Front Page Titles (by Subject) PART I: Which treats of the origin and nature of civil society, of sovereignty in general, of its peculiar characteristic, limitations, and essential parts. - The Principles of Natural and Politic Law
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PART I: Which treats of the origin and nature of civil society, of sovereignty in general, of its peculiar characteristic, limitations, and essential parts. - Jean-Jacques Burlamaqui, The Principles of Natural and Politic Law 
The Principles of Natural and Politic Law, trans. Thomas Nugent, ed. and with an Introduction by Peter Korkman (Indianpolis: Liberty Fund, 2006).
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Which treats of the origin and nature of civil society, of sovereignty in general, of its peculiar characteristic, limitations, and essential parts.
Containing a few general and preliminary reflections, which serve as an introduction to this and the following parts.
I. Whatever has been hitherto explained concerning the rights and duties of man, relates to the natural and primitive society, established by God himself, independent of human institution:2 We must now treat of civil society, or the body politic, which is deservedly esteemed the com-<2>pletest of societies, and to which the name of State has been given by way of preference.
II. For this purpose we shall repeat here the substance of some principles established in the preceding volume,3 and we shall give a further explication of others relative to this subject.
1°. Human society is originally and in itself a state of equality and independence.
2°. The institution of sovereignty destroys this independence.
3°. This institution does not subvert natural society.
4°. On the contrary, it contributes to strengthen and cement it.
III. To form therefore a just idea of civil society, we must call it natural society itself, modified in such a manner, that there is a sovereign presiding over it, on whose will whatever relates to the welfare4 of the society ultimately depends; to the end that, by these means, mankind5 may attain, with greater certainty, that happiness to which they all do naturally aspire.
IV. The institution of civil societies produces some new relations amongst mankind; I mean such as subsist between those different bodies or communities, which are called states or nations, from whence the law of nations and civil polity are derived.
V. In fact, so soon as states are formed, they acquire, in some measure, personal properties; and con-<3>sequently we may attribute the same rights and obligations to them, as are attributed to individuals, considered as members of society. And indeed it is evident, that if reason imposes certain duties on individuals towards each other, it prescribes likewise those very same rules of conduct to nations, (which are composed only of men) in the intercourse which they may have with each other.
VI. We may therefore apply to kingdoms and nations the several maxims of natural law hitherto explained; and the same law, which is called natural, when speaking of individuals, is distinguished by the name of the law of nations, when applied to men, considered as members forming those different bodies, known by the name of states or nations.6
VII. To enter into this subject, we must observe, that the natural state of nations, with respect to each other, is that of society and peace. This society is likewise a state of equality and independence, which establishes between them a right of equality, by which they are obliged to have the same regard for each other. The general principle therefore of the law of nations, is nothing more than the general law of sociability, which obliges nations to the same duties as are prescribed to individuals.
VIII. Thus the law of natural equality, that which prohibits our injuring any person, and commands the reparation of damage done, the law likewise of beneficence, of fidelity to our engagements, &c.<4> are so many laws in regard to nations, which impose both on the people and on their respective sovereigns the same duties as are prescribed to individuals.
IX. It is a point of some importance to attend to the nature and origin of the law of nations, such as hath been here explained; for it follows from thence, that the law of nations is of equal authority with the law of nature itself, of which it constitutes a part, and that they are equally sacred and venerable, since both have the Deity for their author.
X. There cannot even be any other law of nations really obligatory, and intrinsically invested with the force of a law. For since all nations are in respect to each other in a state of perfect equality,7 it is beyond contradiction, that if there be any common law betwixt them, it must necessarily have God, their common sovereign, for its author.
XI. As to what concerns the tacit consent or customs of nations, on which some doctors establish a law of nations, they cannot of themselves produce a real obligation. For from this only, that several nations have behaved towards each other for some time after a certain manner, it does not follow that they have laid themselves under a necessity of acting constantly so for the future, and much less that every other nation is obliged to conform to this custom.8 <5>
XII. All that can be said is, that when once a particular usage or custom is introduced between nations that have a frequent intercourse with each other, these nations are, and may reasonably be, supposed to submit to this usage, unless they have, in express terms, declared that they will not conform to it any longer; and this is all the effect that can be attributed to the received usages between nations.
XIII. This being premised, we may distinguish two sorts of laws of nations, one necessary, which is obligatory of itself, and no way differs from the law of nature; the other arbitrary and free, founded only on a kind of tacit convention, and deriving all its force from the law of nature, which commands us to be faithful to our engagements.
XIV. What has been said concerning the law of nations, furnishes princes with several important reflections; among others, that since the law of nations is, in reality, nothing else but the law of nature itself, there is but one and the same rule of justice for all mankind, insomuch that those princes who violate them are as guilty of as great a crime as private people, especially as their wicked actions are generally attended with more unhappy consequences than those of private people.
XV. Another consequence that may be drawn from the principles we have established relating to the law of nature and nations, is to form a just idea of that<6> science so necessary to the directors of nations, which is called Policy: By policy therefore is meant that knowledge or ability by which a sovereign provides for the preservation, security, prosperity, and glory of the nation he governs, without doing any prejudice to other people, but rather consulting their advantage as much as possible.
XVI. In short, that which is called prudence, in respect to private persons, is distinguished by the name of policy when applied to sovereigns; and as that mischievous ability, by which a person seeks his own advantage to the detriment of others, and which is called artifice or cunning, is deserving of censure in individuals, it is equally so in those princes, whose policy aims at procuring the advantage of their own nation, to the prejudice of what they owe to other people, in virtue of the laws of humanity and justice.9
XVII. From what has been said of the nature of civil society in general, it is easy to comprehend that, among all human institutions, there is none more considerable than this; and that, as it embraces whatever is interesting to the happiness of society, it is a very extensive subject, and consequently that it is important alike both to princes and people to have proper instructions upon this head.
XVIII. That we may reduce the several articles relative to this matter into some order, we shall divide our work into four parts.
The first will treat of the origin and nature of civil societies, of the manner in which states are<7> formed, of sovereignty in general, its proper characteristics, its limitations, and essential parts.
In the second we shall explain the different forms of government, the various ways of acquiring or losing sovereignty, and the reciprocal duties of sovereigns and subjects.
The third will contain a more particular inquiry into those essential parts of sovereignty which are relative to the internal administration of the state, such as the legislative power, the supreme power in respect to religion, the right of inflicting punishments, that which the sovereign has over the estates and effects contained in his dominions, &c.
In the fourth, in fine, we shall explain the rights of sovereigns with regard to foreigners, where we shall treat of the right of war, and of whatever is relative to that subject, of alliances, and other public treaties, and likewise of the rights of ambassadors.10
Of the real origin of civil societies.
I. Civil society is nothing more than the union of a multitude of people, who agree to live in subjection to a sovereign, in order to find, through his protection and care, the happiness to which they naturally aspire.
II. Whenever the question concerning the origin of civil society is started, it may be considered two different ways; for either I am asked my opinion<8> concerning the origin of governments in reality and in fact; or else in regard to the right of congruity and fitness; that is, what are the reasons which should induce mankind to renounce their natural liberty, and to prefer a civil state to that of nature? Let us see first what can be said in regard to the fact.1
III. As the establishment of society and civil government is almost coeval with the world, and there are but very few records extant of those first ages; nothing can be advanced with certainty concerning the real origin of civil societies. All that political writers say upon this subject is reduced to conjectures that have more or less probability.
IV. Some attribute the origin of civil societies to paternal authority. These observe that all the ancient traditions inform us, that the first men lived a long time; by this longevity, joined to the multiplicity of wives, which was then permitted, a great number of families saw themselves united under the authority of one grandfather; and as it is difficult that a society, any thing numerous, can maintain itself without a supreme authority, it is natural to imagine that their children, accustomed from their infancy to respect and obey their fathers, voluntarily resigned the supreme command into their hands, so soon as they arrived to a full maturity of reason.2
V. Others suppose that the fear and diffidence which mankind had of one another, was their inducement to unite together under a chief, in order to shelter themselves from those mischiefs which<9> they apprehended.3 From the iniquity of the first men, say they, proceeded war, as also the necessity to which they were reduced of submitting to masters, by whom their rights and privileges might be determined.
VI. Some there are, in fine, who pretend that the first beginnings of civil societies are to be attributed to ambition supported by force or abilities. The most dexterous, the strongest, and the most ambitious reduced at first the simplest and weakest into subjection; those growing states were afterwards insensibly strengthened by conquests, and by the concurrence of such as became voluntary members of those societies.4
VII. Such are the principal conjectures of political writers in regard to the origin of societies; to which let us add a few reflections.
The first is, that in the institution of societies, mankind in all probability thought rather of redressing the evils which they had experienced, than of procuring the several advantages resulting from laws, from commerce, from the arts and sciences, and from all those other improvements so frequently mentioned in history.
2°. The natural disposition of mankind, and their general manner of acting, do not by any means permit us to refer the institution of all governments to a general and uniform principle. More natural it is to think that different circumstances gave rise to different states.<10>
3°. We behold without doubt the first image of government in democratic society, or in families; but there is all the probability in the world, that it was ambition, supported by force or abilities, which first subjected the several fathers of families under the dominion of a chief. This appears very agreeable to the natural disposition of mankind, and seems further supported by the manner in which the scripture speaks of Nimrod,* the first king mentioned in history.
4°. When such a body politic was once framed, several others joined themselves to it afterwards, through different motives; and other fathers of families being afraid of insults or oppression from those growing states, determined to form themselves into the like societies, and to chuse to themselves a chief.
5°. Be this as it may, we must not imagine that those first states were such as exist in our days. Human institutions are ever weak and imperfect in their beginnings, there is nothing but time and experience that can gradually bring them to perfection.
The first states were in all probability very small: Kings in those days were only a kind of chieftains, or particular magistrates, appointed for deciding disputes, or for the command of armies. Hence we find by the most ancient histories, that there were sometimes several kings in one and the same nation.
VIII. But to conclude, whatever can be said in regard to the original of the first governments, consists, according to what we have already observed, in mere conjectures, that have only more or<11> less probability. Besides, this is a question rather curious than useful or necessary; the point of importance, and that particularly interesting to mankind, is to know whether the establishment of government, and of a supreme authority, was really necessary, and whether mankind derive from thence any considerable advantages: This is what we call the right of congruity or fitness, and what we are going now to examine.
Of the right of congruity or fitness with regard to the institution of civil society, and the necessity of a supreme authority: of civil liberty; that it is far preferable1to natural liberty, and that the state is of all human conditions the most perfect, the most reasonable, and consequently the natural state of man.
I. We are here to inquire, whether the establishment of civil society, and of a supreme authority, was absolutely necessary to mankind, or whether they could not live happy without it? And whether sovereignty, whose original is owing perhaps to usurpation, ambition, and violence, does not include an attempt against the natural equality and independency of man? These are without doubt questions of importance, and which merit the utmost attention.2 <12>
II. I grant, at first setting out, that the primitive and original society which nature has established amongst mankind, is a state of equality and independence; it is likewise true, that the law of nature is that to which all men are obliged to conform their actions; and in fine it is certain, that this law is in itself most perfect, and the best adapted for the preservation and happiness of mankind.
III. It must likewise be granted, that if mankind, during the time they lived in natural society, had exactly conformed to nature’s laws, nothing would have been wanting to complete their happiness, nor would there have been any occasion to establish a supreme authority upon earth. They would have lived in a mutual intercourse of love and beneficence, in a simplicity without state or pomp, in an equality without jealousy, strangers to all superiority but that of virtue, and to every other ambition than that of being disinterested and generous.3
IV. But mankind were not long directed by so perfect a rule; the vivacity of their passions soon weakened the force of nature’s law, which ceased now to be a bridle sufficient for them, so that they could no longer be left to themselves thus weakened and blinded by their passions. Let us explain this a little more particularly.
V. Laws are incapable of contributing to the happiness of society, unless they be sufficiently known. The laws of nature cannot be known otherwise to man, than as he makes a right use of his reason; but as the greatest part of mankind, abandoned to themselves, listen rather to the prejudices of passion than<13> to reason and truth, it thence follows, that in the state of natural society, the laws of nature were known but very imperfectly, and consequently that in this condition of things man could not lead an happy life.
VI. Besides, the state of nature wanted another thing necessary for the happiness and tranquillity of society, I mean a common judge, acknowledged as such, whose business it is to decide the differences that every day arise betwixt individuals.
VII. In this state, as every one would be supreme arbiter of his own actions, and would have a right of being judge himself, both of the laws of nature and of the manner in which he ought to apply them, this independence and excessive liberty could not but be productive of disorder and confusion, especially in cases where there happened to be any clashing of interests or passions.
VIII. In fine, as in the state of nature no one had a power of enforcing the execution of the laws, nor an authority to punish the violation of them, this was a third inconveniency of the state of primitive society, by which the efficacy of natural laws was almost intirely destroyed. For as men are framed, the laws derive their greatest force from the coercive power, which, by exemplary punishments, intimidates the wicked, and balances the superior force of pleasure and passion.4
IX. Such were the inconveniencies that attended the state of nature. By the excessive liberty and in-<14>dependence which mankind enjoyed, they were hurried into perpetual troubles: for which reason they were under an absolute necessity of quitting this state of independence, and of seeking a remedy against the evils of which it was productive; and this remedy they found in the establishment of civil society and a sovereign authority.5
X. But this could not be obtained without effecting two things equally necessary; the first was to unite together by means of a more particular society; the second to form this society under the dependence of a person invested with an uncontrolable power,6 to the end that he might maintain order and peace.
XI. By these means they remedied the inconveniencies above-mentioned. The sovereign, by promulgating his laws, acquaints his subjects with the rules which they ought to follow. We then cease to be judges in our own cause, our whims and passions are checked, and we are obliged to contain ourselves within the limits of that regard and respect which we owe to each other.
XII. This might be sufficient to prove the necessity of government, and of a supreme authority in society, and to establish the right of congruity or fitness in this respect: But as it is a question of the utmost importance; as mankind have a particular interest in being well acquainted with their state; as they have a natural passion for independence, and generally frame false notions of liberty;7 it will<15> not be improper to continue our reflections on this subject.
XIII. Let us therefore examine into natural and civil liberty;8 let us afterwards endeavour to shew, that civil liberty is far preferable to that of nature, and consequently, that the state which it produces, is of all human conditions the most perfect, and, to speak with exactness, the true natural state of man.
XIV. The reflections we have to make upon this subject are of the last importance, affording useful lessons both to princes and subjects. The greatest part of mankind are strangers to the advantages of civil society, or at least they live in such a manner, as to give no attention to the beauty or excellence of this salutary institution. On the other hand, princes often lose sight of the end for which they were appointed, and instead of thinking that the supreme authority was established for no other purpose than for the maintenance and security of the liberty of mankind, that is, to make them enjoy a solid happiness, they frequently direct it to a different end, and to their own private advantage. Nothing therefore is more necessary than to remove the prejudices both of sovereigns and subjects in regard to this article.
XV. Natural liberty is the right which nature gives to all mankind, of disposing of their persons and property, after the manner they judge most convenient to their happiness, on condition of their act-<16>ing within the limits of the law of nature, and of their not abusing it to the prejudice of other men. To this right of liberty there is a reciprocal obligation corresponding, by which the law of nature binds all mankind to respect the liberty of other men, and not to disturb them in the use they make of it, so long as they do not abuse it.
XVI. The laws of nature are therefore the rule and measure of liberty; and in the primitive and natural state, mankind have no liberty but what the laws of nature give them; for which reason it is proper to observe here, that the state of natural liberty is not that of an intire independence. In this state, men are indeed independent with regard to one another, but they are all in a state of dependence on God and his laws. Independence, generally speaking, is a state unsuitable to man, because by his very nature he holds it of a superior.
XVII. Liberty and independence of any superior, are two very distinct things, which must not be confounded. The first belongs essentially to man, the other cannot suit him. And so far is it from being true, that human liberty is of itself inconsistent with dependence on a sovereign and submission to his laws, that, on the contrary, it is this power of the sovereign, and the protection which men derive from thence, that forms the greatest security of their liberty.
XVIII. This will be still better understood by recollecting what we have already settled, when<17> speaking of natural liberty. We have shewn that the restrictions which the law of nature makes to the liberty of man, far from diminishing or subverting it, on the contrary constitutes its perfection and security. The end of natural laws is not so much to restrain the liberty of man, as to make him act agreeably to his real interests; and moreover, as these very laws are a check to human liberty, in whatever may be of pernicious consequence to others, it secures, by these means, to all mankind, the highest, and the most advantageous degree of liberty they can reasonably desire.9
XIX. We may therefore conclude, that in the state of nature man could not enjoy all the advantages of liberty, but inasmuch as this liberty was made subject to reason, and the laws of nature were the rule and measure of the exercise of it. But if it be true in fact, that the state of nature was attended with the several inconveniencies already mentioned, inconveniences which almost effaced the impression and force of natural laws, it is a plain consequence, that natural liberty must have greatly suffered thereby, and that by not being restrained within the limits of the law of nature, it could not but degenerate into licentiousness, and reduce mankind to the most frightful and the most melancholy of situations.
XX. As they were perpetually divided by contentions, the strongest oppressed the weakest; they possessed nothing with tranquillity; they enjoyed no repose: and what we ought particularly to observe is, that all these evils were owing chiefly to that very<18> independence which mankind were possessed of in regard to each other, and which deprived them of all security of the exercise of their liberty; insomuch that by being too free, they enjoyed no freedom at all; for freedom there can be none, when it is not subject to the direction of laws.
XXI. If it be therefore true, that the civil state gives a new force to the laws of nature, if it be true also, that the establishment of sovereignty secures, in a more effectual manner, the observance of those laws, we must conclude, that the liberty, which man enjoys in this state, is far more perfect, more secure, and better adapted to procure his happiness, than that which he was possessed of in the state of nature.
XXII. True it is that the institution of government and sovereignty is a considerable limitation to natural liberty, for man must renounce that10 power of disposing of his own person and actions, in a word, his independence. But what better use could mankind make of their liberty, than to renounce every dangerous tendency it had in regard to themselves, and to preserve no more of it than was necessary to procure their own real and solid happiness?
XXIII. Civil liberty is therefore, in the main, nothing more than natural liberty, divested of that part of it which formed the independence of individuals, by the authority which they have conferred on their sovereign.<19>
XXIV. This liberty is still attended with two considerable advantages, which natural liberty had not. The first is, the right of insisting that their sovereign shall make a good use of his authority, agreeably to the purposes for which he was intrusted with it. The second is the security which prudence requires that the subjects should reserve to themselves for the execution of the former right, a security absolutely necessary, and without which the people can never enjoy any solid liberty.
XXV. Let us therefore conclude, that to give an adequate definition of civil liberty, we must say, that it is natural liberty itself, divested of that part, which constituted the independence of individuals, by the authority which it confers on sovereigns, and attended with a right of insisting on his making a good use of his authority, and with a moral security that this right will have its effect.
XXVI. Since civil liberty therefore is far preferable to that of nature, we may safely conclude, that the civil state, which procures this liberty to mankind, is of all human states the most perfect, the most reasonable, and of course the true natural state of man.11
XXVII. And indeed, since man, by his nature, is a free and intelligent being, capable of discovering his state by himself, as well as its ultimate end, and of taking the necessary measures to attain it, it is properly in this point of view that we must consider his natural state; that is, the natural state of man<20> must be that, which is most agreeable to his nature, to his constitution, to reason, to the good use of his faculties, and to his ultimate end; all which circumstances perfectly agree with the civil state. In short, as the institution of government and supreme authority brings men back to the observance of the laws of nature, and consequently to the road of happiness, it makes them return to their natural state, from whence they had strayed by the bad use which they made of their liberty.
XXVIII. The reflections we have here made on the advantages which men derive from government, deserve very great attention.
1°. They are extremely proper for removing the false notions which most people have upon this subject; as if the civil state could not be established but in prejudice to their natural liberty, and as if government had been invented only to satisfy the ambition of designing men,12 contrary to the interest of the rest of the community.
2°. They inspire mankind with a love and respect for so salutary an institution, disposing them thus to submit voluntarily to whatever the civil society requires of them, from a conviction that the advantages from thence derived are very considerable.
3°. They may likewise contribute greatly to the increase of the love of one’s country, the first seeds of which nature herself has implanted, as it were, in the hearts of all mankind, in order to promote, as it most effectually does, the happiness of society. Sextus Empiricus relates, “that it was a custom among the ancient Persians, upon the death of a king,<21> to pass five days in a state of anarchy, as an inducement to be more faithful to his successor, from the experience they acquired of the inconveniences of anarchy, of the many murders, robberies, and every other mischief, with which it is pregnant.”*
XXIX. As these reflections are proper for removing the prejudices of private people, so they likewise contain most excellent instructions even for sovereigns. For is there any thing better adapted for making princes sensible of the full extent of their duty, than to reflect seriously on the ends which the people proposed to themselves in intrusting them with their liberty, that is, with whatever is most valuable to them; and on the engagements into which they entered, by charging themselves with so sacred a deposit? When mankind renounced their independence and natural liberty, by giving masters to themselves, it was in order to be sheltered from the evils with which they were afflicted, and in hopes, that under the protection and care of their sovereign, they should meet with solid happiness. Thus have we seen, that by civil liberty mankind acquired a right of insisting upon their sovereign’s using his authority agreeably to the design with which he was entrusted with it, which was to render their subjects wise and virtuous, and thereby to promote their real felicity. In a word, whatever has been said concerning the advantages of the civil state preferably<22> to that of nature, supposes this state in its due perfection; and that both subjects and sovereign discharge their duties towards each other.
Of the essential constitution of states, and of the manner in which they are formed.
I. After treating of the original of civil societies, the natural order of our subject leads us to examine into the essential constitution of states, that is, into the manner in which they are formed, and the internal frame of those surprizing1 structures.
II. From what has been said in the preceding chapter it follows, that the only effectual method which mankind could employ in order to skreen themselves from the evils with which they were afflicted in the state of nature, and to procure to themselves all the advantages wanting to their security and happiness, must be drawn from man himself, and from the assistance of society.
III. For this purpose, it was necessary that a multitude of people should unite in so particular a manner, that their preservation must depend on each other, to the end that they remain under a necessity of mutual assistance, and by this junction of strength and interests, be able not only to repel the insults<23> against which each individual could not guard so easily, but also to contain those who should attempt to deviate from their duty, and to promote, more effectually, their common advantage. Let us explain more particularly how this could be effected.
IV. Two things were necessary for this purpose.2
1°. It was necessary to unite for ever the wills of all the members of the society, in such a manner, that from that time forward they should never desire but one and the same thing in whatever relates to the end and purpose of society. 2°. It was requisite afterwards to establish a supreme power supported by the strength of the whole body (by which means they might over-awe those who should be inclinable to disturb the peace) and to inflict a present and sensible evil on such as should attempt to act contrary to the public good.
V. It is from this union of wills and of strength, that the body politic or state results, and without it we could never conceive a civil society. For let the number of confederates be ever so great, if each man was to follow his own private judgment in things relating to the public good, they would only embarrass one another, and the diversity of inclinations and judgments, arising from the levity and natural inconstancy of man, would soon demolish all concord, and mankind would thus relapse into the inconveniencies of the state of nature. Besides, a society of that kind could never act long in concert, and for the same end, nor maintain itself in that harmony which constitutes its whole strength, without a supe-<24>rior power, whose business it is to serve as a check to the inconstancy and malice of man, and to oblige each individual to direct all his actions to the public utility.
VI. All this is performed by means of covenants; for this union of wills in one and the same person could never be so effected, as to actually destroy the natural diversity of inclinations and sentiments; but it is done by an engagement which every man enters into, of submitting his private will to that of a single person, or of an assembly; insomuch that every resolution of this person or assembly, concerning things relative to the public security or advantage, must be considered as the positive will of all in general, and of each in particular.
VII. With regard to the union of strength, which produces the sovereign power, it is not formed by each man’s communicating physically his strength to a single person, so as to remain utterly weak and impotent; but by a covenant or engagement, whereby all in general, and each in particular, oblige themselves to make no use of their strength, but in such a manner as shall be prescribed to them by the person on whom they have, with one common accord, conferred the supreme authority.
VIII. By this union of the body politic under one and the same chief, each individual acquires, in some measure, as much strength as the whole society united. Suppose, for instance, there are a million of men in the commonwealth, each man is able to resist this<25> million, by means of their subjection to the sovereign, who keeps them all in awe, and hinders them from hurting one another. This multiplication of strength in the body politic resembles that of each member in the human body; take them asunder, and their vigor is no more; but by their mutual union the strength of each increases, and they form, all together, a robust and animated body.
IX. The state may be defined, a society by which a multitude of people unite together, under the dependence of a sovereign, in order to find, through his protection and care, the happiness to which they naturally aspire. The definition which Tully gives, amounts pretty near to the same. Multitudo juris consensu, & utilitatis communione sociata. A multitude of people united together by a common interest, and by common laws, to which they submit with one accord.3
X. The state is therefore considered as a body, or as a moral person, of which the sovereign is the chief or head, and the subjects are the members; in consequence of which we attribute to this person certain actions peculiar to him, certain rights, privileges, and possessions, distinct from those of each citizen, and to which neither each citizen, nor many, nor even all together, can pretend, but only the sovereign.
XI. It is moreover this union of several persons in one body, produced by the concurrence of the wills and the strength of every individual in one and the same person, that distinguishes the state from a mul-<26>titude. For a multitude is only an assemblage of several persons, each of whom has his own private will, with the liberty of judging according to his own notions of whatever is proposed to him, and of determining as he pleases; for which reason they cannot be said to have only one will. Whereas the state is a body, or a society, animated by only one soul, which directs all its motions, and makes all its members act after a constant and uniform manner, with a view to one and the same end, namely, the public utility.
XII. But it will be here objected, that if the union of the will and of the strength of each member of the society, in the person of the sovereign, destroys neither the will nor the natural force of each individual; if they always continue in possession of it; and if they are able, in fact, to employ it against the sovereign himself, what does the force of the state consist in, and what is it that constitutes the security of this society? I answer, that two things contribute chiefly to maintain the state, and the sovereign, who is the soul of it.
The first is the engagement itself, by which individuals have subjected themselves to the command of a sovereign, an engagement which derives a considerable force both from divine authority, and from the sanction of an oath. But as to vicious and ill-disposed minds, on whom these motives make no impression, the strength of the government consists chiefly in the fear of those punishments which the sovereign may inflict upon them, by virtue of the power with which he is invested.<27>
XIII. Now since the means, by which the sovereign is enabled to compel rebellious and refractory persons to their duty, consists in this, that the rest of the subjects join their strength with him for this end (for, were it not for this, he would have no more power than the lowest of his subjects) it follows from thence, that it is the ready submission of good subjects that furnishes the sovereign with the means of repressing the insolent, and of maintaining his authority.
XIV. But provided a sovereign shews never so small an attachment to his duty, he will always find it easy to fix the better part of his subjects in his interest, and of course to have the greatest part of the strength of the state in his hands, and to maintain the authority of the government. Experience has always shewn that princes only need a common share of virtue to be adored by their subjects. We may therefore affirm, that the sovereign is capable of deriving from himself the means necessary for the support of his authority, and that a prudent exercise of the sovereignty, pursuant to the end for which it was designed, constitutes at the same time the happiness of the people, and, by a necessary consequence, the greatest security of the government in the person of the sovereign.
XV. Tracing the principles here established in regard to the formation of states, &c. were we to suppose that a multitude of people, who had lived hitherto independent of each other, wanted to establish a civil society, we shall find a ne-<28>cessity for different covenants, and for a general decree.4
1°. The first covenant is that by which each individual engages with all the rest to join for ever in one body, and to regulate, with one common consent, whatever regards their preservation and their common security. Those who do not enter into this first engagement, remain excluded from the new society.
2°. There must afterwards be a decree made for settling the form of government; otherwise they could never take any fixt measures for promoting, effectually and in concert, the public security and welfare.
3°. In fine, when once the form of government is settled, there must be another covenant, whereby, after having pitched upon one or more persons to be invested with the power of governing, those on whom this supreme authority is conferred, engage to consult most carefully the common security and advantage, and the others promise fidelity and allegiance to the sovereign. This last covenant includes a submission of the strength and will of each individual to the will of the head of the society, as far as the public good requires; and thus it is that a regular state and perfect government are formed.
XVI. What we have hitherto delivered may be further illustrated by the account we have in history concerning the foundation of the Roman state.5 At first we behold a multitude of people, who flock together with a view of settling on the banks of the Tiber; afterwards they consult about what form of<29> government they shall establish, and the party for monarchy prevailing, they confer the supreme authority on Romulus.*
XVII. And though we are strangers to the original of most states, yet we must not imagine that what has been here said, concerning the manner in which civil societies are formed, is a mere fiction. For since it is certain, that all civil societies had a beginning, it is impossible to conceive, how the members, of which they are composed, could agree to live together, dependent on a supreme authority, without supposing the covenants above-mentioned.
XVIII. And yet all political writers do not explain the origin of states after our manner. Some there are† who pretend, that states are formed merely by the covenant of the subjects with one another, by which each man enters into an engagement with all the rest not to resist the will of the sovereign, upon condition that the rest on their side submit to the same engagement; but they pretend that there is no original compact between the sovereign and the subjects.6
XIX. The reason why these writers give this explication of the matter, is obvious. Their design is to give an arbitrary and unlimited authority to sovereigns, and to deprive the subjects of every means of withdrawing their allegiance upon any pretext whatever, notwithstanding the bad use the sovereign<30> may make of his authority. For this purpose it was absolutely necessary to free kings from all restraint of compact or covenant between them and their subjects, which, without doubt, is the chief instrument of limiting their power.
XX. But notwithstanding it is of the utmost importance to mankind, to support the authority of kings, and to defend it against the attempts of restless or mutinous spirits, yet we must not deny evident truths, or refuse to acknowledge a covenant, in which there is manifestly a mutual promise, of performing things to which they were not before obliged.
XXI. When I submit voluntarily to a prince, I promise him allegiance, on condition that he will protect me; the prince on his side promises me his protection, on condition that I will obey him. Before this promise, I was not obliged to obey him, nor was he obliged to protect me, at least by any perfect obligation; it is therefore evident, that there must be a mutual engagement.
XXII. But there is still something more; for so far is the system we are here refuting, from strengthening the supreme authority, and from screening it from the capricious invasions of the subject, that, on the contrary, nothing is of a more dangerous consequence to sovereigns, than to fix their right on such a foundation. For if the obligation of the subjects towards their princes is founded merely on the mutual covenant between the subjects, by which each<31> man engages for the sake of the rest to obey the sovereign, on condition that the rest do the same for his sake; it is evident, that at this rate every subject makes the force of his engagement depend on the execution of that of every other fellow-subject; and consequently if any one refuses to obey the sovereign, all the rest stand released from their allegiance. Thus by endeavouring to extend the rights of sovereigns beyond their just limits, instead of strengthening, they rather inadvertently weaken them.
Of the sovereign, sovereignty, and the subjects.
I. The sovereign in a state, is that person who has a right of commanding in the last resort.
II. As to the sovereignty we must define it, the right of commanding civil society in the last resort, which right the members of this society have conferred on one and the same person, with a view to preserve order and security in the commonwealth, and, in general, to procure, under his protection and through his care, their own real happiness, and especially the sure exercise of their liberty.
III. I say, in the first place, that sovereignty is the right of commanding civil society in the last resort, to shew that the nature of sovereignty consists chiefly in two things.<32>
The first is, the right of commanding the members of the society, that is, of directing their actions with authority, or with a power of compelling.
The second is, that this right ought to be that of commanding in the last resort in such a manner, that every private person be obliged to submit, without a power left to any man of resisting. Otherwise, if this authority was not superior to every other upon earth, it could establish no order or security in the commonwealth, though these are the ends for which it was established.
IV. In the second place, I say, that it is a right conferred upon a person, and not upon a man, to denote that this person may be, not only a single man, but likewise a multitude of men, united in council, and forming only one will, by means of a plurality of suffrages, as we shall more particularly explain hereafter.
V. Thirdly, I say, to one and the same person, to shew that sovereignty can admit of no share or partition, that there is no sovereign at all when there are many, because there is no one who commands then in the last resort, and none of them being obliged to give way to the other, their competition must necessarily throw every thing into disorder and confusion.1
VI. I add, in fine, to procure their own happiness, &c. in order to point out the end of sovereignty, that is, the welfare2 of the people. When sovereigns once lose sight of this end, when they pervert it to<33> their private interests, or caprices, sovereignty then degenerates into tyranny, and ceases to be a legitimate authority. Such is the idea we ought to form of a sovereign and of sovereignty.
VII. All the other members of the state are called subjects, that is, they are under an obligation of obeying the sovereign.
VIII. Now a person becomes a member or subject of a state two ways, either by an express or by a tacit covenant.3
IX. If by an express covenant, the thing admits of no difficulty. But, with regard to a tacit covenant, we must observe that the first founders of states, and all those who afterwards became members thereof, are supposed to have stipulated, that their children and descendants should, at their coming into the world, have the right of enjoying those advantages which are common to all the members of the state, provided nevertheless that these descendants, when they attain to the use of reason, be on their part willing to submit to the government, and to acknowledge the authority of the sovereign.
X. I said, provided the descendants acknowledged the authority of the sovereign; for the stipulation of the parents cannot, in its own nature, have the force of subjecting the children against their will to an authority, to which they would not of themselves chuse to submit: Hence the authority of the sovereign over the children of the members of the state, and the<34> right, on the other hand, which these children have to the protection of the sovereign, and to the advantages of the government, are founded on mutual consent.
XI. Now if the children of members of the state, upon attaining to the years of discretion, are willing to live in the place of their parentage, or in their native country, they are by this very act supposed to submit themselves to the power that governs the state, and consequently they ought to enjoy, as members of that state, the advantages naturally arising from it. This is the reason likewise, that when once the sovereign is acknowledged, he has no occasion4 to tender the oath of allegiance to the children, who are afterwards born in his dominions.
XII. Besides, it is a maxim which has been ever considered as a general law of government, that whosoever merely enters upon the territories of a state, and by a much stronger reason, those who are desirous of enjoying the advantages which are to be found there, are supposed to renounce their natural liberty, and to submit to the established laws and government, so far as the public and private safety requires. And if they refuse to do this, they may be considered as enemies, in this sense at least, that the government has a right to expel them the country; and this is likewise a tacit covenant, by which they make a temporary submission to the government.
XIII. Subjects are sometimes called cives, or members of the civil state; some indeed make no di-<35>stinction between these two terms, but I think it is better to distinguish them. The appellation of civis ought to be understood only of those who share in all the advantages and privileges of the association, and who are properly members of the state, either by birth, or in some other manner. All the rest are rather inmates, strangers, or temporary inhabitants, than members.5 As to women and servants, the title of member is applicable to them only, inasmuch as they enjoy certain rights, in virtue of their dependence on their domestic governor, who is properly a member of the state; and all this depends on the laws and particular customs of each government.
XIV. To proceed; members, besides the general relation of being united in the same civil society, have likewise many other particular relations, which are reducible to two principal ones.
The first is, when private people compose particular bodies or corporations.
The second is, when sovereigns entrust particular persons with some share of the administration.
XV. Those particular bodies are called Companies, Chambers, Colleges, Societies, Communities. But it is to be observed, that all these particular societies are finally subordinate to the sovereign.
XVI. Besides, we may consider some as more ancient than the establishment of civil states, and others as formed since.<36>
XVII. The latter are likewise either public, such as are established by the authority of the sovereign, and then they generally enjoy some particular privileges, agreeably to their patents: or private, such as are formed by private people.
XVIII. In fine, these private bodies are either lawful or unlawful. The former are those, which, having nothing in their nature contrary to good order, good manners, or the authority of the sovereign, are supposed to be approved of by the state, though they have not received any formal sanction. With respect to unlawful bodies, we mean not only those whose members unite for the open commission of any crime, such as gangs of robbers, thieves, pirates, banditti, but likewise all other kinds of confederacy, which the subjects enter into, without the consent of the sovereign, and contrary to the end of civil society. These engagements are called cabals, factions, conspiracies.
XIX. Those members whom the sovereign entrusts with some share of the administration, which they exercise in his name and by his authority, have in consequence thereof particular relations to the rest of the members, and are under stronger engagements to the sovereign; these are called ministers, public officers, or magistrates.
XX. Such are the regents of a kingdom, during a minority, the governors of provinces and towns, the commanders of armies, the directors of the treasury, the presidents of courts of justice, ambassadors,<37> or envoys to foreign powers, &c. As all these persons are entrusted with a share of the administration, they represent the sovereign, and it is they that have properly the name of public ministers.
XXI. Others there are, who assist merely in the execution of public business, such as counsellors, who only give their opinion, secretaries, receivers of the public revenue, soldiers, subaltern officers, &c.
Of the immediate source, and foundation of sovereignty.
I. Though what has been said in the fourth chapter concerning the structure of states, is sufficient to shew the original and source of sovereignty, as well as its real foundation; yet as this is one of those questions on which political writers are greatly divided, it will not be amiss to examine it somewhat more particularly; and what remains still to be said upon this subject, will help to give us a more complete idea of the nature and end of sovereignty.
II. When we inquire here into the source of sovereignty, our intent is to know the nearest and immediate source of it; now it is certain, that the supreme authority, as well as the title on which this power is established, and which constitutes its right, is derived immediately from the very covenants<38> which constitute civil society, and give birth to government.1
III. And indeed, upon considering the primitive state of man, it appears most certain, that the appellations of sovereigns and subjects, masters and slaves, are unknown to nature. Nature has made us all of the same species, all equal, all free and independent of each other; in short, she was willing that those, on whom she has bestowed the same faculties, should have all the same rights. It is therefore beyond all doubt, that, in this primitive state of nature, no man has of himself an original right of commanding others, or any title to sovereignty.
IV. There is none but God alone that has, in consequence of his nature and perfections, a natural, essential, and inherent right of giving laws to mankind,2 and of exercising an absolute sovereignty over them. The case is otherwise between man and man; they are in their own nature as independent of one another, as they are dependent on God. This liberty and independance is therefore a right naturally belonging to man, of which it would be unjust to deprive him against his will.
V. But if this be the case, and there is yet a supreme authority subsisting amongst mankind, whence can this authority arise, unless it be from the compacts or covenants, which men have made amongst themselves upon this subject? For as we have a right of transferring our property to another by a covenant; so, by a voluntary submission, a person may convey<39> to another, who accepts of the renunciation, the natural right he had of disposing of his liberty and natural strength.3
VI. It must therefore be agreed, that sovereignty resides originally in the people, and in each individual with regard to himself; and that it is the transferring and uniting the several rights of individuals in the person of the sovereign,4 that constitutes him such, and really produces sovereignty. It is beyond all dispute, for example, that when the Romans chose Romulus and Numa for their kings, they must have conferred upon them, by this very act, the sovereignty, which those princes were not possessed of before, and to which they had certainly no other right than what was derived from the election of the people.
VII. Nevertheless, though it be evident, that the immediate original of sovereignty is owing to human covenants, yet nothing can hinder us from affirming, with good ground, that it is of divine as well as human right.5
VIII. And indeed, right reason having made it plainly appear, after the multiplication of mankind, that the establishment of civil societies and of a supreme authority, was absolutely necessary for the order, tranquillity, and preservation of the species, it is as convincing a proof that this institution is agreeable to the designs of Providence, as if God himself had declared it to mankind by a positive revelation. And since God is essentially fond of order, he is doubtless willing that there should be a supreme<40> authority upon earth, which alone is capable of procuring and supporting that order amongst mankind, by enforcing the observance of the laws of nature.
IX. There is a beautiful passage of Cicero’s to this purpose.*Nothing is more agreeable to the supreme Deity, that governs this universe, than civil societies lawfully established.
X. When therefore we give to sovereigns the title of God’s vicegerents upon earth, this does not imply that they derive their authority immediately from God; but it signifies only, that by means of the power lodged in their hands, and with which the people have invested them, they maintain, agreeably to the views of the Deity, both order and peace, and thus procure the felicity of mankind.6
XI. But if these magnificent titles add a considerable lustre to sovereignty, and render it more respectable, they afford likewise, at the same time, an excellent lesson to princes. For they cannot deserve the title of God’s vicegerents upon earth, but inasmuch as they make use of their authority, pursuant to the views and purposes for which they were intrusted with it, and agreeably to the intention of the Deity, that is, for the happiness of the people, by using all their endeavours to inspire them with virtuous principles.7 <41>
XII. This, without doubt, is sufficient to make us look upon the original of government as sacred, and to induce subjects to shew submission and respect to the person of the sovereign. But there are political writers who carry the thing further, and maintain that it is God who confers immediately the supreme power on princes, without any intervention or concurrence of man.8
XIII. For this purpose, they make a distinction betwixt the cause of the state, and the cause of the sovereignty. They confess indeed that states are formed by covenants, but they insist that God himself is the immediate cause of the sovereignty. According to their notions, the people, who chuse to themselves a king, do not, by this act, confer the supreme authority upon him, they only point out the person whom heaven is to entrust with it. Thus the consent of the people to the dominion of one or more persons, may be considered as a channel, through which the supreme authority flows, but is not its real source.
XIV. The principal argument which these writers adopt, is, that as neither each individual amongst a number of free and independent people, nor the whole collective multitude, are in any wise possessed of the supreme authority, they cannot confer it on the prince. But this argument proves nothing: it is true that neither each member of the society, nor the whole multitude collected, are formally invested with the supreme authority, such as we behold it in the sovereign, but it is sufficient that they possess it vir-<42>tually, that is, that they have within themselves all that is necessary to enable them, by the concurrence of their free will and consent, to produce it in the sovereign.
XV. Since every individual has a natural right of disposing of his natural freedom according as he thinks proper, why should he not have a power of transferring to another that right which he has of directing himself? Now is it not manifest, that if all the members of this society agree to transfer this right to one of their fellow-members, this cession will be the nearest and immediate cause of sovereignty? It is therefore evident, that there are, in each individual, the seeds, as it were, of the supreme power. The case is here very near the same as in that of several voices, collected together, which, by their union, produce a harmony, that was not to be found separately in each.
XVI. But it will be here objected, that the scripture itself says, that every man ought to be subject to the supreme powers, because they are established by God.* I answer, with Grotius, that men have established civil societies, not in consequence of a divine ordinance, but of their voluntary motion, induced by the experience they had had of the incapacity which separate families were under, of defending themselves against the insults and attacks of human violence. From thence (he adds) arises the civil power, which St. Peter, for this<43> reason, calls a human power,† though in other parts of scripture it bears the name of a divine institution,† because God has approved of it as an establishment useful9 to mankind.§
XVII. The other arguments, in favour of the opinion we have been here refuting, do not even deserve our notice. In general, it may be observed, that never were more wretched reasons produced upon this subject, as the reader may be easily convinced by reading Puffendorf on the law of nature and nations, who, in the chapter corresponding to this, gives these arguments at length, and fully refutes them.*
XVIII. Let us therefore conclude, that the opinion of those, who pretend that God is the immediate cause of sovereignty, has no other foundation than that of adulation and flattery, by which, in order to render the authority of sovereigns more absolute, they have attempted to render it independent of all human compact, and dependent only on God. But were we even to grant, that princes hold their authority immediately of God, yet the consequences, which some political writers want to infer, could not be drawn from this principle.
XIX. For since it is most certain, that God could never entrust princes with this supreme authority,<44> but for the good of society in general, as well as of individuals, the exercise of this power must necessarily be limited by the very intention which the Deity had in conferring it on the sovereign; insomuch that the people would still have the same right of refusing to obey a prince, who, instead of concurring with the views of the Deity, would, on the contrary, endeavour to cross and defeat them, by rendering his people miserable, as we shall prove more particularly hereafter.
Of the essential characters of sovereignty, its modifications, extent, and limits.
Of the characteristics of sovereignty.
I. Sovereignty we have defined to be a right of commanding in the last resort in civil society, which right the members of this society have conferred upon some person, with a view of maintaining order and security in the commonwealth. This definition shews us the principal characteristics of the power that governs the state, and this is what it will be proper to explain here in a more particular manner.
II. The first characteristic, and that from which all the others flow, is its being a supreme and independent power, that is, a power that judges in the last resort of whatever is susceptible of human direction, and relates to the welfare1 and advantage<45> of society; insomuch that this power acknowledges no other superior power on earth.
III. It must be observed however, that when we say the civil power is, of its own nature, supreme and independent, we do not mean thereby, that it does not depend, in regard to its original, on the human will:* all that we would have understood is, that, when once this power is established, it acknowledges no other upon earth, superior or equal to it, and consequently that whatever it ordains in the plenitude of its power, cannot be reversed by any other human will, as superior to it.
IV. That in every government there should be such a supreme power, is a point absolutely necessary; the very nature of the thing requires it, otherwise it is impossible for it to subsist. For since powers cannot be multiplied to infinity, we must necessarily stop at some degree of authority superior to all other: and let the form of government be what it will, monarchical, aristocratical, democratical, or mixt, we must always submit to a supreme decision; since it implies a contradiction to say, that there is any person above him, who holds the highest rank in the same order of beings.
V. A second characteristic, which is a consequence of the former, is that the sovereign, as such, is not accountable to any person upon earth for his conduct, nor liable to any punishment from man; for both suppose a superior.2 <46>
VI. There are two ways of being accountable.
One as to a superior, who has a right of reversing what has been done, if he does not find it to his liking, and even of inflicting some punishment, and this is inconsistent with the idea of a sovereign.
The other as to an equal, whose approbation we are desirous of having; and in this sense a sovereign may be accountable, without any absurdity. And even they who have a right idea of honour, endeavour by such means to acquire the approbation and esteem of mankind, by letting all the world see, that they act with prudence and integrity: but this does not imply any dependance.
VII. I said that the sovereign, as such, was neither accountable nor punishable; that is, so long as he continues really a sovereign, and has not forfeited his right. For it is past all doubt, that if the sovereign, utterly forgetful of the end for which he was entrusted with the sovereignty, applied it to a quite contrary purpose, and thus became an enemy to the state; the sovereignty returns (ipso facto ) to the nation, who, in that case, can act towards the person, who was their sovereign, in the manner they think most agreeable to their security and interests. For, whatever notion we may entertain of sovereignty, no man, in his senses, will pretend to say, that it is an undoubted title to follow the impulse of our irregular passions with impunity, and thus to become an enemy to society.
VIII. A third characteristic essential to sovereignty, considered in itself, is, that the sovereign, as such, be<47> above all human or civil law. I say, all human law; for there is no doubt but the sovereign is subject to the divine laws, whether natural or positive.3
IX. But with regard to laws merely human, as their whole force and obligation ultimately depends on the will of the sovereign, they cannot, with any propriety of speech, be said to be obligatory in respect to him: for obligation necessarily supposeth two persons, a superior and an inferior.5
X. And yet natural equity requires sometimes, that the prince should conform to his own laws, to the end that his subjects may be more effectually induced to observe them. This is extremely well expressed in these verses of Claudian.*
XI. To proceed; in treating here of sovereignty, we suppose that it is really and absolutely such in its own nature,6 and that the establishment of civil laws ultimately depends on the sole will of the person who enjoys the honours and title of sovereign, insomuch that his authority, in this respect, cannot be limited: otherwise this superiority of the prince above the laws is not applicable to him in the full extent in which we have given it him.
XII. This sovereignty, such as we have now represented it, resided originally in the people. But when once the people have transferred their right to a sovereign, they cannot, without contradiction, be supposed to continue still masters of it.
XIII. Hence the distinction which some political writers make between real sovereignty, which always resides in the people, and actual sovereignty,7 which belongs to the king, is equally absurd and dangerous. For it is ridiculous to pretend, that after the people have conferred the supreme authority on the king, they should still continue in possession of that very authority, superior to the king himself.
XIV. We must therefore observe here a just medium, and establish principles that neither favour tyranny, nor the spirit of mutiny and rebellion.
1°. It is certain, that so soon as a people submit to a king, really such, they have no longer the supreme power.
2°. But it does not follow, from the people’s having conferred the supreme power in such a manner, that they have reserved to themselves in no case the right of resuming it.<49>
3°. This reservation is sometimes explicit; but there is always a tacit one, the effect of which discloses itself, when the person, entrusted with the supreme authority, perverts it to an use directly contrary to the end for which it was conferred upon him, as will better appear hereafter.
XV. But though it be absolutely necessary, that there should be a supreme and independent authority in the state, there is nevertheless some difference, especially in monarchies and aristocracies,8 with regard to the manner in which those who are entrusted with this power, exercise it. In some states the prince governs as he thinks proper; in others, he is obliged to follow some fixt and constant rules, from which he is not allowed to deviate; this is what I call the modifications of sovereignty, and from thence arises the distinction of absolute and limited sovereignty.
Of absolute sovereignty.
XVI. Absolute sovereignty is therefore nothing else but the right of governing the state as the prince thinks proper, according as the present situation of affairs seems to require, and without being obliged to consult any person whatever, or to follow any fixt and perpetual rules.
XVII. Upon this head we have several important reflections to make.
1°. The word absolute power is generally very odious to republicans; and I must confess, that when it is misunderstood, it is apt to make the most dangerous impression on the minds of princes, especially in the mouths of flatterers.<50>
2°. In order to form a just idea of it, we must trace it to its principle. In the state of nature, every man has an absolute right to act after what manner he thinks most conducive to his happiness, and without being obliged to consult any person whatever, provided however that he does nothing contrary to the laws of nature: consequently when a multitude of men unite together, in order to form a state, this body hath the same liberty in regard to matters in which the public good is concerned.
3°. When therefore the whole body of the people confer the sovereignty upon a prince, with this extent and absolute power, which originally resided in themselves, and without adding any particular limitation to it, we call that sovereignty absolute.
4°. Things being thus constituted, we must not confound an absolute power with an arbitrary, despotic, and unlimited authority. For, from what we have here advanced concerning the original and nature of absolute sovereignty, it manifestly follows, that it is limited, from its very nature, by the intention of those who conferred it on the sovereign, and by the very laws of God. This is what we must explain more at large.9
XVIII. The end which mankind proposed to themselves in renouncing their natural independance, and establishing government and sovereignty, was doubtless to redress the evils which they laboured under, and to secure their happiness. If so, how is it possible to conceive, that those, who, with this view, granted an absolute power to the sovereign, should have intended to give him an arbitrary and unlimited autho-<51>rity, so as to intitle him to gratify his caprice and passions, to the prejudice of the life, property, and liberty of the subject? On the contrary, we have shewn above, that the civil state must necessarily empower the subjects to insist upon the sovereign’s using his authority for their advantage, and according to the purposes for which he was entrusted with it.
XIX. It must therefore be acknowledged, that it never was the intention of the people to confer absolute sovereignty upon a prince, but with this express condition, that the public good should be the supreme law to direct him; consequently so long as the prince acts with this view, he is authorized by the people; but, on the contrary, if he makes use of his power merely to ruin and destroy his subjects, he acts intirely of his own head, and not in virtue of the power with which he was entrusted by the people.
XX. Still further, the very nature of the thing does not allow absolute power to be extended beyond the bounds of public utility; for absolute sovereignty cannot confer a right upon the sovereign, which the people had not originally in themselves. Now before the establishment of civil society, surely no man had a power of injuring either himself or others; consequently absolute power cannot give the sovereign a right to hurt and abuse his subjects.
XXI. In the state of nature every man was absolute master of his own person and actions, provided he confined himself within the limits of the law of<52> nature. Absolute power is formed only by the union of all the rights of individuals in the person of the sovereign; of course the absolute power of the sovereign is confined within the same bounds, as those by which the absolute power of individuals was originally limited.
XXII. But I go still further, and affirm that, supposing even a nation had been really willing to grant their sovereign an arbitrary and unlimited power, this concession would of itself be void and of no effect.
XXIII. No man can divest himself so far of his liberty as to submit to an arbitrary prince, who is to treat him absolutely according to his fancy. This would be renouncing his own life, which he is not master of; it would be renouncing his duty, which is never permitted: and if thus it be with regard to an individual who should make himself a slave, much less hath an entire nation that power, which is not to be found in any of its members.10
XXIV. By this it appears most evident, that all sovereignty, how absolute soever we suppose it, hath its limits; and that it can never imply an arbitrary power in the prince of doing whatever he pleases, without any other rule or reason than his own despotic will.
XXV. For how indeed should we attribute any such power to the creature, when it is not to be found in the supreme Being himself? His absolute domi-<53>nion is not founded on a blind will; his sovereign will is always determined by the immutable rules of wisdom, justice, and beneficence.
XXVI. In short, the right of commanding, or sovereignty, ought always to be established ultimately on a power of doing good, otherwise it cannot be productive of a real obligation; for reason cannot approve or submit to it; and this is what distinguishes empire and sovereignty from violence and tyranny. Such are the ideas we ought to form of absolute sovereignty.
Of limited sovereignty.
XXVII. But although absolute power, considered in itself, and such as we have now represented it, implies nothing odious or unlawful, and, in that sense, people may confer it upon the sovereign; yet we must allow, that the experience of all ages has informed mankind, that this is not the form of government which suits them best, nor the fittest for procuring them a state of tranquillity and happiness.11
XXVIII. Whatever distance there may be between the subjects and the sovereign, in whatsoever degree of elevation the latter may be placed above the rest, still he is a human creature like themselves; their souls are all cast, as it were, in the same mould, they are all subject to the same prejudices, and susceptible of the same passions.<54>
XXIX. Again, the very station, which sovereigns occupy, exposes them to temptations, unknown to private people. The generality of princes have neither virtue nor courage sufficient to moderate their passions, when they find they may do whatever they list. The people have therefore great reason to fear, that an unlimited authority will turn out to their prejudice, and that if they do not reserve some security to themselves, against the sovereign’s abusing it, he will some time or other abuse it.
XXX. It is these reflections, justified by experience, that have induced most, and those the wisest, nations, to set bounds to the power of their sovereigns, and to prescribe the manner in which the latter are to govern; and this has produced what is called limited sovereignty.
XXXI. But though this limitation of the supreme power be advantageous to the people, it does no injury to the princes themselves; nay it may rather be said, that it turns out to their advantage, and forms the greatest security to their authority.
XXXII. It does no injury to princes; for if they could not be satisfied with a limited authority, their business was to refuse the crown; and when once they have accepted of it upon these conditions, they are no longer at liberty to endeavour afterwards to break through them, or to strive to render themselves absolute.
XXXIII. It is rather advantageous to princes, because those who are invested with absolute power,<55> and are desirous of discharging their duty, are obliged to a far greater vigilance and circumspection, and exposed to more fatigue, than those who have their task, as it were, marked out to them, and are not allowed to deviate from certain rules.
XXXIV. In fine, this limitation of sovereignty forms the greatest security to the authority of princes; for, as they are less exposed hereby to temptation, they avoid that popular fury, which is sometimes discharged on those, who, having been invested with absolute authority, abuse it to the public prejudice. Absolute power easily degenerates into despotism, and despotism paves the way for the greatest and most fatal revolutions that can happen to sovereigns. This is what the experience of all ages has verified: it is therefore a happy incapacity in kings not to be able to act contrary to the laws of their country.12
XXXV. Let us therefore conclude, that it intirely depends upon a free people, to invest the sovereigns, whom they place over their heads, with an authority either absolute, or limited by certain laws, provided these laws contain nothing contrary to justice, nor to the end of government. These regulations, by which the supreme authority is kept within bounds, are called, The fundamental laws of the state.
Of fundamental laws.
XXXVI. The fundamental laws of a state, taken in their full extent, are not only the decrees by which the entire body of the nation determine the form of<56> government, and the manner of succeeding to the crown; but are likewise the covenants betwixt the people and the person on whom they confer the sovereignty, which regulate the manner of governing, and by which the supreme authority is limited.
XXXVII. These regulations are called fundamental laws, because they are the basis, as it were, and foundation of the state, on which the structure of the government is raised, and because the people look upon those regulations as their principal strength and support.
XXXVIII. The name of laws however has been given to these regulations in an improper and figurative sense; for, properly speaking, they are real covenants. But as those covenants are obligatory between the contracting parties, they have the force of laws themselves. Let us explain this more at large.
XXXIX. 1°. I observe in the first place, that there is a kind of fundamental law, essential to all governments, even in those states where the most absolute sovereignty prevails. This law is that of the public good, from which the sovereign can never depart, without being wanting in his duty; but this alone is not sufficient to limit the sovereignty.
XL. Hence those promises, either tacit or express, by which princes bind themselves even by oath, when they come to the crown, of governing according to the laws of justice and equity, of consulting the public good, of oppressing no man, of protecting<57> the virtuous, and of punishing evil doers, and the like, do not imply any limitation to their authority, nor any diminution of their absolute power. It is sufficient that the choice of the means for procuring the advantage of the state, and the method of putting them in practice, be left to the judgment and disposal of the sovereign; otherwise the distinction of absolute and limited power would be utterly abolished.
XLI. 2°. But with regard to fundamental laws, properly so called, they are only more particular precautions taken by the people, to oblige sovereigns more strongly to employ their authority, agreeably to the general rule of the public good. This may be done several ways; but still these limitations of the sovereignty have more or less force, according as the nation has taken more or less precautions, that they shall have their due effect.
XLII. Hence, 1°. a nation may require of a sovereign, that he will engage, by a particular promise, not to make any new laws, nor to levy new imposts, to tax only some particular things, to give places and employments only to a certain set of people, and not to take any foreign troops into his pay, &c. Then indeed the supreme authority is limited in those different respects, insomuch that whatever the king attempts afterwards, contrary to the formal engagement he entered into, shall be void and of no effect. But if there should happen to be an extraordinary case, in which the sovereign thought it conducive to the public good, to deviate from the fundamental<58> laws, he is not allowed to do it of his own head, in contempt of his solemn engagement, but in that case he ought to consult the people themselves, or their representatives. Otherwise, under pretence of some necessity or utility, the sovereign might easily break his word, and frustrate the effect of the precautions taken by the nation to limit his power. And yet Puffendorf thinks otherwise.* But, for a still greater security of the performance of the engagements into which the sovereign entered, and which limit his power, it is proper to require explicitly of him, that he shall convene a general assembly of the people, or of their representatives, or of the nobility of the country, when any matters happen to fall under debate, which it was thought improper to leave to his decision. Or else the nation may previously establish a council, a senate, or parliament, without whose consent the prince shall be rendered incapable of acting in regard to things which the nation did not think fit to submit to his will.
XLIII. 2°. History informs us, that some nations have carried their precautions still further, by inserting, in plain terms, in their fundamental laws, a condition or clause, by which the king was declared to have forfeited his crown, if he broke through those laws. Puffendorf gives an example of this, taken from the oath of allegiance which the people of Aragon formerly made to their kings. We, who have as much power as you, make you our king, upon condition that you maintain inviolably our rights and liberties, and not otherwise.<59>
XLIV. It is by such precautions as these, that a nation really limits the authority she confers on the sovereign, and secures her liberty. For, as we have already observed, civil liberty ought to be accompanied not only with a right of insisting on the sovereign’s making a due use of his authority, but moreover with a moral certainty that this right shall have its effect. And the only way to render the people thus certain, is to use proper precautions against the abuse of the sovereign power, in such a manner as these precautions shall not be easily eluded.
XLV. Besides, we must observe, that these limitations of the sovereign power do not render it defective, nor make any diminution in the supreme authority; for a prince, or a senate, who has been invested with the supreme power upon this footing, may exercise every act of it as well as in an absolute monarchy. All the difference is, that in the latter the prince alone determines ultimately according to his private judgment; but in a limited monarchy, there is a certain assembly, who, in conjunction with the king, take cognizance of particular affairs, and whose consent is a necessary condition, without which the king can determine nothing. But the wisdom and virtue of good sovereigns, are strengthened by the concurring assistance of those who have a share in the authority. Princes always do what they incline to, when they incline to nothing but what is just and good; and they ought to esteem themselves happy in having it put out of their power to act otherwise.
XLVI. 3°. In a word, as the fundamental laws,<60> which limit the sovereign authority, are nothing else but the means which the people use to assure themselves that the prince will not recede from the general law of the public good in the most important conjunctures, it cannot be said that they render the sovereignty imperfect or defective. For if we suppose a prince invested with absolute authority, but at the same time blessed with so much wisdom and virtue, that he will never, even in the most trifling case, deviate from the laws which the public good requires, and that all his determinations shall be subjected to this superior rule, can we, for that reason, say, that his power is in the least weakened or diminished? No, certainly; for the precautions, which the people take against the weakness or the wickedness inseparable from human nature, in limiting the power of their sovereigns to hinder them from abusing it, do not in the least weaken or diminish the sovereignty; but, on the contrary, they render it more perfect, by reducing the sovereign to a necessity of doing good, and consequently by putting him, as it were, out of a capacity of misbehaving.
XLVII. Neither are we to believe that there are two distinct wills in a state, whose sovereignty is limited in the manner we have explained; for the state wills or determines nothing but by the will of the king. Only it is to be observed, that when a condition stipulated happens to be broken, the king cannot decree at all, or at least he must do so in vain in certain points; but he is not, for this reason, less a sovereign than he was before. Because a prince cannot do every thing according to his humour, it<61> does not follow from this, that he is not the sovereign. Sovereign and absolute power ought not to be confounded; and, from what has been said, it is evident, that the one may subsist without the other.
XLVIII. 4°. Lastly, there is still another manner of limiting the authority of those to whom the sovereignty is committed; which is not to trust all the different rights included in the sovereignty to one single person, but to lodge them in separate hands, or in different bodies, that they may modify or restrain the sovereignty.
XLIX. For example, if we suppose that the body of the nation reserves to itself the legislative power, and that of creating the principal magistrates; that it gives the king the military and executive powers, &c. and that it trusts to a senate composed of the principal men, the judiciary power, that of laying taxes, &c. it is easily conceived, that this may be executed in different manners, in the choice of which prudence must determine us.
L. If the government is established on this footing, then, by the original compact of association, there is a kind of partition in the rights of the sovereignty, by a reciprocal contract or stipulation between the different bodies of the state. This partition produces a balance of power, which places the different bodies of the state in such a mutual dependance, as retains every one, who has a share in the sovereign authority, within the bounds which the law prescribes to them; by which means the public liberty is secured. For ex-<62>ample, the regal authority is balanced by the power of the people, and a third order serves as a counter-balance to the two former, to keep them always in an equilibrium, and hinder the one from subverting the other. And this is sufficient, concerning the distinction between absolute and limited sovereignty.
Of patrimonial, and usufructuary kingdoms.
LI. In order to finish this chapter, let us observe, that there is still another accidental difference in the manner of possessing the sovereignty, especially with respect to kings. Some are masters of their crown in the way of patrimony, which they are permitted to share, transfer, or alienate to whom they have a mind; in a word, of which they can dispose as they think proper: others hold the sovereignty in the way of use only, not of property; and this either for themselves only, or with the power of transmitting it to their descendants according to the laws established for the succession. It is upon this foundation that the learned distinguish kingdoms into patrimonial, and usufructuary or not patrimonial.
LII. We shall here add, that those kings possess the crown in full property, who have acquired the sovereignty by right of conquest; or those to whom a people have delivered themselves up without reserve, in order to avoid a greater evil; but that, on the contrary, those kings, who have been established by a free consent of the people, possess the crown in the way of use only. This is the manner in<63> which Grotius explains this distinction, in which he has been followed by Puffendorf, and by most of the other commentators or writers.*
LIII. On this we may make the following remarks.
1°. There is no reason to hinder the sovereign power, as well as every other right, from being alienated or transferred. In this there is nothing contrary to the nature of the thing; and if the agreement between the prince and the people bears that the prince shall have full right to dispose of the crown as he shall think proper, this will be what we call a patrimonial kingdom.
2°. But examples of such agreements are very rare; and we hardly find any other except that of the Egyptians with their king, mentioned in Genesis.*
3°. The sovereign power, however absolute, is not, of itself, invested with the right of property, nor consequently with the power of alienation. These two ideas are intirely distinct, and have no necessary connection with each other.
4°. It is true, some alledge a great many examples of alienations made in all ages by sovereigns: but either those alienations had no effect; or they were made with an express or tacit consent of the people; or, lastly, they were founded on no other title but that of force.<64>
5°. Let us therefore take it for an incontestable principle, that, in dubious cases, every kingdom ought to be judged not patrimonial, so long as it cannot be proved, that a people submitted themselves on that footing to a sovereign.
Of the parts of sovereignty, or of the different essential rights which it includes.
I. In order to finish this first part, nothing remains but to treat of the different parts of sovereignty. We may consider sovereignty as an assemblage of various rights and different powers, which, though distinct, are nevertheless conferred for the same end; that is to say, for the good of the society, and which are all essentially necessary for this same end: these different rights and powers are called the essential parts of sovereignty.1
II. To be convinced that these are the parts of sovereignty, we need only attend to its nature and end.
The end of sovereignty is the preservation, the tranquillity, and the happiness of the state, as well within itself, as with respect to its interests abroad; so that sovereignty must include every thing that is essentially necessary for procuring this twofold end.
III. 1°. As this is the case, the first part of sovereignty, and that which is, as it were, the founda-<65>tion of all the rest, is the legislative power, by virtue of which the sovereign establishes general and perpetual rules, which are called laws. By these means every one knows how he ought to conduct himself for the preservation of peace and good order, what share he retains of his natural liberty, and how he ought to exert his rights, so as not to disturb the public tranquillity.
It is by means of laws that we contrive so nobly to unite the prodigious diversity of sentiments and inclinations observable among men, and establish that concert and harmony so essential to society, since they direct the different actions of individuals to the general good and advantage. But it must be supposed that the laws of the sovereign contain nothing opposite to the divine laws, whether natural or revealed.
IV. 2°. To the legislative we must join the coercive power, that is to say, the right of ordaining punishments against those who molest the community by their irregularities, and the power of actually inflicting them. Without this power, the establishment of civil society and of laws, would be absolutely useless, and we could not propose to live in peace and safety. But that the dread of punishments may make a sufficient impression on the minds of the people, the right of punishing must extend to the power of inflicting the greatest of natural evils, which is death; otherwise the dread of punishment would not be always capable of counter-balancing the force of pleasure, and the impulse of passion. In a word, the subjects must have a stronger interest to observe,<66> than to violate the law. Thus the vindicative power is certainly the highest degree of authority which one man can hold over another.2
V. 3°. Further, it is necessary for the preservation of peace, that the sovereign should have a right to take cognizance of the different quarrels between the subjects, and to decide them in the last resort; as also to examine the accusations laid against any person, in order to absolve or punish him by his sentence, conformably to the laws: this is what we call jurisdiction, or the judiciary power. To this we must also refer the right of pardoning criminals when the public utility requires it.3
VI. 4°. Besides, as the ways of thinking, or opinions embraced by the subject, may have a very great influence on the welfare of the common-wealth, it is necessary that sovereignty should include a right of examining the doctrines taught in the state, so that nothing may be publicly advanced but what is conformable to truth, and conducive to the advantage of society. Hence it is, that it belongs to the sovereign to establish professors, academies, and public schools; and the supreme power, in matters of religion, is as much his right, as the nature of the thing will permit. After having secured the public repose at home, it is necessary to guard the people against strangers, and to procure to them, by leagues with foreign states, all the necessary aids and advantages, whether in the seasons of peace or war.4
VII. 5°. In consequence of this, the sovereign<67> ought to be invested with the power of assembling and arming his subjects, or of raising other troops in as great a number as is necessary for the safety and defence of the state, and of making peace when he shall judge proper.5
VIII. 6°. Hence also arises the right of contracting public engagements, of making treaties and alliances with foreign states, and of obliging all the subjects to observe them.
IX. 7°. But as the public affairs, both at home and abroad, cannot be conducted by a single person, and as the sovereign is incapable of discharging all these duties, he must certainly have a power to create ministers and subordinate magistrates, whose business it is to take care of the public welfare, and transact the affairs of the state in his name, and under his authority. The sovereign, who has entrusted them with those employments, may, and ought to compel them to discharge them, and oblige them to give an exact account of their administration.6
X. 8°. Lastly, the affairs of the state necessarily demand, both in times of peace and war, considerable expences, which the sovereign himself neither can, nor ought to furnish. He must therefore have a right of reserving to himself a part of the goods or products of the country, or of obliging the subjects to contribute either by their purse, or by their labour and personal service, as much as the public necessities demand, and this is called the right of subsidies or taxes.7 <68>
To this part of the sovereignty we may refer the prerogative of coining money, the right of hunting, with that of fishing, &c. These are the principal parts essential to sovereignty.
The End of the First Part.<69>
[2. ]The first sentence, referring to the contents of the Principles of Natural Law, was added by the translator. The French original starts “Civil society, or the body politic …” (“La société civile ou le corps politique …”).
[3. ]References to “established in the preceding volume” are again added by the translator. He has supplanted these words for the original’s “concerning the natural and primitive society that God himself established and which is independent of human facts.”
[4. ]The original has “happiness” rather than “welfare.”
[5. ]Burlamaqui’s “les hommes” could also be translated “men.”
[6. ]This understanding derives from DNG II.3 §23, where Pufendorf identifies Hobbes (De Cive XIV §§4–5) as his source. Burlamaqui’s main modifications of the Hobbesian picture (e.g., his argument that the state of nature is a state of peace) are central features in Pufendorf ’s critique of Hobbes. The shared consensus is that, contrary to what Grotius had claimed in DGP I.1 §14, arbitrary law of nations is a mere chimera, and that all principles of the law of nations that are valid gain their validity from being applications of natural law.
[7. ]“An equality of right” might be a better translation for “égalité de droit.” Barbeyrac declares in DNG II.3 §23 note 2 that all nations are equal and unable to impose laws on each other.
[8. ]See DGP I.1 §14 note 3.
[9. ]Pufendorf asserts that the science of politics is a prudential type of knowledge; DNG I.2 §4.
[10. ]The separation of natural law and politic law follows Pufendorf ’s division of tasks between the two books of the DHC. The first fourth delineated above corresponds (grosso modo ) to DHC II chapters 5–7; the second fourth to chapters 8, 10, and 11; the third to chapters 12, 13, 15, and 18; the fourth to chapters 16 and 17.
[1. ]Burlamaqui thus makes a clear separation between the question of the de facto origin of civil societies and the question of the de jure legitimacy of government. The social contract is a reply to the question concerning the legitimacy of power relations, but it does not furnish a credible account of the historical origin of the same. This observation was discussed in detail by Barbeyrac in DNG VII.1 §7 note= 1.
[2. ]This covert reference to Filmer together with the Lockean critique is from DNG VI.2 §10 note 2.
[3. ]By this, Burlamaqui means Pufendorf (and probably Hobbes). Barbeyrac summarizes Pufendorf ’s view as being “that the mere fear of the insults of others” was the historical reason for the establishment of all civil societies, DNG VII.1 §7 note 1.
[4. ]This is Barbeyrac’s account. Barbeyrac builds on Bayle’s observation, that men in the state of nature would be unable to formulate complex accounts of the advantages to be had through forming a political community. The history of the birth of states, as Barbeyrac depicts it, is rather a history of manipulative individuals striving for immediate advantages and for power—the Biblical example he draws on is Nimrod. See DNG VII.1 §7 note 1. Burlamaqui’s comments in the following paragraphs are from the same (very long) note.
[* ]See Genesis, c. x. v. 8, & seq.
[1. ]Another possible translation of Burlamaqui’s “qu’elle l’emporte de beaucoup sur la liberté naturelle” would be “which is of considerably larger extent than natural liberty.”
[2. ]For Burlamaqui, and for the elite in general, the Genevan citizens who reacted against the growing influence of the small council were basically troublemakers who pursued chaos and anarchy.
[3. ]Burlamaqui’s picture of a paradise-like golden age of innocence and of obedience to natural law contrasts sharply with the standard modern natural law account of matters presented by Hobbes and Pufendorf. Burlamaqui’s defense of civil authority is at least as strong as theirs, however, and this constitutes an important difference from Barbeyrac, who presented his not-so-pessimistic views on the state of nature in notes to DNG II.2 §2. The state could in some cases, Barbeyrac claimed, be worse than the state of nature: men in the state of nature would not therefore have been ready to renounce to their natural liberty completely and unconditionally. Burlamaqui passes over Barbeyrac’s criticism in silence.
[4. ]This is Pufendorf ’s view in DNG VIII.3 §4: note that Barbeyrac, in note 3 to that paragraph, opposes Pufendorf on this point, drawing on Locke and on Grotius in support of a general right to punish crimes in the state of nature. The absence of efficient sanctions is another argument in favor of a strong need for political community.
[5. ]This can be contrasted with Barbeyrac in DNG II.2 §2 note 17.
[6. ]“A right to command in the last instance” (“en dernier resort”) in the original.
[7. ]A reference to the Genevan bourgeoisie’s demands; see, for example, Helena Rosenblatt, Rousseau and Geneva: From the First Discourse to the Social Contract, 1749–1762 (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1997), pp. 154–55.
[8. ]Barbeyrac refers to Locke’s distinction between natural and civil liberty in DNG II.5 §19 note 2.
[9. ]Burlamaqui’s sentence runs: “… it secures for them the highest degree of freedom that they can reasonably aspire to, namely that which is most to their advantage.” His intention is to reaffirm that a reasonable man strives for only as much freedom as is advantageous to him.
[10. ]The translator omits the word “arbitrary.”
[11. ]Pufendorf and Barbeyrac discuss the view that the civil state is the true state of nature since it is the state that conforms to God’s intentions, but neither adopts this language; see, for example, DNG II.2 §4.
[12. ]Burlamaqui’s original “of the most considerable amongst them” (“des plus considérables d’entr’eux”) carries a different message than the translated text. Burlamaqui is here opposed to what he understands as the bourgeois view of government, that it was introduced merely in order to favor the interests of the aristocracy rather than the people as a whole.
[* ]Advers. Mathemat. lib. 2. § 33. Vid. Herodot. lib. 1. cap. 96, & seq.
[1. ]Read: “… of those wonderful structures” (“merveilleux”).
[2. ]Burlamaqui’s account draws heavily on DNG VII.2 and on DHC II.6 §§3–6.
[3. ]Barbeyrac quoted Cicero’s definition with some approval in DNG VII.2 §13 note 1. The central difference from Pufendorf ’s Hobbesian definition concerns the aims of the state: Burlamaqui differs from Hobbes, Pufendorf, and Barbeyrac in stressing happiness as a goal that the state should secure. The Pufendorfian and Barbeyracian understanding is that the state aims at securing external peace. See DNG VII.2 §13 and DHC II.6 §10.
[4. ]The account of the two covenants and the decree needed in order to establish a state are from Pufendorf; see, for example, DHC II.6 §§7–9.
[5. ]Rome was suggested as an example in DNG VII.2 §8, a paragraph from which Burlamaqui’s following paragraph also draws heavily.
[* ]See Dionysius Halicarn. lib. 2. in the beginning.
[† ]A. Hobbes, de Cive, cap. v. § 7.
[6. ]Burlamaqui’s critical exposition of Hobbes’s view, which forms the rest of this chapter, is from DNG VII.2 §§9–12.
[1. ]Barbeyrac insists in DNG VII.4 §1 note 1 that it is a mistake to stress the indivisibility of sovereignty. Burlamaqui introduces the formula “in the last resort” and insists strongly on this indivisibility in order to counter any argument to the effect that the sovereign power is wielded by the small council and the general council conjointly. For more details, see the introduction.
[2. ]Here Burlamaqui uses the word “felicity” rather than “welfare.”
[3. ]This and the following paragraphs are from DNG VII.2 §20.
[4. ]“No need” rather than “no occasion” (“pas besoin”).
[5. ]The translation replaces “simple” with “temporary” here, thus transforming the sense of what Burlamaqui is saying. When Burlamaqui says “simple habitants,” he means immigrants who have been granted a right to live in Geneva, a right that should not be confused with citizenship but that also does not refer to temporary residents. Full civic rights (including the right to participate and vote in the general council) were the privilege of a minority in eighteenth-century Geneva. See Helena Rosenblatt, Rousseau and Geneva: From the First Discourse to the Social Contract, 1749–1762 (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1997), p. 18. Because of its engagement in Genevan politics, Burlamaqui’s discussion of citizenship deviates a little from Pufendorf ’s language, but apart from this, the paragraph is still a faithful rendering of Pufendorf ’s DNG VII.2 §20. The rest of this chapter repeats paragraphs 21, 23, and 24 without deviating substantially from Pufendorf ’s views.
[1. ]This is from DNG VII.2 §1.
[2. ]The original states that only God has a natural and inherent right to give laws to men (“aux hommes”). Burlamaqui would certainly agree with the translator, that only God can give laws to mankind as a whole, but he is also saying that only God’s right to impose laws on even a single human being is natural and inherent.
[3. ]Burlamaqui thus subscribes to the standard picture, which compares the social contract with a person’s act of selling himself into slavery—a parallel made more explicit in Pufendorf ’s DNG VII.3 §1 in fine.
[4. ]Unlike Pufendorf, Burlamaqui explicitly insists on popular sovereignty, but he also argues that the contract results in the transfer of “all the rights of every individual” (“tous les droits de tous les particuliers”). The translation makes Burlamaqui’s view less transparent.
[5. ]This and the following paragraphs are almost verbatim from DNG VII.3 §2.
[* ]Nihil est illi principi Deo, qui omnem hunc mundum regit, quod quidem in terris fiat acceptius, quam consilia coetusque hominum jure sociati, quae civitates appellantur. Somn. Scip. cap. 3.
[6. ]This paragraph is drawn word for word from DNG VII.3 §2, with the exception of an added “and thus procure the felicity of mankind.” The following paragraph on happiness is Burlamaqui’s.
[7. ]The original ends “… to make them wise and virtuous” (“… à les rendre sages & vertueux”).
[8. ]This discussion of the divine right of kings is from DNG VII.3 §§3–4.
[* ]Rom. xiii.
[† ]Ep. i. chap. ii. v. 13.
[† ]Rom. xiii. 1.
[9. ]Burlamaqui’s original reads (like Barbeyrac’s translation of Grotius in note 1 on page 307) “felicitous” (“salutaire”) rather than “useful.”
[§ ]Grotius on the right of war and peace, book i. chap. iv. § 7, No. 3. See above, No. 7, and following.
[* ]See the Law of nature and nations, book vii. chap. iii.
[1. ]The original reads “felicity” (“salut”) rather than “welfare.”
[* ]See above, chap. iv, &c. where we have proved the contrary.
[2. ]This and the following paragraph are from DNG VII.6 §2.
[3. ]Burlamaqui follows Pufendorf in DNG VII.6 §3.
[4. ]“Kings o’er their flocks the sceptre wield; E’en kings beneath Jove’s sceptre bow.” The Odes and Carmen Saeculare of Horace, translated by John Conington, Project Gutenberg, 2004, http://www.gutenberg.org/etext/5432.
[5. ]This and the following paragraph, including the quote, are from DNG VII.6 §3.
[* ]De IV. Consul. Honor. v. 296, & seq.
[6. ]Read: “… we here suppose sovereignty to be such as it is by its own intrinsic nature, …” (“… nous supposons la Souveraineté telle qu’elle est en elle-même, …”).
[7. ]The terms are from Barbeyrac’s note 1 to DNG VII.6 §4; the point, from the paragraph itself.
[8. ]This paragraph and the following are from DNG VII.6 §7, with the words “and aristocracies” being added here. The same matter is discussed more briefly in DHC II.9 §5.
[9. ]Burlamaqui uses slightly stronger (antiabsolutist) language here at the end of his paragraph than Pufendorf does in DNG VII.6 §7 in fine.
[10. ]Burlamaqui’s Lockean rejection of absolutism derives from Barbeyrac’s note 2 to DNG VII.8 §6, where Barbeyrac draws on Locke and on Algernon Sidney.
[11. ]Burlamaqui’s treatment of limited sovereignty draws heavily on Pufendorf ’s in DNG VII.6 §10.
[12. ]See DNG VII.6 §9 note 1.
[* ]See the Law of nature and nations, book vii. chap. vi. § 10.
[* ]See Grotius on the right of war and peace, lib. i. chap. iii. § 11 and 12, &c. Puffendorf on the law of nature and nations, lib. vii. chap. vi. § 14, 15.
[* ]Chap. xlvii. v. 18, &c.
[1. ]The first three paragraphs are from DNG VII.4 §§1–2.
[2. ]This paragraph summarizes DNG VII.4 §3.
[3. ]See DNG VII.4 §4.
[4. ]See DNG VII.4 §8.
[5. ]For this and the next paragraph, see DNG VII.4 §5.
[6. ]See DNG VII.4 §6.
[7. ]See DNG VII.4 §7.