For some 200 years, Lloyd's of London had known every day of the Empire's growth—every new wharf, every skirmish, every treaty. One night last week, Lloyd's, like a rich aunt with the children home from school, threw open its doors for a party Disraeli would have loved: for 2,400 guests, 2,400 bottles of champagne, and, to soften the glitter of the great marble halls, £1,400 worth of flowers. The London Evening Standard glowed: "Diamonds, champagne, beautiful women in lovely gowns, men wearing dazzling displays of honors and medals. There is no doubt that last night's party was the most...

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