I met a traveler from an antique land
Who said: Two vast and trunkless legs of stone
Stand in the desert. Near them on the sand
Half sunk, a shatter’d visage lies, whose from
And wrinkled lip and sneer of cold command
Tell that its sculptor well those passions read
Which yet survive, stamp’d on these lifeless things,
The hand that mock’d them and the heart that fed;
And on the pedestal these words appear:
“My name is Ozymandias, king of kings:
Look on my works, ye Mighty, and despair!”
Nothing beside remains. Round the decay
Of that colossal wreck, boundless and bare,
The lone and level sands stretch far away.
Although Chaldea is called the cradle of the race, it is with the history of Egypt that the history of wealth and civilization properly begins; for long before the ancient seats of empire were established on the banks of the Tigris and Euphrates, before even the father of Israel set forth from Ur of the Chaldees, the Egyptians were a cultured and powerful nation, governed by mighty sovereigns and far advanced, in the arts which pertain to civilized life. How ancient they were we know not, and there is little to guide us in the Hebrew narrative, where the land is termed Mizraim, though known to the Greeks as Aiguptos, or Egypt, at least 1000 years before Christ, the name being also applied in the Odyssey to the river Nile. While yet the patriarchs were feeding their flocks in the plains of Mesopotamia, Egypt was the granary of surrounding regions, and even then was a time-honored kingdom; for between the building of the great pyramid and the conquest of Cambyses the Persian more than twenty centuries elapsed.
The little that is known of the primitive races of Egypt points to a condition far removed from that of the pyramid builders. Their dwellings were of osiers and clay, or of sun-dried bricks, with but a single room and without apertures except for the door. A few articles made of wood, with wooden headrests for pillows, a few earthen pots, with mats of reeds and stones for grinding corn, were their only furniture, their clothing, whether for men or women, being merely loincloths, those of the latter afterward lengthened into tightly fitting garments with shoulder-straps to keep in place.
Some wore sandals of leather, wood, or straw but as a rule the feet were uncovered. Bracelets and necklaces were worn by both sexes, and these were at first merely strings of shells and pebbles, as were the ornaments worn on the ankles and breast. Later the pebbles gave way to precious stones, at least among the rich, whose scant attire was supplemented by a panthers skin. Their utensils were of stone, which obtained among the Egyptians long after other nations had learned the use of metals, a collection of flint knives, axes, and sickles, more than 3,000 years old being recently unearthed in the ruins of Kahun. Such they fashioned in the time of the Romans, throughout the middle ages, and their manufacture has not entirely ceased even at the present day, though at a very early date working in iron and copper was known, blacksmiths ranking as a privileged class. Their weapons were chiefly clubs and lances with sharpened point of stone; but they had also bows and arrows, slings, sabers, javelins, and boomerangs, the last still used in the valley of the Nile but not with the skill of the Australian black.
In the days of the Pharaohs the land, though not over peopled, was far more populous than at the present time, and with a much larger area of fertile soil. It was a favored region, and one well fitted for the earliest seat of civilization. Surrounded by ocean or desert, its upper portion guarded on either side by mountain ranges nowhere more than, eleven miles apart and in places reaching to the banks of the Nile, its lower portion intersected with numerous branches of that river, the valley which forms the heart of Egypt was one of extreme fertility, so that even today the country prospers, notwithstanding centuries of misrule. Self-supporting and easily defended, with ports on the Red Sea and the Mediterranean, it lay on the pathway of commerce between Africa and Asia, and of that which later arose between Africa and Europe. Here, if anywhere, could be developed the arts and sciences which tend to the betterment of mans estate. Of food there was enough and more than enough, with no necessity for making its production the sole or chief occupation of life, one man producing sufficient for a score of his fellow-men. Add to this the perfect organization of the people, both as to class and occupation, and no wonder that in Egypt more progress was made in a decade than in less fortunate realms in a century.
In the former, nature took the place of enforced and constant toil; and thus were achieved in the shortest time results which elsewhere must be wrought out in successive stages and were only made possible by slave labor, affording leisure to the few at the cost of the degradation and misery of the many.
From time immemorial cereals were cultivated on the banks of the Nile, and with returns so rich that agriculture became, as today it is the leading occupation, with hunting, fishing, and the rearing of cattle as secondary industries. On this kindly soil grain could be raised without labor, merely by dropping it into the mud from which the inundation had subsided, the growth being even more vigorous than from furrows deeply plowed. Fruits and vegetables were also abundant, and especially dates and figs; onions, lentils, beans, lupines, and vetches. Wine was freely used, as appears in the following translation from Lepsius and from the monuments of Prisse d' Avenne, the soul of one departed thus communing with an earthly friend: "Oh my brother, withhold not thyself from drinking and from eating, from drunkenness, from love, from all enjoyment, from following thy desire by night and by day; put not sorrow within thy heart, for what are the years of a man upon earth? The west is a land of heavy shadows, a place wherein its inhabitants, when once installed, slumber on in their mummy forms, never more waking to their brethren. Since I came into this funeral valley I know not where nor what I am. Give me to drink of running water. Let me be placed by the edge of the water, with my face to the north, that the breeze may caress me and my heart be refreshed from its sorrow.”
Riches in those days consisted not of money, which in fact was unknown, but of fertile fields and plantations, of serfs and slaves, and of all kinds of tame and domestic animals, except the camel and the horse. Of one we read that he owned 5,300 oxen, besides smaller stock innumerable; of another that he had some 2,000 horned and hornless cattle, with 3,000 antelopes and goats. The possessions of the monarchs themselves were enormous, and in due time included goodly stores of silver and gold. King Rhampsinitus, for instance, who reigned not long after the siege of Troy, built for himself a treasure-house, on one side of which was the outer wall of his palace; and if we may believe Herodotus, he had more silver than anyone else in the world, more indeed than he could guard.
As the story is, in constructing this treasure-house one stone was left by the wily artificer so that it could be easily removed, thus affording access to the treasury; and when about to die he revealed the secret to his two sons, who thereupon carried away much metal. The king seeing the silver lowering in the jars, marveled greatly how thieves should gain access thereto, and set a hunting net as a trap. On their next visit one of them was caught, and unable to extricate himself, called to his brother to cut of f his head, and carry it away, that none should know them. More than ever was the king astonished when he saw a headless man in his trap, and ordered the body to be hanged on the outer wall and watch to be kept, if peradventure some mourner might be detected, and so the secret discovered. But the brother stole the body away, and the king so admired the adroitness of the thief, that he offered him pardon and his daughter in marriage if he would reveal himself, and this was done.
Another wealthy ruler was Thothmes I, by whom was richly endowed the Theban temple of Ammon, the Egyptian Jupiter, inscriptions showing that he was extremely liberal in his gifts of gold, silver, and precious stones, of fields and gardens, of corn and cattle. By this monarch also was probably begun, among other architectural works, the great palace of Karnak, two obelisks bearing his name standing in its central court. But Thebes was a city of palaces and temples, its street Royal, on which were many public edifices, fronting two miles on the western bank of the Nile. Diodorus assigns to it a circumference of fourteen miles; Pliny speaks of it as a hanging city built on arches, whence an army could march forth without disturbing the inhabitants; and Herodotus as one "where are vast treasures laid up in the houses; where are 100 gates, and from each 200 men go forth with horses and chariots.” While the legends of Egyptian Thebes were somewhat confused by the Greeks with those of its Boeotian contemporary, its name of Hecatompylos endured, though explained by Diodorus as applying to the propylaea of the temples. Worthy of mention is its huge necropolis, a series of sepulchral grottoes excavated in the Libyan hills, and more than five miles in length, a single tomb having an area of 22,000 square feet. Elsewhere were the sepulchers, or so-called gates of the kings, with separate burial places for the rich, since the cost of embalming was great, ranging it is said from $2,000 to $10,000.
Famous among Theban sovereigns for his architectural monuments was Usirtasen I, by whom among other buildings was erected the great temple of the sun at Heliopolis, near the ruins of which a granite obelisk, still pointing skyward, greets the traveler as he approaches from the east this realm of mystic wonders. After consulting his lords and counselors, the king issued a decree wherein he enjoined the superintendent and all who were employed on the work to be vigilant and to see that it be done without weariness, concluding with the words “Let the beloved place arise." Then arose the monarch, wearing his Baal diadem and holding his double pen, while all who were present followed him, the scribe, says Rawlinson, extending the measuring cord and laying the foundations of a magnificent edifice, now demolished by the barbarity of conquerors and the ruthless hands of time.
By the third Usirtasen was increased the power as well as the limits of Egypt more than by any of the ancient Theban monarchs. He reduced to subjection the southern tribes, erecting on either side of the Nile pillars with inscriptions warning the black races not to pass beyond them except when driving northward their flocks and herds. Still visible are portions of the massive granite and sandstone forts which stood near them on the almost perpendicular rocks above the second cataract. Later the king entered upon a war of extermination in the regions between the Nile and the Red sea, burning the crops, slaughtering the men, and carrying the women and children into captivity, somewhat after the fashion of modern Arab traders his raids or victories, as they were termed, being recorded on numerous columns. Completing his conquests by a final expedition, he extended the Egyptian frontier fifty leagues toward the south, drawing a line almost coinciding with that which in 1885 was established by Great Britain between Egypt and the Soudan. Thus did Usirtasen become the hero of the Theban empire; so that after his death myths were associated with his name, and his praises were sung by minstrels and poets. He subjugated, it was said, not only Ethiopia, but many portions of Europe and Asia. In Scythia and Thrace, in Asia Minor and Palestine his triumphal columns were erected, and in Colchis, the city of the golden fleece, he planted an Egyptian colony. He built colossi fifty feet in height; he constructed the canals which watered the land of Egypt, and in a word he was the greatest ruler who had existed since the days of Osiris.
By Amenhait, also of the first Theban dynasty, was founded in connection with his hydraulic works in the Fayum a labyrinth of which Herodotus says: "If all the great monuments of the Greeks could be brought together, they would not equal it either for labor or expense. It consisted of twelve roofed courts with as many gates exactly, opposite each other, and was enclosed by a single wall, the chambers, half above ground and half below, numbering 1,500." In the lower chambers were the sepulchers of the kings who built the labyrinth, and those of the sacred crocodiles. The upper rooms, continues Herodotus, "excelled all human contrivances, and the varied windings of the paths across the courts aroused in me infinite admiration, as I passed from the courts into chambers, from chambers into colonnades, from colonnades into other apartments, and again from these into courts before unseen. The walls were carved all over with figures every court was surrounded with a colonnade built of white stones exactly fitted together, and at the corner of the labyrinth stands a pyramid 240 feet high, entered by a subterranean passage, and with figures engraved upon it.”
To commerce and manufactures were largely due the power and prosperity of the Theban monarchy, beginning with the 15th century and continuing until the closing years of the 12th, with earlier dynasties extending far beyond the oldest of biblical chronology; for it is claimed that the pyramid of Menes was completed nearly sixty centuries before Christ. The entrepot for the caravan trade on the one side and for the rich traffic with the Indies on the other, it was moreover at no great distance from the mineral deposits in the limestone formation bordering on the Red sea. Linen, mainly for the priests and their attendants, who formed a large portion of the population, with pottery, glassware, and intaglios for whomsoever could afford to buy them, were among the principal manufactures, while on the construction and decoration of buildings, both sacred and secular, many of them four or five stories in height, thousands of artisans were employed. It was also the sacerdotal metropolis, not only of Egypt but of adjacent countries, filling the position later held by Rome in the days of medieval Christendom. With all these advantages, no wonder that it became the commercial emporium of eastern Africa, until Alexandria diverted northward the channels of commerce.
At Memphis, founded it is said, by Men or Menes, in whose name is suggested a typical impersonation of the human race, was probably the earliest center of Egyptian domination, though tradition exists of a still earlier kingdom of which all traces have disappeared. To Menes succeeded as Herodotus states, repeating the stories of priests, 330 monarchs, of whom eighteen were Ethiopians, one the queen Nitocris, and the rest Egyptians, the last of them dying some 900 years before Herodotus visited Egypt. Under the several dynasties Memphis became a great city, fifteen miles in circuit according to Diodorus, walled and with three enclosures, the innermost forming the citadel and variously termed ''the white building," "the city of the pyramid," and "the abode of Phtha," its patron deity.
Of this ancient metropolis and its tributary region little is known, except that both were wealthy and under a powerful government. By Menes, it is said, was constructed a great dyke diverting the channel of the Nile to guard against inundation, and on the site thus reclaimed he built his capital, this ''dyke of Menes" being carefully preserved by the Persians after the conquest of Cambyses. Temples arose, and palaces, the ruins of which, especially the temple of Phtha, with remnants of the colossal statues of Rameses II, indicating its locality some ten miles south of Cairo. Egypt, said the priests to Herodotus, was well governed until the accession of Chembes, or Cheops, whose reign ended, according to Lepsius, 3,032 years before Christ. After death his remains were excluded from the great pyramid which he built, and buried in a secluded spot, lest they be subjected to the insults of the people whom he had oppressed.
One of sixty pyramids, great and small, is the pyramid of Cheops, all of them lying on the western bank of the Nile; for among these sun-worshippers the West was the land of darkness and of death. No such stupendous monuments elsewhere exist, and none are described in history. The construction of the causeway by which blocks of stone were transported from Arabian quarries was the ten years task of 100,000 men, changed every three months, an additional score of years being required for the erection of the pyramid itself. The labor was enforced, and hard indeed was the lot of the laborers, though perhaps not more so than with those who dwelt in the cities; for the poor were very poor, and only too content to for the scantiest of food and raiment. On the garlic and radishes, which except for bread was the only diet of this multitude of workmen, there were expended, as Herodotus relates, 1,600 talents of silver; but, says the historian, "let those who will" accept as credible the tales told by the Egyptians. The dimensions of this pyramid, now considerably reduced, are about 750 feet on each of the sides and 450 in height, ancient writers placing the latter at 600 feet. There is no attempt at structural decoration; but this assuredly not for want of skill, as is shown in the quarrying and transportation of these unwieldy blocks of masonry, in fitting them together with geometrical exactitude, and in polishing the granite used in the tombs and linings. Though as to means of transport we are as much in the dark as ever, the implements used have been partly ascertained, the stone required for the finer work being cut into shape by saws of bronze set with diamonds, or corundum; while for tubular drilling there were tools resembling the modern rock-drill, which is but an improved reproduction of an appliance common enough in the days of the earlier Pharaohs, and the use of which has been distinctly traced.
The largest of these monumental sepulchers of royalty, the pyramid of Cheops, is also probably the oldest, and differing in interior plan from all the rest, with a greater number of chambers and passages, and with a higher finish in portions of the work, though even the king's chamber is unadorned, containing merely a sarcophagus of polished granite. But of this and other pyramids I need not further speak; for they have been a thousand times described, and of some, especially those of El-Gizeh, we know as certainly by whom they were constructed as that the Pantheon was built by Agrippa and that the coliseum was erected by Vespasian and other of the Roman emperors.
Extending in a serrated line whose extremities faded into the horizon, they were plainly visible from the palaces of the Pharaohs, reminding them that while claiming descent from the gods they could not escape the common fate of man. Though in external aspect still almost unchanged, their sepulchral chambers have been rifled and disfigured even since the days of the first Theban empire, notwithstanding that the tombs were so concealed that none but the priests were supposed to know of their whereabouts. Wonderful were the stories current the people as to the treasures that lay buried with the dead, treasures in gold and silver, in jewelry and precious stones.
In all the pyramids were guardians on which sorcerers had bestowed their mysterious powers, and in many were images animated as was believed by the spirit of the founder. Enthroned in the pyramid of Cheops was a statue of royalty with scepter in hand, on which to look was death; for thence issued an awesome sound causing the heart to stay its beating. Yet of all the guardians, real or imaginary, none were powerful enough to shield from the depredations of more potent magicians the riches stored in the mausolea of Egyptian kings.
Of the Sphinx, symbolic of power united with intelligence, little more than the head, facing eastward toward the Nile remains above ground, though early in the present century the enveloping sands were partially removed, and the figure found to be 140 feet in height, with hands or paws of masonry projecting 50 feet, and between them a miniature temple with tablets representing monarchs as among its worshippers. In this connection may be mentioned the obelisk known as Cleopatra’s Needle, now standing on the Thames embankment in London, and the one presented by the khedive to the city of New York, which cost $100,000 and more than three years time to remove. In the days of Rameses II, probably the Pharaoh of the Hebrew oppression and the Sesostris of the Greeks, who ascribe to him all the great achievements of his predecessors with many that never occurred, Egypt reached the climax of her power, though invested with fictitious splendor by the great works executed during his threescore years of despotic rule. His campaigns were mainly defensive, or for the suppression of revolts, and only with the greatest difficulty could he maintain the limits of his colossal empire. In one of his battles against the confederated tribes of western Asia, it is related in the epic of Pentaur that, falling into ambush, deserted by his followers, and disdaining to fly, he cut his way single-handed through 2,500 chariots of war. The horses which drew his chariot he ordered to be fed daily with grain before the statue of the god Ra. It was during this so-called Hittite war that the Israelites, organized in gangs, were kept at work under task-masters, building the treasure cities of Pithom and Rameses. The lot of the Israelites was probably no worse than that of other bondsmen and captives, including the Egyptians themselves, whose peasantry, when free in name, were more sorely oppressed than even under Turkish misrule.
By Rameses, as by the Babylonian and Assyrian monarehs, entire tribes were deported for the prosecution of public works; for he manifested a mania for building, the remains of his temples and temple-palaces extending for hundreds of miles along the banks of the Nile. Among them may be mentioned those of Karnak and Luxor, of Abydos Memphis and Tanis, the last his favorite residence, with the Nubian temples of Abousimbel, hewn out of the rock, and the Rameseum at Thebes, where were preserved the records of his reign. Adjacent to the Rameseum was a temple erected in honor of Amenoph III of which no trace remains, except for the colossi which still stand side by side near the spot where the gates must have been. Of one of these giants in stone, called the vocal Memnon, it is said that when touched with the beams of the morning sun it gave forth a sweet musical sound, as of a human voice, caused probably by the effect of heat on a stone surface wet with dew.
Worthy of mention are the ruins of the great temple of Luxor, though but an appendage to the greater monuments of Karnak, the city of temples, one of them more than 1,700 feet square and completed only in the days of the Ptolemies. Of the former the propylon, or winged portal, is 200 feet in width, and in front is an obelisk of red granite, with hieroglyphics in vertical lines setting forth the titles of Rameses II of whom nearby are seated statues. On the wings of the portals are sculptures confirming the epic of Pentaur, the king represented as of gigantic stature, and urging his chariot into the midst of his foes who fall by hundreds beneath his arrows.
It may be said as to the ancient monuments of Egypt that they were reared many centuries before the founding of Athens, of Carthage or of Rome; were mentioned as antiquities by Plato and his contemporaries and will still remain when from the face of the earth has vanished the last vestige of others which now exist. Not content with erecting these huge piles in the valley of the Nile some, of them more than 4,000 years old, they carved in the rocks and embellished with the impress of their arts a subterranean Egypt no less magnificent than that whereon they dwelt. Thus did they strive to render their institutions immortal; thus in structures yet almost untouched by times corroding finger, they embodied their ideas as to the perpetuity of their religion, learning, and government, carving on tomb and temple pictures and symbols of their monarchs and deities, their sciences and their sacred precepts.
The Pharaohs built for themselves many mansions, seldom dwelling in the city of Memphis which cannot be termed their capital. Each one erected on some chosen spot, not far removed from the metropolis, a palace surrounded with residences for his court and household, none being content with the habitations in which their predecessors had lived and died. Constructed in haste, they were as hastily abandoned, and though reared for eternity, did not long outlive their original owners, falling into decay almost as quickly as the hovels of the poor. Each group was in itself a city; for nothing less than a city would accommodate the royal family retinue, harem, and other adjuncts to the cumbersome establishments maintained by Egyptian monarchs. In the center of a space surrounded by a battlemented wall stood the imperial abode, marked by spacious and pillared balconies, whence as from a throne the Pharaoh observed the movements of his guards or awaited the arrival of envoys or officials. Approaching the presence of royalty with chanting of praises, with prostrations, genuflexions, wringing of hands, and bowing of heads, the favorites received costly gifts of golden jewelry or necklaces of gold, presented by the chamberlains, or, as a token of special regard by the sovereign himself. Then, through doors overlaid with malachite and richly adorned with the precious metals, the king led the way into his council hall with its rows of stately columns reaching to the roof, carved out of the rarest of woods and colored in bright, fantastic hues. Here seated, on a throne of gold, the ruler of rulers administered justice and dealt with the affairs of state.
The private chambers were divided from the apartments of state, and for the queen, the secondary wives, and the children there were also separate quarters. The last were under the care of tutors, or guardians styled "governors of the houses of the royal children,” and for each one was appointed a residence, a train of servants, and all else that befitted his age and rank. On Sinouhit, for instance, who lived during the twelfth dynasty, was bestowed "a house of a son of the king," well stocked with gold and silver ornaments "worthy of a god," with the richest of garments and fabrics, and with perfumes such as would delight the senses of a scion of royalty.
Troops of skilled artisans were at his command, and better than all, he was supplied with unlimited orders on the treasury. For court nobles and the domestics of the household accommodation was provided within the palace walls, other officials and functionaries living in buildings grouped around narrow streets and courtyards, always within reaching distance of the emissaries of the king. Not in the household of Queen Victoria are there so many attendants and retainers, such minute and complex subdivision of duties and services as were found in Egyptian palaces. To make the toilet of a Pharaoh was the task of scores of men, each a master of his trade and each under a chief or director specially appointed for the purpose. There was the chief of the royal barbers who shaved the royal head and chin, of the royal hairdressers who combed and curled and adjusted the royal wig, placing thereon the diadem; there were the directors of those who cut and polished the royal fingernails, and of those who prepared the rouge for the cheeks the kohl for the eyebrows and the oils and perfumes with which the royal person was anointed. As to the wardrobe some had care of the body linen, some of the outer garments, and others of the materials of which they were made, all being fashioned on the spot. No sinecure was the office of those who had charge of the monarch’s jewelry, with its multiplicity of rings and earrings, of bracelets and necklaces, and of scepters of cunning workmanship inlaid with precious stones, all being used on special occasions as a portion of the royal costume. But most responsible of all were the guardians of the imperial crowns, on each of which was a uraeus believed to be animated with the spirit of a living goddess. For the queen and for women of the harem the staff of servants was no less numerous and for the amusement of all were companies of singers musicians, and dancing girls, with dwarfs and buffoons, the latter, though selected from the most deformed and hideous specimens of humanity, not infrequently enjoying the friendship and intimacy of the king.
By Hatasu, daughter of Thothmes I, were erected in front of the temple of Jupiter Ammon two obelisks of red granite from Elephantine quarries. They were monoliths nearly 100 feet in height, beautifully engraved, covered with delicate hieroglyphics, and in the center plated with pure gold. Still more remarkable were the twin colossi reared by the grandson of Thothmes, in the shape of seated figures carved out of sandstone. They are still more than 50 feet in height, though less than formerly.
Unto Rameses II were born 170 children, thus indicating the extent of his harem; for he had but three wives, his thirteenth son, Menptah, or Menephtha who succeeded him, being commonly accepted as the Pharaoh of the Hebrew exodus. But we need not further follow the numerous dynasties of an empire which was already beginning to crumble; for their wars were as numerous as those of the Babylonians, Assyrians, and Persians under whose yoke Egypt successively fell, later to succumb to Alexander the Great and finally, to be reduced to a Roman province. As to some, however, a word may be said, and among them Neku II, the Pharaoh, Necho of Hebrew story. By him was reopened the canal connecting the Mediterranean with the Red sea begun by Seti I, and perhaps completed by his son, Rameses II. As Herodotus states it followed a circuitous route, first eastward and then toward the south, was four days journey in length, and wide enough for two triremes to row abreast. But after costing the lives of 120,000 laborers, the project was abandoned; for an oracle warned him that he was laboring for the barbarians which term, were the Egyptians applied to all who could not speak their language. On both seas fleets maintained; and to this reign the historian ascribes the first circumnavigation of Africa occupying more than, two years, and the greatest of ancient achievements in maritime discovery. The voyage was made by a Phoenician expedition acting under the orders of Neku, the men going ashore in autumn wherever they happened to be, sowing a tract of land with grain, and putting to sea as soon as the harvest was gathered. Thus was the rounding of the cape of Good Hope accomplished more than 2,000 before Vasca da Gama discovered the route to years India, just as other parts of the world were known to the ancients long before so-called modern discoveries.
Under Neku and his father Tsametik I Egyptian supremacy was for the moment restored, but for the moment only, the former being slain in the battle which gave to Babylonia the dominions of the East. By his son and successor additions were made to the temples of Thebes, Uahabra, the next in succession and the Pharaoh-Hophra of scripture, being deposed in favor of Amasis, with whom ends "the long majestic line of Egypt's kings." A wealthy ruler was Amasis, and as liberal as wealthy, subscribing for the rebuilding of the temple at Delphi, after its destruction by fire, 1,000 talents of silver, though from the gods of the Greeks he could not hope for favor. But riches still abounded in Egypt, and he ruled over many cities, among his laws being one which if now in force would tend somewhat to the depopulation of Christendom; namely that whosoever did not make an honest livelihood should be put to death. Many of the temples he adorned with works of art; others he repaired; at Memphis he reared a mammoth temple to Isis, and in front of the temple of Phtha he erected colossal statues, one of them a monolith 75 feet in length. He was a jovial monarch withal, and after attending diligently to the affairs of his kingdom from early morn until noon, he would drink and jest with his merry men for the remainder of the day.
Being reproved therefore by his counselors, he made answer, the bow always bent becomes worthless, and to work always tends to madness and disease." Of a bathtub fashioned of gold he made the image of a god, which was set in a public place and worshiped; whereupon Amasis laughed, and said, "it is the same gold so lately put to base uses which you now worship as divine." During his reign the kingdom flourished, though greatly shorn of its proportions, and of this prosperity there is sufficient evidence in the enormous spoils acquired by the army of Cambyses, to whom Egypt finally submitted, never except for brief intervals freeing herself from the Persian yoke.
As to the industrial and social condition of the Egyptians before the conquest of Cambyses, while the pyramids are silent, much has been learned from their surroundings tombs the interior walls of which are covered with pictures and hieroglyphs reproducing the subjects of the Pharaohs as they appeared amid their daily business and pastimes. Much also may be gathered from the writings of Herodotus, Diodorus, Strabo, and Pliny, and especially from the first when speaking of matters of which he was an eye-witness, though of little value when related at second hand. While his chronology was faulty, and his traditions such as were obtained from self-interested priests, no foreigner saw more of Egyptian life and customs than did this inquisitive traveler. There were several castes or classes, the rank of nobility, if such indeed existed, being rather functional than hereditary, except the those of royal lineage who claimed divine descent.
Next after princes and such as held office in the royal household came the priests and warriors for all of whom ample provision was made. The priesthood was transmitted from father to son its members at Thebes and Memphis boasting their descent through more than 300 generations. They were rich and lived in luxury, claiming as a gift from Isis all the land in Egypt; and this they rented, their tenants being regarded as servants of the hierarchy.
In addition to their revenue and a liberal supply of food, they received contributions of cattle, sheep and wine. The original ownership of the remaining land was vested mainly in the king or his military officers, among whom were many of princely descent.
To the higher classes belonged also the judges and rulers of provinces and districts, these with architects and a few others being all whose names appear on inscriptions or to whom were granted the honors of sepulture.
The entire revenue of the richest among our latter-day monarchies could be packed into a few square feet of space; but the tax gathering of the Pharaohs could not be contained in the largest building in the world, their treasuries combining all the departments of factory farm, and warehouse. Though gold and silver were plentiful, coined money was, as I have said, unknown; hence, payments were in kind, and as with offerings to the gods, consisted of "all that the heavens bestowed, that the earth produced, or the Nile brought forth from its mysterious" sources. For the safe-keeping of these contributions were many storehouses within the palace enclosure, some of them divided into chambers, as the storehouse of provisions, where were meats and fruits, bread and wine, with other articles of food and drink, sufficient for several weeks consumption, even in an establishment where tables were laid each day for thousands of guests and employees. In the White storehouse, so-called from the color of its paint, were costly gems and fabrics; there was the Gold storehouse where silver was also placed; there was the "storehouse of the Oxen," and there were storehouses for liquors, grains, fruits, and weapons, with others whose uses have not been clearly ascertained. There were also grist-mills and bakeries, tanneries and slaughter-houses, laundries where linen was washed and ironed, and workshops where it was made into the piece.
For the safe-keeping and distribution of this unwieldy revenue an army of employees was required; for manifold were the duties connected therewith, some holding several appointments, all of which were coveted, if possible, with even more than the eagerness of a modern office-seeker. To be styled a director or superintendent of a storehouse was the ambition of the highest nobles in the land, and the sons of the monarch himself did not disdain the title. Yet these offices might be held by the lowliest, and instances are by no means rare where men who began life as tillers of the soil have ended their days as governors of provinces and managers of many storehouses, overflowing with the garnered wealth of Egypt.
Such a man, for instance, was Amten, the illegitimate offspring of a scribe who lived more than 2,000 years before the Christian era. Beginning life somewhat above the condition of the peasantry, he was appointed viceroy over half the Pharaohs realm; his houses of store overflowing with gold and fine stuffs, and precious vases, with corn and wine and oil ''multiplying the backs" of his oxen.
Except for the king, every Egyptian who would prosper in life placed himself under the protection of some one more powerful than himself, and to whom he rendered fealty or obedience. A man without a master was little better than an outcast, and to withdraw from this subjection was worse than withdrawing from life, since life was no longer worth the living. On the slightest pretext his neighbors might steal his property, and should he protest he was in danger of being beaten to death. If appealing his case, he sat at the gate of the royal or feudal palace awaiting the coming of the owner, though his petition were heard, it was but the beginning of further troubles. Against him the judges were prejudiced, turning a deaf ear to flatteries and complaints, his condition acting as a bar-sinister even to an indisputable claim.
As to the mass of the people, apart from merchants and tradesmen, they were tillers of the soil, laborers on public works, or artisans following their several avocations. The last were numerous, the various occupations being handed down from father to son as established by custom if not by law.
In addition to agriculture there, were gardening, hunting, fishing, and fowling; of handicrafts there were among others carpentry, masonry, bricklaying, and the polishing of pillars and statuary: there were manufacturers of textile fabrics of glassware, pottery, and metal work, with makers of furniture and musical instruments; all these contributing to the wealth and enjoyment of the few that is, to the aristocracy of landowners, who treated with harshness their servile peasantry and household slaves. Of these the estates were large and numerous, some owning a dozen or more, receiving from overseers statements of the produce as recorded by a scribe, and conducting operations on a gigantic scale. Seed was scattered broadcast, and planting performed by the tramping of sheep and goats over the moist surface of the inundated land. Donkeys were driven around the threshing-floor, and spades were used for winnowing the, products of a harvest reaped by sickles. Cows were milked in rows and oxen were mustered by the thousand, entire droves being slaughtered at times in the presence of their owners, whose tables on festal occasion’s trains of servants loaded with roasted joints, with baskets of bread, jars of wine and pyramids of fruit. Apart from metropolitan centers, the towns of ancient Egypt differed not greatly in appearance from those which exist today. As a rule they were grouped around temples and citadels surrounded with massive walls, within whose ponderous gateways the people found refuge in case of need. In those of the better class paved streets of moderate width intersected at right angles, and were lined with buildings of regular frontage. The dwellings of the rich occupied a considerable space, usually presenting to the street bare crenelated walls, with here and there the merest apology for ornamentation. Within was the strictest seclusion; for none might gaze on passersby or be by them observed. In the reception hall were octagonal pillars supporting the roof, and in front of the doorway was a portico usually containing statues. There were also staterooms, storerooms, and sleeping chambers, the family sleeping on the roof in summer and in winter crowding themselves into three or four apartments. The household valuables, consisting of ingots of gold and silver, ornaments, and precious stones, were guarded as far as possible from the depredations of robbers and tax-collectors, though secret indeed must be the hiding place that would conceal them from the latter. Except on the day of the weekly market there was no animation in Egyptian towns, no hum of traffic in their silent and deserted streets.
At early morn on that day peasants from all the country round filled to overflowing the spaces appointed for their use, those who sold livestock grouped in the center, and around them bakers, market-gardeners, fishermen, and venders of poultry, meats, and fruits offering their wares in baskets of reeds or heaped on low round tables. When commodities were exchanged for the precious metals, they were in the form of bent or circular strips of metal, and at each transaction were weighed amid much wrangling as to the adjustment of scales. But as a rule transactions were conducted by barter, the intending purchaser offering articles of his own production, as a necklace of beads or a pot of oil or honey. To exchange such products for what he needed was no easy task, especially when of considerable value was to be given, and this could be accomplished only after much shrewd bargaining. At the great religious festivals, of which there were three or four a year, the people shook off their torpor, awaking from long periods of drowsy inaction to do honor to their gods. First came the Egyptian New Year, on the eve of which fires were lighted in the sanctuaries and in places sacred to the dead. A moment later the entire land was illuminated from end to end, and even in the poorest families a lamp filled with oil in which salt was mingled shed its rays on their night-long festivities. On these occasions multitudes thronged from far and near arriving in caravans and boats well laden with merchandise; for after the festival came a fair resembling the weekly markets but on a larger scale. In the fine arts the Egyptians were no less proficient than in their industrial arts ranking next after the Greeks whom in some respects they excelled, especially in animal sculpture. All their principal cities and some of lesser note were adorned with temples filled with costly and for the most part colossal statuary. On every wall and pillar, on frieze and architrave were pictures or hieroglyphs relating to the architectural monuments on which they were painted or inscribed, forming indeed a portion of the temple rather than its decorative scheme. In the carving and decoration of their tombs they surpassed all nations of antiquity, not excepting the Greeks and Romans, for among them was a universal longing for posthumous fame, a life after death, the central idea of the Egyptian religion being symbolized in artistic forms in the construction of sepulchral chambers as enduring as the rocks on which they stood.
Within recent years the entire field of Egyptian literature has been laid open to research , and though as yet somewhat disappointing through lack of charm and lofty ideas, we know not what further investigation may reveal while the works which have been preserved are but fragments of those that have perished. It is probable that there were libraries in all the principal temples, though most of them have shared the fate of the literary treasures of the Greeks, which the Ptolemies stored in Alexandria. By classic writers mention is made of The Book of Egypt, and from the Rameseum at Karnak have been unearthed some remnants of "the sacred library" at Thebes. But most of the papyri that have come down to us were discovered in tombs and relate to religious subjects, the most important being The Book of Manifestation of the Light, which has been termed the Egyptian bible; so striking is the resemblance to certain passages of those of the Hebrew writings. Though consisting chiefly of formularies, it fully sets forth the doctrine of a future life, with the pilgrimages of the soul, and the account to be rendered to its judges, both as to good and evil deeds.
To Thoth, the founder of the priesthood and the earthly counterpart of a deity worshipped as the personification of divine intelligence, the Egyptians attribute their earliest knowledge of science and many of their social institutions. It was he who taught them language, astronomy, arithmetic, geometry, and the use of weights and measures; these and other subjects being embodied in the sacred or hermetic books, the exclusive property of the priests. In the Berlin museum and elsewhere are a few fragments of scientific literature; and in the Turin museum is a remnant of a topographical map, executed at least 3,400 years ago, and showing the location of Nubian gold mines. In the days of Menephtha was composed the first fairytale; and of Egyptian romances, all were of a religious tendency. Of metrical compositions a few specimens remain, some of them little inferior to Homer's epics, as appears, for instance, in the following lines translated from Pentaur’s description of the war of Rameses II against the Hittites:
Nor foot nor horse could make a stand against the warlike foe,
Who on Orontes' further bank held Kadesh citadel.
Then forth in glorious health and strength came Rameses the king;
Like Month the god he roused himself and donned his dress of war,
Clad in resplendent arms he shone, like Baal in his might;
Right on he urged his chariot wheels amidst the Hittite foe.
Of later Egyptian literature we know even less than of that which was contained in the libraries of the Pharaohs; for nearly all of it perished with the other treasures accumulated by the Ptolemies in the great library of Alexandria. In the days of the earlier Ptolemies the city became not only a seat of learning, but one of the commercial centers of the world. The first monarch of that name devoted his earlier years to conquest, later consolidating his empire, and with special regard for the welfare of his metropolis. Its harbor he enlarged and improved, bringing from Phoenicia thousands of shipwrights and from Lebanon cedar trunks for the building of his fleets. He established a coinage in gold, silver, and copper, the coins which have come down to us with his image and superscription reproducing features strongly marked by sagacity and resolution. Many costly edifices he erected; but on his own palace he expended little; for he was wont to say that a king should use his revenue for others and not for himself. He encouraged literature, science, and the fine and industrial arts, some of the most beautiful antique gems preserved being engraved during his reign; and these tastes were inherited even by the most worthless of his descendants.
By his youngest son and successor, Ptolemy Philadelphus, libraries were established, and among them the great library and museum in the Bruchium, or Hellenic quarter of Alexandria. Here were collected during his dynasty 700,000 volumes or rolls of papyri, and this is the library commonly reported to have been burned about the year 640 a. d. by the Saracen leader Amru, acting under the orders of the caliph. But the statement is improbable, and rests chiefly on the authority of Abulfaragius, who writing six centuries after the supposed event relates, as another version of his story, that the works were distributed among the public baths, where for six months they served as fuel. Though it has never been clearly ascertained by whom this act of vandalism was committed, it is certain that in the seventh century little remained of the Ptolemaic collections; for before the Arab conquest Alexandria was several times plundered, the Persians carrying away many literary treasures while one of the libraries was destroyed by order of a Christian bishop.
Besides purchasing in Egypt, in Asia, and in Greece all the most valuable works that could be secured, thus making the libraries of Alexandria the best in the ancient world, Philadelphus invited to his court men of letters and science. Archimedes, for example, completing his education at the royal academy, where Euclid taught the elements of geometry nearly half a century before. Thus was formed a scientific and literary element in the metropolis such as existed nowhere else except in Athens, whose schools of philosophy had their counterpart in the museum. Nor did Philadelphus neglect the material interests of his kingdom. By him was reopened the canal that connected the Nile with the Red Sea, completed by Darius I as Herodotus states, or as some say, by another at an earlier date. He established a desert route for the traffic of caravans and secured for Egypt the rich commerce of Arabia and India.
Many cities he founded or rebuilt, and all this he accomplished without further expenditure than was needed for the development of his empire. During his reign and those of his successors Egypt became not only the granary of the world but the highway of its commerce, and especially of its carrying trade which centered, in Alexandria and there for centuries remained. The influx of wealth during the reign of Philadelphus and his successors was enormous and, on nothing did they so much delight to expend it as on their feast; for the Ptolemies loved pleasure even more than they loved conquest and self-aggrandizement. To the palace comparatively few were invited, but all might partake of the bounty provided for the people at the festal processions. On some of these occasions sham battles were held on land or in the harbor. To the victors were presented crowns of gold; and without accepting the statements that on one such feast was expended more than $1,500,000, we may readily believe the cost was larger than that of Cleopatra’s famous banquet. But this was as nothing compared with the sums lavished on the army and navy, on public improvements, among them the great lighthouse on the isle of Pharos, and above all the library and museum, few sovereigns, ancient or modern, making freer use of their wealth than did the earlier Ptolemies.
Coming to the days of Cleopatra of the Roman dynasty, we find in Alexandria a population of 600,000 souls, of whom however nearly one-half were slaves. Second in size to Rome, it was a more beautiful city, with streets laid out in parallel lines, one of them 200 feet wide and intersected by another of equal width, both with costly structures for public and private use. In the Bruchium, in addition to the library and museum, were the palace of the Ptolemies, the temple of the Caesars, and the principal court of justice. There were also the Jewish and Egyptian quarters, the latter with its Serapeum, or temple of Serapis, to which was transferred a large portion of the famous library. From the mainland a mole seven furlongs in length extended to the isle of Pharos, dividing the outer harbor from the one of Safe Return, within which an artificial basin connected with Lake Marcopis and thence with the Canopic mouth of the Nile. At this time the wealth of the Alexandrians almost surpassed computation; so that it was thought they possessed the secret of making gold.
In addition to the products of Egypt, all the treasures of interior Africa, its ivory, its valuable timber, its ostrich feathers, and its gold passed through the hands of Alexandrian merchants, whose coffers were further swelled by traffic with European and Asiatic countries. In many branches of manufactures they also excelled, and especially in gem cutting and gold work, while their woven stuffs were famous throughout the world, and their tables of precious woods, with feet of ivory, were purchased at fabulous prices.
Under Roman rule the kingdom of the Ptolemies was maintained, though shorn of its former proportions; but with the decadence of the empire Egypt, sharing in its disorders, also declined in power and in commercial prestige. Nevertheless, writing from Alexandria to the caliph Omar about the middle of the seventh century Amru boasts that he has, captured a city with 4,000 palaces and as many public baths, 400 places of amusement, and 40,000 Jews who were subject to tribute. But presently came further disasters, followed by the founding of Cairo and the discovery of the cape route to the Indies; and at the close of the eighteenth century there were less than 6,000 inhabitants in the city of the Ptolemies, once the commercial metropolis of the world.
With the further political annals of Egypt with the several, dynasties of the caliphs followed, by Turkish misrule and oppression, with the expedition of Bonaparte, which promised so much and performed so little, we are not here concerned. Passing to the reign of Mohammed Ali, who, but for British intervention, would probably have rescued Egypt from its abject condition as a Turkish province, we find the country at his death in 1849 more prosperous and less troubled by wars and internal strife than for many centuries before.
By him was framed, partly on European models, the systems of taxation, education, and commercial intercourse. His later years were devoted to public improvements, chief among which was the construction of the Mahmondieh canal, connecting Alexandria with the Rosetta branch of the Nile. On this waterway, 50 miles long and 100 feet in width, were expended $1,500,000 and many thousands of lives, if human lives may rightly be counted in the cost of things.
To Mohammed Ali Alexandria is largely indebted for its restoration as a modern city; for of the ancient city built on the mainland few traces remain. Of the disposition of the two granite obelisks known as Cleopatra's needles and erected in front of the temple of Caesar mention has already been made. Near their former site are the remnants of a Roman tower, and on a mound not far away is Pompeys pillar, though why it was so named does not appear; for it is certain that the monument was neither reared by Pompey nor to his memory. Diocletian, as an inscription indicates, was the one to be honored; and by a statue of that emperor, the pillar, some 75 feet in height and 30 in basal circumference, was probably surmounted. Except for the catacombs, hewn out of the cliffs which skirt the shore, this is all that remains of the former mistress of the sea. Situated on the peninsula of Pharos, and on what was once an artificial dyke, now converted by the soil and debris of centuries into the isthmus which connects the peninsula with the mainland, modern Alexandria has more than justified the choice of the farsighted founder of that ancient city.
In its natural advantages as a commercial site, though freely supplemented by artificial improvements, it has no superior among Mediterranean seaports. There are two harbors, of which what is termed the western or old port is six miles long and more than a mile in width, with three entrances and water deep enough for vessels of heavy tonnage within a few hundred feet of shore. A breakwater extending for a mile and a half in a parallel line with the coast, a mole of half that length and 100 feet in width, several miles of quays and wharves, and one of the finest floating docks in the world are among the improvements made within recent years by a firm of English contractors at a cost of at least $10,000,000 to the Egyptian government. As approached from the mainland, the appearance of the city itself is by no means inviting, surrounded as it is by a flat sandy plain and encompassed in part with the ruins of walls and outworks which obstructed the path of improvement. In the European quarter are handsome streets and residences; but in the Turkish quarter the buildings and thoroughfares are as unsightly and if possible more filthy than in the days of the caliphs. Around the great plaza, tree planted and with fountains, seats, and promenades, are the principal hotels and stores the wealthier classes, living for the most part in the suburbs where are, villas and gardens fashioned after modern conceptions of architectural and landscape art. Among the more prominent buildings are the palace of the pasha; the churches, mosques, and convents; the custom-house, arsenal, and hospitals. The water supply now introduced from a canal, outside the city, but formerly stored beneath the city itself in reservoirs filled by the overflow of the Nile, is almost in as good condition today as when constructed in the reign of the Ptolemies. Traffic is considerable, and if diverted for a time by the building of the Suez canal it can never wrest from Alexandria her control of the rich and rapidly expanding commerce of Egypt.
Among the rulers of Egypt appointed by the caliph was Ahmad, son of Tooloon a Turkish slave who held high office in Baghdad. Later he became virtually monarch of the country, his allegiance being merely nominal, and at his death in 884 he is said to have left $300,000,000in his treasury, notwithstanding the costly edifices which he reared in Cairo to the glory of Allah and Ahmad. He it was who built in that city the great mosque of Ibn-Tooloon, with its pointed arches, the first so far as is known in the history of architecture. Other costly buildings he erected, of which, except for his mosque, nothing but ruins remain, and yet so well did he manage his affairs that during his regime taxes were largely reduced. In the reign of his successors wealth continued to accumulate, and in Egypt were found the richest of gold-embroidered dresses and robes, with plate and jewel-handled weapons rivaling those of the Persians. A carpet heavily interwoven with gold and silver is said to have been sold for $60,000, and we read of women who so loaded themselves with ornaments that they could not walk without assistance.
By the earlier sultans were erected in Cairo some of its stateliest structures, among them its mosques and the great hospital of Kaloon. Nasir, the Ismail Pasha of later days, expended $7,000,000 a year on the building of mosques, mausoleums, and bath-houses, with palaces for himself, his wives and harem. His stable, it is said, cost several millions, and other millions he expended more judiciously on the construction of an irrigating canal which converted waste lands into garden spots. By Hasan was built the famous mosque which bears his name, the finest specimen of Arabian architecture extant, and one of the most expensive, costing more than $3,000,000 and three years time to complete. Thus by successive rulers was Cairo beautified, until at the opening of the 19th century it was noted as one of the most picturesque of cities, and also as one of the dirtiest and most unhealthy, the death rate even at the present day far exceeding that of any European capital.
In regard to the great canal, it may be said that as far back as the time of the Israelitish exodus the Mediterranean was connected with the Red sea, though probably no canal was completed until the reign of the Ptolemies. By the emperor Trajan this canal, then known as the Augustus amnis, was enlarged and improved. Presently it became choked up and so remained until after the Muslim conquest, after which it was kept open for a century or more. It is probable that if Bonaparte had retained his hold on Egypt it would have been again reopened; for this was one of his favorite projects, and during his expedition he closely studied a report prepared by the French engineer Lepere. Work on the present Suez Canal was begun in April, 1859, and in little more than a decade it was open for traffic accommodating vessels 400 feet in length and 50 in beam.
First among the benefits of the Suez Canal is that it has shortened by more than one-third the voyage from Europe to the orient, reducing by at least a month the average passage of sailing craft. By these however, the canal is little used, the intricate navigation of the Red Sea and its light and baffling winds more than offsetting shortness of route, and thus virtually restricting traffic to vessels propelled by steam.
To countries bordering on the Mediterranean it has restored a portion of their ancient commerce, at the expense of many stations on the highway of the seas. Its success, together with that of the Caledonian, Amsterdam, and other canals constructed within the present century has insured the extension of such enterprises wherever they can be profitably utilized for the lessening of peril and delay. Even in Egypt plans have been discussed for rival canals, among them one for a fresh water channel between Alexandria, Cairo, and Suez, by way of Tel-el-Kebir. Though the widening of the basin and improvements in the service of the Suez Canal have, for the moment, caused these projects to fall to the ground, it is probable that one or more of them will be carried into execution at no very distant day.
During the reign of Ismail Pasha, grandson of Mohammed Ali, began an era of progress and reform, for Ismail was a man of strong administrative ability, had been appointed envoy to several European courts, and none rated more highly than he the boon of western civilization. He was moreover, a man of wealth, and mainly through his wealth obtained from the sultan the imperial firmans which declared him viceroy and virtual sovereign of Egypt. By him was opened in November 1866 the first Egyptian parliament, this being a revival with added functions and authority of the ancient assembly of notables, elected by the communes and largely composed of village sheiks. After receiving from the privy council and from the various ministers, as of commerce, agriculture, and finance, reports of their several stewardships, they devoted themselves to questions of taxation, legislation, and public improvements, always under Ismail’s direction. By him were restored and amended the administrative and educational methods introduced by Mohammed Ali; the customs and post-office systems were remodeled, and works second only to the building of the Suez Canal were carried to completion under his auspices. Not least among his measures was the substitution for consular jurisdiction of courts where, side by side, Egyptian and European judges administered justice without regard to nationality. A code based on that of Napoleon, but tempered with Mohammedan law, was framed by the khedive and his advisers, and found well suited to the people's needs. If only these reforms had extended to other courts where, native officials still misinterpret native laws, the reforms introduced by Mohammed Ali have left nothing to be desired.
In June 1879 Ismail Pasha abdicated in favor of his son Mohammed Tewfik, father of Abbas Hilmi who, in turn became khedive. Ismail assigned most of his estates for the benefit of creditors, returning to Naples and ending his days at Constantinople in the early spring of 1895. Though in other respects an able ruler, he was the merest tyro in finance, ever at the mercy of contractors and money-lenders, and as improvident in the management of his own as of the nation's affairs. His mission or hobby in life was to Europeanize Egypt; but this he accomplished at enormous expense, and at the loss of many of his country's antiquities. Especially to be condemned was the vandalism committed in Cairo, where the destruction of these antiquities is not compensated by the building of a theater, an opera-house and a few other modern structures. While in time his improvements may add to the welfare of the people, they have laid on the present generation burdens greater than it can bear so that of the oppressed of all the earth there are none more abject than the Egyptian fellah.
Closely connected with Egyptian civilization is that of the Phoenicians while in ethnographic relations the latter were allied with the Hebrews some authorities even classing them as descended from a single race. Certain it is that in the earliest of historic times they called their land the land of Canaan; but this was a term of uncertain application, being used also in reference to Philistia and to a portion of the territory conquered by the Israelites. In common with the Egyptians they computed the annals of their people by myriads of years, asserting divine origin for the founders of their nation and for its earliest cities, Sanchuniathon, one of their earliest chroniclers even claiming that the race was autochonous, and evolved from chaos through a long line of gods. In the days of the Israelitish bondage in Egypt, Phoenicia was but a narrow strip of coast bordering on the Mediterranean, but with a thriving commerce. Though there were excellent harbors they were at this time filled with mud and sand, only one safe port being accessible for vessels of moderate tonnage. The people were well content to dwell under Egyptian rule, for they were treated with special favor and their services were in demand by the Pharaohs, whose subjects were but indifferent seamen. Under the protection of this powerful monarchy, as later under that of the Persian, they preserved their own dynasty and laws, their own local self government, and were left free to attend to their favorite pursuits, first among which was the pursuit of wealth.
But from the political annals of the Phoenicians let us turn to their commerce, their manufactures, and other industries, with some mention of cities which for many centuries were among the leading emporia of the world. By an Egyptian functionary traveling in the fourteenth century before Christ, Tyre is described as "a small town situated on a rock in the midst of the waves, one very rich in its fisheries, but to which fresh water must be” carried in boats. While ancient Tyre was founded on the mainland, probably more than 1,000 years before this date, it was not until long after the building of the inland city that it became the great mart of commerce of which Ezekiel speaks, "the crowning city whose merchants were princes, whose traffickers were the honorable of the earth." In the time of this Hebrew Tyre was in the zenith of her glory, with a commercial prestige exceeded only by that of Carthage in later days, all the great nations of antiquity contributing to her wealth. From Arabia came the gold obtained by traffic with Africa and India; and from other countries silver, lead, copper, iron, and tin; from Egypt linen, and from Palestine oil, honey, and balm; with wine and wool from Damascus, slaves from Armenia, and live-stock furnished by Bedouin Arabs. Especially valuable was the trade with Tarshish, in the valley of the Guadalquivir, where was a Phoenician colony.
Here were mines of silver and other metals, deemed worthless by the untutored Iberians. They were easy of access and within a few miles of navigable waters, so that the profits derived there from were enormous. It used to be told that the anchors of vessels returning from Spain were made of silver.
Of all the cities of Phoenicia Sidon was the most ancient, and, as we read, was famed for its maritime enterprise even in the days of Jacob: "Zebulon shall dwell at the haven of the sea; and he shall be for a haven of ships; and his border shall be unto Zidon." By Homer and in scriptural story the word Sidonians is applied to the Phoenicians in general. Neither in the Iliad nor the Odyssey is the word Tyre or Tyrians used, and in the Hebrew Bible it does not occur until the Israelites had entered into their land of Canaan, Joshua being the first to speak of "the strong city of Tyre." Doubtless however Tyre and Sidon with their dependencies formed a single monarchy, whose kings first reigned in the older capital, whence the nation took its name. At first a mere fishing station, a cluster of huts encircled with a fosse and, later a village built of stone and surrounded with a wall Sidon developed rapidly under Egyptian rule her maritime, commerce extending to all the eastern shores of the Mediterranean to the Archipelago and even to the Black Sea, while her caravans secured the rich trade of Egypt, Syria, and the regions beyond the Euphrates. Her colonies were many and prosperous, covering the southern shores of Asia Minor, with others in Cyprus and Crete. In Cythera and Rhodes she had naval stations; in Thasos were the gold mines of which Herodotus writes after observing the magnitude of their workings; tin they obtained from the Caucasus, and silver, iron, and lead from the country of the Chalybes, all the products of her maritime and overland traffic finding a ready market in Phoenicia.
Carthage, the daughter of Tyre, first appears on the page of history in the reign of Cambyses the Persian, when the Phoenicians declined to join his expedition against that city, pleading, as Herodotus relates, "that they were bound to the Carthaginians by solemn oaths, and besides it would be wicked for them to make war on their own children."
Founded toward the middle of the ninth century by a band of Tyrian rebels under Elissar, afterward named Dido, or the fugitive, Carthage became the mistress of Phoenicia, and with many colonies and foreign possessions. Near the close of the sixth century we find her making a commercial treaty with Rome, and doubtless on favorable terms; for the great empire of the future was still in its infancy, while her later rival and foe was already the greatest of maritime powers. At this time the Carthaginians had almost reached the culmination of their prosperity, their possessions, extending even to Spain and Gaul, being firmly established through conquests undertaken only for the better security of commerce.
In Carthage we have one of the first instances of representative institutions, with a senate chosen by the people and suffetes answering to the Roman consuls, elected once a year but subject to revolution. There were also commissioners appointed from the members of leading families, and by these was again appointed the council of a hundred, whose functions somewhat resembled those of the Spartan ephors. In the government of the Carthaginians Aristotle finds much to commend, and if in the later period of the Punic empire offices were virtually for sale, and bribery as common as in these latter days of the 19th century, it was nevertheless a stable government, and one under which the people enjoyed prosperity and content. Certain it is that no weakly power could have borne the brunt of the Punic wars with their enormous drain of treasure and human life; and we cannot but regret that the struggle ended in the supremacy of Rome, whose conquests destroy so much that was worth preserving in the annals of human progress. The third of these wars is one of the saddest events recorded on history's page, and in all the long story of Roman oppression of Roman cruelty and arrogant self-assertion, we may search in vain for a parallel. After her defeat at Zama, the surrender of her fleet, and the payment of 4,000 talents as indemnity, Carthage was still one of the richest cities in the world the center not only of Phoenician wealth but of Phoenician culture science and art of which her conquerors have left but the merest trace. In this ancient seat of civilization, more than a century older than Rome herself, there were 700,000 inhabitants; there were industries and useful arts such as existed nowhere else, some of the latter being later lost for centuries, and some perhaps unknown at the present day.
Such was the city of which Cato never wearied of repeating, “delenda est Carthago,” a threat which found willing listeners in the aristocratic and narrow-minded party which blamed even the victor of Zama for his over lenient policy. The prosperity of her former rival, renewed in the face of manifold disasters was too much for Roman, jealousy, which displayed itself in careless acts of oppression. Her citizens sought peace at any price; but Rome would not have it so; for the senate had declared that Carthage must be burned to the ground, and the plow passed over its site, which thenceforth should be held forever accursed. War being declared on some paltry pretext, each man and woman within its walls prepared for the death struggle, defending themselves with a heroism which at an earlier period would have saved them, but now was all in vain. After a two years siege, famine decided a contest which the sword had failed, to win and the decree of the senate was ruthlessly executed by the sternest of Roman generals. For seventeen days the city was in flames; a mound of ashes was all that remained of the great metropolis, and a few years later Roman bondsmen pastured their flocks on the spot where for centuries had stood the queen city of the ancient world.
Thus did Scipio Africanus the younger obliterate all traces of this wealthy and time-honored city, completing with cruel and inflexible resolve the hideous task with which his name will be forever associated. Yet in his better nature there was much to admire; for he possessed all the sterling qualities of the Roman of olden days. He was a scholar withal, an orator, and by no means wanting in refinement, numbering among his friends such men as the historian Polybius and the poets Terence and Lucilius. Neither on this nor on other occasions did he avail himself of his many opportunities for increasing his private fortune, touching not a sesterce of all the vast sums which he brought into the public treasury. To the Sicilian cities of the Greeks he restored the many works of art which the Carthaginians had carried away among their spoils of war. The contents of the valuable libraries collected in Carthage, second only to those of Alexandria, he distributed among barbaric princes, among them being an account of Hanno's voyage along the western shore of Africa, still extant as a translation, and a treatise on agriculture, which was rendered into Greek and Latin, and by both nations regarded as the standard work on husbandry.
As farmers the Phoenicians had no superiors, managing their estates with skill and system, and never acquiring more land than they could use to advantage. No country on earth, says Polybius, contained so many horses, oxen, sheep, and goats as did Libya, the word Libya being applied by the Greeks to all that was known of Africa, with the exception of Egypt. The richest portions of Europe also contributed to the wealth of Carthage; for her people were essentially a commercial people, and among them the calling of the merchant was ever an honorable pursuit, the city being not inaptly termed the London of antiquity. From inland traffic a golden harvest was also gathered, and in a word the carrying trade of the civilized world was almost concentrated in her two artificial harbors, one of them opening into the lagoon of Tunis, itself a Carthaginian city and playing an important part in the Punic wars.
The riches of Carthage were enormous, far exceeding that of Tyre and of all ancient centers of civilization. While closely concentrated they were also freely expended, the mass of the people having little, and being more readily influenced by the gold of the wealthy than by the solicitations of would-be reformers. Here were all the luxury and extravagance that pertain to a great and opulent commercial city, and in this respect it was strangely in contrast with the Rome of consular days, where as is related there was but a single set of silver plate among the families of the entire senate, and this reappeared in every house to which the envoys of Carthage were invited. The public revenues were derived from customs and tribute, without direct taxation of Carthaginian citizens. There is also mention of state loans, and there was a gold and silver currency, with token money, which latter had no intrinsic value. In spite of costly wars and the reckless waste of public funds, the income of the republic sufficed as a rule for the outlay. Later its finances were more carefully managed; so that after the second Punic war, the payment to Rome of the annual installments of indemnity, together with all current expenses were met without tax levy, merely through a stricter financial administration, and after a few years of peace payment was tendered of the 36 remaining installments, amounting in all to nearly $8,000,000. Here in truth is a striking instance of the resources of Carthage, even after her power was broken and her sources of revenue grievously curtailed.
Miscellany –The mummies of Rameses II, the Pharaoh of the oppression, of Rameses III and other Egyptian kings, are now displayed in glasses cases in the Baluk museum, labeled as antiquities, so that all may gaze without fear on the great monarchs who declared themselves equal with the gods. In 1880 the mummy of Rameses II, which for nearly 3,200 years had lain at rest, was offered to an American Traveler for a small bakshish, but the traveler did not believe it to be genuine and so refused it. After being embalmed, his body was placed in the great sarcophagus of Biban-el-Mulouk, its vaulted halls and chambers adorned with carvings in relief representing his exploits. But though walled in, as was the custom, and covered with rocks and sand, so that none but the priests should know of its whereabouts, when discovered, it was found to be empty. The mummy, with those of other sovereigns, had been removed to a mortuary chamber near Deir-el-Bahari by Arabs who found its former resting place through mean known only to themselves, and for years drove a thriving trade in antiquities, even offering for sale the scarabs on which was the cartouche of Rameses II. Presently this came to the knowledge of the museum officials; one of the Arabs was arrested, and lay in prison for months, suffering frequent applications of the bastinado without revealing the secret. Finally his brother, being offered a larger sum than he could hope to make by further pillaging of tombs, made a full confession, except as to their clue to the secrets of the sarcophagus. Thereupon the curator of the museum was conducted to the hiding place, and of the finding of Pharaoh the following is in part his story: “Descending I began the exploration of the underground passage, and soon we came upon cases of porcelain funeral offerings, metal and alabaster vessels, draperies and trinkets, until, reaching a turn in the passage, a large number of mummy cases came into view. Making the best examination I could by the light of my torch, I saw at once that they contained the mummies of royal personages of both sexes. Yet that was not all. Plunging forward in advance of my guide, I came to a mortuary chamber, and there, standing against the walls or lying on the floor, I found even a greater number of mummy cases of enormous size and weight. Their gold coverings and their polished surfaces so plainly reflected my own excited visage that it seemed as though looking into the faces of my own ancestors. I took in the situation quickly and hurried into the open air, lest I should be overcome, and the glorious prize, still unrevealed, be lost to science. It was almost sunset, and nearly the whole of the night was spent in hiring men to remove the precious relics. Early in the morning 300 Arabs, each one a thief, were employed under my direction. One by one the coffins were hoisted to the surface, were securely sewed up in sailcloth and matting, and then were carried across the plain of Thebes to the steamers awaiting them at Luxor, two squads of Arabs accompanying each sarcophagus, one to carry it and the other to watch the carriers.”
Egyptian architecture may be said to have culminated in the reign of Seti and his son Rameses. The ruins of the pillard hall at Karnak, erected by the former, are among the grandest in the world, 330 feet long by 170 feet in width, and with the walls and pylons covering an area of nearly two acres.
At the festival of Bast, the Egyptian Artemis, 700,000 people assembled at Budastis, in the center of which were the temple and statue of the goddess. The people came in boats, bringing offerings from every portion of the land. Some of the men played the flute, with the accompaniment of castanets; the remainder sang and clapped their hands, and all drank a prodigious quantity of wine. In her monuments Bast is represented with the head of a cat, her sacred animal.
Except as to irrigation, agricultural methods and implements in Egypt differ but little from those of ancient times, save that cattle are used for most of the work before accomplished by human labor. Still, as in the days of the Pharaohs, three crops are gathered from the delta and valley of the Nile, beyond which the country is little better than a desert, its entire productive area being less than 13,000 out of 400,000 square miles, yet supporting a population of 6,500,000, apart from nomad tribes. In November cereals are chiefly sown; in spring, sugar-cane cotton and rice, and in summer vegetables and rice, flax, hemp, tobacco, and indigo almost completing the list of products. Cotton, introduced by Mohammed Ali, was largely cultivated during the civil war, and with India mainly supplied the deficiency in American crops. In 1892 the yield, which has not varied greatly since that date, was about 500,000,000 pounds from 870,000 acres of irrigated land. In grain are planted some 3,250,000 acres, and in other crops about 1,000,000, leaving uncultivated more than one-third of the cultivable area. Except for groves of palms there is no wooded surface in upper Egypt, and in all the land there is not a single forest nor even a wood. In the cities and in their neighborhood streets and roads are planted with the acacia, mulberry, and sycamore fig, while in the gardens are the myrtle, elm, and cypress, the date-palm ,banana, and other fruit trees, with flowers in profusion though but little cared for. In the market gardens are vegetables of 30 or 40 varieties, raised on the smallest of plats or squares, separated by tiny channels ridged with earth, thus giving to an Egyptian garden the appearance of a miniature Egypt. The date, of which there are many varieties, is the fruit of greatest commercial value, and is prepared in many forms, those which come from the oases, and especially from the ancient oases of Jupiter Ammon, being most esteemed.
Figs and melons are also of excellent flavor and among others are the pomegranate, peach, and apricot, the orange, lime, and lemon. Grapes are common, though the vine is raised more for ornament than use, as the Egyptians drink no wine, and about the only species fit for the table is a small white grape grown in the province of Feiyoom. In this province are the remains of one of the most remarkable engineering works of ancient Egypt, named Lake Moeris, but rather a reservoir than a lake, built for irrigation purposes and also for the storage and propagation of fish. In olden days the vineyard was an important portion of the estate, for wine was always an accompaniment of the fest, and among the Greeks and Romans Egyptian vintages were much in request. Of modern Egyptian manufactures and of the attempts to foster them no further mention is needed, while as to the failure of these attempts there is sufficient evidence in the list of exports and imports, the former consisting almost entirely of raw products and the latter of manufactured goods. Of exported commodities, valued at $65,.000,000 to $70,000,000 a year, $55,000,000 is in the form of cotton and cotton seed, of which Great Britain takes nearly two-thirds, sending in return export worth at least $17,000,000, chiefly in cotton fabrics. Of cereals, Egypt, once the granary of the world, raises no more than is needed for home consumption, exports and imports being about equally divided. Sugar is an important item, with rapidly increasing shipments already amounting to nearly $5,000,000 a year. It is also worthy of note that fruits are largely imported into one of the finest fruit growing counties in the world.
From the rocky spur on which a bastioned fortress stands guard over the modern metropolis, the view of Cairo is one of the most imposing and suggestive in all the wide land of the Pharaohs. To the west and north are the broad river, studded with islets, and the delta, larger than a New England state, which forms “the gift of Nile.” Toward the south are gardens and groves watered by the upper course of a stream nearly 3,400 miles in length; on the northern horizon the pyramids are plainly visible, and eastward beyond the tombs of the caliphs a wilderness of sand is skirted by a black-ground of barren cliffs. In the capital itself, now more than a dozen miles in circumference, the inner portion girt with massive walls palaces and mosques crowned with cupolas, a forest of domes and minarets reveals the symmetrical outlines and delicate tracery of oriental decoration. With time improvement has kept pace, narrow unpaved and crooked lanes and alleys giving way in the business and other quarters to modern thoroughfares, no longer swept by binding clouds of dust from the dumping grounds of a city’s refuse. Plazas are numerous, and in the great square or park which for centuries lay waste are gardens encircling an artificial lake. Yet among Cairo streets are many which retain their former appearance, are a noisy and dirty, as narrow and dark as when Saladin built here his citadel in 1165, or when, nearly six centuries later, Mohammed Ali erected in the citadel his palace and mosques of oriental alabaster.
The several portions of the city, now containing at least 400,000 people, are named after the nationality, occupation, and condition of the inhabitants. While the poorer classes dwell in the meanest of human habitations, with nothing to relieve their squalor and unsightliness, the homes of the wealthy have seldom been surpassed in beauty of appointment and design, though here are few of the monumental structures which in western lands are regarded as tokens of wealth. The latter have seldom more than two stories, the lower one of stone from adjacent quarries, and the other of painted brick, both decorated in the arabesque, with windows in part of stained glass and projecting cornices of finished workmanship. Passing though a tortuous passage and an ornamental doorway we enter the courtyard, where is a fountain shaded with palms, a second fountain in the main apartment, paved with marble and used for the reception of guests, sparkling beneath the rays of a colored lamp. Around the walls of this apartment is a divan with cushioned seats and screened from view by cabinets inlaid with precious woods. In the upper story is the harem, this word being used merely in reference to the chambers set apart for the female members of the household. Cairo has its Italian opera-house, its French theater, its hippodrome, and other places of public amusement, much better patronized than could be expected in a city where the thermometer registers 100 degrees or more in the shade. Among public building of modern date are also several colleges and many schools, though in educational matters Cairo is not on a par with Alexandria, her system showing little improvement since the days of its founder, Mohammed Ali, In the public library is a valuable collection of manuscripts, and elsewhere is a still more valuable Mariette, one of the most famous of recent Egyptologists, his remains now resting in a sarcophagus facing the Bulak museum which is his noblest monument. In Bulak, a suburb of the metropolis on the eastern bank of the Nil, are cotton and paper factories, the finest products of the latter being used for the government printing-press purchased by Mohammed Ali for the encouragement of oriental literature. On the isle of Roudah a sugar refinery was erected during the reign of Said Pasha, and elsewhere are other forms of manufacture; but the output is small in volume; for Egypt is today, as in the days of the Pharaohs, essentially an agricultural country, and neither Cairo nor another Egyptian city can ever become a great manufacturing center. Commerce is varied and of large amount, though resented chiefly by goods in transit, as the ivory and ostrich feathers, the cereals, cotton, and sugar of home production passing westward, together with the fabrics of Persia and India, to be exchanged for articles of European make.
As, in a commercial sense, Cairo is merely an emporium for overland traffic, it has been little affected by the opening of the Suez Canal. Except that the Suez Canal affords a short passage for sea-going ships there is nothing in this great engineering achievement that resembles a canal; for it has neither locks nor gates, neither pumping nor other apparatus common to such undertakings. It might better be termed an artificial waterway connecting two level and almost tideless seas, thus presenting no such natural obstacles as in the construction of the Panama Canal, which on account of the tides and differences in level, apart from other difficulties, is believed by many able engineers to be an impracticable feat. From Port Said on the Mediterranean, the Suez Canal passes through a series of shallow lakes divided by stretches of sand, until nearing Suez it enters the former basin of other and lower lakes now filled with water from the sea. Its total length is 88 miles, and its width at the top from 200 to 300 feet, with a navigable depth of 26 feet, the channel being marked on either side by beacons less than 100 yards apart, while at intervals never exceeding five or six miles are places where vessels may moor for the night of wait for others to pass, all movements being regulated by telegrams from Port Said, or the intermediate station of Ismailia. In the execution of this work, at a cost of nearly $100,000,000, from 25,000 to 30,000 laborers were employed, and more than 700,000,000 cubic feet of sand and other substances excavated. It was not without many difficulties, engineering, financial, and otherwise, that the task was finally accomplished, and not least among them were the reports of those who, for whatever reason, were opposed to the undertaking. In 1862, for instance, Sir John Hawkshaw, instructed by the khedive after whom Port Said is named to prepare a report independent of the French company, stated among his objections that the canal would silt up or be filled with the moving sands of the desert; that ships could not safely enter Port Said on the Mediterranean side, even if it could be kept open, and that the navigation of the Red Sea was difficult and dangerous. However puerile these objections, and especially the last, —they served as an excuse for the non-fulfillment of the viceroy’s contract. The real objection was to the terms of the concession, which called for enforced labor and a grant to the concessionaires of all lands that could be irrigated by a freshwater canal to be constructed for the use of the workmen. In fact this fresh or sweet-water canal was never constructed, a supply being brought for the Nile near Cairo and distributed throughout the entire length of the works, a task of itself of no ordinary magnitude. Thus, however, was overcome the main objection to the completion of the Suez Canal. While Hawkshaw’s examination was yet in progress, Said Pasha died, and was succeeded by his brother Ismail, who was even less in favor of the project, though by him and his predecessor had been furnished one half of the capital, most of the remainder being subscribed in France. Finally the questions in dispute were referred to the third Napoleon, who as indemnity for loss of time and the surrender of privileges awarded to the company the sum of $19,000,000, to be applied toward the completion of the work. During 1870, the first complete year of operation, the receipts were somewhat over $1,000,000, nearly 500 vessels passing though the canal, with a gross tonnage of 655,000. Thenceforth traffic increased; in some years rapidly, in others steadily, reaching its maximum in 1891, when the number of vessels was 4,200, the tonnage 12,200,000, and the income more than $18,000,000. For 1893 the net profits exceeded $8,000,000, divided, after the payment of give percent interest on the shares, among the Egyptian government, the founders, employees, and managing directors. That the control formerly held by Ismail Pasha was purchased by Beaconsfield for the comparatively insignificant sum of $20,000,000, was due to Egypt’s financial difficulties and to the alienation of the khedive’s dividends until they should suffice for the settlement of disputed claims and accounts. To this control is partially due the preponderance of British vessels and tonnage –more than three-fourths of all that pass though the canal. Here also was the main pretext, and that but a sorry one, for the British occupation of Egypt. The public works undertaken during the reign of Ismail Pasha were on a scale such as no former viceroy had even dared to contemplate. First, as to the Suez Canal it should be said that after the arbitration of Napoleon III, notwithstanding his excessive award, he gave himself heartily to the completion of the task, and proceeding to Europe personally invited its sovereigns to the formal opening in November 1869. For the barrage of the Nile, largely increasing facilities for irrigation, the plan was formulated and partly executed during Ismail’s reign. By him were mainly constructed the great harbor works of Alexandria and Suez, and at a cost of nearly $1,000,000, seven first-class lighthouses erected on the Mediterranean, and as many on the Red Sea, were added to the single third-class light contained in all the land of Egypt. Of the 1,300 miles of railroad, connecting among other points Alexandria Cairo Ismailia and Suez, nearly all were constructed during his reign, a project for a Soudan railway, 1,000 miles in length, shortening the route to India and bringing nearer to Cairo the rich products of the south, being suspended and perhaps abandoned on account of costly engineering difficulties. Telegraph lines were established, both surface and submarine, bringing Egypt into communication with Asia Europe and the United States, a system or combination of systems some 4,000 leagues in length and probably the longest in the world, now Connecting Cairo with San Francisco. Nor, while freely lavishing millions for the welfare of others, was the khedive unmindful of his, but he built for himself a palace which rivaled in splendor those of his wealthiest predecessors. Its furniture and appointments were the best that money could purchase, with the riches of silken hangings and of mural decorations, the mantes of onyx along costing more than $15,000. But the crowning feature was its kiosk, or pavilion, eclipsing in splendor and charm the most finished efforts of modern oriental architecture. All this, as may be imagined, Ismail did not accomplish without the employment of borrowed funds, and these he used in most extravagant fashion, pushing forward his public works with more haste than discretion, and concluding with European firm contracts which could not fail to embarrass his exchequer. For a time the evil day was deferred by foreign loans, the khedive obtaining though a liberal distribution of largess the right to negotiate loans at will. Of this privilege he was not slow to avail himself, loan following loan in rapid succession, but only making matters worse, for all were issued at a heavy rate of discount and at inordinate rates of interest. Thus from the one of 1868, redeemable in 1898, with a face value of about $60,000,000, little more than one-half was received in cash, and on this was paid as interest and sinking-fund more than 13 percent a year. Of the $160,000,000 which formed the nominal amount of the loan of 1873, less than $100,000,000 fell to Egypt’s share, the annual charges thereon exceeding 12 ½ percent. Even his own private estates the viceroy mortgaged on most unfavorable terms, caring as it seemed for nothing so long as his favorite projects were materialized in the shortest possible time. Of all the Egyptian loans it is probable that none cost less than 12 percent on the actual sum subscribed, while on the railroad loan of 1866 the rate was 27 percent. Such was Egyptian financiering in the says if Ismail Pasha., and no wonder that when a British representative was ordered in 1875 to inquire into the financial condition of Egypt he found the country more than $400,000,000 in debt, with a revenue entirely insufficient to meet the charges thereon. Then came suspension of the payment of interest on bonds, followed by the collapse of Egypt’s credit, and the rehabilitation of her finances by a European board of control. We need not follow the financial and political complications which led to the Anglo-French intervention, the bombardment of Alexandria, the British occupation, the campaign which closed at Tel-el-Kebir, and the episode which ended with the death of General Gordon. Suffice it to say that at the end of 1894 the Egyptian debt had increased to more than $50,000,000 but with interest reduced to an average of less than four percent, the budget for 1895 placing the national income at $50,000,000 against $48,000,000 of expenditure.
In the bazaars of Thebes were represented the products of many oriental nations. There were embroideries from Babylon, richly ornamented stuffs from Syria, Hittite and Phoenician jewelry, and gold, amber, and coral from lands beyond the sea, all intermingled with fine linens, furniture, glasswork, and other articles of home manufacture.
Gold in dust or nuggets and in packets of given weight came from the heart of Africa, where it was collected by Negroes from river sands; silver and electrum were supplied by the Phoenicians and Ethiopians, while in Egypt itself were valuable stones of many descriptions.
Most of the Egyptian nobles owned many chariots and horses, on the purchase and care of which they expended much time and money, the Pharaohs rewarding those who had well kept stables. At first the chariots were imported; but soon Egyptian workmen learned how to make lighter and more elegant vehicles, such as a man could easily carry on his shoulders. They were constructed chiefly of wood and leather, though gold, silver, and bronze were used for ornamentation.
Among the domestic animals of Egypt and also of Syria is the long tailed sheep, with tail so lengthy and so loaded with fat that a board, sometimes mounted on wheels, is placed beneath to keep it from dragging on the ground. The appendage sometimes weighs nearly half as much as the animal itself, and the fat, esteemed as a delicacy, is so soft as to be used in place of butter.
The wealth and luxury of the Phoenicians at one time almost surpasses belief. Tyrus did build herself a stronghold, says Zechariah, "and heaped up silver as the dust and fine gold as the mire of the streets." And thus Ezekiel apostrophizes the queen city of the Phoenicians. "O thou that dwellest at the entry of the sea, thou, O Tyre, hast said 'I am perfect in beauty.' By thy wisdom and by thine understanding thou hast gotten thee riches and hast gotten silver and gold into thy treasuries. By thy great wisdom and by thy traffic hast thou increased thy riches, and thine heart is lifted up, and thou hast said 'I am a god, I sit in the seat of a god, in the midst of the seas.' Tarshish was thy merchant by reason of the multitude of all kind of riches. Many isles were the mart of thine hand, bringing thee horns of ivory and ebony. Syria was thy merchant by reason of the multitude of thy handiwork; they traded for thy wares with emeralds, purple, and broider work and fine linen and coral and rubies. Judah and the land of Israel, they were thy traffickers; they traded for thy merchandise wheat and honey and oil and balm." Then, after mentioning a number of Arabian tribes, the writer continues: "They traded for thy wares in lambs, in rams, and goats; with the chief of all spices and with all precious stones and gold; in choice wares in wrappings of blue and broider work, and in chests of rich apparel bound with cords and made of cedar. When thy wares went forth thou didst enrich the kings of the earth with the multitude of thy riches and of thy merchandise; the ships of Tarshish were thy caravans, and thou wast replenished and made very glorious in the midst of the seas."
It may be said that the Phoenicians were the first to confront the perils of ocean, the first to steer their swift strong ships by the polar star, far beyond sight of land, and the first to make known to other nations that a great world existed beyond the countries bordering on the Mediterranean. In enterprise and ingenuity they surpassed even the Greeks, and were greatly their superiors in commerce science and industries. In the days when brute force was the principal source of national wealth and power, and the only source of national renown, they taught the people of the earth that riches, dominion, and fame could be won by arts as well as by arms, by the peaceful arts of industry and trade as well as by conquest and massacre. Long after Carthage was obliterated by the might of Roman legions, the influence of Phoenician civilization was felt, as even to-day it is felt among the most cultured and opulent of European communities. Let us hope that this influence will increase, and the rage for standing armies become a thing of the past, the rivalry of nations being diverted from warlike preparations to truer and more legitimate channels.
The naval and commercial supremacy of Carthage was long un- disputed, even by Greece or Rome, her galleys consisting mainly of quinquiremes, with slaves for rowers, but manned by trained and fearless seamen, against whom the Greeks and Romans in their triremes did not dare to contend for the sovereignty of the seas. To the Phoenicians has been attributed the origin of navigation; but however this may be, certain it is that in seamanship they were unrivaled by any of the nations of antiquity. The Greeks themselves, while no unskillful navigators, admitted their superiority, Zenophon, for instance, in his Economics, speaking with approval of the discipline maintained on board their merchant vessels, the vigilance of officers and steersmen, the disposition of the cargoes, and the care with which every inch of space was used to the best advantage.
Tarshish, whence came to Tyre ships laden with the precious and useful metals, was a town and district in the neighborhood of Gades, or Cadiz, and by the Greeks called Tartessus. There was also a river of that name, whose waters, as Strabo relates, contained gold and other metals. Aristotle tells us that the first Phoenicians who touched at Tartessus received so much silver in exchange for articles of little value that their vessels would not contain it; so they left behind them their tackle and made new gear of silver. According to native tradition silver and gold were melted by f ire beneath the surface of the earth, and f lowed forth in such abundance that every hill and mountain was covered with gold. The silver and gold which the rivers brought down were obtained by merely passing the water through sieves, while Diodorus mentions streams of pure silver oozing from the mountains in liquid state. Strabo says that no country in the world was so rich, not only in the precious metals, but in f locks and herds, in fisheries and in corn wine oil and honey.
Among Phoenician sources of wealth were their forests of timber suitable for ship-building, and in their waters the murex and other shellfish from which was produced the famous Tyrian purple, though the latter were not confined to their coast. While the secret of extracting this dye was known to other nations, that which was made by the Phoenicians always enjoyed the preeminence, probably through their superior knowledge of chemical processes.
While laboring, however selfishly, in their own interests, the Phoenicians were also of incalculable benefit to others, kindling a spirit of enterprise among numerous tribes and nations which but, for such awakening, would have slumbered for ages, unconscious of their latent powers and resources. Twelve centuries at least before the Christian era their warehouses and counting-houses extended in one unbroken line westward to the strait of Gibraltar and southward to the strait of Babel Mandeb and the shores of India. Each of them became in time the center of a city and a potent factor of material progress; for the native tribes were not slow to gather around these settlements, attracted by the advantages of civilized life. As the effects of Phoenician culture began to be felt, new needs were developed and especially for manufactured wares, which gave to them comforts and means of refinement of which they had no conception. Presently came the desire to learn the secret and master the art of their fabrication, and thus to utilize the pro- ducts of their country, instead of delivering them in the shape of raw material to strangers who knew so well how to turn them to advantage.
Of the Phoenicians themselves it may be said that nowhere in the ancient or modern world was the craft of the trader and of the money maker so thoroughly understood. The love of riches was not only the keynote to their character but their character itself, the sum and substance of their moral worth. Doubtless they possessed higher qualities, and especially ingenuity, enterprise, and industry; but for these the greed of gain was the motive and sustaining power, since to them success meant only wealth, and wealth was their pride and delight.