Front Page Titles (by Subject) CHAP. IV.: The same Subject continued. - Complete Works, vol. 2 The Spirit of Laws
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CHAP. IV.: The same Subject continued. - Charles Louis de Secondat, Baron de Montesquieu, Complete Works, vol. 2 The Spirit of Laws 
The Complete Works of M. de Montesquieu (London: T. Evans, 1777), 4 vols. Vol. 2.
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The same Subject continued.
GUNDEBALD* king of Burgundy decreed, that if the wife or son of a person guilty of robbery, did not reveal the crime, they were to become slaves. This was contrary to nature: a wife to inform against her husband! a son to accuse his father! to avenge one criminal action, they ordained another still more criminal.
The law of Recessuinthus† permits the children of the adulteress, or those of her husband, to accuse her, and to put the slaves of the house to the torture. How iniquitous the law, which, to preserve a purity of morals, overturns nature, the origin, the source of all morality!
With pleasure we behold in our theatres a young hero express as much horror against the discovery of his mother-in-law’s guilt, as against the guilt itself. In his surprize, though accused, judged, condemned, proscribed, and covered with infamy, he scarcely dares to reflect on the abominable blood from whence Phædra sprang: he abandons the most tender object, all that is most dear, all that lies nearest his heart, all that can fill him with rage, to deliver himself up to the unmerited vengeance of the gods. It is nature’s voice, the sweetest of all sounds, that inspires us with this pleasure.
[* ]Law of the Burgundians, tit. 47.
[† ]In the code of the Visigoths, lib. 3. tit. 4. sect. 13.