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mans were wholly unacquainted with money; and a.d. only about one thousand years have elapsed since any stamped coinage came into use. The custom then was to reckon by groschens both of silver and of gold. The golden groschen has, since 1500 A.D., been frequently coined in “Joachim's Thal," whereby they obtained the name of Joachim's Thaler, abbreviated into Thaler, a coin in general circulation throughout the north of Germany. By degrees towns and villages learned to traffic with each other; caravans, and, at a later period, ships were used to convey disposable produce and works of art from place to place, thus establishing communications between the most distant parts of the then known world. Through means of commerce and navigation we became acquainted with China in the far east, with Peru in the west, Greenland in the north, and the Cape of Good Hope in the south. The diffusion of commerce gives a stimulus and character to the fine arts, tending greatly to the improvement of machinery and manufactures. Emulation and self-interest excite competition in the introduction of any new inventions that contribute either to ornament or to cheapness. Too often, however, the love of gain tempts the sinful heart of man to deceitful and inhuman practices. Hence arose the horrors of the slave trade, which, to man's shame be it said, is not yet wholly abandoned, though the English have abandoned it since the year 1808 A.D.
It is the nature of commerce to bring riches; riches encourage luxurious
A. n. habits and a love of splendour, and heap honours
and rewards on all who excel in the beauties of art; but gradually men become enervated in mind, and the riches they imagined for their happiness, too often prove their ruin. Certain private persons acquire unbounded wealth, and, through those means, commanding influence; this wealth descends from father to son; and in these instances particular families defy all competition, and obtain a monopoly in the commercial world, as well as great political influence.
The consequence is, that in almost all countries where commerce unduly prevails, powerful aristocracies spring up, by which the poorer classes are liable to considerable oppression.
SIEGE OF TYRE.
THE most ancient commercial people distinguished 2000. in the history of former times were the Phæni
cians. When the Jews settled in Sidon, they found that capital of Phænicia already much frequented as a harbour. It could not, therefore, have been built later than the year 2000 B.C. The Phænicians first traded with the island of
в с. 600.
Cyprus, though commerce in those days was nearly allied to piracy. They next opened a trade with the coast of Asia Minor, and gradually extended their voyages through the Dardanelles into the Black Sea, and had dealings in the West with the people of Greece. To protect and extend their commercial enterprises the Phænicians founded many colonies. From Greece and Asia Minor they were ultimately driven by the Greeks, who were themselves becoming a commercial nation; yet, not being in a position to procure for themselves all the commodities in which the Phoenicians traded, the Greeks could not entirely dispense with their commerce. On the northern coast of Africa the commerce of the Phoenicians was of longer continuance. It was here that they founded their far-famed colony of Carthage, and, conquering the opposite island of Sicily, sailed from thence as far as Spain, called in the Bible Tarshish, where they found silver in great abundance. They even sailed round the south-west point of Spain and came to England, where they found tin; and at last to the northern coast of Germany, where they procured amber, which in ancient times was more rare, and therefore more precious, than gold. These voyages to England, Spain, and Germany, they were sufficiently cunning to keep a profound secret. The sailors invented stories to mislead inquirers; and if any vessel endeavoured to observe and track out their route, they would purposely deviate from their
B. c. proper course : so that, till 600 B.C., they were
the only nation that had undertaken so distant a voyage. But it was not only by sea that the Phænicians carried on their commercial enterprises. Their caravans traded to the north and the east; while Arabia, in the south, supplied cinnamon, spices, ivory, and gold, - commodities that the Arabians had purchased from the merchants of other nations. One part of the business of the Phænicians was to be the mere carriers of merchandise between one country and another; but they had also most extensive factories in Tyre, Sidon, and other cities. The principal article of manufacture was glass; but they also prepared and dyed linen and woollen stuffs with the beautiful purple of the Murex. Thus Sidon first became a flourishing city, and then Tyre. These were the two wealthiest cities of the age: from them came every fabric of beautiful and elaborate texture. The Phoenicians built splendid palaces, and every land brought them its treasures. Such is the account given by the prophet Isaiah, and yet more minutely by Ezekiel, of Tyre and Sidon, as they existed about the year 700 B.C.; accompanied, however, with a solemn prophecy of their approaching destruction, which was accomplished in their fall in the year 600 before the Christian era. Sidon did not long resist the arms of Nebuchadnezzar, the mighty Babylonian conqueror, though Tyre did not fall under his power till after a siege of thirteen years, and, when taken, nothing but
empty walls received the victor; for nearly all of B. c. the inhabitants had escaped to a neighbouring island a short distance from the shore: here they again established themselves; and their settlement in the island was no less renowned than their illfated capital. In the year 333 B.C. another ambitious conqueror, Alexander the Great, came from Macedonia; and though the Tyrians defended themselves with the utmost ingenuity and valour for the space of seven months, they were at length obliged to surrender. The city was utterly destroyed, and all who escaped the sword were sold into slavery. This conquest gave Alexander full command of the commerce of Egypt, extending to every part of the then known world.
THE SEVEN GREATEST EMPIRES IN THE HISTORY
OF THE WORLD.
The following empires, in different ages, held the B. c. sovereignty of the greater part of the world :
First, the Assyrian empire, commencing about 2000 B.C. This empire was dissolved in the year 888 B.C., and divided into the kingdoms of Assyria, Babylon, and Media. Nebuchadnezzar,