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The Jews built a magnificent temple, and translated their books into Greek, which had become the language of the country. The Christians had large schools there. So great were the animosities among the native Egyptians, the Greeks, the Jews, and the Christians, that they were continually accusing one another to the governor, to the no small advantage of his revenue. There were even frequent and bloody seditions, in one of which, in the reign of Caligula, the Jews, who exaggerate every thing, assert that religious and commercial jealousy united, cost them fifty thousand men, whom the Alexandrians murdered.
Christianity, which the Origens, Clements, and others had established and rendered admirable by their lives, degenerated into a mere spirit of party. The Christians adopted the manners of the Egyptians; religion yielded to the desire of gain; and all the inhabitants, divided in every thing else, were unanimous only in the love of money. This it was which produced that famous letter from the emperor Adrian to the consul Servianus, which Vopiscus gives as follows:*
ADRIANI EPISTOLA, EX LIBRIS PHLEGONTIS
Adrianus Augustus Serviano Cos. Vo.
Ægyptum, quam mihi laudabas, Serviane carissime, totam didici, levem, pendulam, et ad omnia famæ monumenta volitantem. Illi qui Serapin colunt Christiani sunt, et devoti sunt Serapi qui se CHRISTI episcopos dicunt. Nemo illic Archisynagogus Judæorum, nemo Samarites, nemo Christianorum presbyter, non mathematicus, non aruspex, non aliptes. Ipse ille Patriarcha, quùm Ægyptum venerit, ab aliis Serapidem adorare, ab aliis cogitur CHRISTUM.. Genus hominis seditiosissimum, vanissimum, injuriosissimum. Civitas opulenta, dives, fecunda, in quà nemo vivat otiosus. Alii vitrum constant, ab aliis charta conficitur; omnes certè lymphiones cujuscunque artis et videntur et
* Flavii Vopici Siracusii Saturninus, tom. 2, p. 426.
habentur. Podagrosi quod agant habent, cœci quod faciant; ne chiragri quidem apud eos otiosi vivunt. Unus illis deus est; hunc Christiani, hunc Judæi, hunc omnes venerantur et gentes.
Which may be rendered thus
"My dear Servian, I have seen that Egypt of which you have spoken so highly; I know it thoroughly. It is a light, uncertain, fickle nation. The worshippers of Serapis turn Christians, and they who are at the head of the religion of CHRIST devote themselves to Serapis. There is no chief of the Rabbis, no Samaritan, no Christian priest, who is not an astrologer, a diviner, or a pander. When the Greek Patriarch* comes into Egypt, some press him to worship Serapis, others to adore CHRIST. They are very seditious, very vain, and very quarrelsome. The city is commercial, opulent, and populous. No one is idle. Some make glass; others manufacture paper; they seem to be, and indeed are of all trades: not even the gout in their feet and hands can reduce them to entire inactivity; the very blind work. Money is a God which the Christians, the Jews, and all men, adore alike."
This letter of an emperor, whose discernment was as great as his valour, sufficiently proves that the Christians, as well as others, had become corrupted in this abode of luxury and controversy: but the manners of the primitive Christians had not degenerated every where; and although they had the misfortune to be for a long time divided into different sects, which detested and accused one another, the most violent enemies of Christianity were obliged to acknowledge that the purest and the greatest souls were to be found among its proselytes. Such is the case even at the present day, in cities wherein the degree of folly and frenzy exceeds that of ancient Alexandria.
*The Greek term Patriarcha is here translated by the words Greek Patriarch, because at that period it was applied only to the hierophant of the principal Greek mysteries. The Christians were strangers to this title until the fifth century. It was unknown to the Romans, to the Egyptians, and to the Jews.
The principal object of this Dictionary is philosophy. It is not, therefore, as geographers that we speak of Algiers, but for the purpose of remarking, that the first design of Louis XIV. when he took the reins of government, was to deliver Christian Europe from the continual depredations of the Barbary corsairs. This project was an indication of a great mind. He wished to pursue every road to glory. It is somewhat astonishing that, with the spirit of order which he showed in his court, in his finances, and in the conduct of state affairs, he had a sort of relish for ancient chivalry which led him to the performance of generous and brilliant actions, even approaching to the romantic. It is certain that Louis inherited from his mother a deal of that Spanish gallantry, at once noble and delicate, with much of that greatness of soul-that passion for glory-that lofty pride, so conspicuous in the old romances. He talked of fighting the emperor Leopold, like a knight seeking adventures. The erection of the pyramid at Rome, the assertion of his right of precedence, and the idea of having a port near Algiers to curb the pirates, were likewise of this class. To this latter attempt he was moreover excited by Pope Alexander VII. and by Cardinal Mazarin before his death. He had for some time debated with himself whether he should go on this expedition in person, like Charles the Fifth; but he had not vessels to execute so great an enterprise, whether in person or by his generals. The attempt was therefore fruitless:
and could not be otherwise.
It was, however, of service in exercising the French marine, and prepared the world to expect some of those noble and heroic actions which are out of the ordinary line of policy, such as the disinterested aid lent to the Venetians besieged in Candia, and to the Germans pressed by the Ottoman arms at St. Gothard.*
* The selfish vanity of Louis XIV. is now well understood, but even selfish vanity may assume a generous and salutary garb. The selfishness of the despots of the present day is utterly unqualified.-T.
The details of the African expedition are lost in the number of successful or unsuccessful wars, waged justly or unjustly, with good or bad policy. We shall merely give the following letter, which was written some years ago on the subject of the Algerine piracies:
"It is to be lamented, Sire, that the proposals of the order of Malta were not acceded to, when they offered, on consideration of a moderate subsidy from each Christian power, to free the seas from the pirates of Algiers, Morocco, and Tunis. The knights of Malta would then have been truly the defenders of Chris tianity. The actual force of the Algerines is but two fifty-gun ships, five of about forty, and four of thirty guns; the rest are not worth mentioning.
"It is shameful to see their little barks seizing our merchant vessels every day throughout the Mediterranean. They even cruise as far as the Canaries and the Azores.
"Their soldiery, composed of a variety of nations— ancient Mauritanians, ancient Numidians, Arabs, Turks, and even Negroes, set sail, almost without provisions, in tight vessels carrying from eighteen to twenty guns, and infest all our seas like vultures seeking their prey. When they see a man-of-war, they fly; when they see a merchant ship, they seize it. Our friends and our relatives, men and women, are made slaves; and we must humbly supplicate the barbarians to deign to receive our money for restoring to us their captives,
"Some Christian states have had the shameful prudence to treat with them, and send them arms wherewith to attack others, bargaining with them as merchants, while they negociate as warriors.
Nothing would be more easy than to put down these marauders; yet it is not done. But how many other useful and easy things are entirely neglected! The necessity of reducing these pirates is acknowledged in every prince's cabinet; yet no one undertakes their reduction. When the ministers of different courts
accidentally talk the matter over, they do but illustrate the fable of tying the bell round the cat's neck.*
"The order of the Redemption of Captives is the finest of all monastic institutions, but it is a sad reproach to us. The kingdoms of Fez, Algiers, and Tunis, have no marabous of the Redemption of Captives; because, though they take many Christians from us, we take scarcely any Mussulmen from them.'
"Nevertheless, they are more attached to their religion than we are to ours; for no Turk or Arab ever turns Christian, while they have hundreds of renegadoes amongst them, who even serve in their expeditions. An Italian, named Pelegini, was, in 1712, captain-general of the Algerine galleys. The miramolin, the bey, the dey, all have Christian females in their seraglios, but there are only two Turkish girls who have found lovers at Paris.
"The Algerine land force consists of twelve thousand regular soldiers only; but all the rest of the men are trained to arms; and it is this that renders the conquest of the country so difficult. The Vandals, however, easily subdued it; yet we dare not attack it."
Jupiter, Neptune, and Mercury, travelling one day in Thrace, called on a certain king named Hyreus, who entertained them very handsomely. After eating a good dinner, they asked him if they could render him any service. The good man, who was past the age at which it is usual for men to have children, told them he should be very much obliged to them if they would make him a boy. The three gods then urined on the skin of a new flayed ox; and from thence sprang Orion,
* The bell can now be easily tied round the cat's neck, but no one European power can be allowed by the rest to occupy the northern shores of Africa. The Christian inconsistency in this instance, consists in the omission at once to punish piracy and rapine, and to spread a religion alleged to be equally necessary to salvation and civilization in the train of so politic and justifiable an interference. The same inconsistency is displayed in respect to the noble efforts of the Greeks, to the deduction of a still more shameful conclusion.-T.