Charles De Montesquieu, formally Charles-Louis de Secondat, Baron de La Brède et de Montesquieu

Charles De
Montesquieu, formally Charles-Louis de Secondat, Baron de La Brède et de Montesquieu
1688
1755

French Social Commentator and Enlightenment Political Thinker

Author Quotes

Trade is the best cure for prejudice.

The honor of the conquest is rated by the difficulty.

Each citizen contributes to the revenues of the State a portion of his property in order that his tenure of the rest may be secure.

It is necessary from the very nature of things that power should be a check to power.

The culminating point of administration is to know well how much power, great or small, we ought to use in all circumstances.

I have always observed that to succeed in the world a person must seem simple, yet wise.

The harshest tyranny is that which acts under the protection of legality and the banner of justice.

The tyranny of a prince in an oligarchy is not so dangerous to the public welfare as the apathy of a citizen in a democracy.

Political liberty is to be found only in moderate governments.

It is wearying, in the history of the emperors, to see the infinite number of men they put to death for the purpose of confiscating their wealth.

A wise republic should hazard nothing that exposes it to either good or bad fortune. The only good to which it should aspire is the perpetuation of its condition… Rome was made for expansion, and its laws were admirable for this purpose… It lost its liberty because it completed the work it wrought too soon.

No tyranny is more cruel than the one practiced in the shadow of the laws and under color of justice — when, so to speak, one proceeds to drown the unfortunate on the very plank by which they had saved themselves. And since a tyrant never lacks instruments for his tyranny, Tiberius always found judges ready to condemn as many people as he might suspect.

Just as the old Romans strengthened their empire by permitting every kind of religion in it, so was it subsequently reduced to nothing by amputating, one after the other, the sects which were not dominant.

The government of Rome was admirable. From its birth, abuses of power could always be corrected by its constitution, whether by means of the spirit of the people, the strength of the senate, or the authority of certain magistrates.

When the legislative and executive powers are united in the same person, or in the same body of magistrates, there can be no liberty; because apprehensions may arise, lest the same monarch or senate should enact tyrannical laws, to execute them in a tyrannical manner.

But constant experience shows us that every man invested with power is apt to abuse it, and to carry his authority as far as it will go.

The deterioration of a government begins almost always by the decay of its principles.

There are only two cases in which war is just: first, in order to resist the aggression of an enemy, and second, in order to help an ally who has been attacked.

As distant as heaven is from the earth, so is the true spirit of equality from that of extreme equality... In a true state of nature, indeed, all men are born equal, but they cannot continue in this equality. Society makes them lose it, and they recover it only by the protection of laws.

Luxury is therefore absolutely necessary in monarchies; as it is also in despotic states, In the former, it is the use of liberty, in the latter, it is the abuse of servitude... Hence arrives a very natural reflection. Republics end with luxury; monarchies with poverty.

In republican governments, men are all equal; equal they are also in despotic governments: in the former, because they are everything; in the latter, because they are nothing.

There is no one, says another, whom fortune does not visit once in his life; but when she does not find him ready to receive her, she walks in at the door, and flies out at the window.

The spirit of moderation should also be the spirit of the lawgiver.

Luxury ruins republics; poverty, monarchies.

It is not the young people that degenerate; they are not spoiled till those of mature age are already sunk into corruption.

Author Picture
First Name
Charles De
Last Name
Montesquieu, formally Charles-Louis de Secondat, Baron de La Brède et de Montesquieu
Birth Date
1688
Death Date
1755
Bio

French Social Commentator and Enlightenment Political Thinker