Front Page Titles (by Subject) CHAP. I.: Idea of this Book. - Complete Works, vol. 1 The Spirit of Laws
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CHAP. I.: Idea of this Book. - 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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Idea of this Book.
IT is not sufficient to have treated of political liberty as relative to the constitution; we must examine it likewise in the relation it bears to the subject.
We have observed, that, in the former case, it arises from a certain distribution of the three powers; but, in the latter, we must consider it in another light. It consists in security, or in the opinion people have of their security.
The constitution may happen to be free, and the subject not. The subject may be free, and not the constitution. In those cases the constitution will be free by right, and not in fact; the subject will be free in fact, and not by right.
It is the disposition only of the laws, and even of the fundamental laws, that constitutes liberty in relation to the constitution. But, as it regards the subject, manners, customs, or received examples, may give rise to it, and particular civil laws may encourage it, as we shall presently observe.
Farther; as, in most states, liberty is more checked or depressed than their constitution requires, it is proper to treat of the particular laws that, in each constitution, are apt to assist or check the principle of liberty, which each state is capable of receiving.