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it and regular police were gradually introduced; - the sciences and arts which are useful ornaTk mental in life were carried to a high pitch of . ** improvement, and several of the Grecian com-': w? mon-wealths applied to commerce with such = ardour and success, that they were confidered, - in the ancient world, as maritime powers of the E first rank. Even then , howewer , the naval * victories of the Greecks must be adfcribed ra
ther to the native spirit of the people ; and to con that courage which the enjoyment of liberty - inspires , than to any extraordinary progress in 20 the science of navigation. In the Persian war,
those exploits which the eloquence of the Greek e historians has rendered so famous , were performed by fleets, composed chiefly of small
vefsels without deecks n); the crews of which - rushed forward with impetuous valour, but little
art, to board those of the ennemy, In the war # of Peloponesus their ships seem still to have been.
of inconsiderable burther and force. The extent of their trade was in proportion to this low condition of their marine. The maritime states of Greece hardly carried on any commerce beyond the limits of the Mediterranean sea, . Their chief intercourse was with the colonies ; of their countrymen, planted in the Lesser Afia, in Italy and Sicily. They sometimes vifited., the ports of Egypt, of Gaul, and of Thrace, or
passing through the Hellefpont, they traded with 1 11) Thucyd. lib. 1. c. 14. ROBERTSON Vol. I.
» Vol. 1. B
arts of early ages, merits this distinction, the science of navigation, at that time, had hardly advanced beyond its rudest state. The Greeks in the heroic age were unacquainted with the use of iron, the most serviceable of all the metals, without which no considerable progress was ever made in the mechanical arts. Their
veslels were of inconsiderable burthen, and most- ly without decks. These hat only one maft, which they erected or took down at pleasure. They were strangers to the use of anchors. All their operations in failing were clumsy and un. skilful. They turned their observation towards stars, which were improper for regulating their course, and their mode of observing them was inaccurate and fallacious. When they had fi. nished a voyage they drew their paltry barks ashore, as favages to their canoes, and these remained on dry land until the season of returning to sea approached. It is not then in the early or heroic ages of Greece, that we can expect to observe the science of navigation, and the spirit of discovery, making any considerable progress. During that period of disorder and ignorance, a thousand causes concurred in restraining curio
sity and enterprize within very narrow bounds. . But the Greeks advanced with rapidity
to a state of greater civilization and refinement. Government, in its most liberal and perfect form, began to be established in the communities of Greece ; equal laws
i vern the world. He was capable of framing
those bold and original schemes of policy, which
give a new form to human affairs. The revoo lution in commerce, brought, about by the force t of his genius, is hardly inferior to that revolution i in empire, occasioned by the success of his arms,
It is probable, that the opposition and efforts of pour le the republic Tyre, which checked him so long in
the career of his victories , gave Alexander an oportunity 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 accomplified is the destruction of Tyre , and reduced Egypt to -1 subjection, he formed the Plan of rendering the z empirė which he purposed to establish , the s centre of commerce as well as the seat of do
minion. With this view he founded a great he city, which he honoured with his own name, į near one of the mouths of the river Nile, that
by the Mediterranean sea, and the neighboura 4 hood of the Arabian Gulf, it might coma, te mand the trade both of the east and west q). - This situation was chosen with such discerneyment that Alexandria foon became the chief ed commercial city in the world. Not only due
ring the subsistence of the Grecian empire in Egypt and in the east, but amidst all the successive revolutions in those countries
p) Strab. Geogr. lib. xvii. p. 1143. 1149.
from the time of the Ptolomies to the discovery of tie Navigation by the Cape of Good Hope, commerce, particularly that of the East Indies, continued to flow in the channel with the fagacity and forsight of Alexander had marked out for it.
His ambition was not fatisfied with having opened to the Greeks a communication with India by sea ; 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, Enterprifing, howewer, as he was, he may be said rather to have discovered, than to have conquered that country. He did not, in his progress 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 diftinguish this part of his history , he pursued meafures that mark the superiority 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 q). Full of this idea he resolved to examine the course of navi
9) Strab. Geogr. lib, xy, po 1036, Q. Curtius lib. xviii, 69.
gation from the mouth of the Indus to the bottom of the Persian 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 r); to carry the commodities of the eaft up that river, and the Tygris, which unites with it , into the interior parts of his Afiatic 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 , wàs entrusted with the command of the fleet fitted out for this expedition. He performed this voyage, which was deemed an enterprise 'fo arduous and imimportant, that Alexander reckoned it one of the most extraordinary events which distinguished his reign. Inconfiderable as it may now appear, it was, at that time, an undertaking of no little merit and difficulty. In the prosecution of it, striking instances occur of the small progress which the Grecks had made in naval knowledge s). Having never failed beyond th bounds of the Mediterranean , where the ebb and flow of the sea are hardly perceptible , when they firft observed this phænomenon at the mouth of
1) Strab. Geogr. lib. xyi. p. 1075. s) See NOTE IV,