Montesquieu

The peo­ples who conque­red the Roman empire had come out of Germania. Although few ancient authors have des­cribe their ways for us, we have two who are of consi­de­ra­ble weight. Cæsar, waging war on the Germans, des­cri­bes1 the Germans’ ethos ; and it is on these ways that he cal­cu­la­ted some of his enter­pri­ses.2 A few pages from Cæsar on this mat­ter are volu­mes.

Tacitus devo­tes an entire work to the Germans’ ways. It is a short work ; but it is the work of Tacitus, who conden­sed eve­ry­thing, because he saw eve­ry­thing.

These two authors are so tho­roughly in agree­ment with the law codes which we have of the bar­ba­rian peo­ples, that in rea­ding Cæsar and Tacitus we find these codes eve­ryw­here, and in rea­ding these codes we find eve­ryw­here Cæsar and Tacitus.

Now if in resear­ching feu­dal laws I find myself in an obs­cure laby­rinth, full of paths and detours, I believe I am hol­ding the end of the thread, and that I can walk.

Book VI.

For example, his retreat from Germany, ibid.