Imágenes de páginas

ed upon great objects alone, as war, the revenue, justice, and commerce; but matters of less importance, as the security and beauty of towns and cities, the convenient habitation of the inhabitants, the repairs of high roads, bridges, causeways, the keeping of woods and forests from being laid waste and destroyed, and, above all, the improvement of agriculture, and the encouraging and promoting of all sorts of trades, even to the lowest and meanest of handicraft employments; every thing, in short, came within the sphere of their policy, and was thought to deserve their care and inspection. And indeed, whatever belongs to the subjects, as well as the subjects themselves, is a part of the trust committed to the head of the commonwealth, and is entitled to his care, concern, and activity. His love for the common weal is universal. a It extends itself to all matters, and takes in every thing: it is the support of private persons, as well as of the public. Every province, every city, every family, has a place in his heart and affections. Every thing in the kingdom has a relation to, and concerns him; every thing challenges his attention and regard.

I have already said, that agriculture was one of the main things, on which the Persians bestowed their care and attention. Indeed one of the prince's first cares was, to make husbandry flourish; and those satrapæ, whose provinces were the best cultivated, had the most of his favour. And as there were offices erected for the regulation of the military part of the government, so were there likewise for the inspecting their rural labours and economy; for these two employments had a near relation, the business of the one being to guard the country, and the other to cultivate it. The prince protected both almost with the same degree of affection; because both concurred, and were equally necessary for the public good: for if the lands cannot be cultivated without the aid and protection of armies for their defence and security, so neither can the soldiers on the other hand be fed and maintained without the labour of the husbandmen, who cultivate the ground. It was with good reason, therefore, that the prince, since it was impossible for himself to see into every thing caused an exact account to be given him, how every province and district was cultivated; that he might know whether each country brought forth abundantly such fruits, as it was capable of producing; that he descended so far into those particulars, as Xenophon remarks of Cyrus the younger, as to inform himself, whether the private gardens of his subjects were well kept, and yield

a Is, cui curæ sunt universa, nullum non reip. partem tanquam sui nutrit Senec. lib. de Clem. c. xiii.

b Xenoph. Econ. p. 827–830.


ed plenty of fruit; that he rewarded the superintendants and overseers, whose provinces or districts were the best cultivated, and punished the laziness and negligence of those idle persons, who did not till and improve their grounds. Such a care as this is by no means unworthy of a king, as it naturally tends to propagate riches and plenty throughout his kingdom, and to beget a spirit of industry amongst his subjects, which is the surest means of preventing that increase of drones and idle fellows, that are such a burden upon the public, and a dishonour to the state.

a Xenophon, in the next passage to this I have now cited, puts into the mouth of Socrates, who is introduced as speaker, a very noble encomium upon agriculture, which he represents as the employment of all others the most worthy of men's application, the most ancient, and the most suitable to their nature; as the common nurse of persons of all ages and conditions of life; as the source of health, strength, plenty, riches, and a thousand sober delights and honest pleasures; as the mistress and school of sobriety, temperance, justice, religion; and, in a word, of all kinds of virtues both civil and military. After which he relates the fine saying of Lysander the Lacedæmonian, who, as he was walking at Sardis with the younger Cyrus, hearing from that prince's own mouth, that he himself had planted several of the trees he was looking at, exclaimed: That the world had reason to extol the happiness of Cyrus, whose virtue was as eminent as his fortune; and who, in the midst of the greatest affluence, splendour, and magnificence, had yet preserved a taste so pure and so conformable to right reason. ¿ Cum Cyrus respondisset, Ego ista sum dimensus, mei sunt ordines, mea descriptio, multæ etiam istarum arborum mea manu suni sata: tum Lysandrum, intuentem ejus purpuram, et nitorem corporis, ornatumque Persicum multo auro multisque gemmis, dixisse: Recte vere te, Cyre, beautum ferunt, quoniam virtuti tuæ fortuna conjuncta est. How much is it to be wished, that our young nobility, 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 ages 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.

a Xenoph. Econ. p. 830-833.

b Cic. de. Senect. n. 59.

e In the original Greek there is still a greater energy. Δικαίως μοι δοκεῖς, ὦ Κῦρε, εὐδαίμων εἶναι· ἀγαθὸς γὰρ ὢν ἀνὴρ εὐδαιμονεῖς. Thou art worthy, Cyrus, of that happiness thou art possessed of; because with all thy affluence and prosperity thou art also virtuous.


• 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.


These couriers were called in the Persian language, 'Ayago. The superintendency of the posts became a considerable employment. Darius, the last king of the ancient Persians, had it before he came to the crown. Xenophon takes notice, that this establishment subsisted in his time; which perfectly agrees with what is related 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 post and couriers, first invented in the east by Cyrus, and continued for so many ages afterwards by his successors, especially considering of what usefulness it was to the go

a Xen. Cyrop. 1. viii. p. 232.

Her. 1. viii. c. 98.

e "Aylapo is derived from a word which in that language signifies a service rendered by compulsion. It is from thence the Greeks borrowed their verb ayfopeven compellere, cogere: and the Latins, angariare. According to Suidas, they were likewise called astendæ.

d Plut. 1 i. de fortun. Alex. p. 326. et in vit. Alex. p. 674. ubi pro 'Acyáv Ons, legendum 'Asávons.

vernment, 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 execution, 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 dispatch 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 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 advantage 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 parts of the kingdom, did, for their sakes and conveniency establish messengers, whose business was, not only to bring cloths, 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 dispatch 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

s and the public. She has moreover maintained and

ed 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 messengers, 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 privileges, 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 Lewis XV. now on the throne, by his decree of the council of state, of the 14th of April 1719, and by his letters patent, bearing the same date, registered in parliament, and in the chamber of accounts, has ordained, that in all the colleges of the said university the students shall be taught gratis; and has to that end, for the time to come, appropriated to the university an eight-and-twentieth part of the revenue arising from the general lease or farm of the posts and messengers of France; which eight-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 Lewis XV. as a kind of new founder, whose bounty has at length delivered her from the unhappy and shameful necessity of receiving wages for her labours; which in some measure dishonoured the dignity of her profession, as it was contrary to that noble, disinterested 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.

SECT. V.-Administration of the Revenues.

The prince is the sword and buckler of the state; by him is 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 procure 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 there any

a About 85021, sterling.

¿ Quintil. I. xii. c. 7.

« AnteriorContinuar »