Front Page Titles (by Subject) CHAP. I.: Of civil Slavery. - Complete Works, vol. 1 The Spirit of Laws
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CHAP. I.: Of civil Slavery. - 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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Of civil Slavery.
SLAVERY, properly so called, is the establishment of a right which gives to one man such a power over another as renders him absolute master of his life and fortune. The state of slavery is, in its own nature, bad. It is neither useful to the master nor to the slave; not to the slave, because he can do nothing through a motive of virtue; nor to the master, because, by having an unlimited authority over his slaves, he insensibly accustoms himself to the want of all moral virtues, and from thence becomes fierce, hasty, severe, choleric, voluptuous, and cruel.
In despotic countries, where they are already in a state of political servitude, civil slavery is more tolerable than in other governments. Every one ought to be satisfied, in those countries, with necessaries and life. Hence the condition of a slave is hardly more burdensome than that of a subject.
But, in a monarchical government, where it is of the utmost importance that human nature should not be debased nor dispirited, there ought to be no slavery. In democracies, where they are all upon an equality, and in aristocracies, where the laws ought to use their utmost endeavours to procure as great an equality as the nature of the government will permit, slavery is contrary to the spirit of the constitution: it only contributes to give a power and luxury to the citizens which they ought not to have.