The Spirit of Laws - Vol. 1

By Charles de Secondat Montesquieu; Thomas Nugent | Go to book overview

BOOK XVII
HOW THE LAWS OF POLITICAL SERVITUDE BEAR A RELATION TO THE NATURE OF THE CLIMATE

1. -- Of political Servitude

POLITICAL servitude does not less depend on the nature of the climate than that which is civil and domestic; and this we shall now demonstrate.


2. -- The Difference between Nations in point of Courage

We have already observed that great heat enervates the strength and courage of men, and that in cold climates they have a certain vigor of body and mind, which renders them patient and intrepid, and qualifies them for arduous enterprises. This remark holds good, not only between different nations, but even in the different parts of the same country. In the north of Chinaa people are more courageous than those in the south; and those in the south of Coreab have less bravery than those in the north.

We ought not, then, to be astonished that the effeminacy of the people in hot climates has almost always rendered them slaves; and that the bravery of those in cold climates has enabled them to maintain their liberties. This is an effect which springs from a natural cause.

This has also been found true in America; the despotic empires of Mexico and Peru were near the Line, and almost all the little free nations were, and are still, near the Poles.


3. -- Of the Climate of Asia

The relations of travellers c inform us "that the vast continent of the north of Asia, which extends from forty degrees or

____________________
a
Du Halde, vol. i, p. 112.
b
The Chinese books make mention of this. Ibid.
c
See "Travels to the North," vol. viii.; the "Hist. of the Tartars"; and Du Halde, vol. iv.

-264-

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