generation — far more so than the task of unraveling tangled threads
of ancient history, especially in any case where the latter labor would exclude or long delay the former.
Meantime the work of excavating in the regions soon to become untenable goes on with almost feverish vigor, as fast as funds can be secured to prosecute it. The need of haste tinctures every appeal for aid, and it is fitting that it should.
It remains to say a word of the Egyptian people themselves. I have already mentioned the two main divisions of the population into the Copts and Moslems—which simply means the Christian Egyptians and the followers of Mohammed. These are likely to be spoken of as two distinct: races, whereas they are actually one. The Copts early embraced Christianity under the preaching of St. Mark at Alexandria and their present name is merely a corruption of the Greek word for Egyptian. Racially they are blood-brothers of the Mohammedan so far as the latter is Egyptian at all. One must bear in mind, however, that the Moslem population has been recruited by additions from the direction of Nubia and beyond, and at the present time contains a considerable admixture of what is loosely called “Arab,” or “Berber" stock. Berber, by the way, and more especially the plural, Berberin, may be recognized as another name derived from the Greek oí Bápßapoi — i.e., “Barbarians," or Uitlanders.
The majority of servants in Cairo households, I am told, are really Berbers rather than pure Egyptians. Custom, however, leads to calling them all indiscriminately “Arabs,” which is about the last name that can be appropriately applied to them.
The real Egyptian, whether Copt or Mussulman, is commonly held to be of an indigenous race, directly descended from those who in the remote ages toiled for Cheops and Thutmosis. Of the two latterday species the Copt is by far the smarter and at the same time the less numerous. Copts are reckoned as numbering only about 600,000 souls. No one seems to like them, despite their usefulness and quickness of comprehension. They do not get on well either with the English or with the natives of the Moslem faith. But one notes a general tendency to pay tribute to their facility,—at least when working for others, - and above all to their rectitude in a moral way.
As for the Mohammedan Egyptians, forming the greater body of the fellaheen, or peasantry in the agricultural districts, they also appear to be a temperate, affable, enduring, and reasonably industrious race. They still tolerate plural wedlock, after the teaching of the Prophet, and until quite recently have divorced their wives with scandalous ease, yet appear to have established a reputation for probity among their womankind which more civilized nations would do well to emulate. On the whole, the native population is likely to strike the observer as agreeable and happy in his demeanor; but the poor Copt continues, with all his virtues, to be despised and rejected of men, most of all by his fellow Christians who now dominate Egypt.
IF the reader is content to follow in my footsteps I through these pages, he will be forced to pass by Alexandria with short shrift. It was our fortune to be landed there at night, after a dreary day passed within sight of its low-lying shores, a delay made necessary by the tumultuous heaving of the ocean. Smaller vessels ventured in and out through the narrow jaws of the breakwater, but for our steamer of many thousand tons no such hazard was deemed advisable. Wherefore we tugged and tossed at anchor some five miles offshore until late afternoon, when a tiny tug rolled perilously through the trough of the seas, and after a hair-raising struggle, succeeded in putting a pilot aboard.
By the time the vessel had been manquvred into the inner port, it was already night, and the pallid walls of the city which had mocked us through the day had vanished in the blackness. The special train