Page:Montesquieu - The spirit of laws.djvu/176

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�THE SPIRIT

CHAP. XIII.

Impotency of the Laws of Japan.

XCESSIVE punifhments may even cor rupt a defpotic government -, of this we have an inftance in Japan. g ee Here almoft all crimes are puniflied with death ( d ), wtftr. becaufe difobedience to fo great an emperor, as that of Japan, is reckoned an enormous crime. The queftion is not fo much to correct the delinquent, as to vindicate the authority of the prince. Thefe notions are derived from fervitude, and are owing efpecially to this, that as the emperor is univerfal proprietor, almoft all crimes are directly againlt his interefts.

They punifh with death lies fpoken before the Collec- magiftrate ( c ) ; a proceeding contrary to natural n f defence.

Even things which have not the appearance of a 1 to crime are feverely punimed ; for inftance, a man

that ventures his money at play is put to death.

the True it is that the furprizing character of this

ft India obftinate, capricious, refolute, whimfical people,

^ a who defy all dangers and calamities, feems to ab-

428. folve their legiflators from the imputation of cruelty,

notwithftanding the fcverity of their laws. But are

men, who have a natural contempt of death, and

who rip open their bellies for the lead fancy, are

fuch men, I fay, mended or deterred, or rather

are they not hardened, by the continual fight of

punifhments ?

The relations of travellers inform us, with re- fpecl to the education of the Japanefe, that chil dren muft be treated there. with mildnefs, becaufe

they

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