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COMPOSITE  GOVERNMENTS.                         149
faithful or rebellious satrap might be seized and executed
without trial by some commissioner from the great king.
Constant inspection was practiced through commissaries sent
every year over the provinces, with power to remove abuses,
and obligation to report to the king. This natural institution
reminds one of the missi regii of Charlemagne. Besides
these there was associated with each of the governors (Hero-
dot., iii., 128) a royal scribe, who received letters and seems
to have been a sort of spy on his principal. The officers,
also, who were called the eye and the ear of the king seem
to have inspected the conduct of the officials through the
empire, the latter, pursuing more a system of secret espionage
than the other. And the separation of military from civil
power in the original plan of the administration, which was
extensively given up afterwards, was another check on the
satrap to whom the civil relations with the provinces were
intrusted, A system of posts for the use of government
officers must have greatly aided the central administration.
(Esther iii., 13, 15, Herodot., viii., 98.) With all these
checks the governors were often unfaithful or misused their
almost regal power.
The policy of Persia was, like that of other great oriental
despotisms, to leave the conquered nations in the enjoyment
of their own laws, and the local officers in possession of their
former power. The Greek towns in Ionia and the islands
were for the most part undisturbed in their polity, and the
tyrants who were masters of some of them were found a con-
venient medium of communication with the people. When,
however, Mardonius on the first expedition into Europe in 492
came dawn to the coast with his army, he put down the tyrants
of the Greek towns and established democratical constitutions,
the chiefs of the cities having not long before showed them-
selves altogether untrustworthy. (Herodot., v., 37, vi., 43,)
The great object in the Persian empire was to collect from
the provinces as large a tribute as was possible, either in pro-
ducts of the soil, as was generally the case in the inland
territories, or in silver or gold as was the custom in com-