Front Page Titles (by Subject) CHAP. IV.: The principal Difference between the Commerce of the Ancients and the Moderns. - Complete Works, vol. 2 The Spirit of Laws
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CHAP. IV.: The principal Difference between the Commerce of the Ancients and the Moderns. - 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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The principal Difference between the Commerce of the Ancients and the Moderns.
The world has found itself, from time to time, in different situations; by which the face of commerce has been altered. The trade of Europe is, at present, carried on principally from the north to the south; and the difference of climate is the cause that the several nations have great occasion for the merchandizes of each other. For example, the liquors of the south, which are carried to the north, form a commerce little known to the ancients. Thus the burthen of vessels, which was formerly computed by measures of corn, is at present determined by tons of liquor.
The ancient commerce, so far as it is known to us, was carred on from one port in the Mediterranean to another: and was almost wholly confined to the south. Now the people of the same climate, having nearly the same things of their own, have not the same need of trading amongst themselves as with those of a different climate. The commerce of Europe was therefore formerly less extended than at present.
This does not at all contradict what I have said of our commerce to the Indies: for here the prodigious difference of climate destroys all relation between their wants and ours.