Sidor som bilder
PDF
ePub
[ocr errors]

The MANNER.S. and CUSTOMS, &C. > the difference of countries and nations which did so o always follow the same usages; or to the diffe- ent way of thinking of the historians whom I copy.

| C H A P. I.
Concerning the KINGS and GOVERN-

MENT. *

THE Egyptians were the first people who

rightly understood the rules of government. From a gravity and seriousness natural to them, they pimmediately perceived, that the true end of politicks S, is, so make life easy, and a people happy.

The kingdom was hereditary ; but according to - Diodorus, the Egyptian Princes conducted them- Diod. 1.1. choa selves in a different manner from what is usually p. 63, &c. From seen in ocher Monarclties, where the Prince acknow: '. ver: ledges no other rule of his actions, but his arbi- :

its e' trary will and pleasure, But here, Kings were unanks der greater restraint from the laws, than their submout jects. They had some particular ones digested bye. Dieta a former Monarch chat composed part of those hox books, which the Egyptians called facred. Thus ed in every thing being settled by ancient custom, they d üri never fought to live in a different way from their and F ancestors. elfs No slave or foreigner was admitted into the imme

diate service of the Prince, such a post was too imporDenne tafit to be intrusted to any persons, except those who

i were the most distinguished by their birth, and had reto ceived the most excellent education; to the end, that - che as they had the liberty of approaching the King's per7s and son, day and night, he might, from men so qualifiFrades: ed, hear nothing which was unbeconiing his Royal ecimo Majesty; or have any sentiments instilled into him, End of! but such as were of a noble and generous kind. For, either adds Diodorus, it is very rarely feen, that Kings fly

. . out

out into any vicious excess, unless those who apol proach them approve their irregularities, or serve as instruments to their passions. .

The Kings of Egypt freely permitted, not only the quality and proportion of their eatables and liquids to be prescribed thein (a thing customary in Egypt, the inhabitants of which were all sober, and whose air inspired frugality) but even that all their hours, and almost every action, should be under the

regulation of the laws. :In the morning at day-break, when the head is

clearest, and the thoughts most unperplexed, they read the several letters they received ; to form a more juft and distinct idea of the affairs which were to come under their consideration that day.

As soon as they were dressed, they went to the daily sacrifice performed in the temple;, where, surrounded with their whole Court, and the victims placed before the altar, they affisted at the prayer pronounced aloud by the High-Priest, in which he asked of the Gods, health and all other blessings for the King, because he governed his people with clemency and justice ; and made the laws of his kingdom the rule and standard of his actions. The HighPriest entred into a long decail of his virtues ; obferv. ing that he was religious to the Gods, affable to men, moderate, just, magnanimous, fincere; an enemy to fallhood ; liberal, master of his passions ; punishing crimes with the utmost lenity, but prescribing no bounds in his recompencing of merit. He next spoke of the faults which Kings might be guilty of; but supposed at the same time, that they never committed any, except by surprize or ignorance ; and loaded with imprecations such of their ministers as gave them ill counsel, and suppressed or disguised the truth. Such were the methods of conveying instructions to their Kings. It was thought that reproaches would only sour their tempers; and that the most effectual method to inspire them with virtue, would

be

fcribing no bof the faules

same time

be the pointing out to them their duty in praises beftowed conformably to the sense of the laws, and pronounced in a solemn manner before the gods. After the prayers and sacrifice were ended, the counsels and actions of great men were read to the king out of the facred books, in order that their maxims might prompt him to govern his kingdom agreeably thereto, and to maintain the laws which had made his predecessors and their subjects so happy. .

I HAVE already observed, that the quantity as well as quality of both eatables and liquids were pre.

fcribed, by the laws, to the king : His table was co: vered with nothing but the most common meats;

because eating in Egypt was designed, not to tickle the palate, but to satisfy the cravings of nature. One would have concluded (observes the historian) that these rules had been laid down by some able physician, who was attentive only to the health of the prince, rather than by a legislator. The same fimplicity was seen in all other things; and we read in Plutarch, of a temple in Thebes, which had one of its pillars inscribed with imprecations against that Ofir. king, who first introduced profusion and luxury into p. 354. Egypt.

The principal duty of kings, and their most essential function, is the administring justice to their ::;. subjects. Accordingly, the kings of Egypt cultia'.. vated more immediately this duty; persuaded trat on this depended not only the ease and comfort of the several individuals, but the happiness of the state ; which would be an herd of robbers rather than a kingdom, should the weak be unprotected, and the powerful enabled by their riches and credit, to commit crimes with impunity. , THIRTY judges were selected out of the principal cities, to form a body or assembly able and fit to judge the affairs of the whole kingdom. The prince, in fil. ling these vacancies, used to chuse men who were most renowned for their honesty ; and put at their head, Vol. I.

him

[ocr errors]

him who was moft distinguished for his knowledge
and love of the laws, and was had in the most uni-
verfal esteem. By his bounty, they had revenues af-
signed them, to the end that being disincumbered an
from domestick cares, they might devote their whole
time to the execution of the laws. Thus honourably
subsisted by the generosity of the prince, they admi-
nistred justice gratuitously to the people, who have a
natural right to it ; among whom it ought to have 173
a free circulation, and, in some sense, among the
poor more than the rich, because the latter find a
support within themselves ; whereas the very condi-
tion of the former exposes them more to injuries, and
for that very reason calls louder for the protection of
the laws. To guard against surprize, affairs were
transacted by writing in the assemblies of these judges.'
That species of eloquence (a false kind) was dreaded,
which dazzles the mind, and raises the passions.
Truth could not be exhibited with too much plain-
ness, as it was to have the only sway in judgments;
because in this virtue only the rich and the poor,
the powerful and the weak, the learned and the ig-
norant, were to find relief and security. The pre-
sident of this senate wore a collar of gold set with
precious stones, at which hung a figure represented
blind, this being call'd the emblem of truth. When
the president put this collar on, 'cwas understood as a
signal to enter upon business. - He touched the party
with. it, who was to gain his cause, and this was the
form of pronouncing sentence.

The most excellent circumstance in the laws of : the Egyptians, was, that every individual from his

infancy, was adimonished to adhere strictly to them. Plat. in A new custom in Egypt was a kind of miracle. All Tim. things there ran in the old channel ; and the exactP. 656. ness with which little matters were adhered to, pre

served those of more importance ; and indeed no nation ever preserved their laws and customs longer than the Egyptians. .

WILFUL murder was punished with death, what- Diod. l. si ever might be the condition of the murdered person, p. 70. whether he was free-born or otherwise. In this the humanity and equity of the Egyptians was superior to that of the Romans, who put the Nave (as to life or death) in the absolute power of his master. The emperor Adrian indeed abolished this law ; froin an opinion, that an abuse of this nature ought to be reformed, let its antiquity or authority be ever so great. . ..

PERSONS who forswore themselves were like. Page 69. : wise punished with death, because perjury attacks the gods, whose majesty is trampled upon by the invoking of their name to a false oath ; and at the same time men, in breaking the strongest tie of human : society, viz. sincerity and honesty.. : The Nanderer was condemned to undergo the Idem.

punishment, which the person accused was to have suffered, had the accusation been proved.

He who had neglected or refused to save a person Idem. when attacked, if it was in his power to assist him, was punished with the rigour due to an assassin : But

if the unfortunate person could not be succoured, the - offender was at least to be impeached, and penalties were decreed for any neglect of this kind. Thus the subjects were a guard and protection to one another; and the whole body of the community was united :.:

against the designs of evil men. -- No man was allowed to be a burthen to the state ; Idem,

but every man was obliged to enter his name and place of abode in a publick register, that remained in the hands of the mgistrate, by which his profession

was known, and in what manner he lived. If such :, a one gave a false account of himself, he was immediately put to death.

To prevent borrowing of money, the parent of Herod. Roth, frauds, and chicane, king Asychis made a very 1.2. C.136, judicious law. The wisest and best regulated states, as Athens and Rome, ever found insuperable diffiD 2

culties

« FöregåendeFortsätt »