Front Page Titles (by Subject) CHAP. XII.: That Laws which appear the same, are sometimes really different. - Complete Works, vol. 2 The Spirit of Laws
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CHAP. XII.: That Laws which appear the same, are sometimes really different. - 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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That Laws which appear the same, are sometimes really different.
THE Greek and Roman laws inflicted the same* punishment on the receiver as on the thief; the French law does the same. The former acted rationally, but the latter does not. Among the Greeks and Romans, the thief was condemned to a pecuniary punishment, which ought also to be inflicted on the receiver: for every man that contributes in what shape soever to a damage, is obliged to repair it. But as the punishment of theft is capital with us, the receiver cannot be punished like the thief, without carrying things to excess. A receiver may act innocently on a thousand occasions; the thief is always culpable: one hinders the conviction of a crime, the other commits it; in one the whole is passive, the other is active; the thief must surmount more obstacles, and his soul must be more hardened against the laws.
The civilians have gone farther; they look upon the receiver as more odious† than the thief; for were it not for the receiver, the theft, say they, could not be long concealed. But this again might be right when there was only a pecuniary punishment; the affair in question was a damage done, and the receiver was generally better able to repair it; but when the punishment became capital, they ought to have been directed by other principles.
[* ]Leg. 1. ff. de receptatoribus.