论法的精神 (民主政体的原则)

at 5年前  ca 论法的精神经典语录  pv 1612  by 名著  

1.Of the Principle of Democracy.

There is no great share of probity necessary to support a monarchical or despotic government. The force of laws in one, and the prince's arm in the other, are sufficient to direct and maintain the whole. But in a popular state, one spring more is necessary, namely, virtue.




What I have here advanced is confirmed by the unanimous testimony of historians, and is extremely agreeable to the nature of things.




For it is clear that in a monarchy, where he who commands the execution of the laws generally thinks himself above them, there is less need of virtue than in a popular government, where the person entrusted with the execution of the laws is sensible of his being subject to their direction.



Clear is it also that a monarch who, through bad advice or indolence, ceases to enforce the execution of the laws, may easily repair the evil;


he has only to follow other advice; or to shake off this indolence. But when, in a popular government, there is a suspension of the laws, as this can proceed only from the corruption of the republic, the state is certainly undone.




A very droll spectacle it was in the last century to behold the impotent efforts of the English towards the establishment of democracy.



As they who had a share in the direction of public affairs were void of virtue; as their ambition was inflamed by the success of the most daring of their members;as the prevailing parties were successively animated by the spirit of faction, the government was continually changing:

Prevailing:占优势的 Faction:派系


the people, amazed at so many revolutions, in vain attempted to erect a commonwealth. At length, when the country had undergone the most violent shocks, they were obliged to have recourse to the very government which they had so wantonly proscribed.

Commonwealth:联邦;共和国;团体   recourse:依靠;求援;诉诸

Wantonly:有意伤害的;肆无忌惮的    proscribed:宣布禁止



When Sylla thought of restoring Rome to her liberty, this unhappy city was incapable of receiving that blessing. She had only the feeble remains of virtue, which were continually diminishing. Instead of being roused from her lethargy by Cæsar, Tiberius, Caius Claudius, Nero, and Domitian, she riveted every day her chains; if she struck some blows, her aim was at the tyrant, not at the tyranny.

Lethargy [ˈleθədʒi]:慵懒;倦怠;没精打采         rivet['rɪvɪt]: 铆钉;包头钉



The politic Greeks, who lived under a popular government, knew no other support than virtue. The modern inhabitants of that country are entirely taken up with manufacture, commerce, finances, opulence, and luxury.



When virtue is banished, ambition invades the minds of those who are disposed to receive it, and avarice possesses the whole community.


The objects of their desires are changed; what they were fond of before has become indifferent; they were free while under the restraint of laws, but they would fain now be free to act against law;


and as each citizen is like a slave who has run away from his master, that which was a maxim of equity he calls rigour; that which was a rule of action he styles constraint; and to precaution he gives the name of fear. Frugality, and not the thirst of gain, now passes for avarice. Formerly the wealth of individuals constituted the public treasure; but now this has become the patrimony of private persons. The members of the commonwealth riot on the public spoils, and its strength is only the power of a few, and the licence of many.

Maxim:准则;格言;箴言       Frugality:节约,朴素  avarice:贪婪       patrimony:祖传财产;世袭财产 



Athens was possessed of the same number of forces when she triumphed so gloriously as when with such infamy she was enslaved. She had twenty thousand citizens when she defended the Greeks against the Persians, when she contended for empire with Sparta, and invaded Sicily.

Infamy:声名狼藉     contend:竞争;争夺


She had twenty thousand when Demetrius Phalereus numbered them as slaves are told by the head in a market-place. When Philip attempted to lord it over Greece, and appeared at the gates of Athens she had even then lost nothing but time. We may see in Demosthenes how difficult it was to awaken her; she dreaded Philip, not as the enemy of her liberty, but of her pleasures.

当狄米特里乌斯(Démétrius de Phalère)如同在市场上清点奴隶的数量一样核查雅典的人口时,雅典只有两万公民。当腓力决心征服希腊而兵临城下时,公民数量依旧未变。雅典失去的依然仅仅是时间。在德谟斯提尼斯的著作里,可以看到警醒雅典人是很艰难的:雅典人畏惧腓力,并非因为他限制自由,而是他憎恨逸乐。

This famous city, which had withstood so many defeats, and having been so often destroyed had as often risen out of her ashes, was overthrown at Chæronea, and at one blow deprived of all hopes of resource. What does it avail her that Philip sends back her prisoners, if he does not return her men? It was ever after as easy to triumph over the forces of Athens as it had been difficult to subdue her virtue.


从前这座城市经受过很多惨败,人们也多次看到它从废墟中再度复兴。但是喀罗尼亚战役之败彻底使它土崩瓦解了。腓力虽然遣返了全部战俘,那又能产生什么作用?他遣返的并不是勇士! 想要战胜雅典的军队总是轻而易举的,就如同战胜它的品德总是极为困难。


How was it possible for Carthage to maintain her ground? When Hannibal, upon his being made prætor, endeavoured to hinder the magistrates from plundering the republic, did not they complain of him to the Romans?


Wretches, who would fain be citizens without a city, and be beholden for their riches to their very destroyers! Rome soon insisted upon having three hundred of their principal citizens as hostages; she obliged them next to surrender their arms and ships; and then she declared war.From the desperate efforts of this defenceless city, one may judge of what she might have performed in her full vigour, and assisted by virtue.



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