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for the intervals of rest and repose in a life of activity. They are 

always found wholly insufficient to satisfy one who makes pleasure the 

whole end and aim of his being. 


In the same manner, if, either from the influence of the social 

institutions of a country, or from the operation of natural causes which 

human power is unable to control, there is a class of men too low, and 

degraded, and miserable to be reached by the ordinary inducements to 

daily toil, so certain are they to grow corrupt and depraved, that 

degradation has become in all languages a term almost synonymous with 

vice. There are many exceptions, it is true, to these general laws. Many 

active men are very wicked; and there have been frequent instances of 

the most exalted virtue among nobles and kings. Still, as a general law, 

it is unquestionably true that vice is the incident of idleness; and the 

sphere of vice, therefore, is at the top and at the bottom of society-- 

those being the regions in which idleness reigns. The great remedy, too, 

for vice is employment. To make a community virtuous, it is essential 

that all ranks and gradations of it, from the highest to the lowest, 

should have something to do. 


In accordance with these principles, we observe that, while the most 

extreme and abominable wickedness seemed to hold continual and absolute 

sway in the palaces of the Ptolemies, and among the nobles of their 

courts, the working ministers of state, and the men on whom the actual 

governmental functions devolved, discharged their duties with wisdom and 

fidelity, and throughout all the ordinary ranks and gradations of 

society there prevailed generally a very considerable degree of 

industry, prosperity and happiness. This prosperity prevailed not only 

in the rural districts of the Delta and along the valley of the Nile, 

but also among the merchants, and navigators, and artisans of 



Alexandria became, in fact, very soon after it was founded, a very great 

and busy city. Many things conspired to make it at once a great 

commercial emporium. In the first place, it was the depot of export for 

all the surplus grain and other agricultural produce which was raised in 

such abundance along the Egyptian valley. This produce was brought down 

in boats to the upper point of the Delta, where the branches of the 

river divided, and thence down the Canopic branch to the city. The city 

was not, in fact, situated directly upon this branch, but upon a narrow 

tongue of land, at a little distance from it, near the sea. It was not 

easy to enter the channel directly, on account of the bars and 

sand-banks at its mouth, produced by the eternal conflict between the 

waters of the river and the surges of the sea. The water was deep, 

however, as Alexander's engineers had discovered, at the place where the 

city was built, and, by establishing the port there, and then cutting a 

canal across to the Nile, they were enabled to bring the river and the 

sea at once into easy communication. 


The produce of the valley was thus brought down the river and through 

the canal to the city. Here immense warehouses and granaries were 

erected for its reception, that it might be safely preserved until the 

ships that came into the port were ready to take it away. These ships 

came from Syria, from all the coasts of Asia Minor, from Greece, and 

from Rome. They brought the agricultural productions of their own 

countries, as well as articles of manufacture of various kinds; these 

they sold to the merchants of Alexandria, and purchased the productions 

of Egypt in return. 


The port of Alexandria presented thus a constant picture of life and 

animation. Merchant ships were continually coming and going, or lying at 

anchor in the roadstead. Seamen were hoisting sails, or raising anchors, 

or rowing their capacious galleys through the water, singing, as they 

pulled, to the motion of the oars. Within the city there was the same 

ceaseless activity. Here groups of men were unloading the canal boats 

which had arrived from the river. There porters were transporting bales 

of merchandise or sacks of grain from a warehouse to a pier, or from one 

landing to another The occasional parading of the king's guards, or the 

arrival and departure of ships of war to land or to take away bodies of 

armed men, were occurrences that sometimes intervened to interrupt, or 

as perhaps the people then would have said, to adorn this scene of 

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