The growth of this temporary council of war, in which the king, acting as general, summons to give their advice the leaders of his forces, into the permanent consultative body in which the king, in his capacity of ruler, presides over the deliberations of the same men on public affairs at large, is exemplified in various parts of the world. The consultative body is everywhere composed of minor chiefs, or heads of clans, or feudal lords, in whom the military and civil rule of local groups is habitually joined with wide possessions; and the examples frequently exhibit this composition on both a small and a large scale—both locally and generally. A rude and early form of the arrangement is shown in Africa. Among the Caffres "every chief chooses from among his most wealthy subjects five or six, who act as counselors to him. . . . The great council of the king is composed of the chiefs of particular kraals." A Bechuana tribe "generally includes a number of towns or villages, each having its distinct head, under whom there are a number of subordinate chiefs," who "all acknowledge the supremacy of the principal one. His power, though very great and in some instances despotic, is, nevertheless, controlled by the minor chiefs, who, in their pichos or pitshos their parliament or public meetings, use the greatest plainness of speech in exposing what they consider culpable or lax in his government." Of the Wanyamwezi. Burton says that the Sultan is "surrounded by a council, varying from two to a score of chiefs and elders. . . . His authority is circumscribed by a rude balance of power; the chiefs around him can probably bring as many warriors into the field as he can." Similarly in Ashantee. "The caboceers and captains. . . claim to be heard on all questions relating to war and foreign politics. Such matters are considered in a general assembly, and the king sometimes finds it prudent to yield to the views and urgent representations of the majority." From the ancient American states, too, instances may be cited. In Mexico "general assemblies were presided over by the king every eighty days. They came to these meetings from all parts of the country"; and then we read further that the highest rank of nobility, the Teuctli, "took precedence of all others in the senate, both in the order of sitting and voting," showing what was the composition of the senate. It was so, too, with the Central Americans of Vera Paz: "Though the supreme rule was exercised by a king, there were inferior lords as his coadjutors, who mostly were titled lords and vassals; they formed the royal council, . . . and joined the king in his palace as often as they were called upon." Turning to Europe, mention may first be made of ancient Poland. Originally formed of independent tribes, "each governed by its own kniaz, or judge, whom age or reputed wisdom had raised to that dignity," and each led in war by a temporary voivod or captain, these tribes had, in the course of that compounding and recompounding which wars produced, differentiated into classes of nobles and serfs, over whom was an elected king. Of the organi-
Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 19.djvu/360
THE POPULAR SCIENCE MONTHLY.