Montesquieu
 

XX.13 On laws of commerce that entail the confiscation of merchandise

The Magna Carta of the English for­bids sei­zure and confis­ca­tion, in case of war, of the mer­chan­dise of foreign tra­ders, except for rea­sons of reta­lia­tion. It is a cre­dit to the English nation to have made this one of the arti­cles of her free­dom.

Spain, in her war against the English in 1740, made a law that puni­shed by death any who would intro­duce English mer­chan­dise into Spanish sta­tes ; she impo­sed the same punish­ment on any who might bring Spanish mer­chan­dise into English sta­tes.1 I do not believe an exam­ple of such an order can be found in the laws of Japan. It offends our ethos, the spi­rit of com­merce, and the har­mony that should exist in the pro­por­tion of punish­ments ; it confounds every notion, making what was merely a vio­la­tion of public order into a crime of state.

Published in Cadiz in March 1740.