George W. Williams.

History of the Negro Race in America From 1619 to 1880. Vol 1 Negroes as Slaves, as Soldiers, and as Citizens online

. (page 53 of 57)
Online LibraryGeorge W. WilliamsHistory of the Negro Race in America From 1619 to 1880. Vol 1 Negroes as Slaves, as Soldiers, and as Citizens → online text (page 53 of 57)
Font size
QR-code for this ebook

* * * * *


1. _Menes_ was the first king of Egypt. We have accounts of but one of
his successors - Timans, during the first period, a space of more than
two centuries.

2. _Shishak_ was king of Ethiopia, and doubtless of Egypt. After his

3. _Zerah_ the son of Judah became king of Ethiopia, and made himself
master of Egypt and Libya; and intending to add Judea to his dominions
made war upon Asa king of Judea. His army consisted of a million of
men, and three hundred chariots of war (2 Chron. xiv. 9).

4. _Sabachus_, an Ethiopian, king of Ethiopia, being encouraged by an
oracle, entered Egypt with a numerous army, and possessed himself of
the country. He reigned with great clemency and justice. It is
believed, that this Sabachus was the same with Solomon, whose aid was
implored by Hosea king of Israel, against Salmanaser king of Assyria.

5. _Sethon_ reigned fourteen years. He is the same with Sabachus, or
Savechus the son of Sabacan or Saul the Ethiopian who reigned so long
over Egypt.

6. _Tharaca_, an Ethiopian, joined Sethon, with an Ethiopian army to
relieve Jerusalem. After the death of Sethon, who had filled the
Egyptian throne fourteen years, Tharaca ascended the throne and
reigned eight years over Egypt.

7. _Sesach_ or Shishak was the king of Egypt to whom Jeroboam fled to
avoid death at the hands of king Solomon. Jeroboam was entertained
till the death of Solomon, when he returned to Judea and was made king
of Israel. (2 Chron. xi. and xii.)

This Sesach, in the fifth year of the reign of Rehoboam marched
against Jerusalem, because the Jews had transgressed against the Lord.
He came with twelve hundred chariots of war, and sixty thousand
horses. He had brought numberless multitudes of people, who were all
Libyans, Troglodytes, and Ethiopians. He seized upon all the strongest
cities of Judah, and advanced as far as Jerusalem. Then the king, and
the princes of Israel, having humbled themselves, and implored the
protection of the God of Israel, he told them, by his prophet
Shemaiah, that, because they humbled themselves, he would not utterly
destroy them, as they had deserved but that they should be the
servants of Sesach, in order _that they might know_ the difference of
_his service, and the service of the kingdoms of the country_. Sesach
retired from Jerusalem, after having plundered the treasures of the
house of the Lord, and of the king's house, he carried off every thing
with him, _and even also the three hundred shields of gold which
Salomon had made_.

The following are the kings of Egypt mentioned in Scripture by the
common appellation of Pharaoh: -

8. _Psammetichus_. - As this prince owed his preservation to the
Ionians and Carians, he settled them in Egypt, from which all
foreigners hitherto had been excluded; and, by assigning them
sufficient lands and fixed revenues, he made them forget their native
country. By his order, Egyptian children were put under their care to
learn the Greek tongue; and on this occasion, and by this means, the
Egyptians began to have a correspondence with the Greeks, and, from
that era, the Egyptian history, which till then had been intermixed
with pompous fables, by the artifice of the priests, begins, according
to Herodotus, to speak with greater truth and certainty.

As soon as Psammetichus was settled on the throne, he engaged in a war
against the king of Assyria, on account of the limits of the two
empires. This war was of long continuance. Ever since Syria had been
conquered by the Assyrians, Palestine, being the only country that
separated the two kingdoms, was the subject of continual discord; as
afterwards it was between the Ptolemies and the Seleucidæ. They were
perpetually contending for it, and it was alternately won by the
stronger. Psammetichus, seeing himself the peaceable possessor of all
Egypt, and having restored the ancient form of government, thought it
high time for him to look to his frontiers, and to secure them against
the Assyrian, his neighbour, whose power increased daily. For this
purpose he entered Palestine at the head of an army.

Perhaps we are to refer to the beginning of this war, an incident
related by Diodorus; that the Egyptians, provoked to see the Greeks
posted on the right wing by the king himself in preference to them,
quitted the service, being upwards of two hundred thousand men, and
retired into Ethiopia, where they met with an advantageous settlement

Be this as it will, Psammetichus entered Palestine, where his career
was stopped by Azotus, one of the principal cities of the country,
which gave him so much trouble, that he was forced to besiege it
twenty nine years before he could take it. This is the longest siege
mentioned in ancient history. Psammetichus died in the 24th year of
the reign of Josiah king of Judah; and was succeeded by his son Nechoa
or Necho - in Scriptures frequently called Pharaoh Necho.

9. _Nechao_ or _Pharaoh-Necho_ reigned sixteen years king of Egypt, (2
Chron. xxxv. 20,) whose expeditions are often mentioned in profane

The Babylonians and Medes having destroyed Nineveh, and with it the
empire of the Assyrians, were thereby become so formidable, that they
drew upon themselves the jealousy of all their neighbours. Nechao,
alarmed at the danger, advanced to the Euphrates, at the head of a
powerful army, in order to check their progress. Josiah, king of
Judah, so famous for his uncommon piety, observing that he took his
route through Judea, resolved to oppose his passage. With this view he
raised all the forces of his kingdom, and posted himself in the valley
of Megiddo (a city on this side of Jordan, belonging to the tribe of
Manasseh, and called Magdolus by Herodotus). Nechao informed him by a
herald, that his enterprise was not designed against him; that he had
other enemies in view, and that he had undertaken this war in the name
of God, who was with him; that for this reason he advised Josiah not
to concern himself with this war for fear it otherwise should turn to
his disadvantage. However, Josiah was not moved by these reasons; he
was sensible that the bare march of so powerful an army through Judea
would entirely ruin it. And besides, he feared that the victor, after
the defeat of the Babylonians, would fall upon him and dispossess him
of part of his dominions. He therefore marched to engage Nechao; and
was not only overthrown by him, but unfortunately received a wound of
which he died at Jerusalem, whither he had ordered himself to be

Nechao, animated by this victory, continued his march and advanced
towards the Euphrates. He defeated the Babylonians; took Carchemish, a
large city in that country; and securing to himself the possession of
it by a strong garrison, returned to his own kingdom after having been
absent three months.

Being informed in his march homeward, that Jehoaz had caused himself
to be proclaimed king at Jerusalem, without first asking his consent,
he commanded him to meet him at Riblah in Syria. The unhappy prince
was no sooner arrived there than he was put in chains by Nechao's
order, and sent prisoner to Egypt, where he died. From thence,
pursuing his march, he came to Jerusalem, where he gave the sceptre to
Eliakim (called by him Jehoiakim), another of Josiah's sons, in the
room of his brother; and imposed an annual tribute on the land, of a
hundred talents of silver, and one talent of gold. This being done, he
returned in triumph to Egypt.

Herodotus, mentioning this king's expedition, and the victory gained
by him at Magdolus, (as he calls it,) says that he afterwards took the
city Cadytis, which he represents as situated in the mountains of
Palestine, and equal in extent to Sardis, the capital at that time not
only of Lydia, but of all Asia Minor. This description can suit only
Jerusalem, which was situated in the manner above described, and was
then the only city in those parts that could be compared to Sardis. It
appears besides, from Scripture, that Nechao, after his victory, made
himself master of this capital of Judea; for he was there in person,
when he gave the crown to Jehoiakim. The very name Cadytis, which in
Hebrew, signifies the holy, points clearly to the city of Jerusalem,
as is proved by the learned dean Prideaux.

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 gods 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 God 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 god to public worship. The people hastened in crowds to pay their
adorations to the statue. The king, having assembled 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 petitions, give audience, pronounce 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

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
Cyropædia, or institution 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 passage 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

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 quantity 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 gratitude to the tutelar gods of all the cities, were the
first, as well as the most illustrious 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
surpassed 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. _Uchoreus_, one of the successors of Osymandyas, built the city of
Memphis. This city was 150 furlongs, or more than seven leagues in
circumference, 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,
analogous 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. Analogous 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 principal 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 instituting a general
comparison of the languages of Africa. Many years will probably elapse
before it will be possible to produce such an analysis 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 analogy 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 analogies in their general principles of structure, which may
be compared to those discoverable between the individual members of
two other great classes 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 constituting such a class of
dialects under the title of African languages, we have likewise
reason - and it is equal in degree - for associating in this class 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 multitude 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,

Online LibraryGeorge W. WilliamsHistory of the Negro Race in America From 1619 to 1880. Vol 1 Negroes as Slaves, as Soldiers, and as Citizens → online text (page 53 of 57)