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Full text of "The Legacy Of Egypt"

legacy of Egypt to our times may be defined by a single word—
Egyptology. Whatever we have acquired from Egypt by the
natural process of historical development, and unconsciously
made our own, is as yet of little consequence beside the oppor-
tunity, made available by the work of scholars during the last
150 years, to enlarge our experience by the deliberate study of
every side of Egyptian life from its earliest stages. Nor is this
conclusion so paradoxical as it might appear; for though pro-
fessional Egyptologists in any single European country to-day
may be counted on the fingers of two hands, and their labours
are in general looked upon as something exotic, this is due only
to the comparative youth of their science. As that science ages,
and its outlines at any rate are given a place in the curriculum
of every liberal education, so Egypt's legacy will become not
only more universally shared but also an automatic part of
everyman's inheritance. When the art of Egypt has been
assimilated by the art-loving public, so that it forms part of
the background against which the average individual's aesthetic
appreciation is set; when her literature is part of the stock-in-
trade of literary criticism; when Egyptian history is recognized
by all as one of the tributaries of that continuous stream of
human development on which we are borne to-day—then only
shall we have entered into full possession of the Legacy of
Egypt. ^
It is in this spirit that the contributors to the present volume,
representing the exiguous minority who at present enjoy
the heritage, have approached their task. But like all ideals,
the enrichment of experience which is available in Egyptology
has to be met half-way. These chapters indicate the wealth
that has come down to us and the approach to their store-
house; final access has to be sought by a long road, and satis-
faction is as much in the search as in the discovery.
The reader will by now have asked himself how it is that in
spite of the very early tradition of Egypt's cultural importance,