Front Page Titles (by Subject) CHAP. XI.: Of Confiscations. - Complete Works, vol. 1 The Spirit of Laws
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CHAP. XI.: Of Confiscations. - 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.
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WITH respect to confiscations, there is one thing very particular, that, contrary to the general custom, they are more severe in Europe than in Asia. In Europe not only the merchandizes, but even sometimes the ships and carriages are confiscated; which is never practised in Asia. This is because in Europe the merchant can have recourse to magistrates, who are able to shelter him from oppression; in Asia the magistrates themselves would be the greatest oppressors. What remedy could a merchant have against a bashaw, who was determined to confiscate his goods?
The prince therefore checks his own power, finding himself under a necessity of acting with some kind of lenity. In Turkey they raise only a single duty for the importation of goods, and afterwards the whole country is open to the merchant. Smuggling is not attended with confiscation or increate of duty. In China* they never look into the baggage of those who are not merchants. Defrauding the customs in the territory of the Mogul is not punished with confiscation, but with doubling the duty. The Princes of† Tartary, who reside in towns, impose scarce any duty at all on the goods that pass through their country. In Japan, it is true, to cheat the customs is a capital crime; but this is because they have particular reasons for prohibiting all communication with foreigners; hence the fraud‡ is rather a contravention of the laws made for the security of the government than of those of commerce.
[* ]Father du Halde, tom. ii. p. 37.
[† ]History of the Tartars, part 3d. p. 290.
[‡ ]Being willing to trade with foreigners without having any communication with them, they have pitched upon two nations for that purpose, the Dutch for the commerce of Europe, and the Chinese for that of Asia; they confine the factors and sailors in a kind of prison, and lay such a restraint upon them as tires their patience.