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

"The more I started this book and his legacy, has been left to the winds a thousand times what you write papers, and you feel Bahbud hands parental every day, and I was walking behind my goal is the development of a project, and you do not know the rules nor homosexuals, and you do not find the truth, but to lose it, but I came to my principles when I discovered everything that you look for it, Vibsrt within twenty years of the start of my book and its growth and development and completeness."

"The natural place of virtue is near to liberty; but it is not nearer to excessive liberty than to servitude."

"The negroes prefer a glass necklace to that gold which polite nations so highly value. Can there be a greater proof of their wanting common sense?"

"The object of war is victory; that of victory is conquest; and that of conquest preservation."

"The Ottoman Empire whose sick body was not supported by a mild and regular diet, but by a powerful treatment, which continually exhausted it."

"The pagan religion, which prohibited only some of the grosser crimes, and which stopped the hand but meddled not with the heart, might have crimes that were inexplicable."

"The people are extremely well qualified for choosing those whom they are to entrust with part of their authority. They have only to be determined by things to which they cannot be strangers, and by facts that are obvious to sense. They can tell when a person has fought many battles, and been crowned with success; they are, therefore, capable of electing a general. They can tell when a judge is assiduous in his office, gives general satisfaction, and has never been charged with bribery: this is sufficient for choosing a pr‘tor. They are struck with the magnificence or riches of a fellow-citizen; no more is requisite for electing an edile. These are facts of which they can have better information in a public forum than a monarch in his palace. But are they capable of conducting an intricate affair, of seizing and improving the opportunity and critical moment of action? No; this surpasses their abilities."

"The people, in whom the supreme power resides, ought to have the management of everything within their reach: that which exceeds their abilities must be conducted by their ministers."

"The Pope will make the king believe that three are only one, that the bread he eats is not bread...and a thousand other things of the same kind."

"The prejudices of superstition are superior to all others, and have the strongest influence on the human mind."

"The public business must be carried on with a certain motion, neither too quick nor too slow."

"The public revenues are a portion that each subject gives of his property, in order to secure or enjoy the remainder."

"The reason the Romans built their great paved highways was because they had such inconvenient footwear."

"The reason why most governments are despotic Earth is that it just happens. But for moderate governments must combine moderate powers; know what gives one what remains to another and finally we need a system that is to say a convention of many and a discussion of interest."

"The republic is the regime where the people as a body, or only some of the people, the sovereign power."

"The sacred books of the ancient Persians say, "If you would be holy, instruct your children, because all the good acts they perform will be imputed to you.""

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

"The state is the association of men, and not men themselves; the citizen may perish, and the man remain."

"The state of slavery is in its own nature bad."

"The sublimity of administration consists in knowing the proper degree of power that should be exerted on different occasions."

"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."

"The wickedness of mankind makes it necessary for the law to suppose them better than they really are."

"There are countries where a man is worth nothing; there are others where he is worth less than nothing."

"There are countries where the excess of heat enervates the body, and renders men so slothful and dispirited that nothing but the fear of chastisement can oblige them to perform any laborious duty: slavery is there more reconcilable to reason; and the master being as lazy with respect to his sovereign as his slave is with regard to him, this adds a political to a civil slavery. Aristotle endeavors to prove that there are natural slaves; but what he says is far from proving it. If there be any such, I believe they are those of whom I have been speaking. [Those who accept it as a contractual arrangement, in a general system of despotism.] But as all men are born equal, slavery must be accounted unnatural, though in some countries it be founded on natural reason; and a wide difference ought to be made between such countries, and those in which even natural reason rejects it, as in Europe, where it has been so happily abolished."

"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."

"There are three species of government: republican, monarchical, and despotic."

"There is as yet no liberty if the power of judging be not separated from legislative power and the executrix."

"There is no great share of probity necessary to support a monarchical or despotic government. The force of laws in one, and the prince's arm in the other, are sufficient to direct and maintain the whole. But in a popular state, one spring more is necessary, namely, virtue."

"There is no nation so powerful, as the one that obeys its laws not from principals of fear or reason, but from passion."

"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."

"There is no word that has admitted of more various significations, and has made more different impressions on human minds, than that of Liberty. Some have taken it for a facility of deposing a person on whom they had conferred a tyrannical authority; others for the power of choosing a person whom they are obliged to obey; others for the right of bearing arms, and of being thereby enabled to use violence, others in fine for the privilege of being governed by a native of their own country or by their own laws. Some have annexed this name to one form of government, in exclusion of others: Those who had a republican taste, applied it to this government; those who liked a monarchical state, gave it to monarchies. Thus they all have applied the name of liberty to the government most conformable to their own customs and inclinations: and as in a republic people have not so constant and so present a view of the instruments of the evils they complain of, and likewise as the laws seem there to speak more, and the executors of the laws less, it is generally attributed to republics, and denied to monarchies. In fine as in democracies the people seem to do very near whatever they please, liberty has been placed in this sort of government, and the power of the people has been confounded with their liberty."

"There is only one thing that can form a bond between men, and that is gratitude... we cannot give someone else greater power over us than we have ourselves."

"There is something in animals beside the power of motion. They are not machines; they feel."

"There is still another inconveniency in conquests made by democracies; their government is ever odious to the conquered states. It is apparently monarchical, but in reality it is more oppressive than monarchy, as the experience of all ages and countries evinces."

"There should be weeping at a man's birth, not at his death."

"These creatures are all over black, and with such a flat nose that they can scarcely be pitied."

"They who assert that a blind fatality produced the various effects we behold in this world talk very absurdly; for can anything be more unreasonable than to pretend that a blind fatality could be productive of intelligent beings?"

"They who love to inform themselves, are never idle. Though I have no business of consequence to take care of, I am nevertheless continually employed. I spend my life in examining things: I write down in the evening whatever I have remarked, what I have seen, and what I have heard in the day: everything engages my attention, and everything excites my wonder: I am like an infant, whose organs, as yet tender, are strongly affected by the slightest objects."

"This is how I define talent; it is a gift that God has given us in secret, which we reveal without knowing it."

"This punishment of death is the remedy, as it were, of a sick society."

"Thus the creation, which seems an arbitrary act, supposes laws as invariable as those of the fatality of the Atheists. It would be absurd to say that the Creator might govern the world without those rules, since without them it could not subsist."

"To become truly great, one has to stand with people, not above them."

"To love to read is to exchange hours of ennui against delightful hours."

"To love to read is to exchange hours of ennui for hours of delight."

"To succeed in the world, we must be foolish in appearance, but really wise."

"Trade is the best cure for prejudice."

"Translation: Men, who are rogues individually, are in the mass very honorable people."

"Vanity and pride of nations; vanity is as advantageous to a government as pride is dangerous."

"Vanity is as advantageous to a government, as pride is dangerous."

"Very good laws may be ill timed."