Skip to main content

Full text of "Political Science Of The State"

See other formats

424                               POLITICAL SCIENCE.
manifest and serious ; (2) that there is strong temptation to
it in the habits of the age and country ; (3) that it cannot
easily be counteracted in any other way save that of direct
prohibition; (4) that there is no discoverable advantage in
allowing the evil to continue, the advantage from the gains
of capital being really of no account, because the waste from
self-indulgence in the consumer more than balances the prof-
its of the seller or producer who can use his capital in some
other way; (5) that the evil can be prevented effectually by
law, that is, that public opinion will not oppose the execu-
tion of such a law, that it can be executed with ease if prose-
cuting officers are faithful, that evidence can be found of the
violations of it, that the better class of citizens will interest
themselves in seeing it enforced.
I have indulged in these remarks to show the difficulties
connected with this subject, which are sufficiently great to
extinguish the contempt that is felt by some for the legislation
of past times, which confounded rights and morals. But the
order and existence of society would be imperilled, if legisla-
tion merely secured rights. And, on the other hand, if im-
moral acts were forbidden because they might be followed by
violation of private rights, that would open a door far too
wide. It is true that no wise distinctions were made in any
of the old codes between these two departments, and it is
true that the ablest men made mistakes in their legislation.
Thus, Julius Caesar had a sumptuary law enacted, although
so many had failed before, and found that it fell into neglect;1
and yet Augustus followed him in one which fixed the ex-
pense of entertainments at a certain small amount, and
Tiberius tried to stop the use of expensive utensils.* But it
was so evident that a state, and particularly a small state,
could not be preserved in a sound condition while prodigality
and corruption of family life were unnoticed by the law, that
all early lawgivers felt it necessary to put a restraint on the
immoralities of society. And they have been followed in all
* Comp. Cic. ad Fam., vii., 26, 2.    Suet. Jul., 43-    D< Cass.,lvii,
 15, and for the sumptuary laws in general, Cell., b. n, ch. 24.