Montesquieu

In the des­po­tic govern­ment, power pas­ses undi­vi­ded into the hands of the man in whom it is being confi­ded. The vizier is the des­pot him­self, and each indi­vi­dual offi­cer is the vizier. In the monar­chi­cal govern­ment, power is applied less directly ; the monarch, in dele­ga­ting it, tem­pers it1. He makes such a dis­tri­bu­tion of his autho­rity that he never gives part of it away without retai­ning a lar­ger part for him­self.

Thus, in monar­chi­cal sta­tes, the sepa­rate gover­nors of the cities, not so behol­den to the gover­nor of the pro­vince as not to be even more behol­den to the prince, and the par­ti­cu­lar offi­cers of the mili­tary corps are not so depen­dent on the gene­ral that they are not even more depen­dent on the prince.

In most monar­chi­cal sta­tes it has been wisely ins­ti­tu­ted that those who have a fairly exten­sive com­mand are atta­ched to no corps of mili­tia, so that, hol­ding com­mand only by a spe­ci­fic inten­tion of the prince, able to be employed or not, they are in a sense in the ser­vice, and in a sense out­side it.

This is incom­pa­ti­ble with the des­po­tic govern­ment. For if those who have no cur­rent posi­tion never­the­less pos­ses­sed pre­ro­ga­ti­ves and tit­les, the state would include men who were impor­tant in them­sel­ves, which would go against the nature of that govern­ment.

For if the gover­nor of a city were inde­pen­dent of the pasha, every day accom­mo­da­tions would be neces­sary to reconcile them, which is absurd in a des­po­tic govern­ment. And besi­des, if the indi­vi­dual gover­nor could refuse to obey, how would the pasha ans­wer for his pro­vince upon his head ?

In this govern­ment, autho­rity can­not be evenly divi­ded ; that of the least magis­trate is not more evenly divi­ded than the des­pot’s. In mode­rate coun­tries, the law is eve­ryw­here wise, it is eve­ryw­here known, and the pet­tiest magis­tra­tes can fol­low it. But in des­po­tism, where the law is but the will of the prince, how could a magis­trate, even were the prince wise, fol­low an inten­tion which he does not know ? He can only fol­low his own.

Besides, the law being only what the prince wills, and the prince being able to will only what he knows, there must be count­less per­sons who will in his place and as he would.

In short, the law being the momen­tary will of the prince, it is neces­sary that those who will for him should will ins­tantly as he would.

Ut esse Phœbi dulcius lumen solet / Jamjam cadentis… [Seneca, Troades, v. 1141-1142 : ‘Thus is the light of the sun gentler when it is setting’].