Page 0413

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