Page:Essays on Political Economy (Bastiat).djvu/214

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206
THE LAW.

philanthropic intentions, the people of Ithaca, and, to confirm him in these ideas, he gives him the example of Salentum.

It is thus that we receive our first political notions. We are taught to treat men very much as Oliver de Serres teaches farmers to manage and to mix the soil.

Montesquieu—"To sustain the spirit of commerce, it is necessary that all the laws should favour it; that these same laws, by their regulations in dividing the fortunes in proportion as commerce enlarges them, should place every poor citizen in sufficiently easy circumstances to enable him to work like the others, and every rich citizen in such mediocrity that he must work, in order to retain or to acquire."

Thus the laws are to dispose of all fortunes.

"Although, in a democracy, real equality be the soul of the State, yet it is so difficult to establish, that an extreme exactness in this matter would not always be desirable. It is sufficient that a census be established to reduce or fix the differences to a certain point. After which, it is for particular laws to equalise, as it were, the inequality, by burdens imposed upon the rich, and reliefs granted to the poor."

Here, again, we see the equalisation of fortunes by law, that is, by force.

"There were, in Greece, two kinds of republics. One was military, as Lacedæmon; the other commercial, as Athens. In the one it was wished (by whom?) that the citizens should be idle: in the other, the love of labor was encouraged.

"It is worth our while to pay a little attention to the extent of genius required by these legislators, that we may see how, by confounding all the virtues, they showed their wisdom to the world. Lycurgus, blending theft with the spirit of justice, the hardest slavery with extreme liberty, the most atrocious sentiments with the greatest moderation, gave stability to his city. He seemed to deprive it of all its resources, arts, commerce, money, and walls; there was ambition without the hope of rising; there were natural sentiments where the individual was neither child, nor husband,