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Exod. 16. Woons, and the leef Egypt free
of the inhabitants, such was their excellent quality, and so great their plenty. and indeed working men lived then almost upon nothing else, as appears from those who were employ'd in building the pyramids.
BESIDES these rural riches, the Nile from its fish, and the fatness it gave to the soil for the feeding of cattle, furnished the tables of the Egyptians with the most exquisite fish of every kind, and the most fucculent flesh. This it was which made the Israelites so deeply regret the loss of Egypt, when they found themselves in the dreary desarr. Wbo, say
they in a plaintive, and at the same time seditious Num. 11. tone, hall give us filed to eat? We remember the fish 4, 5. which we did eat in Egypt freely; the cucumbers and
. melons, and the leeks, and the onions, and the garlick. Exod. 16.We fat by the flesh-pots, and we did eat bread to tbe 3. full.
But the great and matchless wealth of Egypt arose from its corn, which, even in an almost universal famine, enabled it to support all the neighbouring nations, -as it particularly did under. Joseph's administration. In later ages it was the resource and most fure granary of Rome and Conftantinople. It is a well known ftory, how a calumny raised against St. Athanasius, viz. of his having me. naced Constantinople, that for the future no more çorn should be imported to it from Alexandria ; incens'd the Emperor Constantine against that holy Bishop, because he knew that his capital city could not subsist without the corn which was brought to it from Egypt. The same reason induc'd all the
Emperors of Rome to take so great a care of Egypt, · which they consider'd as the nursing mother of the world's metropolis.
NEVERTHELESS, the same river which enabled this province to sublift the two most populous cities in the world, sometimes reduced even Egypt it felf to the most terrible famine: And it is astonishing
that Joseph's wise foresight, which in fruitful years
had made a provision for seasons of fterility should ? not have hinted to these so much boasted politicians, 2 a like care against the changes and inconstancy of
the Nile. Pliny, in his panegyrick upon Trajan, paints with wonderful strength the extremity to which that country was reduc'd by a famine, under that prince's reign, and his generous relief of it. The reader will not be displeas'd to read here an extract of it, in which a greater regard will be had to Pliny's thoughts, than to his expressions...
The Egyptians, says Pliny, which gloried that they needed neither rain nor fun to produce their corn, - and who believ'd they might confidently contest the
prize of plenty, with the most fruitful countries of the world, we condemned to an unexpected drought, and a fatal sterility; from the greatest part of their territories being deserted and left unwater'd by the Nile, whose inundation is the source and sure standard of their abundance. They then * implor'd that
assistance from their prince, which they us'd to expect 1 only from their river. The delay of their relief, was no
longer, than that which employed a courier to bring
the med, that with
And let need of, as much brineset them kno
vertheless fed its conquerors; that, .by means of its river, either abundance or scarcity were entirely in its disposal. But we now have returned the Nile his own harvests, and given him back the provisions he sent us. Let the Egyptians be then convinc'd by their own experience, that they are not necessary to us, and are only our vassals. Let them know that their ships do not so much bring us the provision we stand in need of, as the tribute which they owe us. And let them never forget, that we can do without them, but that they can never do without us. This most fruitful province had been ruin'd, had it not wore the Roman chains. The Egyptians in their fovereign, have found a deliverer, and a father. Aftonish'd at the sight of their granaries, fill'd without any labour of their own, they were atta loss to know to whom they owed this foreign and gratuitous plenty. The famine of a people at such distance from ' us, and which was so speedily stopped, served only to let them feel the advantage of living under our empire. The * Nile may in other times have diffused more plenty on Egypt, but never more glory upon us. May-heaven, content with this proof of the people's patience, and the prince's generosity, restore for ever back to Egypt its ancient fertility.
Pliny's reproach to the Egyptians, for their vain and foolish pride, with regard to the inundations of the Nile, points out one of their most peculiar characteristicks, and recalls to my mind a fine passage of Ezekiel, where God thus speaks to Pharaoh, one of their kings, Bebold, I am against thee, Pharaob king of Egypt, the great dragon that lieth in the midst of his rivers, which hath said, my river is my own, and I Dave made it for my felf. God perceived an insupportable pride in the heart of this prince: A sense of security and confidence in the inundations of the
Ezek. 6. 29. 3, 9.
.: * Nilus Ægypto quidem fæpe, sed gloriæ noftræ nunquam largior flu xit.
. . . Nile,
I Nile, independent entirely on the influences of hea
or those of his predecessors : The river is mine, and Ć I bave made it.
BEFORE I conclude this second part of the manrners of the Egyptians, I think it incumbent on me,
to bespeak the attention of my readers to different e passages scatter'd in the history of Abraham, Jacob, Ć Joseph, Moses, which confirm and illustratę part of
what we meet with in prophane authors upon this
which reign'd in Egypt, both in the court and the i rest of the kingdom; the vigilance of the prince,
who was informed of all transactions, had a regular council, a chofen number of minifters, armies ever well maintain'd and disciplin'd, and of every order of soldiery, horse, foot, armed chariots ; intendants in all the provinces ; overseers or guardians of the publick granaries ; wise and exact dispensers of the corn lodg'd in them ; a court compos'd of great officers of the crown, a captain of his guards, a cupbearer, a master of his pantry; in a word, all things that compose a prince's houshold, and constitute a magnificent court. But above all these the readers Gen. 120 will admire the fear in which the threatnings of God '0, 26. were held, the inspector of all actions, and the judge of kings themselves; and the horror the Egyptians had for adultery, .which was acknowledged to be, a crime of so heinous a nature, that it alone was capa. ble of bringing destruction on a nation.
*SISTEK O part of antient history is more obscure S o or uncertain, than that of the first kings
Egypt. This proud nation, fondly My conceited of its antiquity and nobility, We thought it august to lose itself in an
abyss of infinite ages, as tho it seem'd to carry its Diod. 1. 1. pretensions backward to eternity. According to its p. 41. own historians, first, gods, and afterwards demi
gods or heroes, govern'd it successively, through a series of more than twenty thousand years. But the absurdity of this vain and fabulous claim, is easily
To gods and demi-gods, men succeeded as rulers c. 29.
or kings in Egypt, of whom Manethon has left 3, 9.
is thirty dynasties or principalities. This Mane
on was an Egyptian high-priest, and keeper of the pored archives of Egypt, and had been instructed in the Grecian learning : he wrote a history of Egypt, which he pretended to have extracted from the wrirings of Mercurius and other ancient memoirs, preferved in the archives of the Egyptian temples. He