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the most imposing and the most diverse? The Bible, Homer, Philosophy, the Sciences, Greece, Rome, Christianity, the Monks, Islamism, the Crusades, the French Revolution: almost every thing great in this world's history seems to converge into the pathway of him who traverses this memorable country! Abraham, Sesostris, Moses, Helen, Agesilaus, Alexander, Pompey, Caesar, Cleopatra, Aristarchus, Plotinus, Pacomus, Origen, Athanasius, Saladin, St. Louis, Napoleon! what names! what contrasts !****** A country made to occupy eternally the world, Egypt appears at the very origin of the traditions of Judea and of Greece. Moses issues from her; Plato, Pythagoras, Lycurgus, Solon, Herodotus, Strabo and Tacitus enter into her bosom to be initiated in her sciences, religion and laws."
Thus breaks forth the enthusiasm of an eloquent French writer, as he kindles in the contemplation of a favorite theme. Without participating in the excitement of his feelings, it must still be confessed, that there is an absorbing interest in the land which he thus glowingly depicts. The attention that it has excited within the last half century has developed so much, which neither the Christian nor the scholar is willing to neglect; that patient labor still employs itseif in research, undeterred by unusual difficulties, and undisgusted by the exaggerations of the too credulous archaeologist. Persevering industry will overcome the one, and a sound judgment affords a corrective to the other. Nor must it be supposed that the exaggeration is all on one side. If there be those who have prematurely sounded the note of triumph in their supposed discovery of monumental testimony that disproves the truth of the sacred records; it must not be forgotten, that, on the other hand, there are some who have found, as they imagine, in certair. particulars, evidence for the Bible, of the conclusiveness of which, even the sober-minded Christian will entertain a doubt. He who is best acquainted with the present state of Egyptian discoveries, cannot but feel, that our knowledge is yet much too imperfect on some points, to justify over-confident assertion or critical dogmatism. From the tomb of past ages, much that is very valuable has undoubtedly been disinterred: that much yet remains to be unburied, is proved by the constant accumulation of facts, daily added to our already existing knowledge of Egyptian antiquities. It is, perhaps, not saying too much to assert, that, with our present materials, any attempt at generalization on all the points brought to our notice by a study of Egyptian archasology, is premature, and as to some points, must terminate in erroneous conclusions.
The object of the present volume, therefore, is neither to afford a connected history of Egypt, nor to furnish the reader with a satisfactory explanation of every inscription or representation on the walls of its venerable ruins. Its less ambitious, and it is hoped not less useful aim, is to bring forward, in an intelligible form, certain facts that appear to be well attested, and thus to afford to the reader the means of judging for himself how far they furnish illustration of, or give direct confirmation to, the truth of events recorded in the Scriptures.
A necessary preliminary to the performance of this undertaking, is a recital of the sources of information we possess in matters relating to Egypt; and particularly an account of the discoveries made in hieroglyphical interpretation within the last half century. With that, therefore, we commence.
Of the very great antiquity of writing among the Egyptians, and of their consequent early possession of books, little doubt seems now to be entertained among the learned. The inkstand and the stylus are found on monuments which carry us back to a period anterior, as is supposed, to the time of which we have any recorded history. But on this subject we are not left to. a mere inference from monumental remains. The earliest writings of the Egyptians, are believed to have been contained in their sacred books. For our knowledge of these writings we are indebted chiefly, and indeed almost entirely, to Clemens of Alexandria. He is entitled to belief, as having been a resident in Egypt, if not a native, eminently learned, and of unimpeachable Christian character. His life terminated between the years of our Lord 200 and 220; and he states that in his time the Egyptians had forty-two sacred books. These books were divided into several classes; one, for instance, was on medicine; another on astronomy; a third was on the hieroglyphical art, and consequently taught the rudiments of Egyptian writing; a fourth class was devoted to religious worship, while another comprised the sacerdotal books, and bore the general name of Hieratic writings. These last, as Clement states, treated of "the Laws, the Deities, and the entire education of the Priests."
The only portion of these writings of which the moderns are as yet possessed, is in what Champollion called the "Ritual," and Lepsius named "The Book of the Dead." It was originally found in the tombs of the kings at Thebes, in the form of a hieroglyphical papyrus. Its pictorial ornaments showed that it treated of ceremonies in honor of the dead, and the transmigration of souls. Afterward, Champollion found a much more perfect copy in the museum of Turin: this has been published by Lepsius, with the remark that "this book furnishes the only example of a great Egyptian literary work, transmitted from the old Pharaonic times." It possesses one peculiarity that is significant of its great antiquity; it is written in the pure monumental hieroglyphic character, while in all the other extant remains of Egyptian literature, the hieratic character is employed. This difference is important in other aspects, to which we advert not here, as the object now is simply to illustrate the fact of the great antiquity of the art of writing in Egypt.
The next question that naturally arises, is an inquiry whether any, and if any, what historical works have come down to our day from Egyptian authors? The answer to this must be, that although we have some fragments, of which to speak presently, yet that nothing deserving the name of an authentic and continuous history concerning ancient Egypt, has yet been found in her monuments or elsewhere; while of some portions of that history, the only records worthy of confidence, are contained in the Bible. For the preservation of these, the pride of a tyrannical Pharaoh little dreamed that it would be indebted to the oppressed victims of its persecution. The proud triumphs of Egyptian kings are lost in the past, or but indistinctly read in a mysterious language on the decaying walls of temples, tombs, and palaces; while the heartless cruelties that preceded the exode of a race, outcasts in Egypt and trampled in the dust, are chronicled by the providence of God, for all time, on imperishable pages:
"The evil that men do lives after them."
Egypt has no certain history of her ancient greatness. That her "sacred books did not contain any history of the Egyptian nation," says the Chevalier Bunsen, "is no less certain than that the Old Testament does contain that of the Jews. The idea of a people did not exist—still less that of a people of God, the Creator of the heavens and the earth. History was born in that night, when Moses, with the law of God, moral and spiritual, in his heart, led the people of Israel out of Egypt."
It has already been intimated that fragments of Egyptian writers have come down to our days. Of these, the only one worthy of note is Manetho. He lived in the time of Ptolemy Philadelphus, about 180 B. c. His work, originally in three volumes or books, was written, it is said, at the command of Ptolemy, and is now lost. All that we have of it is to be found in quotations from it, in the writings of Josephus, Eusebius, and Syncellus. The last of these quotes from two abbreviators of Manetho, one of whom was Eratosthenes; the work of the other is called "The Old Chronicle."
Manetho (as Plutarch informs us) was a priest of Sebennytus; hence he is sometimes called the Sebennyte. He wrote in the Greek language, but professed to draw his materials from Egyptian sources. Manetho's history, like that of many other ancient nations, refers the origin of his people to gods and demigods, who reigned for hundreds of thousands of years. The first of these was the Sun or Phra, whence came the name Pharaoh, as a generic term applied to all the Egyptian monarchs. He then commences with the reign of men, and extends his list of sovereigns over an incredibly long period, if time were computed then as it is now. But it is no part of the purpose of the present work to enter into the much disputed question of Egyptian chronology. The general reader will find in it little to interest him, and we are not presumptuous enough to suppose that our pages will furnish any attraction to the historical antiquarian. Beside, without