论法的精神英文版(在贵族政治之下 ,法律如何与政体的原则相适应)

at 4年前  ca 论法的精神经典语录  pv 860  by 名著  

In what Manner the Laws should relate to the Principle of Government in an Aristocracy. 

    If the people are virtuous in an aristocracy, they enjoy very nearly the same happiness as in a popular government, and the state grows powerful.      But as a great share of virtue is very rare where men's fortunes are so unequal, the laws must tend as much as possible to infuse a spirit of moderation, and endeavour to re-establish that equality which was necessarily removed by the constitution.


    The spirit of moderation is what we call virtue in an aristocracy; it supplies the place of the spirit of equality in a popular state.

   As the pomp and splendour with which kings are surrounded form a part of their power, so modesty and simplicity of manners constitute the strength of an aristocratic nobility. When they affect no distinction, when they mix with the people, dress like them, and with them share all their pleasures, the people are apt to forget their subjection and weakness.   


    Every government has its nature and principle. An aristocracy must not therefore assume the nature and principle of monarchy; which would be the case were the nobles to be invested with personal privileges distinct from those of their body; privileges ought to be for the senate, and simple respect for the senators.

    In aristocratic governments there are two principal sources of disorder: excessive inequality between the governors and the governed; and the same inequality between the different members of the body that governs. From these two inequalities, hatreds and jealousies arise, which the laws ought ever to prevent or repress.

    The first inequality is chiefly when the privileges of the nobility are honourable only as they are ignominious to the people. Such was the law at Rome by which the patricians were forbidden to marry plebeians; a law that had no other effect than to render the patricians on the one side more haughty, and on the other more odious. The reader may see what advantages the tribunes derived thence in their harangues.

    This inequality occurs likewise when the condition of the citizens differs with regard to taxes, which may happen in four different ways: when the nobles assume the privilege of paying none; when they commit frauds to exempt themselves; when they engross the public money, under pretence of rewards or appointments for their respective employments; in fine, when they render the common people tributary, and divide among their own body the profits arising from the several subsidies. This last case is very rare; an aristocracy so instituted would be the most intolerable of all governments.

    While Rome inclined towards aristocracy, she avoided all these inconveniences. The magistrates never received any emoluments from their office. The chief men of the republic were taxed like the rest, nay, more heavily; and sometimes the taxes fell upon them alone. In fine, far from sharing among themselves the revenues of the state, all they could draw from the public treasure, and all the wealth that fortune flung into their laps, they bestowed freely on the people, to be excused from accepting public honours.

    It is a fundamental maxim that largesses are pernicious to the people in a democracy, but salutary in an aristocratic government. The former make them forget they are citizens, the latter bring them to a sense of it. If the revenues of the state are not distributed among the people, they must be convinced at least of their being well administered: to feast their eyes with the public treasure is with them the same thing almost as enjoying it. The golden chain displayed at Venice, the riches exhibited at Rome in public triumphs, the treasures preserved in the temple of Saturn, were in reality the wealth of the people.

    It is a very essential point in an aristocracy that the nobles themselves should not levy the taxes. The first order of the state in Rome never concerned themselves with it; the levying of the taxes was committed to the second, and even this in process of time was attended with great inconveniences. In an aristocracy of this kind, where the nobles levied the taxes, the private people would be all at the discretion of persons in public employments; and there would be no such thing as a superior tribunal to check their power.      The members appointed to remove the abuses would rather enjoy them. The nobles would be like the princes of despotic governments, who confiscate whatever estates they please.

    Soon would the profits hence arising be considered as a patrimony, which avarice would enlarge at pleasure. The farms would be lowered, and the public revenues reduced to nothing. This is the reason that some governments, without having ever received any remarkable shock, have dwindled away to such a degree as not only their neighbours, but even their own subjects, have been surprised at it.

    The laws should likewise forbid the nobles all kinds of commerce: merchants of such unbounded credit would monopolise all to themselves. Commerce is a profession of people who are upon an equality; hence among despotic states the most miserable are those in which the prince applies himself to trade.法律还应该禁止贵族经商。因为这种红顶商人将垄断所有领域的贸易。贸易是一种平等人们之间的职业。然而,在专政国家中,最大的不幸则在于亲王们自己经商。

    The laws of Venice debar the nobles from commerce, by which they might even innocently acquire exorbitant wealth.

    The laws ought to employ the most effectual means for making the nobles do justice to the people. If they have not established a tribune, they ought to be a tribune themselves.

    Every sort of asylum in opposition to the execution of the laws destroys aristocracy, and is soon succeeded by tyranny. They ought always to mortify the lust of dominion. There should be either a temporary or perpetual magistrate to keep the nobles in awe, as the Ephori at Sparta and the State Inquisitors at Venice — magistrates subject to no formalities. This sort of government stands in need of the strongest springs: thus a mouth of stone is open to every informer at Venice — a mouth to which one would be apt to give the appellation of tyranny. 


    These arbitrary magistrates in an aristocracy bear some analogy to the censorship in democracies, which of its own nature is equally independent. And, indeed, the censors ought to be subject to no inquiry in relation to their conduct during their office; they should meet with a thorough confidence, and never be discouraged. In this respect the practice of the Romans deserved admiration; magistrates of all denominations were accountable for their administration,except the censors.

    There are two very pernicious things in an aristocracy — excess either of poverty, or of wealth in the nobility. To prevent their poverty, it is necessary, above all things, to oblige them to pay their debts in time. To moderate the excess of wealth, prudent and gradual regulations should be made; but no confiscations, no agrarian laws, no expunging of debts; these are productive of infinite mischief.

    The laws ought to abolish the right of primogeniture among the nobles to the end that by a continual division of the inheritances their fortunes may be always upon a level.

    There should be no substitutions, no powers of redemption, no rights of Majorasgo, or adoption. The contrivances for perpetuating the grandeur of families in monarchical governments ought never to be employed in aristocracies.

    When the laws have compassed the equality of families, the next thing is to preserve a proper harmony and union among them. The quarrels of the nobility ought to be quickly decided; otherwise the contests of individuals become those of families. Arbiters may terminate, or even prevent, the rise ot disputes.


    In fine, the laws must not favour the distinctions raised by vanity among families, under pretence that they are more noble or ancient than others. Pretences of this nature ought to be ranked among the weaknesses of private persons.

    We have only to cast an eye upon Sparta; there we may see how the Ephori contrived to check the foibles of the kings, as well as those of the nobility and common people.





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