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devoured by vermin. Amongst all these different stories, distinguish the true one if you can. Some adventures are supposed by Quintus Curtius to have happened in one town, and by Plutarch in another, the two places being five hundred leagues apart. Alexan. der, armed and alone, leaped from the top of a wall into a town which he was besieging: according to Quintus Curtius, it was on the borders of Candahar; according to Plutarch, near the mouth of the Indus. When he arrived on the Malabar coast, or near the Ganges,--no matter which, it is only nine hundred miles from the one to the other, he gave orders to seize ten of the Indian philosophers, called by the Greeks gymnosophists, who went about as naked as apes; to these he proposed ridiculous questions, promising them very seriously that he who gave the worst answers should be hanged the first, and all the rest in due order. This reminds us of Nebuchadonosor, who would absolutely put his Magi to death, if they did not divine one of his dreams which he had forgotten; and of the Caliph of the Thousand and One Nights, who was to strangle his wife as soon as she had finished her story. But it is Plutarch who relates this nonsense; therefore it must be respected, for he was a Greek.
This latter story is entitled to the same credit with that of the poisoning of Alexander by Aristotle ; for Plutarch tells us, that somebody had heard one Agno. temis say, that he had heard king Antigonus say, that Aristotle sent a bottle of water from Nonacris, a town in Arcadia, which water was so extremely cold, that they who drank it instantly died; that Antipater sent this water in a horn; that it arrived at Babylon quite fresh; that Alexander drank of it; and that, at the end of six days, he died of a continued fever.
Plutarch has, it is true, some doubts respecting this anecdote. All that we can be quite certain of is, that Alexander, at the age of twenty-four, had conquered
ersia by three battles; that his genius was as great as his valour; that he changed the face of Asia, Greece, and Egypt, and gave a new direction to the commerce of the world, and that Boileau should have been more sparing of his ridicule, since it is not very likely that Boileau would have done more in as short a time.
ALEXANDRIA. More than twenty towns have borne the name of Alexandria, all built by Alexander and his captains, who became so many kings. These towns are so many monuments of glory, far superior to the statues which servility afterwards erected to power; but the only one of them which attracted the attention of the world by its greatness and its wealth, was that which became the capital of Egypt. This is now but a heap of ruins; for it is well known that one half of the city has been re-built on another site, near the sea. The light-house, formerly one of the wonders of the world, has also ceased to exist.
The city was always very flourishing under the Ptolemies and the Romans. It did not decline under the Arabs, nor did the Mamelukes or the Turks, who successively conquered it, together with the rest of Egypt, suffer it to go to decay. It preserved some portion of its greatness until the passage of the Cape of Good Hope opened a new route to the Indies, and once more gave a new direction to the commerce of the world, which Alexander had previously changed, and which had been changed several times before Alexander.
The Alexandrians were remarkable, under all their successive dominations, for industry united with levity; for love of novelty, accompanied by a close application to commerce and to all the arts that make commerce flourish; and for a contentious and quarrelsome spirit, joined to cowardice, superstition, and debauchery, -all which never changed.
The city was peopled with Egyptians, Jews, and Turks, all of whom, though poor at first, enriched themselves by traffic. Opulence introduced the cultivation of the fine arts, with a taste for literature, and consequently for disputation.
The Jews built a magnificent temple, and translated their books into Greek, which had become the language of the country. The Christians had large schools there. So great were the animosities among the native Egyptians, the Greeks, the Jews, and the Christians, that they were continually accusing one another to the governor, to the no small advantage of his revenue. There were even frequent and bloody seditions, in one of which, in the reign of Caligula, the Jews, who exaggerate every thing, assert that religious and commercial jealousy united, cost them fifty thousand men, whom the Alexandrians murdered.
Christianity, which the Origens, Clements, and others had established and rendered admirable by their lives, degenerated into a mere spirit of party. The Christians adopted the manners of the Egyptians; religion yielded to the desire of gain; and all the inhabitants, divided in every thing else, were unanimous only in the love of money.
This it was which produced that famous letter from the emperor Adrian to the consul Servianus, which Vopiscus gives as follows:* ADRIANI EPISTOLA, EX LIBRIS PHLEGONTIS
LIBERTI EJUS PRODITA.
Adrianus Augustus Serviano Cos. Vó. Ægyptum, quam mihi laudabas, Serviane carissime, totam didici, levem, pendulam, et ad omnia famæ monumenta volitantem. Illi qui Serapin colunt Christiani sunt, et devoti sunt Serapi qui se Christi episcopos dicunt. Nemo illic Archisynagogus Judæorum, nemo Samarites, nemo Christianorum presbyter, non mathematicus, non aruspex, non aliptes. Ipse ille Patriarcha, quum Ægyptum yenerit, ab aliis Serapidem adorare, ab aliis cogitur CHRISTUM.. Genus hominis seditiosissimum, vanissimum, injuriosissimum. Civitas opulenta, dives, fecunda, in quà nemo vivat otiosus. Alii vitrum constant, ab aliis charta conficitur; omnes certè lymphiones cujuscunque artis et videntur et
* Flavii Vopici Siracusii Saturninus, tom. 2, p. 426.
habentur. Podagrosi quod agant habent, coci quod faciant; ne chiragri quidem apud eos otiosi vivunt. Unus illis deus est; hunc Christiani, hunc Judæi, hunc omnes venerantur et gentes.
Which may be rendered thus“ My dear Servian, I have seen that Egypt of which you have spoken so highly; I know it thoroughly. It is a light, uncertain, fickle nation. The worshippers of Serapis turn Christians, and they who are at the head of the religion of CHRIST devote themselves to Serapis. There is no chief of the Rabbis, no Samaritan, no Christian priest, who is not an astrologer, a diviner, or a pander. When the Greek Patriarch* comes into Egypt, some press him to worship Serapis, others to adore CHRIST. They are very seditious, very vain, and very quarrelsome. The city is commercial, opulent, and populous. No one is idle. Some make glass; others manufacture paper; they seem to be, and indeed are of all trades : not even the gout in their feet and hands can reduce them to entire inactivity; the very blind work. Money is a God which the Christians, the Jews, and all men, adore alike."
This letter of an emperor, whose discernment was as great as his valour, sufficiently proves that the Christians, as well as others, had become corrupted in this abode of luxury and controversy: but the manners of the primitive Christians had not degenerated every where; and although they had the misfortune to be for a long time divided into different sects, whịch detested and accused one another, the most violent enemies of Christianity were obliged to acknowledge that the purest and the greatest souls were to be found among its proselytes. Such is the case even at the present day, in cities wherein the degree of folly and frenzy exceeds that of ancient Alexandria.
* The Greek term Patriarcha is here translated by the words Greek Patriarch, because at that period it was applied only to the bieropbant of the principal Greek mysteries. The Cbris. tians were strangers to this title until the fifth century. It was unknown to the Romans, to the Egyptians, and to the Jews.
ALGIERS. The principal object of this Dictionary is philosophy It is not, therefore, as geographers that we speak of Algiers, but for the purpose of remarking, that the first design of Louis XIV. when he took the reins of government, was to deliver Christian Europe from the continual depredations of the Barbary corsairs. This project was an indication of a great mind. He wished to pursue every road to glory. It is somewhat astonishing that, with the spirit of order which he showed in his court, in his finances, and in the conduct of state affairs, he had a sort of relish for ancient chivalry which led him to the performance of generous and brilliant actions, even approaching to the romantic. It is certain that Louis inherited from his mother a deal of that Spanish gallantry, at once noble and delicate, with much of that greatness of soul—that passion for glory—that lofty pride, so conspicuous in the old romances.
He talked of fighting the emperor Leopold, like a knight seeking adventures. The erection of the pyramid at Rome, the assertion of his right of precedence, and the idea of having a port near Algiers to curb the pirates, were likewise of this class. To this latter attempt he was moreover excited by Pope Alexander VII, and by Cardinal Mazarin before his death. He had for some time debated with himself whether he should go on this expedition in person, like Charles the Fifth; but he had not vessels to execute so great an enterprise, whether in person or by his generals. The attempt was therefore fruitless: and could not be otherwise.
It was, however, of service in exercising the French marine, and prepared the world to expect some of those noble and heroic actions which are out of the ordinary line of policy, such as the disinterested aid lent to the Venetians besieged in Candia, and to the Germans pressed by the Ottoman arms at St. Gothard.*
* The selfish vanity of Louis XIV. is now well understood, but even selfish vanity may assume a generous and salutary garb. The selfishness of the despots of the present day is utterly unqualified.-T.