Front Page Titles (by Subject) CHAP. XIV.: How the smallest Change of the Constitution is attended with the Ruin of its Principles. - Complete Works, vol. 1 The Spirit of Laws
The Online Library of Liberty
A project of Liberty Fund, Inc.
Search this Title:
CHAP. XIV.: How the smallest Change of the Constitution is attended with the Ruin of its Principles. - 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.
About Liberty Fund:
The text is in the public domain.
Fair use statement:
How the smallest Change of the Constitution is attended with the Ruin of its Principles.
ARISTOTLE mentions the city of Carthage as a well regulated republic. Polybius tells us,* that there was this inconvenience, at Carthage, in the second Punic war, that the senate had lost almost all their authority. We are informed, by Livy, that, when Hannibal returned to Carthage, he found that the magistrates and the principal citizens had abused their power, and converted the public revenues to their private emolument. The virtue, therefore, of the magistrates, and the authority of the senate, both fell at the same time; and all was owing to the same cause.
Every one knows the wonderful effects of the censorship among the Romans. There was a time when it grew burthensome; but still it was supported, because there was more luxury than corruption. Claudius† weakened its authority; by which means the corruption became greater than the luxury, and the censorship dwindled away of itself.‡ After various interruptions and resumptions, it was entirely laid aside till it became altogether useless; that is, till the reigns of Augustus and Claudius.
[* ]About a hundred years after.
[† ]See book 11th, chap. 12th.
[‡ ]See Dio, book 38. Cicero’s life in Plutarch, Cicero to Atticus, book 4th, letter 10 and 15. Asconius on Cicero de divinatione.