Montesquieu

Vanity is as good a resource for a govern­ment as pride is a dan­ge­rous one. To see this, you only have to ima­gine, first, the bene­fits without num­ber that result from vanity : whence luxury, indus­try, arts, fashion, refi­ne­ment, and taste ; and second, the infi­nite harm that ari­ses from the pride of cer­tain nations : indo­lence, poverty, neglect of eve­ry­thing, the des­truc­tion of the nations that have chan­ced to fall into their hands, and even their own. Indolence1 is the effect of pride ; work is a conse­quence of vanity. The Spaniard’s pride will make him refuse to work ; the Frenchman’s vanity will make him learn how to work bet­ter than others.

Every indo­lent nation is som­ber, for those who do not work consi­der them­sel­ves the sove­rei­gns of those who do.

Examine all nations, and you will see that in most of them gloom, arro­gance, and indo­lence go toge­ther.

The peo­ples of Achim are proud and indo­lent2 ; those who own no sla­ves hire one, if only to go a hun­dred paces and carry two pints of rice : they would think them­sel­ves disho­no­red if they car­ried it them­sel­ves.

There are seve­ral pla­ces on the earth where peo­ple let their fin­ger­nails grow to make the point that they do not work.

In the Indies,3 women believe it is sha­me­ful for them to learn to read : that is, they say, the busi­ness of the sla­ves who sing hymns in the tem­ples. In one caste they do not spin ; in ano­ther they make only bas­kets and mats, and must not even pound the rice ; in others they must not go fetch water. Pride has esta­bli­shed these rules, and they must be fol­lo­wed.

The peoples who follow the khan of Malacamber and those of Carnataca and Coromandel, are proud and indolent ; they consume little, because they are wretchedly poor, whereas the Moguls and the peoples of Hindustan keep busy and enjoy the conveniences of life, like the Europeans. (Recueil des voyages qui ont servi à l’établissement de la Compagnie des Indes, vol. I, p. 54.)

See Dampier, vol. III.

Lettres édifiantes et curieuses, 12th volume, p. 80.