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knowledge, skill and enterprise in the nation at large. If the ancient despots of the East possessed slaves in sufficient numbers to convert mountains of granite into temples and statues, it would not follow, either that the master spirits, who planned and directed such gigantic labors, were destitute of talent and science, or that the slaves themselves were in a state of misery and degradation without a parallel in modern times, even in the most enlightened and most signally favored monarchies and republics.
Conceding all that has been said and written about the wretchedness of the people employed in those extravagant enterprises of ancient vanity and ambition to be strictly true, it will not follow that those people, however wretched they may have been, were any more wretched than certain classes of human creatures in other countries—than the peasantry, the serfs, the vassals, the villains, of Christian Europe—to say nothing of the African anomaly in Christian America ; or of the baser castes throughout India under the gentle protection of their most gracious Christian benefactors. The moral and political condition of the great mass of the (so called) lower orders of the people, under the different European governments, is probably elevated but little above that of the subjects or the slaves of the former lords of Egypt and Assyria.
Multitudes of human beings may be found, all the world over, engaged in pursuits, or doomed to occupations, not a whit more rational or grateful or beneficial, than were the wildest, most extravagant or most onerous ever devised or imposed by the tyranny or superstition of antiquity. Were men, employed in the construction of a pyramid, for instance—with pay or without it, as slaves or as hired servants - likely to have been subjected to greater hardships and privations, or to a more arbitrary treatment, than are the soldiers in the ranks of a modern army? or than the sailors on board a man of war, or before the mast of a merchant ship? or than the operatives in an English cotton factory or upon an American cotton plantation ?
We do injustice, therefore, to the ancient Orientals, when, from the assumed misery and servile condition of the lower classes, we infer a corresponding and universal degradation of the human mind; when we argue, that, because the many appear to have been ignorant and depressed, therefore the few, or the whole must have been equally destitute of intelligence, sagacity, wisdom, science and enterprise; that Abraham, Joseph, Moses and Job were not superior to the vulgar nomad of the desert, or to the murmuring cowardly Hebrew herdsman. We must utterly eschew all our republican logic and prejudices of this sort, while we listen to the truthful voice of universal experience. The great masses of mankind have, at all times, been controlled and directed and fashioned by the wisdom or the cunning or the will of the few. And it is the character of the few which invariably fixes the historic character of every age and of every country. The light of science, indeed, may be diffused over the globe, like the light of the sun ; while the millions who enjoy the benefits of both are as incapable of appreciating the one as of comprehending the other. The universities of the Nile and the Euphrates—in the former of which were graduated the illustrious Grecian masters, Thales, Pythagoras, Eudoxus and Plato—may have been surrounded by illiteracy and rudeness, as were the universities of the Ilissus and the Tiber centuries later, and as are those of the Cam and the Isis, of the Hudson and the Potomac, at the present day. No doubt, the Newtons and the Lockes, the Miltons and the Seldens, the Fultons and the Franklins lived and labored then, as they have done since and are doing still, among a people not quite their peers in intellect or accomplishments. Such extremes and contrasts have always and everywhere prevailed. And they do not affect the question about the civilization of any country, ancient or modern.
Thus, France is a civilized country; and yet there are millions of Frenchmen who do not know the alphabet. But, in thus applying the term civilized, we do not stop to discriminate between the courtly Parisian savant and the roughest provincial peasant. We pronounce the French nation, a civilized nation, and justly ;-—as we do the American republic—without excepting the three or four hundred thousand white persons over twenty years of age, who, according to the recent census, cannot write or read. For even these, uncultivated as they are, rise incomparably above the wild Indian and stupid Hottentot. And we mean the same thing when we speak of the civilization of ancient Egypt or Phænicia. The whole people were civilized, as contrasted with savages; whatever distinctions may have obtained among themselves, or however vast the distance between either classes or individuals.
Again, there are diverse forms as well as degrees of civilization. Asiatic civilization has assumed a different type from
the European; and, for-centuries past, has ranked much lower in degree. The civilization of China is very unlike that of Germany, and probably much inferior to it. Yet, no person would confound the Chinese with the aborigines of New Holland, any more than he would consign the Germans to the same category with the natives of Congo and Oregon. I resort to this species of illustration to avoid any misapprehension about the precise meaning of the word civilization. Of this word, I have attempted no definition. I use it as custom has authorized. I speak of civilized nations and savage tribes, as existing facts, well known and universally understood. If there be any nations or tribes in a transition or doubtful stateso that they would not, by common consent, be assigned to the one or the other of these grand divisionsm I leave them out of the account.
I assert then, that the most ancient Egyptians known to history were civilized : as truly so, as were ever the Greeks or the Romans, or as now are the Britons or the Italians. With forms and degrees, I repeat, I have no controversy. Pass what sentence you please upon the remnants and ruins of Egyptian architecture, sculpture and painting; you will never pronounce them the work of savages. The builders of the stupendous temples at Thebes and Tentyra may possibly suffer somewhat in comparison with the artists who designed and embellished St. Peter's and St. Paul's at Rome and London; but no man will be hardy enough to insinuate that the former were savages.
But to return, for a moment, to the Scriptural history. Whoever will peruse the Mosaic account of mankind, during the first ages after the flood, will discover no trace of barbarism, and no deficiency in the arts of civilized life. So early as the time of Abraham, we find a king in Egypt of the common name of Pharaoh, and a civil polity established, apparently of the same general character with that which prevailed in the days of Joseph and Moses, and which probably continued until the Persian conquest. The kingdom abounded in agricultural products, and afforded ample relief to strangers in seasons of famine. Moses represents the sovereign, who reigned at the time of the patriarch's temporary sojourn in that then most fertile and hospitable country, as a powerful and magnificent monarch, surrounded by his princes and officers of state, maintaining a splendid and luxurious court, and exhibiting also
much more magnanimity and moral principle than is usually to be met with in crowned heads among the ancients or the moderns. Several writers, particularly Goguet and Warburton, have contrasted the circumstances of Abraham's journey into Egypt and of his dismission by Pharaoh, with those of a similar adventure on the part of Isaac with Abimelech, styled king of Gerar,-in which the superiority of an Egyptian monarch over a petty Philistine sheik or chief is strikingly manifested.
In the days of Jacob, the caravan of Ishmaelite merchants frorn Gilead," with their camels bearing spicery, and balm, and myrrh,” and their ready purchase of Joseph as a slave, sufficiently indicate the nature of the market which Egypt then presented for the rarest commodities, as well as the safe and regular manner in which the over-land foreign commerce was conducted. We read of a captain of Pharaoh's guard, of a chief butler and baker, and other important functionaries of a distinct priesthood—of a prison, “ where the king's prisoners were bound”—of “magicians and wise men”-and of sundry curious facts and incidents, rather casually glanced at than directly stated in the general narrative. “ And Pharaoh took off his ring from his hand, and put it upon Joseph's hand, and arrayed him in vestures of fine linen, and put a gold chain about his neck; and he made him to ride in the second chariot which he had,” etc.; all evincing much luxury and refinement. And in the cities for the laying up of stores and provisions for the approaching seven years of famine, we see the effects of wise government and of great national opulence. Soon after Joseph's death, we find the power and grandeur of the king-, dom very significantly illustrated in the employment of the enslaved Israelites in building treasure cities, and in preparing materials for splendid public edifices. “Indeed (adds Warburton), if we may believe St. Paul, this kingdom was chosen by God to be the scene of all his wonders, in support of his elect people, for this very reason, that through the celebrity of so famed an empire, the power of the true God might be spread abroad, and strike the observation of the whole habitable world. For the Scripture saith unto Pharaoh, Even for this same purpose have I raised thee up, that I might show my power in thee, and that my name might be declared throughout all the earth.”” Rom. 9: 17.
The description of the Egyptian priesthood by Diodorus Siculus is worthy of notice in this connection. “ The whole
country being divided into three parts; the first belongs to the body of priests, an order in the highest reverence among their countrymen, for their piety to the gods, and their consummate wisdom, acquired by the best education, and the closest application to the improvement of the mind. With their revenues they supply all Egypt with public sacrifices; they support a number of inferior officers, and maintain their own families : for the Egyptians think it utterly unlawful to make any change in their public worship; but hold that every thing should be administered by their priests, in the same constant, invariable manner. Nor do they deem it at all fitting that those, to whose cares the public is so much indebted, should want the common necessaries of life: for the priests are constantly attached to the person of the king, as his coadjutors, counsellors and instructors in the most weighty matters. For it is not among them as with the Greeks, where one single man or woman exercises the office of the priesthood. Here a body or society is employed in sacrificing and other rites of public worship, who transmit their profession to their children. This order, likewise, is exempt from all charges and imposts, and holds the second honors, under the king, in the public administration.” Moses also tells us that the Egyptian priests were a distinct and superior order, and had an established landed revenue; that when the famine raged so severely that the people were compelled to sell their estates to the crown for bread, the priests still retained theirs unalienated, and were supplied with corn gratuitously from the public stores. “ Only the land of the priests bought he not: for the priests had a portion assigned them of Pharaoh, and did eat their portion which Pharoah gave them : wherefore they sold not their lands.” Gen. 47: 22. Diodorus gives us the reason of this indulgence, and corroborates the Scriptural history; or, rather, is himself sustained by this venerable' authority—although ignorant, probably, of its existence.
Herodotus says the inhabitants of Heliopolis were deemed in his time the most ingenious of all the Egyptians. The schools of its priesthood were famous for wisdom and learning. And Strabo, even so late as the beginning of the Christian era, speaks of certain stately edifices as still remaining in that ancient city, which, as it was reported, had formerly been occupied by the priests, who cultivated the studies of philosophy and astronomy. This statement is incidentally confirmed by