Page:Satires and profanities -microform- (1884).djvu/132

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their ordinary occupations, if these do not require great exertion.

The law of inheritance is remarkable in two respects; primogeniture is not privileged, and in most cases the share of a female is half that of a male in the same degree of relationship. A debtor is only kept imprisoned for debt if he cannot prove himself insolvent; but if able, he may be made work out what he owes. Apostacy from the faith is death if not recanted on three warnings. Blasphemy against God or any of the Great Prophets, whether repented or not, is instant death: on the ground that apostacy or infidelity is but ignorance and misjudgment, while blasphemy shows utter depravity. If Christians blaspheming Mohammed were punished as are Muslims blaspheming Christians, what a number of our enlightened clerical teachers would have died the death of malefactors!

The Copts, or descendants of the ancient Egyptians, said to number about 150,000, are Christians, but scarcely a credit to that religion whose votaries boast of its civilising and elevating character. The fact is that in advanced countries the Christianity has been civilised by the Secularism, not the Secularism by the Christianity; in countries where the sciences and arts are stationary or retrograde, Christianity proves that it has in itself no motive-power, and is generally even more degraded than the other superstitions around it. Mr. Lane almost despaired of learning anything about these Copts, until he had the good fortune to become acquainted with a character of which he had doubted the existence—a Copt of a liberal as well as an intelligent mind. They hate the Greeks and all other Christians not of their own sect much worse than they hate the Muslims themselves. The priests are supported only by alms or by their own industry. Their language is a dead one. They pray seven times a day, in the course of these reciting the whole Book of Psalms, as well as chapters of the Bible, prayers, etc.: a fine example to their lax co-religionists here. They have