Chapters 1-9

Governance Laws should be Relative to the Type of Government

September 9, 2015

The laws of governance should be relative to the principle of each government, just as the laws of education are.

The relation of laws to this principle strengthens the several springs of government. This principle derives from thence, in its turn, a new degree of vigour.

And thus it is, in mechanics, that action is al ways followed by re-action.

We examine this relation in each government, beginning with the republican state, whose principle is virtue.

Chapter 2= What is meant by Virtue in a Political State

VIRTUE in a republic is a most simple thing.

It is a love of the republic; it is a sensation, and not a consequence of acquired knowledge

a sensation that may be felt by the meanest as well as by the highest person in the state.

When the common people adopt good maxims, they adhere to them steadier than those we call gentlemen. It is very rare that corruption commences with the former= nay, they frequently deriv e from their imperfect light a stronger attachment to the established laws and customs.

The love of our country is conducive to a purity of morals which then is conducive to the former.

The less we are able to satisfy our private passions, the more we abandon ourselve s to those of a general nature. How comes it that monks are so fond of thei r order? It is owing to the very cause that renders the order insupportable.

Their rule debars them of all those things by which the ordinary passions are fed; there remains, therefore, only this passion for the very rule tha t torments them= the more austere it is, that is, the more it curbs their i nclinations, the more force it gives to the only passion left them.

Chapter 3= What is meant by a Love of the R epublic, in a Democracy.

A love of the republic, in a democracy, i s a love of the democracy; as the latter is that of equality.

A love of the democracy is, likewise, tha t of frugality. Since every individual ought here to enjoy the same happine ss and the same advantages, they should, consequently, taste the same plea sures and form the same hopes; which cannot be expected but from a general frugality.

The love of equality, in a democracy, lim its ambition to the sole desire, to the sole happiness, of doing greater se rvices to our country than the rest of our fellow-citizens. They cannot all render her equal services, but they all ought to serve her with equal alacrity. At our coming into the world, we contract an immense debt to our coun try, which we can never discharge.

Hence distinctions here arise from the pr inciple of equality, even when it seems to be removed by signal services or superior abilities.

The love of frugality limits the desire of having, to the study of procuring, necessarie s to our family, and superfluities to our country. Riches give a power whic h a citizen cannot use for himself, for then he would be no longer equal. T hey likewise procure pleasures which he ought not to enjoy, because these w ould be also repugnant to the equality.

Thus well-regulated democracies, by estab lishing domestic frugality, made way, at the same time, for public expences ; as was the case at Rome and Athens, when magnificence and profusion arose from the very fund of frugality. And, as religion commands us to have pure and unspotted hands, when we make our offerings to the gods, the laws requ ired a frugality of life, to enable them to be liberal to our country.

The good sense and happiness of individua ls depend greatly on the mediocrity of their abilities and fortunes. Theref ore, as a republic, where the laws have placed many in a middling station, is composed of wise men, it will be wisely governed; as it is composed of h appy men, it will be extremely happy.

Chapter 4= How the Love of Equality and Frugality is inspired

THE love of equality and of a frugal economy is greatly excited by equality and frugality themselves, in socie ties, where both these virtues are established by law.

In monarchies and despotic governments, n o body aims at equality; this does not so much as enter their thoughts; the y all aspire to superiority. People of the very lowest condition desire to emerge from their obscurity, only to lord it over their fellow-subjects.

It is the same with respect to frugality. To love it, we must practise and enjoy it. It is not those who are enervat ed with pleasure that are fond of a frugal life= were this natural and comm on, Alcibiades would never have been the admiration of the universe. Neithe r is it those who envy or admire the luxury of the great= people, that have present to their view none but rich men, or men miserable like themselves, detest their wretched condition, without loving or knowing the real term o r point of misery.

A true maxim it is, therefore, that, in o rder to love equality and frugality in a republic, these virtues must have been previously established by law.

Chapter 5= How the Laws establish Equality in a Democracy.

SOME ancient legislators, as Lycurgus and Romulus, made an equal division of lands. A settlement of this kind can ne ver take place but upon the foundation of a new republic, or when the old o ne is so corrupt, and the minds of the people are so disposed, Edition= current; Page= [55] that the p oor think themselves obliged to demand, and the rich obliged to consent to, a remedy of this nature.

If the legislator, in making a division o f this kind, does not enact laws, at the same time, to support it, he forms only a temporary constitution; inequality will break in where the laws hav e not precluded it, and the republic will be utterly undone.

Hence, for the preservation of this equal ity, it is absolutely necessary there should be some regulation in respect to womens dowries, donations, successions, testamentary settlements, and al l other forms of contracting. For, were it once allowed to dispose of our p roperty to whom and how we pleased, the will of each individual would distu rb the order of the fundamental law.

Solon, by permitting the Athenians, upon failure of issue*, to leave their estates to whom they pleased, acted contrary to the ancient law s, by which the estates were ordered to continue in the family of the testa torE280A0, and even contrary to his own laws; for, by abolishing debts, he had aimed at equality.

The law, which prohibited peopleE28099 s having two inheritances C2A7, was extremely well adapted for a democracy= it derived its orig in from the equal distribution of lands and portions made to each citizen. The law would not permit a single man to possess more than a single portion .

From the same source arose those laws by which the next relation was ordered to marry the heiress. This law was give n to the Jews after the like distribution. PlatoC2B6, who grounds his laws on this division, Edition= current; Page= [56] m ade the same regulation which had been received as a law by the Athenians.< /p>

At Athens, there was a law, whose spirit, in my opinion, has not been hitherto rightly understood. It was lawful to marry a sister only by the fatherE28099s side, but it was not permitted to espouse a sister by the same venter*. This custom was originally owing to republics, whose spi rit would not permit that two portions of land, and consequently two inheri tances, should devolve on the same person. A man, who married his sister on ly by the fatherE28099s side, could inherit but one estate, namely, that of his father; but, by espousing his sister by the same venter, it might h appen, that his sisterE28099s father, having no male issue, might leave her his estate, and, consequently, the brother, who married her, might be p ossessed of two.

Little will it avail to object what Philo saysE280A1, that, although the Athenians were allowed to marry a sister by the father’s side, and not by the mother, yet the contrary practice preva iled among the LacedC3A6monians, who were permitted to espouse a sister b y the motherE28099s side, and not by the father. For I find, i n StraboE280A0, tha t, at Sparta, whenever a woman was married to her brother, she had half his portion for her dowry. Plain it is, that this second law was made in order to prevent the bad consequences of the former. That the estate belonging t o the sisterE28099s family might not devolve on the brother, they gave half the brotherE28099s estate to the sister for her dowry.

Seneca, speaking of Silanus, who had married his siste r, says, that the permission was limited at Athens, but general at Alexandr ia. In a monarchical government there was very little concern about any suc h thing as a division of estates.

Excellent was that law, which, in order t o maintain this division of lands in a democracy, ordained, that a father, who had several children, should pitch upon one of them to inherit his port ion,C2A7 and leave t he others to be adopted, to the end that the number of citizens might alway s be kept upon an equality with that of the divisions.

Phaleas of Chalcedon contrived a very extraordinary me thod of rendering all fortunes equal, in a republic where there was the gre atest inequality. This was, that the rich should give fortunes with their d aughters to the poor, but receive none themselves; and that the poor should receive money for their daughters, instead of giving them fortunes. But I do not remember that a regulation of this kind ever took place in any repub lic. It lays the citizens under such hard and oppressive conditions, as wou ld make them detest the very equality which they designed to establish. It is proper sometimes that the laws should not seem to tend so directly to th e end they propose.

Though real equality be the very soul of a democracy, it is so difficult to establish, that an extreme exactness in this respect would not be always convenient. Sufficient it is to establish a census,* which shoul d reduce or fix the differences to a certain point= it is afterwards the bu siness of particular laws to level, as it were, the inequalities, by the d uties laid upon the rich, and by the ease afforded to the poor. It is moder ate riches alone that can give or suffer this sort of compensations; for, a s to men of over-grown estates, every thing which does not contribute to ad vance their power and honour is considered by them as an injury.

All inequality in democracies ought to be derived from the nature of the government, and even from the principle of equality. For example, it may be apprehended that people, who are obliged t o live by their labour, would be too much impoverished by a public employme nt, or neglect the duties attending it; that artisans would grow insolent; and that too great a number of freemen would overpower the ancient citizens . In this case the equalityE280A0 in a democracy may be suppressed, for the good of the state. But this is only an apparent equality= for a man ruined by a public employ ment would be in a worse condition than his fellow-citizens; and this same man, being obliged to neglect his duty, would reduce the rest to a worse co ndition than himself; and so on. CHAP. VI.= In what Manner the Laws ought to maintain Frugality in a Democracy.

IT is not sufficient, in a well-regulated democracy, that the divisions of land be equal; they ought also to be smal l, as was customary among the Romans. God forbid,E2809D said Cu rius to his soldiers,E2 80A1 E2809Cthat a citizen should look upon that as a small piece o f land which is sufficient to maintain him.

As equality of fortunes supports frugalit y, so the latter maintains the former. These things, though in themselves d ifferent, are of such a nature as to be unable to subsist separately= they reciprocally act upon each other= if one withdraws itself from a democracy, the other surely follows it.

True it is, that, when a democracy is fou nded in commerce, private people may acquire vast riches without a corrupti on of morals. This is because the spirit of commerce is naturally attended with that of frugality, C593conomy, moderation, labour, prudence, tranqui lity, order, and rule. So long as this spirit subsists, the riches it produ ces have no bad effect. The mischief is when excessive wealth destroys the spirit of commerce= then it is that the inconveniences of inequality begin to be felt.

In order to support this spirit, commerce should be carried on by the principal citizens= this should be their sole aim and study; this the chief object of the laws= and these very laws, by d ividing the estates of individuals in proportion to the increase of commerc e, should set every poor citizen so far at his ease, as to be able to work like the rest; and every wealthy citizen in such a mediocrity, as to be obl iged to take some pains either in preserving or acquiring a fortune.

It is an excellent law, in a trading repu blic, to make an equal division of the paternal estate among the children. The consequence of this is, that, how great soever a fortune the father has made, his children, being not so rich as he, are induced to avoid luxury, and to work as he had done. I speak here only of trading republics; for, as to those that have no commerce, the legislator must pursue quite different measures.

In Greece there were two sorts of republi cs; the one military, like Sparta; the other commercial, as Athens. In the former, the citizens were obliged to be idle; in the latter, endeavours wer e used to inspire them with the love of industry and labour. Solon made idl eness a crime, and insisted that each citizen should give an account of his manner of getting a livelihood. And indeed, in a well-regulated democracy, where peopleE28099s expences should extend only to what is necessary, e very one ought to have it; for how should their wants be otherwise supplied.

Chapter 7= Other Methods of favouring the Principle of Democracy.

AN equal division of lands cannot be esta blished in all democracies. There are some circumstances in which a regulat ion of this nature would be impracticable, dangerous, and even subversive o f the constitution. We are not always obliged to proceed to extremes. If it appears that this division of lands, which was designed to preserve the pe opleE28099s morals, does not suit with the democracy, recourse must be h ad to other methods.

If a permanent body be established, to se rve as a rule and pattern of manners; a senate, to which years, virtue, gra vity, and eminent services, procure admittance; the senators, by being expo sed to public view like the statues of the gods, must naturally inspire eve ry family with sentiments of virtue.

Above all, this senate must steadily adhe re to the ancient institutions, and mind that the people and the magistrate s never swerve from them.

The preservation of the ancient customs i s a very considerable point in respect to manners. Since a corrupt people s eldom perform any memorable actions, Edition= current; Page= [61] seldom establish societies, build cit ies, or enact laws= on the contrary, since most institutions are derived fr om people whose manners are plain and simple, to keep up the ancient custom is the way to preserve the original purity of morals.

Besides, if, by some revolution, the stat e has happened to assume a new form, this seldom can be effected without in finite pains and labour, and hardly ever by idle and debauched persons. Eve n those who had been the instruments of the revolution were desirous it sho uld be relished; which is difficult to compass without good laws. Hence it is that ancient institutions generally tend to reform the peopleE28099s manners, and those of modern date to corrupt them. In the course of a long administration the descent to vice is insensible; but there is no reascendi ng to virtue without making the most generous efforts.

It has been questioned, whether the membe rs of the senate we are speaking of ought to be for life, or only chosen fo r a time. Doubtless they ought to be for life, as was the custom at Rome,* at Sparta,E280A0 and even at Athens= for we must not confound the senate at Athens, which was a body that changed ev ery three months, with the Areopagus, whose members, as standing patterns, were established for life.

Let this be therefore a general maxim; th at, in a senate designed to be a rule and the depositary, as it were, of ma nners, the members ought to be chosen for life; in a senate intended for the administration of affairs the members may be changed.

The spirit, says Aristotle, waxes old, as well as the body. This reflection holds good only in regard to a single ma gistrate, but cannot be applied to a senatorian assembly.

At Athens, beside the Areopagus, there we re guardians of the public morals, as well as of the laws.E280A1 At Sparta all the old men we re censors. At Rome the censorship was committed to two particular magistra tes. As the senate watched over the people, the censors were to have an eye over the people and the senate. Their office was to reform the corruptions of the republic, to stigmatize indolence, to censure neglects, and to corr ect mistakes= as to flagrant crimes, these were left to the punishment of t he laws.

That Roman law, which required the accusa tions in cases of adultery to be public, was admirably well calculated for preserving the purity of morals; it intimidated married women, as well as t hose who were to watch over their conduct.

Nothing contributes more to the preservat ion of morals than an extreme subordination of the young to the old. Thus t hey are both restrained, the former by their respect for those of advanced age, and the latter by their regard for themselves.

Nothing gives a greater force to the laws than a perfect subordination between the citizens and the magistrate. The great difference which Lycurgus established between Sparta and th e other cities (says Xenophon*) consists chiefly in the obedience the citizens shew to the laws= they run when the magistrate calls them. But, at Athens, a rich man would b e highly displeased to be thought dependent on the magistrate.

Paternal authority is likewise of great u se towards the preservation of morals. We have already observed, that, in a republic, there is not so coercive a force as in other governments. The la ws must therefore endeavour to supply this defect by some means or other; a nd this is done by paternal authority.

Fathers, at Rome, had the power of life a nd death over their children.E280A0 At Sparta every father had a right to correct another man’s child.

Paternal authority ended, at Rome, togeth er with the republic. In monarchies, where such a purity of morals is not r equired, they are controuled by no other authority than that of the magistr ates.

The Roman laws, which accustomed young pe ople to dependence, established a long minority. Perhaps we are mistaken in conforming to this custom= there is no necessity for so much constraint in monarchies.

This very subordination in a republic mig ht make it necessary for the father to continue in the possession of his children’s fortune during life, as was the custom at Rome. But this i s not agreeable to the spirit of monarchy.