Montesquieu

Usbek to the same


The coun­tries inha­bi­ted by sava­ges are usually spar­sely popu­la­ted, from the disin­cli­na­tion they almost all have for work and far­ming the land. This unfor­tu­nate aver­sion is so strong that, when they utter some impre­ca­tion against one of their ene­mies, they wish him nothing other than to be redu­ced to tilling a field, belie­ving that only hun­ting and fishing are an noble exer­cise and wor­thy of them.

But as there are often years when hun­ting and fishing yield very lit­tle, they are rava­ged by fre­quent fami­nes, not to men­tion that there is no coun­try so abun­dant in game and fish that it can pro­vide sub­sis­tence for a great peo­ple, because ani­mals always flee overly inha­bi­ted pla­ces.

Besides, the vil­la­ges of sava­ges, num­be­ring two or three hun­dred inha­bi­tants, iso­la­ted from each other, having inte­rests as sepa­rate as those of two empi­res, can­not sup­port each other, because they do not have the resource of large sta­tes, all the parts of which are inter­connec­ted and assist each other.

The sava­ges have ano­ther cus­tom that is not less per­ni­cious than the first, which is the cruel habit their women have of having abor­tions so their pre­gnancy will not make them repul­sive to their hus­bands.

There are hor­ren­dous laws here against that disor­der ; they go to the point of mad­ness. Any maid who has not gone to declare her pre­gnancy to the magis­trate is puni­shed by death if her child peri­shes ; modesty and shame, even acci­dents, never excuse her.

Paris this 9th day of the moon of Rhamazan 1718