The Project

>> Current text of Spirit of Law can be found on the Société Montesquieu site at


The Project

Heretofore all English editions have stemmed, with some modifications, from the original Thomas Nugent translation of 1750, the sole exception being the translation by Anne M. Cohler, Basia Carolyn Miller and Harold Samuel Stone, published by Cambridge in 1989. The advantages of this new translation seem, over time, to have been uncertain enough to its users, particularly those in the teaching profession, for it not to have fully replaced Nugent.

Nugent’s prose, which has an agreeable flow to it, is overly expansive, treating Montesquieu’s often rigorous syntax as if it constantly needed elaboration. In short, accuracy was not his first priority. The Cohler et al. translation, on the other hand, is rather too constrained for my taste by its implicit notions of literalness. In both translations, one encounters terminological choices that are, to say the least, open to dispute.

The reference edition

I am using the somewhat amplified edition of 1750 published as Genève: Barrillot & Fils but actually by Paris: Huart et Moreau. This base text in three volumes can be found on the web via the following links:

Some of the substantial passages added to the edition of 1758 will be found in the annexes.

Readers are invited to comment directly on this blog or to contact me at with any commentary on general choices or particular passages.