In his dismay the Sultan of Egypt threatened to demolish the sacred remains of Jerusalem, should the infidels of Europe persist in annihilating the trade of the Desert. Stimulated by the Doge, he attacked the Portuguese merchantmen in the Indian seas, and destroyed a convoy off the coast of Cochin; an outrage for which Albuquerque meditated a splendid revenge by an expedition to plunder Mecca and Medina, and to consummate the desolation of Egypt by diverting the Nile to the Red Sea, across Nubia or Abyssinia!
[Footnote 1: DARU, Hist, de Venise, lib. xix. p. 114. RAYNAL, Hist. des Deux Indes, vol. i. p. 156. FARIA Y SOUZA, Portug. Asia, pt. i. ch. viii. vol i. pp. 64, 83, 107, 137.]
But the catastrophe was inevitable; the rich freights of India and China were carried round the “Cape of Storms,” and no longer slowly borne on the Tigris and the Nile. The harbours of Ormus and of Bassora became deserted; and on the shores of Asia Minor, where the commerce of Italy had intrenched itself in castles of almost feudal pretension, the rivalries of Genoa and Venice were extinguished in the same calamitous decay.