Chapters 15-19

Sure Methods of preserving the three Principles

January 20, 2020

I shall not be able to make myself right ly understood, till the reader has perused the four following chapters.

Chapter 16: Distinctive Properties of a Republic

IT is natural for a republic to have only a small territory. Otherwise, it cannot long subsist.

In a large republic, there are wealthy men of less moderation. there are trusts too considerable to be placed in any single subject; he has interests of his own; he soon begins to think that he may be happy and gl orious by oppressing his fellow-citizens; and that he may raise himself to grandeur on the ruins of his country.

In a large republic, the public good:

  • is sacrificed to a thousand private views
  • is subordinate to exceptions
  • depends on accidents.

In a small one, the interest of the public is more obvious, better understood, and more within the reach of every citizen ; abuses have less extent, and of course are less protected.

The republic of Sparta lasted long because it kept the same territory after all her wars.

  • The sole aim of Sparta was liberty
  • The sole advantage of her liberty glory

It was the spirit of the Greek republics to be as contented with their territories as with their laws. Athens was first fired with ambition, and gave it to Lacedmon; but it was an ambition rather of commanding a free people than of governing slaves; rather of directing than of breaking the union. All was lost upon the starting up of monarchy, a government whose spirit is more turned to increase of dominion.

Only a republican government can subsist longer in a single town. A prince of so petty a state would naturally endeavour to oppress his subjects, because his power would be great, while the means of enjoying it, or of causing it to be respected, would be inconsiderable. He would trample on his people.

On the other hand, such a prince might be easily crushed by a foreign, or even a domestic, force; the people might every instant unite and rise up against him.

As soon as the sovereign of a single town is expelled, the quarrel is over. But if he has many towns, it only begins.

Chapter 17: Distinctive Properties of a Mon archy.

A monarchical state should be have a moderate size. If it were small, it would become a republic. If it very large, the nobility would:

  • have great estates and be far from the prince’s eye
  • have a private court of their own
  • be secure from sudden executions, by the laws and manners of the country.

Such a nobility might throw off their allegiance, having nothing to fear from too slow and distant a punishment.

Thus, Charlemagne had scarce founded his empire when he was obliged to divide it= whether the governors of the prov inces refused to obey; or whether, in order to keep them more under subject ion, there was a necessity of parcelling the empire into several kingdoms.

After Alexander’s death, his empire was divided. How was it possible for those free and independent Greek and Macedonian chiefs to obey and keep the empire intact?

Attila’s empire was also dissolved after his death.

The sudden establishment of unlimited power is a remedy, which, in those cases, may prevent a dissolution. But how dreadful the remedy, which, after the enlargement of dominion, opens a new scene of misery!

The rivers hasten to mingle their waters with the sea; and monarchies lose themselves in despotic power.

Chapter 18: Particular Case of the Spanish Monarchy.

The example of Spain might go against this principle I stated. But it really supports it.

To preserve America, Spain did what even despotic power itself does not attempt; she destroyed the inhabitants.

To preserve her colony, she was obliged to keep it dependent even for its subsistence.

In the Netherlands, she essayed to rende r herself arbitrary, and, as soon as she abandoned the attempt, her perplex ity increased. On the one hand, the Walloons would not be governed by Spani ards; and, on the other, the Spanish soldiers refused to submit to Walloon officers

In Italy, Spain maintained her ground merely by exhausting herself and by enriching that country. For those, who woul d have been pleased to have got rid of the king of Spain, were not in a humour to refuse his gold.

Chapter 19= Distinctive Properties of a desp otic Government

A large empire supposes a despotic authority in the person who governs.

It is necessary that the quickness of the prince’s resolutions should supply the distance of the places they a re sent to; that fear should prevent the remissness of the distant governor or magistrate; that the law should be derived from a single person, and sh ould shift continually, according to the accidents which incessantly multip ly in a state in proportion to its extent.

Chapter 20: Consequence of the preceding Chapters

  • Small states are naturally republics
  • Medium states are naturally monarchial 0 Large empires are despotic

In order to preserve each government, the state must:

  • be supported by its territory
  • have its spirit change as it contracts or extends its territory.