Front Page Titles (by Subject) CHAP. II.: What is meant by Virtue in a political State. - Complete Works, vol. 1 The Spirit of Laws
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CHAP. II.: What is meant by Virtue in a political State. - Charles Louis de Secondat, Baron de Montesquieu, Complete Works, vol. 1 The Spirit of Laws 
The Complete Works of M. de Montesquieu (London: T. Evans, 1777), 4 vols. Vol. 1.
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What is meant by Virtue in a political State.
VIRTUE in a republic is a most simple thing; it is a love of the republic; it is a sensation, and not a consequence of acquired knowledge; a sensation that may be felt by the meanest as well as by the highest person in the state. When the common people adopt good maxims, they adhere to them steadier than those we call gentlemen. It is very rare that corruption commences with the former: nay, they frequently derive from their imperfect light a stronger attachment to the established laws and customs.
The love of our country is conducive to a purity of morals, and the latter is again conducive to the former. The less we are able to satisfy our private passions, the more we abandon ourselves to those of a general nature. How comes it that monks are so fond of their order? It is owing to the very cause that renders the order insupportable. Their rule debars them of all those things by which the ordinary passions are fed; there remains, therefore, only this passion for the very rule that torments them: the more austere it is, that is, the more it curbs their inclinations, the more force it gives to the only passion left them.