Front Page Titles (by Subject) CHAP. XV.: Of seizing the Persons of Merchants. - Complete Works, vol. 2 The Spirit of Laws
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CHAP. XV.: Of seizing the Persons of Merchants. - Charles Louis de Secondat, Baron de Montesquieu, Complete Works, vol. 2 The Spirit of Laws 
The Complete Works of M. de Montesquieu (London: T. Evans, 1777), 4 vols. Vol. 2.
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Of seizing the Persons of Merchants.
This law is extremely good, with respect to the generality of civil § affairs; but there is sufficient reason for its not being observed in those of commerce. For, as merchants are obliged to entrust large sums, frequently for a very short time, and to pay money as well as to receive it, there is a necessity, that the debtor should constantly fulfil his engagements at the time prefixed; and hence it becomes necessary to lay a constraint on his person.
In affairs relating to common civil contracts, the law ought not to permit the seizure of the person; because the liberty of one citizen is of greater importance to the public, than the ease or prosperity of another. But in conventions derived from commerce, the law ought to consider the public prosperity as of greater importance than the liberty of a citizen; which, however, does not hinder the restrictions and limitations that humanity and good policy demand.
[† ]Plutarch, in his treatise against lending upon usury.
[‡ ]Diodorus, book i. part 2. chap. 3.
[§ ]The Greek legislators were to blame in preventing the arms and plough of any man from being taken in pledge, and yet permitting the taking of the man himself. Diodorus, book i. part 2. chap. 3.