« ForrigeFortsett »
turned the place, blockaded it anew, and gained the brilliant victory of Arcola, where he performed prodigies of valour, and exposed himself to great dangers. It was in this battle, that Napoleon, perceiving the grenadiers hesitate for a moment under the terrible fire of the enemy, which occupied some formidable positions, sprang to the ground, seized a flag, and rushed upon the bridge of Arcola, exclaiming, “ Soldiers ! are you no longer the brave warriors of Lodi ?follow me!” Augereau did the same. These heroic examples did not fail to influence the result of the battle. Alvinzi lost thirty pieces of cannon, five thousand prisoners, and six thousand slain ; Davidowich regained the Tyrol, and Wurmser re-entered Mantua.
TONAPARTE leaving Kleber in command of
Alexandria, quitted that place on the 7th of July, 1798, taking the road to Dumanhour, across the desert, where hunger, thirst, and an overpowering
heat, caused the army to endure unheard-of sufferings; under which many of the soldiers perished. He continued his march towards Cairo, and in four days he had beaten the Mamelukes at Rahmaniah and destroyed the flotilla and cavalry of the Beys at Chebreisse. In this last action, the general-in-chief marshalled his arıny into square battalions, against the enemy's cavalry, which was quite disconcerted, despite the boldness of its attacks, and the impetuosity of its courage. At the commencement of this affair, Perée, attacked by a superior force, changed a perilous position into the most brilliant success. The savans, Monge and Berthollet, rendered essential service, by fighting the enemy in person.
At the moment of giving battle to Murad Bey, at the foot of the Pyramids, Bonaparte, pointing to these ancient and
gigantic monuments, exclaimed: “Soldiers, you are about to fight the rulers of Egypt: reflect that from these monuments you are contemplated by forty centuries.”
This battle, fought July 21st, 1798, received the name of Embabeh, from the village near which it was fought. The Mainelukes were overcome after an obstinate contest, which lasted nineteen hours.
Bonaparte entered the capital of Egypt on the 24th of July.
Terrified by his late defeat, Murad Bey fled into upper Egypt, where he was pursued by Desaix. Napoleon, in the mean time, occupied himself at Cairo, in forming a regular administration for the Egyptian provinces. But Ibrahim Bey, who had arrived in Syria, obliged the conquering legislator to quit his pacific labours and return to the fight. Bonaparte encountered and beat him at Saleheyh. The brave Sulkowsky was woundod in this affair.
The joy of the new triumph was soon disturbed by the most deplorable news. Kleber announced to Bonaparte, by a despatch, that Nelson had destroyed the French fleet at Aboukir, after a desperate struggle. As soon as the knowledge of this catastrophe was spread in the army, great discontent and consternation prevailed. The soldiers and generals who had been disgusted and uneasy on their first arrival in Egypt, felt more severely than ever their situation, and frequently gave rent to their feelings in loud murmurs. Napoleon, seeing at a glance all the enormity of this disaster, appeared at first overwhelmed by it, and when told that the Directory would doubtless hasten to repair the misfortune, he hastily exclaimed: “Your Directory! they are a mass of —, they envy and hate me; and will leave me here to perish. Do you not see all those figures?" he added, pointing to his staffofficers, “how long will they remain by me!"
But his great soul was not to be cast down, and arousing himself, he exclaimed with an heroic resignation, - If it must be so, then, we will remain here, or, like the ancients, we will leave it as heroes."
From this time Bonaparte occupied himself with indefati
gable ardour and activity in the civil organization of Egypt. He felt more than ever the necessity of conciliating the inhabitants of the country, and of forming lasting establishments. One of his first and principal creations, was an Institute on the plan of that of Paris. He divided it into four classes :-mathematics, physic, political economy, literature, and the fine arts. Monge was appointed president, and Bonaparte conferred on himself the title of vice-president. The installation of this body took place with great solemnity. It was there that the immortal warrior confirmed his promise to the head of the Institute of France, not to be proud of any conquests but those he obtained over ignorance: and until the progress of his arms was identified with the progress of enlightenment.
Bonaparte, already popular among the Mussulmans, who called him the sultan Kebir (the father of fire), was admitted and invited by them to all their fertivals.
It was thus that he assisted, but without presiding, as was believed, at those of the overflowing of the Nile, and the anniversary of the birth of Mahomet. The respect which he showed for the religion of the Prophet on all occasions, contributed not a little in making his name and authority respected by the Egyptians. Some have effected to discover a sort of sympathy for Islamism in his conduct, which displayed nothing more than the skilful politician. Bonaparte was neither Mussulman nor Christian; himself and his army represented in Egypt the French Philosophy, the tolerating scepticism, and the religious indifference of the eighteenth century. But in the absence of positive religion in his mind, he nourished a vague religion in his soul.
The shiecks, in gratitude for the part which Bonaparte had taken at their festivals, joined, at least in appearance, in the rejoicings of the French army; they made the grand mosque resound with songs of gladness; they prayed to the great Allah, “to bless the favourite of Victory, and to let the brave army of the West prosper.”
In the midst of these amicable demonstrations, the chiefs of the Mamelukes, in alliance with England, Ibrahim and
Murad Bey, fomented an insurrection, which was not slow in breaking out even in the capital of Egypt. Bonaparte was then at Old Cairo; as soon as he was informed of what was passing, he hastened to return to his head-quarters. The streets of Cairo were quickly cleared by the French troops, who compelled the rebels to take refuge in the grand mosque, where they were soon fired upon by the artillery. They had refused to capitulate, but the thunder of the cannon taking effect on their superstitious imaginations, rendered them more tractable. Napoleon, however, refused their tardy propositions. “The time for mercy is gone by,” said he, "you have begun, it is for me to finish.” The doors of the mosque were immediately forced, and the blood of the Turks flowed in abundance. Bonaparte had to avenge, among others, the death of General Dupois, governor of the place, and that of the brave Sulkowsky, for whom he had entertained great regard. This revolt took place October 21st, 1798.