at 3年前  ca 论法的精神经典语录  pv 1082  by 名著  

In what Manner 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 never take place except upon the foundation of a new republic; or when the old one is so corrupt, and the minds of the people are so disposed, that the poor think themselves obliged to demand, and the rich obliged to consent to a remedy of this nature.


  If the legislator, in making a division of 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 have not precluded it, and the republic will be utterly undone.


  Hence for the preservation of this equality it is absolutely necessary there should be some regulation in respect to women's dowries, donations, successions, testamentary settlements, and all other forms of contracting. For were we once allowed to dispose of our property to whom and how we pleased, the will of each individual would disturb 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 laws, by which the estates were ordered to continue in the family of the testator; and even contrary to his own laws, for by abolishing debts he had aimed at equality.

    The law which prohibited people having two inheritances was extremely well adapted for a democracy. It derived its origin 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 relative was ordered to marry the heiress. This law was given to the Jews after the like distribution. Plato, who grounds his laws on this division, made the same regulation which had been received as a law by the Athenians.

    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 father's side, but it was not permitted to espouse a sister by the same venter. This custom was originally owing to republics, whose spirit would not permit that two portions of land, and consequently two inheritances, should devolve on the same person. A man who married his sister only by the father's side could inherit but one estate, namely, that of his father; but by espousing his sister by the same venter, it might happen that this sister's father, having no male issue, might leave her his estate, and consequently the brother who married her might be possessed of two.

    Little will it avail to object to what Philo says, that although the Athenians were allowed to marry a sister by the father's side, and not by the mother's, yet the contrary practice prevailed among the Lacedæmonians, who were permitted to espouse a sister by the mother's side, and not by the father's. For I find in Strabo that at Sparta, whenever a woman was married to her brother she had half his portion for her dowry. Plain is it that this second law was made in order to prevent the bad consequences of the former. That the estate belonging to the sister's family might not devolve on the brother's, they gave half the brother's estate to the sister for her dowry.

Seneca speaking of Silanus, who had married his sister, says that the permission was limited at Athens, but general at Alexandria. In a monarchical government there was very little concern about any such thing as a division of estates.

    Excellent was that law which, in order to 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 portion, and leave the others to be adopted, to the end that the numbers of citizens might always be kept upon an equality with that of the divisions.

    Phaleas of Chalcedon contrived a very extraordinary method of rendering all fortunes equal, in a republic where there was the greatest inequality. This was that the rich should give fortunes with their daughters 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 republic. It lays the citizens under such hard and oppressive conditions as would 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 the 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 is it to establish a census which shall reduce or fix the differences to a certain point: it is afterwards the business of particular laws to level, as it were, the inequalities, by the duties laid upon the rich, and by the ease afforded to the poor. It is moderate riches alone that can give or suffer this sort of compensation; for as to men of overgrown estates, everything which does not contribute to advance 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 to live by their labour would be too much impoverished by a public employment, 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 equality 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 employment 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 condition than himself, and so on.


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