Front Page Titles (by Subject) CHAP. VIII.: Of Accusation in different Governments. - Complete Works, vol. 1 The Spirit of Laws
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CHAP. VIII.: Of Accusation in different Governments. - 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 Accusation in different Governments.
AT Rome§ it was lawful for one citizen to accuse another: this was agreeable to the spirit of a republic, where each citizen ought to have an unlimited zeal for the public good, and is supposed to hold all the rights of his country in his own hands. Under the emperors the republican maxims were still pursued; and instantly appeared a pernicious tribe, a swarm of informers. Crafty wicked men, who could stoop to any indignity to serve the purposes of their ambition, were sure to busy themselves in the search of criminals whose condemnation might be agreeable to the prince: this was the road to honour and preferment¶ : but luckily we are strangers to it in our country.
We have at present an admirable law, namely, that by which the prince, who is established for the execution of the laws, appoints an officer in each court of judicature to prosecute all sorts of crimes in his name: hence the profession of informers is a thing unknown to us; for, if this public avenger were suspected to abuse his office, he would soon be obliged to mention his author.
By Plato’s laws* , those who neglect to inform or assist the magistrates are liable to punishment. This would not be so proper in our days. The public prosecutor warches for the safety of the citizens; he proceeds in his office while they enjoy their quiet and ease.
[§ ]And in a great many other cities.
[¶ ]See, in Tacitus, the rewards given to those informers.
[* ]Lib. 9.