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The Life of Napoleon I (Volume 1 of 2) by Rose

Which resided entirely in Bonaparte


Apart

from archaeology, much was done to extend the bounds of learning. Astronomy gained much by the observations of General Caffarelli. A series of measurements was begun for an exact survey of Egypt: the geologists and engineers examined the course of the Nile, recorded the progress of alluvial deposits at its mouth or on its banks, and therefrom calculated the antiquity of divers parts of the Delta. No part of the great conqueror's career so aptly illustrates the truth of his noble words to the magistrates of the Ligurian Republic: "The true conquests, the only conquests which cost no regrets, are those achieved over ignorance."

Such, in brief outline, is the story of the renascence in Egypt. The mother-land of science and learning, after a wellnigh barren interval of 1,100 years since the Arab conquest, was now developed and illumined by the application of the arts with which in the dim past she had enriched the life of barbarous Europe. The repayment of this incalculable debt was due primarily to the enterprise of Bonaparte. It is one of his many titles to fame and to the homage of posterity. How poor by the side of this encyclopaedic genius are the gifts even of his most brilliant foes! At that same time the Archduke Charles of Austria was vegetating in inglorious ease on his estates. As for Beaulieu and Wuermser, they had subsided into their native obscurity. Nelson, after his recent triumph, persuading himself that "Bonaparte had gone to the

devil," was bending before the whims of a professional beauty and the odious despotism of the worst Court in Europe. While the admiral tarnished his fame on the Syren coast of Naples, his great opponent bent all the resources of a fertile intellect to retrieve his position, and even under the gloom of disaster threw a gleam of light into the dark continent. While his adversaries were merely generals or admirals, hampered by a stupid education and a narrow nationality, Bonaparte had eagerly imbibed the new learning of his age and saw its possible influence on the reorganization of society. He is not merely a general. Even when he is scattering to the winds the proud chivalry of the East, and is prescribing to Brueys his safest course of action, he finds time vastly to expand the horizon of human knowledge.

Nor did he neglect Egyptian politics. He used a native council for consultation and for the promulgation of his own ideas. Immediately after his entry into Cairo he appointed nine sheikhs to form a divan, or council, consulting daily on public order and the food-supplies of the city. He next assembled a general divan for Egypt, and a smaller council for each province, and asked their advice concerning the administration of justice and the collection of taxes.[108] In its use of oriental terminology, this scheme was undeniably clever; but neither French, Arabs, nor Turks were deceived as to the real government, which resided entirely in Bonaparte; and his skill in reapportioning the imposts had some effect on the prosperity of the land, enabling it to bear the drain of his constant requisitions. The welfare of the new colony was also promoted by the foundation of a mint and of an Egyptian Commercial Company.


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