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internal structure of the earth, as will be obtained by fifty times the same expence in digging to any considerable depth; and much more expeditiously. Many valuable ores, clays, &c. appear in such rude forms in their natural state, as not even to excite curiosity, much less attention. A true knowledge of their different value can only be obtained by experiment: as soil proper for manure they may be judged of by the planter; but as matter, they come under the enquiry of the philosopher. This leads me to reflect with inexpressible pleasure, on the numberless benefits arising to a community, by the institution of societies for promoting useful knowledge.
The American Philosophical Society, like the Royal Socicty in England, by having public spirit for its support, and public good for its object, is become a treasure we ought to glory in. Here the defective knowledge of the individual is supplied by the common stock. Societies, without endangering private fortunes, are enabled to proceed in their enquiries by analysis and experiment; but individuals are seldom furnished with conveniences for so doing, generally rest their opinion on reasonable conjecture.
I presume, that were samples of different soils from different parts of America presented to the society for their inspection and examination, it would greatly facilitate our knowledge of the internal earth, and give a new spring both to agriculture and manufactures. These hints are not intended to lament any loss of time, or remissness in the pursuit of useful knowledge, but to furnish matter for future studies; that while we glory in what we are, we may not neglect what we are to be.
Of the present state we may justly say, that no nation under heaven ever struck out in so short a time, and with so much spirit and reputation, into the labyrinth of art and science; and that not in the acquisition of knowledge only, but in the happy advantages flowing from it. The world does not at this day exhibit a parallel, neither can history produce its equal. ATLANTICUS.
Philadelphia, February 10.
NEW ANECDOTES OF ALEXANDER THE GREAT.
IN one of those calm and gloomy days, which have a
As the servants of great men always imitate their masters abroad, so my ideas, habiting themselves in my likeness, figured away with all the consequence of the person they belong to; and calling themselves, when united I and me wherever they went, brought me, on their return, the following anecdotes of Alexander; viz.
Having a mind to see in what manner Alexander lived in the Plutonian world, I crossed the Styx (without the help of Charon, for the dead only are his fare,) and enquired of a melancholy looking shade who was sitting on the banks of the river, if he could give me any account of him; yonder he comes, replied the shade, get out of the way or you'll be run over. Turning myself round I saw a grand equipage rolling towards me which filled the whole avenue. Bless me! thought I, the gods still continue this man in his insolence and pomp! The chariot was drawn by eight horses in golden harness, and the whole represented his triumphal return, after he had conquered the world. It passed me
with a splendour I had not seen before, and shined so luminously up into the country, that I discovered innumerable shades sitting under the trees, which before were invisible. As there were two persons in the chariot equally splendid, I could not distinguish which was Alexander, and on requiring that information of the shade who still stood by, he replied, Alexander is not there. Did you not, continued I, tell me that Alexander was coming, and bid me get out of the way? Yes, answered the shade, because he was the fore horse on the side next to us. Horse! I mean Alexander the Emperor, I mean the same, replied the shade, for whatever he was on the other side of the water is nothing now, he is a horse here; and not always that for when he is apprehensive that a good licking is intended for him, he watches his opportunity to roll out of the stable in the shape of a piece of dung or in any other disguise he can escape. On this information I turned instantly away, not being able to bear the thoughts of such astonishing degradation, notwithstanding the aversion I have to his character. But curiosity got the better of my compassion, and having a mind to see what sort of a figure the conqueror of the world cut in the stable, I directed my flight thither. He was just returned with the rest of the horses from the journey, and the groom was rubbing him down with a large furze bush, but turning himself round to get a still larger and more prickly one that was newly brought in, Alexander catched the opportunity, and instantly disappeared, on which I quitted the place, lest I should be suspected of stealing him. When I had reached the banks of the river, and was preparing to take my flight over, I perceived that I had picked up a bug among the Plutonian gentry, and thinking it was needless to increase the breed on this side the water, was going to dispatch it, when the little wretch screamed out, Spare Alexander the GREAT. On which I withdrew the violence I was offering to his person, and holding up the emperor between my finger and thumb, he exhibited a most contemptible figure of the downfal of tyrant greatness. Affected with a mixture of concern and compassion (which he was always a stranger to) I suffered him to nibble on a pimple that was newly risen on my hand, in order to refresh him; after which I placed him on a tree to hide him, but a tom-tit coming by, chopped him up with as little ceremony as he put whole kingdoms to the sword. On which I took my flight, reflecting with pleasure that I was not Alexander the GREAT.
REFLECTIONS ON THE LIFE AND DEATH OF LORD
AH! The tale is told-the scene is ended-and the curtain falls. As an emblem of the vanity of all earthly pomp, let his monument be a globe, but be that globe a bubble; let his effigy be a man walking round it in his sleep; and let Fame in the character of a shadow, inscribe his honours on the air.
I view him but as yesterday on the burning plains of Plassey*, doubtful of life, health, or victory. I see him in the instant when "To be or not to be," were equal chances to a human eye. To be a lord or a slave, to return loaded with the spoils, or remain mingled with the dust of India. Did necessity always justify the severity of a conqueror, the rude tongue of censure would be silent, and however painfully he might look back on scenes of horror, the pensive reflection would not alarm him. Though his feelings suffered, his conscience would be acquitted. The sad remembrance would move serenely, and leave the mind without a wound. But oh, India! thou loud proclaimer of European cruelties! thou bloody monument of unnecessary deaths! be tender in the day of inquiry, and shew a Christian world thou canst suffer and forgive.
Departed from India, and loaded with plunder, I see him doubling the Cape and looking wistfully to Europe. I see him contemplating on years of pleasure, and gratifying his ambition with expected honours. I see his arrival pompously announced in every newspaper, his eager eye rambling through the crowd in quest of homage, and his ear listening lest an applause should escape him. Happily for him he arrived before his fame, and the short interval was a time of rest. From the crowd I follow him to the court, I see him enveloped in the sunshine of sovereign favour, rivalling
Battle of Plassey in the East Indies, where Lord Clive, at that time Colonel Clive, acquired an immense fortune, and from which place his title is taken.
the great in honours, the proud in splendour, and the rich in wealth. From the court I trace him to the country, his equipage moves like a camp; every village bell proclaims. his coming; the wondering peasants admire his pomp, and his heart runs over with joy.
But, alas! (not satisfied with uncountable thousands) I accompany him again to India. I mark the variety of countenances which appear at his landing-Confusion spreads the news-Every passion seems alarmed-The wailing widow, the crying orphan, and the childless parent remember and lament; the rival Nabobs court his favour; the rich dread his power-and the poor his severity. Fear and terror march like pioneers before his camp-murder and rapine accompany it-famine and wretchedness follow it in the
Resolved on accumulating an unbounded fortune, he enters into all the schemes of war, treaty and intrigue. The British sword is set up for sale; the heads of contending Nabobs are offered at a price, and the bribe taken from both sides. Thousands of men or money are trifles in an Indian bargain. The field is an empire, and the treasure almost without end. The wretched inhabitants are glad to compound for offences never committed, and to purchase at any rate the privilege to breathe; while he, the sole lord of their lives and fortunes, disposes of either as he pleases, and prepares for Europe.*
Uncommon fortunes require an uncommon date of life to
* In April 1773, a Committee of the House of Commons, under the name of the Select Committee, were appointed by the House to enquire into the state of the East India affairs, and the conduct of the several Governors of Bengal. The Committee having gone through the examination, General Burgoyne, the chairman, prefaced their report to the House, informing them, "That the reports contained accounts of crimes shocking to human nature, that the most infamous designs had been carried into execution by perfidy and murder. He recapitulated the wretched situation of the East-Indian princes, who held their dignities on the precarious condition of being the highest bribers. No claim, however just on their part, he said, could be admitted without being introduced by enormous sums of rupees, nor any prince suffered to reign long, who did not quadrate with this idea; and that Lord Clive, over and above the enormous sums he might with some appearance of justice lay claim to, had obtained others to which he could have no title.