Front Page Titles (by Subject) CHAP. XIV.: Breach of Modesty in punishing Crimes. - Complete Works, vol. 1 The Spirit of Laws
The Online Library of Liberty
A project of Liberty Fund, Inc.
Search this Title:
CHAP. XIV.: Breach of Modesty in punishing Crimes. - Charles Louis de Secondat, Baron de Montesquieu, Complete Works, vol. 1 The Spirit of Laws 
The Complete Works of M. de Montesquieu (London: T. Evans, 1777), 4 vols. Vol. 1.
About Liberty Fund:
The text is in the public domain.
Fair use statement:
Breach of Modesty in punishing Crimes.
THERE are rules of modesty observed by almost every nation in the world: now, it would be very absurd to infringe these rules in the punishment of crimes, the principal view of which ought always to be the establishment of order.
Was it the intent of those oriental nations who exposed women to elephants trained up for an abominable kind of punishment, was it, I say, their intent to establish one law by the breach of another?
By an ancient custom of the Romans it was not permitted to put girls to death till they were ripe for marriage. Tiberius found out an expedient of having them debauched by the executioner, before they were brought to the place of punishment† : that bloody and subtle tyrant destroyed the morals of the people, to preserve their customs.
When the magistrates of Japan caused women to be exposed naked in the market-places, and obliged them to go upon all four like beasts, modesty was shocked‡ : but, when they wanted to compel a mother --- when they wanted to force a son --- I cannot proceed: even nature herself is struck with horror.
[† ]Suetonius, in Tiberio.
[‡ ]Collection of voyages that contributed to the establishment of the East-India Company, tom. 5, part 2.