Egypt of the Egyptians - PDF (1920) by W. Laurence Balls

Egypt of the Egyptians

Egypt of the Egyptians

From the introduction:

The queerest paradox in administration ended in December 1914, when the British Empire simplified its duties by undertaking the protection of Egypt in due form, appointing H. H. Prince Hussein Pasha Kamel to be Sultan. This paradox had lasted some thirty-odd years; fortunately, it did not end before it had been epitomised by King.

 A country which is not a country, but a longish strip of market garden, nominally in charge of a government which is not a government, but the disconnected Satrapy of an Oriental Empire; controlled Pecksniffingly by a power which is not a Power but an Agency, which Agency has been tied up by years, custom, and blackmail in all sorts of intimate relations with six or seven European powers, all with rights and perquisites, none of whose subjects seems directl}^ amenable to any Power that at first, second, or third hand is supposed to be responsible. . . 

Among these conflicting interests and amusements sits and perspires the English official, whose job is irrigating or draining or reclaiming land on behalf of a trifle of 10,000,000 people, and he finds himself tripped up by skeins of intrigue and bafflement which may ramify through half-a-dozen harems and four consulates. 

All this makes for suavity, toleration, and the blessed habit of not being surprised at anything." Some of these delights have now departed, though man)/ will remain, for the Protected States elsewhere have taught us that even this particular form of regularised administrative machinery has its own eccentricities, not to mention those which are essential parts of Egypt. Much has been gained, however, if onl}' potentially, and there are dreamers who hope for great things from 

The Oldest Country in the World since she rests on sure foundations — the soil, and the workers of soil. But anyone attempting to realise those hopes must remember Egypt's age, and treat her with respect. It is easy to find slighting references to the degeneracy of modern Egypt, in comparison with the great days of Pyramid-builders, and they are not without justification, but — and especially in these days when we are re-arranging the map of Europe on ethnological lines — it will do no harm to remember that the modern Egyptian, be he Copt or Moslem, is the literal a descendant of the men who built and peopled " Hundred-gated Thebes," who turned the desert into a trap to catch and store the dangerous generosity of the Nile in flood, and opened a waterway from the Mediterranean to the Red Sea when in England we were wearing woad. 

We may question whether Egypt's degeneracy is so very real, or whether it may not be that we have changed while she has not. This conception of Egypt, as being in a state of arrested development, applies also to the Egyptians in certain respects. Without taking the phrase too literally, it explains many of the troublesome inconsistencies of the average Egyptian. His mental attitude is largely that of a child, though his toys are the toys of the grown-ups; money, women, land, and — in very bad cases — politics.

 Like the child, his powers of observation are keener than liis power of drawing deductions from observed facts; like the child, he lives on the edges of fairyland, where "Ginni " or " afrites" are likely at any moment after dark to make their awesome presence felt; Uke the child, most of his abilities and faculties are blunted and atrophied when he is brought under the influences of a conventional Western educational system, and the highly- exercised memory of an illiterate race finds it easiest to absorb page after page of lecture notes, which can be unrolled later to the examiner with as much intelligence as a pianola would display.

To write on Egypt at such a time as the present, when chance has suddenly swept away many of the absurdities with which the administration of modern Egypt has previously been cumbered, necessitates a careful choice of treatment. Egypt will the same again, and yet she will always be the same as through the sixty centuries of"charters history.

 A detailed account of her political institutions during recent years would have nothing more than historical value, and they have moreover been fully described — at least up till 1911 — by writers with the highest qualifications for the task. 

Detailed speculations as to the course which the poetical institutions may take in the future would be still less useful since they will be bound up with the unforeseen history of the world. On the other hand, Egypt will always be Egypt, the land of the Nile, and the senior partner of enormous Sudan upstream; her assets are the water of the river, the labour of the most industrious labouring class in the world, and a cultivable area of limited extent, with a regular climate and an excess of sunshine. 

The author has therefore endeavoured to avoid the topics of religion, politics, and intrigue, though all three are most obvious features of Egypt, and to penetrate through this crust to the foundations of Egypt, which have persisted without change— because they are unchangeable — throughout her long history. The chapters dealing with the History of the country are not altogether an attempt to achieve the impossible. Six thousand years cannot be discussed adequately in a few pages, and the aim of these three chapters is merely to show how this history has progressed — or, if you will, has merely pulsed — in long swinging waves, a dozen or more in number; each period having its rapid rise, followed ultimately by a slow fall. 

The interest of this history at the present dailies in the cynical hint it gives us that all our work in Egypt may come to nothing and die out, to be done all over again, unless modern civilisation is really worth something more than its predecessors. Also, it shows us how the simple life of the country has persisted unchanged, under all the glitter of Pharaohs, Caesars, Caliphs, and Sultans; this sets one wondering whether, even if such a life is unchangeable in its essentials, it may not be capable of development within the limits imposed by those essentials. The next chapter, dealing with the country at large, has been strung on the silver thread of the Nile itself and has been extended somewhat beyond the usual limits by treating the Sudan and Egypt as parts of a common whole. 

The utilisation of the Nile water b}/ irrigation is shown by historical records to be the primary cause of all prosperity or poverty in the country, and since this process of utilisation has now been carried further than ever before in the country's history, there is a correlated probability that the prosperity of the country will also be carried further. An additional reason for the attempt to present an account of the irrigation system and the duties of its administrators is the fact that no such general presentment from the agricultural point of view has yet been written. 

Some contents:


The Age of Egypt — Pre-dynastic Times — Early Egypt — The
Old Kingdom — ^The Feudal Kingdom— The Hyksos Invaders
— The Early Empire — The Revolution of Ikhnaton . . 
The Middle Empire — The Decadence — Libyan, Ethiopian, and
Assyrian Rulers— The Restoration— The Persians — The
Macedonian Conquest and The Ptolemies . . . .27

The Roman Occupation — The Byzantine Occupation — The
Arab Conquest — The Fatimid Caliphate — Saladin, and the
Ajryubid Dynasty — The First Mamluk Sultans — The Circassian Mamluk Sultans — The Turkish Conquest — The Khedivial Dynasty, the British Occupation, and the Protectorate 43


The Sphere of Egyptian Influence — The Flood — The Great Lakes — Abyssinia — Khartoum and Omdurman — The Northern Sudan — Dongola and the Desert Railway — Abu Simbel — Nubia and the Nubian — -Assuan — -Upper Egyptian Scenery and People — Antiquities and Forgeries — -The Remains of Ancient Thebes — The Eastern and Western Deserts — -Thirst — The Western Oases — The Coptic Christians — Sugar, Dates, and Cotton — The Fayoum Province — The Pyramids — Cairo and the Delta head — The Delta — Towns and Urban Development — Stucco — The Suez Canal — Port Said ... 79

the book details :
  • Author: W. Laurence Balls
  • Publication date:  (1920)
  • Company: London; New York: Pitman

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