Front Page Titles (by Subject) CHAP. XXIV.: Of anonymous Letters. - Complete Works, vol. 1 The Spirit of Laws
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CHAP. XXIV.: Of anonymous Letters. - 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 anonymous Letters.
THE Tartars are obliged to put their names to their arrows, that the arm may be known which shoots them. When Philip of Macedon was wounded at the siege of a certain town, these words were found on the javelin: After has given this mortal wound to Philip* . If they who accuse a person did it merely to serve the public, they would not carry their complaint to the prince, who may be easily prejudiced; but to the magistrates, who have rules that are formidable only to calumniators. But, if they are unwilling to leave the laws open between them and the accused, it is a presumption they have reason to be afraid of them; and the least punishment they ought to suffer is, not to be credited. No notice, therefore, should ever be taken of those letters, except in cases that admit not of the delays of the ordinary course of justice, and in which the prince’s welfare is concerned. Then it may be imagined that the accuser has made an effort, which has untied his tongue. But, in other cases, one ought to say, with the emperor Constantius: “We cannot suspect a person who has wanted an accuser, whilst he did not want an enemy† .”
[* ]Plutarch’s Morals, Comparison of some Roman and Greek Histories, tom. 2, p. 487.
[† ]Leg. VI. Cod. Theod. de famosis libellis.