[Illustration: 232.jpg MOSQUE OF EL GHURI AT CAIRO]
In spite of their distinguished social ancestry, the Kopts are by no means a superior class morally to the fellaheen, who are in part the descendants of those ancient Egyptians who renounced the Christian religion, the language and institutions of the Egyptian Christians, and accepted Muhammedanism and the Arabic language and institutions.
The creed of the Kopts is Jacobite. They have three metropolitans and twelve bishops in Egypt, one metropolitan and two bishops in Abyssinia, and one bishop in Khartum. There are also arch-priests, priests, deacons, and monks. Priests must be married before ordination, but celibacy is imposed upon monks and high dignitaries. The Abyssinian Church is ruled by a metropolitan, and bishops are chosen from amongst the Egyptian-Koptic ecclesiastics, nor can the coronation of the King of Abyssinia take place until he has been anointed by the metropolitan, and this only after the authorisation by the Patriarch of Alexandria.
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CHAPTER V.—THE WATER WAYS OF EGYPT
The White and Blue Niles: The Barrage: Clearing the Sudd: The Suez Canal: Ancient and modern irrigation: The Dam at Aswan: The modern exploration of the Nile.
Between the Sudan and the Mediterranean the only perennial stream is the Nile, a word probably derived from the Semitic root nahal, meaning a valley or a river-valley, and subsequently a “river,” in a pre-eminent and exclusive sense. The ancient Egyptians called it the Ar or Aur (Koptic, Iaro), or “black”; hence the Greek word [...] allusion to the colour, not of the water, but of the sediment which it precipitated during the floods. In contrast to the yellow sands of the surrounding desert, the Nile mud is black enough to have given the land itself its oldest name, Kem, or Kemi, which has the same meaning of “black.” At Khartum, where the White Nile joins the Blue Nile, the main branch has a fall from its upper level in the region of the tropical lakes, four thousand feet above the sea, to twelve hundred feet, while traversing a distance of twenty-three hundred miles. From Khartum to the sea the distance through which the waters of the Nile wend their way is about eighteen hundred and forty miles. During the greater part of this course the flow is level, the average descent being about eight inches per mile. If it were not, therefore, for the obstruction met with in the Nubian section, the course of the Nile would be everywhere navigable. Although no perennial affluents enter the main stream lower down than Khartum, the volume of the Nile remains with little diminution throughout the entire distance to the Mediterranean. During the period of low water the amount of water in different localities is still uniform, notwithstanding all the irrigation, infiltration, and evaporation constantly taking place. The only explanation which has been given to this phenomenon is that there are hidden wells in the bed of the Nile, and from their flow the waste is ever renewed.