Montesquieu

We must then limit natu­ral sla­very to cer­tain spe­ci­fic coun­tries of the earth. In all the others it seems to me that howe­ver hard the labors society demands, they can all be done with free men.

What makes me think so is that before Christianity had abo­li­shed civil ser­vi­tude in Europe, work in the mines was regar­ded as so hard that peo­ple thought it could be done only by sla­ves or cri­mi­nals. But today we know that the men who are employed there live well.1 Small pri­vi­le­ges have encou­ra­ged this pro­fes­sion ; an increase in work has been tied to an increase in ear­nings, and they have been brought to like their situa­tion bet­ter than any other they might have adop­ted.

No labor is so hard that it can­not be sca­led to the strength of the man who per­forms it, pro­vi­ded it be rea­son and not ava­rice that deter­mi­nes it. It is pos­si­ble, thanks to the conve­nience of machi­nes inven­ted of applied by art, to accom­plish the for­ced labor that elsew­here is impo­sed on sla­ves. The Turkish mines in the Banat of Timişoara were richer than those of Hungary, and they did not pro­duce as much, because the Turks never ima­gi­ned any­thing but the labor of their sla­ves.

I do not know whe­ther it is the mind or the heart that dic­ta­tes what I am saying here. There is per­haps no cli­mate on earth where free men could not be indu­ced to work. Because the laws were bad, men were thought to be slo­th­ful ; because those men were slo­th­ful, they were made sla­ves.2

We can learn what is going on in this respect in the Hartz mines in Lower Germany and in those of Hungary. [Montesquieu had discussed his visits to these mines in Mémoires sur les mines, in Mes Voyages, OC, vol. 10, p. 619-651.]

[In the 1758 edition, a new chapter IX (Annex 6) is inserted here.]