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Joseph Joubert (1754–1824). Joubert: A Selection from His Thoughts. 1899.

Chapter XIV.

Of Liberty, Justice, and Laws

[1]THERE is indeed a right of the wisest, but not a right of the strongest.

[2]Let us ask rather for free souls than free men. Moral liberty is the only important, the only vital liberty; the other is only good in so far as it favours this.

[3]Liberty is a tyrant governed by his caprices.

[4]Liberty! liberty!—in all things justice, and there will be enough liberty.

[5]Justice is the right of the weaker. In ourselves, it means the good of others, and in others our good.

[6]There are crimes that fortune never pardons.

[7]Generally speaking, innocence falls short of its apology, the crime is less than the accusation, and the ill less than the complaint.

[8]Indulgence must not speak too loud, for fear of awakening justice.

[9]We should place those whose opinion has great authority in the temple of the wise, and not on the bench of the debaters. We should employ them to decide, not to deliberate. They should pronounce the law, and not swell the majority. As they have no peers, they should have no party.

[10]To govern a body of commonplace and fickle men with success, a man must be like them, commonplace and fickle.