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to moderate the despotism of the military rulers. It frequently happened, that among the sovereign people, before they issued as conquerors from their own abodes, peculiar veneration had been paid to a sacerdotal caste; and, though the inevitable effect of foreign conquest was to elevate the military order and its chiefs above the priestly order, the priests still retained sufficient influ ence to act as a wholesome check upon the monarch, and their interposition might be beneficial not only to their own people, but indirectly to the remotest subjects of the empire.

Heeren's investigation of the ancient state of Egypt affords a full illustration of these general principles. He shows, that in that most ancient monarchy, religion was the great bond of national unity, and the great check upon the power of the kings.

The commerce of the ancient nations is the point to which Heeren's researches are mainly directed. He does not venture to investigate the origin of commerce, but wisely contents himself with pointing out the circumstances which distinguish the commerce of antiquity from that of modern times. Modern commerce is carried on chiefly by sea; ancient commerce was, for the most part, an intercourse by land. Heeren conceives that it is the discovery of America which has caused this characteristic difference. The continents of the Old World were contiguous; they made, in fact, but one great continent; and it was possible for a communication between the most distant parts of them to be maintained by land. The inland sea which partially separated them, afforded but a narrow space for commercial voyages. The traffic of the Mediterranean was, in general, only an appendage to the land traffic, which brought the produce of remote regions to its shores. The voyage of the shipowner was short, in comparison with the long and toilsome journey of the merchant of the caravans. In modern times, a new continent has been added to the world, which cannot be reached without traversing the ocean. In this region the nations of Europe have planted their colonies; to this region the efforts of commerce have been especially directed; and the maritime character which it has thus acquired, has determined the mode of communication with all other parts of the earth.

Such is Heeren's view. He has seized with just discrimination the point of difference, and marked with truth the great event which decided the change; but he might have gone farther back in tracing its causes. The discovery of America was not an accident; nor did it produce a revolution for which men's minds were unprepared. Merchants had, with purpose and forethought, betaken themselves to the sea, because the old ways of communication by land were blocked up and broken. The religious hostility


age, as

of Islam and Christendom had long interrupted the intercourse of the East and West, and made commerce dangerous and uncertain. The articles of commerce the most highly valued in that in all preceding ages, were the produce of India; but the regions between Europe and India had fallen under the dominion of the Turks, a race more barbarous, and less disposed to commerce, than any of their predecessors in the empire of Asia. At the same time, the growing civilisation of Europe was causing a greater demand for the produce of the eastern world. The navigators of Portugal, the people of the extreme west, under the directing genius of Prince Henry, entered resolutely upon the design of reaching India by sea. The circumnavigation of Africa, and the voyage of Vasco de Gama, would have greatly modified the com merce of the world, even if America had never been discovered. The change might have been less decided. Navigation, as Heeren argues, might still have been long confined to coasting voyages; but the path of commerce would have been no less surely transferred from the land to the waters. But the far more scientific project, and the far bolder attempt, to reach India by sailing directly to the west, showed that a spirit of enterprise was awake, which was sure to open for itself some course entirely new. America had had no existence, and if the original purpose of Columbus had been executed by himself, or by some later navigator, the change would have been wrought as decisively as it has been now. But the philosophic seaman of Genoa encountered an obstacle, which, although in name and in form it prevented the fulfilment of his conception, in reality only brought about more quickly the great revolution in commerce which it was the tendency of his enterprise to accomplish. In mid ocean a new world was opened to the merchant; but this discovery was not an accident which caused a change in the direction of commerce; it was the splendid prize which rewarded its efforts in a new career upon which it had already entered.


Heeren sketches with the hand of a master the prominent features of a land traffic, in regions where the merchant must prehimself to encounter the desert, and the dwellers of the desert. pare He cannot travel singly: the caravan must be mustered at a stated place at a stated season. Its route across the wilderness is marked by the springs, and the palm-trees, and the islands of verdure, which are thinly scattered over the waste. If these resting-places can support a fixed population, a town is formed, which becomes the depository of the wealth of distant nations, and their place of exchange. It grows, it may be, into a mighty city; and when the stream of commerce is turned into another channel, the

modern traveller marvels at the splendour and the desolation of Palmyra or Balbec.

A traffic by land requires a multitude of beasts of burden, and the camel, the gift of a bountiful God to the inhabitants of the desert, is the unwearied servant of the caravan merchant. The nomad tribes, the breeders of the camel, are often induced to take a part in a traffic, conducted in a manner by no means alien to their habits, and they become the leaders of the caravans. Strong as the camel is, and large as the caravans may be, such a method of transport cannot be employed for bulky goods; and the articles of trade are generally those of which a little weight is of great value, such as fabrics of silk, or the finer cottons, spices, and jewels, and the precious metals.

In ancient times, and in the regions of Asia and Africa, in which the caravan trade still subsists, the communication by posts, which affords such facilities to European commerce, was and continues to be unknown. Commercial transactions, therefore, could not be carried on by bills of exchange, or any similar device, but were effected chiefly by barter. For the same reasons, commissions were unknown; and it was necessary for the merchant to be also a traveller, and to accompany his goods to the market where they were to be sold. Hence, his life was a life of toil and adventure, very different from the life of the trader who sits in his counting-house, waiting for the reports of his correspondents and agents.


Heeren's great delight throughout his work is in exploring the course of the land trade of the ancients, and in catching glimpses of authorities for laying down caravan routes in his maps. does not, however, neglect the navigation either of the Indian Ocean or of the Mediterranean Sea. He points out most clearly the advantages of the easy communication which the latter sea afforded to the nations which occupied its coasts. They would,' he observes, beyond all question, have continued as uncivilized 6 as the inhabitants of Central Africa, if the basin of the Mediterranean had been a steppe, like those of Mongolia.'


The period which Heeren has selected for his review of the civilisation and commerce of antiquity, is the period of the consolidation of the Persian Empire, under Darius the son of Hystaspes, and his immediate successors. The civilized nations of Asia were then united in one vast empire; and it cannot be questioned, that their communication with one another was much facilitated. If we view them as a whole, this probably was the period in which their social condition was at its highest pitch. If we took our stand at an earlier epoch, we should be destitute

of contemporary authority. At this date, we can avail ourselves of the full and honest testimony of Herodotus. If we waited till a later time, for example, the era of the Macedonian conquest, -with a greater multitude of witnesses, we should probably find less solid information; and, by that time, the most important of the ancient states, Babylon, and Egypt, and the cities of Phoenicia, had sunk deep into decay. Besides, after the Macedonian conquest, the peculiar character of the several nations was thrown into the background, and the spirit of the restless and enterprising Greek pervaded the whole ancient world. Of course, however, this selection of a period, to which the attention is particularly directed, does not preclude Heeren from investigations into a more remote antiquity, nor compel him to shut his eyes to the facts presented in subsequent ages. The unchanging character of Eastern habits and manners enables us, from the testimony of a later time, to conjecture the state of affairs at an earlier period; and where, as frequently is the case, we find the same customs existing in ancient times, and at a more recent date, we may reasonably assume their continued existence throughout the intervening periods.

Heeren tells us honestly, that as his researches embrace a much wider range of objects than his readers might generally expect, he has thought it right to develope their extent gradually, and, by prefixing some outlines and brief indications of his proposed track, to prepare the mind of the student for the course in which he is to follow him. In these gradual approaches to the subject, we necessarily encounter some repetitions; but we believe that the author has followed the right plan for enabling the historical enquirer to take a comprehensive view of the multitude of facts submitted to his contemplation. After the General Introduction, he commences his work by a disquisition upon Asia, in which he describes the geographical conformation of that vast continent, and presents a theory of its history, a summary view of its commerce, and some brief remarks upon its languages.

Central Asia is an immense table land, lifted up upon the shoulders of two ranges of mountains, which enclose it on the north and south, and traverse the whole continent from west to east. The most elevated portion of each range is nearly at its middle point. The Northern or Altaic range appears to attain its greatest height in longitude 100° east ; and, on the one hand, extends through the territory of the Tungusians to the Pacific Ocean; and, on the other, passes to the north of the Caspian Sea, and takes a northern direction, under the name of the Ural Mountains. The southern range, the centre of which contains the gigantic peaks of the Himalaya, on the one hand, passes

through Thibet, and subsides into the plain of China; on the other hand, under the name of the Hindoo Koosh (the Paropamisus of the Greeks), it stretches towards the southern extremity of the Caspian, and, after skirting that vast lake, it divides itself into branches, of which the north-western joins the Caucasus, between the Caspian and the Euxine, while the western, the ridge of Taurus, traverses the whole length of Asia Minor. The loftiest regions of these two great ranges are connected by a transverse range, the Belur-tag, or Mountains of Cashgar, the direction of which is from the south-west to the north-east. On the east of this transverse range is the great sandy desert, the Desert of Cobi. On its western side is the region watered by the Jaxartes and the Oxus, the great rivers which fall into the Lake Aral, and which are believed by some geographers to have found their way, in ancient times, to the Caspian Sea. This latter region is the country of the Tatars. The Desert of Cobi is the proper country of the Mongols, who have also spread themselves over the adjacent region on the north of the Jaxartes. The Tatars and the Mongols are the two great nomad races of Central Asia; and nomads they have been in all ages, through the necessity imposed upon them by their bare and interminable plains.

Northern Asia, or Siberia, which spreads its vast expanse from the Altaic mountains to the Arctic Ocean, was almost unknown to the ancients, and scarcely comes within the scope of Heeren's work. The regions to which he chiefly directs the attention of his readers, are the countries of Southern Asia, Asia Minor, Syria, Assyria, Persia, and the peninsulas of Arabia and India. Some of these countries are blest with an abundantly fertile soil, and with various species of natural wealth, and have been, from the earliest ages, the abode of nations dwelling in fixed habitations, elevated to a greater or less degree of civilisation, and actively engaged in commerce. The great rivers of this part of the continent, the vast extent of sea-coast, and the way in which the masses of land are broken and divided by the gulfs of the Indian Ocean, are circumstances eminently favourable to commerce. Even in this part of the continent, however, are tracts which are fitted for the dwelling only of nomad tribes. The great desert belt of Africa appears to be prolonged across the peninsula of Arabia and the central districts of Persia, and to extend even beyond the Indus.

A knowledge of the habits of the people of the different regions of Asia, habits, founded on the physical peculiarities of the countries which they occupy; in other words, a knowledge of the habits of the fixed population of the fertile regions, and of the

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