She availed herself, accordingly, of the revenues which poured in very abundantly upon her, to enter upon a career of the greatest luxury, magnificence, and splendor. The injuries which had been done to the palaces and other public edifices of Alexandria the fire, and by the military operations of the siege, were repaired. The bridges which had been down were rebuilt. The canals which had been obstructed were opened again. The sea-water was shut off from the palace cisterns; the rubbish of demolished houses was removed; the barricades were cleared from the streets; and the injuries which the palaces had suffered either from the violence of military engines or the rough occupation of the Roman soldiery, were repaired. In a word, the city was speedily restored once more, so far as was possible, to its former order and beauty. The five hundred, thousand manuscripts of the Alexandrian library, which had been burned, could not, indeed, be restored; but, in all other respects, the city soon resumed in appearance all its former splendor. Even in respect to the library, Cleopatra made an effort to retrieve the loss. She repaired the ruined buildings, and afterward, in the course of her life, she brought together, it was said, in a manner hereafter to be described, one or two hundred thousand rolls of manuscripts, as the commencement of a new collection. The new library, however, never acquired the fame and distinction that had pertained to the old.
The former sovereigns of Egypt, Cleopatra’s ancestors, had generally, as has already been shown, devoted the immense revenues which they extorted from the agriculturalists of the valley of the Nile to purposes of ambition. Cleopatra seemed now disposed to expend them in luxury and pleasure. They, the Ptolemies, had employed their resources in erecting vast structures, or founding magnificent institutions at Alexandria, to add to the glory of the city, and to widen and extend their own fame. Cleopatra, on the other hand, as was, perhaps, naturally to be expected of a young, beautiful, and impulsive woman suddenly raised to so conspicuous a position, and to the possession of such unbounded wealth and power, expended her royal revenues in plans of personal display, and in scenes of festivity, gayety, and enjoyment. She adorned her palaces, built magnificent barges for pleasure excursions on the Nile, and expended enormous sums for dress, for equipages, and for sumptuous entertainments. In fact, so lavish were her expenditures for these and similar purposes during the early years of her reign, that she is considered as having carried the extravagance of sensual luxury, and personal display, and splendor, beyond the limits that had ever before or have ever since been attained.
Besides the building of the Pharos, the Museum, and the Temple of Serapis, the early Ptolemies formed and executed a great many other plans tending to the same ends which the erection of these splendid edifices was designed to secure, namely, to concentrate in Alexandria all possible means of attraction, commercial, literary, and religious, so as to make the city the great center of interest, and the common resort for all mankind. They raised immense revenues for these and other purposes by taxing heavily the whole agricultural produce of the valley of the Nile. The inundations, by the boundless fertility which they annually produced, supplied the royal treasuries. Thus the Abyssinian rains at the sources of the Nile built the Pharos at its mouth, and endowed the Alexandrian library.
The taxes laid upon the people of Egypt to supply the Ptolemies with funds were, in fact, so heavy, that only the bare means of subsistence were left to the mass of the agricultural population. In admiring the greatness and glory of the city, therefore, we must remember that there was a gloomy counterpart to its splendor in the very extended destitution and poverty to which the mass of the people were everywhere doomed. They lived in hamlets of wretched huts along the banks of the river, in order that the capital might be splendidly adorned with temples and palaces. They passed their lives in darkness and ignorance, that seven hundred thousand volumes of expensive manuscripts might be enrolled at the Museum for the use of foreign philosophers and scholars. The policy of the Ptolemies was, perhaps, on the whole, the best, for the general advancement and ultimate welfare of mankind, which could have been pursued in the age in which they lived and acted; but, in applauding the results which they attained, we must not wholly forget the cost which they incurred in attaining them. At the same cost, we could, at the present day, far surpass them. If the people of the United States will surrender the comforts and conveniences which they individually enjoy–if the farmers scattered in their comfortable homes on the hill-sides and plains throughout the land will give up their houses, their furniture, their carpets, their books, and the privileges of their children, and then–withholding from the produce of their annual toil only a sufficient reservation to sustain them and their families through the year, in a life like that of a beast of burden, spent in some miserable and naked hovel–send the rest to some hereditary sovereign residing upon the Atlantic sea-board, that he may build with the proceeds a splendid capital, they may have an Alexandria now that will infinitely exceed the ancient city of the Ptolemies in splendor and renown. The nation, too, would, in such a case, pay for its metropolis the same price, precisely, that the ancient Egyptians paid for theirs.
It was in these ages, before other nations had intruded upon its peaceful seclusion, that the Pyramids were built, and the enormous monoliths carved, and those vast temples reared whose ruined columns are now the wonder of mankind. During these remote ages, too, Egypt was, as now, the land of perpetual fertility and abundance. There would always be corn in Egypt, wherever else famine might rage. The neighboring nations and tribes in Arabia, Palestine, and Syria, found their way to it, accordingly, across the deserts on the eastern side, when driven by want, and thus opened a way of communication. At length the Persian monarchs, after extending their empire westward to the Mediterranean, found access by the same road to Pelusium, and thence overran and conquered the country. At last, about two hundred and fifty years before the time of Cleopatra, Alexander the Great, when he subverted the Persian empire, took possession of Egypt, and annexed it, among the other Persian provinces, to his own dominions. At the division of Alexander’s empire, after his death, Egypt fell to one of his generals, named Ptolemy. Ptolemy made it his kingdom, and left it, at his death, to his heirs. A long line of sovereigns succeeded him, known in history as the dynasty of the Ptolemies–Greek princes, reigning over an Egyptian realm. Cleopatra was the daughter of the eleventh in the line.
The capital of the Ptolemies was Alexandria. Until the time of Alexander’s conquest, Egypt had no sea-port. There were several landing-places along the coast, but no proper harbor. In fact Egypt had then so little commercial intercourse with the rest of the world, that she scarcely needed any. Alexander’s engineers, however, in exploring the shore, found a point not far from the Canopic mouth of the Nile where the water was deep, and where best workout plans there was an anchorage ground protected by an island. Alexander founded a city there, which he called by his own name. He perfected the harbor by artificial excavations and embankments. A lofty light-house was reared, which formed a landmark by day, and exhibited a blazing star by night to guide the galleys of the Mediterranean in. A canal was made to connect the port with the Nile, and warehouses were erected to contain the stores of merchandise. In a word, Alexandria became at once a great commercial capital. It was the seat, for several centuries, of the magnificent government of the Ptolemies; and so well was its situation chosen for the purposes intended, that it still continues, after the lapse of twenty centuries of revolution and change, one of the principal emporiums of the commerce of the East.
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London Limo is dedicated to promoting quality service and standards in the ground transportation industry in the State of Illinois. The London Limo was established in 1990 by a small group of operators to unify, protect, and promote the growing livery industry within the State of Illinois and the Greater London Metropolitan Area. The purpose of the London Limo is to provide a statewide and local industry forum for the collection and exchange of information pertaining to issues, including regulatory and legislative, that impact the member companies of the London Limo, and to advance the interest of the Illinois livery industry and its members before Local, State, and Federal regulatory authorities.
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The London Limo is governed by a Board of Directors and maintains no vehicles of its own and cannot accept reservations from the public. For service and information, we ask that you contact our members directly, or go to our home page and click on the Request Information section. From there, you can draft an email requesting specific information about the London Limo or information on the livery industry. To request a service rate or price quote from our members, please click on the ‘Get a Quote’ section, and from there, you can receive rate quotes from our members for the particular type of service and vehicle type that you may be seeking.
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Five-sixths of the remaining lights went out, and the entire company followed them. In the foyer there was a prodigious crush of opera cloaks, silk hats, and cigars, all jostling together. News arrived from the Strand that the weather had turned to rain, and all the intellect of the Grand Babylon was centred upon the British climate, exactly as if the British climate had been the latest discovery of science. As the doors swung to and fro, the stridency of whistles, the throbbing of motor-cars, and the hoarse cries of inhabitants of box seats mingled strangely with the delicate babble of the interior. Then, lo! as by magic, the foyer was empty save for the denizens of the hotel who could produce evidence of identity. It had been proved to demonstration, for the sixth time that week, that in the metropolis of the greatest of Empires there is not one law for the rich and another for the poor.
Within less than twelve hours after that conversation between members of the governing classes at the Grand Babylon Hotel, Priam Farll heard the first deep-throated echoes of the voice of England on the question of his funeral. The voice of England issued on this occasion through the mouth of the _Sunday News_, a newspaper which belonged to Lord Nasing, the proprietor of the _Daily Record_. There was a column in the _Sunday News_, partly concerning the meeting of Priam Farll and a celebrated star of the musical comedy stage at Ostend. There was also a leading article, in which it was made perfectly clear that England would stand ashamed among the nations, if she did not inter her greatest painter in Westminster Abbey. Only the article, instead of saying Westminster Abbey, said National Valhalla. It seemed to make a point of not mentioning Westminster Abbey by name, as though Westminster Abbey had been something not quite mentionable, such as a pair of trousers. The article ended with the word ‘basilica,’ and by the time you had reached this majestic substantive, you felt indeed, with the _Sunday News_, that a National Valhalla without the remains of a Priam Farll inside it, would be shocking, if not inconceivable.
On Monday morning the _Daily Record_ came nobly to the support of the _Sunday News_. It had evidently spent its Sunday in collecting the opinions of a number of famous men–including three M.P.’s, a banker, a Colonial premier, a K.C., a cricketer, and the President of the Royal Academy–as to whether the National Valhalla was or was not a suitable place for the repose of the remains of Priam Farll; and the unanimous reply was in the affirmative. Other newspapers expressed the same view. But there were opponents of the scheme. Some organs coldly inquired what Priam Farll had _done_ for England, and particularly for the higher life of England. He had not been a moral painter like Hogarth or Sir Noel Paton, nor a worshipper of classic legend and beauty like the unique Leighton. He had openly scorned England. He had never lived in England. He had avoided the Royal Academy, honouring every country save his own. And was he such a great painter, after all? Was he anything but a clever dauber whose work had been forced into general admiration by the efforts of a small clique of eccentric admirers? Far be it from them, the organs, to decry a dead man, but the National Valhalla was the National Valhalla…. And so on.