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VERO TE, CYRE, BEATUM FERUNT, QUONIAM VIRTUTI TUÆ FORTUNA
How much it is to be wished, that our young nohility, who in the time of peace do not know how to employ themselves, had the like taste for planting and agriculture, which surely, after such an example as that of Cyrus, should be thought no dishonour to their quality; especially if they would consider, that for several
lages it was the constant employment of the bravest and most warlike people in the world! The reader may easily perceive, that I mean the ancient Romans.
The Invention of Posts and Couriers. I promised to give some account in this place of the invention of posts and couriers. This invention is ascribed to Cyrus;* nor, indeed, can I find any mention of such an establishment before his time. As the Persian empire, after his last conquest, was of a vast extent, and Cyrus required that all his governors of provinces, and his chief commanders of his troops, should write to him, and give an exact account of every thing that passed in their several districts and armies; in order to render that correspondence the more sure and expeditious, and to enable himself to receive speedy intelligence of all occurrences and affairs, and to send his orders thereupon with expedition, he caused post-houses to be built, and messengers to be appointed, in every province. Having computed how far a good horse with a brisk rider, could go in a day without being spoiled, he had stables built in proportion, at equal distances from each other, and had them furnished with horses, and grooms to take care of them. At each of these places he likewise appointed a post-master, to receive the packets from the couriers as they arrived, and give them to others; and to take the horses that had performed their stage, and to find fresh ones. Thus the post went continually night and day, with extraordinary speed: nor did either rain or snow, heat or cold, or any inclemency of the season, interrupt its progress. Herodotus speaks of the same sort of couriers in the reign of Xerxes.t
These couriers were called in the Persian language, Aggegoo. The superintendency of the posts became a considerable employment. Darius,f the last of the Persian kings, had it before he came to the crown. Xenophon takes notice, that this establishment subsisted still in his time; wbich perfectly agrees with what is related ευδαίμων είναι αγαθός γάς ών άγης ευδαιμονείς, Thou art worthy, Cyrus, of that happiness thou art possessed of; because with all thy affluence and prosperity, thou * Xen. Cyrop. I. viii. p. 232. | Her. I. viii. c. 98.
Angague is derived from a word which, in that language, signifies a service rendered by compulsion. It is from thence the Greeks borrowed their verb ångagerely, compellere, cogere: and the Latins, angariare. According to Suidus they were likewise called astendæ .
Plut. I. i. de fortun. Alex. p. 326. et in vit. Alex. p. 674. ubi. pro. 'Aogárons, legendum 'Aotárdns.
art also virtuous.
in the Book of Esther, concerning the edict published by Ahasuerus in favour of the Jews; which edict was carried through that vast empire with a rapidity that would have been impossible, without these posts erected by Cyrus.
We are justly surprised to find, that this establishment of posts and couriers, first invented in the east by Cyrus, and continued so many ages afterwards by his successors, especially considering of what usefulness it was to the government, should never have been imitated in the west, particularly by people so expert in politics as the Greeks and the Romans.
It is more astonishing, that where this invention was put in exe cution, it was not farther improved, and that the use of it was confined only to affairs of state, without considering the many advantages the public might have reaped from it, by facilitating a mutual correspondence, as well as the business of merchants and tradesmen of all kinds; by forwarding the affairs of private persons; the despatch of journeys which required haste; the easy communication between families, cities, and provinces; and by the safety and conveniency of remitting money from one country to another. It is well known what difficulty people at a distance had then, and for many ages afterwards, to communicate any news, or to treat of any affairs together; being obliged either to send a servant on purpose, which could not be done without great charge and loss of time; or to wait for the departure of some other person, that was going into the province or country, whither they had letters to send; which method was liable to numberless disappointments, accidents, and delays. At present we enjoy this general conveniency at a small
expense; but we do not thoroughly consider the advantages of it: the want whereof would make us fully sensible of our happiness in this respect. France is indebted for it to the university of Paris, which I cannot forbear observing here: I hope the reader will excuse the digression. The university of Paris, being formerly the only one in the kingdom, and having great numbers of scholars resorting to her from all provinces, and even from the neighbouring kingdoms, did, for their sakes and conveniency, establish messengers, whose business was, not only to bring clothes, silver, and gold for the students, but likewise to carry bags of law proceedings, informations, and inquests, "to conduct all sorts of persons, indifferently, to or from Paris, finding them both horses and diet; as also to carry letters, parcels, and packets for the
public, as well as the university. In the university registers of the Four Nations, as they are called, of the faculty of arts, these messengers are often styled Nuntii volantes, to signify the great speed and despatch they were obliged to make.
The state, then, is indebted to the university of Paris for the invention and establishment of these messengers and letter carriers. And it was at her own charge and expense that she erected these offices; to the satisfaction both of our kings and the public. She
has moreover maintained and supported them since the year 1576, against all the various attempts of the farmers, which has cost her immense sums. For there never were any ordinary royal messen. gers, till Henry III. first established them in the year 1576, by his edict of November, appointing them in the same cities as the university had theirs in, and granting them the same rights and privi leges as the kings, his predecessors, had granted the messengers of the university
The university never had any other fund or support than the profits arising from the post-office. And it is upon the foundation of the same revenue, that king Louis XV., now on the throne, by his decree of the council of state, on the 14th of April 1719, and by his letters patent, bearing the same date, registered in parliament, and in the chamber of accompts, has ordained, that in all the colleges of the said university the students shall be taught gratis : arid has, to that end, for the time to come, appropriated to the university an eighth-and-twentieth part of the revenue arising from the general lease or farm of the posts and messengers of France; which eighth-and-twentieth part amounted that year to the sum of 184,000 livres or thereabouts.*
It is not therefore without reason, that the university, to whom this regulation has restored a part of her ancient lustre, reckons Louis XV. as a kind of new founder, whose bounty has at length delivered her from the unhappy and shamefi, necessity of receiving wages for her labours; which in some me'usure dishonoured the dignity of her profession, as it was contrary to that noble, disinte rested spirit which becomes it. And, indeed, the labour of masters and professors, who instruct others, ought not to be given for nothing; but neither ought it to be sold. Nec venire hoc beneficium oportet, nec perire.
Administration of the revenues.
The prince is the sword and buckler of the state; by him are the peace and tranquillity thereof secured. But to enable him to defend it, he has occasion for arms, soldiers, arsenals, fortified towns, and ships; and all these things require great expenses. It is moreover just and reasonable, that the king have wherewithal to support the dignity of the crown, and the majesty of the empire; as also to enable him to insure reverence and respect to his person and authority. These are the two principal reasons that have given occasion for the exacting of tribute and imposition of taxes. As the public advantage, and the necessity of defraying the expenses of the state, have been the first causes of these burdens, so ought they likewise to be the constant standard of their use. Nor is
* About 8,500k sterling
Quintil. 1. xii. c. 7.
there any thing in the world more just and reasonable than sucti impositions; since every private person ought to think himself very happy, that he can purchase his peace and security at the expense of so slender a contribution.
The revenues of the Persian kings consisted partly in the levying of taxes imposed upon the people,* and partly in their being furnished with several products of the earth in kind; as corn, and other provisions, forage, horses, camels, or whatever rarities each particuIar province afforded. Strabo relates, that the satrap of Armenia sent regularly every year to the king of Persia, his master, 20,000 young colts.f By this we may form a judgment of the other levies in the several provinces. The tributes, however, were only exacted from the conquered nations: for the natural subjects, that is, the Persians, were exempt from all impositions. Nor was the custom of imposing taxes, and of determining the sums each province was yearly to pay, introduced till the reign of Darius; at which time, the pecuniary impositions, as near as we can judge from the computation made by Herodotus which is attended with great difficulties, amounted to near 44,000,000 French money. I
The place wherein was kept the public treasure, was called in the Persian language Gaza. There were treasures of this kind at Susa, at Persepolis, at Pasargada, at Damascus, and other cities. The gold and silver wre there kept in ingots, and coined into money, according as the 'ng had occasion. The money chiefly used by the Persians, was i gold, and called Darick, from the name of Darius,! who first caused them to be coined, with his image on one side, and an archer on the reverse. The Darick is sometimes also called Stater aureus, because the weight of it, like that of the Attic Stater, was two drachms of gold, which were equivalent to twenty drachms of silver, and consequently were worth ten livres of French money.
Besides these tributes which were paid in money,PT there was another contribution made in kind, by furnishing victuals and provisions for the king's table and household, grain, forage, and other necessaries for the subsistence of his armies, and horses for the remounting of his cavalry. This contribution was imposed upon the six-score satrapies, or provinces, each of them furnishing such a part as they were severally taxed at. Herodotus observes, that the province of Babylon, the largest and wealthiest of them all, did alone furnish the whole contribution for the space of four months, and consequently bore a third part of the burden of the whole imposition, whilst all the rest of Asia together did but contribute the other two-thirds. By what has been already said on this subject, we see the kings of Persia did not exact all their taxes and impositions in money, but were content to levy a part of them in money, and to take the rest in such products and commodities as the several provinces afforded; which is a proof of the great wisdom, moderation, and humanity of the Persian government. Without doubt they had observed how difficult it often is for the people, especially in countries at a distance from commerce, to convert their goods into money, without suffering great losses; whereas nothing can tend so much to render the taxes easy, and to shelter the people from vexation and trouble as well as expense, as the taking in payment from each country such fruits and commodities as that country produces; by which means the contribution becomes easy, natural, and equitable.
Lib. xi. p. 530. About 2,000,000 sterling Darius the Mede, otherwiso called Cyaxares, iš supposed to have been the first who caused this money to be coined
1 Herod. l. iii. c 91-97; and l. i. c. 192.
* Herod. l. iii. c. 89-97.
Q. Cart. I. iii. c. 12.
There* were likewise certain districts assigned and set apart for the maintaining of the queen’s toilet and wardrobe; one for her girdle, another for ber veil, and so on for the rest of her vestments; and these districts, which were of a great extent, since one of them contained as much ground as a man could walk over in a day: these districts, I say, took their names from their particular use, or part of the garments to which they were appropriated; and were accordingly called, one the queen's girdle, apother the queen's veil, and so on. In Plato's time, the same custom continued among the Persians.
The manner in which the king gave pensions in those days to such persons as he had a mind to gratify, was exactly like what I have observed concerning the queen.t We read, that the king of Persia assigned the revenues of four cities to Themistocles ; one of which was to supply him with wine, another with bread, the third with meats for his table, and the fourth with his clothes and furniture. Before that time, Cyrus had acted in the same manner towards Pytharchus of Cyzicus, for whom he had a particular consideration, and to whom he gave the revenue of seven cities. In following times, we find many instances of a like nature.
Of their war.
The people of Asia in general were naturally of a warlike dispo sition, and did not want courage; but in time they suffered themselves to be enervated by luxury and pleasure. I must however except the Persians, who even before Cyrus, and still more during his reign, had the reputation of being a people of a very military genius. The situation of their country, which is rugged and mountainous, might be one reason of their hard and frugal manner of living; which is a point of no little importance for the forming of good soldiers. But the good education which the Persians gave
* Plut. in Alcib. i.
7 Plut. id Themis. p. 127.
Athen. I. i. p. 30.