Front Page Titles (by Subject) CHAP. VIII.: Of public Continency. - Complete Works, vol. 1 The Spirit of Laws
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CHAP. VIII.: Of public Continency. - 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 public Continency.
SO many are the imperfections that attend the loss of virtue in women, and so greatly are their minds depraved when this principal guard is removed, that, in a popular state, public incontinency may be considered as the last of miseries, and as a certain fore-runner of a change in the constitution.
Hence it is that the sage legislators of republican states have ever required of women a particular gravity of manners. They have proscribed not only vice, but the very appearance of it. They have banished even all commerce of gallantry; a commerce that produces idleness, that renders the women corrupters even before they are corrupted, that gives a value to trifles, and debases things of importance; a commerce, in fine, that makes people act entirely by the maxims of ridicule, in which the women are so perfectly skilled.