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Full text of "The Legacy Of Egypt"

The Legacy to Modern Egypt                379
herited by seven generations. There is no rule about it, as usual
in Egypt. Unlike the Hindu jurists, the teachers of Islam are
not interested in popular organization; they leave that to the
people themselves, and the people do not think, but simply carry
on. So used are the people to the heredity of occupations that
if a man does not succeed to his father's work he nevertheless
retains the title and is known as the Carpenter, the Engineer
even though he may be a clerk in government employ.
The village functionaries are paid not in cash but in kind.
The barbers and the ferryman will turn up at the harvest to
get their annual fee of maize or wheat. Even so, the Pharaohs
paid their workers in fish, beans, corn, and firewood. A peasant
will now engage a learned man to recite the Qur'an weekly so
that the Lord may have compassion on a deceased kinsman and
be with him in the grave; at every harvest he will pay him his
due in wheat or maize. Even so, an ancient Egyptian would
make arrangements for paying in produce from his lands those
who made periodic offerings of bread and beer at his tomb.
It was foreigners who brought coinage to Egypt, and coinage
never has become acclimatized. In the big towns the economy
is largely foreign; the village retains the primeval barter. Even
the landowners who know and use coinage at the town end of
their transactions still follow the ancient way at the village end.
The tenant pays his rent by surrendering J, or , or $ of his
crop according to the degree of assistance he receives. There are
estates where the labourer rarely handles money, save for the
few piasters he makes on selling chickens and eggs. We have
indeed the remarkable spectacle of a modern international bank
owning an estate where the tenant-in-chief pays both labour
and landlord with the beans he grows. I have seen an even later
institution, the ice-cream vendor, come into contact with that
primeval economy, surrender to it, and accept eggs in payment.
It may seem unaccountable that a people that has so often.