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Seige de la Colonne de Pompée—Science in the Pillory

  • 1799
  • Etching by William Baillie, British
  • Plate: 20 x 16.25 in.
    Hand-colored etching on wove paper
  • Not on display
  • Gift of Fisher Scientific International
  • Fisher Collection
  • FA 2000.001.150
  • No known copyright restrictions


A satire of Napoleon's invasion of Egypt, with a group of scientists on top of the Column of Pompey being attacked by Bedouins and Turks. A fire is burning at the base of the column, and men are hurtling to the ground when their balloon explodes.


It appears by an Intercepted Letter from General Kleber, dated "Alexandria, 5 Frimaire, 7th Year of the Republic," that, when his Garrison was obliged to retire into the New-Town at the approach of the Turkish Army under the Pacha of Rhodes, a Party of the Scavans, who had ascended Pompey's Pillar for Scientific Purposes, was cut off by a Band of Bedouin Arabs, who, having made a large Pile of Straw and Reeds at the foot of the Pillar, set Fire to it, and rendered unavailing the gallant defence of the learned Garrison, of whose Catastrophe the above Design is intended to convey an Idea.

To study Alexandria's store/ of Science, Amru deemed a bore;/ And, briefly, set it burning./ The Man was Ignorant, 'tis true,/ So sought one comprehensivee view/ of the Light shed by Learning.

Your modern Arabs grown more wise/ French vagrant Science duly prize,/ They've fairly bit the biters./ They've learnt the style of Hebert's Jokes/ Amru tot Books confin'd his Hoax;/ These Bedouins roast the Writers

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