Montesquieu
 

XIX.2 How necessary it is, for the best laws, that minds be prepared

Nothing see­med more unbea­ra­ble to the Germans than the tri­bu­nal of Varus.1 The one which Justinian set up2 among the Lazi to try their king’s mur­de­rer see­med to them some­thing hor­ri­ble and bar­ba­ric. Mithridates, ora­ting against the Romans,3 reproa­ches them above all for the for­ma­li­ties of their jus­tice.4 The Parthians could not bear this king, who, having been rai­sed in Rome, became affa­ble and acces­si­ble to eve­ryone.5 Liberty itself see­med unbea­ra­ble to peo­ples who were unac­cus­to­med to enjoying it. So it is that pure air is some­ti­mes harm­ful to those who have lived in mar­shy lands.

A Venetian named Balbi, being in Pegu,6 was intro­du­ced into the king’s pre­sence. When the king lear­ned that there was no king in Venice, he burst out lau­ghing so hard that he was taken with a cough, and had great dif­fi­culty spea­king with his cour­tiers. Who is the legis­la­tor who could pro­pose popu­lar govern­ment to peo­ples of the sort ?

“They cut out the lawyers’ tongues, and said : Viper, cease thy hissing” (Tacitus).

Agathias, book IV.

Justinus, book XXXVIII.

Calumnias litium (ibid).

Prompti aditus, nova comitas, ignotœ Parthis virtutes, nova vitia (Tacitus).

He described it in 1596 (Recueil des voyages qui ont servi à l’établissement de la Compagnie des Indes, vol. III, part 1, p. 33).