Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 18.djvu/163

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taxes, forced loans, groundless confiscations, arbitrary fines, progressive debasements of coinage, and a universal corruption of justice consequent on the sale of offices: the results being that many people died by famine, some committed suicide, while others, deserting their homes, led a wandering life. And then, afterward, when the supreme ruler, becoming absolute, controlled social life in all its details, through an administrative system vast in extent and ramifications, with the general result that in less than two centuries the indirect taxation alone "crossed the enormous interval between eleven millions and three hundred and eleven millions," there came the national impoverishment and misery which resulted in the great Revoultion.

Even the present time supplies kindred evidence, in sundry places. A voyage up the Nile shows every observer that the people are better off where they are remote from the center of government—where administrative agencies can not so easily reach them. Nor is it only under the barbaric Turk that this happens. Notwithstanding the boasted beneficence of our rule in India, the extra burdens and the complication of restraints it involves have the effect that the people find some of the adjacent countries preferable; the ryots in sundry places are leaving their homes and settling in the territory of the Nizam and in Gwalior.

Not only do those who are controlled suffer, from political organization, evils which greatly deduct from, and sometimes exceed, the benefits. Numerous and rigid governmental restraints shackle those who impose them as well as those on whom they are imposed. The successive grades of ruling agents, severally coercing grades below, are themselves coerced by grades above; and even the very highest ruling agent is enslaved by the system created for the preservation of his supremacy. In ancient Egypt the daily life of the king was minutely regulated alike as to its hours, its occupations, its ceremonies; so that, nominally all-powerful, he was really less free than a subject. It has been, and is, the same with other despotic monarchs. Till lately, in Japan, where the form of organization had become fixed, and where, from the highest to the lowest, the actions of life were prescribed in detail, the exercise of authority was so burdensome that voluntary resignation of it was frequent. Adams writes, "The custom of abdication is common among all classes, from the Emperor down to his meanest subject." European states have examplified this reacting tyranny. "In the Byzantine palace," says Gibbon, "the Emperor was the first slave of the ceremonies he imposed." Concerning the tedious court life of Louis le Grand, Madame de Maintenon remarks: "Save those only who fill the highest stations, I know of none more unfortunate than those who envy them. If you could only form an idea of what it is!"

So that, while the satisfaction of men's personal wants is furthered both by the maintenance of order and by the formation of aggregates