« EelmineJätka »
must, almost undoubtedly I think; be considered as symbolized by the inystical Euphrates of the sixth vial.
“ Alexandria,” says Mr. Niebuhr, “has fallen " by degrees from its grandeur, population, and 6 wealth-This city might be in a more flourish" ing condition, did not disadvantages of all sorts "' concur to depress it. Its inhabitants appear to
have a natural genius for commerce, were it not “ checked by the malignant influence of the « government-The trade of Alexandria is not“ withstanding very trifling; although almost all " the nations of Egypt * have consuls here t46 Ancient historians and geographers enumerate “ such a multitude of cities in Egypt, that it seems “ to be at present quite a desart in comparison * with what it was in the day of antiquity. Now “ cities have indeed arisen, but these are mere s trifles, compared with the number, the extent, is and the magnificence, of the ancient. All the
remains of monuments, referable to the most “ remote antiquity, bespeak the hand of a nu. " merous and opuient people, who have entirely " disappeared. When however we reflect on the
* So the passage stands in my edition of Niebuhr, and therefore I have not ventured to alter it; but for Egypt I think we ought surely to read Europe. As this variation is not noticed in the errata, it is possible that this little mistake (for so I cannot help considering it) may be an uncorrected oversight of the author himself. + Travels, Vol. 2, p. 36, 37.
“ revolutions which this country has undergone, " and the length of time during which it has been “ under the dominion of strangers, we can no “ longer be surprized at the decline of its wealth " and population. It has been successively sub“ dued by the Persians, the Greeks, the Romans, “ the Arabians, and the Turks; has enjoyed no " interval of tranquillity and freedom; but has “ been constantly oppressed and pillaged by the “ lieutenants of a distant lord. Those usurpers " and their servants, having no other views but to w draw as large a revenue as possible from an “ opulent province, scarce left the people bare “ means of subsistence. Agriculture was ruined " by the miseries of the husbandman; and the “ cities decayed with its decline. Even at present, “ the population is decreasing; and the peasant, " although in a fertile country, is miserably poor: “ for the exactions of government and its officers “ leave him nothing to lay out in the im“provement and culture of his lands; while “ the cities are falling into ruins, because the “ same unhappy restraints render it impossible for " the citizens to engage in any lucrative under“ taking * -If an ancient origin and illustrious “ ancestors could confer merit, the Copts would “ be a highly estimable people. They are “ descended from the ancient Egyptians; and the “ Turks, upon this account, call them, in derision, * Travels, Vol. 1. P. 51, 52.
« the posterity of Pharaoh. But their uncouth “ figure, their stupidity, ignorance, and wretched“ ness, do little credit to the sovereigns of ancient " Egypt. They have lived for 2000 years under " the dominion of different foreign conquerors, " and have experienced many vicissitudes of for“ tune. They have lost their manners, their “ language, their religion, and almost their exist" ence. They are reduced to a small nnmber in “ comparison to the Arabs, who have poured like “ a flood over this country. Of the diminution of " the numbers of the Copts some idea may be “ formed from the reduction of the number of “ their bishops. They were seventy in number, “ at the period of the Arabian conquest. They “ are now only twelve, and most of these settled i in upper Egypt, to which the ancient inhabitants “ seem to have retired from the centre of the « conquest *."'. . The prophet declares in a most pointed manner, that, previous to the conquest of Egypt by the fierce king, it should be torn to pieces by internal dissention and civil discord. Here again we may, as it were with our own eyes, begin to see this prediction receive its accomplishment. The “ Turks,” says Mr. Niebuhr, “as is generally “ known, conquered Egypt, in the beginning of " the sixteenth century, from the Mamelukes; a “ mercenary militia, who'had, for some centuries, • Travels, Vol. I, P. 103, 104.
" usurped the government of this province, which “ they administered by an elective chief, with the " title of Sultan. This species of government “ seems still to subsist, just as much as before the “ Turkish conquest; and, with all their despotic “ pride, they have never attempted to change “ it. A form of government, that has prevailed “ so long, and which a haughty and powerful " conqueror durst not abolish, must have within “ itself some principle of stability to maintain it “ against revolution. It might deserve to be “ better known and explained by some intelligent “ person, who should study it in a long residence « in the country. A traveller like me, who has
“ had only a transient view of these objects, can ." neither discern nor describe all the parts of so " complete a' machine. I have learned enough
however to enable me to distinguish, that this “ government is at present an aristocracy, partly “ çivil, partly military, but chiefly military. Under " the protection, rather than under the authority, " of the Sultan of Constantinople, a divan, or 61 sovereign council, exercises the supreme autho“rity, both executive and legislative. Even the “ revenue of the Sultan is rather a tribute paid to "à protector, than a tax levied by a sovereign " Such a government must be frequently disturbed
by factious ipsurrections. Cuiro is constantly " convulsed by cruel dissention ; parties are con“ tinually jarring; and the great retain troops to ► decide their differences by force of arms. The
on mutual i" mutual jealousies of the chiefs seem to be the “ only causes, which still preserve to the Porte the " shadow of authority over this country. The “ members of the aristocracy are all afraid of “ losing their influence under a residing sovereign; " and therefore agree in opposing the elevation of “ any of their own body to the supreme dignity. “ In our own days, Ali-Bey has found how diffis cult it is to ascend the throne of Egypt, or to “ maintain one's self upon it. The grand signior “ sends always a pacha of three tails to exercise “ his precarious authority in Egypt, in the cha“racter of governor. But the pacha of Cairo,
far from enjoying the same authority as the other “ pachas of the Turkish empire, is entirely de“ pendent on the Egyptian divan. That aristo“ cratical body, regarding the pacha as their “ tyrant, frequently depose him, unless he have “ the address to support himself by provoking and “ fomenting the contentions of the different parties, “ favouring each by turns. During my stay at "Alexandria, the inhabitants of Cairo expelled “ their pacha. Mustapha pacha was at the same "time in Egypt, who had been already twice “ grand vizir, and rose afterwards a third time to “ that dignity. Having been sent by the Sultan to “ Djidda, he had remained in Egypt, on pretence “ of illness. The inhabitants chose Mustapha “ their pacha, and found means to oblige the “ Sultan, however alissatisfied with the electors " and the person whoin they had elected, to con