Montesquieu (The Spirit of Laws, l. xii. c. 12) praises one of the laws of Theodosius, addressed to the praefect Rufinus (1. ix. tit. iv. leg. unic.), to discourage the prosecution of treasonable or sacrilegious words. A tyrannical statute always proves the existence of tyranny; but a laudable edict may only contain the specious professions or ineffectual wishes of the prince or his ministers. This, I am afraid, is a just though mortifying canon of criticism.