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later period, when human government assumed new principles and new forms. At the same time, there must be a frank remembrance of the nearly countless years which went before." In the midst of wars, and during the succession of periods in Egyptian history, the firmness of the early institutions is scarcely altered. The invaders could not overthrow the civilization of the people, who retired before them, instead of remaining in their subjection; and when the Egyptians, set free from the strangers, returned to their usual labors and places of abode, they or their rulers were as jealous of innovation as their fathers could ever have been. One change, perhaps, is to be observed; but it is as conjectural now, as it was then transitory. Of whatever race were the Hyksos who overran Egypt, whether Arabs or Scythians, their example of adventurous conquest proved contagious to the Egyptians at or very near the time of their expulsion. The marches of Sesostris were in imitation of the wanderings of the shepherd kings. But the temper of his subjects was not inclined towards foreign warfare. They had been educated for many generations in the habits of obedience and of patient toil; and though the liberation through which they passed may have been an impulse to aggression and dominion, the habits of former time were soon re* According to this chronology, name being Ramesses, as has been derived from Bunsen's labors upon mentioned. See the tables of MaEgypt, Menes would have reigned netho ap. Bunsen, Book I. sect. 1, newed. The laws of Sesostris himself were of much greater importance than his conquests;" by the latter, indeed, had they been preserved, the great object of the laws he received and the laws he made, the national unity, would have been endangered. Under him, the class on which the monarchy chiefly rested, and by which the liberation of the whole people had more lately been accomplished, was exalted to the position of an independent order. Wars and conquests resulted, at last, in the elevation of the warriors, as well as in the union of the monarchy and the priesthood in authority. Egypt was divided into thirty-six districts or nomes, over each of which was set a nomarch,” appointed to administer the local government, and to collect the contributions of the nome to the dignity and the strength of the empire. Every district had its peculiar temple, to which an especial deity and a full complement of priests were formally assigned. The people, numbered according to their nomes,” so that their submission to the priesthood in the temple, and to the king in his own person or in that of his nomarchs and generals, might be exacted without the failure of a service which they had to render, were likewise driven forth in armies, or much more commonly employed in herds upon the monuments and gigantic piles, 11 See Diod. Sic., I. 54, where * Perhaps appointed from the the policy of Sesostris is made the priests, but more probably from the subject of considerable praise. The warriors. See Pliny's account of historian mentions the king as par- the nomes, Nat. Hist., W. 9.
about A. C. 3650. Sesostris belongs ch. 5; and in Cory's Collection of to the nineteenth dynasty, his own Anc. Fragments, pp. 110, 118.
which, scarce decayed, but long deserted, are still stupendous in their magnitude. The labors of agriculture would increase with population; those of trade would spread wide with conquest; and as labors multiplied, the means employed to control or to protect them would quickly grow into a system, under which the Egyptian institutions were developed and completed. We have a sketch of royal power in Egypt, antecedent, indeed, to the time of Sesostris, but fit to be introduced in illustration of the later institutions which we have supposed him to have organized. When Abraham went down from Haran into Egypt, he found a sovereign, or Pharaoh, and his princes, already powerful." Two centuries afterwards, Joseph was carried as a slave into the land his ancestor had visited; but showing himself discreet and wise before the Pharaoh then reigning, he was by him set over the country with nearly supreme authority. The vestures of fine linen that he wore, and the chariot that bore him in sight of the people, were but a small part of the state to which he was raised. There were officers to cry, “Bow the knee!” before him, and a multitude to obey the cry; for he was as Pharaoh, we are told, - the lord, himself, of all the land. Joseph requited the favors he received by the most skilful services. He helped his master to increase his power, by laying up stores against a famine which drove the Egyptians to part with cattle, lands, and even their own bodies, so that they might get food from the royal granaries; yet it is expressly related, that the sovereign and his minister were obliged to spare one caste from the universal affliction and degradation of their subjects. The possessions of the priests were respected, and their order alone continued secure against the growing wealth and dominion of the monarch whom the Hebrew had adroitly served at the expense of a miserable people.” Something can be drawn from these Egyptian sketches in the Old Testament; for though Joseph may have ruled in one court and Abraham visited another, yet the outlines of the royalty and the priesthood, as far as they are given, correspond to all we know of the power of the one to resist and of the other to increase. The warriors, it is true, can only be conjectured to have been the princes whom Abraham saw ; inasmuch as his journey may have been made to a city in possession of the foreign shepherd kings. But the Pharaoh of Joseph must have been supported by other means than the craft of his stranger servant; and these means must have been the arms of his warriors. At all events, the interval between Joseph and Sesostris was marked by the rise of a second caste, without whose aid the monarchy itself would have undoubtedly continued in its early subjection to the priesthood. It was from among the warriors that the king was elected, whenever the succession of son to father failed. They shared in the glory and the spoils of conquest; obtained their lands free from tax or charge;" and as generation succeeded to generation, imbibed a portion, at least, of the knowledge which the priests would have kept for ever sealed. If they sustained the monarch, the monarch sustained them : and it is through the rise of both to a level with, not to a superiority over, the Egyptian priesthood, that we can ascribe a larger freedom to Egypt than elsewhere prevailed at the same period. It is impossible, however, to mark any further progress; nor does the idea of “the great dragon in the midst of his rivers,” that is to say, the king encircled by his warriors, excite any agreeable reflections. Neither was the growth of the monarchy uninterrupted so long as the priesthood continued to claim and exercise its ancient powers. One monarch, Cheops, was able, indeed, to subdue the priests, by ordering the temples to be closed;" but his son, Mycerinus, was so obedient to the same caste whom his father overcame, as to believe them when they bade him prepare for death, because it was not the will of the gods to have Egypt governed by a virtuous king.” It would be painful to read that a monarch could be deposed because of his excellence, if it were not probable that the virtue of Mycerinus consisted only in his independence of, or his opposition to, the priesthood. His father, Cheops, whom the priests would have unquestionably deposed, had they
14 Genesis, Ch. XII. WOL. I. 7