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Of Crimes and Punishments
Cesare Beccaria

Of Acts of violence.

Some crimes relate to person , others to property . The first ought to be punished corporally. The great and rich should by no means have it in their power to set a price on the security of the weak and indigent; for then riches, which, under the protection of the laws, are the reward of industry, would become the aliment of tyranny. Liberty is at an end whenever the laws permit that, in certain cases, a man may cease to be a person , and become a thing . Then will the powerful employ their address to select from the various combinations of civil society all that is in their own favour. This is that magic art which transforms subjects into beasts of burden, and which, in the hands of the strong, is the chain that binds the weak and incautious. Thus it is that in some governments, where there is all the appearance of Liberty, tyranny lies concealed, and insinuates itself into some neglected corner of the constitution, where it gathers strength insensibly. Mankind generally oppose, with resolution, the assaults of barefaced and open tyranny, but disregard the little insect that gnaws through the dike, and opens a sure though secret passage to inundation.


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