Read History of the Negro Race in America from 1619 to 1880 Volume I Part 65

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10. _Psammis_.–His reign was but of six years’ duration, and history has left us nothing memorable concerning him, except that he made an expedition into Ethiopia.

11. _Apries_.–In Scripture he is called Pharaoh-Hophra; and, succeeding his father Psammis, reigned twenty-five years.

During the first year of his reign, he was as happy as any of his predecessors. He carried his arms into Cyprus; besieged the city of Sidon by sea and land; took it, and made himself master of all Phoenicia and Palestine.

So rapid a success elated his heart to a prodigious degree, and, as Herodotus informs us, swelled him with so much pride and infatuation, that he boasted it was not in the power of the G.o.ds themselves to dethrone him; so great was the idea he had formed to himself of the firm establishment of his own power. It was with a view to these arrogant conceits, that Ezekiel put the vain and impious words following into his mouth: _My river is mine own, and I have made it for myself_. But the true G.o.d proved to him afterwards that he had a master, and that he was a mere man; and he had threatened him long before, by his prophets, with all the calamities he was resolved to bring upon him, in order to punish him for his pride.

12. _Amasis_.–After the death of Apries, Amasis became peaceable possessor of Egypt, and reigned over it forty years. He was, according to Plato, a native of the city of Sais.

As he was but of mean extraction, he met with no respect, and was contemned by his subjects in the beginning of his reign. He was not insensible of this; but nevertheless thought it his interest to subdue their tempers by an artful carriage, and to win their affection by gentleness and reason. He had a golden cistern, in which himself, and those persons who were admitted to his table, used to wash their feet, he melted it down, and had it cast into a statue, and then exposed the new G.o.d to public worship. The people hastened in crowds to pay their adorations to the statue. The king, having a.s.sembled the people, informed them of the vile uses to which this statue had once been put, which nevertheless was now the object of their religious prostrations; the application was easy, and had the desired success; the people thenceforward paid the king all the respect that is due to majesty.

He always used to devote the whole morning to public affairs, in order to receive pet.i.tions, give audience, p.r.o.nounce sentences, and hold his councils; the rest of the day was given to pleasure, and as Amasis, in hours of diversion, was extremely gay, and seemed to carry his mirth beyond due bounds, his courtiers took the liberty to represent to him the unsuitableness of such a behaviour; when he answered that it was impossible for the mind to be always serious and intent upon business, as for a bow to continue always bent.

It was this king who obliged the inhabitants of every town to enter their names in a book kept by the magistrates for that purpose, with their profession and manner of living. Solon inserted this custom among his laws.

He built many magnificent temples, especially at Sais the place of his birth. Herodotus admired especially a chapel there, formed of one single stone, and which was twenty-one cubits in front, fourteen in depth, and eight in height; its dimensions within were not quite so large; it had been brought from Elephantina, and two thousand men were employed three years in conveying it along the Nile.

_Amasis_ had a great esteem for the Greeks. He granted them large privileges; and permitted such of them as were desirous of settling in Egypt to live in the city of Naucratis, so famous for its harbour.

When the rebuilding of the temple of Delphi, which had been burnt, was debated on, and the expense was computed at three hundred talents, Amasis furnished the Delphians with a very considerable sum towards discharging their quota, which was the fourth part of the whole charge.

He made an alliance with the Cyrenians, and married a wife from among them. He is the only king of Egypt who conquered the island of Cyprus, and made it tributary. Under his reign Pythagorus came into Egypt, being recommended to that monarch by the famous Polycrates, tyrant of Samos, who had contracted a friendship with Amasis, and will be mentioned hereafter. Pythagoras, during his stay in Egypt, was initiated in all the mysteries of the country, and instructed by the priests in whatever was most abstruse and important in their religion.

It was here he imbibed his doctrine of the metempsychosis, or transmigration of souls.

In the expedition in which Cyrus conquered so great a part of the world, Egypt doubtless was subdued, like the rest of the provinces, and Xenophon positively declares this in the beginning of his Cyropaedia, or inst.i.tution of that prince. Probably, after that the forty years of desolation, which had been foretold by the prophet, were expired, Egypt beginning gradually to recover itself, Amasis shook off the yoke, and recovered his liberty.

Accordingly we find, that one of the first cares of Cambyses, the son of Cyrus, after he had ascended the throne, was to carry his arms into Egypt. On his arrival there, Amasis was just dead, and succeeded by his son Psammetus.

13. _Rameses Miamun_, according to Archbishop Usher, was the name of this king, who is called Pharaoh in Scripture. He reigned sixty-six years, and oppressed the Israelites in a most grievous manner. _He set over them taskmasters, to afflict them with their burdens, and they built for Pharaoh treasure cities, Pithon and Raamses. And the Egyptians made the children of Israel serve with rigour, and they made their lives bitter with hard bondage, in mortar and in brick, and in all manner of service in the field; all their service wherein they made them serve, was with rigour_. This king had two sons, Amenophis and Busiris.

14. _Amenophis_, the eldest, succeeded him. He was the Pharaoh under whose reign the Israelites departed out of Egypt, and who was drowned in his pa.s.sage through the Red Sea. Archbishop Usher says, that Amenophis left two sons, one called Sesothis, or Seaostris, and the other Armais. The Greeks call him Belus, and his two sons, Egyptus and Danaus.

15. _Sesostris_ was not only one of the most powerful kings of Egypt, but one of the greatest conquerors that antiquity boasts of. He was at an advanced age sent by his father against the Arabians, in order that, by fighting with them, he might acquire military knowledge. Here the young prince learned to bear hunger and thirst, and subdued a nation which till then had never been conquered. The youth educated with him, attended him in all his campaigns.

Accustomed by this conquest to martial toils he was next sent by his father to try his fortune westward. He invaded Libya, and subdued the greatest part of that vast continent.

His army consisted of six hundred thousand foot, and twenty thousand horse, besides twenty thousand armed chariots.

He invaded Ethiopia, and obliged the nations of it to furnish him annually with a certain quant.i.ty of ebony, ivory, and gold.

He had fitted out a fleet of four hundred sail, and ordering it to sail to the Red Sea, made himself master of the isles and cities lying on the coast of that sea. After having spread desolation through the world for nine years, he returned, laden with the spoils of the vanquished nations. A hundred famous temples, raised as so many monuments of grat.i.tude to the tutelar G.o.ds of all the cities, were the first, as well as the most ill.u.s.trious testimonies of his victories.

16. _Pheron_ succeeded Sesostris in his kingdom, but not in his glory.

He probably reigned fifty years.

17. _Proteus_ was son of Memphis, and according to Herodotus, must have succeeded the first–since Proteus lived at the time of the siege of Troy, which, according to Usher, was taken An. Mun. 2820.

18. _Rhampsinitus_ who was richer than any of his predecessors, built a treasury. Till the reign of this king, there had been some shadow at least of justice and moderation in Egypt; but, in the two following reigns, violence and cruelty usurped their place.

19, 20. Cheops and Cephrenus, reigned in all one hundred and six years. Cheops reigned fifty years, and his brother Cephrenus fifty-six years after him. They kept the temples closed during the whole time of their long reign; and forbid the offerings of sacrifice under the severest penalties. They oppressed their subjects.

21. _Mycerinus_ the son of Cheops, reigned but seven years. He opened the temples; restored the sacrifices; and did all in his power to comfort his subjects, and make them forget their past miseries.

22. _Asychis_ one of the kings of Egypt. He valued himself for having surpa.s.sed all his predecessors, by building a pyramid of brick, more magnificent, than any hitherto seen.

23. _Busiris_, built the famous city of Thebes, and made it the seat of his empire. This prince is not to be confounded with Busirus, so infamous for his cruelties.

24. _Osymandyas_, raised many magnificent edifices, in which were exhibited sculptures and paintings of exquisite beauty.

25. _Uch.o.r.eus_, one of the successors of Osymandyas, built the city of Memphis. This city was 150 furlongs, or more than seven leagues in circ.u.mference, and stood at the point of the Delta, in that part where the Nile divides itself into several branches or streams. A city so advantageously situated, and so strongly fortified, became soon the usual residence of the Egyptian kings.

26. _Thethmosis_ or _Amosis_, having expelled the Shepherd kings, reigned in Lower Egypt.[645]


[645] Rollin, vol. i. pp. 129-147.



In the language of the Kafirs, for example, not only the cases but the numbers and genders of nouns are formed entirely by prefixes, a.n.a.logous to articles. The prefixes vary according to number, gender and case, while the nouns remain unaltered except by a merely euphonic change of the initial letters. Thus, in Coptic, from _sheri_, a son, comes the plural _neu-sheri_, the sons; from _sori_, accusation, _hau-sori_, accusations. a.n.a.logous to this we have in the Kafir _ama_ marking the plural, as _amakosah_ the plural of _kosah_, _amahashe_ the plural of _ihashe_, _insana_ the plural of _usana_. The Kafir has a great variety of similar prefixes; they are equally numerous in the language of Kongo, in which, as in the Coptic and the Kafir, the genders, numbers, and cases of nouns are almost solely distinguished by similar prefixes.

“The Kafir language is distinguished by one peculiarity which immediately strikes a student whose views of language have been formed upon the examples afforded by the inflected languages of ancient and modern Europe. With the exception of a change of termination in the ablative case of the noun, and five changes of which the verb is susceptible in its tenses, the whole business of declension, conjugation, &c., is carried on by prefixes, and by the changes which take place in the initial letters or syllables of words subjected to grammatical government.”[646]

Resources are not yet in existence for inst.i.tuting a general comparison of the languages of Africa. Many years will probably elapse before it will be possible to produce such an a.n.a.lysis of these languages, investigated in their grammatical structure, as it is desirable to possess, or even to compare them by extensive collections of well-arranged vocabularies, after the manner of Klaproth’s Asia Polyglotta. Sufficient data however are extant, and I trust that I have adduced evidence to render it extremely probable that a principle of a.n.a.logy in structure prevails extensively among the native idioms of Africa. They are probably allied, not in the manner or degree in which Semitic or Indo-European idioms resemble each other, but by strong a.n.a.logies in their general principles of structure, which may be compared to those discoverable between the individual members of two other great of languages, by no means connected among themselves by what is called family relation. I allude to the monosyllabic and the polysynthetic languages, the former prevalent in Eastern Asia, the latter throughout the vast regions of the New World.

If we have sufficient evidence for const.i.tuting such a cla.s.s of dialects under the t.i.tle of African languages, we have likewise reason–and it is equal in degree–for a.s.sociating in this cla.s.s the language of the ancient Egyptians.[647]

That the written _Abyssinian_ language, which we call _Ethiopick_, is a dialect of old _Chaldean_, and sister of _Arabick_ and _Hebrew_; we know with certainty, not only from the great mult.i.tude of identical words, but (which is a far stronger proof) from the similar grammatical arrangement of the several idioms: we know at the same time, that it is written like all the _Indian_ characters, from the left hand to the right, and that the vowels are annexed, as in Devanagari, to the consonants; with which they form a syllabick system extremely clear and convenient, but disposed in a less artificial order than the system of letters now exhibited in the _Sanscrit_ grammars; whence it may justly be inferred, that the order contrived by PANINI or his disciples is comparatively modern; and I have no doubt, from a cursory examination of many old inscriptions on pillars and in caves, which have obligingly been sent to me from all parts of India, that the _Nagari_ and _Ethiopean_ letters had at first a similar form. It has long been my opinion, that the _Abyssinians_ of the _Arabian_ stock, having no symbols of their own to represent articulate sounds, borrowed those of the black pagans, whom the _Greeks_ call _Troglodytes_, from their primeval habitations in natural caverns, or in mountains excavated by their own labour: they were probably the first inhabitants of _Africa_, where they became in time the builders of magnificent cities, the founders of seminaries for the advancement of science and philosophy, and the inventors (if they were not rather the importers) of symbolical characters. I believe on the whole, that the _Ethiops_ of _Meroe_ were the same people with the first _Egyptians_, and consequently, as it might easily be shown, with the original _Hindus_. To the ardent and intrepid MR. BRUCE, whose travels are to my taste, uniformally agreeable and satisfactory, though he thinks very differently from me on the language and genius of the Arabs, we are indebted for more important, and, I believe, more accurate information concerning the nations established near the _Nile_, from its fountains to its mouths, than all _Europe_ united could before have supplied; but, since he has not been at the pains to compare the seven languages, of which he has exhibited a specimen, and since I have not leisure to make the comparison, I must be satisfied with observing, on his authority, that the dialects of the _Gafots_ and the _Gallas_, the _Agows_ of both races, and the _Falashas_, who must originally have used a _Chaldean_ idiom, were never preserved in writing, and the _Amharick_ only in modern times: they must, therefore, have been for ages in fluctuation, and can lead, perhaps, to no certain conclusion as to the origin of the several tribes who anciently spoke them. It is very remarkable, as MR. BRUCE and MR. BRYAN have proved, that the _Greeks_ gave the appellation of _Indians_ both to the southern nations of _Africk_ and to the people, among whom we now live; nor is it less observable, that, according to EPHORUS, quoted by STRABO, they called all the southern nations in the world _Ethiopians_, thus using _Indian_ and _Ethiop_ as convertible terms: but we must leave the gymnosophists of Ethiopia, who seemed to have professed the doctrines of BUDDHA, and enter the great _Indian_ ocean, of which their _Asiatick_ and _African_ brethren were probably the first navigators.[648]


[646] Kafir Grammar, p. 3.

[647] Prichard, vol. ii. pp. 216, 217.


Western Africa is one of the most difficult mission-fields in the entire heathen world. The low condition of the people, civilly, socially, and religiously, and the deadly climate to foreigners, make it indeed a hard field to cultivate. I am fully prepared to indorse what Rev. F. Fletcher, in charge of Wesleyan District, Gold Coast, wrote a few months ago in the following language: “The Lord’s work in western Africa is as wonderful as it is deadly. In the last forty years more than 120 missionaries have fallen victims to that climate; but to-day the converts to Christianity number at least 30,000, many of whom are true Christians. In this district we have 6,000 church members, and though they are poor, last year they gave over 5,000 dollars for evangelistic and educational work.

“_Sherbro Mission_ now has four stations and chapels and over forty appointments, 112 church members, 164 seekers of religion, 75 acres of clear land, with carpenter, blacksmith, and tailor shops, in and upon which, twenty five boys are taught to labor, and where eleven girls are taught to do all ordinary house work and sewing, with its four day and Sunday schools, 212 in the former and more than that number in the latter, and with an influence for good that now reaches the whole Sherbro tribe, embracing a country at least fifty miles square and containing about 15,000 people. The seed sown is taking deep root there, and the harvest is rapidly ripening, when thousands of souls will be garnered for heaven. Surely we ought to thank G.o.d for past success and resolve to do much more for that needy country in the future.


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