Front Page Titles (by Subject) BOOK III: On Arguments and Hypotheses in Favor of the Extension of Political Authority - Principles of Politics Applicable to All Governments
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BOOK III: On Arguments and Hypotheses in Favor of the Extension of Political Authority - Benjamin Constant, Principles of Politics Applicable to All Governments 
Principles of Politics Applicable to a all Governments, trans. Dennis O’Keeffe, ed. Etienne Hofmann, Introduction by Nicholas Capaldi (Indianapolis: Liberty Fund, 2003).
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On Arguments and Hypotheses in Favor of the Extension of Political Authority
On the Extension of Political Authority beyond Its Necessary Minimum, on the Grounds of Utility
In no nation have individuals enjoyed individual rights in all their fullness. No government has confined the exercise of political authority to strictly necessary limits. All have gone far beyond this, and philosophers in all ages, and writers of all persuasions, have endorsed the extension with the whole weight of their approval.
Among this number I do not count merely ordinary and second-rate minds, but the most distinguished authors of the last two centuries: Fénelon,1 Rousseau, Mably,2 and even in some respects Montesquieu.
M. Necker is not free from the errors with which I reproach those who favor an increase in political authority. He calls the sovereign power the tutor of public happiness3 and, when he deals with commercial prohibitions, he constantly assumes that individuals let themselves be dominated by short-term considerations, and that the sovereign power understands their long-term interests better than they themselves.4 What  in M. Necker’s case makes this error more excusable and touching, is that he is always so passionately concerned with improving things, and that he sees in government only a more extensive means of benevolence and good works.
Man, such writers say, is a product of law. In the beginning men make institutions, and subsequently institutions make men. Government must seize us from our first moments and surround us with virtue, both by example and precept. It must direct, improve, and enlighten that numerous and ignorant class of people who, lacking time for reflection, are forced to receive the verities themselves on others’ say-so and in the form of prejudices. Any time the law abandons us is a time it gives to the passions to tempt, seduce, and control us. Law must excite in us the love of work, engrave in the spirit of youth respect for morality, enthuse the imagination with subtly combined institutions, and dig deep into our hearts and uproot guilty thoughts there, rather than limiting itself to repressing harmful actions. Law should prevent crimes instead of punishing them. Law should regulate our least movements, preside over the spread of enlightenment, over industrial development, over the perfecting of the arts. It must lead, as by the hand, the benighted crowd it must instruct, or the corrupted one it must correct.
In support of this doctrine, these illustrious protagonists cite the most memorable examples of the nations of antiquity, in which all the jobs men pursued, all the actions of their lives, were covered by laws, their least words were dictated, and even their pleasures were legally regulated.5
Imbued with such principles, the leaders of the French Revolution thought themselves so many Lycurguses, Solons, Numas, or Charlemagnes. At this very time, despite the sorry results of their efforts, one is still more inclined to blame the blundering of the entrepreneurs than the nature of the enterprise.
A general observation is necessary before we examine in detail the theory aiming to legitimate the extension of political authority.
This extension is not absolutely necessary, as we believe we have shown. It is driven solely by the hope that it will be useful. The argument for utility once allowed,  however, we are brought back, despite all our efforts, to the disadvantages which flow from the blind, colossal force which seemed to us so terrible when we called it unlimited sovereignty. Utility does not lend itself to precise demonstration. It is a matter of individual opinion and consequently of interminable discussion. You can find utilitarian reasons for all orders and prohibitions. Forbidding citizens to leave their houses would prevent all the crimes which are committed on the highways. To have them appear every morning in front of their town hall would stop vagabonds, thieves, and dangerous men from hiding in the big cities on the lookout for criminal opportunities. This is the kind of thinking which in our day turned France into one vast prison. Nothing in nature is immaterial in the rigorous sense of the word. Everything has its cause and its effects. Everything has results, real or possible; everything can be useful or dangerous. In a system in which political authority is sole judge of all these possibilities, it is clear that such authority has absolutely no limits nor could have. If it must be limited, however, everything in its jurisdiction must be so too. What cannot be limited does not belong to such jurisdiction. Now, we have shown jurisdiction must be limited. Therefore, before understanding any system at all in terms of its various prerogatives, we have to see if we can draw a line marking where the exercise of that prerogative must stop. If there is no way of drawing such a line, the prerogative itself must be nonexistent. Authority has been taken beyond its competence. For it is of the essence of that competence that it must not be without limits. Set it up without limits and you fall once again into the bottomless abyss of arbitrary rule. Set it up without limits for a single purpose and there will no longer be any security in the social order. For if the security of a single part of the social order is absent, the security of the rest vanishes. If it is not destroyed de facto it is destroyed de jure. Now, the fact is only an accident. Law alone provides a guarantee. 
On the Hypotheses without Which the Extension of Political Authority Is Illegitimate
The imagination can come up with some singularly useful activity for indefinitely extended political authority, always on the assumption that it will be exercised on the side of reason and in the interests of all and of justice, that the means it chooses are always honorable and bound to succeed, that it will manage to govern human faculties without degrading them, that it will act, in a word, in the way the religiously minded understand providence, as a thing linking the force of command with the deepest heartfelt conviction. To adopt these brilliant suppositions, however, one must accept three hypotheses. First, the government must be imagined to be, if not infallible, at least indubitably more enlightened than the governed. This is because to intervene in people’s interpersonal relations with more wisdom than they could show themselves, to steer the development of their faculties and the use of their own resources better than their own judgment could, you must have the assured gift of distinguishing better than they what is advantageous from what is harmful. Without this, what gains do you bring to happiness, social order, or morality by enlarging the powers of governments? You create a blind force whose dispositions are abandoned to chance. You draw lots between good and evil, error and truth, and chance decides which will be empowered. Any extension of authority, vested in the governors, taking place always at the expense of the freedom of the governed, furthermore requires, before we can assent to this sacrifice, that it seems probable that the former will make a better use of their extended power than the latter would of their freedom. In the second place, we must suppose that if, in spite of its superior enlightenment, the government gets it wrong, its errors will be less disastrous than those of individuals. Finally, we have to reassure ourselves that the means in the hands of governments will not produce an evil greater than the good they are supposed to achieve.
We are going to look at these three hypotheses in turn. 
Are Governors Necessarily Less Liable to Error Than the Governed?
It is easy to affirm that light has to come from elevated places and that an enlightened government must lead the masses. Writing these words, one is conceiving government as an abstract being, made up of all that is finest, most learned, and wisest in a nation. But this idea of government which people devise for themselves contains a confused sense of historical period and a petitio principii. Historical eras are confused in that such people do not distinguish barbarous nations from civilized ones. No doubt when some clan possessing only the crudest notions indispensable to physical survival comes, by way of conquest or any other means, under a government which acquaints it with the first elements of civilization, then the members of that government are more educated than those they govern. Thus we can hold Cecrops, if he existed, more enlightened than the Athenians, Numa than the Romans, Mahomet than the Arabs. But to apply this thinking to a civilized society seems to me a great error. In such a society, there are many who become enlightened, it is true, only with the greatest difficulty, working, as they do in the nature of things, in mechanical occupations. The governors are incontestably superior to them. There is also an educated class, however, of which the governors are a part, and only a very small part. The comparison must not be made between the uneducated classes and the governing group, but between the governors and the educated class. The latter must instruct and direct the rest of the nation. But we must distinguish its influence as enlightened from that of a fraction of itself as the government. When the question is posed in this way, it involves a petitio principii to attribute to governments the superiority of enlightenment. It jumps over without examining a prime difficulty which occurs in the formation of governments. Governments can be formed in three ways: by heredity, by election, and by force. We say nothing of this last way. In practice it is not likely to be attacked, because it has the advantage of being able to impose silence. Neither, however, would one take it into one’s head to justify it in principle.
 When hereditary monarchy rested on divine right, the very mystery which sanctioned this theocratic institution was able to invest the monarch with superior enlightenment, like some gift from heaven. We find just this attitude in the memoirs written by Louis XIV.6 Nowadays, however, when governments rest on purely human bases, this religious justification is not admissible. Heredity presents us only with a succession of governors brought up to power, and our experience of what results from the two elements of chance and flattery is almost too abundant. Election gives governments the sanction of popular opinion. Is this sanction, however, a guarantee of an enlightenment exclusive to those invested with power? The writers who claim so describe a most singular circle. When someone allows himself some doubt on the excellence of the governing group, the people’s choice seems to them an unanswerable reply to these insulting doubts. In this part of their intellectual schema the people are therefore infallible. Let anyone demand, however, the same people’s right to look after their own interests and opinions, and such writers will say this control belongs to the government. This second part of the schema declares the people incapable of proceeding on their own, without falling into error after error. Thus by some prodigy or other  an ignoble, ridiculous, degraded, and stupid rabble, which cannot behave itself, and which needs endless guidance, suddenly becomes enlightened for a unique and unrepeatable moment, in which it can appoint or accept its leaders, before immediately falling back into blindness and ignorance. The people, as first Machiavelli and later Montesquieu show, almost always make good choices as to specific officeholders. But the very arguments of these writers demonstrate that if we are to make sure that the people’s choice is a good one, the duties they confer have to be very definitely circumscribed, confined within precise limits. “The people,” says Montesquieu,7 “are admirable when it comes to choosing those on whom they have to confer some part of their authority. They know very well that a man has often been to the wars, with such and such a success. They are thus very capable of electing a general. They know that a judge is assiduous, that many people leave his courtroom very pleased with him and that he has not been convicted of corruption. They are well able to elect a senior magistrate therefore. Say they have been struck by the opulence and wealth of a certain citizen. That equips them to make him a town councillor. They have only to make their mind up for reasons they cannot be ignorant of and with regard to self-evident facts.” It will be seen that all the examples M. de Montesquieu rests on, apply only to the functions of political authority kept to a strict minimum. It is the same with what Machiavelli says.8 Men, he observes, although liable to get things generally wrong, do not get them wrong in their particulars. But to ask the people to appoint the government, if its members do anything more than punish crimes and repel invasions, if, that is, such governors arrogate to themselves jurisdiction over public opinion, over enlightenment, over unimportant actions, over property, over industry, in a word, over everything, then the people are no longer being asked to pronounce on the particular but on the general. The people’s choice, when it is a free one and the times are untroubled, speaks in favor of the particular talent of the man to whom it entrusts a specific task. The people appreciate a judge by his judgments, a general by his victories. When, however, it comes to indefinite power, bearing on things which are vague, or arbitrary, or without clear limits, the people’s choice proves nothing. In such a situation they do not have anterior facts or self-evident facts on the basis of which to make up their mind. The people’s choice naturally destines  men of the educated class to political office. But there is no chance that these representatives of the people will be intellectually superior to the rest of their class. Their opinions will be at the level of ideas in the widest circulation. For this very reason they will be excellent at maintaining the society, at negative protection. They will be useless at leadership. For upholding and conserving purposes, the general level suffices. Leadership demands something higher. If you suppose, says Condorcet in the first of his Five Commentaries on Public Education (page 55), that the government is more enlightened than the mass, you must also suppose it less enlightened than lots of individuals.9 We will add that the qualities which lend authority to a government founded on popular choice are always more or less mutually exclusive of those other qualities particularly relevant to the spread of enlightenment. To gain the confidence of the great mass of the people calls for tenacious ideas, a one-sidedness in opinion, a positive way of seeing things and acting, more force than finesse, and greater quickness in grasping the whole picture than subtlety in discerning the details. These things are excellent for purposes of repression and surveillance, for everything in the functions of government which is set, established, or precise. But carried over to the world of intelligence, opinion, enlightenment, or morality, they have about them something primitive, inflexible, and coarse, which goes against the aim of improvement or the perfecting of things one has in view. There is one other thought which must not escape us. There is something about power which more or less warps judgment. Force is far more liable to error than  weakness is. Force finds resources in itself. Weakness needs thought. All things equal, it is always likely that the governors will have views which are less just, less sound, and less impartial than those of the governed. Suppose there are two equally enlightened men, one in power, the other a plain citizen. Do you not feel that the first, endlessly called upon to act, more or less compromised in his actions, in a more exposed position, will have less time to reflect, more reason to persist, and thus more chance of mistakes than the second, who can reflect at leisure, is not pledged to any line, has no reason to defend a wrong idea, has compromised neither his power, nor safety, nor self-esteem, and who finally, if he does embrace that wrong idea passionately, has no way of making it prevail? The chances of mistakes by government ministers are not a reason for putting in doubt the need for the functions of government, in matters of security, internal or external. These functions being a proven necessity, an authority must at all cost be set up to exercise them and run the risk of its mistakes. These are anyway not very dangerous. There is nothing simpler than the questions on which these functions of government call it to pronounce. To preserve the State from enemy invasions, the law must decree that responsible agents will keep an eye on the movements of foreigners and that a body of men will be ready to move at a given signal. To maintain good internal order the law must lay down that particular crimes will be followed by particular punishments. To defray the costs of these two objectives, the law must decree that each citizen will supply the public funds with a given proportion of his wealth. These functions demand from government only the common intelligence and enlightenment vouchsafed by the upbringing of most of the educated class. It is not the same with the numberless, unlimited functions which the government must assume when it exceeds these limits. It is at once less necessary that these new functions should be fulfilled, more difficult to do them well, and more dangerous if they are done badly. They do not have the same  sanction as the necessary functions. Utility is their only claim. Now, this utility rests only on the supposed superior qualities of the governors over the governed. When the only thing we have shown is that this superiority is doubtful, this constitutes for me an irrefutable objection to these functions. Terminology has been behind most false ideas. Impersonal verbs have misled political writers. They thought they were saying something when they said there has to be direction of men’s opinions. One must not abandon men to their erratic minds. There has to be an impact on thought. There are opinions men can usefully take advantage of in order to deceive others. But these words—there has to be, one must, one must not—do not these refer to men too? You would think the talk were about another species. All the sentences which deceive us here, however, come down to saying: men must control the views of men. Men must not leave other men to their erratic thoughts. Men can usefully exploit opinions in order to deceive men. Impersonal verbs seem to have persuaded our philosophers that there is something else besides men in governing groups.
We can reply to those who want to subject the intelligence of the many to that of the few what a famous Roman said to his son when the latter proposed to take a town, with the sacrifice of three hundred soldiers. Would you care to be one of this three hundred? And it should also be added that it is not certain that the town will be taken.10
Are Governmental Mistakes Less Dangerous Than Those of Individuals?
Governments being like individuals subject to mistakes, we must now explore whether governmental mistakes are less serious than those of individuals. For one might confine oneself to saying that mistakes being inevitable, it is better that governments make them, and people obey. This would be in some sense to confer on government full powers to get things wrong in our stead. But government mistakes are a serious nuisance in three ways. First of all, they  create positive ill just by their wrongness in principle. In the second place, however, men, being forced to resign themselves to them, adjust their interests and behavior to them too. Then, when the error is recognized, it is almost as dangerous to destroy it as to let it continue. Government, sometimes struck with the danger of continuing with defective arrangements, sometimes with the danger of repudiating them, follows an uncertain and wavering course and ends up doubly offensive. Finally, when the erroneous policy collapses, new troubles result from the upset to people’s calculations and the slighting of their practices. Doubtless individuals can make mistakes too; but several basic differences make theirs far less fatal than those of government. If individuals go astray, the laws are there to check them. When government goes wrong, however, its mistakes are fortified with all the weight of the law. Thus the errors of government are generalized, and condemn individuals to obedience. The mistakes of individual interest are singular. One person’s mistake has absolutely no influence on the conduct of another. When government remains neutral, any mistake is detrimental to him who commits it. Nature has given every man two guides: his interest and experience. If he mistakes his interest, he will soon be enlightened by his personal losses, and what reason will he have for persisting? He need consult no one save himself. Without anyone’s noticing it or forcing it on him, he can withdraw, advance, or change direction, in a word, freely set himself straight. The government’s situation is the exact opposite. Further away from the consequences of its measures and not experiencing their effects in so immediate a way, it discovers its mistake later. When it does discover it, it finds itself in the presence of hostile observers. Quite correctly it is afraid of being discredited by the process of rectification. Between the moment when government strays from the path of virtue and the moment when it notices, lots of time slips by; but even more between the latter point and the moment it starts to retrace its steps, and the very action of retracing is dangerous too. Therefore whenever it is not necessary, that is, whenever there is no question of the punishment of crimes or resistance to foreign invasions, it is better to run the natural risk of individual mistakes than  the risk of equally likely government ones. The right I guard most jealously, said some philosopher or other, is to be wrong. He spoke truly. If men let governments take this right away, they will no longer have any individual freedom, and this sacrifice will not protect them from mistakes, since government will merely substitute its own for those of individuals.11
On the Nature of the Means Political Authority Can Use on the Grounds of Utility
We come to the third question. Do not the means which governments possess, when they are used on the vague pretext that they are useful, produce harm greater than the good which governments intend to attain?
All human faculties can be abused. But when we fix our gaze on the abuses of these faculties and persuade ourselves in a facile fashion that it is good to restrain them, or when we think that government must constrain man to make the best use possible of these faculties, we are envisaging the question from a very incomplete perspective. One should never lose sight of what the restrictions on these faculties lead to.
The theory of government comprises two comparative terms: the usefulness of the end and the nature of the means. It is a mistake to think just of the first of these, since this leaves out of the reckoning the pressure these means exert, the obstacles they encounter, and therefore the danger and misfortune  of clashes. One can then make a great show of the advantages one is proposing to obtain. As long as one describes these advantages, one will see the purpose as marvelous and the arrangements beyond reproach. There is no despotism in the world, however inept its plans and oppressive its measures, which does not know how to plead some abstract purpose of a plausible and desirable kind. If this is unattainable, however, or achievable only via means whose resultant ill exceeds the good aspired to, a great deal of eloquence will have been squandered in vain, and we will have been gratuitously subjected to a lot of vexations.
This consideration will guide us in this work. We will apply ourselves mostly to pinning down the results of the means which political authority can use, exercising the powers it assumes, when the pretext for its acts is their utility. We will finish by examining how far the examples the nations of antiquity have left us are applicable to modern peoples, to the practices and customs—in a word, the moral nature—of contemporary societies.
Governments can use two sorts of means—prohibitive or coercive laws, and the acts we call measures for securing public order in ordinary circumstances or “coups d’Etat” in extraordinary ones. Several authors say government has means of a third type. They speak constantly of action on public opinion of a gentle or adroit or indirect kind. To create public opinion, to revive public opinion, to enlighten public opinion—these are words we find attributed to the powers of government on every page of all the pamphlets and books, in all the political projects and, during the French Revolution, we found it in all the acts of government. There has always seemed to me, however, to be a troubling side to this thesis. I have always observed that all government measures which seek to influence in this way, result in punishments for those who evade them. Apart from proclamations, which in consequence are seen as mere formalities, government, when it begins with advice, finishes with menaces. Indeed, as Mirabeau put it very well, everything which depends on thought, or opinion, is individual.12 It is  never as a government that a government persuades. In this capacity a government can only command or punish. Therefore I do not count among the real means of authority these double-faced endeavors which for government are only dissimulation, which it will soon drop as useless or inconvenient. I will return to this subject in a special chapter at the end of this book.13 Here I confine myself to the two means which really are at the disposal of the government.
Republics, when they are at peace, produce endless prohibitive and coercive laws. In troubled times, they are equally liable to coups d’Etat. This form of government has the danger that the men who get to the top do not have the habit of government and do not know how to get around the difficulties. Each time they meet one, they think violence is necessary. They suspend the laws, overturn due process, and bleat stupidly that they have saved the fatherland. But a country made secure each day on such a basis is soon a lost country.
Monarchies, unless they are very stupidly organized, normally restrict themselves to measures for securing public order, though they resort to them widely.
We can say that the multiplicity of laws is a sickness of States which claim to be free, because in these States people demand that the government do everything by means of laws. We have seen our demagogues, having trampled underfoot all ideas of justice and all natural and civil laws, calmly set out again to set up what they called laws.
One can say that the absence of laws, plus measures for public order and arbitrary acts, are the sickness of governments which make no pretense of being free, because in these governments authority does everything by using men.
This is why in general there is less personal independence in republics, but less personal security in monarchies. I am speaking of these two types of State when they are properly conducted. In republics dominated by factions or monarchies inadequately constituted and established, the two disadvantages go together.
We are going to examine in the first place the effects of the  multiplicity of laws on the happiness and moral life of individuals. We may find that this rash proliferation, which in some eras has thrown disfavor onto everything which is most noble in the world, such as freedom, has made men seek refuge in the most wretched, lowest of things, namely slavery. Then we will deal also with the effects arbitrary measures have on the morality and happiness of citizens.
The reader will then be able to compare the means political authority uses when it exceeds its indispensable limits, with the purpose it ought to have in mind, to see if the government attains this purpose and to judge finally whether this purpose, supposing it to be attained, is a sufficient compensation for the effect on moral life of the means used to achieve it.
[1. ]Fénelon, Essai sur le gouvernement civil. In Ch. 5, De la nécessité d’une authorité souveraine, Fénelon declares: “All government necessarily therefore has to be absolute” (p. 29 of the third edition, London, 1722); the author makes it equally clear, however, that he does not mean by this an arbitrary power.
[2. ]Constant criticizes Mably at greater length in Book XVI, Ch. 8, pp.367–368.
[3. ]Hofmann did not find the passage where Necker uses this expression, but the spirit of it figures in Necker’s book Sur la législation et le commerce des grains, Paris, Pissot, 1776, Partie I, Ch. 2–6. Elsewhere, in De l’administration des finances de la France, s.l., 1784, t. III, p. 162, he defines government as the “interpreter and trustee of social harmony.” Cf. Henri Grange, Les idées de Necker (Necker’s ideas), Paris, Klincksieck, 1974, p. 163.
[4. ]See for example Sur la législation . . . , op. cit., p. 136: “All [the ideas] which can minister to the common good, belong to the sovereign; and pondering them is an important part of the august functions entrusted to him.”
[5. ]The theme of the imitation of the ancients, insofar as it concerns the extension of law, will be developed in Book XVI, Ch. 8: Des imitateurs modernes des républiques de l’antiquité.
[6. ]Mémoires de Louis XIV écrits par lui-même, composés pour le Grand Dauphin, son fils et adressés a ce Prince . . . , edited and published by J. L. M. de Gain-Montagnac, Paris, Garnery et H. Nicolle, 1806, 2 vol. Constant comes back to these Mémoires later on (especially pp. 391–393). They had appeared in February 1806 (as is shown by an order by Napoleon to Cambacérès on 24 February 1806, Correspondance de Napoléon Ier . . . , Paris, 1862, t. XII, p. 117). On 27 March Constant writes to Claude Hochet: “This morning I began the Mémoires of Louis XIV. I find it very hard to believe that it can all be his. There are sentences of the man of letters type. Although I am still on the thirtieth page only, I have already noticed several, among others one on the finer points of the love of glory, where there is an if I may be so bold as to say and an affectation which absolutely smack of the writer, not of the king. I do not call into question the authenticity of the Mémoires but their organization and modern editing. The theory of despotism expounded in them rather well, rests as always on the petitio principii these gentlemen always use. They assume the only alternative is between the despotism of a single man and that of several and they conclude that the former is better. No doubt, but we could have neither the one nor the other.” Benjamin Constant and Madame de Staël, Lettres à un ami. Cent onze lettres inédites à Claude Hochet, published and with an introduction and notes by Jean Mistler, Neuchâtel, La Baconnière (1949), pp. 116–117. Constant’s Journal intime records the reading of the Mémoires of Louis XIV on 28 March 1806 (and not the 27th, as the letter to Hochet suggests). Contrary to what Alfred Roulin thought (Benjamin Constant, Oeuvres, Paris, Gallimard, 1957, p. 1531, n. 2 of p. 568), Benjamin had indeed read the text of these Mémoires and not just the extracts which appeared in the Mercure de France.
[9. ]Constant is interpreting rather than quoting Condorcet’s thought here. Here is the text he is referring to, Bibliothèque de l’homme public, 2e année, t. I, Paris, Boisson, 1791, p. 55: “There is all the more reason government must not give its opinions as the basis of instruction, in that it cannot be regarded as attaining the level of the best minds of the century in which it operates. The holders of power will always be at a more or less great distance from the point arrived at by those intelligences destined to raise the body of enlightenment. Even were some men of genius to be numbered among those who exercise power, they could never attain, at all times, a preponderance which would permit them to apply in practice the results of their meditations. This trust in a deep thought whose direction one cannot discern, this willing submission to talent, this homage to fame, all cost too much in terms of self-esteem to become, at least for long, lasting sentiments, rather than a sort of forced obedience due to pressure of circumstances and reserved for times of danger and strife.”
[10. ]Hofmann failed to find the source of this anecdote.
[11. ][Hofmann suggests that the philosopher in question is none other than Constant himself, resorting to a stylistic device. Translator’s note]
[12. ]Hofmann was not able to unearth this reference, which could refer equally to Honoré-Gabriel Riqueti, comte de Mirabeau, deputy to the Estates General and member of the Constituent Assembly of 1789, or to his father Victor, marquis de Mirabeau, the physiocrat known for his book called L’ami des hommes, which Constant also quotes.
[13. ]See, for example, Book XII, Ch. 7, Des encouragements. Constant’s remark shows that at this stage of the writing, he had not yet decided on the definitive plan of his book.
Ed. cit., p. 533. The last sentence quoted by Constant has been displaced. In the original it comes immediately after the first sentence: “The people . . . a part of their authority.” Moreover, he has replaced the word “things” in the last sentence by “reasons” (French “motifs”).
Machiavelli, Discours sur la première décade de Tite-Live. Constant in fact quotes the actual title of Ch. 47: Que les hommes, quoique sujets à se tromper dans les affaires générales, ne se trompent pas dans les particulières. Machiavelli, Oeuvres complètes, text presented and annotated by Edmond Barincou, Paris, Gallimard, 1952, p. 480 (Bibliothèque de la Pléiade).