Front Page Titles (by Subject) BOOK XVIII: On the Duties of Individuals to Political Authority - Principles of Politics Applicable to All Governments
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BOOK XVIII: On the Duties of Individuals to 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 the Duties of Individuals to Political Authority
Difficulties with Regard to the Question of Resistance
Political authority not being limitless, it is clear that the duties of individuals toward it are not unlimited. These duties diminish in proportion to the government’s encroachments on aspects of individual life outside its jurisdiction. When these encroachments are taken to the limit, it is impossible for resistance not to result.
Government is like taxation. Each person agrees to sacrifice a portion of his wealth in order to finance public expenditure, whose purpose is to assure him the peaceful enjoyment of what he retains; but if the state demanded from each person all his wealth, the guarantee it offered him would be illusory, since there would no longer be anything to which it could apply. Likewise each person agrees to sacrifice a part of his freedom in order to assure the remainder; but if the government invaded all his freedom, the sacrifice would be purposeless.
We know all the dangers of the only too well-known question of resistance. We know to what abuses and crimes it opens the way. No one today can utter the word revolution without an unease bordering on remorse. Nevertheless, whatever line one takes on this question of resistance, it will always present a lot of difficulties.
In countries where authority is divided, if the holders of that authority are in dispute, one has to choose between them, and resistance against one lot or the other is forced on us. The English constitution requires both chambers and the king to cooperate in the establishment of taxes and the making of laws. If the king wished  to raise taxes in opposition to one of the two chambers, to obey the king would be to resist the lawful authority of Parliament. If one or both chambers wanted to pass a law independently of the royal sanction, to obey them would be to resist the lawful authority of the crown.
Even in those countries where power is concentrated in a single person, however, the question of resistance is less simple than it appears. It certainly rests with each citizen not to resist the government. It does not rest with him, however, to prevent others from resisting and overthrowing it. Now, if this government is overthrown, should one immediately rally around the new government? This principle would sanction every violent outrage. It would become a fertile source of the very ills one is seemingly striving to avoid, since it would give audacity the continual attraction of recompense, by legitimating initial success. Movements which overthrow usurping governments are acts of resistance, just as much as those which overthrow established ones. The overthrow of the Committee of Public Safety was quite simply an act of resistance. Should we have stayed submissive forever to the Committee of Public Safety? If we say all power comes from God, then Cartouche was one such power and Robespierre another. But the problem would still not be resolved. Former government can, after its fall, still have resources, supporters, and hopes. At what time, by what indication, according to what calculation, moral or numerical, does the duty of individuals, founded on divine right or on such other basis as one may choose to give it, get transferred from their former to their new masters? Finally, could one seriously make out the case that resistance is always illegitimate? Can one condemn it under Nero, Vitellius, or Caracalla? One may think one is getting out of the difficulty by way of abstract, general maxims, which seem to oust personal judgment. But the complexities and nuances of circumstance render these maxims useless and sterile in application.
On Obedience to the Law
Resistance can be of two kinds, negative disobedience or disobedience to the law, positive resistance or active opposition to government.
Let us deal first with negative resistance, a less complicated question  and less dangerous to examine than that of positive resistance. It has nevertheless its own particular difficulty.
The authority of government can be limited in a precise way, because law can limit it. The limitation is external. It is easy to see if it is transgressed. It is not the same with the jurisdiction of the law, however. The law being the only written rule which can exist, it is much less easy to say what constitutes a transgression in it.
Pascal,1 Chancellor Bacon,2 and many others like them have cut short the discussion, by positing that in principle one must obey the law without questioning because it is the law. To refute this assertion, we need only identify its strict meaning.
Is the claim that the name “law” always suffices to enforce obedience? If a number of men or even one man with no official function call the expression of their individual wills the law, are the other individuals in society obliged to conform to this? An affirmative answer is absurd, but a negative one implies that the title “law” does not impose a duty to obey and that this duty supposes an anterior identification of the source from which that law derives.
Is the claim that questioning is permitted, when it is a matter of establishing that what is presented to us as law derives from a legitimate authority;  but that this last point being cleared up, examination has no further place regarding the actual content of the law?
In the first place, if we wish always to allow for the inevitable abuse of all the faculties man has been granted, the examination of the legitimacy of legislative authority will open the way to disturbances just as great as examination of the law itself.
Secondly, an authority is legitimate only in virtue of the function given to it. A municipality and a police court magistrate are legitimate authorities. They would cease to be such, nevertheless, if they assumed the right to make laws. In all systems, therefore, individuals must be granted the use of their intelligence, whatever the system, not only for the understanding of the characters of the authorities but for judging their actions. This means the content of law must be examined, along with its sources.
We see therefore that Pascal’s proposition is illusory, once we do not want it to lead to absurdity.
Man has the right to use his learning, for it is the only instrument of understanding he has, to evaluate the source of a law. If you refuse him this, you lay yourself open to his stabbing you at the will of the first brigand calling himself a lawmaker.
Moreover, man possesses the right to examine the content of a law, since it is only in terms of the content that he can determine the legitimacy of its source. If you challenge his right here, you allow the most subaltern of authorities endless and disorderly encroachments on all existing authority.
Note that the very people who declare implicit obedience to the laws to be strictly binding always make an exception to the rule of what touches them. Pascal excepted religion. He absolutely did not bow to civil authority in religious matters; and he braved persecution for his disobedience in this respect.
 Driven by the determination not to recognize any natural law, Bentham necessarily had to maintain that law alone created offenses, that any action prohibited by law became a crime;3 and in this way pigheadedness kept this writer, who, it must be added, stands out on every page against the mistakes and encroachments of government, back in the ranks of the apologists of the most absolute and servile obedience.
Fortunately, he refutes himself in his definition of offenses. “An offense,” he says, “is an act from which ill results.”4 But does the law which forbids an action from which no ill results create an offense? Yes, he replies, for in attaching a penalty to that action, it ensures that an ill results.5 On this reckoning, the law can attach a penalty to my saving my father’s life, to my not killing him. Would this suffice to make filial devotion a crime, and parricide an obligation? And this example, horrible though it be, is not an empty speculation. Have we not seen the condemnation, in the name of the law, in a thousand political revolutions, of fathers for having saved their children, of children for having succored their father?
Bentham refutes himself much better, when he speaks of imaginary offenses.6 If the law created offenses, no offense created by the law would be imaginary. Anything the law had declared criminal would be such.
The English author makes use of a comparison very apt for clarifying the question. Certain actions innocent in themselves, he says, are ranked among the offenses, just as among certain peoples healthy foods are treated as poisons or unclean things.7 Does it not follow that, just as the mistake of these peoples does not turn into poison the healthy food they envisage as such, the law’s mistake does not convert into offenses the innocent actions  it declares guilty? It endlessly happens that when we are talking abstractly about law, we assume it is what it ought to be. When we are practically concerned with what it is, we find it to be quite other. Hence the endless contradictions in theories and terms.
The word “law” is as vague as the word “nature.” To abuse the latter is to overthrow society. To abuse the former is to tyrannize individuals. If we have to choose between the two, at least the word “nature” evokes an idea virtually the same for all men. The word “law” can be applied to entirely opposite ideas.
When our orders have included murder, informing, and spying, these orders have not been in the name of nature. Everyone would feel that there was contradiction in the terms; these have been demanded of us in the name of the law, so there was no longer a contradiction.
To wish to leave nature entirely out of account in a legislative system is to take away from the laws simultaneously their sanction, their basis, and their limit. Bentham even goes so far as to say that any action, however neutral, being liable to prohibition by law, then we must owe to the law the freedom to sit down or stand upright, to enter or leave, to eat or not eat, because the law could forbid us these.8 We owe this freedom to the law, just as the vizier who gave thanks every day to his highness that his head was still on his shoulders was indebted to the sultan for not having been beheaded.9 But any law which pronounced on these unimportant actions would have pronounced illegitimately; it would not have been a law.
 Obedience to the law is without doubt a duty; but this duty is not absolute, but relative. It rests on the supposition that the law flows from its natural source and is confined within legitimate limits. This duty does not cease absolutely when the law deviates from this rule only in a few respects. Public peace is worthy of many sacrifices. We would be morally blameworthy if through too inflexible an attachment to our rights, we resisted all the laws which seemed to us to threaten them. No duty, however, binds us to these so-called laws, whose corrupting influence menaces what is noblest in our being, to these laws which not only restrain our legitimate freedoms and stand in the way of actions they have no right to forbid, but require from us ones contrary to the eternal principles of justice and pity, ones man cannot adhere to without being false to his nature.
The political theorist we have refuted above himself agrees with this truth.10 If the law, he says, is not what it ought to be, should it be obeyed or violated? Should we stay neutral between the law which requires evil and morality which forbids it? We have to see whether the probable ills of obedience are less than the probable ills of disobedience. He recognizes in this passage the rights of individual judgment he denies elsewhere.
The doctrine of boundless obedience to the law has perhaps been the cause of more evil than all the other errors which have led men astray. The most execrable passions have dug in behind this convention, on the surface impassive and impartial, and indulged in every excess. Do you want to bring together under a single viewpoint the consequences of your doctrine of blind and implicit obedience to the law? Remember that the Roman emperors made laws, that Louis XI made laws, that Richard III made laws, that the Committee of Public Safety made laws! There exists no natural sentiment that a law has not forbidden, no duty whose fulfillment a law has not prohibited, no virtue a law has not proscribed, no affection a law has not punished, no treason a law has not remunerated, no heinous crime a law has not ordered. It is therefore necessary to put  limits on this alleged duty of obedience. It is necessary to identify those characteristics which mean that a law is not a law.
Retrospective operation is the first of these. Men have consented to the fetters of law only in order to attach to their actions definite consequences, according to which they might direct and choose the line of behavior they wished to follow. Retroactivity robs them of this benefit. It violates the terms of social agreement. It conceals the price of the sacrifice it has imposed. Governments, having neglected the safeguards they should have taken, often think they can make good their fault by extending the influence of laws which experience has shown them to be necessary over the past itself. The atrocious aspect of a crime, the indignation it incites, the fear that a guilty person’s going unpunished, as he takes advantage of the law’s silence, may encourage other guilty people, even after the law has pronounced, these sometimes lead wise men to justify this extension of government. This is the annihilation of all justice, making the governed pay the penalty for the lack of foresight of their governors. Better to let a man guilty of the most odious crime escape than to punish an action not prohibited by an existing law.
A second feature of illegality in the laws is the prescription of immoral actions. Any law demanding informing or denunciation is not a law. Any law which interferes with the propensity of man to give refuge to anyone asking for shelter is not a law. Government is instituted to oversee things. It has the means of accusation, pursuit, exposure, handing over, and punishment. It does not have the right to make these duties, necessary but painful, fall on the individual, who occupies no official position. It must respect that sensibility in citizens, the most precious part of our being, which leads us to unquestioning pity and help for the weak oppressed by the strong.
It is to make individual pity inviolable that we have made the authority of government commanding. We wanted to conserve in ourselves feelings of sympathy, by charging government with the severe duties which might have wounded or withered these feelings. I make an exception, nevertheless, of crimes against which even sympathy itself rises up. There are actions so atrocious that all men are disposed to agree on their punishment.  Then the prosecution of guilty people is not repugnant to their affections, nor does it dull their sensibilities, nor diminish their moral sense. But these actions are very few. We can positively rank in this category only criminal assaults against human life. Attacks on property, although very criminal, do not at all rouse in us sufficient indignation to stifle all pity. As for misdemeanors which we might call artificial, in the sense that they are misdemeanors only because they infringe certain positive laws, to force individuals to support prosecution of these is to harass and degrade them. I have sometimes wondered what I would do if I were trapped in a town where it was forbidden under pain of death to give shelter to citizens accused of political crimes. My answer to myself was that if I wanted to make my life secure, I would give myself up to imprisonment as long as that measure was in force.
Any law which divides the citizens into groups, which punishes them for what is not within their control, which makes them responsible for other actions than their own, any such law is not a law.
It is not, let us repeat, that the resort to resistance, always dangerous, is to be recommended. It puts society in peril. Let it be forbidden, not out of deference to a usurping government, but out of consideration for the citizens who are deprived of the benefits of living in society by continual struggle. As long as a law, although bad, does not tend to deprave us, as long as the encroachments of government demand only sacrifices which render us neither base nor savage, we can acquiesce in them. We compromise only on our own behalf. If the law demands, however, that we trample on our affections or duties, if, on the absurd pretext of a gigantic and false devotion to what it by turns calls monarchy or republic, or prince, or nation, it forbids us fidelity to friends in need, if it demands from us treachery to our allies, or even the persecution of vanquished foes, then anathema and disobedience to this corrupting government and to the drafting of injustices and crimes which it decorates with the name of law.
 A positive duty, general and unreserved, whenever a law seems unjust, is not to become its executor. This passive resistance entails neither upheavals, nor revolutions, nor disorders. It would be a fine spectacle to see a criminal government in vain drafting sanguinary laws, mass banishments, and deportations and finding in the vast and silent nation trembling under its power no executor of its injustices, no accomplice of its heinous crimes.
Nothing excuses the man who lends assistance to a law he believes wicked, the judge who sits in a court he believes illegal or pronounces a sentence of which he disapproves, the minister who gets a decree carried out against his conscience, the satellite who arrests a man he knows to be innocent to hand him over to his executioners. Under one of the most oppressive governments which has ruled France, a man seeking a post exonerated himself from this move by saying that his only alternative was between obtaining a position or stealing on the public highway. But if the government refuses your requests, someone replied to him, will you take to stealing then?
Terror is no more valid an excuse than all the other base passions. Woe betide those eternally compromised men, on their own say-so, tireless agents of all the present tyrannies, and posthumous denunciators of all those overthrown ones.
We have innumerable proofs of this. These men never get over the dishonor they have accepted. Their broken spirit never regains an independent outlook. We pretend in vain, whether out of calculation, or kindness, or pity to listen to their wretched, faltering excuses. In vain we seem to be convinced that by some inexplicable marvel they have suddenly regained their long since vanished courage. They themselves do not believe it. They no longer have the ability to hope on their own behalf.  They drag after them the profound memory of their inexpiable opprobrium, and their heads, bent under the yoke they have carried, stoop by habit, and helplessly so, to receive another yoke.
They tell us that they serve as executors to unjust laws only to lessen their severity, that the government whose depositories they agree to become would do worse ill still if it were remitted to less pure hands. Mendacious dealings which open the way to a boundless career for all crimes. Each man trades with his conscience and for each level of injustice the tyrants find worthy executors. I do not see why, on such arguments as these, one should not become the executioner of innocence, on the grounds that one would strangle it more gently. It is a thousand times better that atrocious laws should be carried out only by obviously criminal men.
These dubious though as yet untainted men lessen the odium of the most horrible institutions in the eyes of the people, who thus become accustomed to putting up with them. Without them, without the prestige of their overvaunted names, the institutions would be overthrown from the start by public indignation. Then, when the evil gets to a pitch, these worthy souls withdraw, leaving the field free to scoundrels. In this fashion, the service they do us is to cover assassins who are still weak with a shield, to give them time to become the strongest kind.
It would be a childish endeavor to seek to present individuals with fixed rules relative to revolution. Revolutions share in the nature of physical upheavals. Hidden causes prepare them. Chance decides them just as chance can retard them. The lightest circumstance, or an event less important than a thousand others which had produced no effect, sometimes suddenly gives the unexpected signal for the subversive movement. The contagious fury spreads. Spirits are raised. Citizens feel themselves pushed as though involuntarily  to the overthrow of existing order. Chiefs are far outdistanced by the crowd, and revolutions operate without anyone really knowing as yet what people want to destroy and what they want to build.
It would also be impossible to judge revolutions in a general way by their consequences. These have not all been dire. The expulsion of the Tarquins established Roman freedom. The Swiss insurrection has given close to five valuable centuries of peace and good fortune to Switzerland. The banishment of the Stuarts has given England a hundred twenty years of prosperity. The Dutch are indebted to the rebellion of their ancestors for a long enjoyment of peace and civil freedom. The American uprising has been followed by political arrangements which permit man the freest development of all his faculties. Other revolutions have had different results: that of Poland, for example, that of Brabant under Joseph II, several in Italy, and yet others.
It is only to governments that one can give useful advice for the avoidance of revolutions. The most absolute resignation on the part of individuals is a powerless guarantee against these terrible crises, because that resignation cannot exceed certain limits. Long-lasting injustice, repeated and growing, insolence, more difficult to endure even than injustice, the intoxication of power, the shocks of government which offend all interests in succession, or its negligence which refuses to listen to complaints and lets grievances accumulate: these things produce, sooner or later, such fatigue, such discontent, that all the counsels of prudence cannot stop that mood. It penetrates all minds with the air that is breathed. It becomes habitual feeling, everyone’s idée fixe. People do not get together to conspire; but all those who do get together do conspire.
It is in vain then that the government aspires to maintain itself by force. It is a matter of appearances. The reality does not exist. Governments are like those bodies struck by a thunderbolt. Their outer contours are still the same, but the least wind, the slightest shock, are enough to reduce them to dust.
Whatever physical means surround those in power, it is always public opinion which creates, gathers together, keeps available, and directs these means. These soldiers who seem to us, and indeed are at such and such a given moment, blind machines,  these soldiers who shoot their fellow citizens indiscriminately, as though without pity, these soldiers are men, with moral faculties, with sympathy, sensibility, and a conscience which can suddenly awake. Public opinion has the same sway over them as over us, and no order can affect that sway. Watch it running through the ranks of the French soldiery in 1789, transforming into citizens men brought together from all parts, not just of France, but of the world, reanimating spirits crushed by discipline, enervated by debauchery, driving the ideas of freedom into these ignorant minds like a prejudice, a new prejudice breaking the bonds which so many ancient prejudices and entrenched habits had woven. Later on look at the changeable and swift opinion, sometimes detaching our soldiers from their leaders, sometimes rallying them around the latter, rendering them by turns rebellious or devoted, defiant or enthusiastic. In England, after the death of Cromwell, watch the republicans, concentrating all power in their hands, having at their disposal armies, treasure, civil authorities, Parliament, and the courts. Only dumb opinion was against them; suddenly all their resources are dissolved, everything is shaken and crumbles.
Choke malcontent opinion in blood is the favorite maxim of certain statesmen. But you cannot choke opinion. Blood flows, but opinion survives, takes up the charge again, and triumphs. The more repressed it is, the more terrible is it.11 When it cannot speak it acts. “In London,” one Englishman says, “the people express themselves through petitions; in Constantinople by means of fires.” He might have added that in London the monarch’s measures are criticized. In Constantinople he is not censured, merely strangled.
On the Duties of Enlightened Men during Revolutions
Shall we conclude from the fact that individual wills have little influence on the causes of revolutions that in the midst of these social convulsions, each person battered by the storm can surrender himself without resistance to the ungovernable waves, live from day to day, submitting to the  events whose rapid succession drags him along, taking counsel from chance? I do not think so. In the stormiest of circumstances there is always a direction pointed out by morality. Therefore there is always a duty to fulfill.
Two movements are natural to any nation overthrowing institutions it finds oppressive or vicious. The first is to wish to see everything destroyed and constructed anew, the second to display implacable severity to those who profited from the vices of the former institutions. These two movements are precisely what makes revolutions dire, what takes them beyond the people’s needs, prolongs their duration, and jeopardizes their success. Enlightened men must strive to stop or suspend them.
People say we should take advantage of periods when everything is shaken up in order to reshape it all. The Constituent Assembly is party to this indeed very specious sophism. He who would have qualms about overthrowing an edifice still in existence, and offering a tolerable shelter, finds it legitimate to bring about the ruin of a half-destroyed edifice, in order to raise in its place one more regular in its parts and overall. Yet from this there result all the greatest evils of revolutions. Not only are all the abuses related, but they result from all the ideas. The agitation is communicated from one end to the other of the immense chain. One abuse destroyed, a second of them is attacked, and a third, and people get excited during the struggle. Soon they see everything as an abuse. On this basis they appeal from the present majority to the future majority which they flatter themselves they will either dominate or convince. They run through the whole circle of human ideas. They run ahead of opinion, always hoping to drag it behind them.
Ordinarily there are two stages in revolutions, a first when unanimous feeling overthrows what everybody finds intolerable, a second when by means of an artificial prolongation of a movement no longer nationwide, there is an attempt to destroy everything contrary to the viewpoint of a few. If the enlightened men can stop the revolution at the first stage, the chances of success are good. The revolutions where this principle has been observed have been the shortest, happiest, and least bloody. The Tarquins oppressed Roman freedom. They were driven out. Otherwise, however, the whole organization of Rome stayed intact. The agitation stopped, calm was reestablished, the Republic rose and steadied itself. Doubtless in conserving constitutionally everything which was not royalty, Rome conserved very numerous abuses. These abuses, however, were proportionate  to the state of opinion. If the kings, the priesthood, and the patricians of Rome had all been overthrown simultaneously, the revolution would never have finished, and Rome would have been annihilated.
In England in 1688 the Stuarts were driven out, but nothing new was built. The Commons remained, the Peers remained, the Magna Carta and the constitutional monarchy remained. All the elements of the established order were reassembled and brought together and combined. The result was a constitution which has already given England more than a century of good fortune.
It is the same with the Americans. They have retained almost all the institutions which thrived among them before their independence. By contrast, in the case of nations which reject all their memories and think everything must be changed, reformed, and built from scratch, revolutions never end. Interminable divisions tear these peoples apart. With everyone judging according to his own lights the best that is possible, or practical, or ideal, there are as many revolutions, at least attempted, as there are diverse opinions on this inexhaustible subject. Each hidden interest adopts one approach as its standard, and the nation succumbs sooner or later to lassitude, its resources depleted.
An improvement, a reform, the abolition of an abusive practice, all these things are useful only when they follow what the nation wants. They become fatal when they precede it, because then they are no longer improvements but tyrannical acts of force. The important thing is not that they take effect quickly but that the public outlook moves in this direction and that the institutions are at one with the ideas.
Individuals have the same duties to society as society to individuals. It has no right to stop the development of their intellectual faculties nor to put limits on their progress. They, however, have no right to stand in judgment on the progress society should make and drag it violently toward a purpose going beyond its present wishes. By what right might a minority meditate on changes of which the majority disapproved? Might this be in terms of a greater enlightenment or wisdom than the rest of the citizens have, or a greater capacity for sound judgment as to what is useful? But by what signs will you recognize these quite exceptional qualities in a minority? Who will be judge of these characteristic signs? The minority themselves probably, since the majority cannot be consulted. Thus it is from its private eminence that this minority derives its mission; I am about as fond of kings who derive their power from God or their swords.
 All these rushed reforms have as devices for freedom, improvement, and enlightenment all the drawbacks with which we have reproached government; they put force in place of reason. Would it not be absurd to forgive the supporters of revolution for what we detest in the agents of government?
Men who get ahead of opinion fall without knowing it into a very bizarre contradiction. In order to justify their dire initiatives, they say that they absolutely must not steal from the present generation the benefits of the system they are claiming to be establishing; then, to excuse the sacrifice of the present generation, they exclaim that only by narrow calculation is it not sacrificed without hesitation to the immense weight of future generations.
These men complain constantly of ill will: a new contradiction in terms. Are they not acting in the name of the people? Do they not rest everything they are doing on the general will? So what can ill will be? Can there be a mass will to which all individuals are opposed? To listen to them, you would think ill will is a magic power which by some miracle or other forces the people constantly to do the opposite of what they wish. They attribute the misfortunes their premature policies occasion to the opposition such policies encounter. This is no excuse at all; one should not make changes which provoke such opposition. The very difficulties these changes encounter are a condemnation of their authors.
There is a point of view from which the legitimacy of violent measures in the pursuit of improvement has not yet, to my knowledge, been envisaged. If there were a system of government perfect in all its parts, after the consolidation of which the human race had merely to relax, one might be excused for dashing, in sudden and violent effort, toward this system, at the risk of offending individual people or even whole generations. The sacrifices would be compensated for by the eternity of happiness assured to the long line of future generations. But no government is perfect. Improvement is gradual and indefinite. When you have once improved some of your institutions, many other desirable improvements will remain. The very improvement you have established and achieved will need further refinements. Thus you are not as you imagine doing uncertain and temporary harm to achieve positive and lasting good; you are doing certain and positive harm in exchange for uncertain, relative, and temporary advantage.
 “The National Assembly,” said Chamfort, “in 1789 gave the French people a constitution stronger than itself. It must hurry to lift the nation up to this height. . . . 12 Legislators must act like those skillful doctors who, treating an exhausted sick person, help the digestion of revigorating food by means of stomachic medicine.”13 The unfortunate thing in this comparison is that legislators are most of the time patients who call themselves doctors.
A nation cannot be sustained at a level to which its own disposition does not lift it. To sustain it there one would have to treat it violently, and the very fact that it was being treated violently would bring it back down and it would collapse.
For tyranny, Machiavelli says, everything must change;14 one could likewise say that to change everything one must resort to tyranny. That is what people do.
When a nation is shallow and imitative, it finds nothing more powerful than editorial slogans. They are short, they seem clear, they are inscribed easily in the memory. Cunning men throw them to fools who seize them, because they are thus spared the trouble of thinking. They repeat them, because this gives them the appearance of understanding. Hence it arises that propositions whose absurdity astonishes us when they are analyzed, slip into a thousand heads and are repeated by a thousand tongues, such that one is endlessly reduced to proving what is obvious. Among these dire slogans, there is one we have heard repeated a thousand times during our Revolution, one whose repetition all violent revolutions invite;  it is that despotism is necessary to establish freedom. This axiom justifies all oppressions along with their indefinite prolongation, since the duration of this despotism to which it is claimed that freedom will owe its birth cannot be specified.
Freedom is priceless, however, only because it gives our mind precision, our character strength, and our souls elevation. All these benefits of freedom depend on its existing in reality. If you use despotism to bring in freedom, you get only its worthless forms; the essence will always escape you. The victory you win is opposed in its very essence to the proper spirit of the institution. And just as its successes will not persuade the conquered, so they will not reassure the conquerors.
What must we say to the people in fact, so that they will get the advantages of freedom into their minds? You were subject to privileged castes; most people lived for the ambition of the few. Unequal laws protected the strong against the weak. You had only precarious enjoyments, that is, rights, of which despotism threatened to rob you at every moment. You took part neither in the making of your laws nor in the election of your public officials. All these abuses are going to disappear. All your rights will be rendered to you. The men who want to form between despotism and freedom some kind of insane alliance, however, what can they say? No privilege will separate the citizens, but at all times men who seem to us enemies will be smashed with no right to a hearing. Virtue will be the only distinction among men; but those most given to persecution and violence will create for themselves by means of tyranny a patriciate guaranteed by terror. The laws made by the will of the people will protect property; but at every moment the fate of individuals or groups under suspicion will be confiscation. The people will elect their magistrates, but if they do not do it according to requirements prescribed in advance, their choice will be nullified. Opinion will be free, but any opinion contrary not only to the general policy  but also to its slightest day-to-day enactments will be punished like a violation. So, following a revolution against despotism, against the enslavement of opinion, despotism is found reinforced a thousandfold, and opinions are a thousand times more enslaved. To each word, each gesture, each outpouring of friendship, each cry of unhappiness, a fearful influence is attributed. Discussion of the victorious opinion is banned. The outrages committed by the fallen government are recalled in exaggerated form in order to stifle thought. Thought control is the distinctive mark of the new government. That men be made free, they are hounded with the fear of torture. Tyrannical government being denounced, the most tyrannical of governments is constructed.
To sustain what is thought to be freedom by despotic means requires the invention of far more persecution and deception than straightforward governmental control does. It is not enough to destroy an innocent man; he must be calumniated in the eyes of all. It is not enough to give power to those the people reject; the people must be forced to choose them. Forbidding press freedom is not enough; newspapers must parody it. It is not enough to impose silence on representative assemblies; a worthless simulation of opposition must be set up, tolerated as long as it is puerile, and dissolved when it gives offense. It is not enough to dispense with the nation’s will; the addresses of a minority calling itself the majority must be put forward. All the time things are dragged far off course by increasing difficulties. There is absolutely no end to a tyranny seeking to extract from people by force the appearances of consent.
The war against public attitudes is less evil when the despotism is blatant, since it is not of the essence of despotism to depend on them. Usually despotism secures at least domestic calm, because it can rule more easily in silence. Institutions claiming to be free ones, however, when they employ despotic means, bring together all the ills of a monarchy under an oppressive tyrant with all those of a republic rent by factions. Quiet men are persecuted for being apathetic, ardent men because they are dangerous.  Servitude guarantees no rest; human activity lacks all purpose and joy. Freedom is adjourned until factions are destroyed. As long as freedom is postponed, however, factions are never destroyed. Despotism weighs on all the factions in turn; in the gaps between, there is nothing free. The coercive measures adopted by dictatorship, pending public approval, militate against this approval being realized. Such dictatorship flails around in a vicious circle, signaling an historic era it is destined never to achieve, since the means adopted on the pretext of achieving it prevent its ever happening. Force makes itself more and more necessary, growing anger feeds on itself, laws are hammered out like weapons, certain branches of law become declarations of war,15 and the blind friends of freedom, who thought they could impose it by way of despotism, turn all free spirits against them, their only support the vilest toadies of power.
More: unjust laws directed against freedom’s enemies inevitably fall on its true friends. To invest governments with arbitrary power is to given them an interest distinct from that of the governed. This interest becomes then their sole concern, and it is only to make it prevail that they employ the wider means with which they were entrusted for the public good. It should not be thought that one can take the side of wickedness in one branch of the law, and stay true to justice in the rest. One single barbarous law will set the character of all legislation. Heated feelings or calculation produce the first law and fear or necessity the second. No just law can coexist with a single despotic measure. One cannot deny freedom to some people and accord it to others. Let us imagine a single harsh measure against people not legally convicted. You can no longer tolerate freedom of the press. It will be used to stir up the people in favor of victims who may be innocent. You can no longer respect individual freedom. Those you wanted to deprive of their rights will take advantage of this and merge with the rest of the citizens. You can no longer leave industry to itself. It will supply those proscribed with resources. Your friends will suffer the consequences of your actions against your enemies. Your enemies will benefit from what you do for your friends. Men would like compromises with freedom, to leave its circle for a day, because of some obstacle or person or given purpose, before returning  to its order. They would like to have the security of the rules with the advantages of exceptions to them. Nature runs contrary to this. Freedom is a complete and ordered system. A single deviation destroys it, just as in arithmetical calculation a mistake of one digit or a thousand falsifies the result equally.
Continuation of the Same Subject
The second duty of enlightened men is more important still, since it is a function not only of prudence but of morality.
When an improper constitution or long-established custom confers on those in the governing group or on some class or other vexatious privileges or despotic usages, the fault lies not with the governing group nor with this class but with the nation which has tolerated what should not exist. No one is guilty if he profits from a faculty he found ready-established and which society had peacefully granted him. The people can reclaim their rights because these are imprescriptible. They can take away from government an unjust prerogative. They can deprive a class of an oppressive privilege. They cannot, however, punish either one of them. They have lost all right to demand compensation or to exercise vengeance for damage to which they had seemed to resign themselves.
In the absence of this principle, revolutions no longer have any term. An abominable, retroactive course is entered, where each step, on the pretext of a past injustice, leads to a present one. People fall into the same absurdity with which they reproach the supporters of the most defective institutions. Men are punished for what they were and could not not be. A revolution gets turned into an era of new inequality whose newness renders it only the more revolting. There are sown for the future the seeds of iniquity, regret, suffering, and resentment. The generations allegedly to be freed are bequeathed the seeds of discord, hatred, and misfortune.
The groups you proscribe, those grown rich on abuses, are at the same time the most cultivated. If you go so far as destroying even  the individuals who compose them, you diminish proportionately the body of national enlightenment. The education of a nation is not the work of a day. It is not enough to strive to instruct that lively majority formerly kept in ignorance by an imperfect social order. The task is long. Pressing events will perhaps not wait until this task is achieved. Enlightened men have to be spread out between all the parties to preserve them from despotism. The Greeks pardoned captives who recited the verses of Euripides.16 The least bit of enlightenment, the least germ of thought, the least refined sentiment, the least mark of elegance must be carefully protected. These are so many elements indispensable to social happiness. They must be saved from the storm. This is necessary both for the sake of justice and for the sake of freedom itself. For all these things, by more or less direct pathways, end in freedom.
Doubtless this duty is hard to fulfill. Revolutions scarcely begin before the friends of freedom find themselves split into two sections. On one side are ranged the moderate men, on the other the violent. Only these latter, however, remain united a long time, because the spur they have been given prevents their separating, and they are exclusively absorbed in an idea common to them. Moderate men, not being drawn by a dominant preoccupation, lend their ears readily to individual considerations. Pride awakens in them, courage is shaken, their steadfastness wearies, personal calculation, repulsed for a moment, takes up the charge again. Cowardice takes a thousand forms and disguises itself in a thousand ways to hide itself from its own gaze. It does not call itself only prudence, reason, wisdom, and knowing what is valuable; it sometimes assumes the title of independence. How many men have I seen leaving the most just and the weakest party, because they were, so they said, too independent to be associated with any party. This language heralded the fact that they were going to move to the stronger side, and their proclamation of independence was only a prouder wording of cowardice.
 A terrible ally, fanaticism, very active in political questions, as in religious ones, is committed to the violent side. Fanaticism is nothing save the rule of a single idea which wishes to triumph at any price. It is probably more absurd still when the question is freedom than it is when the question is religion. Fanaticism and freedom are incompatible. One is based on examination; the other forbids research and punishes doubt. The one thinks through and evaluates all views; the other sees the most timid objection as an assault. The one seeks to persuade, the other issues orders. The one, in a word, considers the need for victory a misfortune and treats the vanquished as equals whose rights it is keen to recognize, the other hurls itself on all questions as if on enemy redoubts and sees in its adversaries only still-dangerous captives it must immolate, so as no longer to have to fear them.
Whatever the natural incompatibility between love of freedom and fanaticism may be, however, these two things combine easily in the minds of men who, not having contracted the habit of reflection, can receive ideas only on the word of others, more in the form of a mysterious revelation than as a sequence of principles and consequences. It is in the shape of a dogma that the notion of freedom dawns in unenlightened minds, and its effect then is as with any other dogma, a kind of exaltation, of fury, impatience with contradiction, the inability to tolerate the slightest reservation, the slightest change in the creed. This rule of faith, brought thus to bear on questions which touch all interests, on opinions which, subject to the law of circumstances, become criminal today when yesterday they were a duty, is much more to be feared than when it is enclosed in an abstract circle of theological subtleties. These subtleties leave in peace, in the bosom of their families, many men indifferent to shadowy discussions. What obscure life, however, what immobile existence, what unknown name could succeed in disarming fanaticism in the political field? This obscure life, this unknown name, this immobile existence, are in its eyes treasons. Inactivity seems punishable to it, domestic affections a forgetting of patriotism, happiness a suspect purpose. Those who desire or regret it, it will call conspirators. Armed for freedom, it bows joyfully before the harshest slavery, provided that it is exercised in the name of its cherished doctrine. It battles for the cause and renounces its effect. Severity, injustice, and slights of all kinds on the part of its leaders seem to it meritorious acts, as it were gauges of sincerity. It finds the educated bothersome because they find it hard  to embrace an opinion without certain restrictions and nuances. It is suspicious of the person of proud spirit, because proud spirits experience some kind of antipathy to the strongest people and serve the powerful only with distaste. The only qualities it demands are belief and will. It sees in morality obstacles, weakness, and chicanery. All is well if the end is good. It violates laws because they are made only for the friends, not the enemies of the fatherland. It betrays friendship because there cannot be friendship between the people’s defenders and oppressors. It neglects its most solemn commitments because fulfilling them might supply dangerous men with means they could direct against public safety. It effaces even the very last vestiges of pity. It is moved not at all by the sight of grief, nor does it fade at all with age. We have seen old men, overcome with sufferings which told them that the end was near, strike their victims with a failing hand, showing themselves unyielding at the edge of the tomb and remaining pitiless in the presence of eternity.
Fanaticism has the fatal property that its very sincerity freezes the courage of those who wish to fight it. It is easy to stand up to the injustice of the wicked, because it is known that in the bottom of their hearts they render homage to those they persecute. It is nothing to attack frontally enemies recognized as such. We resign ourselves willingly to the hatred of these adversaries. We are separated from them by fixed barriers. We fight them in the name of everything which raises the spirit, everything dear to the heart. But to bring down on one’s head the distrust of men one wishes to serve, to lose that popularity which is so vast a recompense for danger, such a means of consoling and saving innocence, to repel the repeated applause of an excited crowd listening to you, responding to you, saluting you, and following you like some tutelary God, to give up the support of one’s party without gaining the good will of the opposing party, to be disowned by those very people who share your opinions most keenly and who are devoted enthusiastically to the cause you cherish, that is real discouragement, the deepest misery. When disinterested men, brave, ardent for freedom, free from all egoism or low passion, in their suspicions come to pursue the friends of humanity and morality, they are animated, in the midst of their mistakes, by a conviction so firm that it takes away from those they suspect part of the sense and the strength of innocence.
 This is still not the whole story. Fanaticism, contained initially in a few energetic minds, seems to communicate itself by rapid contagion to timid and weak characters. They learn its language out of self-interest. They speak its language in order to please it. Soon, however, its ascendancy subjugates them. They become intoxicated by what they say. Each word they utter is a commitment into which they enter. They are driven forward in this course by the very feelings which might induce them to flee. Sometimes they dread their victims, more often their own side. If mutual recognition were possible, their terror would be less; but they all react on each other. Thus in our country men made ferocious by fear got drunk on their own terror. Thus there spread over France this inexplicable vertigo which people called the Reign of Terror.
Fanaticism then loses even the qualities which ennoble it. It furnishes pretexts for all forms of vice. The ungrateful friend, the faithless debtor, the obscure informer, the prevaricating judge, find their apologia written in advance in the agreed language; and this banal justification, prepared for all crimes, succeeds in corrupting that host of equivocal souls, who have neither the audacity of crime nor the courage of virtue.
Once they reach this stage, revolutions destroy all morality. They break the regular sequence of causes and effects. They separate actions from their natural consequences. They break all equilibrium between obligations and sacrifices. There are no longer easy duties nor safe virtues. Everything becomes devotion or heroism; and charisma takes over all the vulgar souls incapable of these great efforts.
Each person in the sinking vessel seizes a plank and repels the companion in misfortune who would like to attach himself to him.17 Each man abjures the links of his past life, isolating himself in order to defend himself and seeing in the friendship or misfortune which implore him only an obstacle to his safety.
 One thing only keeps its price. It is not public opinion. There no longer exists any glory for the powerful nor respect for victims. It is not justice. Its laws are unrecognized and its forms profaned. It is wealth. Wealth can disarm tyranny and seduce some of its agents. It can appease proscription, making flight from it easier. In sum, it can spread a few material joys across a life which is always under threat. Thus shameful leanings form an alliance with the most unbridled manias. People amass wealth to enjoy possessions. They possess to forget inevitable dangers. The response to others’ misfortune is hardness, to one’s own, insouciance. There is blood-letting alongside festivities. In their fierce stoicism people reject sympathy; they throw themselves into pleasure in sybaritic voluptuousness.
Lost in this chaos, enlightened men no longer find any voice to respond to them. All reasoning seems perverted, and no one feels above reproach. Rectitude is a prosecuting voice to be got rid of, to be distorted for the sake of a peaceful life. Each man is haunted by the memory of some troubling fact, on which all his logic focuses. You may believe he is expounding a whole theory to you; he is really trying to justify an hour of his life.
One reflects, sorrowfully, on oneself, on morality, on the principles one has adopted from childhood. To remember some ideas of moderation or prudence is to be regarded as a traitor. One is regarded as culpable when one takes up with any zeal the cause of some unfortunate soul. Faced with all the evidence of disapproval one meets, one is tempted to reproach oneself with a crime, whereas in fact one is fulfilling a duty. Shame upon him, however, who, charged with preserving his country from the perils which the blind furies are preparing for it, him whose duty is to protect weak, oppressed, and defenseless beings, shame I say, if he loses heart. Woe to freedom’s friends if they compromise with that spirit of persecution whose nature is to scorn all compromise. Their cause is henceforth dishonored. Sooner or later, this spirit, not finding them zealous enough, will turn its weapons against them, snatch their banners from them, thrust them into the ranks of the enemy, and proscribe them as turncoats. Then they will have the courage to die, a sterile courage, for which the future will pay them little regard. For want of courage earlier, for not having struggled against injustice from its very first moves, they will die without glory, at once the victims and the authors of the crimes they have suffered. 
On the Duties of Enlightened Men after Violent Revolutions
One might believe that when revolutions calm down, a time of compensation or at least of rest begins for humanity’s friends. Sometimes, however, fate reserves for them one last and painful ordeal.
The people, weary of an oppression operating in the name of freedom, seem to ask, in order to resign themselves almost joyfully to a new oppression, only for a different name for this oppression. It is enough to tell the people straightforwardly that it is not in the name of freedom that they are being trampled underfoot. What a strange reversal of ideas. All the laws have been violated by an unlimited government, and it is not the laws that are invoked but a government of the same unlimited character. A boundless despotism has weighed hard on everyone, and the cry is not for freedom but for another despotism. All the rages which during the violence of revolutions proved so fatal are reproduced under other forms. Fear and vanity formerly travestied the party spirit in its implacable furies; their insane manifestations now surpass the most abject servility. The pride which survives everything scores another success in the baseness in which fear seeks refuge. Cupidity seems openly to sacrifice its opprobrium as a guarantee to tyranny. The new power is fortified by everything remembered. It inherits all the criminal theories. It thinks itself justified by everything which has happened before it. It parades its contempt for men and its scorn for reason. It fortifies itself on all the attacks and all the mistakes by the very people it has just repressed or punished. It is no longer subject to the brake of public opinion, which sometimes contains established despotism. It is absolutely without the purity of intention, the disinterestedness, the good faith which characterize the  blind masses in the midst of their fury. Around it there gather every ignoble desire, every deft calculation, and every refined degradation. To its feet there hastens false argument, to astonish it with its zeal and surpass it in its cries, obscuring all ideas and calling the voice which would contradict it sedition. Intelligence comes to offer its services, intelligence which, separated from conscience, is the vilest of instruments. The apostates of all opinions gather swiftly, conserving from their former opinions only the habit of culpable methods. Crafty turncoats, famous in the annals of vice, slip into place; their quick dexterity carries them from yesterday’s to today’s prosperity, so that at all times they blight everything good, belittle everything elevated, and insult everything noble. Mediocre talents, joined with subaltern natures, set themselves up in the name of power as guardians of thought. They declare what questions the human mind may ponder. They allow it to frolic, subordinately, however, in the narrow enclosure they have conceded it. Anathema on its head, though, if it should ever break out of that enclosure, or scorn puerile subjects, or not abjure its celestial origin. Religion is no more than a vile instrument of government and reasoning only a cowardly commentary of power. The weirdest doctrines are arrogantly advanced. The prejudices of all the ages and the injustices of all countries are brought together as materials of the new social order. People go back to distant centuries and traverse faraway countries to put together from a thousand scattered parts a truly complete servitude which can be laid down as a model. The dishonored word flies from one mouth to another, never leaving from any real source, never carrying conviction anywhere, a tiresome sound, lazy and ridiculous, which leaves neither truth nor justice with any expression which is not soiled. Such was the reign of Charles II, the result of thirty years of civil wars, a forever shameful one, where we saw all the excesses of madness succeeded by all those of degradation.
Such a state is more disastrous than the most stormy revolution. One can at times detest the seditious Roman tribunes, but one is dejected by the contempt one experiences for the Senate under the Caesars.  One may find Charles I’s enemies hard and guilty, but a profound disgust seizes us for Cromwell’s creatures. When the ignorant parts of society commit crimes, the enlightened classes stay blameless; and since the natural thrust of things sooner or later puts power back in their hands, they can easily restore a public opinion which is misled rather than corrupted. When these classes themselves, however, disavowing their ancient principles, shed their habitual decency and permit themselves execrable examples, what hope remains? Where can one find in the nation a germ of honor, an element of virtue? Everything is only mire and blood and dust. A cruel destiny, in all eras, for the friends of freedom. Unrecognized, suspected, surrounded by men incapable of believing in impartiality, courage, disinterested conviction, distressed in turn by the feeling of indignation when these oppressors are at their strongest and by that of pity when they have become victims, they have always wandered the earth, the butt of all parties, isolated in the midst of generations sometimes raging and sometimes depraved.
It is on them, however, that the hope of the human race rests. We owe to them that great correspondence across the centuries, which gives evidence in ineffaceable letters against the sophisms which all the tyrants renew. Owing to this correspondence Socrates has survived the persecutions of a blind populace. Brutus and Cicero are not entirely dead under the proscriptions of the infamous Octavian. Lucan and Seneca were able to defy Nero’s henchman, Boethius the prisons and the sword under Theodoric. Their example has done good long after their deaths. Let their successors not lose courage. The same rewards await them in a distant future, but one brilliant in glory. When they are no more, the truths they have repeated in vain will be listened to. No effort is wasted on that road where the nature of things necessarily leads men. It is a matter only of knowing how to struggle long-term, perhaps all one’s life.
Let them therefore raise their voices anew. Let them not abjure their principles. They have nothing to reproach themselves with. They have need neither of expiation nor disavowal. They possess intact the treasure of a pure reputation. Let them dare to avow the love of generous ideas. These do not cast on them an accusatory light.
 To no avail do the weariness of nations, the anxiety of leaders, the servility of political instruments form an artificial assent which people call public opinion. It is absolutely not this. Men never cut themselves off from freedom. To say that they do is to say that they love humiliation, suffering, destitution, and poverty. To represent them as absorbed in their domestic feelings and individual economic decisions is to paint them, by a crude contradiction, as both putting an excessive price on their possessions and none at all on the lasting nature of these. For security is nothing else but the lasting of things. To say that men can cut themselves off from freedom is to claim that they resign themselves painlessly to being oppressed, incarcerated, separated from what they love, interrupted in their work, deprived of their goods, harassed in their opinions and their most secret thoughts, and dragged into prisons and to the scaffold. Since security is instituted against these things, it is to be preserved from these scourges that we invoke freedom. It is these scourges the people fear, curse, and detest. Wherever and under whatever name they encounter them, they take fright and recoil. What they abhorred in what their oppressors called freedom was not freedom, but slavery; but if slavery were presented under its true names, its true forms, is it credible that they would detest it less?
However active the inquisition may be, with whatever care its precautions multiply, enlightened men always retain a thousand ways of making themselves heard. Despotism is to be feared only when it has choked reason in its infancy. Then the former can stop the progress of the latter and keep the human race in a long imbecility. When reason gets on the march, however, it is invincible. Its supporters may perish, but it survives and triumphs. There exists only a moment to proscribe it with advantage. Once this has passed, all efforts are in vain. The intellectual struggle is engaged, thought is separated from power, truth dawns in every mind.
After the inestimable advantage of being the citizen of a free country, no situation is perhaps sweeter than being the courageous commentator of a subjugated yet enlightened nation. Times when despotism, disdaining a hypocrisy it deems pointless, decks itself in its true colours and insolently deploys banners known for ages are not without compensations.  How much better it is to suffer from the oppression of one’s enemies than to blush from the excesses of one’s allies. The defenders of freedom encounter then the agreement of the best part of the human race. They plead a noble cause openly to people and are seconded by the wishes of all men of good will. Persecution followed by glory is largely recompensed. He who succumbs confidently bequeaths to his contemporaries the care of defending his memory and completing his work.
Missionaries of truth, if the road is cut off, redouble in zeal and effort. Let light penetrate everywhere; if it is obscured, let it reappear; if it is repelled, let it come back. Let it reproduce, multiply, and transform itself. Let it be as indefatigable as persecution. Let some march bravely while others slip adroitly into place. Let the truth spread, sometimes resounding and sometimes repeated very low. Let all rational endeavors combine, let all hopes revive, let everybody work, serve, and wait. “There is no prescription for useful ideas,” said a famous man.18 Courage can come back after despondency, light after ignorance, ardor for the public good after the sleep of indifference.
Despotism, immorality, and injustice are things so against nature that all it takes is an incident, an effort, a brave voice to pull man back out of that abyss. He comes back to morality by way of the misfortune which results from a general forgetting of morality. He comes back to freedom because of the oppression made to weigh on him by all power he has neglected to limit. No nation’s cause is hopeless. What could be more savage than England during the civil wars of Charles I and his Parliament?19 What could be more degraded than that same England during the reign of Charles II? And yet, forty years after having offered the world horrible examples of savagery, twenty years after having given it shameful examples of license and  baseness, England regained its place among the wise, virtuous, and free peoples, and has kept it.
[1. ]Constant is probably thinking of the Pensées, Fragment No. 60, where the author declares, for example: “Custom is the whole of equity, just because it is received. This is the mystical basis of its authority. Whoever seeks to reduce it to principles, destroys it. Nothing is so faulty as these laws which redress errors. Whoever obeys them because they are just, obeys what he imagines to be justice, but not the essence of the law. Law is all of a piece. It is the law and nothing more. He who seeks its reasons will find them feeble and slight. . . .” Blaise Pascal, Oeuvres complètes, editing and annotation by Louis Lafuma, Paris, Le Seuil, 1963, p. 507, (L’Intégrale).
[4. ]Jeremy Bentham, op. cit., t. I, p. 158.
[5. ]Constant, it seems, basing himself on what Bentham says, ibid., t. II, pp. 382–383, imagines what the latter’s response would be on “the ill which a penal law produces.”
[7. ]Jeremy Bentham, op. cit., t. II, pp. 380–381. Here is the passage to which Constant refers: “If one has grasped the idea of a true offense, it will easily be distinguished from offenses of imaginary ill, those acts innocent in themselves, ranked among offenses by prejudice, antipathies, administrative errors, and ascetic principles, almost as healthy foods are regarded among certain peoples as poisons and unclean eating. Heresy and sorcery are offenses of this class.”
[8. ]Ibid., t. I, p. 157: “I can remain standing or sit down, enter or leave, eat or not eat, etc. The law says nothing about that. The right that I exercise in this respect, however, I get from the law, because it is the law which criminalizes all violence by which people might try to prevent me doing as I please.”
[9. ]This anecdote appeared earlier in the Journal intime, dated 21 December 1804: “In the midst of this reverie the idea which dominates me is of this Turk who said: I give thanks every day to His Highness for having my head on my shoulders.”
[12. ]Chamfort specifically states at this point, “by means of good public education.”
[13. ]Nicholas-Sébastien Roch, known as Chamfort, Maxims and Thoughts, Ch. 8 On Slavery and Freedom: France before and after the Revolution; in Oeuvres de Chamfort, collated and published by one of his friends, Paris, an III, t. IV, p. 206.
[14. ]We come across this quote from Machiavelli again in Mme. de Staël’s notes, Des circonstances actuelles, éd. cit., p. 382. The exact text runs: “But he who wants merely to establish that absolute power the ancients called tyranny must on the contrary leave in existence nothing of the established order.” Machiavelli, Discours sur la première décade de Tite-Live, Ch. XXV, in Oeuvres complètes, éd. cit., p. 441.
[15. ]The comparison of laws with weapons and of certain branches of law with declarations of war comes from Mme. de Staël, op. cit., p. 37.
[16. ]This phrase picks up one by Mme., de Staël, from Des circonstances actuelles, Livre II, Ch. 4 (ed. cit., p. 298): “Jadis, des Grecs prisonniers en Sicile obtinrent leur liberté de leurs ennemis en leur récitant quelques vers d’Euripide.” [In times past, Greek prisoners in Sicily obtained their freedom from their enemies by reciting to them some verses of Euripides.] It seems, however, that Mme. de Staël found it in Plutarch, Vies parallèles, Vie de Nicias, paragraph 29.
[17. ]An almost identical image occurs in Mme. de Staël’s Des circonstances actuelles, op. cit., Livre II, Ch. 2, p. 236.
[A. [Refers to page 398.]]It is enfeebling to the power of the law to look for its motives, he says.
[C. [Refers to page 400.]]Code Pénal, Partie 3, Ch. 1.21 The legislator’s lack of skill, he adds, often itself creates an opposition between the natural sanction and the political one. He therefore recognizes a natural sanction.
[E. [Refers to page 407.]]Bentham, III, 189.
[G. [Refers to page 422.]]It was proposed in the Long Parliament to deport and have sold in Algiers the nobles with their families, not excluding pregnant women, on whose behalf some members protested. Parliamentary Register.24
[C. [Refers to page 400.]]Code Pénal, Partie 3, Ch. 1.21 The legislator’s lack of skill, he adds, often itself creates an opposition between the natural sanction and the political one. He therefore recognizes a natural sanction.
[G. [Refers to page 422.]]It was proposed in the Long Parliament to deport and have sold in Algiers the nobles with their families, not excluding pregnant women, on whose behalf some members protested. Parliamentary Register.24
Jeremy Bentham, op. cit., t. I, p. 154: “Thus to declare by law that such and such an act is prohibited is to establish that act as an offense.”
Ibid., t. II, pp. 380–384.
Hofmann failed to find the passage quoted by Constant.
Jacques Necker, op. cit., t. I, p. 77 (error in Constant’s numbering).
Hofmann could not establish this reference.