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be found. The same “taskmasters,” of whose burdens the Hebrews complained” after the death of their countryman and protector, Joseph, were undoubtedly familiar to the Egyptians. It is related,” that the common people were so indignant at the hardships they encountered in building the pyramids, as to threaten to exhume the bodies of their kings, for whom these mountain-mausoleums were prepared; and the kings were thought to show some fear that the threat would be executed, by ordering their secret burial in the dark and inaccessible chambers, which have hardly yet been explored. This is a single illustration, but it describes the manner in which the Egyptians were ruled. The condition of the lower classes was both politically and socially degraded, from the beginning to the end of their history as a separate nation. An artisan could not be a magistrate;” and a swineherd was not permitted to enter a temple," as if he were too degraded even to pray. But there are other signs of humanity which no one would wish to overlook. When the Hebrews in Egypt were most abused, the Pharaoh bade his people to “deal wisely with them ";" and the necessity for such treatment of a race of slaves implies some consideration towards the lower castes of the Egyptians, who would be much superior to the strangers. The subsistence of the poor was provided for by law; the debtor was bound by his property, and not, as in India and in Rome, by his person;” while the crimes against the lowest were in some cases as severely punished as those against the highest classes.” All these are landmarks of expanding civilization. The reader is now in possession of the material circumstances by which the liberty of Egypt is to be judged. Formal laws to protect the person or to secure the rights of any man were very few; nor were most of the usages, virtually the same as laws, intended to apply to the individual so much as to the class of which he was a member. But it seems correct to conclude, from the comparative equality existing between the two higher castes,” that considerable freedom prevailed amongst them, though it would be vain to argue that it was at all admirable either in itself or in its results. The lower classes, whose labors might, under other circumstances, have been rewarded by liberty and prosperity, were only sorrowful. As the field was brought into cultivation by being overflowed, so the toil of the herdsman and the slave was multiplied by being exacted by the warrior or the priest above them; yet over the field and the flood, over the bondman and the ruler, were the sleepless skies. The Egyptian were in no wise so different from other institutions as to outlast the principles of progress within them. Peculiar and national as they had been, they were the sooner overthrown. One king after another reigned and died; but none attained to equal glory with Sesostris, with whom the season of abundance seemed to have both bloomed and faded. The power of the monarch individually did not decrease so much as that of the monarchy collectively; though it is true that the later kings appear to have been mostly created to rule a declining empire and assist its fall. One, named Psammetichus, introduced Ionian and Carian mercenaries, and was then abandoned, on account of his partiality to the strangers, by two hundred thousand of the Egyptian warriors, who withdrew in a body beyond the limits of their country.” Another, Neco, the son of Psammetichus, attempted, with his mercenaries, to play the conquerer, and was defeated near the Euphrates, – so far had he marched to ruin.” Meantime, the people were either more rigidly governed, or suffered to degrade themselves in idleness and in sensuality; while the higher classes, served by greater hosts of slaves, who relieved them from all dependence upon their inferior fellow-countrymen, gave themselves up to the most extravagant luxuries and the most degrading debaucheries. When the Persians came, five centuries and a quarter before the end of heathenism, the Egyptians were conquered, as if they had become too wasted to defend themselves. Such testimony as can be found or imagined concerning the decline in knowledge and in spirit under which the ancient nation succumbed, at last, corresponds with the course of events just rapidly defined. It seems that some efforts, at length, were made to withstand the dangers surging about the habits and the institutions which had once bid fair to stand, like the pyramids, for ever. Some laws that may have belonged to this later period are evidently the result of suspicions aroused concerning the permanency of the system according to which the Egyptians lived. One forbade physicians to use any other remedies than those prescribed in the sacred volumes of the priesthood;" and another, mentioned by Plato as a masterpiece of legislation, confined musicians and artists to the rules established for them of old.” Customs, arts, and sciences of foreign nations were more carefully rejected,” as though they had been fatal; and this hostility to other institutions than their own continued long after independence was lost beyond recovery.” All this time, the knowledge of the priests, like the industry of the lower classes, was wearing away. It could not altogether perish; but from the moment of its slumber in the midst of the gains it had made, it was unprofitable, except as an assistance to the accumulation of fresher stores. There had never, however, been more than a beginning made amongst the Egyptians, even in the the sciences and arts through which they obtained their greatest renown in antiquity; unless the moving of enormous stones and the carving of gigantic monuments be taken for one of the ends of architecture. Yet it is in the religious knowledge of the Egyptians that the plainest signs of imperfection and incapacity are to be perceived. With some pretension" to remembrance of the truths, once, undoubtedly, in the possession of their progenitors, concerning the creation and the government of the world, the worship they rendered was more local than that of almost any other nation,” at the same time that its objects and its doctrines testified to the deeper degradation of their souls. They knelt before the brutes 49 Herod., II. 91. Plut., Is. et Osir., ed. Reisk., Tom. * Müller's Anc. Art, $217, III. VII. p. 396. See Bunsen, Egypt, 5. As in the famous inscription at etc., Vol. I. pp. 385–387. Sais : — “I am all that has been, * See the lines of Juvenal, Sat.
27 See the first chapter of Exodus. as if to show the contempt in which
38 Diod. Sic., I. 64. those people were held.” Wilkin
39 Ibid., I. 74. son's Egyptians, Second Series,
40 His class was represented in Vol. I. p. 126. the Egyptian paintings as “lame or 41 Exodus, I. 10. deformed, dirty or unshaven, etc.,
WOL. I. 8
42 Because, says Diodorus (1.79), the person was accounted to be the property of the state.
43 The murderer of a slave, for instance, was subject to the same penalties as the murderer of a freeman. Diod. Sic., I. 77.
44 M. Ampère, at the Séance Annuelle de l'Académie des Inscriptions, has lately undertaken to demonstrate “que cette idée qu'on se fait depuissilong-temps de l’ancienne société Egyptienne, comme divisée
en castes dont chacune était wouée à des occupations spéciales, exclusives et héréditaires, n'est point exacte,” etc. In doing this, he relies upon the “témoignage des monumens”; but as far as I understand his demonstration from the Compte Rendu in the Journal des Débats, 3d Sept., 1848, it merely establishes the affiliation of the military and the sacerdotal castes, which I have already ventured to indicate as existing through the rise of royalty.
45 About A. C. 650. Herod., II. 46 About A. C. 600. Joseph., 152 et seq. Diod. Sic., I. 67. Antiq., X. 6. 1.