Great Throughts Treasury

A database of quotes

Baron de Montesquieu, fully Charles-Louis de Secondat, Baron de La Brède et de Montesquieu

French Philosopher, Political Thinker and Social Commentator

"Oh, how empty is praise when it reflects back to its origin!"

"One more organ or one less in our body would give us a different intelligence. In fact, all the established laws as to why our body is a certain way would be different if our body were not that way."

"Peace is a natural effect of trade."

"People have the government they deserve."

"People here argue about religion interminably, but it appears that they are competing at the same time to see who can be the least devout."

"Political liberty in a citizen is that peace of mind that comes from the opinion each person has of his safety, and to have this liberty, the government must be such that a citizen cannot afraid of another ."

"Political liberty is to be found only in moderate governments."

"Politics are a smooth file, which cuts gradually, and attains its end by slow progression."

"Power ought to serve as a check to power."

"Raillery is a mode of speaking in favor of one's wit against one's good nature."

"Raillery is a mode of speaking in favor of one's wit at the expense of one's better nature."

"Religious wars are not caused by the fact that there is more than one religion, but by the spirit of intolerance... the spread of which can only be regarded as the total eclipse of human reason."

"Republics end through luxury; monarchies through poverty."

"Slavery is contrary to the fundamental law of all societies."

"Slavery is not useful to the master or the slave to him because he cannot do anything by virtue in this, because he gradually becomes accustomed to violate all the moral virtues, he became proud swift, hard, angry, voluptuous, and cruel ."

"Slavery, properly so called, is the establishment of a right which gives to one man such a power over another as renders him absolute master of his life and fortune. The state of slavery is in its own nature bad. It is neither useful to the master nor to the slave; not to the slave, because he can do nothing through a motive of virtue; nor to the master, because by having an unlimited authority over his slaves he insensibly accustoms himself to the want of all moral virtues, and thence becomes fierce, hasty, severe, choleric, voluptuous, and cruel... where it is of the utmost importance that human nature should not be debased or dispirited, there ought to be no slavery. In democracies, where they are all upon equality; and in aristocracies, where the laws ought to use their utmost endeavors to procure as great an equality as the nature of the government will permit, slavery is contrary to the spirit of the constitution: it only contributes to give a power and luxury to the citizens which they ought not to have."

"Slowness is frequently the cause of much greater slowness."

"Society is the union of men and not the men themselves."

"Sometimes a man who deserves to be looked down upon because he is a fool is despised only because he is a lawyer."

"Success in the majority of circumstances depends on knowing how long it takes to succeed."

"Sugar would be too dear if the plants which produce it were cultivated by any other than slaves."

"Talent is a gift which God has given us secretly, and which we reveal without perceiving it."

"The alms given to a naked man in the street do not fulfil the obligations of the state, which owes to every citizen a certain subsistence, a proper nourishment, convenient clothing, and a kind of life not incompatible with health."

"The avarice of nations makes them quarrel for the movables of the whole universe."

"The color of the skin may be determined by that of the hair, which, among the Egyptians, the best philosophers in the world, was of such importance that they put to death all the red-haired men who fell into their hands."

"The compass opened, if I may so express myself, the universe."

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

"The culture of lands requires the use of money."

"The desire for glory is no different from that instinct for preservation that is common to all creatures. It is as if we Enhance our being if we can gain a place in the memory of others; it is a new life That we Acquire, which Becomes as precious to us as the one we received from Heaven."

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

"The deterioration of every government begins with the decay of the principles on which it was founded."

"The English are busy folk; they have no time in which to be polite."

"The Europeans, having extirpated the Americans, were obliged to make slaves of the Africans, for clearing such vast tracts of land."

"The first Greeks were all pirates."

"The freedom is the right to do what the law allows."

"The general rule always holds good. In constitutional states liberty is a compensation of the heaviness of taxation. In despotic states the equivalent for liberty is the lightness of taxation."

"The government is like all things in the world to preserve it must be love."

"The history of commerce is that of the communication of the people."

"The honor of the conquest is rated by the difficulty."

"The law of nations is naturally founded on this principle, that different nations ought in time of peace to do one another all the good they can, and in time of war as little injury as possible, without prejudicing their real interests."

"The law on the whole is positive human what dominated the nations of the earth of them all, should not the laws of political and civil rights in every nation to be non-specific conditions that applied to him positive human ... must be of such laws, especially the nature of the country, especially the region cold or hot or mild, and the nature of the land and its location and breadth, and the sex life of nations or farmers or fishermen or shepherds, and should fit the degree of freedom that can be permitted by the system, and the religion of the parents and their emotions and their riches and their number and their trade and their natures and their curriculum... and this is what I'm trying to made ??in this book, look at all these links, which consists of a total of so-called spirit of the laws."

"The laws do not take upon them to punish any other than overt acts."

"The less men think, the more they talk."

"The life of states is like that of men. The latter have the right of killing in self-defense; the former to make wars for their own preservation."

"The love of country produces good manners; and good manners, love of country. - The less we satisfy our individual passions, the more we leave to our general."

"The love of reading enables a man to exchange the wearisome hours of life which come to every one for hours of delight."

"The merit of any console."

"The monarchy is the system where a single person governs by fixed and established laws."

"The morality of the gospel is the noblest gift ever bestowed by God on man."

"The morals and manners are usages that laws have not established or were unable or unwilling to establish."