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Suppose a nation should take it in their heads to condemn all old systems and all old books, because they contain old systems; suppose they should include the Bible in the number; suppose they should prevent the reprinting of all present learning, and insist that nothing should be published except their own new-fangled doctrines, and that these doctrines tended to unhinge all civilized society. Reader, are my suspicions wild? know then, if you know it not already, they were realized in our own day; they were realized in France within these five years* ; they were realized by the tyrant Robespierre; by Robespierre worse than Omar, for Omar acted not from enmity to learning, but from friendship to Mahometanism.

It has employed the whole vigour of the French nation to return These sketches were published in 1798.



THE immense archives of ancient learning in the famous library of Alexandria, since the publication of the Latin version of the Dynasties of Abulpharagius, have generally been supposed to have been destroyed by the inconsiderate, infuriate zeal of the Mahomctan Arabs, on their invasion of Alexandria under the command of Omar, and every scholar, with pious indignation, has deplored the irreparable shipwreck of the learning, the arts, and the genius of antiquity." If Hamlet, in the ravings of his imagination, did so force his thoughts to his own conceit, as to reason himself into a belief, that he could trace the noBle dust of Alexander, till he found

from their phrenzy to common sense; but nations will not always recover from their phrensies, and in progress of time my fears may be realized. France in its wild deliriums has astonished the world; they may be outdone by some more outrageous fever, which may finally end in the extinction of light and life. Human nature, insolent and presuming in its own strength, spurning the aids of divine revelation, and even of ancient learning, may relapse after convulsions into lethargy, and till the impossibility of such events be proved by some better argument than the invention of printing, I shall ever, from data afforded by the history of modern times, believe their probability. The age of pretended self sufficient reason will become the age of absurdity; irreligion will subvert all government, and anarchy lead to barbarism.

it stopping a bunghole; the world, with insufferable credulity, and without troubling themselves to reason at all, have traced the parchments of the Alexandrian library till they found them distributed by the command of an ignorant fanatick to the four thousand baths of the city, and, such being their incredible number, that six months were scarcely sufficient for the consumption of this precious fuel. Many writers in different parts of Europe have lately denied the authenticity of the fact, which is indeed marvellous. In 1794 M. K. Reinhard published a dissertation in the German language, in which he attempts to prove, that the li brary was demolished long before

the year 540, the time when Alexandria was taken by the Saracens. In the Spectateur du Nord, for September 1798, I find an article on this celebrated library, written by some one who signs himself V*****, whom I presume to be Volney, the celebrated traveller into Egypt, and who confessedly avails himself of the materials of M. K. Reinhard. Thinking that it might afford some amusement to the readers of the Anthology, I have made a translation from the French and now send it to you for publication.

the writings of their predecessers; por can it fairly be presumed that any important truth, any useful discovery in art or nature, has been snatched away from the cu riosity of modern ages,"

opinion of Gibbon on this subject, Without entirely rejecting the we cannot however but believe, that our literary treasures would have been greater, if we still could have recourse to the library of the Serapion. By whatever means it was destroyed, by the worms or by the flames, by neglect or fawould have furnished us with the naticism, it is very certain that it works of Aristotle complete and correct; of Menander; all that is wanting of Eschylus; of Euripides; the poems of Empidocles, and of Stersichorus; a variety of philosophical writings of Theophrastus, Epicurus, and many others; and a multitude of historforever deprived. These losses ick facts, of which we are now ought certainly to occasion some regret to the friends of the sciences and the muses.

Whatever was the ulteriour destination of the Alexandrian libra ry, we may ask, Have the learned world much reason to regret its destruction? Gibbon, in his history of the decline and fall of the Roman empire, [Amer. edit. vol. 6, page 368] seems to answer the question in the negative. "I sincerely regret, says he, the more valuable libraries which have been involved in the ruin of the Roman empire; but when I seriously compute the lapse of ages, the waste of ignorance, and the calamities of war, our treasures, rather edge, in deploring the loss of the But I am willing to acknowlthan our losses, are the object of great library in the temple of Semy surprise. Many curious and rapis, we may view with indifferinteresting facts are buried in oblivion; the three great historians Amrou, if indeed he burnt any. ence the parchments burnt by of Rome have been transmitted It will be clearly demonstrated in to our hands in a mutilated state, the following dissertation, that, in and we are deprived of many his time, the collection of the pleasing compositions of the lyrick, Ptolemies could no longer have ambick, and dramatick poetry of existed; and all the historians afthe Greeks. Yet we should grate firm, that, for the two or three fully remember, that the mischan centuries preceding the arrival of ces of time and accident have the Musselmen, there had appearspared the classick works to ed an enormous quantity of polemwhich the suffrage of antiquity had ical writing, produced by the adjudged the first place of genius Gnostics, the Arians, the Monoand glory: the teachers of an- sophists, the Monotelites, & cient knowledge, who are still ex- differents sects, which much agitant, had perused and compared tated the empire, and particularly


Alexandria. It is very probable, that the houses of the patriarchs and the churches were very full of these writings; and if they afforda ed fuel to heat the baths, we are of

opinion, with Mr. Gibbon, that they were ultimately devoted for the benefit of mankind.



ALEXANDRIA, almost at the commencement of its foundation by the conqueror of India, became affluent and powerful, and its progress was still more rapid under his royal successors. It was divi ded into many quarters, which were like so many towns. One of these quarters, the Bruchion, situated on the banks of the sea near the grand harbour, included all the edifices attached to the basilicum, or palace of the king, the great college, and many oth ers. The first of the Ptolemies, Lagus, did not confine his efforts to render Alexandria one of the most beautiful and commercial cities, he wished that it might also become the focus of the sciences and philosophy. In conjunction with Demetrius of Phalaris, an Athenian emigrant, this prince established there a society of wise men, similar to the modern French academies and institutes. He built for their accommodation that celebrated museum, which was an additional ornament to the Bruchion; there was placed that ponderous library, which Titus Livy styles, elegantiæ regum curaque egregium opus.

Philadelphus, successor of La gas, seeing that the library of the Bruchion contained four hundred thousand volumes, either that the place could not contain a greater number, or that he was ambitious for a similar monument to eternise his own name, founded a second li

brary in the temple of Serapis, called the Serapion, situated at some distance from the Bruchion, in another quarter of the city. These two libraries were for a long time called the mother and daughter. Cæsar, during his war in Egypt, burnt the royal fleet in the great bay of Alexandria, and the fire communicated to the Bruchion; the mother library was consumed, and if any of the manuscripts were rescued from the flames, they were probably deposited in that of the Serapion, which in future can be the only subject in dispute. Evergetes, and the other Ptole mies, successively augmented the library. Cleopatra there deposited two hundred thousand manu scripts of the Pergamean library, with which she was presented by Mark Antony.

Let us now follow the traces of the existence of the library. Auhas Gellius and Ammianus Marcellinus seem to intimate, that the contents of the Alexandrian library were burnt by the fire in the time of Cæsar. The first declares in his Noctes Attica, "that the num ber of the books, collected in Ægypt by the Ptolemies, was immense, amounting even to seven hundred thousand volumes, but they were all burnt in the war which Julius Cæ sar waged with the inhabitants of Alexandria, not with premeditated design, but by the soldiers who were perhaps auxiliaries." [Lib. 6. Cap. 17.]

Ammianus Marcellimus, in the 22d book and 16th chapter of his history, says, "The Serapion contained an inestimable library of seven hundred thousand volumes, collected by the industry of the Ptolemies and burnt during the war of Alexandria, when that city was destroyed by the dictator Casar."

But both of the historians have erred on the same point. . Ammianus, in the course of his recital, evidently confounds the Serapion and the Bruchion. It is clearly: proved, that Cæsar destroyed some, buildings of the latter only, and not the whole city.

Suetonius, in his life of Dɔmitian, relates that this emperour sent copyists to Alexandria to transcribe a great number of books, which he wanted for his library. The library must then have existed a long time after Cæsar. Besides, we know that the Serapion was not destroyed until the year of our Lord 391 by the orders of Theodosius.

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Without doubt the library suffered considerably on the last occasion. But after this it still existed, at least in part; which we cannot doubt on the testimony of Orosius, who, twenty-four years afterwards, travelled into Alex

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andria, and who declares, that he saw there, in many temples, cases, filled with books, the reliques of the ancient libraries, It is worthy of

remark, that this author, as well as Seneca in his treade DeTranquilitate Animi, relate, that the number of volumes burnt by Cesar sand; and as it appears that thre amounted to four hundred thoutotal number of the books was but seven hundred thousand, there remains, with what they were able to save from the library in the Bruchion, at most but three or four hundred thousand to compose the one in the Serapion.

is the last witness we have, who The veracious Orosius, in 415, testifies to the existence of the library at Alexandria. The numerous christian writers of the fifth and sixth centuries, who have transmitted to us many useless facts, do not say one word on this important subject. have then no more certain docuWe ments, respecting the fate of the cording to some, not until 648, library, from 415 until 636, or, acwhen Alexandria was taken by the Arabs....a period of ignorance, of barbarism, of wars, of convulsions, and of fruitless disputes between a hundred different sects.


About the year of our Saviour 640 the troops of the caliph Omar, under the command of Amrou, took Alexandria. For more than ten centuries no person in Europe interested himself to know what became of this celebrated library, At last, about the year 1660, a learned Oxonian, Edward Pococke, who had collected in two journies to the East many Arabian manuscripts, made known for the first

time to the learned world, in a latin translation, the oriental history of the physician Abulpharagius, from whom we make the following extract..." At that time lived among the Musselmen John of Alexandria, who was called the grammarian, and who espoused the cause of the jacobite christians.. He lived even at the time when Amrou-Ebno'l-As himself to the conqueror; and took Alexandria. He attached

Amrou, who knew the progress and wonder.”—When this recital which John had made in the seien- was made known in Europe, its ces, treated him with great re- authenticity was admitted without spect, listening with much eager- contradiction. It there acquired ness to his philosophick discourse full credit, and in the opinion of es, which were altogether new to the vulgar it passed for certainty. the Arabians. Amrou was him- After Pococke we had the self a man of much judgment and knowledge of another Arabian hispenetration. He retained this learn- torian, who was also a physician, ed man constantly near him. John and who gives nearly the same said to him one day : Thou hast recital. His name is Abdollatif, visited all the magazincs of Alex- who wrote about the year 1200, andria, and hast set thy seal upon and of consequence a little before every thing which thou hast found Abulpharagius. We are indebted there. Of all that can serve thee for the publication to professor I request nothing ; but thou canst Paulus, who made it after a manreasonably leave us, what will be uscript in the Bodleian library. useless to thee. What is it thou We here insert the passage in wishest? interrupted Amrou. The question. “ I have seen also the philosophical books, replied Jolin, Portico which, after Aristotle and which are found in the royal pal- his disciples, became the academace. I can dispose of nothing, said ick college, and also the college Amrou, without permission from which Alexander the Great built the chief of the faithful, Omar- 'at the same time with the city, in Ebno’l-Chattab. He then wrote which was contained the superb to Omar what John had requested library which Amrou bin-El-As of him, to which Omar replied.... rendered a prey to the flames by As to the books thou mentionest, the orders of the great Omar, to if they accord with the book of whom God be merciful." God, there is without them in that As this little narrative quadrates book all that is sufficient ; but if with the character for ferocity and

there be any thing repugnant to barbarism, which the christian his. · that book, we have no need of torians, particularly those in the

them : order them therefore to times of the crusades, attributed to be all destroyed. Amrou upon the Saracens, no person for a long this gave orders, that they should time thought proper to call it in be dispersed through the baths of question. On this point we shall Alexandria, and burned in heating undertake to justify the caliph them. After this manner, in the Omar, and his lieutenant Amrou ; space of six months, they were all not from love of the Saracens, but consumed. Hear what was done from love of truth.

(To be continued.]'

For the Monthly Anthology.


No. 5. I am a sincere believer in the verted in many instances by propusefulness of doctors and physick, er management ; and that the I believe that diseases may be proper management will more promitigated, and diseases may be a- babiy be discovered by men who

Vol. III. No. 1, B

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