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[163] people of the wilderness and the desert are famed
Chap V.}
for love of their offspring; yet in the extremity of poverty, even the Arab father would sometimes pawn his children to the Italian merchant, in the vain hope of soon effecting their ransom. Rome itself long remained a mart where Christian slaves were exposed for sale, to supply the domestic market of Mahometans. The Venetians, in their commercial intercourse with the ports of unbelieving nations, as well as with Rome, purchased alike infidels and Christians, and sold them again to the Arabs in Sicily and Spain. Christian and Jewish avarice supplied the slave-market of the Saracens. What though the trade was exposed to the censure of the church, and prohibited by the laws of Venice? It could not be effectually checked, till, by the Venetian law, no slave might enter a Venetian ship, and to tread the deck of an argosy of Venice became the privilege and the evidence of freedom.1

The spirit of the Christian religion would, before the discovery of America, have led to the entire abolition of the slave-trade, but for the hostility between the Christian church and the followers of Mahomet. In the twelfth century, Pope Alexander III., true to the spirit of his office, which, during the supremacy of brute force in the middle age, made of the chief minister of religion the tribune of the people and the guardian of the oppressed, had written, that ‘Nature having made no slaves, all men have an equal right to liberty.’2 But the slave-trade had never relented among the Mahometans: the captive Christian had no alternative but apostasy or servitude, and the

1 Fischer, in Hiine, i. 116. Marin, in Heeren, II. 260.

2 See his letter to Lupus, king of Valencia, in Historiae Anglicanae Scriptores; Londini, 1652, i. 580. Cum autem omnes liberos natura creasset, nullus conditione nature fuit subditus servituti.

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