Bernier, François, Travels in the Mogul Empire A.D. 1656-1668

(Westminster, Eng. :  Constable,  1891.)



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236                    LETTER TO COLBERT

be waylaid and murdered, as frequently happens, or
sooner or later fall into the Governor's hands, and be
at his mercy. Should he chance to reach the royal
residence, he would find the friends of his oppressor
busy in distorting the truth, and misrepresenting the
whole affair to the King. In short, the Governor is
absolute lord, in the strictest sense of the word. He
is in his own person the intendant of justice, the parlia¬
ment, the presidial court, and the assessor and receiver
of the King's taxes. A Persian, in speaking of these
greedy Governors, Timariots, and Farmers of Revenue,
aptly describes them as men who extract oil out of sand.
No income appears adequate to maintain them, with
their crowds of harpies, women, children, and slaves.

If it be remarked that the lands which our Kings hold
as domains are as well cultivated, and as thickly peopled
as other lands, my answer is that there can be no analogy
between a kingdom whose monarch is proprietor of a few
domains, and a kingdom where the monarch possesses, in
his own right, every acre of the soil. In France the laws
are so reasonable, that the King is the first to obey them:
his domains are held without the violation of any right;
his farmers or stewards may be sued at law, and the
aggrieved artisan or peasant is sure to find redress against
injustice and oppression. ('But in eastern countries, the
weak and the injured are without any refuge whatever;)
and the only law that decides all controversies is the cane
and the caprice of a governor.

There certainly however, some may say, are some ad¬
vantages peculiar to despotic governments: they have
fewer lawyers, and fewer law-suits, and those few are
more speedily decided. We cannot, indeed, too greatly
admire the old Persian proverb, Na-hac Kouia Better-Ez
hac Deraz:^ 'Speedy injustice is preferable to tardy
justice.'      Protracted law-suits are, I admit, insupportable

^ Or, as more correctly transliterated, Nd-haqqi kutah bihtar az
haqqi dirdz.
  Page 236