Page:Essay on Crimes and Punishments (1775).djvu/31
CRIMES AND PUNISHMENTS.
HENCE it follows, that without written laws, no society will ever acquire a fixed form of government, in which the power is vested in the whole, and not in any part of the society; and in which, the laws are not to be altered, but by the will of the whole, nor corrupted by the force of private interest. Experience and reason shews us, that the probability of human traditions diminishes in proportion as they are distant from their sources. How then can laws resist the inevitable force of time, if there be not a lasting monument of the social compact?
Hence, we see the use of printing, which alone makes the public, and not a few individuals, the guardians and defenders of the laws. It is this art, which, by diffusing literature, has gradually dissipated the gloomy spirit of cabal and intrigue. To this art it is owing, that the atrocious crimes of our ancestors, who were alternately slaves, and tyrants, are become less frequent. Those who are acquainted with the history of the two or