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büt decks“; the crews of which rushed forward BOOK
with impetuous valour, but little art, to board
those of the enemy. In the war of Pelo-
ponnesus, their ships seem still to have been
of inconsiderable burthen and force. The ex-
tent of their trade, how highly foever it may
have been estimated in ancient times, was in
proportion to this low condition of their ma-
rine. The maritime states of Greece hardly
carried on any commerce beyond the limits
of the Mediterranean fea. Their chief inter-
course was with the colonies of their coun-
trymen, planted in the Lesser Asia, in Italy and
Sicily. They sometimes visited the ports of
Egypt, of the southern provinces of Gaul, and
of Thrace, or passing through the Hellespont,
they traded with the countries situated around
the Euxine sea. Amazing instances occur of
their ignorance, even of those countries, which
lay within the narrow precincts to which their
navigation was confined. When the Greeks
had assembled their combined fleet against
Xerxes at Egina, they thought it unadvisable
to fail to Samos, because they believed the
distance between that island and Egina to be
as great as the distance between Egina and the
Pillars of Herculeso. They were either utterly

* Thucyd. lib. i. c. 14.
• Herodot. lib. viii. c. 132.

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unac.

BOOK unacquainted with all the parts of the globe
J.

beyond the Mediterranean sea, or what know-
ledge they had of them was founded on con- !
jecture, or derived from the information of a
few persons, whom curiosity and the love of
science had prompted to travel by land into
the Upper Asia, or by sea into Egypt, the an-
cient seats of wisdom and arts. After all that
the Greeks learned from them, they appear to
have been ignorant of the most important facts,
on which an accurate and scientific knowledge
of the globe is founded.

The expedition of Alexander the Great into the east, considerably enlarged the sphere of navigation and of geographical knowledge among the Greeks. That extraordinary man, notwithstanding the violent passions which incited him, at some times, to the wildest actions, and the most extravagant enterprises, possessed talents which fitted him not only to conquer, but to govern the world. He was capable of framing those bold and original schemes of policy, which gave a new form to human affairs. The revolution in commerce, brought about by the force of his genius, is hardly inferior to that revolution in empire, occafioned by the success of his arms. It is probable, that the opposition and efforts of the republic

of

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of Tyre, which checked him so long in the BOOK career of his victories, gave Alexander an opportunity of observing the vast resources of a maritime power, and conveyed to him some idea of the immense wealth which the Tyrians derived from their commerce, especially that with the East Indies. As soon as he had ac. complished the destruction of Tyre, and reduced Egypt to subjection, he formed the plan of rendering the empire which he proposed to establish, the centre of commerce as well as the seat of dominion. With this view he founded a great city, which he honoured with his own name, near one of the mouths of the river Nile, that by the Medeterranean sea, and the neighbourhood of the Arabian Gulf, it might command the trade both of the east and west P. This situation was chosen with such discernment, that Alexandria foon became the chief commercial city in the world. 'Not only during the subsistence of the Grecian empire in Egypt and in the east, but amidst all the successive revolutions in those countries from the time of the Ptolemies to the discovery of the navigation by the Cape of Good Hope, commerce, particularly that of the East Indies, continued to flow in the channel which the

Strab. Geogr. lib. xvii. p. 1143. 1149.

C 3 • fagacity

B 00 K fagacity and foresight of Alexander had marked m out for it. ,

His ambition was not satisfied with having opened to the Greeks a communication with India by fea; he aspired to the sovereignty of those regions which furnished the rest of mankind with so many precious commodities, and conducted his army thither by land. Enterprising, however, as he was, he may be said: rather to have viewed, than to have conquered that country. He did not, in his pro. gress towards the east, advance beyond the banks of the rivers that fall into the Indus, which is now the western boundary of the vast continent of India. Amidst the wild exploits which distinguish this part of his history, he pursued measures that mark the fuperiority of his genius, as well as the extent of his views. He had penetrated as far into India as to confirm his opinion of its commercial importance, and to perceive that immense wealth might be derived from intercourse with a country, where the arts of elegance having been more early cultivated, were arrived at greater perfection than in any other part of the earth? Full of this idea, he refolved to

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? Strab. Geogr. lib. xv. p 1036. C. 9.

Q. Curtius, lib. xviii.

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examine the course of navigation from the BOOK mouth of the Indus to the bottom of the Per. fian Gulf; and if it should be found practicable, to establish a regular communication between them. In order to effect this, he proposed to remove the cataracts, with which the jealousy of the Persians, and their aversion to correspondence with foreigners, had obstructed the entrance into the Euphrates"; to carry the commodities of the east up that river, and the Tigris, which unites with it, into the interior parts of his Asiatic dominions; while, by the way of the Arabian Gulf, and the river Nile, they might be conveyed to Alexandria, and distributed to the rest of the world, Nearchus, an officer of eminent abilities, was entrusted with the command of the fleet fitted out for this expedition. He performed this voyage, which was deemed an enterprise fo arduous and important, that Alexander reckoned it one of the most extraordinary events which distinguifhed his reign. Inconfiderable as it may now appear, it was, at that time, an undertaking of no little merit and difficulty. In the profecution of it, striking instances occur of the small progress which the Greeks had made in naval knowledge. Having never

Strab. Geogr. lib. xvi. p. 1075.

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• See NOTE IV,

failed

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