Montesquieu
 

XXIX.3 That laws that seem to deviate from the views of the legislator are often in agreement with them

The law of Solon that decla­red dis­gra­ce­ful all those who took no side in a sedi­tion, appea­red quite extra­or­di­nary : but one must take note of the cir­cum­stan­ces in which Greece found her­self then. She was divi­ded into very small sta­tes ; it was to be fea­red that in a repu­blic worn by civil strife, the most pru­dent men would take cover, and that things would the­reby be car­ried to the extreme.

In the sedi­tions that occur in those small sta­tes, the bulk of the state ente­red into the quar­rel, or crea­ted it. In our large monar­chies, the par­ties are made up of few per­sons, and the peo­ple would rather take no action. In this case, it is natu­ral to reab­sorb the sedi­tious into the mass of the citi­zens, not the mass of the citi­zens into the sedi­tious ; in the other, you need for the small num­ber of docile and tran­quil per­sons to join the sedi­tious : that is how the fer­men­ta­tion of a liquor can be stop­ped by a sin­gle drop of ano­ther one.