Superphysics Superphysics
Chapter 22

Things that strike at Liberty in Monarchies

by Montesquieu Icon
4 minutes  • 684 words
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LIBERTY often has been weakened in monar chies by a thing of the least use in the world to the prince. This is the naming of commissioners to try a private person.

The prince himself derives so very littl e advantage from those commissioners, that it is not worth while to change, for their sake, the common course of things. He is morally sure that he ha s more of the spirit of probity and justice than his commissioners, who thi nk themselves sufficiently justified by his nomination and orders, by a vag ue interest of state, and even by their very apprehensions.

Upon the arraigning of a peer, under Henry 8th it was customary to try him by a committee of the house of lords= by which means he put to death as many peers as he pleased.

Chapter 23= Spies in Monarchies

SHOULD I be asked whether there is any necessity for spies in monarchies, my answer would be, that the usual practi ce of good princes is not to employ them. When a man obeys the laws, he has discharged his duty to his prince= he ought at least to have his own house for an asylum, and the rest of his conduct should be exempt from inquiry. The trade of a spy might perhaps be tolerable were it practised by honest m en; but the necessary infamy of the person is sufficient to make us judge o f the infamy of the thing.

A prince should act towards his subjects with candour, frankness, and confidence. He that has so much disquiet, suspicion, and fear, is an actor embarrassed in playing his part. When he finds that the laws are generally observed and respected, he may judge himself safe. The behaviour of the public answers for that of every individual.

Let him not be afraid= he Edition= cur rent; Page= [267] cannot imagine how natural it is for his people to love him. And how should they do otherwise than love him, since he is the source of almost all bounties and favours; punishments being generally charged to the account of the laws? He never shews himself to his people but with a s erene countenance= they have even a share of his glory, and they are protec ted by his power.

A proof of his being beloved is, that his subjects have a confidence in him= what the minister refuses, they imagine the prince woul d have granted. Even under public calamities they do not accuse his person= they are apt to complain of his being misinformed or beset by corrupt men= Did the prince but know, say the people= these words are a kind of invocation, and a proof of the confidence they have in his person.

Chapter 24= Anonymous Letters

THE Tartars are obliged to put their nam es to their arrows, that the arm may be known which shoots them. When Phili p of Macedon was wounded at the siege of a certain town, these words were f ound on the javelin= After has given this mortal wound to Philip.

If they who accuse a person did it merely to serve the public, they would not carry their complaint to the prince, who may be easily prejudiced;

but to the magistrates, who have rules that are formidable only to calumniators. B ut, if they are unwilling to leave the laws open between them and the accus ed, it is a presumption they have reason to be afraid of them; and the leas t punishment they ought to suffer is, not to be credited.

No notice, ther efore, should ever be taken of those letters, except in cases that admit no t of the delays of the ordinary course of justice, and in which the princes welfare is concerned. Then it may be imagined that the accuser h as made an effort, which has untied his tongue. But, in other cases, one ou ght to say, with the emperor Constantius= E2809CWe cannot suspect a pers on who has wanted an accuser, whilst he did not want an enemy

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