Sometimes when a person sees the roguery of poor people and the thievery of people in high positions, he is tempted to regard society as a forest full of robbers, the most dangerous of which are the policemen that are set up to stop the others.
[En voyant quelquefois les friponneries des petits et les brigandages des hommes en place, on est tenté de regarder la société comme un bois rempli de voleurs, dont les plus dangereux sont les archers, préposés pour arrêter les autres.]
Products of Perfected Civilization [Produits de la Civilisation Perfectionée], Part 1 “Maxims and Thoughts [Maximes et Pensées],” ch. 3, ¶ 198 (1795) [tr. Siniscalchi (1994)]
(Source (French)). Alternate translations:
Seeing the rogueries of little men and the extortions of the great in office, one is tempted to look upon Society as a wood infested by robbers, the most dangerous being the constables sent to arrest the others.
[tr. Mathers (1926)]
At times, seeing the petty thieveries of the petty, and the robberies of those in office, one is tempted to regard society as a wood full of thieves, of which the most dangerous are the officers set there to arrest the others.
[tr. Merwin (1969)]
Sometimes, when one observes the rogueries perpetuated by petty people and the graft committed by men in office, one is tempted to think of society as a wood infested by thieves, of which the most dangerous are the archers, posted to prevent the others from escaping.
[tr. Pearson (1973)]
There are times when, seeing the nasty tricks people get up to, the gross frauds of high officers, you're tempted to think that you're in a wood infested by thieves, amongst whom the most dangerous are the police, whose purpose is supposed to be that of arresting them.
[tr. Parmée (2003), ¶ 152]
Added on 13-Nov-23 | Last updated 13-Nov-23
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