Montesquieu quotes

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Montesquieu

Birthdate: 18. January 1689
Date of death: 10. February 1755
Other names: Charles-Louis Montesquieu, Charles de Secondat, Baron de Montesquieu, Шарль Луи де Монтескьё

Charles-Louis de Secondat, Baron de La Brède et de Montesquieu , generally referred to as simply Montesquieu, was a French judge, man of letters, and political philosopher.

He is the principal source of the theory of separation of powers, which is implemented in many constitutions throughout the world. He is also known for doing more than any other author to secure the place of the word "despotism" in the political lexicon. His anonymously-published The Spirit of Law in 1748, which was received well in both Great Britain and the American colonies, influenced the Founding Fathers in drafting the United States Constitution.

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„If one only wished to be happy, this could be easily accomplished; but we wish to be happier than other people, and this is always difficult, for we believe others to be happier than they are.“

—  Montesquieu

As quoted in A Dictionary of Thoughts : Being a Cyclopedia of Laconic Quotations from the Best Authors, Both Ancient and Modern (1891) edited by Tryon Edwards.

„Not to be loved is a misfortune, but it is an insult to be loved no longer.“

—  Montesquieu

No. 3. (Zachi writing to Usbek)
Lettres Persanes (Persian Letters, 1721)

„In every government there are three sorts of power: the legislative; the executive in respect to things dependent on the law of nations; and the executive in regard to matters that depend on the civil law.
By virtue of the first, the prince or magistrate enacts temporary or perpetual laws, and amends or abrogates those that have been already enacted. By the second, he makes peace or war, sends or receives embassies, establishes the public security, and provides against invasions. By the third, he punishes criminals, or determines the disputes that arise between individuals. The latter we shall call the judiciary power, and the other, simply, the executive power of the state.
When the legislative and executive powers are united in the same person, or in the same body of magistrates, there can be no liberty; because apprehensions may arise, lest the same monarch or senate should enact tyrannical laws, to execute them in a tyrannical manner.
Again, there is no liberty if the judiciary power be not separated from the legislative and executive. Were it joined with the legislative, the life and liberty of the subject would be exposed to arbitrary control; for the judge would be then the legislator. Were it joined to the executive power, the judge might behave with violence and oppression.
There would be an end of every thing, were the same man, or the same body, whether of the nobles or of the people, to exercise those three powers, that of enacting laws, that of executing the public resolutions, and of trying the causes of individuals.
The executive power ought to be in the hands of a monarch, because this branch of government, having need of dispatch, is better administered by one than by many: on the other hand, whatever depends on the legislative power, is oftentimes better regulated by many than by a single person.
But, if there were no monarch, and the executive power should be committed to a certain number of persons, selected from the legislative body, there would be an end of liberty, by reason the two powers would be united; as the same persons would sometimes possess, and would be always able to possess, a share in both.“

—  Montesquieu, book The Spirit of the Laws

Book XI, Chapter 6.
The Spirit of the Laws (1748)
Source: Esprit des lois (1777)/L11/C6 - Wikisource, fr.wikisource.org, fr, 2018-07-07 https://fr.wikisource.org/wiki/Esprit_des_lois_(1777)/L11/C6,

„Raillery is a mode of speaking in favor of one's wit at the expense of one's better nature.“

—  Montesquieu

La raillerie est un discours en faveur de son esprit contre son bon naturel.
Pensées Diverses

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„I can assure you that no kingdom has ever had as many civil wars as the kingdom of Christ.“

—  Montesquieu

No. 29. (Rica writing to Ibben)
Lettres Persanes (Persian Letters, 1721)

„You have to study a great deal to know a little.“

—  Montesquieu

Source: Pensées et Fragments Inédits de Montesquieu (1899), I

„The laws of Rome had wisely divided public power among a large number of magistracies, which supported, checked and tempered each other. Since they all had only limited power, every citizen was qualified for them, and the people — seeing many persons pass before them one after the other — did not grow accustomed to any in particular. But in these times the system of the republic changed. Through the people the most powerful men gave themselves extraordinary commissions — which destroyed the authority of the people and magistrates, and placed all great matters in the hands of one man, or a few.“

—  Montesquieu, book Considerations on the Causes of the Greatness of the Romans and their Decline

Source: Considérations sur les causes de la grandeur des Romains et de leur décadence/11 - Wikisource, fr.wikisource.org, fr, 2018-07-07 https://fr.wikisource.org/wiki/Consid%C3%A9rations_sur_les_causes_de_la_grandeur_des_Romains_et_de_leur_d%C3%A9cadence/11,
Source: Montesquieu, Causes of the Greatness of the Romans, 2017-11-09, 2018-07-07 https://web.archive.org/web/20171109014358/http://www.constitution.org/cm/ccgrd_l.htm,
Source: Considerations on the Causes of the Greatness of the Romans and their Decline (1876), Chapter XI.

„Life was given to me as a favor, so I may abandon it when it is one no longer.“

—  Montesquieu

No. 76. (Usbek writing to Ibben)
Lettres Persanes (Persian Letters, 1721)

„There is no greater tyranny than that which is perpetrated under the shield of the law.“

—  Montesquieu

As quoted in With Prejudice : The Perspective of an Acquitted Defendent (2010) by Vicky Gallas; no earlier occurence of this phrasing has been located (Relevant quote: "Il n’y a point de plus cruelle tyrannie que celle que l’on exerce à l’ombre des lois et avec les couleurs de la justice" i.e. "There is no tyranny more cruel than that which is exercised within the shade of the law and with the colours of justice." See Chap. XIV of Considérations sur les causes de la grandeur des Romains et de leur décadence).
Disputed

„Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetuer adipiscing elit. Etiam egestas wisi a erat. Morbi imperdiet, mauris ac auctor dictum.“

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