ePub 版

“ did not worship Hercules till after his death ; and that not " till the oracle had expressly commanded it. The Persians " are cited as an exaniple for our imitation ; but how long " is it that the vanquished have given law to the victor? “ Can we forget that Alexander crossed the Hellespont, not " to subject Greece to Asia, but Asia to Greece."

The deep silence which all the company observed, whilst Callisthenes spoke, was an indication, in some measure, of their thoughts. The king, who stood behind the tapestry all the time, heard whatever had passed. He thereupon ordered Cleon to be told, that without insisting any farther, he would only require the Persians to fall prostrate, according to their usual custom ; a little after which he came in, pretending he had been busied in some affair of importance. Immediately the Persians fell prostrate to adore him. Polysperchon, who stood near him, observing that one of them bowed so low that his chin touched the ground, bid him, in a rallying tone of voice, to strike harder.” The king, offended at the joke, threw Polysperchon into prison, and broke up the assembly. However, he afterwards par: doned him ; but Callisthenes was not so fortunate.

To rid himself of him, he laid to his charge a crime of which he was no ways guilty. Hermolays, one of the young officers who attended upon the king in all places, had, upon account of some private pique, formed a conspiracy against him ; but it was very happily discovered the instant it was to be put in execution, « The criminals were seized, put to the torture, and executed. Not one among them had accus, ed Callisthenes ; but having been very intimate with Hermolaus, that alone was sufficient. Accordingly he was thrown into a dungeon, loaded with irons, and the most grievous tor ments were inflicted on him, in order to extort à confession of guilt. But he insisted upon his innocence to the last, and expired in the midst of his tortures.

Nothing has reflected so much dishonour on Alcxander's memory, as this unjust and cruel death of Callisthenes. He truly merited the name of philosopher, from the solidity of his understanding, the extent of his knowledge, the austerity of his life, the regularity of his conduct, and, above all, from the hatred he so evidently manifested for dissimulation and fattery of every kind. He was not born for courts, the frequentors of which must have a supple, pliable, flexible turn of mind; sometimes it must be of a knavish and treacherous, at least of an hypocritical, flattering cast. He very seldom was seen at the king's table

, though frequently invited to it; and whenever he prevailed so far upon himself as to go thi; ther, his melancholy silent air as a manifest indication that

he disapproved of every thing that was said and done at it. With this humour, which was a little too severe, he would have been an inestimable treasure, had he been possessed by a prince who hated falsehood; for among the many thousands who surrounded Alexander, and paid court to him, Callisthenes cnly had courage enough to tell him the truth. But where do we mcet with privces who know the value of such a virtue, and the use which ought to be made of it ? Truth seldom pierces those clouds which are raised by the authority of the great and the Pattery of their couriiers. And indeed Alexander, by this dreadful example, deprived all virtuous men of the opportunity of exhorting him to those things which were for his true interest. From that instant no one spoke with freedom in the council ; even those who had the greatest love for the public good, and a personal affection for Alexander, thought themselves not obliged to undeceive him. After this, nothing was listened to but flattery, which gained such an ascendant over that prince, as entirely depraved him, and justly punished him for having sacrifced to the wild ambition of having adoration paid him the most virtuous man about his person.

I observe, after Seneca,* that thedeath of Callisthenes is an eternal reproach to Alexander, and so horrid a crime that no quality, how beautiful soever, no military exploit, though of the most conspicuous kind, can never efface its infamy. It is said in favour of Alexander, that he killed an infinite number of Persians ; that he dethroned and slew the most powerful king of the earth | conquered innumerable provinces and nations ; penetrated as far as the ocean, and extended the bounds of his empire from the most remote part of Thrace to the extremities of the east : in answer to each of these particulars, “yes," says Seneca, “but he murdered Callisthenes ;" a crime of so heinous a nature that it entirely obliterates the glory of all his other actions.


HE RESTORES TO HI'S THRONE. ALEXANDER,t to stop the murmurs and discontents which arose among his soldiers, set out for India. He himself wanted action and motion ; for he always, when unemployed, lost

Senec Nat. Quæst. I, vi. c. 23. + Q. Curt. I. vii. c.9.

part of the glory he had acquired in war. An excess of vanity and folly prompted him to undertake this expedition ; a project quite useless in itself, and attended with very dangerous consequences, He had read in the ancient fables of Greece, that Bacchus and Hercules, both sons of Jupiter, as himself was, had marched so far. He was determined not to be surpassed by them ; and there were not wanting flatterers who applauded this wild chimerical design.

These are the things that constitute the glory and merit of suclı pretended heroes ; and it is this which many people, dazzled by a false splendour, still admire in Alexander : a ridiculous desire of rambling up and clown the world ; of disturbing the tranquillity of nations who were not bound to him by any obligations; of treating all those as enemies who should refuse to acknowledge him for their sovereign ; of l'ansacking and extirpating such as should presume to defend their liberties, their possessions, and their lives, against an unjust invader, who came from the extremity of the earth to attack them, without the least shadow of reason. Add to this glaring injustice, the rash and stupid project he had formed, of subduing, with infinite labour, and the utmost hazard, many more nations than it was possible for him to keep in subjection ; and the sad necessity to which he was reduced, of being perpetually obliged to conquer them 2-new, and punish them for their rebellion. This is a sketch of what the conquest of India will exhibit 'to , after I shall have given some little account of the situation and manners of that country, and some of its rarities.

Ptolemy divides India into two parts , India on this, and India, on the other side of the Ganges. Alexander did not go beyond the former, nor even so far as the Ganges. This first part is situated between two great rivers, Indus, whence this country receives its name, and the Ganges. Ptolemy says, the limits of it are, to the west, Paropamisus, Arachosia, and Gedrosia, which either form a part, or are upon the confines of the kingdom of Persia ; to the north, mount Imaus, which is part of Great Tartary, to the east, the Ganges ; to the south, the ocean, or Indian sea.

* All the Indians are free, anci, like the Lacedæmonians, have no slaves among them. The only difference is, the latter make use of foreign slaves, whereas there are none in India. They do not erect any monuments in honour of the dead; but are of opinion, that the reputation of illustrious men is their mausolæum.

* Arrian, de India, p. 324-328.

:They may be divided into seven classes. The first and most honourable, though the smallest, is that of the brach, mans, who are, as it were, the guardians of religion. I shall have occasion to mention them in the sequel.

The second and greatest is that of the husbandmen.These are had in great veneration. Their only employment is to plo the fields, and they are never taken from this employment to carry arms and serve in the field in war time : it is an inviolable law never to molest them or their lands.

The third is that of herdsmen and shepherds, who keep herds and flocks, and never come into the cities. They rove up and down the mountains, and often exercise thenselves in hunting.

The fourth is of traders and artificers, among whom pilots and seamen are included. These three last orders pay a tribute to the king; and none are exempted from it but those that make arms, who instead of paying any thing, receive a stipend from the public.

The fifth is of soldiers, whose only employment is war: they are furnished with all sorts of necessaries ; and, in time of peace, are abundantly supplied with all things.--Their life, at all times, is free and disengaged from cares of every kind.

The sixth order is that of overseers, who superintend the actions of others, and examine every transaction, either in cities or the country, and report the whole to the prince. The virtues and qualities required in these magistrates are exactness, sincerity, probity, and the love of their country. None of these magistrates, says the historian, have ever been accused of telling an untruth. Thrice happy nation, were this really fact ! However, this observation proves at least that'truth and justice were had in great honour in this country, and that knavery and insincerity were detested in it.

Lastly, the seventh class consists of persons employed in the public councils, and who share the cares of the gove ernment with the sovereign. From this class are taken magistrates, intendants, governors of provinees, generals, and all military officers, whether for land or sea; comptrollers of the treasury, receivers, and all who are intrusted with the public monies.

These different orders of the state are never blended by marriage ; and an artificer, for instance, is not allowed to take a wife from among the class of husbandmen ; and so of the rest. None of these can follow two professions at the same time, nor quit one class for another. It is natural to conclude, that this regulation must have contributed very much to the improvement of all arts and trades, as every one added his own industry and reflections to those of his ancestors, which were delivered down to him by an uninterrupted tradition.

Many observations might be made on these Indian customs, which I am obliged to omit, for the sake of proceedirg in my history. I only entreat the reader to observe, that in every wise government, and every well-governed state, the tilling of lands, and the grazing of cattle (two perpetual and certain sources of riches and abundance), have always been one of the chief objects of the care of those who preside in the administration ; and that the neglect of either, is erring against one of the most important maxims in policy. ·

I also admire very much that custom of appointing over. seers, whether they are known for such or not, who go upon the spot, in order to inspect the conduct of governors, intendo ants, and judges; the only method to prevent the rapine and outrages to which unlimited authority, and the distance from a court, frequently give occasion; the only method, at the same time, for a sovereign to know the state of his kingdom, without which it is impossible for him to govern happily the people whom providence has intrusted to his care. This care regards him personally ; and those wlio act under him can no more dispense with the discharge of it than they can usurp his diadem.

It is remarkable, that in India, from the month of June to those of September and October, excessive rains fall very often, whereby the crossing of rivers is rendered much mcre difficult, and frequent inundations happen. Hence we may judge how greatly, during all this season, the armies of Alexander must have suffered, as they were at that time in the field.

Before I leave what relates in general to India, I shall sayı a few words concerning elephants, with which that country, abounds more than any other. terrestrial animals in size. Some are 13 or 15 feet high.

The elephant exceeds all The female goes a whole year with her young. It lives sometimes to the age of 100 or 120 years ; nay much longer, if some ancient writers may be credited.' Its nose, called its trunk,“proboscis," is long and hollow like a large trumpet, and serves the elephant instead of a hand,* which it moves with incredible agility and strength, and thereby is of prodigious service to it. The elephant,f notwithstanding its pro

• Manus data elephantis, quia propter magnitudinem corporis diso faciles aditus habebant ad pastum.' cic. de Nat. Deor. f. ii. 0. 123;

+ Elephanto belluaram nulla providentior. At figura quæ vastion Dc Nai. Deor. l. i 0.97.

« 上一頁繼續 »