Front Page Titles (by Subject) Chap. XVII.... Bad manner of enacting laws. - A Commentary and Review of Montesquieu's 'Spirit of Laws'
Chap. XVII…. Bad manner of enacting laws. - Antoine Louis Claude, Comte Destutt de Tracy, A Commentary and Review of Montesquieu’s ’Spirit of Laws’ 
A Commentary and Review of Montesquieu’s ’Spirit of Laws’: To which are annexed, Observations on the Thirty First Book by the late M. Condorcet; and Two Letters of Helvetius, on the Merits of the same Work, trans. Thomas Jefferson (Philadelphia: William Duane, 1811).
About Liberty Fund:
Liberty Fund, Inc. is a private, educational foundation established to encourage the study of the ideal of a society of free and responsible individuals.
The text is in the public domain.
Fair use statement:
This material is put online to further the educational goals of Liberty Fund, Inc. Unless otherwise stated in the Copyright Information section above, this material may be used freely for educational and academic purposes. It may not be used in any way for profit.
- The Author,: to His Fellow Citizens of the United States of America.
- A Commentary and Review of the Spirit of Laws: Preliminary Observations
- Book I: Of Laws In General
- Book II: Of Laws Originating Directly From the Nature of the Government.
- Book III: Of the Principles of the Three Forms of Government.
- Book IV: The Laws Relating to Education, Should Be Congenial With the Principles of the Government.
- Book V: Laws Formed By the Legislature Should Be Consistent With the Principles of the Government.
- Book VI: Consequences of the Principles of Different Governments, In Relation to the Simplicity of Civil and Criminal Laws, the Forms of Juridical Proceedings, and the Apportionment of Punishments.
- Book VII: Consequences of the Different Principles of the Three Forms of Government, Relative to Sumptuary Laws, to Luxury, and to the Condition of Women.
- Book VIII: Of the Corruption of the Principle In Each of the Three Forms of Government.
- Book IX: Of Laws Relative to the Defensive Force.
- Book X: Of Laws Relative to the Offensive Force.
- Book XI: Of the Laws Which Establish Public Liberty, In Relation to the Constitution.
- Book XII: Of Laws That Establish Political Liberty In Relation to the Citizen.
- A Review.: On the Twelve First Books of the Spirit of Laws.
- Book XIII: Of the Relation Which Taxes, and the Amount of the Public Revenue, Have to Public Liberty.
- Book XIV: Of Laws In Relation to Climate.
- Book Xv the Manner In Which the Laws of Civil Slavery Relate to the Climate.
- Book Xvi How the Laws of Domestic Slavery Relate to the Climate.
- Book Xvii How the Laws of Political Servitude Relate to the Climate.
- Book XVIII: Of Laws In Relation to the Nature of the Soil.
- Book XIX: Of Laws In Relation to the Principles Which Form the General Dispositions, Morals, and Manners of a Nation.
- Book XX: Of Laws In Relation to Commerce, Considered In Its Nature and Different Forms.
- Book Xxi of Laws In Relation to Commerce, Considered With Reference to the Revolutions It Has Undergone.
- Book XXII: Of Laws In Relation to the Use of Money.
- Book XXIII: Of Laws In Relation to Population
- Book XXIV: Of Laws In Relation to a Religious Establishment, Its Practical Operation, and Doctrines.
- Book Xxv of Laws In Relation to a Religions Establishment, and Its Effects On External Policy.
- Book XXVI: Of Laws In Relation to the Nature of Things Upon Which They Decide.
- Book XXVII: Of the Origin and Revolutions of the Roman Laws On Succession.
- Book Xxviii of the Origin and Revolutions of Civil Law Among the Franks.
- Book XXIX: Of the Manner In Which Laws Should Be Composed.
- Book XXX: Theory of the Feudal Laws Among the Franks, Relative to the Establishment of Monarchy.
- Book Xxxi Theory of Feudal Laws, Relative to the Revolutions of Monarchy.
- Observations On the Twenty-ninth Book of the Spirit of Laws, By M. Condorcet By M Condorcet
- Book XXIX.: On the Manner of Forming Laws.
- Chap. I…. of the Spirit of the Legislator.
- Chap. Ii…. Continuation of the Same Subject.
- Chap. Iii…. That Laws Which Appear to Deviate From the Intentions of the Legislator, Are Often Conformable Thereto.
- Chap. Iv…. of Laws Which Clash With the Views of the Legislator.
- Chap. V…. Continuation of the Sane Subject.
- Chap. Vi…. Laws Which Appear to Be the Same Have Not Uniformly the Same Effect.
- Chap. Vii…. Continuation of the Same Subject. the Necessity of Composing Laws In a Proper Manner.
- Chap. Viii…. Laws Which Appear the Same Have Not Always Been Established On the Same Motives.
- Chap. Ix…. the Greek and Roman Laws Punished Suicide From Different Motives.
- Chap. X…. Laws Which Appear Contradictory, Sometimes Originate In the Same Spirit.
- Chap. Xi…. How Shall We Be Able to Compare and Judge Between Two Laws.
- Chap. Xii…. Laws Which Appear the Same, Are Sometimes Really Different.
- Chap. Xiii…. We Should Not Separate the Laws From the Purposes For Which They Were Established: of the Roman Laws Against Theft.
- Chap. Xiv…. Laws Should Not Be Separated From the Circumstances In Which They Were Established.
- Chap. Xv…. It Is Sometimes Proper That the Law Shall Correct Itself.
- Chap. Xvi…. Matters to Be Observed In Composing Laws.
- Chap. Xvii…. Bad Manner of Enacting Laws.
- Chap. Xviii…. of Ideas of Uniformity.
- Chap. Xix…. of Legislators.
- Letters of Helvetius, Addressed to President Montesquieu and M. Saurin, On Perusing the Manuscript of the Spirit of Laws
- Letter I.: Letter of Helvetius to President Montesquieu
- Letter II.: Helvetius to A. M. Saurin.
Chap. XVII.... Bad manner of enacting laws.
Laws should be directed to general objects, and not to particular cases; the rescripts of the emperors could only be considered as interpretations given by the legislator; now such interpretations could neither have a retrospective effect, nor the force of law, inasmuch as they are not clothed in the authentic form which characterises law.
A law of Caracalla was a law, and might have been an absurd one: a rescript of Marcus Aurelius, or of Julian, though an oracle of wisdom, should not be considered as a law, before an edict had given it the sanction of one.
Justinian may have been in the wrong, by giving the power of laws to several of the rescripts, if they contained absurdities; but it was not because they were made by those lawyers, who wrote in the name of Caracalla, or Comodus. The emperors no more made their rescripts, than Louis XIV. made the regulations of 1670.
This Nacrinus, who was a gladiator and notary, and afterwards the compiler of the rescripts of Caracalla, who reigned a few months, and lost the empire and his life by his folly, is a singular authority to quote in the Spirit of Laws.