There are many local laws in the various reli­gions ; and when Montezuma insis­ted so on saying that the Spaniards’ reli­gion was good for their coun­try and Mexico’s good for his, he was not utte­ring an absur­dity, because indeed the legis­la­tors could not help being mind­ful of what nature had esta­bli­shed before them.

The opi­nion of metem­psy­cho­sis is made for the cli­mate of the Indies. The exces­sive heat dries up the whole coun­try­side ; only a very few cat­tle can feed on it1 ; there is a cons­tant dan­ger of a shor­tage of them for plo­wing ; oxen can be bred only pas­sa­bly ; they are sub­ject to many disea­ses2 ; a law that pre­ser­ves them is thus highly appro­priate for the good order of the coun­try.

While the prai­ries are dried up, rice and pul­ses grow hap­pily there with the waters that can be used for it ; a reli­gious law that per­mits only this food is the­re­fore very use­ful to men in these cli­ma­tes.

The flesh of live­stock has no taste there, and the milk and but­ter they get from them makes up part of their sub­sis­tence3 ; the law that for­bids eating and killing cows is the­re­fore not unrea­so­na­ble in the Indies.

Athens encom­pas­sed an innu­me­ra­ble mul­ti­tude of peo­ple ; its ter­ri­tory was bar­ren ; it was a reli­gious maxim that those who offe­red cer­tain lit­tle pre­sents to the gods hono­red them more than those who sacri­fi­ced oxen.4

Bernier’s Travels, vol. II, p. 137.

Lettres édifiantes et curieuses, 12th volume, p. 95.

Bernier’s Travels, vol. II, p. 137.

Euripides, in Athenaeus, book II. p. 40.