The Legacy to Modern Egypt 375 Christian nobles.' There have been fluctuations between feudal independence and bureaucratic dependence; there may yet be. 'In the last century the beys divided Egypt among themselves almost in the same manner as the chiefs of the mercenaries in the VHIth century B.C.'1 A highly centralized system requires a host of clerks, men who can write letters and keep documents. In Ancient Egypt to administer and to make a record are synonymous: the official is a scribe. Then, as now, government employment enjoyed the greatest prestige and appeared to offer the most desirable career, because it seemed an easy life compared with other occupations and ensured a steady livelihood from the government, or, as the ancients expressed it, 'from the king's house'. Since the end of the New Empire at least the governmental machinery could scarcely be said to function as it was intended to do. Centuries of mismanagement have schooled the village to withdraw into itself and to run its own affairs, not by a cadre of officials, but by public opinion. It has its code of loyalty and secrecy. Between it and the administration stands the mayor, half official, half squire, ready, if the central power should weaken, to become a feudal lord, as has happened in the past. As official he has to represent the government; as chief to keep the secrets of the village. Behind this invisible rampart of exclusiveness more effective than walls of stone, the Egyptian village runs itself along grooves traced in ancient times, by habit rather than by system. There is no social theory, and so no crystalline pattern such as we find in countries to the south and to the east, but a somewhat amorphous, yet highly cohesive, crowd. Comparative evidence, however, aided by fragments from Ancient Egypt, convince us that this absence of system is the residue of a system as 1 G. Maspero, *Un manuel d'hierarchie egyptienne' (Journ. Asiatique, no. 4j 1888).