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 [Annals, book II, ch. ii]).

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).