Front Page Titles (by Subject) CHAP. XV.: That sometimes it is proper the Law should amend itself. - Complete Works, vol. 2 The Spirit of Laws
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CHAP. XV.: That sometimes it is proper the Law should amend itself. - 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 sometimes it is proper the Law should amend itself.
THE law of the twelve tables‡ allowed people to kill a night-thief as well as a day-thief, if upon being pursued he attempted to make a defence: but it required that the person who killed the thief* , should cry out and call his fellow-citizens: this is indeed what those laws, which permit people to do justice to themselves, ought always to require. It is the cry of innocence, which in the very moment of the action, calls in witnesses and appeals to judges. The people ought to take cognizance of the action, and at the very instant of its being done; an instant when every thing speaks, even the air, the countenance, the passions, the silence of the agent; and when every word either condemns or absolves. A law which may become so contrary to the security and liberty of the citizens, ought to be executed in their presence.
[‡ ]See the 4th law, ff. ad leg. Aquil.
[* ]Ibidem, see the decree of Tassillon added to the law of the Bavarians, de popularib. legib. art. 4.