XIV.15 On the different confidence the laws have in the people according to the climates

The Japanese peo­ple have such an atro­cious cha­rac­ter that their legis­la­tors and magis­tra­tes have been una­ble to have any confi­dence in them ; they have pla­ced before their eyes only jud­ges, threats, and punish­ments ; they have sub­jec­ted them for every act to inqui­si­tion by the police. Those laws which, for every five family heads, ins­ti­tute one as magis­trate over the four others ; those laws which for a sin­gle crime punish an entire family or a whole neigh­bo­rhood ; those laws which find nobody inno­cent where someone may be guilty, are made so all men will dis­trust each other, eve­ryone will inquire into eve­ryone else’s conduct and be his ins­pec­tor, wit­ness and judge.

Contrariwise, the peo­ple of the Indies are gentle,1 kind, and com­pas­sio­nate. So their legis­la­tors have great confi­dence in them. They have ins­ti­tu­ted few punish­ments,2 and they are not harsh ; they are not even rigo­rously exe­cu­ted. They have given nephews to uncles, orphans to guar­dians, as elsew­here they are given to their fathers ; they have deter­mi­ned suc­ces­sion by the reco­gni­zed merit of the heir. It seems they have thought that every citi­zen ought to rely on the good nature of the others.

They rea­dily grant free­dom to their sla­ves ; they marry them off and treat them as their chil­dren3 : happy the cli­mate that gene­ra­tes can­dor of beha­vior and pro­du­ces leniency in the laws !

See Bernier, vol. II, page 140.

See the fourteenth volume of Lettres édifiantes et curieuses, page 403, the principal laws or customs of the peoples of India and the peninsula beyond the Ganges.

This is perhaps why Diodorus says that in the Indies there was neither master nor slave.