Front Page Titles (by Subject) CHAP. XV.: Abuse of Liberty. - Complete Works, vol. 1 The Spirit of Laws
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CHAP. XV.: Abuse of Liberty. - 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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Abuse of Liberty.
TO these great advantages of liberty it is owing that liberty itself has been abused. Because a moderate government has been productive of admirable effects, this moderation has been laid aside; because great taxes have been raised, they wanted to carry them to excess: and, ungrateful to the hand of liberty of whom they received this present, they addressed themselves to slavery who never grants the least favour.
Liberty produces excessive taxes; the effect of excessive taxes is slavery; and slavery produces a diminution of tribute.
Most of the edicts of the eastern monarchs are to exempt every year some province of their empire from paying tribute* . The manifestations of their will are favours. But in Europe the edicts of princes are disagreeable even before they are seen, because they always make mention of their own wants, but not a word of ours.
From an unpardonable indolence in the ministers of those countries, owing to the nature of the government, and frequently to the climate, the people derive this advantage, that they are not incessantly plagued with new demands. The public expence does not increase, because the ministers do not form new projects; and, if some by chance are formed, they are such as are soon executed. The governors of the state do not perpetually torment the people; for they do not perpetually torment themselves. But it is impossible there should be any fixed rule in our finances, since we always know that we shall have something or other to execute, without ever knowing what it is.
It is no longer customary with us to give the appellation of a great minister to a wise dispenser of the public revenues, but to a person of dexterity and cunning, who is clever at finding out what we call the ways and means.
[* ]This is the practice of the emperors of China.