Front Page Titles (by Subject) CHAP. XVII.: Of the Augmentation of Troops. - Complete Works, vol. 1 The Spirit of Laws
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CHAP. XVII.: Of the Augmentation of Troops. - 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 the Augmentation of Troops.
A NEW distemper has spread itself over Europe, infecting our princes, and inducing them to keep up an exorbitant number of troops. It has its redoublings, and of necessity becomes contagious. For, as soon as one prince augments his forces, the rest of course do the same; so that nothing is gained thereby but the public ruin. Each monarch keeps as many armies on foot as if his people were in danger of being exterminated; and they give the name of peace* to this general effort of all against all. Thus is Europe ruined to such a degree, that, were private people to be in the same situation as the three most opulent powers of this part of the globe, they would not have necessary subsistance. We are poor with the riches and commerce of the whole world; and soon, by thus augmenting our troops, we shall be all soldiers, and be reduced to the very same situation as the Tartars‡ .
Great princes, not satisfied with hiring or buying troops of petty states, make it their business on all sides to pay subsidies for alliances, that is, generally to throw away their money.
The consequence of such a situation is the perpetual augmentation of taxes; and the mischief, which prevents all future remedy, is, that they reckon no more upon their revenues, but in waging war against their whole capital. It is no unusual thing to see governments mortgage their funds even in time of peace, and to employ what they call extraordinary means to ruin themselves; means so extraordinary indeed, that such are hardly thought on by the most extravagant young spendthrift.
[* ]True it is that this state of effort is the chief support of the balance, because it checks the great powers.
[‡ ]All that is wanting for this is, to improve the new invention of the militia established in most parts of Europe, and carry it to the same excess as they do the regular troops.