Page:Essays on Political Economy (Bastiat).djvu/215

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207
THE LAW.
nor father. Chastity even was deprived of modesty. By this road Sparta was led on to grandeur and to glory.

"The phenomenon which we observe in the institutions of Greece has been seen in the midst of the degeneracy and corruption of our modern times. An honest legislator has formed a people where probity has appeared as natural as bravery among the Spartans. Mr. Penn is a true Lycurgus, and although the former had peace for his object, and the latter war, they resemble each other in the singular path along which they have led their people, in their influence over free men, in the prejudices which they have overcome, the passions they have subdued.

"Paraguay furnishes us with another example. Society has been accused of the crime of regarding the pleasure of commanding as the only good of life; but it will always be a noble thing to govern men by making them happy.

"Those who desire to form similar institutions, will establish community of property, as in the republic of Plato, the same reverence which he enjoined for the gods, separation from strangers for the preservation of morality, and make the city and not the citizens create commerce: they should give our arts without our luxury, our wants without our desires."

Vulgar infatuation may exclaim, if it likes:—"It is Montesquieu! magnificent! sublime!" I am not afraid to express my opinion, and to say:—"What! you have the face to call that fine? It is frightful! it is abominable! and these extracts, which I might multiply, show that, according to Montesquieu, the persons, the liberties, the property, mankind itself, are nothing but materials to exercise the sagacity of lawgivers."

Rousseau.—Although this politician, the paramount authority of the Democrats, makes the social edifice rest upon the general will, no one has so completely admitted the hypothesis of the entire passiveness of human nature in the presence of the lawgiver:—