The Preceptor of Moses
IN the reign of that Pharaoh named Mineptah I., the Sem, or high-priest, Amon-em-api, was also first of the royal astronomers and architects as well as prime minister. He was of the family of Penta-ur, poet-laureate of the great Ramses II., and he had in his early youth served in the foreign military expeditions of that renowned warrior-king. His entrance upon the duties of the priesthood was directed by one of those events which men term accidents, but which are God’s finger-posts in the path of destiny.
Ramses the Great held his court near the city of Zoan, in the nome of Tanis, called after him Zoan-Ramses, or PiRamses, situate near the eastern border of the Delta, on the Tanitic branch of the Nile. It was the Princess Meris, third daughter of Ramses, who had found the Hebrew infant, and had caused her maidens to convey it to the palace, to the surprise and perhaps to the scandal of the court. The Pharaoh condescended to let the light of his countenance fall upon the helpless foundling, and he beheld on the clear olive brow the sign of genius. The wide forehead and the deep miraculous eyes not only startled the monarch, but fascinated the priests and captains of his retinue. The priest of Osiris declared that the beautiful Horus had come anew in human form.
Most of all was Amon-em-api, then a bearding youth, impressed by the event, believing that the child had been sent by the gods to be reared as a prince. The baby Moses, having passed the period of infancy, was given into his charge. By the advice of the council and by the royal mandate, the young soldier became a priest, and thenceforward rose by sure steps to the summit of power in the Egyptian hierarchy. What prodigious toils and what universal accomplishments attended his advancement this story may show.
In the expressive words of holy writ, “ Moses was learned in all the wisdom of the Egyptians; ” and it was under the guidance of the Sem that he pursued his studies. The priests only were masters of the literature and science of the age.
Meanwhile, the great Ramses had died, and his body rested in its everlasting habitation in the rock. His deeds were blazoned, with Eastern magnificence of phrase, upon the walls and columns of the great temple at Thebes, and his statue was set up as a memorial.
After a long and confused struggle, Mineptah, the fourteenth and least worthy of the sons of Ramses, ascended the throne, and wore the pshent, or double crown. The Sem, Amon-em-api, continued his functions and increased his influence, — that is, as far as any one could have influence with a jealous, fickle, obdurate, and moody prince.
The years revolved. Moses had come to manhood with honor, and was reputed, next after the Sem, to be the most learned man of the age. But he suddenly disappeared, and the hopes of his preceptor for the rise of his pupil had been disappointed. He had fled to the desert, and led a wandering life with the nomadic tribes of that elder day.
The years revolved. The children of the Sem grew up. One son was the fan-bearer of the king; one was governor of a province on the Upper Nile ; others were in the civil service; his daughter had made a royal marriage; all were firmly planted, and all grew more prosperous in the light reflected from their illustrious sire. Now the wife of the Sem had yielded to destiny, and her mummy graced his dining-hall. The Sem was alone, as an obelisk is alone.
He still measured the planets in their courses ; he caused to be announced the equinoxes and the coming of the welcome flood of the Nile. Next to the Pharaoh, he was the centre of authority, the fountain of honor, the dispenser of justice.
The years revolved. The Sem was past seventy years old. The Pharaoh, with an immense retinue of warriors, priests, women, and servants, had made the annual pilgrimage to Thebes. The Nile had been covered with a fleet of gorgeous boats, and the valley had echoed with music. Amon was the tutelary deity of Thebes, but Osiris and Isis, Ptah and Khem, and all the ancient dwellers in Egypt’s awful pantheon were worshiped by the same devotees, and under the direction of the one Sem.
It was at the funeral ceremonies in honor of Osiris, to which the sacred ark and the images of the god and the king had been borne with the usual pomp. The holy place where stood the golden shrine was strewn with flowers and hung with votive garlands. The shrine itself was covered with offerings, and around the altar lay the victims of sacrifice. The air in the vast hall was dim and heavy with perfumes and incense. The ceremony was over ; the visiting priests and musicians had retired, and they, with the soldiers and people who had filled the outer courts, were escorting the chariot of Mineptah. Still in the distance sounded the trumpets, pipes, and drums; and at intervals the shouts of the populace rose over the barbaric din.
Though the Sem was threescore and ten, he was of majestic stature, and wore the look of an eagle. Age had stiffened his muscles and somewhat dimmed his haughty eyes, but had no power over his indomitable soul, His ceremonial peruke was laid aside, leaving his fine head completely bare, except that one thin gray lock, the symbol of his rank, hung over his right ear. His sandals of papyrus leaves had been slipped off, for the place whereon he stood was holy. His powerful figure was draped in a linen tunic, but his hands and arms were free, and uncovered except by gold serpents in the forms of armlets, bracelets, and signet-rings. On his broad shoulders, fastened by a heavy gold beetle, hung the mantle of leopard skin, that only the sovereign pontiff could wear.
The Sem appeared greatly troubled. On pretense of illness he had dismissed the servitors, and remained in the temple alone. What could trouble the man who stood next to the son of Amon-ra, the sun of Egypt?
It was this: he was on the pinnacle, and there was no higher step ; there was nothing left to desire. In his career he had compassed every science and art. He had made, so he believed, the reign of his master immortal in the temples and obelisks he had designed for him. He had builded for him a pyramid, and set in its innermost chamber a royal sarcophagus. Also, unknown to men, he had provided, in the very apex of the same pile, another crypt for his own last repose. The tomb and monument of Mineptah was also to be the resting-place of his great minister and pontiff. Always in his bosom he carried the sealed packet in which were the directions for placing his embalmed body in its lofty couch beneath the cap-stone. Pride could soar no higher, neither in life nor in death. But he had received a shock. He was old, and death could not be long averted. An evil eye had been cast upon him. On the night of the full moon occurring on the birthday of Typho, the evil genius of Egypt, a shriveled woman, whom he had known long ago in her better days, but who now was forgotten, cursed him for his haughty air as he passed her mean dwelling, and thrust at him a half-roasted swine’s rib that she was devouring. His horror at her imprecations and at the threatened contact with unclean flesh nearly drove him out of his senses. He spat at her and fled ; but not before he heard her prophesy that before the next festival in the new moon of Phamenoth he should appear before Osiris, the judge of all.
The Sem, like all men of abounding life and vigor, loved this world. Highpriest as he was, and perfect in every observance, he was not in haste to appear before the dread tribunal and give in his final account. Now destiny began to shut him in, and his soul rebelled. He beat his wings passionately against the bars of his cage. He had but just begun to be useful to the world, — so he fondly reasoned, — and he ought not to die. The Pharaoh Mineptah, weak and unsteady of purpose, needed him; science needed him ; the people needed him; the gods, even, had more need of his services on earth than of his adoration in heaven.
The prophecy had begun to work in his veins like a poison. His position and his wealth were nothing. In the magnificent ritual which he had just conducted there was no beauty for him. The prayer for the king, the worship of the god, the sacrifice, the incense, the libation, were hollow forms. Ever present in his soul were the words, In the new moon of Phamenoth. The characters were blazoned on the temple walls. They were seen in the sculptured ornaments of the gigantic pillars. Even the stars overhead broke from their old groups, and formed themselves into the same startling symbols, — Phamenoth! The winds that swept by from the Libyan desert shrieked Phamenoth!
Then the wretched priest lifted up his voice, and prayed Osiris that the cup of death might not yet be offered to his lips, — not yet. “Let me live my life once more ! ” he cried. “ As thou didst know the pangs of mortality, pity me ! ”
A long time he prayed, while his form was prostrate and his head rested on the lowest step of the altar. Then in the shuddering silence he felt, rather than heard, the rushing of wings ; and a voice came from the sacred place, — “ Beware, priest as thou art, beware ! Ask not for what must prove a curse ! ”
“ Life a curse ? O Lord, Amon Ra ! O Ptah, Creator ! O unseen and unnamed Life of all! Nothing from thy hand can be a curse. Let me live my life again! ”
“ That which is appointed is best,” replied the voice : “ labor, and then rest. To escape the common destiny would be a curse beyond thought.”
“ Still, great Deity, grant my prayer! ” So he sobbed and wrestled and prayed. His horror of the tomb and dread of the judgment beyond overcame even the warnings of Omniscience.
“ Have — then —thy — prayer,” slowly came the answer ; the words growing fainter in distance, until the last was only a fearful whisper.
When the Sem was sufficiently restored he gathered up his robes, and, not daring to look towards the sacred place, withdrew from the temple. How or where he went, what wild thoughts flitted by him during the night, and how he came among living men again, he could never remember. In his soul chaos reigned.
When ten years had passed, and the Sem had reached the age of eighty, those next below him in station, tired of waiting for his decease, suggested his senility and his impaired faculties to the king. In fact, the Sem was as vigorous as ever, but certainly he was old, and perhaps tiresome. He had lingered too long. Prime ministers, like other public performers, must know when to retire with credit. The junior priests said he did not read the service at the temple with the old impressiveness ; that he had become formal, and had lost breadth and spirituality. Others whispered to the king that so powerful a subject was dangerous. This hint was enough for the suspicious monarch. The Sem was graciously informed that he was allowed to resign his offices of pontiff and prime minister. He had lost the right to wear the leopard skin forever. After his fall from power he was no longer able to protect his son, one of the “ king’s sons of Kush,” the governor of a province on the Upper Nile, against whom a court cabal had been formed. That son was recalled in disgrace, and compelled to commit suicide. His wife died of grief, and her children, the grandchildren of the Sem, were made prisoners by the desert tribes. The other son, the fan-bearer, was banished to the gold mines, and perished on the way. The favorite daughter was discarded by her young husband, the Pharaoh’s son, who had become enamored of a Khitan princess.
The Sem cowered under these thickcoming disasters, and saw himself and his family on the brink of ruin. But he lived, — yes, he had the precious boon for which he had prayed.
Yet he lived less in the spiritual realm, and more in the domain of the senses ; and among the gay and volatile followers of the court, and especially among the almond-eyed daughters of the royal city, he found means to divert his attention from his own misfortunes. After some rebuffs and several futile attempts, he discovered a lady, not wholly withered, who was courageous enough to marry him. It was a bold venture on both sides. The Sem’s former spouse was waiting in her casket for his company on the last voyage. His second marriage appeared natural and proper enough to him, but he was sensible of something strange in the looks of men and women as they regarded him and his new wife. It was a chilling sensation, but it wore off. In fact, with the Sem at this time everything wore off.
In ten years the Sem was ninety, and was still vigorous, while his partner was become a bent and wrinkled creature, and not long after was added to his dried collection.
To relieve his mind he resolved to travel. Having obtained leave of absence and an escort, he ascended the Nile to Elephantine, and then, turning, drifted slowly down, touching at Philæ, Thebes, Memphis, Heliopolis, Bubastis, and other forgotten seats of ancient power and worship. He read the inscriptions on monuments, and with the temple scribes examined the historical treasures of papyri, He saw in thought the long series of dynasties reaching back into the twilight of time, and he formed a great purpose. “This I will do,” he said : “Upon my return to PiRamses I will call together the scribes of the whole land. They shall bring the rolls from the royal and the temple libraries. They shall copy and compare and set in order the monumental records. All the monarchs that have ruled in Egypt, and the history of their deeds, the sayings of the wise, the researches of the learned, the verses of the poets, and the rites of religion, — these shall be gathered. It shall be the Book of Egypt. Thus shall the name of Amon-em-api go down to posterity, forever connected with histories that cannot die, and with these stones over which time has no power.”
But the vision of grandeur faded. The great purpose was forgotten. The traveler was tired of unending magnificence, and oppressed by the sense of vast spaces and illimitable periods. So the Book of Egypt was not compiled ; and the Sem, restless as the British premier, visited Pelusium and Canopus and the Pharos, and then sailed over to Cyprus, where Ramses had once borne sway. Long before Homer, he looked upon blue Olympus and wooded Ida and the Trojan plain. Long before David, he wandered by the site of Jerusalem and breasted the waters of Jordan. Ages before Tartar hordes were born, he went beyond tlie rivers of Eden, and then on until he saw the countless yellow peoples of the farthest East. Nothing obstructed, nothing daunted him. He returned. He was a hundred years old, and as mercurial as a boy ; but nothing touched him or roused his admiration.
Then Mineptah was gathered to his fathers, and the nation mourned in due form. Or did the Sem dream this ? For life was now as vague and bewildering as the mist over a cataract; only sound and vacuity. Realities dissolved into visions, and visions cheated the senses as realities. The Sem, no longer supreme pontiff, but a high-priest still, took part in the grand ceremony, but with dry eyes and a head as airy as a spring blossom.
“ See the old wretch ! ” said a rising courtier of the new régime. “ No tears from him. Is he an immortal ? He is as old as Menes. He won’t need embalming.”
The new king that arose knew not the antiquated Sem. The sun-god had no benignant rays for a living anachronism, a man out of date and out of style. The poor old priest was as unfashionable as a natural man in a popular novel. He thought he might conciliate the young nobility by giving a fête on his one hundred and first birthday. The young nobles came, but there were few ladies, and none of the people of rank and authority. The Sem had ransacked old visiting lists in vain. All his contemporaries were lying in their final sleep. The courtiers looked on and smiled as the entertainment progressed. Everything was sumptuous and brilliant, but the old host was voted queer. Ladies held lotus flowers to their aristocratic noses, daintily tasted the sweetmeats and wine, and wondered why their entertainer had lagged superfluous on the stage.
The amusements were in the palace garden. Jugglers tossed balls and knives, spun bowls and vases, changed sticks to serpents, and made plants grow visibly and blossom. Pantomimists came on the stage, ami went through their swift and pointed dramas. Then musicians came, with harps and guitars, flutes, double - pipes, clappers, and cymbals. Male dancers bounded in, pirouetted and posed; girls swam in on the waves of music, poising in every attitude of grace, and throwing glances in the immemorial fashion. Amon-em-api, one hundred and one years old, looked on the indecorous spectacle without a blush. His hands led the applause, and his voice stimulated the dancers to new effort. His slaves plied the company with wine and beer, and he himself went about with reddened visage and smoldering eyes.
Yes, the once noble priest, the oldest man in Egypt, was the leader of a drunken orgy.
The next day he could not read the service in the temple. He broke away, and plunged anew into dissipation. While partially intoxicated he actually tasted a piece of pork, and crowned his disgrace by publicly eating onions and beans. The wild debauch and this last breach of discipline were both reported to the chapter of priests, who, with the royal assent, promptly degraded him. His proud earlock was cut off, and his golden ornaments were confiscated. He had no further share in the tithes and offerings of the temples, no place among the great.
Still he lived. He had his prayer. He had now some slight employment in the bureau of astronomy, and as an inspector of the public works. He had promised himself to amend his evil life. When the successive steps of his descent were recalled, though conscience was seldom importunate, he could but wonder. His was an old age with diminishing wisdom and with waning honor. Was life worth living ? Not only were his offices, honors, and emoluments gone, but his faculties were less vigorous. He had lost the high moral sense and the pure reason. Inferior subjects engaged his attention. The philosophy he had imparted to Moses had vanished as a smoke.
One day he furtively entered the pyramid, and looked at the chamber where Mineptah slept in his stone coffin. “ Sun of Egypt,” he exclaimed, “ the world is dreary ! It was not thus when I was illumined by thy rays. I should have ended my orbit at the perihelion. I am circling far into the darkness. Who knows what ignominy I may yet attain to ! ”
Then he thought of his own destined tomb, and was seized with a desire to view it, — yes, perhaps even to lie in it. He touched the spring, and the heavy stone swung back on concealed hinges, By the light of a taper he went through a winding passage-way up to the crypt that was known to him only among living men. As he came near it, the inclination to lie down in it was gone. The old dread returned. It was not a cheerful place, and it was close and dark withal; it was pleasanter to be in sunlight, even without the right to wear the leopard skin and the earlock. Yes, he preferred to live a while longer. He had got back safely into the long gallery and was just closing the secret door, when there was a swift movement behind, and a staff was thrust before the swinging stone. Rising up in mortal terror, the deposed Sem beheld the wrathful visage and agile form of Amenhotep, his successor in the pontificate. The crafty old man endeavored to temporize and to explain, but to no purpose. The altercation grew sharp and violent. The enraged high-priest brandished his keen sacrificial knife, and would listen to nothing until he had wrung the last secret from the miserable man, and possessed himself of the papyrus that described the mode of access to the chamber above. The once proud architect of the pyramid was driven forth, bound to silence on pain of death, without a home and without a tomb.
Amon-em-api was one hundred and ten years old. He still lived. He was lithe and erect, but people shrank from him, as from something uncanny, He strove to be cheerful. He attended games, and delighted in the exhibitions of dancing-girls. Being out of the pale of good society, he proposed marriage at different times to several of these gay and senseless creatures ; but, with saucy look and arms akimbo, they told him they did not wish to marry out of their century or their epoch. While this dalliance proceeded the business of the office was neglected, and the Nile one day rose half a cubit unannounced. This caused inquiry. It was found that the deposed high-priest, once first of mathematicians, could not even comprehend one of his own problems. Besides, he was irregular and disreputable. People complained of effeminate odors when he came to the public offices. His downfall was not long delayed. The forlorn ex-minister, ex-pontiff, ex-priest, was discharged from all public employment.
“ The gods have set a mark upon me,” he moaned, “ and whoever sees me will slay me.”
He was one hundred and twenty. He still lived. He was slender, but supple, and fresher in bodily sensations than he had been at any time for fifty years ; yet his face was like parchment, and his eyes were only piercing black points. Of all the men and women he had known in his prime, not one survived. Alone and despairing, he rushed from the city towards the slaves’ quarter.
Years before, under the reign of one of the stranger kings, when Joseph was fan-bearer and Adon, the descendants of Jacob had settled in the Nile Valley. In later times they were forced to labor on the new palaces and temples. Near the city were settled thousands of these enslaved Hebrews; and the miserable Amon-em-api fled to them for succor. Probably he had some faint hope that he might find his former pupil, his beloved Moses. If so, it was vain. He got a scanty subsistence among them as a laborer,—so scanty; for their taskmasters made them serve with rigor. He attempted to escape to the goldmines, but was driven back with scourgings. Without shelter and without sympathy (for there is small generosity among slaves), his mind was debased by the daily drudgery, and pride in him was dead. His hair and beard had grown, and were matted and filthy; his garments were squalid ; his sandals worn to shreds. No living being recognized him, and every passer-by shuddered. Ho longed for death. Still he lived on. How the weary days dragged ! Hunger was his portion, and often the desert sands were his bed. He was nearly one hundred and thirty. “ Oh, that on the day of the new moon of that Phamenoth, so many years ago, I had yielded up my soul! ”
He grew weaker, and sank upon the earth ; and then, as if beholding himself from without, he looked down upon his wretched body, — wasted with starvation, discolored with bruises. He himself seemed to have become a viewless spirit, floating in ether; and there, below him, in foulness and rags, lay his body ! It moaned, and he heard it. It stirred, and he saw it. How puny it looked. A half-grown Arab was able to lift it and throw it into a ditch, like a piece of carrion.
The soul of the beholder was dizzy while the body described the circle in the air. What an interminable time in falling ! In that swooning moment he thought of the fate of his disembodied soul,—doomed to wander on the illimitable shore until some pious hand should bestow upon his remains the rites of sepulture. So long as his body lay unburied, there was before him an eternity of anguish. The thought was insupportable, and his soul plunged into the dark void.
When consciousness returned, Amonem-api was aware of the presence of a venerable but still vigorous man, in whose regular and statuesque features he thought he saw some resemblance to the youth he had reared, far back in the time of the great Ramses, by the grace of the noble lady his daughter, the Princess Meris. The resemblance was wrought out slowly, as if he had taken time to follow every line. The man seemed at first as fresh and fair as a youth ; yet his brow was the seat of thought, and in his whole face were the deep lines of experience and courage. His full beard, all silver white, swept over a tunic of linen ; but this sign of age was contradicted by the extraordinary brilliancy of his eyes. A halo hung over him, as if it were the visible benediction of Heaven.
Steadfastly Amon-em-api gazed at the man who seemed to stand near him, and the scene became real. The mists of ages slowly dispersed. The long track of sixty years grew as indistinct as the Milky Way at the coming of dawn. The series of calamities were like the faintly remembered terrors of a dream.
Was it, then, a dream? He touched his head and his chin. No filthy hair was there ; all was smooth. He felt for his enameled ornaments, and looked at them; they were still upon his arms and hands. The leopard-skin mantle still hung about his shoulders. His embroidered and blue-fringed tunic still encircled him. He looked up. The last light of day shimmered among the lofty capitals and along the vast pictured walls. Slowly came the overwhelming conviction that the years of misery he had passed were only shadows, and that there had been no movement on the dial of time.
“ And is it thou, Moses ? ” he asked with trembling lips, almost dreading to hear the sound of his own voice. “ Am I — art thou — in life ? ”
“ Of a truth, illustrious Sem, I am in life, and so art thou. Let me help thee to rise. I came this day from the desert. I had missed thee from the royal train, as it departed, and stole hither to search for thee. Here, stretched upon the marble pavement, I found thee, thy head upon the steps of the altar. Sit now ; thou art dazed and weary. Rest thy head upon me, my dear master.”
The Sem breathed more freely.
“ Oh, Moses,” he said at length, “ I have dreamed a horrible dream. Methought I had lived my life over, but BACKWARD !—that I had lost station and honor; had forgotten science, and discarded virtue, and neglected worship ; had come to live only the groveling life of an animal, and so had fallen into the abyss. Verily, my soul had lost its reckoning. There was nought but blackness ; neither pitying star, nor friendly Pharos. But now, light, life,—yea, LIFE,— tingles again in my veins. Praised be Osiris! Praised be Isis ! Praised be Ptah ! ”
“ Praise rather Him, the Unnamed, the Almighty. It is He who hath sent this sleep upon thee. The wings of the Most High have overshadowed thee. In the secret places of God hast thou lifted the eyes of thy soul.”
“ True, O my pupil, my beloved Moses. I do but month the common phrases. The Spirit over all, He Who Lives, is unnamable, and they are shadows that we worship. But oh the lesson ! I rebelled at thought of yielding to the common lot, and following the dreaded Anubis. I struggled, agonized, for a new life. Now I have seen what it is to linger on earth, a stranger, after friends have departed. Life, such as I saw it, were the deadliest curse that even the Omnipotent could bestow.”
Tears began to flow down the cheeks of the aged priest, and he silently bowed his head in an attitude of resignation. Then, lifting his face, he continued : —
“ O holy Death, divine messenger ! thy lineaments are veiled in darkness; thy steps are attended by terror ; but thou givest rest to the body and a vision of glory to the parting soul. Moses, my dear pupil, my time will soon come. Thou hast learned much. Thou art wise. Thou hast returned. Put on the sacred robes, and enter the priesthood. Thou wilt in time come to wear the leopard skin, and become Sem in my place. The Pharaoh Mineptah — if he still reigns — will make thee his counselor. When my soul departs, burn the papyrus that hangs about my neck. Presume not to read it. And in thy future high station remember the sin of thy preceptor, and beware of overweening pride.”
“ Master,” said Moses, with sudden energy, “rouse thee! For it has been revealed to me that thy appointed time has not come. Thou wilt continue to stand before the king in council, and wilt lead the prayers of the people. Thou wilt see all of life thou desirest. But I shall remember thee. Thy love hath enfolded me like a garment. Thou hast shown me the bands of Orion, and imparted the sweet influences of the Pleiades. Thou has marked for me the rising of the evening and of the morning star ; thou hast measured the rhythm of the solemn dances of the moon in the fields of other. Thou hast taught me the equipoise of the forces of the universe. But, O my master, of late, and alone, under the solemn skies of Asia, with a clearer vision have I beheld the High and Holy One, — whose image no temple contains, and man’s presumptuous hands may never fashion.”
The Sem looked at Moses in wonder. " Verily, a god hath possessed thee! But draw not away from me. Let me lean upon thee. I have ever loved thee. Remain with me, my son, my son! ”
The Sem wept on the shoulder of his pupil.
“ Master, the time is come when I must bid thee farewell. For all thou hast done I bless thee, but chiefly that thou hast taught me the secret of persuasive speech, and to touch the souls of men. Because now my despised and oppressed people call me, in the name of Him who was and is and shall be, and I am to go forth with them through the desert. They are as the sands, or as the stars in heaven, for multitude. Our God hath appointed me their leader.”
“ Will the proud Pharaoh permit ? ”
A light as from above illumined the face of Moses as he answered, “ Who is Mineptah, Pharaoh though he be, that he will stand in the way of the King of kings ? By sign and omen, by scourge and pestilence, by the terrors of death, even, shall Mineptah be constrained. They will traverse the desert. The waves shall not whelm them, the Serbonian bog shall not engulf them, nor shall avenging hosts overtake them. They will pass into Asia, and will build a holy city for the worship of Jacob’s God. They will be his people, and will preserve his truth for the ages.
“ I see them, in far distant times, faithful to the one God, — a consecrated people, and, though persecuted, still triumphant. Their sons stand before kings. They give laws. They lead in the arts and in letters.
“O illustrious Sem, our God made thee the instrument of his wonderful purpose when he softened thy heart towards me, the son of a bondwoman, to take me as thy servant and scholar, and so to shed thy illumination on my mind,
“ O illustrious Sem, if Pharaoh, moved by hardness of heart, pursues my people with the armies of Egypt, with chariots and horsemen, go thou not forth with him. Remain here in thy place, as is thy right and duty, and so shalt thou escape the doom that awaits him by the Reedy Sea.
“ Live happy, my dear master, noblest of priests, and expect the last hour of life with an equal mind ! Hereafter we shall meet, if thy oracles speak truth, or if the eternal God of Abraham lives ! Farewell! ”
Francis H. Underwood.