Montesquieu

As a result of these great advan­ta­ges of liberty, liberty itself has been abu­sed. Because mode­rate govern­ment has pro­du­ced admi­ra­ble effects, this mode­ra­tion has been aban­do­ned ; because large tri­bu­tes have been obtai­ned, exces­sive ones were hoped for ; and for want of gra­ti­tude to the hand of liberty that was offe­ring this pre­sent, they addres­sed them­sel­ves to ser­vi­tude, which refu­ses eve­ry­thing.

Liberty has pro­du­ced the excess of tri­bu­tes, but the effect of these exces­sive tri­bu­tes is to pro­duce ser­vi­tude in their turn, and the effect of ser­vi­tude is to pro­duce a dimi­nu­tion in tri­bu­tes.

The monarchs of Asia hardly issue any decrees except to exempt some pro­vince of their empire from tri­bu­tes every year.1 The mani­fes­ta­tions of their will are bene­fits. But in Europe, the decrees of prin­ces cause dis­tress even before they are seen, because they always address their needs and and never ours.

From an unpar­do­na­ble non­cha­lance which their minis­ters get from the govern­ment and often from the cli­mate, the peo­ples of those coun­tries derive one advan­tage : that they are not inces­santly cru­shed by new demands. Expenses do not increase, because there are no new pro­jects for­med ; and if by chance some were for­med, they are pro­jects with their end in view, and not pro­jects just begun. Those who govern the state do not tor­ment it, because they are not end­lessly tor­men­ting them­sel­ves. But for us it is impos­si­ble ever to have any rule in our finan­ces, because we always know that we will do some­thing, and never know what it is we will do.

Here we no lon­ger call a minis­ter great who is the wise dis­pen­ser of public reve­nues, but the one who is resour­ce­ful, and one who finds what we call expe­dients.

This is the practice of the emperors of China.