413 PARTHIA-CIVIL AND MILITARY ANNALS.
next brother must be chosen. In default of sons, then the eldest surviving brother of the
last monarch was the one designated for the crown; after him, his brother. In default of
sons and brothers, then the choice rested on the uncle of the last ruler. In case the
descent was thus diverted from the direct line, it could not be recovered by
representatives of that line except in default of the younger branch whereon the crown now
rested. Here again we discover an almost identical prototype of the English law of royal
descent and inheritance.
In some instances the Parthian councils felt warranted in deposing their sovereign. Such
proceeding could but be revolutionary in character. Only an imbecile or idiot prince would
permit himself, without an appeal to the sword, to be put aside by the act of the
Megistanes. If James II proves recreant to his trust--is no longer tolerable by the
nation--we will put him aside. We will declare that he has himself abdicated the throne.
We will call over William to be king in his stead. But of a certainty James and his
adherents, not accepting our decision in the matter, will fight for the recovery of his
crown and kingdom.
As to induction into office, we might have expected that the Magi, more particularly the
Magus Megistos, or High Priest, would be called upon, or would assume the right, in virtue
of his religious office and after the manner of his kind, to crown the sovereign and
consecrate him to his royal duties. But this office, on the contrary, was reserved for the
Surena, or Generalissimo of the army. He it was who was summoned on the day of coronation
to put the crown upon his sovereign's head, a fact
which fully establishes the strongly military character of the monarchy.
In common with the other great despotisms of the East, the Parthian government was little
changed from age to age. There was in it much of the same quality which made the laws of
the Medes and Persians the synonym for unchangeableness in both ancient and modern times.
As a rule the king governed according to his own judgment, executing his own decisions as
though they were the decrees of a Parthian Congress. The reader must understand, however,
that in all personal governments there are traditional checks and restraints upon the
absolutism of the sovereign, the nature and force of which it is difficult for citizens of
a modern republic or kingdom to understand. It appears that the nature of man is of itself
a constitution whose provisions are as well understood and as