The Pamphlet Collection of Sir Robert Stout: Volume 4
Gold, from the Garden of Eden to the Discovery of America
Gold, from the Garden of Eden to the Discovery of America.
A resume of Biblical and Profane History, from the Garden of Eden to the Nineteenth Century of the Christian Era, shows the bloody reign of a king, whose power over civilized man is second only to the power of the Almighty. Gold is that monarch, and the deeds that have been committed in consequence of it, are enough to convince one that it was the forbidden fruit in the Garden of Eden.
"And a river went out of Eden to water the garden; and from thence it was parted, and became into four heads. The name of the first is Pison : that is it which compasseth the whole land of Havilah, where there is gold."
(Genesis. 2d Chapter, 10th and 11th Verses.)
Gold must have been known, and used in the arts by the Antediluvians : for, three hundred and seventy years after the Deluge, Abram sent his servant out to find a wife for his son Isaac, and the servant met Rebekah at a well-near the city of Nahor, and she gave the servant and his camels water, and the servant gave her a gold earing, of half a shekel in weight, and two gold bracelets of ten shekels in weight.
(Genesis, 24th Chapter.)
"And Abram was very rich in cattle, in silver, and gold."
(Genesis, I3th Chapter, Sd Verse.)
"And he made his seven lamps, and his snuffers, and his snuffdishes, of pure gold. Of a talent of pure gold made he it, and all the vessels thereof."
(Exodus. 37th Chapter, 23d and 24th Verses.)
The last quotation refers to the ornaments that were in the tabernacle, built by Moses.page break
"And they came to Ophir, and fetched from thence gold, four hundred and twenty talents, and brought it to king Solomon."
(I. Kings, 9th Chapter, 28th Verse.)
The four hundred and twenty talents of gold, here spoken of, was used in building the Temple at Jerusalem. It was equal in value to about twelve million dollars.
There was neither gold nor silver coined in those days, and both of those metals were exchanged by weight. A shekel weighed half an ounce, and a talent weighed one hundred and twenty-five pounds, Troy.
The Jews, from the days of Abram to the death of Solomon, were gold hoarders, and their immense wealth in gold and silver made them the prey of other nations.
The Philistines were continually fighting with them, and frequently captured their cities and robbed them of their treasures. During king Solomon's reign the Jewish nation reached its zenith, but those inseparable destroyers of nations, gold and corruption, bred dissension and strife among the people, and shortly after King Solomon's death, the ten tribes of Israel seceded, and for nearly five hundred years they lived at enmity with the tribes of Judah.
The wars between the tribes of Israel and Judah were frequent and of a very sanguinary character; finally Judah triumphed over Israel, and they were again united. The metalic wealth of the Jewish nation became concentrated in the city of Jerusalem, the capital of Judea; and shortly after the reunion of Israel and Judah, Nebuchadnezzar, king of Babylon, made a gold raid on Jerusalem; robbed it of its treasure, and reduced the Jews to captivity.
Seventy years later, Cyrus, king of Persia, hearing of the great accumulation of treasure in Babylon, captured and plundered that city and liberated the Jew's.
After the capture of Babylon, the Jews returned to Jerusalem, and for three hundred years thereafter they were assiduously engaged in hoarding gold.
A religious creed prevailed with them at that time, opposed to fighting on the Sabbath.
Ptolemy, king of Egypt, hearing of this peculiar belief among the Jews, took advantage of it, and marched an army page break into Jerusalem on the Sabbath; captured its treasure, and carried a hundred thousand of the inhabitants into captivity.
Twenty years later, Antiochus, king of Syria, captured Jerusalem, robbed it of its remaining treasure, and sold forty thousand of its citizens into slavery.
Shortly after the raid of Antiochus, a deliverer arose among the Jews, named Judas Maccabeus. He rallied the scattered people, and gave battle to their oppressors. The Jews fought with such heroic courage that they succeeded in establishing their independence again, and enjoyed it for a century and a quarter.
Five hundred years before the Christian era, Syria had become very wealthy in gold and silver. This excited the cupidity of Darius, emperor of Persia, who made a gold raid into that kingdom, robbed it of its treasure and carried the spoils into his own empire.
About this time, Greece had become a powerful nation, and the emperor of Persia fearing an invasion of his territory by a Greek army, used his gold to create dissension and civil war among the Greeks, and thereby destroy their power.
This ruse had the desired effect, and Persia accomplished by gold what she feared to attempt by arms.
For a long time some of the states of Greece had opposed the use of gold as money. Sparta, one of the most powerful of the states, prohibited the use of gold as a currency during the reign of Lycurgus, and established iron instead. Subsequently, Lysander caused the iron law to be abolished, and gold was again used as a currency Then Persian gold flowed into Greece in large quantities, and the people partook of the forbidden fruit freely; this caused a rapid deterioration in their virtue and morals, and finally civil war broke out between the states, which soon reduced them to a condition that invited a conqueror. Then Philip of Macedonia invaded Greece with a large army, and fought a decisive battle at Cheronea; the Greeks were defeated, and that proud people which had, for upwards of three centuries, led the whole world in the arts of civilization, was blotted out as an independent nation.
During the civil wars in Greece, a large portion of the gold in the country at the commencement of those wars was taken to other countries for security, consequently Philip was dissatisfied page 6 with the amount of gold captured in Greece, and determined to draw on the Persian empire for a larger supply. When he had fully organized an army for the invasion of Persia, he was assassinated by a captain in his own service.
Alexander, son of Philip, succeeded him, and after he was well seated on the throne, he determined to carry out his father's project of invading Persia. He crossed the Hellespont, with an army of 35,000 men, and met a Persian army of 110,000 men, and defeated them. At Issus he met a Persian army of 400,000 men, and defeated them. The capture of Issus gave Alexander possession of the city of Damascus, where the emperor of Persia had stored a large amount of treasure. After disposing of Damascus and its treasure, he invested the city of Tyre, and after a siege of seven months he captured and destroyed it, and eight thousand of the inhabitants.
The City of Gaza was the next place captured by Alexander, and ten thousand of the inhabitants were sold into slavery. From Gaza he marched his army into Egypt, but finding the Egyptians had devoted themselves exclusively to agricultural pursuits, and there being very little gold or silver in the country, he retraced his steps through Syria, and met the emperor of Persia and his army at Arbelia. Darius offered Alexander ten thousand talents in gold, (equal to $275,000,000), half his empire, and his daughter in marriage, to make peace with him. Alexander declined the offer, and defeated the Persian army with great slaughter. Darius fled into one of the provinces of his empire, and shortly after was murdered by one of his own subjects.
Alexander's victory at Arbelia, gave him possession of the Persian empire, and its vast treasure in gold and silver; but he did not live long enough to enjoy it, for six years later he died in a drunken debauch, in the city of Babylon.
The curse that Persia had put upon Greece recoiled upon herself, for her own immense wealth became concentrated in the hands of a few of her people, and nine-tenths of her population were slaves to a money oligarchy; consequently, when Alexander invaded Persia, the down-trodden people were ripe for rebellion, and joined his army in large numbers.
Persia's metalic wealth was the cause of her overthrow. It destroyed the patriotism of her people, and invited the invader to join her rebellious subjects in dealing out retributive justice to her rulers.page 7
About one hundred and twenty years before the Christian era the Romans took the gold fever, and commenced raiding for gold upon other nations.
A hundred years later a Roman army, under Pompey, captured Jerusalem and reduced Judea to a Roman province.
Under the rule of Roman viceroys, and governors, Judea was thoroughly plundered, and her people became divided into violent and sanguinary factions, which caused great destruction to life and property. A large portion of the people were continually plotting to overthrow their Roman rulers, and, whenever they were suspected of treason, the adherents of Rome showed them no mercy. During this unhappy state of affairs, a portion of the Jews proclaimed Christ the Messiah and King. This drew upon him the vengance of Rome's cuthroats, and Pilate, governor of Judea, cowardly submitted to his crucifixion. The Jews continued to rebel against Roman rule, until finally Jerusalem was invested by a Roman army under Titus; six months of carnage around its walls ended with a total destruction of the city, and the final subjection of the Jewish people. Thus perished a great nation, that thrice relieved itself from bondage and was thrice conquered by king Gold.
What a commentary on the avarice of man!
Gold in large quantities flowed into Rome from Judea and other conquered provinces, and for nearly four hundred years Rome hoarded the plunder obtained from other nations. The rich grew richer, and the poor, poorer; until the entire wealth of the nation was absorbed by a very small minority of the people, and the balance were reduced to the most abject slavery. The wealthy reveled in gilded vice and corruption, until the great safeguards to nations, Virtue and Valor, were no longer inherent in the people. The forbidden fruit did its work effectually, and Rome became a nation of imbeciles and serfs. Then the gold raiders commenced to prey upon her, and for a time she ransomed herself with treasure; but finally she was conquered, and the emperor, Augustullus, abjectly begged his life of the conqueror of his empire, and yielded his royal neck to the iron yoke of Odoacer, king of the Goths and Vandals.
Rome's epitaph should be: Died from a surfeit of Gold.
From the middle of the eighth to the latter part of the ninth century, the Scandinavians made a number of gold raids on page 8 England, France and Spain. In 981 the Danes made a gold raid on England, and a ransom was promised; but England failed to meet the payment, and the kingdom was surrendered to the Danes.
From the fall of the Roman empire to the commencement of the crusade wars, the strife for power between Church and State, kept the people busily engaged, except for a short period during the reign of Charlemagne. He did not seek to accumulate gold, but conquered for the purpose of advancing the people to a higher standard of civilization. The reign of Charlemagne fills the brightest pages of history. He taught the people to seek for wealth in the soil instead of the mines; and his daughters set the people good examples in industry, by spinning flax for their own garments. Charlemagne was a guiding star to the people of Europe for a short time, but at his death they were again left in darkness.
The next great event that caused a stir in the metalic wealth of Europe, was the crusade wars, instigated by Peter the hermit. Those wars commenced in 1095, and lasted over a hundred years.
In 1099 the Christians captured Jerusalem and massacred the Jews and the Mahometans. One hundred and twenty-seven years later, the Tartars, under Gengis Kan, made a gold raid into Syria, captured several cities and massacred Christians, Jews and Turks.
During the crusade wars nearly all the gold coin disappeared from Europe; what little remained became very much debased and remained in that state until the latter part of the sixteenth century.
The merchants of Genoa, Venice, and Constantinople gathered up gold coin during the crusades, in payment for supplies furnished to the armies on their way to the Holy Land. During the war and after it closed, gold advanced in value enormously throughout Europe, and the price of all commodities, measured by gold, declined accordingly.