Page images
[ocr errors]

The wonderful efforts made by the Tyrians to defend themselves, when left entirely to their own exertions, were sufficient to convince Alexander of the importance of maritime power, and of the wealth and resources to be derived from commerce. He also had opportunities of learning the particulars of the traffic carried on by the Phenicians with the East. He seems to have felt what was said by Cicero two hundred years after him, Qui mare tenet, eum necesse est rerum potiri." When he succeeded to the throne of Macedonia, the trade with India was carried on wholly by the Tyrians. The merchandize was brought by the Red Sea, or Arabian Gulf, to a port at the bottom of that gulf, and from thence transported across the deserts to Rhinoconura, a town of the Mediterranean on the frontiers of Palestine and Egypt. From Rhinoconura, the products of India

transporting those on board to their destination, but to obtain a knowledge of the coasts, and to ascertain the best time and mode for navigating those seas.

[blocks in formation]

were carried by sea to Tyre, and were thence circulated through different parts of Europe. After the conquest of Egypt, it appears that Alexander early conceived the plan of forming a direct intercourse through that country with India. He resolved to replace Tyre* by a city better adapted to his views. For this purpose he chose a spot on the coast of Egypt to the westward of the mouths of the Nile, which enjoyed the advantage of being covered towards the sea by the island of Pharos. He there founded the city which still bears his name, and from which communications were opened by canals both with the Nile and the lake Mareotis. The architect who directed those works, is said to have been

* Old Tyre was taken by Nebuchadnazar, king of the Assyrians, 572 years B. C. New Tyre was raised, opposite to the old city, on a small island, or spot of land separated from the continent by an extremely narrow channel of the sea. It had even surpassed the ancient city in wealth, when it was taken and destroyed by Alexander 332 years before our æra. It was restored under the Seleucidæ, but never more attained its former splendour.

Dinocrates, a native of Macedon; and who, we are informed, was employed to rebuild the famous temple of Ephesus. Arrian assures us that Alexander's fleet on the Indus was equipped for the express purpose of opening the intercourse between India and Alexandria.* Nothing can more fully

* This fleet, when it sailed from Nicæa, is said to have consisted of nearly 2000 vessels of different sizes, and among them were 80 trireme gallies: nor does Rennell think this number exaggerated. It was in the first instance to transport a great part of the army and baggage to Pattala or Tatta; and there a due number of vessels was chosen out of it, for the voyage that was to be undertaken by 'Nearchus.

"It may appear extraordinary that Alexander should, in the course of a few months, prepare so vast a fleet for his voyage down the Indus; especially as it is said to be the work of his army. But the truth is, that the Panjab country, like that of Bengal, is full of navigable rivers; which communicating with the Indus, form an uninterrupted navigation from Cashmere to Tatta: and, no doubt, abounded with boats and vessels ready constructed to the conqueror's hands. That he built some vessels of war, and others of certain descriptions which might be wanted, is very probable; but transport and provision vessels, I doubt not, were to be collected to

prove his anxiety to accomplish this object; and the importance he attached to it, than his interview with Nearchus when he came to him from Anamis. Being informed that he was accompanied only by Archias and five other persons, he conceived that his fleet had perished by shipwreck. The tattered garments and long beards of Nearchus and his companions, confirmed his fears. Leading Nearchus aside, to hear, unobserved, what he had to relate to him, he seemed fearful of questioning him; but, recovering his composure, he said, "Nearchus, I am glad to find that you and Archias are safe, but tell me where and in what manner did my fleet and troops perish.”— “Your fleet and troops are safe,” replied Nearchus, "we have come purposely to inform you."-" Where then are they?".

[ocr errors]

any number. I think it probable, too, that the vessels in which Nearchus performed his coasting voyage to the Gulf of Persia, were found in the Indus. Vessels of 180 tons burthen are sometimes used in the Ganges; and those of 100, not unfrequently."-Rennell's Memoir of a Map, p. 132, edit. 1793.

"At the Anamis, preparing to prosecute their voyage."-In the joy he felt in being thus suddenly and unexpectedly relieved from all his pain, he burst into tears, and exclaimed; "by the Lybian Ammon, and Grecian Jove, I swear to thee, that I am made happier by receiving this intelligence than in being conqueror of Asia; for I should have considered the loss of my fleet, and the failure of the enterprize it has undertaken, as almost outweighing in my mind all the glory I have acquired.”*

Ptolemy Lagus obtained Egypt, as his portion of the succession of Alexander; but the wars in which he was engaged did not prevent him from bestowing an assiduous attention on the improvement of the countries which had thus fallen to his share, or of those he afterwards conquered. Knowing that his late sovereign had founded the city of Alexandria with the view of making it the great emporium of trade, and point of communication between the east and

* See Arrian's Account of India: Amsterd. Edit. p. 576, et seq. 1658.

« PreviousContinue »