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Full text of "The Egyptian Problem"

SOCIAL CHARACTERISTICS
173
accuracy ! They pontify or rave, but they do not stoop to discuss. Yet the Press constitutes almost the only literature that appeals to the average Egyptian, even amongst the Western-educated classes. Egypt has produced, chiefly in the shape of poetry and rhetorical newspaper articles, a considerable amount of Nationalist literature, but it has produced hardly any national literature worthy of the name either in history, or in science, or in art. The Egyptian Institute and the Egyptian Geographical Society are modelled on European lines, and some of their foreign members, and a few Egyptians trained to European methods of study, have made creditable contributions to the world's knowledge, but these have met with more appreciation abroad than in their own country.
It is, however, unfair to expect too much from people in whom character was atrophied by centuries of oppression before the British Occupation. The Nationalist movement at its best has been touched with genuine idealism, and even at its worst it has shown how far the Egyptians have already travelled from the servile attitude of even such relatively recent times as those of the Khedive Ismail, when the members of the Chamber of Notables convoked by him were told that the supporters of the Government should take their seats on the right, and those in opposition on the left, and all rushed with one accord like a flock of sheep to the right lest they should incur their lord and master's displeasure by the remotest suggestion of opposition to his sovereign will.
But whatever the elements of real nationhood that may be found to-day in Egypt, there is one very grave flaw in the Egyptians' claim to be not only entitled to complete national independence but already fully equipped to stand by themselves as a living nation. No nation can be independent in fact, even if it be so in name, that has allowed itself to fall into complete dependence upon foreigners for almost all that is essential to its economic
ifs conducted by Egyptians condescend to honest argument or commontill survives.ditions in which the fellaheen live aters, and the woman's holdhave gone far to remove the sense of bitterness. After all the Syrian expedition would have been scarcely feasible without Egyptian labour and Egyptian supplies, and some expression of gratitude would not have marred its glory. But the saving word was never spoken ; and the payments due from the military authorities continued to lag for months behind, and the ugly past                    towns, the Central Government merely making certain