Montesquieu

“When thy bro­ther, or thy son, or thy belo­ved wife, or thy hus­band who is like thy soul, shall whis­per to you : ‘Let us go to other gods’, thou shalt stone them.” This law from Leviticus1 can­not be a civil law among most of the peo­ples fami­liar to us, because it would open the door to every crime.

In seve­ral sta­tes, the law that makes it obli­ga­tory on penalty of death to reveal cons­pi­ra­cies, even ones in which one has not been invol­ved, is hardly less harsh. When it is car­ried over into a monar­chi­cal govern­ment, it is highly appro­priate to res­train it.

There it must be applied in all its seve­rity only to the crime of lese-majesty in the first degree.2 those sta­tes it is very impor­tant not to confuse the dif­fe­rent degrees of this crime.

In Japan, where the laws over­turn every notion of human rea­son, the crime of non-reve­la­tion applies to the most ordi­nary cases.

One rela­tion3 tells us of two young ladies who were locked up to die in a cof­fer stud­ded with spi­kes, one for having had some gal­lant intri­gue, the other for having fai­led to reveal it.

[In fact, Deuteronomy 13:6–9.]

[Au premier chef : a crime of lese-majesty in the first degree concerns the king’s own person ; in the second degree it concerns the state, as in counterfeiting (Furetière).]

Recueil des voyages qui ont servi à l’établissement de la Compagnie des Indes, p. 423, book V, part 2.