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“OF MARITIME USURY. - Charles Louis de Secondat, Baron de Montesquieu, Complete Works, vol. 4 Familiar Letters; Miscellaneous Pieces; The Temple of Gnidus; A Defence of the Spirit of Laws 
The Complete Works of M. de Montesquieu (London: T. Evans, 1777), 4 vols. Vol. 4.
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“OF MARITIME USURY.
“The greatness of maritime usury is founded on two things: the danger of the sea, which makes it proper that those who expose their specie, should not do it without considerable advantage; and the ease with which the borrower, by the means of commerce, speedily accomplishes a variety of great affairs. But usury, with respect to landsmen, being founded on neither of these two reasons, is either prohibited by the legislators, or, what is more rational, reduced to proper bounds.”
I ask every sensible man, whether the Author has here determined that maritime usury is just; or whether he has simply said, that the greatness of maritime usury is less repugnant to natural equity, than the greatness of Usury at land. The Critic is acquainted with none but positive and absolute qualities, and does not know the meaning of those terms, more or less. If one was to tell him that a mulatto woman was not so black as a negro, this would signify, according to him, that she is as white as snow: if one was to tell him that she was blacker than an European, he would then think she was as black as a coal. But to proceed.
In the twenty-second book of The Spirit of Laws there are four chapters on usury. In the two first, which are the nineteenth and that the reader has just perused, the Author examines usury* in the relation it bears to the commerce of different nations, and the several governments of the world; and to this these two chapters solely relate. The two following only explain the variations of usury among the Romans. But here the Author is suddenly raised to be a casuist, a canonist, and divine; for no other reason but because the Critic is a casuist, a canonist, and divine, or that he is two of the three, or one of the three, or, perhaps at bottom, none of the three. The Author is sensible, that the consideration of lending at interest, as connected with Christianity, is a subject attended with endless distinctions and limitations. He is sensible that the civilians, and a multitude of courts of justice, do not always agree with the casuists and canonists; that some of these admit certain limitations of the general principle of never asking interest, and others admit still greater. Though all these questions had belonged to his subject, which they do not, how would he have been able to have treated of them? We find it difficult to know thoroughly what we have well studied; but much more difficult is it to know what we have never studied at all. However, those very chapters that are employed against him, sufficiently prove, that he is only an historian and civilian. Let us read chap. 19† .
“Specie is the sign of value. It is evident, that he who has occasion for this sign ought to pay for the use of it, as well as for every thing else that he has occasion for. All the difference is, that other things may be either hired or bought; whilst money, which is the price of things, can only be hired, and not bought.
“To lend money without interest, is certainly an action laudable and extremely good; but this is perhaps only a counsel of religion, and not a civil law.
“In order that trade may be successfully carried on, it is necessary that a price be fixed on the use of specie; but this price should be very inconsiderable. If it be too high, the merchant, who finds that it will cost him more in interest than he can gain by commerce, will undertake nothing. If there is no consideration to be paid for the use of specie, no body will lend it; and here too the merchant will undertake nothing.
“I am mistaken when I say that nobody will lend; the affairs of society must ever make it necessary. Usury will be established, but with all the disorders with which it has been constantly attended.
“The Laws of Mahomet confound usury with lending upon interest. Usury increases in Mahometan countries, in proportion to the severity of the prohibition. The lender indemnifies himself for the danger he undergoes of suffering the penalty.
“In those eastern countries the greatest part of the people are secure of nothing. There is hardly any connexion between the actual possession of a sum, and the hope of receiving it again after having lent it. Usury then must be raised in proportion to the danger of insolvency.”
Afterwards comes the chapter on maritime usury mentioned above; and the twenty-first chapter, which treats of lending by contract, and of usury amongst the Romans, which is as follows:
“Besides the loans made for the advantage of commerce, there is still a kind of lending by a civil contract, from whence results interest or usury.
“As the people of Rome daily increased in power, the magistrates sought to insinuate themselves into their favour by enacting such Laws as were most agreeable to them. They retrenched capitals; first lowered, and at length prohibited interest; and took away the power of confining the debtor’s body. In fine, the abolition of debts was contended for, whenever a tribune was disposed to render himself popular.
“These continual changes, whether made by the Laws, or by the plebiscita, naturalized usury at Rome: for the creditors seeing the people their debtor, their legislator, and their judge, had no longer any confidence in agreements with them. The people, like a debtor who has lost his credit, could only tempt them to lend by allowing an exorbitant interest; for if the Laws did not from time to time remedy the evil, the complaints of the people became continual, and constantly intimidated the creditors. This was the cause that all honest means of borrowing and lending were abolished at Rome, and that the most monstrous usury, constantly blasted by the thunders of the state, and constantly revived, became established in that city.
“Cicero tells us, that in his time interest at Rome was at thirty-four per cent. and in the provinces at forty-eight. This evil was a consequence of the severity of the Laws against usury. Laws excessively good are the source of excessive evil. The borrower found himself under the necessity of paying for the interest of the money, and for the danger the creditor underwent of suffering the penalty of the Law.”
The Author has then treated of interest only in relation to the commerce of various nations, and to the civil Laws of the Romans; and this is so true, that he has distinguished, in the second paragraph of the nineteenth chapter, the establishments of the religious, from those of the political legislators. Had he mentioned by name the Christian religion, he would have treated the subject in other terms, and have pointed out what that religion ordains, and what it counsels; he would, with the divines, have distinguished, the several cases; he would have laid down all the limitations set by the Christian religion to that general Law, sometimes established among the Romans, and always among the Mahometans, That we ought, in no case, and in no circumstance, to receive interest for money. The Author had not this subject to treat of; but that a general, unlimited, indistinct defence of it, without any restrictions, made the Mahometans lose their commerce, and was near destroying the Roman republic: whence it follows, that the Christians, on account of their not living under these rigid Laws, still enjoy their commerce, and there is not found in their states that monstrous usury required by the Mahometans, and that was formerly extorted by the Romans.
The Author has employed the twenty-first and twenty-second chapters* in examining what were the Laws of the Romans on the subject of lending by contracts, in the different times of their republic. But here his Critic quits for a moment the banks of theology, to turn to the side of erudition. But we shall soon see, that he is also deceived in his erudition, and that he cannot even for once understand the state of the question he endeavours to examine. Let us read a passage in the twenty-second chapter* .
“Tacitus says, that the Law of the Twelve Tables fixed the interest at one per cent. per annum. It is evident that he was mistaken, and that he took another Law, of which I am going to speak, for the Law of the Twelve Tables. If this had been regulated in the Law of the Twelve Tables, why did they not make use of its authority in the disputes which afterwards arose between the creditors and debtors? We find not any vestige of this Law upon lending at interest; and, let us have but ever so little knowledge of the history of Rome, we shall see that a Law like this could never be the work of the Decemvirs.” And a little after the Author adds: “In the year of Rome 398, the Tribunes Duellius and Menenius caused a Law to be passed, which reduced interest to one per cent. per annum. It is this Law which Tacitus confounds with the Law of the Twelve Tables; and this was the first ever made by the Romans to fix the rate of interest,” &c.
Here the Author says, that Tacitus is mistaken in saying that the Law of the Twelve Tables had fixed the rate of interest among the Romans. He has said, that Tacitus has taken for the Law of the Twelve Tables, a Law made by Duellius and Menenius about eighty-five years after the Law of the Twelve Tables; and that this Law was the first that fixed the rate of interest at Rome. What does the Critic say to this? He replies, that Tacitus was not mistaken, but spoke of usury at one per cent. per mensem, and not of usury at one cent. per annum. But the question is not here of the rate of usury; it is to know, whether the Law of the Twelve Tables has made any regulation whatsoever in relation to usury. The Author says, that Tacitus is mistaken in saying that the Decemvirs had made a regulation in the Law of the Twelve Tables, to fix the rate of usury; and upon this the Critic says, he was not mistaken, because he spoke of usury at one per cent. by the month, and not at one per cent. for a year. I had reason then for saying that the Critic did not know the state of the question.
It now remains to inquire, whether the Law mentioned by Tacitus, whatever it is, fixes usury, according to the Author, at one per cent. by the year, or, according to the Critic, at one per cent. for the month. Prudence required that he should not enter into a dispute with the Author on the Roman Laws, without knowing them; that he should not deny a fact with which he was unacquainted, and of which he was ignorant of the means of obtaining information. The question is, what Tacitus meant by these words, unciarium fœnus* . He needed but to have opened the dictionaries, and he would have found in that of Calvinus or Kahl† , that it was one per cent. by the year, and not by the month. Had he consulted the learned Salmasius, he would have told him the same thing‡ .
While the Romans had no laws that fixed the rate of usury, the most common custom was for the usurer to take twelve ounces of copper for the loan of an hundred ounces; that is, twelve per cent. per annum: and an as being the value of twelve ounces of copper, the usurer received annually an as for an hundred ounces. It being frequently necessary to reckon usury by the month, the interest for six months was called semis, or the half of the as; the usury for four months was named triens, or the third of the as; the usury for three months was called quadrans, or the fourth of the as; and, in short, the usury for one month was called unciaria, or the twelfth of the as: so that as they raised an ounce every month on every hundred ounces lent, this usury by the ounce, or one per cent. per mensem, was called centesimal usury. The Critic had acquired the knowledge of this signification of the centesimal usury, but has applied it very ill.
We see, that all this was nothing more than a method or form of regulating the accounts between debtor and creditor in relation to usury, on a supposition that it was at twelve per cent. per annum, which was the common and usual rate; but if a person borrowed at eighteen per cent. per annum, they made use of the same method, only increasing one third of the interest for each month; so that the unciarium fænus was then an ounce and a half per month.
When the Romans made Laws on usury, they did not concern themselves about this method, which had been used, and was so still, between the debtors and creditors, for the division of the time, and the convenience of paying their interest. The legislator had a public regulation to make; the business here was not to divide usury by the month, but to fix it; and this was done by the year. They, however, continued to make use of the terms derived from the division of the as, without applying the same ideas to them. Thus the unciarium fænus signified one per cent. per annum; the usury ex quadrante signified three per cent. per annum; the usury ex triente, four per cent. per annum; the usury semis, six per cent. per annum. And if the usury unciaria had signified one per cent. per mensem, the Law which fixed the ex quadrante, ex triente, ex semisse, would have established usury at three per cent. at four per cent. at six per cent. by the month; which would have been absurd, because the Laws made to suppress usury would have been more cruel than the usurers.
The Critic has then confounded the species of things. But I ought here to give his very words, in order that the reader may be fully convinced, that the confidence with which he writes ought not to impose on any one. Tacitus, says he* , is not mistaken; he speaks of interest at one per cent. by the month, and the Author has imagined that he speaks of one per cent. per annum. Every body knows, that the hundredth part was paid to the usurer every month. Ought a man, who has written two quarto volumes on the laws, to be ignorant of this?
Whether this man was, or was not ignorant of the centesimal, is of no consequence: but he was not ignorant of it, since he has mentioned it in three places. But how has he mentioned it, and where has he spoken of it† ? I may defy the Critic to guess, as he cannot find the words and expressions he is acquainted with.
The question here is not, whether the Author is, or is not a man of learning, but to defend his altars‡ . However, it was necessary to shew the public, that the Critic has assumed so decisive a tone on things about which he was intirely ignorant, and had so little doubt that he did not even open a dictionary to confirm his opinion; that, tho’ ignorant himself, he accuses others of not having his own errors, and therefore can no longer merit the least confidence with respect to his other accusations. Would not one have been apt to believe, that the haughty and insolent manner he assumes must have proceeded from his never being in the wrong? that when he chafes and blusters, this is a proof of his not being in an error? that when he anathematizes the Author with his phrases of impious mortal and follower of natural religion, we may still believe that he is not mistaken? Who would have thought that it is necessary to keep a guard over ourselves, to prevent our receiving those impressions that put his spirits in motion, and give impetuosity to his style? that in his two pieces it is highly proper to separate his reasons from his abuse, and that afterwards setting aside those reasons that are bad, nothing will remain.
The Author, in the chapters on lending at interest, and of usury among the Romans; a subject doubtless the most important in their history, since it is so closely connected with the constitution of Rome, that a thousand times it was near subverting it; after treating of the Laws they made from despair; of those dictated by prudence; of such regulations as were only temporary; and of those that were designed to last for ever, says at the end of the twenty-second chapter, “In the year of Rome 398, the tribunes Duellius and Menenius caused a Law to be passed, which reduced interest to one per cent. per annum.—Ten years after this usury was reduced one half, and in the end it was intirely abolished.
“It fared with this Law as with all those in which the legislator carries things to excess; an infinite number of ways were found to elude it. They enacted, therefore, many others to confirm, correct, and temper it. Sometimes they quitted the Laws, to follow the common practice; at others, the common practice to follow the Laws; but in this case custom easily prevailed. When a man wanted to borrow, he found an obstacle in the very Law made in his favour; this Law must be evaded by the person it was made to succour, and by him it was made to condemn. Sempronius Asellus the Prætor, having permitted the debtors to act in conformity to the Laws, was slain by the creditors, for attempting to revive the memory of a severity that could no longer be supported.
“Under Sylla, Lucius Valerius Flaccus made a Law which suffered interest to be at three per cent. per annum. This Law, the most moderate, the most equitable ever made on this account by the Romans, is disapproved by Paterculus. But if this Law was necessary for the advantage of the republic, if it was of service to every individual, if it formed an easy communication between the debtor and creditor, it could not be unjust.
“He pays least, says Ulpian, who pays latest. This decides the question, whether interest be lawful, that is, whether the creditor can sell time, and the debtor buy it.”
Let us see how the Critic reasons on this last passage, which refers only to the Law of Flaccus, and to the political dispositions of the Romans. The Author, says he, on resuming all he had said on usury, maintains that a creditor is permitted to sell time. The Critic here seems to insinuate, that the Author had been writing a treatise on theology, or Canon Law, and that he had at length resumed it; tho’ it is evident that he is only treating of the political regulations of the Romans; of a Law of Flaccus, and the opinion of Paterculus: so that this Law of Flaccus, Paterculus’s opinion, the reflexion of Ulpian, and that of the Author, are closely connected, and cannot be separated from each other.
I have still many things to say; but I chuse rather to refer the reader to the pieces themselves. Believe me, my dear Piso, they have formed a work which, like the dreams of the sick, exhibit nothing but vain phantoms* .
WE have seen in the two first parts, all that results from so many bitter criticisms is, That the Author of The Spirit of Laws has not performed his work according to the plan and views of his Critics; and that if his Critics had wrote a work on the same subject, they would have thrown in a great many things which they know. It also follows from thence, that they are divines, and that the Author is a civilian; that they think themselves qualified to do his business, and that he has not the presumption to believe himself fit for theirs. In fine, it follows from thence, that, instead of attacking him with such acrimony, they had better have made themselves sensible of the value of what he has said in favour of religion, which he has with equal ardour respected and defended. I shall now make some reflexions.
That manner of reasoning is not good, which, being employed against any good book whatsoever, may make it appear as bad as any bad book whatsoever; and which, being used against any bad book whatsoever, may make it appear as good as any good book whatsoever.
That manner of reasoning is not just, which, to the subject in debate, calls in others that have no relation to it, and confounds the several sciences, and the ideas belonging to each.
We ought not to dispute, on a work wrote on any of the sciences, with reasons that may attack the science itself.
When a person writes a criticism on a work, and on a work of considerable extent and importance, he ought to endeavour to procure a particular knowledge of the science which is the subject of that work, and carefully to read the approved authors who have already wrote upon it; in order to see, whether the Author has deviated from the usual received manner of treating the subject.
When an Author explains himself by word of mouth, or by his writings, which are the images of those words, it is contrary to reason to quit the exterior signs of his thoughts, to run in search of his thoughts themselves; because none but himself is capable of knowing his thoughts. It is much worse, when his thoughts are good, and bad ones are attributed to him.
When a person writes against an Author, and becomes exasperated against him, he ought to prove the character he gives him by what he says, and not what he says by the character he gives him.
When we see that an author’s intention is in general good, we shall be seldomer mistaken if, in certain places which we think equivocal, we judge according to the general intention, than if we allow him a particular bad intention.
In books wrote for amusement, three or four pages give an idea of the style, and the charms of the work: but, in books of reasoning, we retain nothing if we do not retain the whole chain.
As it is very difficult to write a good work, and very easy to write a critique upon it, because the Author has all his defiles to guard, and the Critic has only one of them to force; the latter ought not to fail: but if it happens that he has continually failed, he must be inexcusable.
Besides, as the Critic may be chargeable with an ostentation of his superiority over others, and as the usual effect of the criticism is giving some delicious moments to human pride; those who give themselves up to it deserve to be treated with strict justice, but very seldom with indulgence.
And as, of all the different kinds of writing, it is that in which it is most difficult to shew a good temper, we ought to take care not to increase, by the bitterness of words, this unhappiness in the subject.
When we write on grand and noble subjects, it is not sufficient for us to consult our zeal; we ought also to consult our abilities, and if heaven has not blessed us with great talents, we may supply the want of them by distrust of ourselves, exactness, labour, and reflexion.
The art of finding, in what has naturally a good sense, all the bad senses which a person by false reasoning is capable of giving it, is of no use to mankind; and those who practise it are like the ravens that fly from living bodies, and hover on all sides in search of carcases.
A like manner of criticising produces two grand inconveniencies. The first is, That it hurts the mind of the reader, by exhibiting a mixture of truth and falshood, of good and evil: he is accustomed to seek for a bad sense in things that have naturally a good one; whence he is easily led to the disposition of searching for a good sense in things that have naturally a bad one: it thus make him lose the faculty of reasoning justly, and throws him into all the subtilties of a false logic. The second inconvenience is, That, in rendering, by this manner of reasoning, good books suspected, we have no arms left with which we can attack those that are bad: so that the public has no rule whereby to distinguish them. If those are treated as Spinosists and Deists who are not, what shall be said to those who are?
Though we ought readily to think, that those who write against us on subjects in which all mankind are interested, are prompted to do this only by the impulses of Christian charity; yet, as it is the nature of that virtue rarely to conceal itself, as it will shine in spite of ourselves, and sparkle and blaze on all sides, if it happens that, in two pieces wrote one after another against the same person, no trace can be found of that amiable virtue, that it does not appear in any phrase, in any turn, in any word, or expression, he who has written such works must have just cause to fear that he was not led to it by Christian charity.
And as virtues merely human are, in us, the effect of what is called a good disposition; if it be impossible to discover any vestige of this good disposition, the public may conclude from thence, that these pieces are not even the effect of the human virtues.
In the judgment of mankind, it is easier to see the actions, than to be convinced of the sincerity of the motives; and it is more easy to believe, that the action of uttering atrocious abuse is an evil, than it is to be persuaded, that the motive which prompted to it is good.
When a man is fixed in a state intended to render religion respected, and which religion itself renders respectable, and attacks before the men of the world one of that body, it is essentially necessary that he should maintain, by his manner of acting, the superiority of his character. The world is very corrupt: but there are certain passions found there that are kept under great restraint: because there are others more favoured that forbid their appearance. Consider the men of the world in their behaviour to each other; there is nothing so timid; pride durst not reveal its secrets, and, in the regard it has for others, it quits itself only to gain new strength. Christianity gives us the habit of subduing this pride; the world gives us the habit of concealing it. With the little virtue we have, what would become of us, if our whole souls were set at liberty, and if we were not attentive to the least word, to the least signs, the least gestures? Now when men, venerable and respectable by their characters, shew passions which the men of the world durst not suffer to break out to public view, these begin to think themselves better than they really are; and this is a great evil.
We men of the world are also so weak, that we ought to be treated with the utmost care and precaution. Therefore when a priest lets us see all the external marks of violent passions, what would he have us think of what passes within his breast? Can he hope that we, rash as we are in judging, will not judge accordingly?
It is observable that, in the conversations and disputes of men of a harsh and obstinate temper, as they strive not to inform and assist each other, but to obtain a victory, they fly from truth, not in proportion to the greatness or littleness of their minds, but according to the greater or less caprice and inflexibility of their dispositions. The contrary happens to those to whom nature or education has given candour and ingenuity. As their disputes are mutual succours, they have the same object in view; they think differently only that they may think alike, and find and acknowledge the force of truth in proportion to the strength of evidence: this is the reward of a good disposition.
When a man writes on religious subjects, he ought not to depend so much on the credulity of those who read, as to say things contrary to good sense; because, by increasing his credit with those who have more piety than understanding, he loses his credit with others who have more understanding than piety.
And as religion best defends itself, it suffers greater prejudice by being badly defended, than if it was not defended at all.
If it should happen that a man, after having lost his readers, should attack a person of some reputation, and thus obtain the means of being read; one might suspect that, under the pretence of sacrificing this victim to religion, he sacrificed him to his own self-love.
The manner of criticising of which we are treating, is the only thing in the world most capable of limiting the extent, and diminishing, if I may use the term, the sum-total of national genius. Theology has its bounds and its forms; because, the truths it teaches being known, men are not allowed to deviate from them. Here then genius cannot take her flight, she being in a manner circumscribed in a circle. But, to pretend to place the same inclosure about those who treat of human sciences, is mocking the world. The principles of geometry are very true; but if we apply them to things of taste, we shall make reason itself talk unreasonably. Nothing stifles knowledge more, than covering every thing with a doctor’s robe; and the men who would be for ever teaching, are great hindrances to learning. There is no genius that is not contracted by being inveloped by a million of vain scruples. Have you the best intention in the world, they will force you yourself to doubt of it. You can no longer employ your endeavour to speak or write with propriety, when you are perplexed with the fear of expressing yourself ill; and when, instead of pursuing your thought, you are only busied about chusing such terms as may escape the subtilty of the critics. They come to put a biggin on your head, each saying at every word, Take care of falling; you would speak like yourself, but I would have you speak like me. Do you endeavour to soar aloft? They stop you by pulling your sleeve. Have you life and strength? They deprive you of it in an instant. Do you rise a little? they take their rule, and, lifting up their heads, call you to come down that they may measure you. Do you run your course? They would have you examine all the stones the ants have thrown up in your way. No science nor literature is proof against this pedantry. The present age has formed academies; but they would make us re-enter the schools of the darker ages. Descartes, however, may give assurance to those who, with a genius infinitely beneath his, have the same good intentions. That great man was incessantly charged with atheism; and yet there are not now employed against the Atheists stronger arguments than his.
We ought to regard criticisms as personal only, in the cases where those who made them have been willing to render them so. It is certainly very allowable to criticise the works presented to the public; because it would be ridiculous for those who are willing to inlighten others, to be averse to be inlightened themselves. Those who give us information are the companions of our labours. If the Critic and the Author are both in search of truth, they have the same interest; for truth is a blessing designed for allmankind: they are then confederates, and not enemies.
It is with great pleasure that I now lay down the pen. I should have continued to have kept silence, if, in keeping it, many persons had not concluded that I had been reduced to it.
SOME EXPLANATIONS OF THE SPIRIT OF LAWS.
SOME persons have made this objection: In The Spirit of Laws, honour or fear, and not virtue, is represented as the principle upon which certain governments are founded, and virtue is represented as the principle of only a few others: whence it follows, that the christian virtues are not required in most governments.
To this it is answered, that the Author has placed this note in the fifth chapter of the third book: “I speak here of political virtue, which is a moral virtue as directed to the general advantage; very little of private moral virtue, and not at all of that virtue which has a relation to revealed truths.” In the following chapter is another note that refers to this, and to the second and third chapters of the fifth book. This virtue the Author has defined the love of our country; and the love of our country he has defined the love of equality and frugality. The whole fifth book rests on these principles. When a writer has defined a word in his work, when he has given, if I may use the expression, his dictionary, ought not his words to be understood according to the signification he has given them?
The word Virtue, like most of the words in all languages, is taken in several acceptations: sometimes it signifies the christian virtues; sometimes the pagan virtues; and often, a certain christian virtue, or a particular pagan virtue; it likewise sometimes signifies fortitude; and in some languages it means a certain capacity for an art, or for certain arts. It is what precedes, or what follows the word, that fixes its signification: but here the Author has done more—he has several times given his definition. This objection has therefore been only made on account of the work being read with too much rapidity.
THE Author has said in the third chapter of the second book, “The best aristocracy is that in which the part of the people who have no share in the legislature is so small and inconsiderable, that the governing party have no interest in oppressing them. Thus, when Antipater made a Law at Athens, that whosoever was not worth two thousand drachms should be excluded from the right of suffrage* , he formed by this means the best aristocracy possible; because this was so small a sum, that it excluded very few, and not one of any rank or consideration in the city. Aristocratical families ought therefore, as much as possible, to level themselves in appearance with the people. The more an aristocracy borders on democracy, the nearer it approaches to perfection; and it is the more imperfect, in proportion as it draws towards monarchy.”
In a letter inserted in the Journal de Travaux for the month of April 1749, this quotation is objected against the Author. The writer says, that he has open before him the place quoted, and there finds, that there were only nine thousand persons who had the sum prescribed by Antipater; and that there were twenty-two thousand who wanted it: whence it is concluded that the Author has misapplied his quotations, the small number having the sum required, and the large number being excluded for the want of it.
It were to be wished, that he who has made this critical remark had paid greater attention to what both the Author and Diodorus have said.
1. There were not twenty-two thousand who wanted this sum in Antipater’s republic. The twenty-two thousand persons mentioned by Diodorus were sent away and established in Thrace; and there only remained to form this republic, the nine thousand citizens who had the sum, and those of the lower people who would not set out for Thrace. The reader may consult Diodorus.
2. Though there had remained twenty-two thousand persons at Athens, who wanted the above sum, the objection would not be the less unjust. The words great and small are relative. Nine thousand Sovereigns in a state are an immense number; and twenty-two thousand subjects in the same state, is a number extremely small.
[* ]Usury and interest among the Romans signified the same thing.
[† ]Book xxii.
[* ]Book xxii.
[* ]Book xxii.
[* ]Nam prim ò duodecim tabulis sanctum, ne quis unciario fœnore ampliùs exerceret. Annal. lib. vi.
[† ]Usurarum species ex assis partibus denominantur: quod ut intelligatur, illud scire oportet, sortem omnem ad centenarium numerum revocari; summam autem usuram esle, cum pars sortis centesima singulis mensibus persolvitur. Et quoniam istâ ratione summa hæc usura duodecim aureos annuos in centenos efficit, duodenarius numerus jurisconsultos movit, ut assem hunc usurarium appellarent. Quemadmodùm hic as non ex menstrua sed ex annuâ pensione æstimandus est; similiter omnes ejus partes ex anni ratione intelligendœ sunt: ut si unus in centenos annuatim pendatur, unciaria usura; si bini, sextans; si terni, quadrans; si quaterni, triens; si quini, quincunx; si seni, semis; si septeni, septunx; si octoni, bes; si novem, dodrans; si deni, dextrans; si undeni, deunx; si duodeni, as. Lexicon J. Calvini. Coloniæ Allobrogum, anno 1622, apud Petrum Balduinum, in verbo Usura, p. 960.
[‡ ]De modo usurarum, Lugduni Batavorum ex officina Elxeviriorum, anno 1639. p. 269, 270, & 271; particularly these words, Undè verius sit unclarium fœnus eorum, vel uncias usuras, ut eas quoque appellats infrà ostendam, non unciam dare menstruam in centum, sed annum.
[∥ ]Argumentum legis xlvii.
[§ ]Præfectus legionis ff. de administratione & pericule tutoris.
[* ]The piece of the 9th of October, 1749, p. 164.
[† ]The third and last note of Book xxii. chap. 22. and the last of the third note.
[‡ ]Pro aris.
[* ]Diodorus, lib. xviii. p. 601. Rhodoman’s edition.