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.

[...]
begin
[1] [2] [3] [4] [5] [6] [7] [8] [9] [10] [11] [12] [13] [14] [15] [16] [17] [18] [19] [20] [21] [22] [23] [24] [25] [26] [27] [28] [29] [30] [31] [32] [33] [34] [35] [36] [37] [38] [39] [40] [41] [42] [43] [44] [45] [46] [47] [48] [49] [50] [51] [52] [53] [54] [55] [56] [57] [58] [59] [60] [61] [62] [63] [64] [65] [66] [67] [68] [69] [70] [71] [72] [73] [74] [75] [76] [77] [78] [79] [80] [81] [82] [83] [84] [85] [86] [87] [88] [89] [90] [91] [92] [93] [94] [95] [96] [97] [98] [99] [100] [101] [102] [103] [104] [105] [106] [107] [108] [109] [110] [111] [112] [113] [114] [115] [116] [117] [118] [119] [120] [121] [122] [123] [124] [125] [126] [127] [128] [129] [130] [131] [132] [133] [134] [135] [136] [137] [138] [139] [140] [141] [142] [143] [144] [145] [146] [147] [148] [149] [150] [151] [152] [153] [154] [155] [156] [157] [158] [159] [160] [161] [162] [163] [164] [165]
www.rushessay.com