392 The Legacy to Modern Egypt
and a strong moral tone. The process began before Islam. It
would probably have continued without the aid of Islam, since
it has affected those departments of life which lie quite outside
the interests of Islam, such as the village organization.
The ancient, more complex structure seems to have served its
purpose by fixing the relations of man to man; then it dissolved
away. We might compare Ancient Egypt to a live coral full of
animalcules building up with admirable activity. As the build-
ing is completed they die, leaving a solid mass to be battered
by successive storms and corroded by events till the clear and
geometric outlines are obliterated.
Every now and then there is renewed activity. We are now
witnessing such a revival. Modernism is the new leaven that has
succeeded to Islam. Its core is so different from that of Islam
that the two seem in no danger of conflicting. A mechanical
gospel seems too remote from one centred on the unity of God
ever to cross its path. But you cannot drop mechanism into the
waters of life without its sending out eddies that expand and
expand till they must collide with the older eddies of Islam.
The outcome we cannot foretell, but we must note that the
new movement tends more and more to seek its inspiration from
ancient rather than medieval Egypt, in accordance with a general
rule that the more 'advanced' a movement is the farther back
it goes to find its golden age. It is significant that the statue
of the awakening of Egypt in Cairo reverts to ancient motives.
Even more so does the mausoleum of Sa'ad Zaghlul, the apostle
of Egyptian independence. The Ophthalmological Congress was
honoured with a stamp bearing the Horus eye. When the
Khedivial Mail line registered in Egypt it did so under the more
ancient style of Pharaonic Mail Line.
No revivalist movement has ever brought back the past, nor
will this one; but it can take and adapt old ideas from the past.
That is not, however, the chief benefit that can be expected of
a renewed interest in Ancient Egypt. It may not contribute a