XII.29 On civil laws that can introduce a little liberty into a despotic government

Although the des­po­tic govern­ment in its nature is eve­ryw­here the same, never­the­less cir­cum­stan­ces, a reli­gious opi­nion, a pre­ju­dice, recei­ved exam­ples, a turn of mind, man­ners, or ethos, can make consi­de­ra­ble dif­fe­ren­ces.

It is well for cer­tain notions to be well esta­bli­shed. Thus, in China the prince is regar­ded as the father of the peo­ple, and early in the empire of the Arabs the prince was its prea­cher.1

It is appro­priate that there be some holy book to serve as stan­dard, like the Koran for the Arabs, the books of Zoroaster for the Persians, the Veda for the Indians, and the clas­si­cal books for the Chinese. The reli­gious code sup­ple­ments the civil code, and fixes the arbi­trary.

It is not a bad thing in doubt­ful cases for jud­ges to consult the minis­ters of reli­gion.2 Thus, in Turkey the cadis3 consult the mul­lahs.4 Should the case be deser­ving of death, it may be appro­priate for the par­ti­cu­lar judge, if there is one, to seek the opi­nion of the gover­nor, so the civil and eccle­sias­ti­cal powers will again be tem­pe­red by poli­ti­cal autho­rity.

The caliphs.

History of the Tatars, part 3, p. 277 in the remark.

[Cadi : “the name that was given to the judges of civil causes among the Sarracins and the Turks.” (Trévoux).]

[Mullah : “The term used for doctors of the law of Mohammed, the priests who call the prayer on the roof of the mosques morning, noon, and evening.” (Trévoux).]