Sidor som bilder

To conclude this article of the ceremonies of fune. rals, it may not be amiss to observe to young pupils, the different manners with which the bodies of the dead were treated by the ancients. Some, as we observed of the Egyptians, exposed them to view after they had been embalmed, and thus preserved them to after. ages. Others, as particularly the Romans, burnt them on a funeral pile; and others, again, laid them in the earth.

The care to preserve bodies without lodging them in tombs, appears injurious to human nature in general, and to those persons in particular for whom this re. spect is designed ; because it exposes too visibly their wretched state and deformity; since, whatever care may be taken, spectators see nothing but the melancholy and frightful remains of what they once were. The custom of burning dead bodies has something in it cruel and barbarous, in destroying so hastily the remains of persons once dear to us. That of interment is certainly the most ancient and religious. It restores to the earth what had been taken from it; and prepares our belief of a second restitution of our bodies, from that dust of which they were at first formed.



THE profession of arms was in great repute among the Egyptians. After the sacerdotal families, the most illustrious, as with us, were those devoted to a military life. They were not only distinguished by honours, but by ample liberalities. Every soldier was allowed an aroura, that is, a piece of arable land very near answering to half a French acre," exempted from all tax or tribute. Besides this privilege, each soldier received a daily allowance of five pounds of bread, two of flesh, and a pint of wine. This allowance was sufficient to support part of their family. Such an indulgence made them more affectionate to the

person of their prince, and the interests of their country, and more resolute in the defence of both; and as Diodorus observes, it was thought inconsistent with good policy, and even common sense, to commit the defence of a country to men who had no interest in its preservation.

P Four hundred thousand soldiers were kept in continual pay; all natives of Egypt, and trained up in the exactest discipline. They were inured to the fatigues of war, by a severe and rigorous education. There is an art of forming the body as well as the mind. This art, lost by our sloth, was well known to the ancients, and especially to the Egyptians. Foot, horse, and chariot races, were performed in Egypt with wonderful agility, and the world could not show better horsemen than the Egyptians. ' The scripture, in several places, speaks advantageously of their cavalry.

m I welve Arouras. An Egyptian Aroura was 10,000 square cubits, equal to three roods, two perches, fifty five and a quarter square feet of our measure.

- The Greek is, ouveU TEO Tapes a pusapes, which some have made to signify a deterrinate quantity of wine, or any other liquid : others, regarding the etymology of the word apusap, have translated it by houstrum, a bucket, as Lucretius, lib. v. 51, others by haustus, a draught or sup. He. rodotus says, this allowance was given only to the two thousand guards who attended annually on the king. Lib. ii. c. 168. Lib. i. p. 67.

p Herod. 1. ii. c. 164, 168.

Military laws were easily preserved in Egypt, because sons received them from their fathers; the profession of war, as of all others, being transmitted from father to son. Those who fled in battle, or discovered any signs of cowardice, were only distinguished by some particular mark of ignominy; it being thought more advisable to restrain them by motives of honour, than by the terrors of punishment.

But notwithstanding this, I will not pretend to say, that the Egyptians were a warlike people. It is of little advantage to have regular and well paid troops; to have armies exercised in peace, and employed only in mock fights ; it is war alone, and real combats, which form the soldier. Egypt loved peace, because it loved justice, and maintained soldiers only for its security. Its inhabitants, content with a country which abounded in all things, had no ambitious dreams of conquest. The Egyptians extended their reputation in a very different manner, by sending colonies into all parts of the world, and with them laws and politeness. They triumphed by the wisdom of their counsels and the superiority of their knowledge ; and this empire of the mind appeared more noble and glorious to them, than that which is achieved by arms and conquest. But nevertheless, Egypt has given birth to illustrious conquerors, as will be observed hereafter, when we come to treat of its kings.

9 Cant. i. 8. Isa. Xxxvi. 9.

• Diod. p. 70.

VOL. 1.




THE Egyptians had an inventive genius, and turned it to profitable speculations. Their Mercuries filled Egypt with wonderful inventions, and left it almost ignorant of nothing which could accomplish the mind, or procure ease and happiness. The discoverers of any useful invention received, both living and dead, rewards equal to their profitable labours. It is this consecrated the books of their two Mercuries, and stamped them with a divine authority. The first libraries were in Egypt; and the titles they bore inspired the reader with an eager desire to enter them, and dive into the secrets they contained. They were called the Office for the Diseases of the Soul, and that very justly, because the soul was there cured of ignorance, the most danger. ous, and the parent of all her maladies.

As their country was level, and the air of it always serene and unclouded, they were some of the first who observed the courses of the planets. These observa. tions led them to regulate the year' from the course of the sun; for, as Diodorus observes, their year, from

• ψυχης ιατριον. • It will not seem surprising that the Egyptians, who were the most ancient observers of the celestial motions, should have arrived to this knowledge, when it is considered, that the lunar year, made use of by the Greeks and Romans, though it appears so inconvenient and irregular, supposed nevertheless a knowledge of the solar year, such as Diodorus Siculus ascribes to the Egyptians. It will appear at first sight, by calculating their intercalations, that those who first divided the year in this, manner were not ignorant that to three hundred and sixty five days, some hours were to be added, to keep pace with the sun. Their only error lay in the supposition, that only six hours were wanting; whereas an addition of almost eleven minutes more was requisite.

the most remote antiquity, was composed of three hundred sixty five days and six hours. To adjust the property of their lands, which were every year covered by the overflowing of the Nile, they were obliged to have recourse to surveys; and this first taught them geometry. They were great observers of nature, which, in a climate so serene, and under so intense a sun, was vigorous and fruitful.

By this study and application they invented or improved the science of physic. The sick were not abandoned to the arbitrary will and caprice of the phy. sician. He was obliged to follow fixed rules, which were the observations of old and experienced practitioners, and written in the sacred books. While these rules were observed, the physician was not answerable forthe success; otherwise, a miscarriage cost him his life. This law checked, indeed, the temerity of empirics; but then it might prevent new discoveries, and keep the art from attaining to its just perfection. Every physician, if Herodotus" may be credited, confined his practice to the cure of one disease only; one was for the eyes, another for the teeth, and so on.

What we have said of the pyramids, the labyrinth, and that infinite number of obelisks, temples, and palaces, whose precious remains still strike with admi. ration, and in which were displayed the magnificence of the princes who raised them, the skill of the workmen, the riches of the ornaments diffused over every part of them, and the just proportion and beautiful symmetry of the parts in which their greatest beauty consisted; works, in many of which the liveliness of

# L. ii.c. 84

« FöregåendeFortsätt »