at 4年前 ca 论法的精神经典语录 pv 1731 by 名著
It is a received custom in despotic countries never to address any superior whomsoever, not excepting their kings, without making them a present. The Mogul never receives the petitions of his subjects if they come with empty hands. These princes spoil even their own favours.
But thus it must ever be in a government where no man is a citizen; where they have all a notion that a superior is under no obligation to an inferior; where men imagine themselves bound by no other tie than the chastisements inflicted by one party upon another; where, in fine, there is very little to do, and where the people have seldom an occasion of presenting themselves before the great, of offering their petitions, and much less their complaints.
In a republic, presents are odious, because virtue stands in no need of them. In monarchies, honour is a much stronger incentive than presents. But in a despotic government, where there is neither honour nor virtue, people cannot be determined to act but through hope of the conveniences of life.
It is in conformity with republican ideas that Plato ordered those who received presents for doing their duty to be punished with death. "They must not take presents," says he, "neither for good nor for evil actions."
A very bad law was that among the Romans which gave the magistrates leave to accept small presents provided they did not exceed one hundred crowns in the whole year. They who receive nothing expect nothing; they who receive a little soon covet more, till at length their desires swell to an exorbitant height.
Besides, it is much easier to convict a man who knows himself obliged to accept no present at all, and yet will accept something, than a person who takes more when he ought to take less, and who always finds pretexts, excuses, and plausible reasons in justification of his conduct.