The spirit of laws by Charles de Secondat, Baron de Montesquieu


particular, revolutions. The first three dynasties lasted a long time



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particular, revolutions. The first three dynasties lasted a long time,
because they were wisely administered, and the empire had not so great
an extent as it afterwards obtained. But we may observe in general that
all those dynasties began very well. Virtue, attention, and vigilance
are necessary in China; these prevailed in the commencement of the
dynasties, and failed in the end. It was natural that emperors trained
up in military toil, who had compassed the dethroning of a family
immersed in pleasure, should adhere to virtue, which they had found so
advantageous, and be afraid of voluptuousness, which they knew had
proved so fatal to the family dethroned. But after the three or four
first princes, corruption, luxury, indolence, and pleasure possessed
their successors; they shut themselves up in a palace; their
understanding was impaired; their life was shortened; the family
declined; the grandees rose up; the eunuchs gained credit; none but
children were set on the throne; the palace was at variance with the
empire; a lazy set of people that dwelt there ruined the industrious
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