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however absolute, or nearly so, are tempered and limited by some other powers in the State; and according to the extent, the definiteness, and reliability of those limitations upon the theoretically absolute power of the sovereign do such governments approximate that best of all governments, for much the larger part of mankind, the constitutionally limited monarchs, which is so admirably illustrated in the government of Great Britain. In all Mohammedan countries, however, these limitations are exceedingly slight and imperfectly defined.
In the Russian monarchy the authority of the Czar is limited by the numerous and powerful landed aristocracy of the Boyars, by the enlightened public sentiment of Christendom, and, lastly but not leastly, by the adınonitions of a highly advanced state of knowledge. In China, the power of the Emperor is limited by a numerous and highly influential board of learned Mandarins, by immemorial customs approved by experience, and the wise and hallowed doctrines of Confucius, against which no one in China, from the Emperor on bis throne to the pedagogue in his school-room, dare seriously to offend. In Japan, the regal authority is limited also by a numerous and powerful aristocracy, both of wealth and learning, by long established laws, and by immemorial usages, which so completely bind down and hedge in the Supreme Mikado " that he is, in point of fact, almost as completely a mere puppet as the so called " king of England.” But in Turkey, Persia, and Morocco, the most noteworthy Mohammedan nations, (for the Arabians have now generally relapsed into their primitive nomadic state.) the government may be justly styled, as that of Turkey has been by Chataubriand," an absolute despotisin tempered by regicide.” It is true that the Koran is in all these countries binding authority both on prince and people; but unfortunately the prince is the supreme interpreter of the Koran, both for bimself and people, subject only to the hazard of regicide; and, besides, the Koran is at best but very poor authority for the guidance of a prince in affairs of state. It is true, moreover, that in Turkey there is an Ulema, or body comprising the priesthood of the State, and the lawyers, whose office it is to interpret the law, which constitutes a sort of State aristocracy. But this Ulema is an order of privileges or exemptions, rather than of real powers, and constitutes but a feeble breakwater against the great open sea of monarchical power, and under the shelter of which individual enterprise would vainly seek to find a haven of security.
But the most deplorable feature in the political despotism of the Mobammedan countries is their ignorance. Knowledge is everywhere an excellent substitute for virtue; for, in the grand economy of the moral universe, it is sublimely written, that Man's HIGHEST INTEREST is his Duty. Hence, all truly wise princes and rulers are just in their dealings, however little they may be inclined so to be, on moral principle-for they know that, in the long run,“ honesty is the best policy." Of all the checks and limitations on the power of absolute monarchs, so callerl, therefore, knowledge, extensive knowledge, true knowledge, is the most important, extensively efficient, and useful. Herein consists one grand advantage tbat the absolute monarchs of Christendom possess over those of Islam—they have more extensive knowledge—knowledge of the true principles on which governments ought to be administered, of the laws of political economy. They know, or at least are beginning of late to learn, that if they would promote their own interests they must seek to
promote those of their subjects; that if they would fill their own coffers with money, it is not by gouging or swindling their people, por by arbitrary exactions framed with little regard to the rights or interests of those by whom they are to be paid, but by fair, equitable, and fixed revenue laws, as gently levied as possible upon an universally protected and prosperous national industry.
But the sovereigns of Mohammedan countries are lamentably ignorant, especially in matters of political science, for which, indeed, their whole race seem to possess but little talent. They know little or nothing, indeed, except what is derived, or supposed to be derived, from the Koran -a book vastly inferior to the old Hebrew Bible in the wisdom it embodies, yet a book which they presumptuously regard as a finality to the human understanding, both in matters of Church and State. They are profoundly ignorant of Political Economy, are unacquainted with Adam Smith, and would not appreciate or understand him, most probably, even if they were possessed of bis immortal work on the “Nature and Causes of the Wealth of Nations." So profoundly ignorant are they, indeed, of the true methods by which the coffers of princes are to be filled, that, instead of aiming at the total abolition of all arbitrary exactions, or attempts to raise public revenue except by fixed and equitable revenue laws, from an universally secured and unfettered industry, they notoriously encourage and inculcate the principle of oflicial rapine and plunder, which tends most effectually to dry up all the sources of revenue, both public and private.
The government in all Mohammedan countries, in fact, instead of being the protector of the people, is a vast and notorious public robber, of whom the public live in constant terror. From the supreme Sultan or Shah down to his most insignificant pacha, the principle extends of squeezing out of their inferiors, not any definite sum or proportion, but all they can exact, upon any tolerable pretext. The pachas, or governors of provinces, on their return to court, upon the expiration of their offices, are almost invariably called to account uuder serious charges of maladministration, too just most generally from the sheer necessities of their situation, and are enabled to save their heads only by large bribes to their courtly superiors. With the full knowledge that this is to be their fate, no matter how justly they may discharge their duties, and not knowing how soon it may be their fate, the pachas, on their part, make good their time by robbing and plundering the people of their respective provinces to the utmost extent of their power.*
The consequences of this deplorable spirit of public robbery and official rapine is a general and almost total paralysis of industry. No man has any adequate motive, in these Mohammedan countries, for seeking to create wealth, whether in the shape of agricultural or mechanical production, except such wretched pittance as he may hope to conceal from the government robbers. Hence a vast and general torpor stretches from
* As A practical illustration of the manner in which he petty despots, in the shape of governors, in Mobammedan countries, play the game of extortion upon the people, it may be mentioned, in reference to Arabia, which is far less un'ler despotic governinent, or any sort of regular government, than other Mohammedan countries, that when Lord Valentia was at Mocha, not many years ago, the dola, or governor of the town, used to contine the Jews and others known to possess money in a close rooin, and fumigate them with sulphur until they purchased their release at the price he choose to stipulate. See MoCulloghi's Geographical Dictionary, titlo Arabia, caption Sources oj Revenue, and authorities there cited-Valentia, Niebuhr, and Burkhardt.
the heart to the extremities of every Mohammedan nation of the present day, under the influence of which many of the fairest and most fertile portions of the globe, once the grand centers of wealth and population, dow appear as unproductive wastes.
This is the grand evil under which Mohammedan society everywhere groans; and this brings forcibly into view the real nature of the evils of bad government, or of those evils at least which exert an immediate infuence on the social condition, as contradistinguished from those which, by their gradual and permanent effect on the character of a people, exert a more remote influence, and may be regarded as original rather than immediate causes of their social condition.
The real and essential nature of those political evils which exert an immediate influence on the social condition, is thus found to be the uncertuinty which they create--the impression which they beget in the mind of the community, that no dependence can be placed on the action of the government and the stability of its policy, the inevitable effect of which is a wide-spread paralysis of the national industry and enterprise. We are thus enabled to see that it matters comparatively but little what the policy of a government may be, provided only it be stable, regular, and uniform, and that it is the ever changing policy of the political authority of a State, its uncertain and unreliable action, which it defies all human ingenuity to make any adequate provision against, that is the real bane of the national prosperity, in respect to political misrulethat in short a permanent tax of fifty per cent on the total revenue of the nation, levieil annually by the government, is not so injurious as an uncertain tax, ranging from only ten to thirty per cent.
This great truth, that the essential nature of the IMMEDIATE evils of all bad government is UNCERTAINTY, seems to have been very little considered, it it has not been almost totally unknown by statesmen hitherto. Indeed, the writer of this review has not been able to discover (so far at least as is now remembered) that any statesman or political philosopher, from the time of Solon down to the present day, has distinctly recognized or clearly perceived, even in part, this important truth, except, perhaps, the colossal statesman of America-Daniel Webster; and even he seems to have had only a partial appreciation of it, and of its extensive and important applications*-a fact which will a pear the less remarkable, when it is considered that his great intellect, like that of many other illustrious statesmen, in former as well as in later times, was occupied, during his whole life, with the practical details of statesmanship and legal practice, rather than with the fundamental principles of political or social science. But the practical applications of this great truth in political science it is not proposed here to consider. These appertain rather to the third part of the main work, to which the present undertaking is a mere introduction, in which “ The Influence of Political
See Webster's speech at Baltimore, delivered at a dinner on the 18th of May, 1843, as reported in Niles' Register for that year, vol. Ixiv., p. 219. In this speech, this profound statesman used these eminently profound and just words, with many more of a similar import :-“ Depend upon it gentlemen, it is change and apprehension of change that unnervos every working man's arm in this section of country. Changes felt and changes feared are the bane of industry and our enterprise." See Niles' Register, vol. Ixiv., p. 221. In this speech, Webster clearly enough recognized the vast mischiefs of uncertainty as to the policy of the political authority of States. But he does not appear to have carried forward the idea to all of its important applications, nor to have disearned that all, or at least very nearly all, the immediate evils of bad government are resolvable into the uncertainty which they occasion in the minds of men as to what action may be expected of the gocernment.
Causes on the Social Condition, or Man in relation to his Political Institutions," will be particularly considered.
V. The career of the Arabians illustrates strikingly the great sociological law, that the higher the organism of the society, or body politic, the more liable it is to derangement, disease, and death. It may well be considered extraordinary that the Arabians should be found to illustrate, with such remarkable distinctness and perspicuity, so many of the most fundamental and important principles of social science. It might really appear as if they had been placed there, on their great grim deserts, for the express purpose, among others, of serving as a sort of illustrative black board, (such as are used in the primary schools for the instruction of youth,) on which the social philosopher might, by means of the figures sketched thereupon, by the outlines of their own history, be enabled to trace the demonstration of some of the most important theorems in social science.
Not only are the principles which have been already remarked upon, in this part of our review, practically illustrated with greater clearness and force by the history of the Arabians than by that of any other nation, but so also is the one wbich we now come to notice. If, indeed, the observant social philosopher lacked the reasoning power necessary to deduce the proposition in question, either from a priori principles or from the wide-spread analogies of organic nature, he could scarcely fail to discover it, when attentively observing the bistory of the Arabians, where it is so clearly and prominently revealed as to be almost palpable to the outward sense.
In observing the history of the Arabians we see a race of people, numbering some ten or twelve millions, thinly scattered over a sterile area of a million of square miles, subsisting in a state but little elevated above the merely pastoral as to their modes of industry, and but little above the merely patriarchal as to their forms of government, remaining in this state without any noteworthy mutations of fortune, and without any apparent symptoms of deterioration or decay, for a period of more than three thousand years—yet shooting forth a colony of religious propagandists and conquerors, who, in a more fertile region, were quickly developed into a much more highly organized society, abounding in wealth and the arts of civilization, which languished, sickened, and died, in little over five centuries. In short, we see a race of people subsisting with little or no change for three thousand years in the rudely organized society which has prevailed from time immemorial on the sandy wastes of Arabia, who, in the highly organized social state which prevailed under the Caliphs of Bagdad, could not maintain their position as a nation over five hundred.
The illustration afforded by this contrast between the durations of the two different states of society is all the more pointed and perspicnous because the two societies were composed of the same race of people, and were placed under like local circumstances, except that one occupied a more fertile region than the other, thus almost totally excluding any other conclusion, than that the difference in duration was attributable to the difference in the degree of organism. Had the Bagdad society been composed of a different race of people from the Arabians, or of the same race of people issuing out of a different clime, as the frigid zone or northern portion of the temperate zone, into the torrid plains of central Asia, the illustration would bave been far less pointed and unequivocal.
Nor is much importance to be attached to the fact that the Bagdad society was far more exposed to foreign violence, by which it was ostensibly overthrown, than that of Arabia, which has ever been indebted for its immunity from invasion to its vast sterility. For, as Hallam bas remarked most justly, concerning the ruin of Roman literature and civilization, that we must not ascribe it altogether to the barbarian destroyers of the Empire, but rather to the gradual and apparently irretrievable decay which had long overspread all liberal studies; * so also is it equally true that the real vitality of the Empire of the Caliphs had departed, loug before the disastrous morning of the 14th of February, 1258, when Hoolaku, with his barbarous Mongols, entered Bagdad in triumph and devastation.
This great law of social life, thus clearly revealed to us by the history of the Arabians- the higher the organisin of the society or body politic the greater its liability to derangement, disease, and death-appears to be but one manifestation of the like more general law of all organic life, although, like other laws, it has its qualifications and limitations, which, lo superticial observation, might wear the appearance of contradiction. For we find that vegetable life has a tenacity unknown to the animal, and the lower orders of animal life, (or very many of them at least,) a tenacity unknown to the higher-human life, the highest and most refined of all organic life, being liable to a multiplicity of derangements and diseases, from which the lower orders of animals are entirely exempt, and requiring a far greater degree of care and attention to preserve it.
In accordance with this great fundamental law of social life, we may predict for a rude and simple state of society, like that of Arabia, under given circumstances, a very protracted, if not indefinite, duration; for a somewhat more advanced and highly organized state, like that of China, a shorter duration; and for a still more highly organized state, like that which prevailed in Greece and Italy in former times, and in Britain and America at the present time, under like circumstances, a still shorter duration.
A yet deeper observation than any of those already made might appear to be suggested by the history of the Arabians. May it not be considered that the great duration of Arabian society, without any apparent symptoms of decay, is a contradiction of the idea, which seems to be established by the irresistible logic of analogy, that nations, like individuals, must die? To this question it may be replied, that perhaps the Arabians owe their great duration to the fact that they have not had any real organization, as a nation or society. For, in looking at the three grand kingdoms of nature, the mineral, vegetable, and animal, we find that the first, which is inorganic, exhibits no symptoms of decay or change; the gases of the atmosphere, and the waters of the ocean, remaining unalterably the same for untold ages. Now, may it not be that mankind, in the rude state in which the Arabians have existed at home, for time immemorial, resemble rather the inorganic than the organic division of nature-that they belong to the mineral kingdom, so to speak, of the social universe—that they constitute merely the raw material out of wbich real social organism is to be created, and consequently have no real social life to lose ?
• See Hallam's Middle Ages, chap. 1x.