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The Idea of Europe

Catriona Seth
Rotraud von Kulessa

40. The Progress of Justice in Europe

Texte intégral

1Lodovico Antonio Muratori (1672–1750) was an Italian historiographer and philosopher whose 1749 Treatise on Public Happinessi was read throughout Europe. He proposed moderate political reforms and attempted to conciliate Enlightenment and catholicism. Here he salutes the advanced level of development in matters of justice in Europe.

2Poor Truth! We praise it abroad, and abhor it at home. Yet the endeavour of the Political Physician is indeed a dangerous one, and I would venture to say that the World prefers to go on limping, rather than to suffer those who, in civic matters, would teach it to walk straight. It should be added that, in some countries, any innovation whatsoever is unwelcome, if not abhorred or forbidden; almost as though, if there are bad innovations, there cannot be any really good ones, or even excellent ones to universal benefit. The customary pattern of living, thinking and ruling, as we found it at birth, is what we think best to pass on to our descendants in turn. Thus some people dislike the idea of Public Evils being pointed out, much as removing them is important; and similarly others dislike that the Best should be taught, much as introducing it would be beneficial. I have no more to say here, other than, the World having recently become much less rusty in most of Europe, and God having granted us good and well-intentioned Principles, it is to be wished that He now inspire in the World a sincere desire to know well that which is permissible and that which is not; and to know what harms the People so as to remedy it, and what can bring benefit, so as to embrace it. […]

On Jurisprudence

3And as to making those indicted for grievous crimes to swear they are telling the truth, this has finally led many Christian Princes to order that this custom be ended, as if repugnant to the right of Nature. Finally, I will say that it is so important to the Happiness of a People to have good Justice administered, that glory will come to that Prince who will be constantly alert to this, or keep others alert; and who will also cast his watchful eye on to Advocates, Attorneys, and Notaries, so that such professions be entrusted solely to persons of upright conscience and sufficient knowledge, and that those who betray public trust may be punished.

4Lodovico Antonio Muratori, Treatise on Public Happiness (1749).

Read the free text in the original language (1749 edition):​details/​bub_gb_3SRnd5k3HHsC

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