Front Page Titles (by Subject) CHAP. VII.: Of a single Magistrate. - Complete Works, vol. 1 The Spirit of Laws
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CHAP. VII.: Of a single Magistrate. - 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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Of a single Magistrate.
A magistracy of this kind cannot take place but in a despotic government. We have an instance, in the Roman history, how far a single magistrate may abuse his power. Might it not be very well expected that Appius, on his tribunal, should contemn all laws, after having violated that of his own‡ enacting? Livy has given us the iniquitous distinction of the decemvir. He had suborned a man to reclaim Virginia, in his presence, as his slave: Virginia’s relations insisted, that, by virtue of his own law, she should be consigned to them till the definitive judgement was passed. Upon which, he declared, that his law had been enacted only in favour of the father; and that, as Virginius was absent, no application could be made of it to the present case∥ .
[‡ ]See the 2d law, § 24, ff. de Orig. Jur.
[∥ ]Quod pater puellæ abesset, locum injuriæ esse ratus. Livius, Dec. 1. lib. 3.