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“There is,” he said after a brief pause, “an appropriate maxim, which bears upon what I was just telling you, and that is, that unless evil ideas take root in a mind marked by depravity from the outset, human nature, in its right and wholesome state, considers crime repugnant. Just the same, wants, vices and false appetites are the products of our civilization, which occasionally become so powerful as to stifle within us our desire to do good, and ultimately to lead us into temptation and wickedness. Hence is to be derived this maxim: Si vous voulez découvrir le coupable, cherchez d’abord celui à qui le crime commis peut être utile! — That if you seek to discover the culprit, seek first to discover the person to whom the perpetration of that crime could be in any way advantageous.”
–Alexandre Dumas, père, Le comte de Monte-Cristo vol. 1, ch. 17 (”La chambre de l’abbé”) (1845-46)(The abbé Faria to Edmond Dantès, in prison)(S.H. transl.) in the Pléiade ed., p. 175.
More from Scott Horton:
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From the June 2014 issue
No Comment — March 28, 2014, 12:32 pm
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Average number of sitcom laughs an American hears during a prime-time season:
Nielsen Media Research (N.Y.C.)/Jim Drake, Night Court (Tarzana, Calif.)/Harper's research
Czech and German deer still do not cross the Iron Curtain.
British economists correlated the happiness of a country’s population with its genetic resemblance to Danes.
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“I hope that after reading the following pages the leaders of the Y. M. C. A. will start a campaign to induce good young men to do nothing. If so, I shall not have lived in vain.”