Montesquieu

I would think there was an imper­fec­tion in my work if I pas­sed over in silence an event which has hap­pe­ned once in the world, and which will per­haps never hap­pen again, if I fai­led to speak of those laws we saw appear in an ins­tant throu­ghout Europe, without coming down from those that were pre­viously known, of those laws that have done infi­nite good and harm, which have left rights when the domain has been yiel­ded, which by giving to seve­ral per­sons various kinds of sei­gniory over the same thing or the same per­sons have dimi­ni­shed the weight of the entire sei­gniory, which have set various limits in overly large domi­nions, which have pro­du­ced the rule with an incli­na­tion to anar­chy, and anar­chy with a ten­dency to order and har­mony.

This would require a sepa­rate book ; but given the nature of this one, the rea­der will find these laws here less in the form of a trea­tise than of an over­view.

Feudal laws make a fine spec­ta­cle. A vene­ra­ble oak rises1 ; the eye sees its foliage from afar, and as it approa­ches, sees the trunk, but it does not per­ceive the roots : to find them, one must dig up the ground.

Quantum vertice ad oras ¶Æthereas, tantum radice ad Tartara tendit. Vergil. [’As far as the top reached towards the heavens, so far did the roots extend into Tartarus’ (Aeneid, IV, 445–446).]