XXIX.6 That laws that seem the same do not always have the same effect

Cæsar made it ille­gal to keep more than sixty ses­ter­ces at home.1 This law was regar­ded in Rome as very appro­priate for reconci­ling deb­tors with cre­di­tors, because by obli­ging the rich to lend to the poor, it put the lat­ter in a posi­tion to satisfy the rich. A law just like it made in France during the time of the System was catas­tro­phic, because the cir­cum­stance in which it was made was ter­ri­ble. After taking away every means of inves­ting one’s money, they took away even the recourse of kee­ping it at home, which was equi­va­lent to sei­zing it by vio­lence. Cæsar made his law so that money would cir­cu­late among the com­mo­ners ; the minis­ter of France made his so that money would be pla­ced in a sin­gle hand. The first, for money gave par­cels of land or enga­ge­ments on indi­vi­duals ; the second, for money, pro­po­sed effects that had no value, and which could not by their nature have any,2 for the rea­son that his law made it obli­ga­tory to take them.

Dio, book XLI.

[Montesquieu refers to the paper money issued by the state bank under John Law’s “System.”]