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Persian Letters Persian Letters by Montesquieu
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Persian Letters Quotes Showing 1-30 of 78
“What unhappy beings men are! They constantly waver between false hopes and silly fears, and instead of relying on reason they create monsters to frighten themselves with, and phantoms which lead them astray.”
Charles-Louis de Secondat, de la Brède et de Montesquieu, Persian Letters
“They who love to inform themselves, are never idle. Though I have no business of consequence to take care of, I am nevertheless continually employed. I spend my life in examining things: I write down in the evening whatever I have remarked, what I have seen, and what I have heard in the day: every thing engages my attention, and every thing excites my wonder: I am like an infant, whose organs, as yet tender, are strongly affected by the slightest objects.”
Montesquieu, Persian Letters
“I can assure you that no kingdom has ever had as many civil wars as the kingdom of Christ.”
Montesquieu, Persian Letters
“With truths of a certain kind, it is not enough to make them appear convincing: one must also make them felt. Of such kind are moral truths.”
Charles-Louis de Secondat, de la Brède et de Montesquieu, Persian Letters
“History is full of religious wars; but, we must take care to observe, it was not the multiplicity of religions that produced these wars, it was the intolerating spirit which animated that one which thought she had the power of governing.”
Montesquieu, Persian Letters
“In vain do we seek tranquility in the desert; temptations are always with us; our passions, represented by the demons, never let us alone: those monsters created by the heart, those illusions produced by the mind, those vain specters that are our errors and our lies always appear before us to seduce us; they attack us even in our fasting or our mortifications, in other words, in our very strength.”
Montesquieu, Persian Letters
“Every man is capable of doing good to another, but to contribute to the happiness of an entire society is to become akin to the gods”
Montesquieu, Persian Letters
“Nature, in her wisdom, seems to have arranged it so that men's stupidity should be ephemeral, and books make them immortal. A fool ought to be content having exacerbated everyone around him, but he insists tormenting future generations.”
Charles-Louis de Secondat, de la Brède et de Montesquieu, Persian Letters
“Not to be loved is a misfortune, but it is an insult to be loved no longer.”
Montesquieu, Persian Letters
“il faut vivre avec les hommes tels qu ils sont : les gens qu on dit etre de si bonne compagnie ne sont souvent que ceux dont les vices sont plus raffines ; et peut-etre en est-il comme des poisons, dont les plus subtils sont aussi les plus dangereux.”
Montesquieu, Persian Letters
“Rhedi: I am always afraid that they will eventually succeed in discovering some secret which will provide a quicker way of making men die, and exterminate whole countries and nations.

Usbek: No, if such a fateful invention came to be discovered, it would soon be banned by international law; by the unanimous consent of every country the discovery would be buried.”
Montesquieu, Persian Letters
“The desire for glory is no different from that instinct for preservation that is common to all creatures. It is as if we enhance our being if we can gain a place in the memory of others; it is a new life that we acquire, which becomes as precious to us as the one we received from Heaven.”
Montesquieu, Persian Letters
“My dear Usbek, when women feel, as they lose their attractiveness, that their end is coming in advance, they would like to go backwards to youth again. How could they possibly not attempt to deceive other people? - they make every effort to deceive themselves, and to escape from the most distressing thought we can have.”
Montesquieu, Persian Letters
“The right of conquest is not a right. A society can be founded only with the consent of its members. If it is destroyed by conquest, the nation becomes free again; it is not a new society, and if the conquerer tries to create one it will be a dictatorship.”
Montesquieu, Persian Letters
“I have read descriptions of Paradise that would make any sensible person stop wanting to go there.”
Montesquieu, Persian Letters
“C est le tyran qui m outrage, et non pas celui qui exerce la tyrannie”
Montesquieu, Persian Letters
“  Depuis que je suis en Europe, mon cher Rhédi, j'ai vu bien des gouvernements : ce n'est pas comme en Asie, où les règles de la politique se trouvent partout les mêmes.”
Montesquieu, Lettres persanes
“Another much-discussed question is, whether women are intended by nature to be subject to men.“No,” said a very gallant philosopher to me the other day; “nature never dictated any such law.The dominion which we exercise over them is tyrannical; they yield themselves to men only because they are more tender-hearted, and consequently more human and more rational.These advantages, which, had we been reasonable, would, without doubt, have been the cause of their subordination, because we are irrational.

“Now, if it is true that it is a tyrannical power which we have over women, it is none the less true that they exercise over us a natural dominion- that of beauty, which nothing can resist.Our power does not extend to all countries, but that of beauty is universal.Why, then, should we have any privilege?Is it because we are stronger than they?But that would be the height of injustice.We use every possible means to discourage them.Our powers would be found equal if we were educated alike.Try women in those gifts which education has not weakened, and we soon will see which is the abler sex.”
Montesquieu, Persian Letters
“We are so blind that we know neither when to mourn, nor when to rejoice; our mirth and our sadness are nearly always false.”
Montesquieu, Persian Letters
“  Le roi de France est le plus puissant prince de l'Europe. Il n'a point de mines d'or comme le roi d'Espagne son voisin; mais il a plus de richesses que lui, parce qu'il les tire de la vanité de ses sujets, plus inépuisable que les mines. On lui a vu entreprendre ou soutenir de grandes guerres, n'ayant d'autres fonds que des titres d'honneur à vendre, et, par un prodige de l'orgueil humain, ses troupes se trouvaient payées, ses places munies, et ses flottes équipées.”
Montesquieu, Lettres persanes
“MOST legislators have been men of inferior capacity whom chance exalted over their fellows, and who took counsel almost exclusively of their own prejudices and whims.

It would seem that they had not even a sense of the greatness and dignity of their work: they amused themselves by framing childish institutions, well devised indeed to please small minds, but discrediting their authors with people of sense.

They flung themselves into useless details; and gave their attention to individual interests: the sign of the narrow genius, which grasps things piecemeal and cannot take a general view.

Some of them have been so affected as to employ another language than the vernacular-a ridiculous thing in a framer of laws; for how can they be obeyed if they are not known?

They have often abolished needlessly those which were already established-that is to say, they have plunged nations into the confusion which always accompanies change.

It is true that, by reason of some extravagance springing rather from the nature than from the mind of man, it is sometimes necessary to change certain laws. But the case is rare; and when it happens it requires the most delicate handling; much solemnity ought to be observed, and endless precautions taken, in order to lead the people to the natural conclusion that the laws are most sacred, since so many formalities are necessary to their abrogation.

Often they have made them too subtle, following logical instead of natural equity. As a consequence such laws have been found too severe; and a spirit of justice required that they should be set aside; but the cure was as bad as the disease. Whatever the laws may be, obedience to them is necessary; they are to be regarded as the public conscience, with which all private consciences ought to be in conformity.

(Letter #79)”
Montesquieu, Persian Letters
“I have seen descriptions of Paradise sufficient to make all sensible people give up their hopes of it.”
Montesquieu, Persian Letters
“  D'ailleurs ce roi est un grand magicien : il exerce son empire sur l'esprit même de ses sujets; il les fait penser comme il veut.”
Montesquieu, Lettres persanes
“  Lorsque je pense aux funestes effets de cette liqueur, je ne puis m'empêcher de la regarder comme le présent le plus redoutable que la nature ait fait aux hommes. Si quelque chose a flétri la vie et la réputation de nos monarques, ç'a été leur intempérance : c'est la source la plus empoisonnée de leurs injustices et de leurs cruautés.”
Montesquieu, Lettres persanes
“L'esprit humain est la contradiction même : dans une débauche licencieuse, on se révolte avec fureur contre les préceptes, et la Loi, faite pour nous rendre plus justes, ne sert souvent qu'à nous rendre plus coupables.”
Montesquieu, Lettres persanes
“  Cette gravité des Asiatiques vient du peu de commerce qu'il y a entre eux : ils ne se voient que lorsqu'ils y sont forcés par la cérémonie.”
Montesquieu, Lettres persanes
“  Soit que le gouvernement soit doux, soit qu'il soit cruel, on punit toujours par degrés : on inflige un châtiment plus ou moins grand à un crime plus ou moins grand.”
Montesquieu, Lettres persanes
“Mais, parce qu'ils n'ont pas été assez heureux pour trouver des mosquées dans leur pays, crois-tu qu'ils soient condamnés à des châtiments éternels, et que Dieu les punisse pour n'avoir pas pratiqué une religion qu'il ne leur a pas fait connaître  ?”
Montesquieu, Lettres persanes
“  Ce corps a quarante têtes, toutes remplies de figures, de métaphores et d'antithèses; tant de bouches ne parlent que par exclamation;”
Montesquieu, Lettres persanes
“La société est fondée sur un avantage mutuel.”
Montesquieu, Lettres persanes

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