« ForrigeFortsett »
of masters; the arms of Chosroes depopulated the chap. land, yet under his reign the Jacobites enjoyed a short and precarious respite. The victory of Heraclius renewed and aggravated the persecution, and the patriarch again escaped from Alexandria to the desert. In his flight, Benjamin was encouraged by Benjamin, a voice, which bade him expect, at the end of ten bite patriyears, the aid of a foreign nation, marked like the arch, A.D. Egyptians themselves with the ancient right of circumcision. The character of these deliverers, and the nature of the deliverance, will be hereafter explained; and I shall step over the interval of eleven centuries to observe the present misery of the Jacobites of Egypt. The populous city of Cairo affords a residence or rather a shelter for their indigent patriarch, and a remnant of ten bishops; forty monasteries have survived the inroads of the Arabs; and the progress of servitude and apostacy has reduced the Coptic nation to the despicable number of twentyfive or thirty thousand families;' a race of illiterate beggars, whose only consolation is derived from the superior wretchedness of the Greek patriarch and his diminutive congregation."
VI. The Coptic patriarch, a rebel to the Cæsars, VI. THE or a slave to the khalifs, still gloried in the filial ABYSSI
This number is taken from the curious Recherches sur les Egyptiens et les Chinois (tom. ii. p. 192, 193); and appears more probable than the 600,000 ancient, or 15,000 modern, Copts of Gemelli Carreri. Cyril Lucar, the Protestant patriarch of Constantinople, laments that those heretics were ten times more numerous than his orthodox Greeks, ingeniously applying the roadan xey dexades devoiato ovozcovo of Homer (Iliad ii. 128), the most perfect expression of contempt (Fabric. Lux Evangelii, 740).
• The history of the Copts, their religion, manners, &c. may be found in the Abbé Renaudot's motley work, neither a translation nor an original; the Chronicon Orientale of Peter, a Jacobite; in the two versions of Abraham Ecchellensis, Paris, 1651; and John Simon Asseman, Venet. 1729. These annals descend no lower than the xiiith century. The more recent accounts must be searched for in the travellers into Egypt, and the Nouveaux Memoires des Missions de Levant. In the last century, Joseph Abudacnus, a native of Cairo, published at Oxford, in thirty pages, a slight Historia Jacobitarum, 147. post 150,
CHAP. obedience of the kings of Nubia and Æthiopia. He
repaid their homage by magnifying their greatness ; and it was boldly asserted that they could bring into the field a hundred thousand horse, with an equal number of camels; that their hand could pour
out or restrain the waters of the Nile;' and the peace and plenty of Egypt were obtained, even in this world, by the intercession of the patriarch. In exile at Constantinople, Theodosius recommended to his patroness the conversion of the black nations of Nubia, from the tropic of Cancer to the confines of Abyssinia.' Her design was suspected and emulated by the more orthodox emperor. The rival missionaries, a Melchite and a Jacobite, embarked at the same time; but the empress, from a motive of love or fear, was more effectually obeyed; and the Catholic priest was detained by the president of Thebais, while the king of Nubia and his court were hastily baptised in the faith of Dioscorus. The tardy envoy of Justinian was received and dismissed with honour; but when he accused the heresy and treason of the Egyptians, the negro convert was instructed to reply that he would never abandon his brethren the true believers, to the persecuting ministers of the synod of Chal
+ About the year 737. See Renaudot, Hist. Patriarch. Alex. p. 221, 222. Elmacin, Hist. Saracen. p. 999.
Ludolph. Hist. Æthiopic. et Comment. 1. i. c. 8. Renaudot, Hist. Patriarch. Alex. p. 480, &c. This opinion, introduced into Egypt and Europe by the artifice of the Copts, the pride of the Abyssinians, the fear and ignorance of the Turks and Arabs, has not even the semblance of truth. The rains of Æthiopia do not, in the increase of the Nile, consult the will of the monarch. If the river approaches at Napata, within three days' journey of the Red Sea (see D'Anville's Maps), a canal that should divert its course would demand, and most probably surpass, the power of the Cæsars.
The Abyssinians, who still preserve the features and olive complexion of the Arabs, afford a proof that two thousand years are not sufficient to change the colour of the human race. The Nubians, an African race, are pure negroes, as black as those of Senegal or Congo, with flat noses, thick lips, and woolly hair (Buffon, Hist. Naturelle, tom. v. p. 117. 143, 144. 166. 219. edit. in 12mo. Paris, 1769). The ancients beheld, without much attention, the extraordinary phænomenon which has exercised the philosophers and theologians of modern times.
cedon. During several ages, the bishops of Nubia CHAP. were named and consecrated by the Jacobite patriarch of Alexandria: as late as the twelfth century, Christianity prevailed; and some rites, some ruins, are still -visible in the savage towns of Sennaar and Dongola." But the Nubians at length executed their threats of returning to the worship of idols; the climate required the indulgence of polygamy, and they have finally preferred the triumph of the Koran to the abasement of the Cross. A metaphysical religion may appear too refined for the capacity of the negro race; yet a black or a parrot might be taught to repeat the words of the Chalcedonian or Monophysite creed.
Christianity was more deeply rooted in the Abys- Church of sinian empire; and, although the correspondence has A. D. 530, been sometimes interrupted above seventy or a hun- &c. dred years, the mother-church of Alexandria retains her colony in a state of perpetual pupillage. Seven bishops once composed the Æthiopic synod: had their number amounted to ten, they might have elected an independent primate; and one of their kings was ambitious of promoting his brother to the ecclesiastical throne. But the event was foreseen, the increase was denied; the episcopal office has been gradually confined to the abuna, the head and author of the Abyssinian priesthood; the patriarch supplies each vacancy with an
with an Egyptian monk; and the character
w Asseman. Bibliot. Orient. tom. i.
329. * The Christianity of the Nubians, A. D. 1153, is attested by the sheriff al Edrisi, falsely described under the name of the Nubian geographer (p. 18), who represents them as a nation of Jacobites. The rays of historical light that twinkle in the history of Renaudot (p. 178. 220_224. 281–286. 405. 434. 451. 464) are all previous to this æra. See the modern state in the Lettres Edifiantes (Recueil, iv.) and Busching (tom. ix. p.
152_159. par Berenger). • The abuna is improperly dignified by the Latins with the title of partriarch. The Abyssinians acknowledge only the four patriarchs, and their chief is no more than a metropolitan or national primate (Ludolph. Hist. Æthiopic. et Comment. 1. iii. c. 7). The seven bishops of Renaudot (p: 511), who existed A. D. 1131, are unknown to the historian.
CHAP. of a stranger appears more venerable in the eyes of
the people, less dangerous in those of the monarch. In the sixth century, when the schism of Egypt was confirmed, the rival chiefs, with their patrons, Justinian and Theodora, strove to outstrip each other in the conquest of a remote and independent province. The industry of the empress was again victorious, and the pious Theodora has established in that sequestered church the faith and discipline of the Jacobites.” Encompassed on all sides by the enemies of their religion, the Æthiopians slept near a thousand years, forgetful of the world, by whom they were forgotten. They
were awakened by the Portuguese, who, turning the Abyssinia, southern promontory of Africa, appeared in India A.D. 1525 and the Red Sea, as if they had descended through -1550,
the air from a distant planet. In the first moments of their interview, the subjects of Rome and Alexandria observed the resemblance, rather than the difference, of their faith; and each nation expected the most important benefits from an alliance with their Christian brethren. In their lonely situation, the Æthiopians had almost relapsed into the savage life. Their vessels, which had traded to Ceylon, scarcely presumed to navigate the rivers of Africa; the ruins of Axume were deserted, the nation was scattered in villages, and the emperor, a pompous name, was content, both in peace and war, with the immoveable residence of a camp. Conscious of their own indigence, the Abyssinians had formed the rational project of importing the arts and ingenuity of Europe;a
2 I know not why Assemapnus (Bibliot. Orient. tom. ii. p. 384) should call in question these probable missions of Theodora into Nubia and Æthiopia. The slight notices of Abyssinia till the year 1500 are supplied by Renaudot (p. 336 -341. 381, 382. 405. 443, &c. 452. 456. 463. 475. 480. 511. 525. 559-564) from the Coptic writers. The mind of Ludolphus was a perfect blank.
Ludolph. Hist. Æthiop. 1. iv. c. 5. The most necessary arts are now exercised by the Jews, and the foreign trade is in the hands of the Armenians. What Gregory principally admired and envied was the industry of Europe artes et opificia.
and their ambassadors at Rome and Lisbon were in- CHAP.
XLVII. structed to solicit a colony of smiths, carpenters, tilers, masons, printers, surgeons, and physicians, for the use of their country. But the public danger soon called for the instant and effectual aid of arms and soldiers, to defend an unwarlike people from the barbarians who ravaged the inland country, and the Turks and Arabs who advanced from the sea-coast in more formidable array. Æthiopia was saved by four hundred and fifty Portuguese, who displayed in the field the native valour of Europeans, and the artificial powers of the musquet and cannon. In a moment of terror, the emperor had promised to reconcile himself and his subjects to the Catholic faith; a Latin patriarch represented the supremacy of the pope;' the empire, enlarged in a tenfold proportion, was supposed to contain more gold than the mines of America; and the wildest hopes of avarice and zeal were built on the willing submission of the Christians of Africa.
But the vows which pain had extorted were for- Mission sworn on the return of health. The Abyssinians Jesuits
, still adhered with unshaken constancy to the Mono. A.D. 1657. physite faith; their languid belief was inflamed by the exercise of dispute; they branded the Latins with the names of Arians and Nestorians, and imputed the adoration of four gods to those who separated the two natures of Christ. Fremona, a place of worship, or rather of exile, was assigned to the Jesuit missionaries. Their skill in the liberal and mechanic arts, their theological learning, and the decency of their manners, inspired a barren esteem;
John Bermudez, whose relation, printed at Lisbon, 1569, was translated into English by Purchas (Pilgrims, 1. vii. c. 7. p. 1149, &c.), and from thence into French by La Croze (Christianisme d'Ethiopie, p. 92_265). The piece is curious ; but the author may be suspected of deceiving Abyssinia, Rome, and Portugal. His title to the rank of patriarch is dark and doubtful (Ludolph. Comment. No. 101. p. 473).