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Was the prophecy of the English statesman, I asked myself, about to be fulfilled ? Is it destined that, under the guiding hand of England, the rays of true civilisation shall at last pierce into the oldest and most interesting corner of the dark African continent, and lighten with their sunshine even the mud hut of the Egyptian fellah? Is the Englishman to show, by precept and example, that usury and drunkenness are not the only handmaids of Christian education ? Pray Heaven it may be so ! When Sir Robert Peel committed that great and wise act of political apostasy for which his name will ever live in English history, he said that although he had suffered much in separating himself from his former political friends, he still hoped that he would “ leave a name sometimes remembered with expressions of goodwill in those places which are the abode of men whose lot it is to labour and to earn their daily bread by the sweat of their brow.” I may perhaps be permitted to paraphrase this memorable passage. In spite of the ignorance and alleged ingratitude of the Egyptians, I still dare to cherish a hope that the present and future generations of fellaheen, who certainly earn and will continue to earn their daily bread by the sweat of their brow, will remember with some feeling akin to gratitude that it was the Anglo-Saxon race who first delivered them from the thraldom of their oppressors, who taught them that they too had the right to be treated like human beings, who conferred upon them the material blessings which follow in the train of true Western civilisation, and who opened out to them the path which leads to moral progress and elevation of thought. The time, it may be hoped, is past when Egypt? and the
· Hoary Memphis boasts her tombs alone,
SHENSTONE, Elegy XIV.
Egyptians could be cited as one of the most striking contrasts the world has ever known between past grandeur and modern decadence.
In any case, whether the Egyptian fellah be capable or incapable of gratitude, there can be no doubt that it was the hand of England which first raised him from the abject moral and material condition in which he had for centuries wallowed. If, now that he is beginning to emerge from his slough of despond, I thought that he would be permitted to relapse into his former state, and that the work on which, in common with many countrymen, I have spent the best years of my life would be undone, then would I say tóte Moi závou ευρεία χθών. I hasten to add that I not merely hope, but strongly believe that no such disappointment of my political hopes is, in the smallest degree, probable.
The last category of Moslem dwellers in Egypt of whom it is necessary to speak is the Bedouins, semi-sedentary and nomad. Of these, but little need be said. A number of proverbs are current in Egypt indicative of the dislike entertained by the dwellers in the valley of the Nile to those in the desert. Of these, the best known is, “ Better the tyranny of the Turk than the justice of the Bedouins. The Bedouins are, in fact, supposed to be very cruel and unjust. Another proverb is in the form of a narrative: “The Bedouin told my wife that there was no water in the well. She at once went hastily to the well with four buckets.” This is in allusion to the alleged selfishness and untruthfulness of the Bedouins.
On the other hand, the Bedouins despise the fellaheen, whom they consider an unmanly race. The Bedouins occasionally complain that in the
Burckhardt (Arabic Proverbs, p. 123) gives another : “Entertai the Bedouin, he will steal thy clothes."
matter of military service, from which they are exempted, the Egyptian Government wish to “ reduce them to fellaheen.” It is wise policy to keep them contented and to encourage them to settle on the cultivated lands. Otherwise, they are apt to turn into marauders and to cause disturbances of various sorts. Their ancient privileges have, therefore, for the most part, been preserved to them. This treatment has proved effective. The figures of the census of 1897 compared with those of 1882 show that, since the British occupation, there has been a strong tendency on the part of the Bedouins to abandon their nomadic habits, and to settle in the villages bordering on the desert. Broadly speaking, the Bedouins, for the purposes of the present narrative and argument, may be considered a quantité négligeable
. They did not exercise any considerable influence on the course of British policy in Egypt.
APPENDIX TRANSLATION OF A LETTER FROM A SHEIKH OF KENEH TO A SHEIKH OF THE MOSQUE OF SEYYIDNA-HUSSEIN AT CAIRO.
February 2, 1894. During these days, the talk has been great among the people, and tongues have wearied as to the difference which had sprung up, so they said, between our Lord the Khedive and Baring. There were those who said: “The English have many soldiers, and must prevail.” Others said, and among these many of the Ulema: “HE has said (Grace be on Him!) how often hath a small force overcome a great one by the aid of the Almighty, be His name exalted !
Then it was reported in our districts : “Behold the Infidel is overcome, and Baring has filed in haste to his own country. The days of Abbas shall be like those of his forefathers; the people and the Pashas shall be bread for him to eat; the foreigner will be his servant."
So we took counsel, and thought to send a mission from Keneh to
Good news! Effendina has returned to his fit place!” For the poet has said: “The wise man gives honey to the bear in the day of his fatness, but the fool smites him on the head with a pole."
Then, while we still pondered, came a message from Cairo that Baring and his English walked in the city like leopards among dogs, and that Abbas had withdrawn into his castle and sat scowling, for the Government of Baring had said: “Be meat that we may devour you !"
So we were hushed, and resolved to say nothing of any deputation. And, of a truth, I think that it is not easy, and will be less so in time to come, to send deputations of good tidings to our Lord the Khedive.
Now, I had myself thought that the end could only be thus, for I have seen the English and I know them. But aloud I said: “The blessing of God on the deputation, and the aid of His mighty arm ! for are we not all Moslems and brethren? (God increase the might of Islam !)”
But, o my friend! I beg you to keep this letter very secret, for the poet has said: “Ill is his lot in the court whom the Kadi has heard to whisper, “There is justice amongst the unbelievers. TM1
1 A change has been made in the last paragraph without altering the general sense. The original was too coarse to be reproduced.
The Copts—The conservatism of_their religion—Their character
Their attitude towards the English-The reform movementThe SYRIANS—Their position—Their unpopularity—Their attitude towards the English-The ARMENIANS—Their subserviency to the Turks-Nubar Pasha–His son Boghos-Yacoub Pasha ArtinTigrane Pasha—The Egyptians should not be weighed in European scales.
THE Egyptian native Christians may be divided into three categories, viz. (1) the Copts; (2) the Syrians; and (3) the Armenians. Of these, the most important in point of numbers are the Copts. The census of 1897 showed that there were at that time 608,000 Copts in Egypt. Of these, some few are Catholics and some Protestants, but by far the greater number belong to what is termed the Orthodox Church.
Beyond mentioning that the Orthodox Copts are Monophysites, and that they separated from the main body of the Christian Church subsequent to the Council of Chalcedon in A.D. 451, it is needless to dwell on the special tenets of the Coptic creed. One point in connection with the religion of the Copts should, however, be mentioned, inasmuch as it is intimately connected with an understanding of the general characteristics of the Coptic community. The Christianity of the Copt has been as conservative as the İslamism of the Moslem. “ The Eastern Church,” Dean Stanley says, “was, like the East, stationary and