It must not be imagined by the reader that the scenes of vicious
indulgence, and reckless cruelty and crime, which were exhibited with
such dreadful frequency, and carried to such an enormous excess in the
palaces of the Egyptian kings, prevailed to the same extent throughout
the mass of the community during the period of their reign. The internal
administration of government, and the institutions by which the
industrial pursuits of the mass of the people were regulated, and peace
and order preserved, and justice enforced between man and man, were all
this time in the hands of men well qualified, on the whole, for the
trusts committed to their charge, and in a good degree faithful in the
performance of their duties; and thus the ordinary affairs of
government, and the general routine of domestic and social life, went
on, notwithstanding the profligacy of the kings, in a course of very
tolerable peace, prosperity, and happiness. During every one of the
three hundred years over which the history of the Ptolemies extends, the
whole length and breadth of the land of Egypt exhibited, with
comparatively few interruptions, one wide-spread scene of busy industry.
The inundations came at their appointed season, and then regularly
retired. The boundless fields which the waters had fertilized were then
every where tilled. The lands were plowed; the seed was sown; the canals
and water-courses, which ramified from the river in every direction over
the ground, were opened or closed, as the case required, to regulate the
irrigation. The inhabitants were busy, and, consequently, they were
virtuous. And as the sky of Egypt is seldom or never darkened by clouds
and storms, the scene presented to the eye the same unchanging aspect of
smiling verdure and beauty, day after day, and month after month, until
the ripened grain was gathered into the store-houses, and the land was
cleared for another inundation.

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