Montesquieu

The sub­jects which fol­low ought to be trea­ted more exten­si­vely, but the nature of this book does not allow for that. I would like to float on a tran­quil river, but am car­ried away by a tor­rent.

Commerce cures des­truc­tive pre­ju­di­ces, and it is almost a gene­ral rule that whe­re­ver there is benign beha­vior, there is com­merce, and that eve­ryw­here there is com­merce, there is benign beha­vior.

We should the­re­fore not be sur­pri­sed if our ways are less savage than they once were. Because of com­merce, fami­lia­rity with the ways of all nations has spread eve­ryw­here ; we have com­pa­red them to each other, and much good has resul­ted from that.

One can­not say that the laws of com­merce improve beha­vior for the same rea­son that those same laws ruin it. Commerce cor­rupts pure beha­vior1 : that was the sub­ject of Plato’s objec­tions ; it poli­shes and atte­nua­tes bar­ba­ric beha­vior, as we see every day.

Cæsar says of the Gauls that the proximity and trade of Marseille has spoiled them so that they who formerly had always defeated the Germans had become inferior to them (Gallic Wars, book VI).