The Spirit of Laws - Vol. 1

By Charles de Secondat Montesquieu; Thomas Nugent | Go to book overview

BOOK VI
CONSEQUENCES OF THE PRINCIPLES OF DIFFERENT GOVERNMENTS WITH RESPECT TO THE SIMPLICITY OF CIVIL AND CRIMINAL LAWS, THE FORM OF JUDGMENTS, AND THE INFLICTING OF PUNISHMENTS

1. -- Of the Simplicity of Civil Laws in different Governments

MONARCHIES do not permit of so great a simplicity of laws as despotic governments. For in monarchies there must be courts of judicature; these must give their decisions; the decisions must be preserved and learned, that we may judge in the same manner to-day as yesterday, and that the lives and property of the citizens may be as certain and fixed as the very constitution of the state.

In monarchies, the administration of justice, which decides not only in whatever belongs to life and property, but likewise to honor, demands very scrupulous inquiries. The delicacy of the judge increases in proportion to the increase of his trust, and of the importance of the interests on which he determines.

We must not, therefore, be surprised to find so many rules, restrictions, and extensions in the laws of those countries -- rules that multiply the particular cases, and seem to make of reason itself an art.

The difference of rank, birth, and condition established in monarchical governments is frequently attended with distinctions in the nature of property; and the laws relating to the constitution of this government may augment the number of these distinctions. Hence, among us goods are divided into real estates, purchases, dowries, paraphernalia, paternal and maternal inheritances; movables of different kinds; estates held in fee-simple, or in tail; acquired by descent or convey

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