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which many military errors were committed.

Somewhat later, we find Malus accompanyino' General
Regnier in a reconnoitre which had fur its object the de-
termination of the exact distance from Salchieh to the
sea. On his return he discovered the remarkable ruin
of the ancient city of San, or Thamis. It was durin«-
this expedition that he learned the destruction of the

* July 5. t July 9. J July 13. § July 20. 1| July 22. ^ August 2.


122 MALUS.

French fleet in the naval battle of Aboukir ; and we read
without surprise in the memoranda that he reentered
Cairo fatigued, ill, and a prey to profound gi-ief.

About the period of which we are si^eaking. General
Bonaparte created the Institute of Egypt. Malus was
one of its first members.

Some days afterwards, Malus received an order to join
General Desaix in Upper Egypt. On his return to
Cairo with the division of " the just Sultan," he was
charged with the duty of making jireparations for the
fete of the 4th Vandemiaire,* in the square of Esbekieh.
" This was," he says, " a trifling distraction from the grief
which had afilicted me for some time." On the 30th,t
and following days, Malus powerfully contributed to re-
press the insurrection which had arisen in Cairo ; having
arrested with his own hand, in the heat of the tumult,
one of the insurgents, he found in his possession objects
which he knew belonged to General Caftarelli, his imme-
diate commander and friend ; from these he believed that
he had been killed ; and it was not till after two days
that he learned that CafiareUi had quitted his house be-
fore the Turkish revolters had pillaged it.

After the rebellion had been suppressed. Captain Ma-
lus commenced the establishment of a fort in the position
whence during the insurrection they had cannonaded
the grand mosque. The construction of this fort occu-
pied him a long time ; it received the name of Dupuis.
Afterwards he commanded at the reconnoitring of the
communications of the Nile with the lake Menzeleh and
with Salchieh. In this expedition the young officer made
discoveries of great interest in respect to archaeology, and
the ancient geography o£ this part of Egypt.

* September 25. t October 20.


On his return to Cairo, Captain Malus enjoyed some
little leisure ; by wliich he profited in order to examine
in detail the " Well of Joseph," which he described as a
masterpiece of perseverance and skill in construction.
He went also to visit the colossal pyramids of Gizeh, in
company with a man who might be truly called the colos-
sus of our army from his height and his bravery, General

When the army set out on the expedition to Syria,
Malus, who was then occupied in reconnoitring the Delta,
was attached to the division of General Klebei*. We
shall not follow him in the difficult route which our brave
soldiers had to traverse almost without provisions or
drinkable water ; the details which we find on this sub-
ject in the memoranda only inspire the most painful
reflections ; we will merely say, that the young officer
of engineers took a part with distinction in the siege of
El-Harisch. We find him taking by assault, and with
great intrepidity, an advanced post situated eighty metres
from the place, — commanding in the trenches, and pusli-
ing the sap almost up to the foot of the breach, when the
enemy offei'ed to capitulate. Tlie young officer denounced
in energetic terms the breach of faith of which our gen-
erals were guilty in regard to the prisoners, in forcing
them to enlist among our soldiers.

Malus relates the march of the army ^.dvancing into
Syria. It first took the infection of the plague in the
town of Gaza, abandoned by the enemy ; its divisions
arrived at length before Jaffa and invested that town, of
which it raised the siege. The operations were con-
ducted in a way which was not conformable to the rules
of the science originally laid down by Vauban. Our
young officer recounts that the breaching battery, being

124 MALUS.

supported by armed positions on too small a scale, was
surprised in the night by a sortie of the troops from the
town. The heads of our soldiers carried into .Jaffa were
paid for by their weight in gold. The head of INIalus,
however, did not figure in the number of these bloody
trophies, for the sole reason that at the moment of the
silent invasion of the battery by the Turks he was asleep
in one of the angles of the entrenchments. The breach
having been opened, and the garrison not having answered
to the summons made them, the troops advanced to the
assault to the sound of the bands of all the regiments.
Here I will no longer abridge, but copy : —

" The enemy was overthrown, discouraged, and retired,
after a sharp firing of musquetry from the houses and
forts of the city ; they kept their ground, however, at
some points, and continued their fire for an hour. Dur-
ino- this time the soldiers, scattered through all parts,
killed men, women, children, old persons. Christians, and
Turks ; — every thing that bore the human form was the
victim of their fury.

" The tumult of carnage, the broken doors, the houses
shaken by the noise of the firing and of arras, the
cries of the women, the father and child overthrown one
on the other, the violated daughter on the corpse of her
mother ; the smoke of dead bodies burned in their gar-
ments which had been set on fire, the smell of blood, the
groans of the wounded, the cries of the conquerors dis-
puting together over the spoils of their expiring prey,
infuriated soldiers responding to the cries of despair by
exclamations of rage and redoubled blows ; lastly, men
satiated with blood and gold, falling down in mere weari-
ness on the heaps of corpses ; — such was the spectacle
which this unfortunate city presented until night."



This forcible passage of the manuscript of Mains is
the faithful picture of what happens in every town taken
by storm, even when the assailants belong to the most
humane civilized army in the world. AVhen historians
know how to place themselves in a more elevated sphere,
to free themselves from routine, and to follow in the
opinions they express the eternal rules of justice and
humanity, while they praise the indomitable courage of
soldiers who will brave death in obedience to discipline,
they will accord a deeper sympathy to the men who to
preserve their nationality consent to expose themselves
to scenes of massacre and bloodshed such as those which
the narrative of Malus has revealed in all their horrors ;
their condemnation will be reserved for those who pro-
voke these impious wars, which have no other motive
than personal ambition, and the desire for a vain and
false glory.

When the army set out for the attack on the town of
St. John d'Acre, Malus received an order to remain at
Jaffa with General Grezieux. There were left with
him only 150 efficient men ; the town contained more
than 300 wounded and 400 infected with the plague.
Malus was charged with the arrangements necessary to
be made in the Greek Convent, in order to establish
there those suffering with the plague. For ten days
successively he passed all liis mornings in the infected
air of this receptacle of corruption. Thus our celebrated
painter Gros might have legitimately placed the portrait
of Malus among the figures in tliat admirable picture for
which modern art is indebted to him, in the place of
some of those conventionally introduced there, who never
really penetrated into the halls then choked up with the
dying and dead.

126 MAI.US.

The eleventh day, Mains felt himself infected with the
terrible disease wliich decimated our army. From this
moment I will allow him to speak for himself; science
may perhaps derive some advantage from the details
which I transcribe : —

" A burning fever, and violent pains in the head,
forced me to seek repose ; a continued dysentery was
added ; and one by one the symptoms of plague showed
themselves. About the same time General Grezieux
died. Half of the garrison had already been struck ;
thirty soldiers fell victims daily ; Brinquier, who had
taken my place in superintending the hospital, was seized
on the fourth day, and died forty-eight hours afterwards.
At this period characteristic bubo showed itself on my
right groin. I had all along up to this time entertained
hope that my disease might not be the plague ; the num-
ber of days I had lived since the first attack seemed to
indicate it ; but since the bubo appeared, and the pains
at the heart were redoubled, I could no longer feel any
doubt ; . I resigned myself to my fate. I sent to Fran-
cisqui, who was with the wounded General Damas, the
articles which I wished to leave to my relations and
friends. I ought to remark that Francisqui was the sole
one of my comrades who had not abandoned me, and
who, in order to tranquillize me, had not hesitated to
come near me ; on the day of his departure he carried
his devotion to such an extent as to embrace me, though
he was then certain that I was infected.

" Only one man in twelve escaped. St. Simon arrived
in Egypt and came to see me ; he was then in perfect
health, in two days afterwards he was dead. The siege
of Acre was protracted, the sick fell back on Jaffa and
increased the numbers of the dying ; besides this, the


plague was in every house of the town where there still
were any inhabitants. The refugees of Ramie, who
came to Jaffa to place themselves under our protection,
perished nearly to a man. The Convent of the Capu-
chins, which was placed in quarantine, could not escape
the contagion : the greater part of the monks died. All
the Frank families perished except two men and one

" I no longer knew a single individual among those
now at Jaffa. I had lost successively my friends, my
acquaintance, and my servants ; there only remained my
French servant, who attended me with constancy during
my illness, and he died at my side the 24th Germinal.*
I was now alone, without strength, without help, without
friends ; I was so exhausted by the dysentery and the
continual suppurations, that my head became extraordi-
narily weakened ; the fever, which redoubled its inten-
sity at night, often made me delirious and agitated me
terribly. Two men of the corps of sappers undertook
the care of me, and they perished one after the other.

" At length on the 2d Floreal f I was put on board
L'Etoile, which was setting sail for Egypt and whose
captain had the plague ; he died the night of our arrival
at Damietta. • The sea air produced a sudden effect on
me ; it seemed to me as if I were relieved from suffo-
cation. After the first day I almost began to feel some
wish for food, I was nevertheless very feeble. Contrary
winds kept us several days out at sea ; this delay pro-
duced a very marked amendment in my health ; my
strength revived, the crust of the bubo fell off; my appe-
tite was restored.

" On the 7th Floreal I we came to anchor before the

* April 12, 1799. f April 21. J April 26.

128 MALUS.

Bogaz of Damietta ; on the 8th * we entered the Nile
and the vessel was put under quarantine."

If any one would wish to know how our institutions,
"when entrusted to persons destitute- of humanity, add
fresh sufferings to those of natural afflictions, let him con-
tinue with us the transcription of jNIalus's harrowing

"The 10th Germinal t I disembarked and was con-
ducted to the lazaretto of Lesbieh, where were collected
those suffering from the plague from Damietta as well as
those arrived from Syria. They placed also with me
several passengers who had no symptom of the disease,
but who in due course took the infection in the lazaretto
and died, every one of them. These numerous deaths
delayed the period of my enlargement. It was rare that
any one got out of this infernal prison who had once had
the misfortune to enter it ; hardly would they condescend
to succour the unhappy persons who came to spend their
last hours there. I have often seen them die with rage
demanding water of the barbarians who pretended that
they did not understand them' or would answer, ' It is
not worth while.' Greedy grave-diggers robbed the dy-
ing persons before they had yielded their last breath ;
these unworthy agents of the sanitary commission were
the only inedical attendants, the only guardians allowed
to the sick. Hardly had their victims ceased to live
when they carried them over to the opposite shore,
where they abandoned them to the dogs and birds of
prey. Sometimes they covered them with a little sand ;
but the wind soon exposed the bodies naked, and the
cemetery presented the hideous spectacle of a field of

* April 27.

t Probably a mistake for Floreal, April 30.


battle. One wretched woman, of whom I had taken
care because she was absolutely deserted, begged of me
the evening of her death to give a piastre to the grave-
diggers, that she might be preserved from becoming a
prey to the jackals. I fulfilled her wish, and caused
them to bury her at the extremity of the plain where the
dead were deposited.

" I had been already a month in this abominable
abode, when Cazola obtained for me the privilege of
being put in quarantine in a separate lodging. My soli-
tude appeared to me delicious, because I had quitted the
society of the dying. I succeeded in reestablishing my
health, and in the beginning of Messidor,* I received
definitively my liberty, which followed the sacrifice of all
my property."

How heartily must we not congratulate ourselves that
Mains escaped, in so unhoped-for a way, from the terri-
ble stroke which had mowed down so many victims ! If
he had fallen under it, the beautiful branch of optical
science, of which he planted the first signal after his
return to France, perhaps would not have been created,
and the admirable progress which the science has made
would not have been reckoned among the most striking
claims to the admiration of posterity of which the 19th
century may boast. Some time after this, Malus was
ordered to proceed to Cathieh, where he established him-
self. The delights of this advanced post, where General
Le Clerc commanded, are described con amove by him
who had just escaped the frightful disease, and the dan- .
gers not less dreadful of the lazaretto of Lesbieh.

" We encamped," he says, " in huts whose walls and
roofs were composed of palm-leaves interwoven ; we

* June 19=Messi(lor 1.


130 MALU3.

were lodged like Arabs ; I had close to my cabin a small
enclosure containing my horses, camels, and asses ; an
aviary full of fowls, geese, and ducks, a pen for my two
sheep, another for a boar ; houses for my pigeons, and
my goat enjoyed its liberty. It was in a great measure
in this society that I passed three months of my sojourn
in Egypt which were to me particularly agreeable. A
perfect tranquillity, peaceable enjoyments, and waiting
for an enemy whom we calculated on conquering, hin-
dered us from wishing for conveniences of which we .
were deprived."

Malus here does not say all ; at Cathieh he composed
a memoir on light, of Avhich we shall have occasion to
speak presently. If it should happen that in analyzing
this work, we should find therein some results which
may, or which ought to be, contested, we may remark
that it was composed half a century ago, and that the
author was in a position truly exceptional when he was
engaged in it.

I find mentioned in the memoranda that in a re-
connoissance which he made with a detachment of
dromedaries of which he had the command, Malus
encountered a caravan, attacked it, dispersed it, and
obtained a great number of camels, and a quantity of

On quitting Cathieh,'- Malus went to Cairo, where he
received from Kleber (October 21, 1799,) the brevet
rank of Chief of Battalion, the just recompense of such
active services and so much courage displayed by the
young captain, ever since the first disembarkation of the
French army in Egypt. The commandant Malus having
learnt at Cairo that a disembarkation of Turks was pre-
paring near Damietta, hastened thither ; where, when


he arrived the 8th Brumaire,* he found the enemy
ah-eady fortified. The next day but one, after having
been in the trenches during the morning, he joined, as a
private foot soldier, the troops who charged the Osman-
lis with the bayonet, and precipitated them into the sea.

On the 20th Friraaire,t Malus received the command
of the position at Lesbieh, where he had destroyed the
Avails wlien this fortress was in the hands of the Turks,
and which he had rebuilt since it had fallen into the
power of the French. On the 22d, | the plague made
its appearance at Lesbieh in six different quarters ; the
commandant, Malus, from his long experience, applied
means of preventing its development and propagation ;
nevertheless it made many victims till the 28th Plu-
viose.§ On the 29th. || the position of Lesbieh was sur-
rendered to the Osmanlis in virtue of the convention of
El Harisch. Malus arrived at Cairo the 25th Ventose,*I[
and on the 28th ** learned the rupture of the capitula-
tion of El Harisch by Lord Keith. The same day, at
two o'clock in the afternoon, appeared the proclamation
of Kleber, which ended with these celebrated and pro-
phetic words : " The army will respond to this disloyal
proceeding, and to the demand to lay down their arms,
by new victories." The army was in fact on its march
on the next day to fight the forces of the Grand Vizier.
Malus, attached to tlie division of General Friant, per-
sonally took part in the immortal battle of Heliopolis,
when 11,000 men triumphed over more than 60,000.

The day after the victory a particular circumstance
which I find related in the memoranda, had some unfor-
tunate consequences. " On the 30th,tt at two o'clock in

* October 29. § February 26, 1800. ** March 18.

t December 10. || February 27. tt Miiroh 20.

J December 12. ^ March lo.



the morning," Mains says, "the army commenced its
march for Belbeys, where we reckoned on finding the
Turkish army collected. I went with the division of
Friant. After an hour's march I suspected that we
were losing our way in the desert. As the night was
very dark we had lost the ordinary tracks. I repre-
sented the matter to the general, who listened to me for
a moment, but other persons brought forward opposite
opinions with so much assurance, that the march was
continued. One hour and a half afterwards, we were
taking a direction exactly towards the point whence we
had started. This 1 perceived from the position of the
pole star, which we had at starting behind us. This
time I was listened to, and I led back the division on the
right route. This mistake nevertheless caused us much
delay, and the other divisions were obliged to wait for
us at one league distance from Belbeys."

We see on what little circumstances the great events
of war often depend. If there had been in the division
of Friant only an ordinary small compass of a few milli-
metres in diameter, like those which are hung among
the trinkets to watches, or even if self-conceited officers
had not obtained a preference for their opinions over
that of Mains, the divisions of our army would have
been reunited much sooner ; and that of the Grand
Vizier would have experienced near Belbeys very con-
siderable losses.

Mains, now attached to the division of General Reg-
nier, took part in the expedition which, after several
serious affairs, drove back the Ottoman army across the
desert. Afterwards he returned to Cairo, then in a
state of revolt excited by the Mamelukes, who, on the
day of the battle of Heliopolis, fell back on the great


city. We see at once the nature of the service of an
officer of engineers in such an attack as that on Cairo,
■where he was obliged, in order to take the barricades,
to turn them by passing through the interior of the
houses. After the complete surrender of Cairo, Malus
was quartered at Gizeh, when on the 25th Prairial,*
General Kleber was assassinated in his garden at Cairo
by a Tui-k arrived from Syria.

We will here terminate the long extract from the
memoranda of Malus. It would be too painful to us to
follow the well-founded, but very bitter criticisms which
he directs against General Menou. A single trait will
suffice to show his opinion of the former Commander-
in-Chief of the army of the East. " Kleber," says
Malus, " was assassinated on the 24th Pi-airial ; some
days afterwards General Menou, in attacking the hon-
our of the deceased General Kleber, has assassinated
him over again."

In going over the memoranda, which, amid the chan-
ces of war, might very probably fall into the hands of
indiscreet persons, friends or enemies, I remarked that
Malus indicates very exactly the date at which he
received letters from his father, his uncle, &c. As to
letters from Giessen (and we easily guess whose hand
wrote them) he gives no indication or trace. I notice
this extreme delicacy for the instruction of ill-informed,
or malevolent persons, who believe sentiments of the
kind referred to incompatible with geometrical studies.


Malus quitted Egypt and made the voyage on board
The Castor, an English transport ship, according to tlie
* .Tune 13.

134 MALtJS.

arrangement made between General ISIenou, Comman-
der-in-Chief of our army, and the hostile generals. He
arrived at Marseilles the 1st October, 1801, and was
immediately put into quarantine. After the pestiferous
scenes of Jaffii, of Damietta, and Lesbieh, he must have
found the lazaretto in which he was now confined a
place of luxury. As soon as he w^as set at liberty he
repaired to Paris. After a short visit to his relations,
bound by his sentiments even more than by his promise,
he hastened to Giessen, where he once more joined
Mademoiselle Wilhelraine Louise Koch, affianced tp him
for four years, and was married to her. This union
completed his happiness ; we shall soon have to relate
the rare proof of devotion which Madame Malus gave
the husband of her choice during the afflicting illness
which took him from her and from the sciences.

The subsequent military career of Malus may be
stated in a few lines. In 1802-3 he was employed at
Lille. We find him in 1804 at Antwerp, planning
measures, according to the orders of Napoleon, for
completing the naval establishment of the city, and ex-
tending its lines of fortification. In this elaborate work,
the account of which is preserved in the depot of fortifi-
cations, accompanied by eleven sheets of drawings, the
author treats analytically, but without neglecting the
arithmetical applications, two questions of mechanics,
which, under the circumstances and in that locality, pos-
sess a great importance, viz : 1. The amount which,
ought to be deducted for the weight of men marching in
a tread-wheel, to move the inclined twisted pipes, or
Archimedean hydraulic screws, used in draining : 2. The
employment, for the same purpose, of the force of wind,
acting on wind-mills luiving horizontal sails disposed in


such a way as to turn always in the same direction. In
1805, Malus was attached to the Army of the North.
In 1806-7-8, he was sub-director of the fortifications
of Strasbourg. In this capacity he presided over the
reconstruction of the fortifications of Kehl, and made
some very judicious remarks on the form of the revet-
ments,* and applied an exact analysis to the determina-
tion of their thickness. In 1809 he was recalled to
Paris. He became major of engineers in 1810. The
archives of the Committee of Arms prove that the in-
spectors-general often consulted him with much advan-
tage on the merit of works submitted to them.


We have henceforth to occupy ourselves only with
the life of Malus as a physicist and member of the
Academy ; without departure from this view, I may say
a few words on the optical memoir which he composed
in the hut at Lesbieh.

The author announces clearly, in the first part of the
MS. memoir which I have before me, the object which
he proposes ; this is to prove that light is not a simple
substance ; that its constituent principles are caloric and
oxygen, in a particular state of combination. To estab-
lish this theory, he cites numerous facts furnished by
chemistry, which prove that he was perfectly initiated,

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