Idikut





1208



Idikut.--The old system of farming revenues.--Evils of farming the

revenue.--Modern system.--Disinterested collectors.--Independent and

impartial courts.--Waste of the public money.--Shuwakem.--Idikut's

quarrel with Gurkhan's tax-gatherers.--Rebellion.--He sends to

Genghis Khan.--His reception of the embassy.--Idikut's visit to

Genghis Khan.--Gurkhan in a rage.--Jena.--Subsequent history of

Kushluk.--Kushluk's final defeat and flight.--Hotly pursued by

Jena.--Kushluk's death.--Genghis Khan's triumph.





There was another great and powerful khan, named Idikut, whose tribe

had hitherto been under the dominion of Gurkhan, the Prince of

Turkestan, where Kushluk had sought refuge, but who about this time

revolted from Gurkhan and went over to Genghis Khan, under

circumstances which illustrate, in some degree, the peculiar nature of

the political ties by which these different tribes and nations were

bound to each other. It seems that the tribe over which Idikut ruled

was tributary to Turkestan, and that Gurkhan had an officer stationed

in Idikut's country whose business it was to collect and remit the



tribute. The name of this collector was Shuwakem. He was accustomed,

it seems, like almost all tax-gatherers in those days, to exact more

than was his due. The system generally adopted by governments in that

age of the world for collecting their revenues from tributary or

conquered provinces was to farm them, as the phrase was. That is,

they sold the whole revenue of a particular district in the gross to

some rich man, who paid for it a specific sum, considerably less, of

course, than the tax itself would really yield, and then he reimbursed

himself for his outlay and for his trouble by collecting the tax in

detail from the people. Of course, it was for the interest of the

tax-gatherer, in such a case, after having paid the round sum to the

government, to extort as much as possible from the people, since all

that he obtained over and above the sum that he had paid was his

profit on the transaction. Then, if the people complained to the

government of his exactions, they could seldom obtain any redress, for

the government knew that if they rebuked or punished the farmer of the

revenue, or interfered with him in any way, they would not be able to

make so favorable terms with him for the next year.



The plan of farming the revenues thus led to a great deal of extortion

and oppression, which the people were compelled patiently to endure,

as there was generally no remedy. In modern times and among civilized

nations this system has been almost universally abandoned. The taxes

are now always collected for the government directly by officers who

have to pay over not a fixed sum, but simply what they collect. Thus

the tax-gatherers are, in some sense, impartial, since, if they

collect more than the law entitles them to demand, the benefit inures

almost wholly to the government, they themselves gaining little or no

advantage by their extortion. Besides this, there are courts

established which are, in a great measure, independent of the

government, to which the tax-payer can appeal at once in a case where

he thinks he is aggrieved. This, it is true, often puts him to a great

deal of trouble and expense, but, in the end, he is pretty sure to

have justice done him, while under the old system there was ordinarily

no remedy at all. There was nothing to be done but to appeal to the

king or chieftain himself, and these complaints seldom received any

attention. For, besides the natural unwillingness of the sovereign to

trouble himself about such disputes, he had a direct interest in not

requiring the extorted money to be paid back, or, rather, in not

having it proved that it was extorted. Thus the poor tax-payer found

that the officer who collected the money, and the umpire who was to

decide in case of disputes, were both directly interested against him,

and he was continually wronged; whereas, at the present day, by means

of a system which provides disinterested officers to determine and

collect the tax, and independent judges to decide all cases of

dispute, the evils are almost wholly avoided. The only difficulty now

is the extravagance and waste with which the public money is expended,

making it necessary to collect a much larger amount than would

otherwise be required. Perhaps some future generation will discover

some plain and simple remedy for this evil too.



* * * * *



The name of the officer who had the general charge of the collection

of the taxes in Idikut's territory for Gurkhan, King of Turkestan,

was, as has already been said, Shuwakem. He oppressed the people,

exacting more from them than was really due. Whether he had farmed the

revenue, and was thus enriching himself by his extortions, or whether

he was acting directly in Gurkhan's name, and made the people pay more

than he ought from zeal in his master's service, and a desire to

recommend himself to favor by sending home to Turkestan as large a

revenue from the provinces as possible, does not appear. At all

events, the people complained bitterly. They had, however, no access

to Gurkhan, Shuwakem's master, and so they carried their complaints

to Idikut, their own khan.



Idikut remonstrated with Shuwakem, but he, instead of taking the

remonstrance in good part and relaxing the severity of his

proceedings, resented the interference of Idikut, and answered him in

a haughty and threatening manner. This made Idikut very angry. Indeed,

he was angry before, as it might naturally be supposed that he would

have been, at having a person owing allegiance to a foreign prince

exercising authority in a proud and domineering manner within his

dominions, and the reply which Shuwakem made when he remonstrated with

him on account of his extortions exasperated him beyond all bounds. He

immediately caused Shuwakem to be assassinated. He also slew all the

other officers of Gurkhan within his country--those, probably, who

were employed to assist Shuwakem in collecting the taxes.



The murder of these officers was, of course, an act of open rebellion

against Gurkhan, and Idikut, in order to shield himself from the

consequences of it, determined to join himself and his tribe at once

to the empire of Genghis Khan; so he immediately dispatched two

embassadors to the Mongul emperor with his proposals.



The envoys, accompanied by a suitable troop of guards and attendants,

went into the Mongul country and presently came up with Genghis Khan,

while he was on a march toward the country of some tribe or horde that

had revolted from him. They were very kindly received; for, although

Genghis Khan was not prepared at present to make open war upon

Gurkhan, or to invade his dominions in pursuit of Prince Kushluk, he

was intending to do this at some future day, and, in the mean time, he

was very glad to weaken his enemy by drawing off from his empire any

tributary tribes that were at all disposed to revolt from him.



He accordingly received the embassadors of Idikut in a very cordial

and friendly manner. He readily acceded to the proposals which Idikut

made through them, and, in order to give full proof to Idikut of the

readiness and sincerity with which he accepted his proposals, he sent

back two embassadors of his own to accompany Idikut's embassadors on

their return, and to join them in assuring that prince of the

cordiality with which Genghis Khan accepted his offers of friendship,

and to promise his protection.



Idikut was very much pleased, when his messengers returned, to learn

that his mission had been so successful. He immediately determined to

go himself and visit Genghis Khan in his camp, in order to confirm the

new alliance by making a personal tender to the emperor of his homage

and his services. He accordingly prepared some splendid presents, and,

placing himself at the head of his troop of guards, he proceeded to

the camp of Genghis Khan. The emperor received him in a very kind and

friendly manner. He accepted his presents, and, in the end, was so

much pleased with Idikut himself that he gave him one of his daughters

in marriage.



As for Gurkhan, when he first heard of the murder of Shuwakem and the

other officers, he was in a terrible rage. He declared that he would

revenge his servant by laying waste Idikut's territories with fire and

sword. But when he heard that Idikut had placed himself under the

protection of Genghis Khan, and especially when he learned that he had

married the emperor's daughter, he thought it more prudent to postpone

his vengeance, not being quite willing to draw upon himself the

hostility of so great a power.



Prince Kushluk remained for many years in Turkestan and in the

countries adjoining it. He married a daughter of Gurkhan, his

protector. Partly in consequence of this connection and of the high

rank which he had held in his own native land, and partly, perhaps, in

consequence of his personal courage and other military qualities, he

rapidly acquired great influence among the khans of Western Asia, and

at last he organized a sort of rebellion against Gurkhan, made war

against him, and deprived him of more than half his dominions. He then

collected a large army, and prepared to make war upon Genghis Khan.

Genghis Khan sent one of his best generals, at the head of a small but

very compact and well-disciplined force, against him. The name of this

general was Jena. Kushluk was not at all intimidated by the danger

which now threatened him. His own army was much larger than that of

Jena, and he accordingly advanced to meet his enemy without fear. He

was, however, beaten in the battle, and, when he saw that the day was

lost, he fled, followed by a small party of horsemen, who succeeded in

saving themselves with him.



Jena set out immediately in pursuit of the fugitive, accompanied by a

small body of men mounted on the fleetest horses. The party who were

with Kushluk, being exhausted by the fatigue of the battle and

bewildered by the excitement and terror of their flight, could not

keep together, but were overtaken one by one and slain by their

pursuers until only three were left. These three kept close to

Kushluk, and with him went on until Jena's party lost the track of

them.



At length, coming to a place where two roads met, Jena asked a peasant

if he had seen any strange horsemen pass that way. The peasant said

that four horsemen had passed a short time before, and he told Jena

which road they had taken.



Jena and his party rode on in the direction which the peasant had

indicated, and, pushing forward with redoubled speed, they soon

overtook the unhappy fugitives. They fell upon Kushluk without mercy,

and killed him on the spot. They then cut off his head, and turned

back to carry it to Genghis Khan.



Genghis Khan rewarded Jena in the most magnificent manner for his

successful performance of this exploit, and then, putting Kushluk's

head upon a pole, he displayed it in all the camps and villages

through which he passed, where it served at once as a token and a

trophy of his victory against an enemy, and, at the same time, as a

warning to all other persons of the terrible danger which they would

incur in attempting to resist his power.





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