Page:Essay on Crimes and Punishments (1775).djvu/47

From Wikisource
Jump to: navigation, search
This page has been proofread, but needs to be validated.
35
CRIMES AND PUNISHMENTS.

only of simple ones, but of others so complicated, that in their various modes of affecting the human mind, they sometimes admit, and sometimes exclude part of the elements of which they are composed; retaining only some few of the most common, as many algebraic quantities admit one common divisor. To find this common divisor of the different ideas attached to the word honour, it will be necessary to go back to the original formation of society.

The first laws, and the first magistrates, owed their existence to the necessity of preventing the disorders, which the natural despotism of individuals would unavoidably produce. This was the object of the establishment of society, and was either in reality or in appearance, the principal design of all codes of laws, even the most pernicious. But the more intimate connections of men, and the progress of their knowledge, gave rise to an infinite number of necessities, and mutual acts of friendship, between the members of society.