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Denis Diderot, Encyclopedic Liberty: Political Articles in the Dictionary of Diderot and D’Alembert [2016]

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Denis Diderot, Encyclopedic Liberty: Political Articles in the Dictionary of Diderot and D’Alembert. By Denis Diderot and Jean Le Rond d’Alembert. Edited and with an Introduction by Henry C. Clark. Translated by Henry C. Clark and Christine Dunn Henderson (Indianapolis: Liberty Fund, 2016).

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About this Title:

This anthology is the first endeavor to bring together the most significant political writing from the entire twenty-million-word compendium known as The Encyclopedia. It includes eighty-one of the most original, controversial and representative articles on political ideas, practices, and institutions, many translated into English for the first time. The articles cover such topics as the foundations of political order, the relationship between natural and civil liberty, the different types of constitutional regimes, the role of the state in economic and religious affairs, and the boundaries between manners, morals, and laws.

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The copyright to this edition, in both print and electronic forms, is held by Liberty Fund, Inc.

Fair use statement:

This material is put online to further the educational goals of Liberty Fund, Inc. Unless otherwise stated in the Copyright Information section above, this material may be used freely for educational and academic purposes. It may not be used in any way for profit.

Table of Contents:

Edition: current; Page: [i]
Encyclopedic Liberty
Edition: current; Page: [ii]

Jean Le Rond d’Alembert

Edition: current; Page: [iii]

Denis Diderot

Edition: current; Page: [iv] Edition: current; Page: [v]
Political Articles in the Dictionary of Diderot and D’Alembert
Edited and with an Introduction by Henry C. Clark
Translated by Henry C. Clark and Christine Dunn Henderson
Liberty Fund
Edition: current; Page: [vi]

This book is published by Liberty Fund, Inc., a foundation established to encourage study of the ideal of a society of free and responsible individuals.


The cuneiform inscription that serves as our logo and as a design motif in Liberty Fund books is the earliest-known written appearance of the word “freedom” (amagi), or “liberty.” It is taken from a clay document written about 2300 bc in the Sumerian city-state of Lagash.

Introduction, new translations, editorial additions, and index © 2016 by Liberty Fund, Inc.

All rights reserved

The portrait of Denis Diderot used for the frontispiece and the exterior of the book was painted in 1767 by Louis Michel van Loo and is from the Louvre, in Paris, France. Photo credit: Erich Lessing / Art Resource, New York.

The portrait of Jean Le Rond d’Alembert used for the frontispiece and the exterior of the book was painted in 1753 by Maurice-Quentin de La Tour and is from the Louvre, in Paris, France. Photo credit: Erich Lessing / Art Resource, New York.

(Page 779 constitutes an extension of this copyright page.)

Printed in the United States of America

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Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data

Names: Diderot, Denis, 1713–1784. | Alembert, Jean Le Rond d’, 1717–1783. | Clark, Henry C., editor.

Title: Encyclopedic liberty : political articles in the Dictionary of Diderot and d’Alembert / edited and with an introduction by Henry C. Clark ; translated by Henry C. Clark and Christine Dunn Henderson.

Description: Indianapolis : Liberty Fund, Inc., 2016. | Includes bibliographical references and index.

Identifiers: LCCN 2015048808 | ISBN 9780865978546 (hardcover : alk. paper) | ISBN 9780865978560 (pbk. : alk. paper)

Subjects: LCSH: Political science—Encyclopedias.

Classification: LCC ja62 .e64 2016 | DDC 320.03—dc23

LC record available at

Liberty Fund, Inc.

8335 Allison Pointe Trail, Suite 300

Indianapolis, IN 46250–1684

Edition: current; Page: [vii]


  • Alphabetical List of Articles xiii
  • Introduction xvii
  • Contributors xxv
  • A Note on the Text xli
  • Translators’ Note xliii
  • A Note on Currency xlix
  • Acknowledgments li
  • Volume 1 (1751)
    • The Divine Voice (Aius-Locutius) · Diderot 3
    • Political Arithmetic (Arithmétique Politique) · Diderot 5
    • Political Authority (Autorité Politique) · Diderot 12
  • Volume 2 (1752)
    • Brownists (Brownistes) · Mallet 23
    • Celibacy (Célibat) · Diderot 26
  • Volume 3 (1753)
    • Masterpiece (Chef-d’Œuvre) · Diderot 47
    • Citizen (Citoyen) · Diderot 49 Edition: current; Page: [viii]
    • Trading Company (Compagnie de Commerce) · Véron de Forbonnais 55
    • Competition (Concurrence) · Véron de Forbonnais 65
    • Conquest (Conquête) · Jaucourt 68
  • Volume 4 (1754)
    • Public Corruption (Corruption Publique) · Diderot 77
    • Democracy (Démocratie) · Jaucourt 78
    • Despotism (Despotisme) · Jaucourt 86
  • Volume 5 (1755)
    • Natural Right (Droit Naturel) · Diderot 97
    • Natural Law (Droit de la Nature) · Boucher d’Argis 103
    • Public Law (Droit Public) · Boucher d’Argis 113
    • Natural Equality (Egalité Naturelle) · Jaucourt 119
    • Eulogy for President Montesquieu (Eloge de M. le Président de Montesquieu) · d’Alembert 122
    • Child (Enfant) · Jaucourt 139
    • Savings (Epargne) · Faiguet de Villeneuve 145
    • Pin (Epingle) · Deleyre 165
    • Slavery (Esclavage) · Jaucourt 167
  • Volume 6 (1756)
    • State of Nature (Etat de Nature) · Jaucourt 187
    • Compound States (Etats Composés) · Jaucourt 193
  • Volume 7 (1757)
    • Foundation (Fondation) · Turgot 199
    • Gallantry (Galanterie) · Diderot? 209 Edition: current; Page: [ix]
    • Geneva (Genève) · d’Alembert 211
    • Government (Gouvernement) · Jaucourt 227
    • Cereals (Grains) · Quesnay 239
  • Volume 8 (1765)
    • Habeas Corpus · Jaucourt 259
    • Man (Homme) · Diderot 261
    • Honor (Honneur) · Saint-Lambert 264
    • Poorhouse (Hôpital) · Diderot 274
    • Tax (Impôt) · Jaucourt 278
    • Indissoluble · Diderot 288
    • Industry (Industrie) · Jaucourt 289
    • Innovation · Jaucourt 294
    • Intendants (Intendans) 295
    • Invention · Jaucourt 300
  • Volume 9 (1765)
    • Legislator (Législateur) · Saint-Lambert 307
    • Legislation (Législation) · Diderot 328
    • Natural Liberty (Liberté Naturelle) 329
    • Civil Liberty (Liberté Civile) 331
    • Political Liberty (Liberté Politique) · Jaucourt 333
    • Liberty [Inscription] (Liberté) · Jaucourt 335
    • Liberty [Mythology] (Liberté) · Jaucourt 337
    • Law (Loi) · Jaucourt 339
    • Fundamental Law (Loi Fondamentale) · Jaucourt 349
    • Lübeck · Jaucourt 351 Edition: current; Page: [x]
    • Machiavellianism (Machiavélisme) · Diderot 353
    • Masterships (Maîtrises) · Faiguet de Villeneuve 356
  • Volume 10 (1765)
    • Manners (Manière) · Saint-Lambert 373
    • Mores (Mœurs) 380
    • Monarchy (Monarchie) · Jaucourt 382
    • Absolute Monarchy (Monarchie Absolue) · Jaucourt 386
    • Elective Monarchy (Monarchie Elective) · Jaucourt 388
    • Limited Monarchy (Monarchie Limitée) · Jaucourt 391
  • Volume 11 (1765)
    • Trade (Négoce) · Jaucourt 395
    • Political Economy (Œconomie Politique) · Boulanger 397
  • Volume 12 (1765)
    • English Parliament (Parlement d’Angleterre) · Jaucourt 451
    • Country (Patrie) · Jaucourt 463
    • Patriot (Patriote) · Jaucourt 473
  • Volume 13 (1765)
    • Population · Damilaville 479
    • Power (Pouvoir) 529
    • Press (Presse) · Jaucourt 532
    • Property (Propriété) 534
    • Legislative, Executive Power (Puissance Législative, Exécutrice) · Jaucourt 536
    Edition: current; Page: [xi]
  • Volume 14 (1765)
    • Representatives (Représentans) · d’Holbach 541
    • Republic (République) · Jaucourt 553
    • Federal Republic (République Fédérative) · Jaucourt 556
    • Rutland · Jaucourt 560
    • Savages (Sauvages) · Jaucourt 568
  • Volume 15 (1765)
    • Civil Society (Société Civile) 573
    • Sovereigns (Souverains) 574
    • Switzerland (Suisse) · Jaucourt 579
    • Sussex · Jaucourt 588
  • Volume 16 (1765)
    • Temples of Liberty (Temples de la Liberté) · Jaucourt 597
    • Toleration (Tolérance) · Jaucourt 598
    • Traffic in Blacks (Traite des Nègres) · Jaucourt 612
    • Tyranny (Tyrannie) · Jaucourt 615
  • Volume 17 (1765)
    • Five Percent Tax (Vingtième) · Damilaville 623
  • Bibliography 721
  • Index 733
Edition: current; Page: [xii] Edition: current; Page: [xiii]

Alphabetical List of Articles

  • Absolute Monarchy (Monarchie Absolue) · Jaucourt 386
  • Brownists (Brownistes) · Mallet 23
  • Celibacy (Célibat) · Diderot 26
  • Cereals (Grains) · Quesnay 239
  • Child (Enfant) · Jaucourt 139
  • Citizen (Citoyen) · Diderot 49
  • Civil Liberty (Liberté Civile) 331
  • Civil Society (Société Civile) 573
  • Competition (Concurrence) · Véron de Forbonnais 65
  • Compound States (Etats Composés) · Jaucourt 193
  • Conquest (Conquête) · Jaucourt 68
  • Country (Patrie) · Jaucourt 463
  • Democracy (Démocratie) · Jaucourt 78
  • Despotism (Despotisme) · Jaucourt 86
  • The Divine Voice (Aius-Locutius) · Diderot 3
  • Elective Monarchy (Monarchie Elective) · Jaucourt 388
  • English Parliament (Parlement d’Angleterre) · Jaucourt 451
  • Eulogy for President Montesquieu (Eloge de M. le Président de Montesquieu) · d’Alembert 122
  • Federal Republic (République Fédérative) · Jaucourt 556
  • Five Percent Tax (Vingtième) · Damilaville 623 Edition: current; Page: [xiv]
  • Foundation (Fondation) · Turgot 199
  • Fundamental Law (Loi Fondamentale) · Jaucourt 349
  • Gallantry (Galanterie) · Diderot? 209
  • Geneva (Genève) · d’Alembert 211
  • Government (Gouvernement) · Jaucourt 227
  • Habeas Corpus · Jaucourt 259
  • Honor (Honneur) · Saint-Lambert 264
  • Indissoluble · Diderot 288
  • Industry (Industrie) · Jaucourt 289
  • Innovation · Jaucourt 294
  • Intendants (Intendans) 295
  • Invention · Jaucourt 300
  • Law (Loi) · Jaucourt 339
  • Legislation (Législation) · Diderot 328
  • Legislative, Executive Power (Puissance Législative, Exécutrice) · Jaucourt 536
  • Legislator (Législateur) · Saint-Lambert 307
  • Liberty [Inscription] (Liberté) · Jaucourt 335
  • Liberty [Mythology] (Liberté) · Jaucourt 337
  • Limited Monarchy (Monarchie Limitée) · Jaucourt 391
  • Lübeck · Jaucourt 351
  • Machiavellianism (Machiavélisme) · Diderot 353
  • Man (Homme) · Diderot 261
  • Manners (Manière) · Saint-Lambert 373
  • Masterpiece (Chef-d’Œuvre) · Diderot 47
  • Masterships (Maîtrises) · Faiguet de Villeneuve 356
  • Monarchy (Monarchie) · Jaucourt 382
  • Mores (Mœurs) 380 Edition: current; Page: [xv]
  • Natural Equality (Egalité Naturelle) · Jaucourt 119
  • Natural Law (Droit de la Nature) · Boucher d’Argis 103
  • Natural Liberty (Liberté Naturelle) 329
  • Natural Right (Droit Naturel) · Diderot 97
  • Patriot (Patriote) · Jaucourt 473
  • Pin (Epingle) · Deleyre 165
  • Political Arithmetic (Arithmétique Politique) · Diderot 5
  • Political Authority (Autorité Politique) · Diderot 12
  • Political Economy (Œconomie Politique) · Boulanger 397
  • Political Liberty (Liberté Politique) · Jaucourt 333
  • Poorhouse (Hôpital) · Diderot 274
  • Population · Damilaville 479
  • Power (Pouvoir) 529
  • Press (Presse) · Jaucourt 532
  • Property (Propriété) 534
  • Public Corruption (Corruption Publique) · Diderot 77
  • Public Law (Droit Public) · Boucher d’Argis 113
  • Representatives (Représentans) · d’Holbach 541
  • Republic (République) · Jaucourt 553
  • Rutland · Jaucourt 560
  • Savages (Sauvages) · Jaucourt 568
  • Savings (Epargne) · Faiguet de Villeneuve 145
  • Slavery (Esclavage) · Jaucourt 167
  • Sovereigns (Souverains) 574
  • State of Nature (Etat de Nature) · Jaucourt 187
  • Sussex · Jaucourt 588
  • Switzerland (Suisse) · Jaucourt 579 Edition: current; Page: [xvi]
  • Tax (Impôt) · Jaucourt 278
  • Temples of Liberty (Temples de la Liberté) · Jaucourt 597
  • Toleration (Tolérance) · Jaucourt 598
  • Trade (Négoce) · Jaucourt 395
  • Trading Company (Compagnie de Commerce) · Véron de Forbonnais 55
  • Traffic in Blacks (Traite des Nègres) · Jaucourt 612
  • Tyranny (Tyrannie) · Jaucourt 615
Edition: current; Page: [xvii]


“Whoever takes the trouble of combining the several political articles, will find that they form a noble system of civil liberty.” So wrote the English legal expert Owen Ruffhead in 1768, referring to the seventeen-volume Encyclopédie, edited by Denis Diderot and Jean Le Rond d’Alembert, whose publication had been completed three years before.1 One volume per year had rolled off the presses from 1751 until 1757; the remaining ten volumes emerged all at once in 1765. The present anthology brings together as many of the politically themed articles as could comfortably fit within a single volume, so readers may decide for themselves whether a “noble system of civil liberty” or, indeed, any system at all emerges from them.

The worthiness of the project will be well known to students of the period. The editors described their compendium in terms that made clear their intention not only to provide a uniquely comprehensive reference work, but to “change the way men think,” to supply a “war machine” by which to overcome what they considered the entrenched, institutionalized resistance to new knowledge all around them. In his celebrated Preliminary Discourse, an introduction to the whole compilation, d’Alembert traced an entire history of modern philosophy and science designed to chart the way toward a sweeping Baconian project of improving the world through usable knowledge.2

And yet, for all the bold-sounding language that accompanied the prospectus and the first volume, the treatment of political subjects was problematic throughout the work’s publishing history. Diderot had already Edition: current; Page: [xviii] spent some months in prison for his writings in the late 1740s before working on the Encyclopédie and had not enjoyed the experience. But some of the biggest early controversies came from his own political contributions—in substantial articles such as Political Authority, Citizen, and Natural Right, all of them included in this volume. The resulting firestorm, in combination with the plausible threat of further incarceration, evidently led him to delegate most political topics later in the work to other contributors.

In a more general sense, the tortured character of political coverage in the work was no doubt a function of the sheer fragility of the editors’ rights to publication. At the very time when the second volume was appearing, in 1752, a Sorbonne thesis by an abbé Martin de Prades, who had contributed the entry Certitude to the Encyclopédie, was condemned for unorthodoxy.3 Diderot’s dictionary was briefly suppressed by a royal order in council; there was even talk of putting its editors to death. The dauphin’s Jesuit preceptor, Bishop Jean-François Boyer, received the king’s permission to take action. The royal censor, Chrétien-Guillaume Lamoignon de Malesherbes, a man generally sympathetic to the enlightenment project who held this important office from 1752 to 1763, devised a compromise whereby the Encyclopédie would continue publication. In exchange, Bishop Boyer was able to choose the censors assigned to its volumes.

In 1758, after the appearance of volume 7 the previous November, a larger crisis developed. The global war that had begun in 1756 (eventually called the Seven Years’ War) was not going well for France, and wartime censorship was in full operation by 1758. There was also an attempt on the life of King Louis XV by the psychotic Damiens (1757) and a trial that led to his drawing and quartering (1758). The article Geneva (reproduced here) had in the meantime caused an international incident with the Genevan government’s declaration of orthodoxy in February 1758. For these reasons Diderot came under increasing personal pressure during this time; d’Alembert himself made the decision between December 1757 and February 1758 to discontinue his editorial association with the project. Edition: current; Page: [xix] Voltaire was among those urging Diderot to take the enterprise abroad for safety’s sake.

In the summer of 1758 Rousseau precipitated a long-brewing breach with the encyclopedic party through the publication of his Letter to d’Alembert on the Theatre, a work containing a personal attack against Diderot. Also that summer (July 1758) Claude-Adrien Helvétius’s materialist treatise De l’Esprit was published. For numerous reasons, including the prefatory dedication by Diderot’s close friend Friedrich-Melchior Grimm, the work quickly became a flashpoint for mounting hostility against the Encyclopédie itself.

Finally, in November 1758, the archbishop of Paris condemned the book; the pope followed two months later. The Parlement of Paris—the chief judicial body in the realm, which also exercised administrative functions—resolved to launch a full-scale investigation of all scandalous literature and decided upon an immediate ban on the sale of the Encyclopédie itself, a judgment confirmed by the Royal Council in March 1759. The pope enjoined any Roman Catholic who possessed a copy of the work to bring it to a local priest for burning.

“Where they burn books,” Heinrich Heine once wrote, “they end up burning men.” The ending to this story, though, was less gruesome. Diderot’s files were empty when the police searched his home because Malesherbes, the royal censor, had himself taken them into safe custody. Although the publishing project had seemingly reached a dead end by July of 1759 when the parlement ordered the editors to cease operations and repay subscribers, a confidential and unwritten arrangement allowed Diderot and the chevalier Louis de Jaucourt, a Protestant nobleman who had by now in effect replaced d’Alembert as co-editor, to continue their work in private, with an expectation that the last volumes would appear at an opportune moment. That moment finally arrived in 1765.

Among the reasons that government officials eventually allowed the enterprise to go forward was the calculation that too much had been invested, by producers and buyers alike, to allow such a lucrative venture to migrate to Prussia or Holland, as would otherwise have been likely. The contrast with Diderot’s Chinese counterpart, Sung Ying-hsing, is stark. That redoubtable late Ming scholar brought out a comparably ambitious and wide-ranging Edition: current; Page: [xx] compendium of practical knowledge, The Making and Wonders of the Works of Nature, in 1637; but despite an enthusiastic reception by its readers, the work had all but disappeared from circulation within a few years—victim of a remarkably successful government suppression—only to be fitfully reconstructed from rare surviving copies centuries later.4 The eventual publication of the last ten volumes of Diderot’s work may accordingly be seen as a triumph of (partially) free expression, political pluralism, and commercial enterprise.

Properly speaking, neither Diderot nor his fellow contributors of political articles would have been recognized as political philosophers. But Diderot’s dictionary was not meant to be a collection of original essays. “Woe betide such a vast work,” the editors wrote, “if we wanted to make the whole thing a work of invention!”5 It was designed as a general reference work, and modern research has established how extraordinarily successful it was in this ambition.6

It was also designed, however, as a dynamically interactive, aggressively cross-referenced compendium of the new knowledge and new ways of thinking in all fields of study. Both the prospectus and d’Alembert’s “Preliminary Discourse,” as well as Diderot’s important article Encyclopédie itself, emphasized the intention to propagate this new approach to a larger audience. The question that would have hovered over the political articles, therefore, was: what do the new learning and the new ways of reasoning that the editors wished to disseminate have to say about the origins, nature, and ends of political order? Although some of the articles featured here are indeed distinguished for their originality, a contributor’s main task would have been skillful synthesis of recognized authorities. The problem was that the selection and citation of such authorities was fraught with controversy, Edition: current; Page: [xxi] as we have seen, which furnishes a not insignificant part of the interest of this volume.

Contributors resorted to a gamut of strategies in finessing this problem. They could lift material from an author without acknowledgment (see Jaucourt’s use of Bolingbroke in Patriot, for example); they could quote material without identifying either author or work (see Jaucourt’s use of Addison’s Cato at the beginning of the same entry); they could refer to an author obliquely (“a talented English author”) without naming him; they could mention a work or author once while drawing on him more often throughout the entry; or they could summarize their general reliance upon a source by mentioning it at the beginning or end of an entry. There is some reason to believe there was at least a loose correlation between citation practice and publication status: that is, in the complexly graded system of publishing permissions available under the French monarchy—everything from a full royal privilege to a complete ban, with other options in between—the more officially respectable a work’s publication status was, the more overt the citation might be. Montesquieu’s political work was more likely to be cited explicitly than Locke’s or Bolingbroke’s, Bossuet’s than Montesquieu’s. Different contributors, of course, had different risk thresholds, and the perceived riskiness of a work could change over time.7

Although no full-scale critical study has yet been attempted of the sources used in the political articles of the Encyclopédie,8 it is clear enough that the main modern authorities utilized and cited for the entries presented in this volume would include the following: Hobbes; Grotius, Pufendorf, and the recently published Jean Burlamaqui (1747) for the natural-law tradition; Locke and Sidney for the English, as well as Mandeville, Shaftesbury, Addison, Bolingbroke, Gordon, and Hume; Voltaire—especially his Letters on the English (known today as the Philosophical Letters) and his Essai sur l’histoire universelle (more commonly known since the mid-twentieth century Edition: current; Page: [xxii] as Essai sur les mœurs [Essay on manners]); and, above all, Montesquieu’s Spirit of the Laws. That last polyglot masterpiece, which had just appeared in 1748, possessed an authority in the political articles that would be difficult to exaggerate. Jaucourt relied on it almost exclusively for many of his entries. But even authors who explicitly took issue with Montesquieu’s ideas—such as Boulanger in Political Economy, Saint-Lambert in Honor and Legislator, or Damilaville in Population and Five Percent Tax—often take their starting point from a question or proposition advanced by him.

Rousseau, for his part, is relatively and perhaps surprisingly unimportant for understanding the Encyclopédie. His long entry Economie ou Œconomie in volume 5, widely available today as Discourse on Political Economy and not reproduced in this volume, was an early forerunner of his more developed political theory. And his signature concept of the “general will” is used in Diderot’s Natural Right, Saint-Lambert’s Legislator, and Damilaville’s Five Percent Tax, which do appear in this volume, and occasionally in entries that do not, for example, Grecs (philosophie des) [Greek Philosophy] and Vertu [Virtue]. D’Alembert does defend the dictionary against Rousseau’s two discourses of 1750 and 1754, with their indictment of the corrupting influences of the modern arts and sciences on human mores.9 But the Social Contract, Rousseau’s main political work, did not appear until 1762 and finds little echo in these pages.

Even more conspicuous by his nearly complete absence is Bishop Bossuet (1627–1704), the leading exponent of the political theory of divine-right absolute monarchy under the reign of Louis XIV.10 Nothing could more vividly illustrate the sea change in political thinking that had taken place between 1680 and 1750.

On the other side of the Atlantic, Americans did not know much about this most seminal of reference works. Unlike Montesquieu’s Spirit of the Edition: current; Page: [xxiii] Laws, the works of Diderot and d’Alembert, including their great dictionary itself, were not widely disseminated in the American colonies. Neither the New York book lists nor the magazines and newspapers of the period mentioned Diderot frequently, nor were his writings widely available here—and those of d’Alembert even less.11 It would appear that Diderot was mainly known for his creative literature, that this was seen as having an irreligious tendency, and that the rest of his corpus was judged in this light. Not surprisingly, then, Americans tended later on to lump him with the regicides and atheists of the radical French Revolution, sometimes along with Rousseau and Voltaire, as Timothy Dwight, President of Yale College, did in a 1798 sermon.

Again unlike The Spirit of the Laws, the Encyclopédie was never translated into English in the eighteenth century, although a number of attempts were announced by the book publishers.12 That it was quite expensive would also have put a damper upon its distribution. On the other hand, Franklin, Adams, Jefferson, Madison, John Randolph, and William Short were among those who owned copies, and it was available in at least some institutional libraries of the time. Hamilton cited the article Empire in Federalist No. 22.13

The English-speaking world’s engagement with the Encyclopédie was slight in the nineteenth century and not much fuller in the twentieth. To my knowledge, there have been only two anthologies of articles translated into English since 1900: Nelly S. Hoyt and Thomas Cassirer’s Encyclopedia: Selections and Stephen J. Gendzier’s Denis Diderot’s The Encyclopedia: Selections. Of the eighty-one articles in the present volume, thirteen have appeared (in whole or in part) in these previous collections. There are also a few political articles to be found in the first thirty pages or so of John Hope Mason and Robert Wokler’s Political Writings.14

Edition: current; Page: [xxiv]

French-language anthologies of political writings include Diderot: Textes politiques, Diderot: Œuvres politiques, and Politique, volume 3 of Diderot, Œuvres, edited by Yves Benot, Paul Vernière, and Laurent Versini, respectively. John Lough’s Encyclopédie of Diderot and D’Alembert is a French-language compendium that includes several political entries.15

Starting in the late 1990s, a major collaborative effort centered at the University of Michigan aimed to make available on the worldwide web an English translation of as many articles as the sponsors could find translators for.16 This project, undertaken in the capaciously collegial spirit of the original eighteenth-century enterprise, is an inspiration to the world of teaching and scholarship. But perforce, the Michigan Collaborative Translation Project does not have the present volume’s focused sense of purpose.

The present volume is therefore unique. It provides a wide-angle window onto virtually every aspect of the political thought and political imagination of the most ambitious collaborative enterprise of the eighteenth century. There is iconography, biography, and history. There are philosophical reflections and topical interventions. There is broad constitutional analysis as well as detailed coverage of legal, economic, and administrative affairs. Religion, morality, family, and sexuality on the one hand, and war, slavery, and fiscality on the other, all come in for treatment of some sort in the present collection. In short, the full sweep of what it meant to think about politics in the eighteenth century is represented here in as eclectic, open-ended, and capacious a manner as was feasible between the covers of a single volume.

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Jean Le Rond d’Alembert, 1717–83 (1,309 articles). Born illegitimately to the salon hostess Madame de Tencin and the military officer Chevalier Destouches, d’Alembert had a brilliant mathematical mind and became a member of the Royal Academy of Sciences in 1742 at the age of twenty-four. While Diderot sought out the convivial atmosphere of the cafés, d’Alembert, with his high voice and attention to fashion detail, preferred the quieter and more controlled ambience of the salons. He collaborated with Diderot on the early volumes of the Encyclopédie, and his major contribution was the Preliminary Discourse, a lengthy treatise (forty-eight thousand words) that has sometimes been seen as the single most lucid and competent summary of European Enlightenment thought in the entire eighteenth century. The controversy with Rousseau and the authorities over the article Geneva (1758–59) took its toll on him, however, and he disengaged from the project shortly thereafter. In this volume, d’Alembert’s contribution, in addition to Geneva itself, is the eulogy for the recently deceased Montesquieu, which reveals his skill at editorial selection and concise summation and which provides one picture of how Montesquieu’s Spirit of the Laws tended to be viewed in the years after its appearance.

Antoine Gaspard Boucher d’Argis, 1708–91 (4,268 articles). Born in Paris, where his father was a lawyer, Boucher d’Argis was admitted to practice Edition: current; Page: [xxvi] in 1727. He wrote several works on rural and property law from 1738 to 1749 and in 1753 received the post of councillor in the sovereign court of Dombes, which conferred hereditary nobility. That same year he became the legal expert on the Encyclopédie, subsequently becoming one of its most prolific contributors. Though not known for particularly reformist proclivities, he continued to write for Diderot’s work even after it was officially banned in 1758, and he participated in the case of the widow Calas after the execution of her husband in the 1760s. In 1767 he became an alderman of Paris, but afterwards, little is known about his activities, including during the early part of the French Revolution. His son was an active royalist in the Revolution and was executed in 1794.

Nicolas Antoine Boulanger, 1722–59 (5 articles). Born in Paris into a mercantile family, he was sent to the Jansenist collège (secondary school) of Beauvais for his studies, where he was more interested in mathematics and architecture than in Latin. He worked in the army as a private engineer during the War of the Austrian Succession (1743–44) and entered the ponts et chaussées (roads and bridges) corps in 1745. He began to correspond with naturalists such as Buffon and to develop non-Biblical theories of early history. Named subengineer in 1749, he was assigned to the Paris district in 1751. He stopped working due to illness in 1758, when he moved in with his friend Helvétius, whose recently published De l’Esprit had triggered controversy. The few published writings in his lifetime included much of the long Encyclopédie article Déluge (Flood) as well as the article Corvée (Forced labor), which called for reform rather than abolition of the practice, but which still displeased his superiors.

His ambitious unfinished manuscript on the early universal flood and how it shaped human religions and political systems up to modern times was published as Recherches sur l’origine du despotisme oriental [Research on the origins of Oriental despotism] (1761) and Antiquité dévoilée par ses usages [Antiquity unmasked by its customs] (1765) by d’Holbach and his friends, who were impressed with Boulanger’s thought. The latter part was translated into English by John Wilkes, a popular journalist and political figure. The philosophe André Morellet said of him, “Despite all his interest in his (often extravagant) discoveries, he was not at all put off by those who Edition: current; Page: [xxvii] did not accept them; he was the first to laugh at a risky or foolish conjecture he had made the night before, and when he communicated with me, he found it good that I laughed my head off at it.”1

Etienne Noël Damilaville, 1723–68 (3 articles). He was born, it seems, in a Norman village. His brother was a noble controller of the vingtième (5 percent) tax, but the rest of his family life is obscure. He received an uneven education before joining the army during the War of the Austrian Succession as a member of the king’s elite cavalry (the gardes du corps). Afterward followed a stint as a lawyer in Paris, leading to a position with the controller-general of finance. By 1755 he was a high official (premier commis) administering the vingtième tax himself, giving him insight into the subject of the long article that concludes our volume.

Around 1760 he came to know both Diderot and Voltaire and used his government position to advance their interests—distributing their illegal works, arranging mail service, supplying them with information. Both philosophes came to regard his talents highly. Voltaire called him a “soul of bronze—equally tender and solid for his friends,” and he became a trusted member of Diderot’s social circle. With d’Alembert gone by that time, moreover, Damilaville’s eager contributions to the Encyclopédie, both as writer and as editorial collaborator, were most welcome. On the other hand, d’Holbach, referring to some of his more speculative opinions, called him “philosophy’s flycatcher,” and Grimm saw him as dyspeptic and socially awkward. He had a reputation for religious heterodoxy, which may have affected his career advancement. For example, he was said to have attempted to convert Voltaire to atheism. Aside from his two long and important articles for the dictionary, Damilaville wrote little, though he was apparently preparing to do more writing when he retired in 1768, shortly before falling ill and dying at the age of forty-five.

Alexandre Deleyre, 1726–97 (2 articles). Born in Portets, near Bordeaux, into a longtime local family of merchants and professionals, Deleyre entered the Jesuit order at age fourteen, failed to find contentment, Edition: current; Page: [xxviii] and left both the order and his faith at age twenty-two. After legal studies, he pursued a literary career with the help of his fellow Bordelais Montesquieu, moving to Paris in 1750, where he met Rousseau and, through him, Diderot and d’Alembert. In the 1750s, he edited anthologies of the works of Francis Bacon and of Montesquieu and contributed anonymously to a running polemic against the anti-Encyclopedist journalist Elie Fréron. He then pursued work in journalism, first with the Journal étranger (as editor), after with the Journal encyclopédique and the Supplément aux journaux des savants et de Trévoux—all of them open to religious and political reform.

He left journalism in 1760 and spent eight years as a tutor to the prince of Parma, where his supervisor was Etienne de Bonnot, abbé de Condillac. The latter rejected the English history textbook that he had asked Deleyre to prepare, because of its excessively favorable treatment of Cromwell. Returning to Paris in 1768, Deleyre wrote a work on northern European geography and exploration and contributed most of volume 7, book 19, of abbé Raynal’s History of the two Indies (1774). In that work, he defended a flexible approach toward political regimes with a marked preference for English limited government. In a 1772 will, moreover, he wrote that “France . . . has fallen because of moral corruption under the yoke of despotism.”

During the Revolution, he was the mayor of Portets for a time and helped draft the cahier for the Third Estate at the electoral assembly of the Bordeaux region. He was elected to the Convention from the Gironde in 1792 and voted for the king’s execution in January 1793. Educational reform was his most frequent area of interest. When the Convention was assaulted by rioters on March 20, 1795, he reportedly said, “I am a representative of the people, I must die at my post.”

Denis Diderot, 1713–84 (5,394 articles). Born in Langres, in eastern France, into a cutler’s family, Diderot at first took his religion very seriously, attending perhaps both a Jansenist and a Jesuit secondary school in Paris. When a religious life did not work out, he drifted toward a bohemian life of letters in Paris. In the 1740s, he lived mainly by translating several works, the most important of which was the Earl of Shaftesbury’s Inquiry Concerning Virtue and Merit (1745), a seminal work of sentimentalist Edition: current; Page: [xxix] moral theory cited several times in the present collection. By this time, he had developed a heterodox philosophy that included elements of fatalism, materialism, and at least deism if not atheism. One of his works, Letter on the Blind (1749), earned him a stay in the prison at Vincennes, where he was famously visited by Rousseau.2 His selection as the editor of the Encyclopédie in 1747, which brought an end to his near-poverty, probably grew out of his previous associations with the publishers in his translation work.

Diderot quickly became the driving force behind the project as writer, editor, propagandist, and recruiter of collaborators. There formed around him a whole social network that contemporaries called the “encyclopedic party,” and that helped make the Encyclopédie unique among eighteenth-century reference works. Also unique was the extensive interest shown by Diderot and his collaborators in the world of the arts and trades, reflected in the eleven volumes of plates that appeared from 1761 to 1772, as well as in some of the articles on economic policy anthologized here.

In between his editorial duties, Diderot wrote voluminously, including plays in a new tradition of drame bourgeois or “bourgeois drama” that he promoted—Le Fils naturel [The natural son] (1757) and Le Père de famille [The father of the family] (1758); regular art criticism in Les Salons for Grimm’s journal Correspondance littéraire starting around 1760; and numerous works that he chose not to publish in his lifetime, three of which have done the most to secure his later reputation as a writer, namely, Rameau’s Nephew (begun in 1761), D’Alembert’s Dream (1769), and Supplement to the voyage of Bougainville (1772). He received a pension from the Russian Empress Catherine II the Great, who bought his library in 1765. He supported the Physiocrats for a long time but sided with Galiani in the latter’s polemic with them in 1769 and afterward.

After the last plates for the Encyclopédie were published in 1772, Diderot traveled in 1773 to Russia, where he advised Empress Catherine on her new reform program. “There is no true sovereign except the nation,” he wrote; “there can be no true legislator except the people.” Catherine Edition: current; Page: [xxx] was unhappy and may have destroyed her copy of the work.3 During the American Revolution, Diderot supported the colonists. It is as difficult to summarize Diderot’s political views as it is that of the dictionary that he edited, partly because his public statements were clearly affected by the experience of imprisonment and by his running tension with French religious and political authorities. These problems are both reflected and generated by important articles of his such as Political Authority and Natural Right in this volume.

Joachim Faiguet de Villeneuve, 1703–80? (15 articles). Not much is known about his early life except that he hailed from a Breton family of businessmen and was himself a pig merchant in Paris for a period of time. In 1748 he was director of a boarding school in Paris, and in 1756 he bought a government office as treasurer in the finance bureau in Châlons, a position that offered the prospect of nobility. It is not clear how he came to write for the Encyclopédie; he does not appear to have been a friend of either Diderot or d’Alembert. It would seem that his collaboration ended with the government’s suppression of the project in early 1759, since his last article, Usury, although appearing in 1765, was composed in 1758.

In the following decade, he took his writing interests to a different arena, writing the following five books: Discours d’un bon citoyen sur les moyens de multiplier les forces de l’Etat et d’augmenter la population [Discourse of a good citizen on the means of multiplying the strength of the State and increasing population] (1760); L’Econome politique [The political Steward] (1763); Légitimité de l’usure légale [Legitimacy of legal usury] (1770); Mémoires politiques sur la conduite des finances et sur d’autres objets intéressans [Political memoirs on the management of finances and other interesting topics] (1770); and L’Utile emploi des religieux et des communalistes, ou Mémoire politique à l’avantage des habitans de la Campagne [The Useful employment of the religious and villagers, or political Memoir for the benefit of the inhabitants of the Countryside] (1770).

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All of these works contain the forthright approach to the reform of French social, economic, and political institutions—redolent of the long reformist career of the abbé St. Pierre (1658–1743)—that are found in the two articles reproduced in this anthology, Masterships and Savings.

François Véron de Forbonnais, 1722–1800 (10 articles). From an old and distinguished cloth-making family in Le Mans, Forbonnais (or Fortbonnais) attended a Jansenist secondary school in Paris before joining the family business, traveling to Spain, Italy, and elsewhere as an agent. In his twenties he pursued a career in letters, writing poems, tragedies, and in 1750 a critical study of Montesquieu’s Spirit of the Laws. When Vincent de Gournay, another distinguished merchant, became royal intendant of commerce in 1751, Forbonnais became a member of his circle and found his niche, becoming perhaps the leading writer on economic matters in the 1750s before the Physiocrats emerged to prominence. He was the author of Considérations sur les finances d’Espagne [Considerations on Spanish finances] (1753); Recherches et considerations sur les finances de France depuis l’année 1595 jusqu’à l’année 1721 [Studies and considerations on French finances from the year 1595 to the year 1721] (1758), which was widely cited; and Elémens du commerce [Elements of commerce] (1754), partly drawn from his Encyclopédie articles, which was one of the leading statements of economic theory available at that time.4

For unknown reasons, Forbonnais stopped writing for the Encyclopédie with volume 5, in 1755, and in the late 1750s, he had a falling out with Diderot and Grimm. By then he was flirting with a career in government service, becoming an important adviser to the controller-general Silhouette in 1759 and achieving a reputation for both probity and prickliness. But in the end, he did more in the coming years as an informal adviser than as the holder of specific offices. After 1759 he mainly returned to business, investing in glass manufacture and becoming a gentleman farmer. In 1762 he established a model farm based on renunciation of his personal tax exemption and imposition of taxes on the basis of land possession rather Edition: current; Page: [xxxii] than income, thereby illustrating a reformist theme discussed in Quesnay’s article Cereals and in Damilaville’s Five Percent Tax in this volume. In 1763 he purchased a judgeship in the Parlement of Metz, which led to nobility after twenty years.

Forbonnais was active during the Revolution as a Third Estate deputy, as a supporter of reforms in government finances, and as a royalist until the summer of 1792, at which time he retreated from the scene, calling Robespierre’s republic a “sanguinary tyranny.” He died in March 1800, optimistic at the prospect of Napoleon’s rule.

Paul-Henri Thiry, Baron d’Holbach, 1723–89 (414 articles). Born Paul Heinrich Dietrich, d’Holbach moved from his native Palatinate, a region close to Lorraine and influenced by French culture, to Paris at the age of twelve. In the 1740s, he studied law in Leiden, returning to Paris to become a lawyer (avocat) and a naturalized French subject in 1749. He received family property in 1750, was conferred the title of baron of the Holy Roman Empire in 1753 upon the death of his uncle, and bought a nobility-conferring office, secrétaire du roi, in 1755; he also had real estate in France and Holland. By the end of the 1750s, he was a wealthy man.

In the middle of that decade, he began to host his salon, one of the most brilliant and sought-after in Paris, which met every Thursday and Sunday. Regulars included Diderot, Grimm, Morellet, Saint-Lambert, Chastellux, Galiani, Helvétius, and Raynal. Less-regular participants included d’Alembert, Boulanger, Damilaville, Jaucourt, Rousseau, Turgot, and many others.

His intellectual interests were complex and wide-ranging. His translations of German chemical work into French helped prepare the way for Lavoisier’s breakthroughs in the 1770s. Probably recruited by his friend Diderot into the Encyclopédie, he wrote voluminously, though often anonymously, for it, accelerating his production after the government crackdown of March 1759. At first he wrote on science and German culture, then increasingly on political and religious matters. From 1766 until 1776, he poured out a number of anonymous or pseudonymous works on these controversial topics: Le Christianisme dévoilé [Christianity unmasked] (1766); Théologie portative [Portable theology] (1767); La Contagion sacrée Edition: current; Page: [xxxiii] [The Sacred contagion] (1768); Système de la nature (1769); La Politique naturelle (1773); Système sociale (1773); Ethocratie, ou le gouvernement fondé sur la morale [Ethocracy: or Government founded on morality] (1776), and La Morale universelle [Universal morality] (1776). These works, on which he received help from Naigeon and perhaps others, marked him as a man of bold, indeed even atheistic views and wide-ranging criticism of current political regimes, leavened by a certain conservative skepticism about the alternatives. His article Representatives, included in this volume, is one of the most important sustained statements of political theory in our compendium.

His writing stopped in 1776; it is not clear what he thought of the American Revolution or the French pre-Revolution. He died just months before the French Revolution began in earnest.

Louis, Chevalier de Jaucourt, 1704–80 (17,288 articles). Author of no fewer than forty-three of the eighty-one articles translated here, Louis de Jaucourt was born in Paris on September 26, 1704, into a family of traditional sword nobility of Huguenot (Calvinist) background. Jaucourt’s father had officially reconverted to Catholicism but secretly raised his family in the old faith. Though there is some disagreement about how active the family’s Protestant professions were by the eighteenth century, there is little doubt that the Jaucourts were well connected in international Protestant circles and that Louis’s education profited from these connections. At the age of eight, he was sent to Geneva, where he stayed with an aunt and a Protestant uncle and received an education at the Academy of Geneva (1719) and at the University of Geneva. By this time, he could speak several modern European languages.

In 1727 he went to London, where his sister had married John Carmichael, a Scottish gentleman. It seems that he briefly entertained the prospect of becoming a Calvinist pastor, but his parents counseled strongly against it, and his religious fervor seems to have waned precipitously while in the eclectic and skeptical ambience of his English friends. Most of the rest of his life he appears to have spent as a kind of deist. One of his best friends from Geneva, Theodore Tronchin, joined him both in abandoning plans for a pastoral vocation and in deciding to study medicine Edition: current; Page: [xxxiv] instead, a profession almost as disappointing to the Jaucourt family as the ministry.

To pursue this education he went to Holland, studying in Leiden under the great Hermann Boerhaave, whom he praised in some of his Encyclopédie articles. While there, he also fell in with some of the remarkable community of émigré Protestant scholars of the period. When the Bibliothèque raisonnée was founded in 1728, he collaborated on it with Jean Barbeyrac, the editor and translator of the natural-law classics of Pufendorf and Grotius, and remained associated with the project until 1740. In 1734, under his assumed academic name L. de Neufville, he appended a well-regarded biography of Leibniz to his edition of Essais de Théodicée [Essays on Theodicy]. He was already on cordial terms with Voltaire in the 1730s and was elected to the Academy of Bordeaux in 1747, thanks partly to Montesquieu’s influence as well as to his own scientific experiments. By the end of his travels through Geneva, England, and Holland, he returned to France with a worldview not of a nobleman from Catholic France but of a Protestant, middle-class burgher with an indelible sympathy for the cause of civil and political liberty that each of these places had in its own way featured.

His great ambition in this pre-Encyclopedic phase was to make an international name as the leading expert on medical science in Europe. Toward this end, he worked for the better part of ten years, starting around 1740, on the compilation of a six-volume lexicon medicum universale. In June 1750 he concluded the arrangements with his Amsterdam publisher. But when he sent the only copy of the manuscript to the publisher by boat, sometime in late 1750 or early 1751, the boat capsized and the manuscript was lost forever.

Looking for alternatives after losing a decade of labor, he noticed the advertisement for contributors to the new project of Diderot and d’Alembert, sent in a few sample articles to Le Breton, the publisher, and the collaboration, announced in the third volume (1753), was begun. Although he began with topics close to his specialties in botany and natural history, he gradually expanded his range, using his Dutch gazetteer experience to turn out competent if not sparkling entries on every kind of topic.

A respected scholar with elections to the royal academies of Bordeaux, Sweden, and Berlin, and to London’s Royal Society, Jaucourt was viewed Edition: current; Page: [xxxv] by some as a mere compiler. Others, such as Voltaire, admired his work, and it is doubtful that the Encyclopédie had a more stalwart friend or defender. Jaucourt sold his house (to the publisher) to pay for his small staff of secretaries. In a letter to Sophie Volland, Diderot wrote of Jaucourt that “this man has for six or seven years been in the middle of four or five secretaries—reading, dictating, working thirteen to fourteen hours a day, and that situation has not yet bored him.”5 When Diderot announced to him the impending conclusion of the work, Jaucourt is reported to have responded with a long face of dismay. It is at least clear that he wrote nothing after the completion of the project in 1765 until his death, in 1780, after having turned out nearly a quarter of all the articles—most of them signed, and totaling nearly five million words—in Diderot’s dictionary.

Abbé Edme-François Mallet, 1713–55 (1,925 articles). Born in Melun to a family of pewterers, Mallet received early instruction from a local priest before being sent to a Barnabite secondary school in Montargis. He then pursued his studies in Paris, completing his doctorate in theology in 1742. There followed stints as a tutor (1742–44) and as a parish priest in a small church near Melun. During this period, he wrote two works, Principes pour la lecture des poëtes [Principles for reading the poets] (1745) and Essai sur l’étude des belles-lettres [Essay on the study of literature] (1747), which promote classical French aesthetic theory and express skepticism about Locke’s sensationalist philosophy of knowledge as well as about the influence of English letters more generally.

In 1751 he was appointed to a chair of theology at the University of Paris, where he wrote two works on oratory, a work on Dutch diplomacy under Louis XIV and a translation of an Italian work on the French religious wars—in which he defended the assassination of the Duke of Guise but condemned the St. Bartholomew’s Day massacre.

The nearly two thousand articles that he wrote for the Encyclopédie in the few years of collaboration allotted to him before his untimely death included large numbers on commerce (five hundred or so, mostly compilations Edition: current; Page: [xxxvi] from earlier reference works) and even more on theology and religion, where his erudition was more fruitful. His views are difficult to summarize. He affirmed the existence of Hell, sided with the Jesuits against the Jansenists over the bull Unigenitus (in an article suppressed by Malesherbes, the book trade director), and defended the Revocation of the Edict of Nantes by Louis XIV (in an unpublished draft of the article Pacification). On the other hand, he denied rational proof of eternal punishment, opposed the Sorbonne’s condemnation of the controversial thesis by abbé de Prades (which precipitated the first government censorship of the Encyclopédie), and won the trust of d’Alembert, whose eulogy in volume 6 depicts him as a fine scholar, a mild and modest man, and an “enemy of persecution.”

François Quesnay, 1694–1774 (3 articles). The founder of the Physiocratic school of economists, Quesnay was born into a farming family in Normandy. Marrying a grocer’s daughter in 1717, he practiced as a master surgeon in Mantes from 1718 to 1734, where he became a civic leader. The Duke of Villeroy and the first surgeon to the king, La Peyronie, learned about him and brought him to Paris, making him Villeroy’s personal surgeon and heaping honors and offices on him. He became an active participant in the surgeons’ continuing attempt to enhance their status relative to the physicians. One of his patients, the Countess d’Estrades, recommended him to Madame de Pompadour, who made him a resident royal physician in 1749. From there, he became a trusted confidant at court as well as a helpful agent for Diderot, Voltaire, Marmontel, and other men of letters in their dealings with the government.

His chief importance lay in his development of the school of theory that came to be known as Physiocracy. From 1758 until about 1770, he was the acknowledged master of this school, combining the most robust free-market theorizing of the period with a resolutely non-Montesquieuan political model the school called “legal despotism.” The Physiocrats were supported by the vigorous and concerted writing and journalistic efforts of such talented figures as Pierre-Samuel Du Pont de Nemours, Pierre-Paul Le Mercier de La Rivière, abbé Nicolas Baudeau, and the Marquis de Mirabeau. Diderot himself generally supported the school through the 1760s, Edition: current; Page: [xxxvii] when the leading agenda item was complete freedom for the grain trade, a proposal partially adopted by the French government in 1763 and 1764. By the time of abbé Galiani’s stinging parody of the rigid dogmatism and universalism of the school in his Dialogues on the grain trade (1770), with its appeal for a more Montesquieuan flexibility in treating the different liberty-interests of different regimes, Diderot, like many others, had had second thoughts about the Physiocrats.

For the Encyclopédie, Quesnay wrote an important anonymous article, Evidence, as well as two lengthy entries on economic topics, Cereals and Fermiers (Farmers), which were early precursors of his Physiocratic doctrine, appearing as they did a few years before the formation of the school. By the time of the government crackdown in 1759, Quesnay, who had always been cautious about his association with the Encyclopedists because of his court position, was asking d’Alembert to withdraw his manuscripts for Hommes (Men), Impôts (Taxes), and Intérét de l’Argent (Interest Rates), and his collaboration ceased. But many of the articles that appeared on economic topics in the Encyclopédie bore the imprint of his influence, including Damilaville’s Five Percent Tax.

Jean-François, Marquis de Saint-Lambert, 1716–1803 (17 articles). The future poet was born in Nancy into a poor and obscure noble family. After a Jesuit education, he served in the infantry and for the king of Poland. Stationed at Lunéville, he became acquainted with Voltaire, fell in love with the latter’s mistress Emilie du Châtelet, and fathered a child with her. When she died in childbirth (1749), he gained notoriety and moved to Paris, where his poetry began to attract attention. Voltaire described his now-obscure Les Saisons, an idyll to rural life that urged noblemen to return to their country estates and revitalize the countryside, as “the only work in our age that will make it into posterity.” In the Seven Years’ War, he became a colonel in the French army, though an attack of paralysis led him to leave the military for good in 1758 and instead pursue a life of letters.

He was friendly with the Encyclopédie circle, including Diderot, Mme. Geoffrin, d’Holbach, Grimm, Mme. d’Epinay, and, especially, Mme. d’Houdetot, with whom he had an affair celebrated for its dignity and fidelity until his death nearly half a century later. His association with the Edition: current; Page: [xxxviii] Encyclopédie project began in 1756 with volume 6, and he wrote at least sixteen articles, all anonymous, most on political and philosophical subjects. His essay Luxury, which was published as a separate tract immediately after its appearance in Diderot’s dictionary (1765), became one of the most influential statements on that popular theme before the Revolution.6

His plays and especially his highly scientific and philosophic poetry led to his selection by the Académie Française in 1770, where he became a force. His Catéchisme universel, a lengthy work on the origins and nature of human morality, won the grand prize for morale at the Institut de France in 1810. Saint-Lambert died in 1803.

Anne-Robert-Jacques Turgot, Baron of Aulne, 1727–81 (5 articles). Turgot hailed from one of France’s oldest and most prestigious families. Born in Paris, he distinguished himself at the Sorbonne and became one of the leading protegés of the liberal controller-general Vincent de Gournay. His first publication, a translation of part of the Englishman Josiah Tucker’s Reflections on the expediency of a law for the naturalization of foreign Protestants (1755), grew out of that association. In the early 1750s he drafted a number of highly original works on the historical evolution of the human mind and on economic development among other topics, and soon acquired the reputation as a polymath genius. By 1755 he was collaborating with the Encyclopédie.

His articles, all anonymous, were few but important. His essay Etymology is a sophisticated application of recent epistemology to the question of the origins and history of language. Existence is a searching critique of Cartesian metaphysics, and Expansibility is a precursor of Lavoisier’s work on the chemical properties of air. He also wrote Foire (Fairs), on the marketplaces of old Europe. He dissociated himself from Diderot’s project in the aftermath of the controversy of 1758 that led to its temporary suppression, perhaps for a variety of reasons: a prudent regard for his government position, a concern that the enterprise was becoming dogmatic, Edition: current; Page: [xxxix] and the defection of d’Alembert, who had been his main friend and contact there.

In 1761, he became provincial intendant for Limousin, where he remained for thirteen years, developing a reputation for reformist vigor and effectiveness in an undynamic province. During that period, he became the leading exponent of free trade in grain, though his relations with the Physiocratic school usually associated with that policy were cool. He also found time for some writing, including his Reflections on the formation and distribution of wealth (1766), a short tract that was one of the most far-reaching works in economic theory before Adam Smith.7 Smith himself knew and greatly respected Turgot’s work.

In 1774 he was elevated to controller-general of France, where he attempted to implement on a national scale the reforms he had reflected on, described, and attempted locally for many years. His far-reaching changes such as the abolition of the guilds and of corvée (compulsory labor) on public roads met with a backlash, and he was disgraced and forced from office nineteen months later in early 1776, after which he mainly ceased both his writing and his government service. One exception is a long 1778 letter he wrote to the English philosopher Richard Price in which he praised the new American republic as “the hope of the human race.” “It should give the example,” he continued, “of political freedom, religious freedom, and freedom of commerce and industry. The asylum that it offers to the oppressed of all nations should console the earth.”8 But he also warned against the lack of centralization in the Articles of Confederation and against the comfort given to vested interests in the system of checks and balances built into each of the states, prompting John Adams to write three volumes in refutation a few years later (A Defence of the Constitutions of Government, 1787–88). He died in 1781.

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A Note on the Text

The articles in this volume are drawn from the original twenty-eight-volume edition, the so-called first Paris folio, whose full title was Encyclopédie, ou Dictionnaire raisonné des sciences, des arts et des métiers, par une Société de gens de lettres. It was edited by Denis Diderot and Jean Le Rond d’Alembert and published in Paris, in 1751–72, by Briasson, David, Le Breton, Durand. The eleven volumes of plates were produced from 1762 to 1772, while the seventeen volumes of text appeared from 1751 to 1765. All citations are from this edition, which is accessible online from the ARTFL database (Project for American and French Research on the Treasury of the French Language), a collaborative effort of the University of Chicago and the Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique (CNRS), at That website contains both a scanned electronic version of each entry and image links to a photographic reproduction of every page in the work.

The entries in this collection are arranged in alphabetical order by their original French titles. This has the advantage of presenting them in the chronological order in which they appeared off the press in the first edition.

Where it seemed necessary or appropriate, an entry that we have translated is introduced by a brief editorial note in italics. Within the text of an item that we have translated, we have used brackets for clarification, though sparingly. For the fifteen entries translated in whole or in part by others, we use brackets to indicate where we have completed the translation (if applicable). Any note that has been added to those offered by the original editor is followed by the initials hc. The 1751 Encyclopédie did not contain a great many footnotes; virtually all notes in the present volume are either by the present editor or by the translator of the article, and the few exceptions are clearly marked.

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In using the 1751–65 edition, the aim has been to provide modern readers with as much of the experience of their eighteenth-century counterparts as possible. Toward that end, many of the features of the original publication have been duplicated. Perhaps the most important of these concerns the identification of contributors. Those authors who agreed to have identifying markers alongside their entries did so in various ways. In the early volumes, for example, there was a systematic effort to place an asterisk before the title of any article by Diderot, a practice adopted in this edition. There are other articles missing the asterisk but known to be by Diderot. For his part, Jaucourt’s articles are almost always signed, though in inconsistent ways: sometimes his name appears in full, other times only his initials in parentheses appear (D. J.), the latter being a method also deployed by Véron de Forbonnais (M. V.D.F.). For other authors, a one-letter code was developed; among those included in Encyclopedic Liberty are Boucher d’Argis (A), Mallet (G), and d’Alembert himself (O). Italics and capital letters are often used to set off the author identifications at the end of articles, and we follow that practice as well as the practice of citing article titles themselves in capital letters.

Because one of the pleasures of reading the Encyclopédie is to observe the subtle ways in which the editors and their collaborators were continually trying to outwit the censors, and because some authors were more willing to identify themselves to the public than others, we have chosen to preserve as much of this original apparatus as possible.

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Translators’ Note

Schleiermacher once wrote, “Either the translator leaves the author in peace, as much as possible, and moves the reader towards him; or he leaves the reader in peace, as much as possible, and moves the author towards him.”1 Since the intended audience for the Encyclopédie was, in eighteenth-century parlance, mainly mondain (worldly) rather than narrowly érudit (learned), and since the intended readership for Liberty Fund editions is similar, we have generally made the authors do the moving in our translation.

Thus, we have often simplified syntax and broken up long sentences rather than try to duplicate the authorial eccentricities of the contributors. Within these constraints, we attempt to be as editorially unobtrusive and unambiguous as possible. On those occasions where alternative interpretations have been inescapable, we have indicated this in the footnotes. Because a significant share of the content of the entries was derived more or less directly from such earlier authors as Locke and Montesquieu, and because the original project was conceived as a reference work, the number of such ambiguous passages is relatively small.

On the other hand, our volume represents the original contributions of at least thirteen French authors (one entry remaining anonymous), and these authors do present differences in style along with corresponding translation problems. The Chevalier de Jaucourt, author of by far the largest number of our selections, writes in a fairly plain and direct style that poses relatively few problems. That is more or less true of other authors too, such as Boucher d’Argis and Forbonnais. Faiguet de Villeneuve writes in a pugnaciously chatty prose that is also mostly free of mystery. But other Edition: current; Page: [xliv] writers are not so straightforward. Diderot himself was an inveterate ironist whose multiple tonalities are often elusive for the unwary translator. Saint-Lambert, a celebrated poet in his own time, has a sometimes mannered style calling for special adjustments. Boulanger, author of one of our longer titles (Political Economy), writes in a ponderous French full of portentous abstractions and labored transitions. Damilaville, who penned the two lengthiest articles in our collection (Population and Five Percent Tax), was an ungainly stylist whose many pronouns and awkwardly structured sentences create a number of ambiguities. All told, however, the differences among these styles are somewhat greater in the original French than in our translations.

Foreign-language titles of works referred to by the contributors in text or notes have been translated into English where cognates did not make the translation obvious.

The French texts that we used contain a number of terms and concepts that pose special translation problems. Some of the more problematic and recurring cases are as follows:

commerce. If the context is economic, “trade” or “commerce,” although sometimes the term seems to include all productive nonagricultural activity; see Intendants for this meaning. In French, there is frequently a social meaning as well, as in “the commerce between the sexes” or “the commerce among men”; see Manners for this latter connotation.

droit. Usually translated as “law.” Depending on the context, it can also mean “a right” (as in Natural Right), “a tax,” “a tariff,” “a duty,” “a fee.” As a moral or political adjective, the word can mean “what is right or just.” We often translate it as “law,” as in “divine law,” “civil law,” “natural law,” “canon law,” or “the law of nations.” See loi, below, for a different set of connotations.

économie. Meaning “frugality,” “household economy,” “management of resources,” the term was not used in our modern sense as a description of a distinct field of study (economics), or of the sum total of productive activity in a given society.

état. The “regime” or “government” when used politically, and is usually capitalized in our volume. Sometimes, and notably in Damilaville’s Five Edition: current; Page: [xlv] Percent Tax, the word is deliberately used to encompass the whole collectivity of the society, so it does not mark as clear a distinction between government and governed as later generations would do. Juridically, the term means “estate” as in the phrase états généraux (Estates General), which designates the official hierarchy of French society at the time of writing; see d’Holbach’s Representatives for this usage. Socially, the term tends to mean “status” or “condition.”

franchise. Generally “exemption,” “privilege,” or “immunity,” it can also mean “freedom.” When referring to personal qualities, it can mean “openness,” “candor,” or “sincerity.” The term is used in Savings, Slavery, Honor, Masterpieces, and Five Percent Tax.

génie. Translated as “talent” in most cases. Its English cognate “genius” generally connotes a more extraordinary ability than its eighteenth-century equivalent tended to convey.2

les grands. Literally “the great.” The word was usually applied to the nobility during this period. To avoid ambiguity, we have generally adopted “grandees” in spite of its somewhat archaic flavor.

industrie. Generally a moral rather than economic category in this period, meaning a quality such as “resourcefulness,” “ingenuity,” or “industriousness.” Rarely does the term apply to manufacturing as a sector in our modern sense, and still less to factory industry, despite the fascination felt by Diderot and others for modern technology. We sometimes use the term “human industry” to avoid anachronism.

liberté. Normally “liberty,” although the specific context sometimes seemed to make “freedom” more advisable. There is no real French equivalent to “freedom,” although see franchise, above.

loi. Unlike droit, loi, translated as “law,” has more consistently the connotation of a command or prohibition, either divine or human, as in our phrase “laying down the law,” although it too broadened out metaphorically to include scientific regularities such as the “laws of motion.”

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mœurs. “Manners,” “morals” or “customs,” depending on the context. Sometimes we use “mores” when all of these meanings seem to be included.

morale. Sometimes “morality” as a practical code, sometimes “morals” as a subject of study.

pays and patrie. Pays is a general term for any distinct territory, whether city or region or province or nation. Patrie can also refer to these geographically diverse entities, but since it always means “natal land,” it emphasizes their human rather than their merely physical dimension and often carries a more emotional resonance. “Homeland” or “fatherland,” which are often used to translate patrie, strike us as strained and awkward options for a mainly American readership. Accordingly, in this anthology “country” will usually be used for either pays or patrie, but to preserve the distinction between them, we capitalize “Country” to indicate patrie and leave it uncapitalized for pays.

police. If it refers to an entire state, “administration” or even “government”; “regulations” if it refers to a specific institution within a state. Culturally, it can mark off the broader difference between civilized and precivilized societies, so a general term such as “civilization” or “law and order” sometimes seems best. “Police” occurs frequently in our selections, appearing in no fewer than nineteen of our entries.

pouvoir; puissance. In Synonymes françois [French synonyms] (Paris: Houry, 1736), 449–55, cited by Diderot in his grammar article Autorité [Authority], abbé Gabriel Girard distinguished between the French words pouvoir and puissance, both of which would generally be translated as “power.” Puissance, he suggested, refers to the combination of moral legitimacy (autorité) and force. It tends to be more abstract, impersonal, and inclusive than pouvoir; it is the word used to denote the branches of government—the executive, legislative, and judicial powers. Pouvoir on the other hand is exercised by subordinates; Diderot says it evokes fear rather than the grandeur evoked by puissance and that it arises from the personal attachment and connections between the subject and the holder of power.

It is not always clear how conscious the authors represented in this volume are of such niceties. In any case, the context is usually adequate to Edition: current; Page: [xlvii] illuminate the intended inflection of meaning. For this reason, we have generally stuck with the English word “power” without further comment. There are occasions, however, such as in Boucher d’Argis’s Public Law and in Damilaville’s Five Percent Tax, when the author’s usage has been distinctive enough to merit our highlighting it.

qualité. Meaning “status,” “title,” “nobility,” or “quality,” depending on context.

république. Sometimes “government by the people” as with the cognate term “republic,” but other times it is a generic category term, best conveyed by words like “polity” or “commonwealth.” We have attempted to avoid confusion by not overusing the former option. As might be imagined, it appears frequently in our collection, in no fewer than thirty-one entries.

revenu. Either “private income” or “public revenue,” depending on the context; the word appears in Political Arithmetic, Foundation, Geneva, Cereals, English Parliament, and Rutland.

revolution. Most often “revolution,” although with different and more diffuse connotations before 1789, meaning more like “vicissitudes” or “transformations” than the willful upheaval of an entire social and political system. The word appears in Despotism, Eulogy for President Montesquieu, and Political Economy.

sauvage. “Savage,” which some authors distinguished carefully from “barbaric.” See Jaucourt’s entry Savages.

société. Most often “society.” In some contexts, “company”; in others, “association,” where it has a more active connotation (see Citizen); and “firm” in a commercial context (see Trading Company for an example).

taille. Tax on persons or on property, depending upon the part of the country that is being referred to, but always a tax on the individual; translated in this edition with the cognate “taille.” See Cereals, Tax, and Intendants for this term.

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A Note on Currency

In the eighteenth century, the French pound (or franc, an older term still used for accounting purposes in the eighteenth century) was equal to twenty sols or sous, and a sol or sou was equal to twelve deniers (from L., denarius). On the high end, an écu, translated either as “silver crown” (for the recent period) or as “gold crown,” was the equivalent of three French pounds and a gold louis was worth twenty-four pounds. In England, one pound sterling was twenty shillings and one shilling equaled twelve pence. As a rough measure of cost of living, a Parisian construction worker in the middle of the eighteenth century would typically make about fifteen to twenty sous per day, or a very few hundred French pounds per year.1

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This project was initiated during the academic year 2005–6 while I was a visiting scholar at Liberty Fund in Indianapolis. Without the encouragement of that splendid organization, and the thoroughly agreeable surroundings they offered, the present volume would not have been possible.

My co-translator, Christine D. Henderson, and I have worked with the version of the Encyclopédie made available to the public by ARTFL (the Project for American and French Research on the Treasury of the French Language) on its website at the University of Chicago. I am especially grateful to Glenn Roe and Mark Olsen for their helpful and timely responses to my various inquiries over the years.

For a few of the entries, as noted on the copyright page, we have elected to profit from translations already posted to the University of Michigan’s website The Encyclopedia of Diderot and d’Alembert: Collaborative Translation Project ( At the Michigan site itself, I owe thanks to Kevin Hawkins and Jennifer Popiel for answering many questions over the long development of this project.

Unless otherwise indicated, all translations of classical Greek and Latin texts are drawn with permission from the Loeb Classical Library, a registered trademark of the President and Fellows of Harvard College. For the other Latin passages, Kathy Alvis has kindly reviewed each text and offered her recommendations. I alone am responsible for all those translations. On those occasions where an author reproduces an approximation of the original Latin text, the translation is presented from the correct text unless otherwise indicated.

A number of individuals have encouraged this project over the years by making suggestions, answering inquiries, or reviewing some of our translations. It is a pleasure to acknowledge Keith M. Baker, David W. Carrithers, Edition: current; Page: [lii] Sterling Joseph Coleman, Aurelian Craiutu, Dan Edelstein, Andrew Jainchill, Erin Kidwell, Robert Kreiser, Thomas Martin, Noah McCormack, Sue Peabody, John Scott, and no doubt others whose names we omit out of negligence rather than malice. As usual, my wife, Kathleen Wine, has been a steady inspiration throughout the whole enterprise, sharing her expertise on the art of translation in innumerable ways.

My former employer, Canisius College, kindly granted me a sabbatical and generous release time during the long gestation of this volume. A visiting appointment at Clemson University, made possible by C. Bradley Thompson, was also helpful in the progress of this work. Since the summer of 2014, I have been able to finalize the editing in the friendly confines of the Political Economy Project at Dartmouth College, whose director Doug Irwin has been a welcome source of support.

The interlibrary loan services and technical support staffs of Canisius College, Dartmouth College, Liberty Fund, and Clemson University, as well as the rare-book librarians at the Rauner Library of Dartmouth College, have been unfailingly helpful from start to finish. At Dartmouth, I particularly single out for thanks Rebecca M. Torrey and Laura K. Graveline.

Finally, let me state what a pleasure it has been, as usual, to work with the expert and friendly staff of the Liberty Fund publication department. Colleen Watson, Patti Ordower, Madelaine Cooke, and Kate Mertes have shown patience beyond the call of duty in preparing the text and index. And my special thanks go to my co-translator Christine D. Henderson, whose professionalism and friendship have made this collaboration both instructive and altogether agreeable.

Henry C. Clark
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Encyclopedic Liberty

Volume 1 (1751)

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The Divine Voice (Aius-Locutius)**

*Aius-Locutius, God of speech, whom the Romans honored by this extraordinary name. As it is also necessary to hold one’s tongue, they also had the god of silence. When the Gauls were about to invade Italy, a voice coming from the wood of Vesta was heard to cry out: “If you do not raise the walls of the city, it will be taken.” This advice was disregarded. The Gauls arrived and Rome was taken. After their retreat, the oracle was recalled and an altar was raised for him under the name that we are discussing. A temple was then constructed in Rome at the very place where he had made himself heard for the first time. Cicero says in the second volume of his study On Divination that this god spoke when he was not known by anyone but kept quiet the moment he had a temple and altars. The god of speech became mute as soon as he was worshiped.1 It is difficult to reconcile the singular veneration that the pagans had for their gods with the patience that they also had for the discourses of certain philosophers. Did the Christians whom they persecuted so much say anything stronger than we can read in Cicero? The books On Divination are merely irreligious treatises. But what an impression must have been made on the people by certain pieces of oratory in which the gods were constantly invoked and called forth to witness events, in which Olympian threats were recalled to mind—in short, where the very existence of the pagan deities was presupposed by orators who Edition: current; Page: [4] had written a host of philosophical essays treating the gods and religion as mere fables! Can we not find the solution to all these difficulties in the scarcity of manuscripts in ancient times? In those days the people hardly read: they heard the discourses of their orators and these discourses were always filled with piety toward the gods, but they were ignorant of what the orator thought and wrote about them in the privacy of his own house. These works were available only to his friends. Since it will always be impossible to prevent men from thinking and writing, would it not be desirable to allow them to live among us as they did among the ancients? The works of incredulity are not to be feared, for they only affect the masses and the faith of simple people. Those who really think know what to believe; and a pamphlet will certainly not lead them off a path which they have carefully chosen and follow by preference. It is not by trivial and absurd reasoning that a philosopher can be persuaded to abandon his God. Impiety is therefore not to be feared except for those who let themselves be guided. But a way to reconcile the respect we owe to the faith of the masses and to public worship with freedom of thought, which is extremely desirable for the discovery of truth, and with public harmony and peace without which there cannot exist any happiness for either the philosopher or the people, would be to forbid all the works against the government and religion that are in the vernacular, to allow those people to publish who write in a scholarly language, and to prosecute only the translators thereof. It seems to me that if we deal with the situation in this way, the nonsense that is written by certain authors will not harm anyone. Moreover, this arrangement will permit the greatest amount of freedom that can be granted in an orderly society. Wherever this privilege is not enjoyed in a similar manner, the country will still be properly governed. But corruption will certainly exist in a society where this freedom becomes more extensive. This is the case, I believe, of the English and the Dutch: it seems that the people in these countries think that they are not free unless they can be unrestrained and write with impunity. [The following sentence is an erratum that Diderot placed in volume 3 of the Encyclopedia.] If what we say in this article does not appear to be true and offends people, although this was not our intention, then we refer them to the article Casuist where our thoughts are explained in a manner that should satisfy everyone.

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Political Arithmetic (Arithmétique Politique)*

William Petty, the late seventeenth-century Englishman on whom Diderot draws in this article, was himself working expressly within the empirical and inductive tradition of Francis Bacon, one of the patron saints of the Encyclopédie as a whole.1 For other quantitative political analysis in this volume, see Cereals, Population, and Five Percent Tax. A later article very similar to this and more directly derivative of Chambers’s Cyclopedia appeared unsigned under the title Politique Arithmetique [Arithmetical Politics], 12:919–20.

*Political Arithmetic is the kind whose purpose is research that would be useful for the art of governing peoples, such as research on the number of men who inhabit a country, the quantity of food they must consume, the work they may have, their life-expectancy, the fertility of the land, the incidence of shipwreck, etc. It is easy to imagine that from these discoveries and many others of the same nature, acquired by calculations based on well-confirmed tests, a skillful minister would derive countless results useful in the perfection of agriculture, commerce (internal as well as external), colonies, the circulation and employment of money, etc. But often ministers (I don’t mean to speak without exception) think they do not need to go through arithmetical combinations and sequences. Many imagine themselves to be endowed with great natural genius, which exempts them Edition: current; Page: [6] from such a slow and laborious process—besides which, the nature of affairs hardly ever permits or demands geometric precision. Nonetheless, if the nature of affairs demanded and allowed it, I have no doubt we would manage to convince ourselves that the political world, as well as the natural world, can in many ways be ordered by weight, number, and measure.

Lord Petty, an Englishman, is the first who published essays under this title. The first is on the multiplication of the human race and on the growth of the city of London—its extent, its phases, its causes and consequences. The second is on the houses, the inhabitants, deaths, and births in the city of Dublin. The third is a comparison of the city of London and the city of Paris. Lord Petty tries to prove that England’s capital is overtaking that of France in all these ways. M. Auzout has attacked this essay with many objections, to which Lord Petty has offered responses.2 The fourth aims to show that about three thousand sick people per year die in the Hotel-Dieu in Paris because of mismanagement. The fifth is divided into five parts: the first is in response to M. Auzout; the second contains the comparison of London and Paris on many points; the third estimates the number of parishioners in London’s 134 parishes at 696,000. The fourth is an inquiry into the inhabitants of London, Paris, Amsterdam, Venice, Rome, Dublin, Bristol, and Rouen. The fifth has the same purpose, but with regard to Holland and the rest of the United Provinces. The sixth covers the extent and value of land, the people, houses, industry, economy, manufactures, commerce, fishing, artisans, sailors or seamen, land troops, public revenue, interest rates, taxes, profits, banks, companies, the value of men, the growth in the navy and in the armed forces; residences, locales, the construction of vessels, naval forces, etc., relative to all countries in general, but especially to England, Holland, Zeeland, and France.

This latter essay is addressed to the king, which is as much as to say that its conclusions are favorable to the English nation. It is the most important of all Lord Petty’s essays. Nonetheless, it is very short if compared with the multitude and complexity of the topics. Lord Petty claims to have demonstrated, Edition: current; Page: [7] in about a hundred small pages in duodecimo, big letters: (1) that by its situation, its commerce, and its administration, a small country with a small number of inhabitants can equal a large and populous country—whether compared by strength or by wealth—and that there is nothing that tends more effectively to establish this equality than the navy and maritime commerce; (2) that all kinds of taxes and public charges tend to enhance rather than to weaken society and the public good; (3) that there are some natural and permanent obstacles to France becoming more powerful at sea than England or Holland (our Frenchmen will not bring favorable judgment upon Lord Petty’s calculations on this proposition, and I believe they will be right); (4) that by its soil and its natural produce, the people and territory of England are virtually equal in wealth and capacity to the people and territory of France; (5) that the obstacles to the greatness of England are only contingent and removable; (6) that for forty years, the power and wealth of England have greatly increased; (7) that a tenth of all the expenditures of the king’s subjects would suffice to maintain a hundred thousand infantrymen, thirty thousand cavalrymen, forty thousand seamen, and to pay for all the other state expenses, both ordinary and extraordinary—on the sole supposition that this tenth be well-taxed, well-collected, and well-employed; (8) that the number of unemployed subjects is greater than the number needed to procure two million per year for the nation, were they appropriately employed; and these employments are all ready, awaiting only the workers to fill them; (9) that the nation has enough currency to sustain its commerce; (10) finally, that the nation has all the means at its disposal to embark upon the whole world’s commerce, of whatever sort.

There you have some rather excessive claims; be that as it may, the reader will do well to examine the experience and reasoning on which Lord Petty bases his work. In making this examination, one must not forget that revolutions occur—whether for good or ill—that change the face of states in an instant, and that modify and even destroy presuppositions; and that calculations and their results are not less variable than events. Lord Petty’s work was composed before 1699. According to that author, although Holland and Zeeland contain no more than a million acres of land and France contains at least 8 million, nonetheless the former country has almost a third of the wealth and power of the latter. Landed income in Holland is about Edition: current; Page: [8] seven or eight times what it is in France. (Observe that it is here a question of the state of Europe in 1699, and that all of Lord Petty’s calculations, good or bad, refer to that year.) The inhabitants of Amsterdam number two-thirds those of Paris or London, and according to the same author, the difference between these two latter cities is only about one-twentieth. The carrying capacity of all the vessels belonging to Europe amounts to about 2 million tons, of which the English have 500,000, the Dutch 900,000, the French 100,000, the Hamburgers, Danes, Swedes, and inhabitants of Danzig 250,000; Spain, Portugal, Italy, etc. about the same. The value of the merchandise that leaves France annually for the use of other countries amounts in all to about 5 million pounds sterling; that is, four times as much as enters England alone. The merchandise exported from Holland to England is worth 300,000 pounds sterling, and what leaves there to be spread throughout the rest of the world is worth 18 million pounds sterling. The money that the king of France levies annually in time of peace is about 6.5 million sterling. The sums levied in Holland and Zeeland are about 2.1 million pounds sterling, and those coming from throughout the United Provinces make altogether about 3 million pounds sterling.

England’s inhabitants number about 6 million, and their outlays, at 7 pounds sterling per person per year, make 42 million pounds sterling, or 80,000 pounds sterling per week.3 Landed income in England is about 8 million sterling, and the interest and profits on personal property about the same. Housing income in England: 4 million pounds sterling. The profit from the labor of all the inhabitants amounts to 26 million pounds sterling per year. Ireland’s inhabitants number 1.2 million. The wheat consumed annually in England, including the premium wheat at 5 shillings a bushel and the barley at 2.5 shillings, amounts to 10 million sterling. In 1699—that is, in Lord Petty’s time, or at the end of the last century—England’s navy needed 36,000 men for vessels of war and 48,000 for merchant vessels and others; France’s entire navy needed only 15,000 men. In France, there are about 13.5 million souls, and in England, Scotland, and Ireland, about 9.5 million. In the three realms of England, Scotland, and Ireland, there are around 20,000 ecclesiastics; in France, there are more than 270,000. Edition: current; Page: [9] England’s realm has more than 40,000 sailors, but France has no more than 10,000. In England, Scotland, Ireland, and their dependencies, there were at that time vessels whose capacity amounted to around 60,000 tons, which is worth about 4.5 million pounds sterling. The coastline around England, Scotland, Ireland, and the adjacent islands is about 3,800 miles. In the whole world, there are about 300 million souls, of whom there are only about 80 million with whom the English and Dutch trade. The value of all commercial assets does not exceed 45 million sterling. English manufactures exported from the realm amount to about 5 million sterling annually. Lead, tin, and coal amount to 500,000 pounds sterling per year. The value of French merchandise that enters England does not exceed 1.2 million pounds sterling per year. Finally, there are about 6 million sterling in hard currency in England. All these calculations, as we have said, are relative to the year 1699, and must surely have changed quite a bit since then.

M. Davenant, another originator of political arithmetic, proves that one must not rely absolutely on many of dear Petty’s calculations; he offers others that he has made himself, and that are found to be based upon the observations of Mr. King.4 Here are a few of them.

England, he says, contains 39 million acres of land. According to his calculations, the inhabitants number about 5.545 million souls, and that number increases every year by about 9,000—after deducting those who may die of the plague, diseases, war, the navy, etc., and those who go to the colonies. He counts 530,000 inhabitants in the city of London, 870,000 in the other cities and towns, and 4.1 million in the villages and hamlets. He estimates annual landed income at 10 million sterling; that of houses and buildings at 2 million per year; the produce of all types of grain, in a passably abundant year, at 9.075 million pounds sterling; the income from land on which wheat is cultivated, at 2 million, and its net product above 9 million sterling; the income from pasture, meadow, woods, forests, dunes, Edition: current; Page: [10] etc., at 7 million sterling; the annual produce of livestock in butter, cheese, and milk can amount, according to him, to about 2.5 million sterling. He estimates the annual value of shorn wool at about 2 million sterling; that of horses bred every year at around 250,000 pounds sterling; the annual consumption of meat for food at about 3.35 million pounds sterling; that of suet and hides around 600,000 pounds sterling; that of hay for the annual feeding of horses, around 1.3 million pounds sterling, and for that of other livestock, a million sterling; the wood cut annually for building, 500,000 pounds sterling; the wood for burning, etc., about 500,000 pounds sterling. If all of England’s land were equally distributed among all the inhabitants, everyone would have about 7.25 acres as his share. The value of the premium wheat, the rye, and the barley necessary for England’s subsistence amounts to at least 6 million sterling per year. The value of the manufacture of finished wool in England is about 8 million per year, and all the wool merchandise exported annually from England exceeds the value of 2 million sterling. England’s annual income, from which all the inhabitants feed and maintain themselves, and pay all taxes and charges, amounts (according to him) to about 43 million; that of France, to 81 million, and that of Holland to 18.25 million pounds sterling.

In his observations on the mortuary lists, Major Grant reckons that England has 39,000 square miles of land; that there are 4.6 million souls in England and the principality of Wales; that the inhabitants of the city of London number about 640,000—that is, a fourteenth of all the inhabitants of England; that there are about 10,000 parishes in England and Wales; that there are 25 million acres of land in England and Wales—that is, about 4 acres for each inhabitant; that of 100 children born, only 64 reach the age of six; that out of 100, only 40 remain alive at the end of sixteen years; that out of 100, only 25 who live past the age of twenty-six; 16 who live to be thirty-six, and only 10 out of 100 live to the end of their forty-sixth year; that of that same number, there are only 6 who reach the age of fifty-six, 3 of 100 who reach the age of sixty-six, and only one out of 100 who is still alive at the end of seventy-six years. The inhabitants of the city of London have turned over twice in the course of about sixty-four years. See Life [Vie], etc. Messrs. de Moivre, Bernoulli, de Montmort, and de Parcieux have exerted themselves on subjects relative to Political arithmetic; one may Edition: current; Page: [11] consult The doctrine of chance, by M. Moivre; The art of conjecture by M. Bernoulli; The analysis of games of chance by M. de Montmort; the work On lifetime annuities and tontines, etc. by M. de Parcieux; and several reports by M. Halley, scattered in the Philosophical transactions, along with the articles in our Dictionary, Hasard [Chance], Jeu [Game], Probabilité, Combinaison [Combination], Absent [Missing], Vie [Life], Mort [Death], Naissance [Birth], Annuité, Rente [Income], Tontine, etc.

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Political Authority (Autorité Politique)**

This important article by Diderot, which was at first attributed to Toussaint, stirred up perhaps as much controversy as any single political article throughout the entire publishing history of the Encyclopédie. Attacks on it continued for more than a decade. In 1752, publication of the dictionary was suspended temporarily, partly because of the storm surrounding this particular essay. Singled out for criticism in the article was the author’s general argument for popular sovereignty, and the specific ideas that liberty is a gift from heaven, and that Paul’s letter to the Romans should be viewed as legitimating limited government. With the resumption of publication (volume 3, in 1753), the editors defended and explained this article by echoing arguments for limited government that the Parlement of Paris had recently made in its controversy with the Crown concerning the church’s withholding of sacraments from the Jansenists.1

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Political Authority. No man has received from nature the right to command others. Liberty is a gift from heaven, and each individual of the same species has the right to enjoy it as soon as he enjoys the use of reason. If nature has established any authority, it is paternal control; but paternal control has its limits, and in the state of nature, it would terminate when the children could take care of themselves. Any other authority comes from another origin than nature. If one seriously considers this matter, one will always go back to one of these two sources: either the force and violence of an individual who has seized it, or the consent of those who have submitted to it by a contract made or assumed between them and the individual on whom they have bestowed authority.

Power that is acquired by violence is only usurpation and only lasts as long as the force of the individual who commands can prevail over the force of those who obey; in such a way that if the latter become in their turn the strongest party and then shake off the yoke, they do it with as much right and justice as the other who had imposed it upon them. The same law that made authority can then destroy it; for this is the law of might. Sometimes authority that is established by violence changes its nature; this occurs when it continues and is maintained with the express consent of those who have been brought into subjection, but in this case it reverts to the second case about which I am going to speak; and the individual who had arrogated it then becomes a prince, ceasing to be a tyrant.

Power that comes from the consent of the people2 necessarily presupposes certain conditions that make its use legitimate, useful to society, advantageous to the republic, and that set and restrict it between limits: for man must not and cannot give himself entirely and without reserve to another man, because he has a master superior to everything, to whom he alone belongs in his entire being. It is God, whose power always has a direct bearing on each creature, a master as jealous as absolute, who never loses Edition: current; Page: [14] his rights and does not transfer them.3 He permits for the common good and for the maintenance of society that men establish among themselves an order of subordination, that they obey one of them, but he wishes that it be done with reason and proportion and not by blindness and without reservation, so that the creature does not arrogate the rights of the creator. Any other submission is the veritable crime of idolatry. To bend one’s knee before a man or an image is merely an external ceremony about which the true God, who demands the heart and the mind, hardly cares and which he leaves to the institution of men to do with as they please the tokens of civil and political devotion or of religious worship. Thus it is not these ceremonies in themselves, but the spirit of their establishment that makes their observance innocent or criminal. An Englishman has no scruples about serving the king on one knee; the ceremonial only signifies what people wanted it to signify. But to deliver one’s heart, spirit, and conduct without any reservation to the will and caprice of a mere creature, making him the unique and final reason for one’s actions, is assuredly a crime of divine lèse-majesté of the highest degree. Otherwise this power of God about which one speaks so much would only be empty noise that human politics would use out of pure fantasy and which the spirit of irreligion could play with in its turn; so that all ideas concerning power and subordination coming to the point of merging, the prince would trifle with God, and the subject with the prince.

[True and legitimate power, then, necessarily has limits. Thus, Scripture tells us: “let your submission be reasonable (sit rationabile obsequium vestrum).” “All power that comes from God is an orderly power (omnis potestas à Deo ordinata est).”4 For this is how these words must be understood, consistent with right reason and with the literal sense, not with the sort of interpretation prompted by servility and flattery that claims that any power of whatever kind comes from God. After all, aren’t there unjust powers? Aren’t there authorities which, far from coming from God, establish themselves Edition: current; Page: [15] against his orders and against his will? Do usurpers have God for themselves? Do we have to obey the persecutors of the true religion in everything? Will silencing idiocy legitimize the power of the Antichrist? It will still be great power. In resisting this power, are Enoch and Elie seditious rebels who have forgotten that all power comes from God? Or are they reasonable men, firm and pious, who know that all power ceases to exist as soon as it goes beyond the boundaries that reason has prescribed for it and strays from the rules that the sovereign of princes and subjects has established—men, in short, who think as St. Paul does that all power is from God only insofar as it is just and orderly?]

The prince owes to his very subjects the authority that he has over them; and this authority is limited by the laws of nature and the state. The laws of nature and the state are the conditions under which they have submitted or are supposed to have submitted to its government. One of these conditions is that, not having any power or authority over them but by their choice and consent, he can never employ this authority to break the act or the contract by which it was transferred to him. From that time on he would work against himself, since his authority could only subsist by virtue of the right that established it. Whoever annuls one, destroys the other. The prince cannot therefore dispose of his power and his subjects without the consent of the nation and independent of the option indicated in the contract of allegiance. If he proceeded otherwise, everything would be nullified, and the laws would relieve him of the promises and the oaths that he would have been able to make, as a minor who would have acted without full knowledge of the facts, since he would have claimed to have at his disposal that which he only had in trust and with a clause of entail, in the same way as if he had had it in full ownership and without any condition.

Moreover the government, although hereditary in a family and placed in the hands of one person, is not private property, but public property that consequently can never be taken from the people, to whom it belongs exclusively, fundamentally, and as a freehold. Consequently it is always the people who make the lease or the agreement: they always intervene in the contract that adjudges its exercise. It is not the state that belongs to the prince, it is the prince who belongs to the state: but it does rest with the prince to govern in the state, because the state has chosen him for that purpose: he has bound Edition: current; Page: [16] himself to the people and the administration of affairs, and they in their turn are bound to obey him according to the laws. The person who wears the crown can certainly discharge himself of it completely if he wishes, but he cannot replace it on the head of another without the consent of the nation who has placed it on his. In a word, the crown, the government, and the public authority are possessions owned by the body of the nation, held as a usufruct by princes and as a trust by ministers. Although heads of state, they are nonetheless members of it; as a matter of fact the first, the most venerable, and the most powerful allowed everything in order to govern, allowed nothing legitimately to change the established government or to place another head in their place. The sceptre of Louis XV necessarily passes to his eldest son, and there is no power that can oppose this; nor any nation because it is the condition of the contract; nor his father for the same reason.

The depository of authority is sometimes only for a limited time, as in the Roman republic. It is sometimes for the life of only one man, as in Poland; sometimes for all the time a family exists, as in England; sometimes for the time a family exists only through its male descendants, as in France.

This depository is sometimes entrusted to a certain class in society, sometimes to several people chosen by all the classes, and sometimes to one man.

The conditions of this pact are different in different states. But everywhere the nation has a right to maintain against all forces the contract that they have made; no power can change it; and when it is no longer valid, the nation recovers its rights and full freedom to enter into a new one with whomever and however it pleases them. This is what would happen in France if by the greatest of misfortunes the entire reigning family happened to die out, including the most remote descendants; then the scepter and the crown would return to the nation.

It seems that only slaves whose minds are as limited as their hearts are debased could think otherwise. Such men are born neither for the glory of the prince nor for the benefit of society; they have neither virtue nor greatness of soul. Fear and self-interest are the motives of their conduct. Nature only produces them to improve by contrast the worth of virtuous men; and Providence uses them to make tyrannical powers, with which it Edition: current; Page: [17] chastises as a rule the people and the sovereigns who offend God; the latter for usurping, the former for granting too much to man of supreme power, that the Creator reserved for Himself over the created being.

The observation of laws, the conservation of liberty, and the love of country are the prolific sources of all great things and of all beautiful actions. Here we can find the happiness of people, and the true luster of princes who govern them. Here obedience is glorious, and command august. On the contrary, flattery, self-interest, and the spirit of slavery are at the root of all the evils that overpower a state and of all the cowardice that dishonor it. There the subjects are miserable, and the princes hated; there the monarch has never heard himself proclaimed the beloved; submission is hateful there, and domination cruel. If I view France and Turkey from the same perspective, I perceive on the one hand a society of men united by reason, activated by virtue, and governed by a head of state equally wise and glorious according to the laws of justice; on the other, a herd of animals assembled by habit, driven by the law of the rod, and led by an absolute master according to his caprice.

[But in order to give to the principles disseminated in this article all the authority they are able to accommodate, let us support them with the testimony of one of our greatest kings. His speech at the opening of the assembly of notables in 1596, full of a sincerity that is mostly unknown to sovereigns, was quite worthy of the feelings he brought there.5

“Convinced,” says M. de Sully, pag. 467, in quarto, vol. 1, “that kings have two sovereigns, God and the law; that justice must preside over the throne and mildness must be seated by its side; that since God is the true proprietor of all realms and kings merely their administrators, kings must therefore represent to their people the one whose place they are taking; that they will reign as he does only insofar as they reign as fathers; that in hereditary monarchical states, there is a delusion that one may also call hereditary, namely, that the sovereign is master of the lives and properties of all his subjects; that by means of these four words—‘such is our pleasure’—he is exempt from indicating the reasons for his conduct, or Edition: current; Page: [18] even from having any; that even if he were, there is nothing so imprudent as making oneself hateful to those to whom one is obliged to entrust one’s life at every moment, and that taking everything away by naked violence is a way of falling into this misfortune. Being convinced (as I say) of these principles, which all the courtier’s artifice will never banish from the hearts of those who resemble him, this great man declared that in order to avoid any hint of violence and coercion, he did not want the assembly to be made up of deputies named by the sovereign and always blindly subservient to all his wishes; but that his intention was that all sorts of persons of whatever status or condition be freely admitted there, so that knowledgeable and meritorious people would have the means to propose without fear what they think necessary for the public good; that even at that moment, he did not mean to be prescribing any limits to them; that he was merely enjoining them not to abuse this allowance for the humiliation of that royal authority which is the nerve center of the state; to restore unity among its members; to relieve the people; to discharge the royal treasury of many debts to which it was subject without having contracted them; to moderate excessive pensions with the same justice (without harming the necessities), in order to establish a clear and adequate fund for the future maintenance of military men. He added that he would have no difficulty submitting to measures that he would not have thought of himself, as soon as he sees they have been dictated by a spirit of equity and disinterestedness; that he would not be found seeking in his age, experience, and personal qualities a pretext (quite a bit less frivolous than the one princes are accustomed to use) to evade the agreements; that on the contrary, he would show by his example that these agreements concern the king (in causing them to be observed) no less than the subject (in submitting to them). If I prided myself,” he continued, “on passing for an excellent orator, I would have brought here more fine words than good will; but my ambition has something loftier about it than speaking well. I aspire to the glorious title of liberator and restorer of France. Thus, I have not summoned you, as my predecessors used to do, to oblige you to blindly approve my wishes. I have assembled you to receive your counsel, to believe it, to follow it—in a word, to place myself under your tutelage. This is a desire that rarely comes over kings, graybeards, and victors like me. But the love I bring to my subjects and the Edition: current; Page: [19] extreme desire I have to preserve my state cause me to find everything easy and everything honorable.”6

Having finished this speech, Henry got up and left, leaving only M. de Sully in the assembly, to share with it the accounts, papers, and memoranda that they might need.

One does not presume to propose this conduct as a model, because there are occasions when princes may show less deference, without however deviating from the sentiments that cause the sovereign to be regarded in society as the father of his family, and his subjects as his children. The great monarch we have just cited will again provide us with the example of this sort of mildness mixed with firmness (so requisite on occasion), where reason is so manifestly on the sovereign’s side that he has the right to strip his subjects of freedom of choice and leave them with obedience as the sole option. Once the Edict of Nantes had been verified, after many difficulties on the part of the Parlement, the clergy, and the University,7 Henry IV said to the bishops: “You have urged me to my duty; I urge you to yours. Let us rival each other in doing good. My predecessors have given you fine words; but as for me with my jacket,8 I will give you good results. I will look over your formal proposals and will respond to them as favorably as possible.” And he responded to the Parlement, which had come to make remonstrances to him: “You see me in my private office where I come to speak to you not in royal costume, or in cloak and dagger like my predecessors, but dressed like a father, in a doublet, to speak informally with his children. What I have to tell you is that I am asking you to verify the edict that I have granted to those of the Religion.9 What I have done is for the good of the peace. I have done it abroad; I intend to do it within my own kingdom.” After explaining to them the reasons he had for issuing the edict, he added: “Those who prevent my edict from taking effect want war. I will declare war tomorrow on those of the Protestant Edition: current; Page: [20] Religion, but I will not wage it. I will send them packing. I have issued the edict; I want it to be observed. My will ought to serve as reason; in an obedient state, such reasons are never demanded of the prince. I am king. I am speaking to you as king. I intend to be obeyed.” (Mém. de Sully, in-4°, p. 594. vol. I)10

There you have the proper way for a monarch to speak to his subjects when it is clear that he has justice on his side. And why couldn’t he do what any man who has equity on his side is able to do? As for the subjects, the first law that religion, reason, and nature impose upon them is for them to respect the conditions of the contract they have made, and never to lose sight of the nature of their government. In France, it means not to forget that so long as the ruling family survives by the male line, nothing will ever exempt them from obeying, honoring, and fearing their master, as the one by whom they have expected the image of God to be present and visible to them on earth.11 Nor are they exempt from being attached to these sentiments by a motive of gratitude for the tranquility and the benefits they enjoy under protection of the royal name. Nor, if they ever happen to have an unjust, ambitious, and violent king, are they exempt from opposing this misfortune by a single means: namely, by appeasing him with their submission and swaying God by their prayers. For this remedy is the only legitimate one, according to the contract of submission formerly sworn to the reigning prince and his descendants through the male line, whoever they may be. And they are to consider that all those motives that are imagined for resisting are on close inspection nothing more than subtly colored pretexts for infidelity; that by this conduct, men have never corrected princes or abolished taxes; that they have merely added a new measure of misery to the misfortunes they were already lamenting. There you have the foundations on which peoples and those who govern them could establish their mutual happiness.]

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Volume 2 (1752)

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Brownists (Brownistes)*

Brownists (Ecclesiastical history), name of a sect that formed out of the Puritans’ sect about the end of the 16th century: it was named after Robert Brown, its leader.

This Robert Brown, who wrote many books to support his views, was not, as Moréri claims, a schoolmaster from Southwark, but a man of good mores, and even learned. He was from quite a good family in Rutlandshire and was allied to the Lord Treasurer Burleigh. He did his studies at Cambridge and began to publish his opinions and rail against the ecclesiastical government in Norwich in 1580, which attracted the resentment of the bishops. He himself took pride in having been for this reason put in thirty-two different prisons—all of them so dark that he could not make out his hand in them, even in broad daylight. Afterward, he left the realm with his co-religionists and retired to Middleburg in Zeeland, where he and his followers obtained permission from the Estates1 to build a church and worship God in their own way. A short time later, division arose in his little flock. Many split off, which so disgusted Brown that he resigned his office, returned to England in 1589, abjured his errors, and was raised to the position of rector in a Northamptonshire church. He died in 1630.

Brown’s move led to the ruin of the Middleburg church, but the seeds of his system were not so easy to destroy in England. Sir Walter Raleigh, in an essay composed in 1592, already counts upward of twenty thousand persons imbued with Brown’s opinions.

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It was not over articles of faith that they broke off from other communions, but because of ecclesiastical discipline, and especially the form of government in the Anglican church—of which the Brownists strongly disapproved, though without adopting that of the Presbyterians, since they assigned equal blame to the consistories and the synods, the bishops and the ministers. They did not want to join any reformed church, since they said they were not assured of the sanctity and regeneration of the members of those churches, because the latter put up with sinners and communicated with them—which, according to the Brownists, was the height of impiety. They condemned the solemn celebration of marriage—which they said was merely a civil engagement, and thus needed the intervention of only the secular magistrate, not at all the ecclesiastical. Nor did they want children to be baptized by Anglican priests or Presbyterian ministers, whom they did not regard as members of the church, and who, they added, took no care of those they had baptized. They rejected every kind of prayer, saying that the Lord’s Prayer ought not to be regarded as a prayer but merely as a model for a prayer that J. C. has given us. See Separatistes and Non-conformistes.

They established an ecclesiastical government of democratic form. When one of their churches was assembled, whoever wanted to be incorporated into their society made a profession of faith and signed a form by which he committed himself to follow the Gospel in the same sense as they did. The power to admit or exclude members, and to decide all conflicts, belonged to the entire society. They selected their officers and ministers from among themselves to preach and care for the poor. These ministers were established and their different functions were distributed to them by the fasting, prayer, and laying on of hands of some members of the society—without, however, their believing that they possessed the title or dignity of ordination. For they sometimes reduced their ministries to the status of the laity—persuaded that in this regard, they could destroy their own work. And since they taught that a church was only an assembly of a certain number of persons in the same place, they therefore believed that the power of the minister appointed in that place was so limited to it that he could neither administer communion nor baptize nor exercise any other function in a church other than his own. All members of the sect, even the laity, Edition: current; Page: [25] were permitted to make exhortations2 to the assembly, to propose questions after the sermon, and to debate what had been preached. In a word, each Brownist church was an assembly in which each member had the freedom to strive for the general good of the society without being accountable for his actions before any superior, synod or tribunal. The independents who formed themselves afterward from among the Brownists adopted a portion of these opinions. See Independents.

Queen Elizabeth actively went after this sect. Under her reign, the prisons were full of Brownists; there were even some hanged. The ecclesiastical commission and the Star Chamber raged against them with such vigor that they were obliged to leave England. Many families retreated to Amsterdam, where they formed a church and chose Johnson for pastor, and after him, Aynsworth, known for a commentary on the Pentateuch.3 Also counted among their leaders: Barrow and Wilkinson.4 Their church was maintained for about a hundred years. (G)

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Celibacy (Célibat)**

*Celibacy (Ancient and modern history, and Morality) is the state of a person who lives without becoming committed to marriage. This state can be considered in itself under three different aspects: (1) with regard to the human race; (2) to society; (3) to Christian society. But before considering celibacy in itself, we are going to present in a few words its situation and its changing circumstances among men. M. Morin, of the Academy of Belles-lettres,1 reduces its history to the following propositions: Celibacy is as old as the world; it is as widespread as the world; it will last as long as, and infinitely longer than, the world.

Abridged history of celibacy. Celibacy is as old as the world, if it is true—as is claimed by some authors of the old and new law—that our first parents lost their innocence only by ceasing to preserve their celibacy and that they would never have been expelled from paradise if they had not eaten the forbidden fruit, an act that in the modest and metaphorical style of scripture indicates nothing else (they say) but a violation of celibacy. They derive the evidence for this grammatical interpretation from the feeling of nudity that immediately followed the sin of Eve and Adam; from the notion of irregularity attached to the carnal act virtually everywhere in the Edition: current; Page: [27] world; from the shame that accompanies it; from the remorse that it causes; from the original sin that is communicated in this way; finally, from the state to which we will return upon departing this life, in which it will not be a question of husbands and wives, and which will be an eternal celibacy.

It is not up to me, says M. Morin, to assign the appropriate qualifications to this opinion. The opinion is odd; it seems contrary to the letter of scripture; that’s enough to reject it. Scripture teaches us that Adam and Eve lived in paradise as brother and sister, as the angels live in heaven and as we will live there one day. That’s good enough; there you have the first and perfect celibacy. To know how long it lasted is a question of pure curiosity. Some say several hours; others several days. There are those who—on the basis of mystical reasons, on who knows what traditions from the Greek church, on the era of Cain’s birth—push this interval to thirty years.

The Jewish doctors would have another, even longer celibacy follow upon this original one. For they claim that Adam and Eve, ashamed of their crime, did penance for a hundred years without having any dealings together—a conjecture they base on the birth of Seth, their third son, whom Moses attributes to them only at the age of a hundred and thirty. But to be precise, it is only to Abel that one can assign the honor of having preserved his celibacy throughout his whole life.

To know whether his example was imitated in the following generations, whether the sons of God who allowed themselves to be corrupted by the daughters of men weren’t a religious sort who lapsed into disorder—that’s what we can’t know, although it’s not impossible. If it’s true, as appears to be the case from the supposed book of Enoch, that there were at that time women who made a practice of sterility, there may well have also been men who did so. But the likelihood here is not high. At that time it was a question of populating the world; God’s law and that of nature imposed on all kinds of persons a sort of necessity to work at the increase of the human race. It’s to be supposed that those who lived in that time made it an essential matter for themselves to obey that precept. M. Morin says that everything history teaches us about the Patriarchs of those times is that they took and gave away women; that they brought into the world sons and daughters, and then died as if they had had nothing more important to do.

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It was much the same thing in the first centuries that followed the flood. There was much clearing to do and few workers; it was up to whoever begot the most. At that time, men’s honor, nobility, and power consisted in the number of children. One was certain in that way of attracting great esteem, of making oneself respected by one’s neighbors, and of having a place in history. The Jews’ history has not forgotten the name of Jair, who had thirty sons in service;2 nor has the Greeks’ history forgotten the names of Danaüs and Egyptus,3 of whom one had fifty sons and the other fifty daughters. Sterility passed in those days for a kind of infamy in the two sexes, and for an unequivocal sign of the curse of God. On the other hand, to have a great number of children around one’s table was regarded as an authentic mark of his benediction. Celibacy was a kind of sin against nature; today, it is no longer the same thing.

Moses hardly left men the freedom to marry or not. Lycurgus branded the celibate with infamy. There was even a special solemnity in Lacedemon, where the women brought them forth all naked to the foot of the altars, and had them make a full apology to nature, which they accompanied with very harsh punishment. Those republicans pushed the precautions further by publishing regulations against those who married too late, ὀψιγαμία, and against husbands who abused these precautions with their wives, κακογαμία.

In the course of time, men being less rare, these penal laws were mitigated. Plato tolerated celibacy up to thirty-five years in his republic; beyond that age, he prohibited only employment-related celibacy, and assigned them the last rank in public ceremonies.4 The Roman laws, which succeeded the Greek, were also less rigorous against celibacy; nonetheless, the censors were charged with preventing that sort of solitary life, harmful to the state, coelibes esse prohibento.5 To make it odious, they did not allow the celibate to either make a will or serve as witness. And here is the first question posed to those who presented themselves to swear an oath: ex Edition: current; Page: [29] animi tui sententiâ, tu equum habes, tu uxorem habes? “On your soul and conscience, do you have a horse, do you have a wife?” But the Romans were not content to afflict them in this world; their theologians also threatened them with extraordinary punishments in the underworld. Extrema omnium calamitas & impietas accidit illi qui absque filiis à vita discedit, & daemonibus maximas dat poenas post obitum. “It is the greatest of impieties and the utmost misfortune to depart the world without leaving children in it; the demons make those people suffer cruel pains after their death.”

Despite all these precautions—temporal and spiritual—the celibate did not stop making their way in the world; the laws themselves prove it. One doesn’t venture to pass laws against disorders that live on only notionally. To know how and where celibacy began, history says nothing about that. It’s to be supposed that simple moral reasons and individual tastes won out over so many penal laws, emergency fiscal laws, laws that brought infamy, and over the anxieties of conscience. In the beginning, there must surely have been more pressing motives and sound physical reasons. Such were those happy and wise constitutions that nature exempts from reducing the great rule of multiplication to practice; they have existed in all times. Our authors give them withering names; the Orientals, on the other hand, call them eunuchs of the sun, eunuchs of heaven, made by the hand of God—honorable titles that are supposed not only to console them for the misfortune of their condition but also to authorize them before God and men to pride themselves in it, as if because of a special grace that discharges them from a goodly portion of the solicitudes of life and transports them suddenly into the midst of the path of virtue.

But without seriously examining whether it is an advantage or disadvantage, it is quite apparent that these saints6 were the first to choose the celibacy option. That way of life is doubtless indebted to them for its origin, and perhaps its denomination. For the Greeks called the infirm in question κολοβοι, which is not far removed from coelibes. In fact, celibacy was the only option that the κολοβοι had to choose in order to obey the orders of nature—for their repose, their honor, and under the rules of good faith. If they did not make this determination themselves, the laws imposed it upon Edition: current; Page: [30] them by necessity; that of Moses was explicit. The laws of other nations were scarcely more propitious; if they allowed them to have wives, the wives were also permitted to abandon them.

The men of this condition—ambiguous and rare in the beginning, scorned equally by the two sexes—found themselves exposed to many mortifications, which reduced them to an obscure and secluded life. But necessity soon suggested to them different means of getting out of it and making themselves commendable. Detached from the anxious movements of alien love and self-love, they submitted to others’ wills with a strange devotion, and they were found so accommodating that everyone wanted to have some of them. Those who had none of them got some by one of the boldest and most inhumane of operations: fathers, masters, and sovereigns arrogated to themselves the right to reduce their children, their slaves, and their subjects to that ambiguous condition. And the whole world, which in the beginning knew only two sexes, was astonished to find itself imperceptibly divided into three fairly equal portions.

These scarcely voluntary celibates were followed by free ones, who substantially increased the number of the former. Men of letters and philosophers by taste; athletes, gladiators, and musicians by reason of status; countless others by libertinage; some by virtue—all chose the option that Diogenes found so sweet that he was surprised that his expedient did not become more fashionable. Some professions were obliged to do so, such as that of the scarlet dyers, baphiarii. Ambition and politics also enlarged the corps of the celibate. Those bizarre men were handled carefully even by the great, eager to have a place in their will. And contrariwise, the paternal heads of household of whom nothing was expected were forgotten, neglected, scorned.

Up to now, we have seen celibacy prohibited, then tolerated, then approved, and finally advocated. It took little time to become an essential condition in most of those who devoted themselves to altar service. Melchizideck was a man without family and without genealogy. Those who set their sights on temple service and on the rites of the law were dispensed from marriage. Girls had the same freedom. We are assured that Moses dismissed his wife when he had received the law from God’s hands. He ordered the priests whose turn to preside at the altar was approaching Edition: current; Page: [31] to sequester themselves from their wives for several days. After him, the prophets Elie, Elisha, Daniel and his three companions lived in continence. The Nazarenes, and the sounder part of the Essenes, are presented to us by Josephus as a marvelous nation, which had found the secret that Metellus Numidicus was striving for—to perpetuate themselves without marriage, without childbirth, and without any female company.

Among the Egyptians, the priests of Isis and most of those dedicated to the service of their divinities made a profession of chastity. And to be on the safe side, they were prepared for it from childhood by the surgeons. The gymnosophists, the Brahmins, the Athenian hierophants, a good portion of Pythagoras’s disciples, those of Diogenes, the true Cynics—and in general, all those, male or female, who devoted themselves to the service of the goddesses—engaged in the same practice. In Thrace, there was an important association of celibate religious called κτισαι, or creators, from the faculty of producing themselves without the assistance of women. Among the Persians, the obligation of celibacy was imposed on the girls designated for the service of the sun. The Athenians had a house of virgins. Everyone knows about the Roman vestals. Among our ancient Gauls, nine virgins, who passed for having received extraordinary light and grace from heaven, guarded a famous oracle in a little island called Sené, on the Armorican coasts. There are authors who even claim that the entire island was inhabited by only the girls, some of whom made occasional trips over neighboring coasts, whence they brought back little embryos to preserve the species. All of them didn’t go there; it is to be supposed, says M. Morin, that this was decided by lot, and that those who had the misfortune to draw a black ticket were forced to step into the fatal boat that exposed them throughout the continent. Those consecrated girls were highly venerated; their house had singular privileges, among which may be included the inability of being punished for a crime without having first lost the title of girl.

Celibacy has had its martyrs among the pagans, and their histories and myths are full of girls who have generously preferred death to loss of honor. The adventure of Hippolytus is well known, as well as his resurrection by Diana, protectress of the celibate. All these episodes, and countless others, were supported by principles of belief. The Greeks regarded chastity as a supernatural grace; the sacrifices were not thought to be complete Edition: current; Page: [32] without the intervention of a virgin. They might well be begun, libare, but they could not be consummated without her, litare. Regarding virginity, they had magnificent words, sublime ideas, speculations of great beauty. But digging deeper into the secret conduct of all those celibate people and all those virtuosi of paganism, one discovers (says M. Morin) only disorders, charlatanism, and hypocrisy. To begin with their goddesses, Vesta, the earliest, was represented with a child. Where did she get it? Minerva had before her Erichthonius, an adventure with Vulcan, and temples (as a mother). Diana had her knight Virbius and her Endymion; the pleasure she got in contemplating the latter sleeping says much about her, too much for a virgin. Myrtilus accused the muses of having strong predilections for a certain Megalion and gave these predilections to all the children that he named—name by name. It is perhaps for this reason that abbé Cartaud calls them the girls of Jupiter’s opera. The virgin gods were scarcely worth more than the goddesses, witness Apollo and Mercury.

The priests, not excepting those of Cybelus, did not pass in the world for being folks of particularly regular conduct. Not all the sinful vestals would have been buried alive. For the sake of their philosophers’ honor, M. Morin is silent, and concludes the history of celibacy in this way, such as it was in the cradle, in childhood, in nature’s arms—a condition quite different from the high degree of perfection in which we see it today. This change is not surprising: the latter is the work of grace and the Holy Spirit; the former was merely the imperfect runt of a disordered, depraved, debauched nature—sad castoff of marriage and virginity. See the Memoirs of the Academy of Inscriptions, vol. IV, page 308. Critical history of celibacy.

In absolute terms, all the preceding is merely an analysis of that memoir. We have cut some of its long passages but have scarcely allowed ourselves the liberty of changing a single expression in what we have employed. It will be likewise in what remains of this article: we take nothing upon ourselves, we are content solely to report faithfully not only the opinions but even the speech of the authors and to draw here only on sources approved by all honorable men.7 After having shown what history teaches us about Edition: current; Page: [33] celibacy, we are now going to think about that condition with the eyes of philosophy, and display what different writers have thought on the subject.

On celibacy considered in itself: (1) With regard to the human species: If a historian or some traveler gave us a description of a thinking being, perfectly isolated, without superior or equal or inferior, sheltered from everything that might move the passions—in a word, alone in his species—we would say without hesitating that this singular being must be plunged in melancholy; for what consolation could he find in a world that for him would be but a vast solitude? If it were added that despite appearances, he enjoys life, feels the happiness of existence, and finds some felicity within himself, we could then agree that he is not a complete monster, and that relative to himself his constitution is not entirely absurd, but we would never go so far as to say that he is good. Yet if one were insistent, and objected that he is perfect among his kind, and consequently that we are wrong to refuse him the epithet good (for what difference does it make whether he has something or nothing to sort out with others?), then we would have to call a spade a spade and acknowledge that this being is good—if, however, it is possible that he is perfect in himself, without having any relationship, any connection with the world in which he is placed.

But if some system in nature were eventually discovered to which the species of automaton in question could be thought to belong; if links were perceived in his configuration that attached him to beings similar to him; if his configuration indicated a chain of useful creatures that could grow and endure only by the use of faculties received from nature; he would immediately lose the name good with which we have dignified him. For how could this name fit an individual who, by his inaction and his solitude, would be tending so directly toward the ruin of his species? Isn’t the preservation of the species one of the essential duties of the individual? And doesn’t every well-formed, reasoning individual make himself guilty by failing in this duty, unless he is exempted from it by some authority superior to that of nature? See The Essay on merit and virtue.8

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I add, unless he is exempted from it by some authority superior to that of nature, so that it will be very clear that this in no way concerns celibacy consecrated by religion, but only that which imprudence, misanthropy, frivolity, or libertinage cause every day; that in which the two sexes, corrupting each other by means of natural sentiments themselves or needlessly smothering these sentiments within themselves, flee a union bound to make them better in order to live either in distant sterility or in unions that always make them worse. We are not unaware that the one who gave man all his members may dispense him from the use of some of them, or even prohibit this usage and attest that this sacrifice is agreeable to him. We are not denying that there is a certain corporal purity which nature, abandoned to itself, would never have thought of, but which God has judged necessary for a more dignified approach to the holy places that he inhabits and for a more spiritual manner of attending to the ministry of his altars. If we do not find within ourselves the seed of this purity, this is because it is, so to speak, a revealed virtue and one of faith.

On celibacy considered: (2) with regard to society. As we have just demonstrated, the celibacy that religion has not sanctified cannot be contrary to the propagation of the human species without being harmful to society. It harms society by impoverishing it and by corrupting it. By impoverishing it: if it is true, as can scarcely be doubted, that the lion’s share of a state’s wealth consists in the number of subjects;9 that in commerce, the multitude of hands must be counted among the objects of first necessity; and that new citizens—who can’t all be soldiers (because of Europe’s balance of peace) and who can’t wallow in idleness (because of good governance)—would work the land, populate manufactures, or become sailors. By corrupting it: Because it’s a rule drawn from nature, as the illustrious author of The Spirit of the Laws has well noted, that the more you reduce the number of possible marriages, the more you harm those marriages that have already taken place; and that the fewer married people there are, the less fidelity there is in marriage, just as when there are more robbers there are more robberies.10 Edition: current; Page: [35] The ancients were so familiar with these advantages, and placed such a high price on the natural faculty of marrying and having children, that their laws had provided that this faculty not be taken away. They regarded that deprivation as a certain means of diminishing the resources of a people and increasing debauchery among them. Thus, when one received a bequest on condition of preserving celibacy, when a patron had his emancipated slave swear that he would not marry, the Papinian Law annulled both the condition and the oath among the Romans. They had understood that wherever celibacy had preeminence, there could scarcely be any honor for the married state. Consequently, one encounters among their laws none that contain an express abrogation of the privileges and honors they had accorded to marriage and to the number of children.

On celibacy considered: (3) with regard to Christian society. Since the worship of the gods demands constant attention and purity of body and of a singular soul, most peoples have been inclined to make of the clergy a separate corps. Thus, among the Egyptians, the Jews, and the Persians, there were families dedicated to the service of the divinity and the temples. But they thought not only of removing ecclesiastics from the business and company of the worldly; there were religions in which the decision was to spare them the trouble of a family. It is claimed that such was especially the spirit of Christianity, even at its origin. We are going to offer an abridged exposition of its regular discipline, so the reader can judge for himself.

It must be admitted that the law of celibacy for bishops, priests, and deacons is as old as the church. Nonetheless, there is no written divine law prohibiting the ordaining of married persons as priests, or priests from getting married. Jesus Christ had no precepts about it. In his epistles to Timothy and Titus, what St. Paul says on the continence of bishops and deacons aims solely to prohibit the bishop from having several wives at the same time or successively: oportet episcopum esse unius uxoris virum. Even the practice of the first centuries of the church is definite on this point: no difficulty was raised over ordaining married men as priests and bishops; it was only marrying after promotion to orders, or remarrying after the death of the first wife, that was prohibited. There was a special exception for widows. It cannot be denied that the church’s spirit and its devout wish Edition: current; Page: [36] have been for its leading ministers to live in great continence, and that it has always worked to establish the law of continence. Nonetheless, the practice of ordaining married persons as priests has existed and still exists in the Greek Church, and has never been explicitly disapproved of by the Latin church.

Some believe that the third canon of the first Council of Nicaea imposes on major clerics—that is, on bishops, priests, and deacons—the obligation of celibacy.11 But Fr. Alexander12 proves in a special dissertation that the council did not mean to prevent clerics from the company of women that they had wedded before their ordination; that what the canon put forth concerns only wives called subintroductae & agapetae,13 not legitimate wives; and that it is not only major clerics but also inferior clerics that the council prohibits from cohabiting with agapetes. Whence that learned theologian concludes that it was concubinage that the council was prohibiting, not the practice of marriage legitimately contracted before ordination. He also draws advantage from the well-known story of Paphnutius, which other authors seem to have rejected as a myth only because it is in no way favorable to clerical celibacy.14

Thus, by all appearances, the Council of Nicaea spoke only of marriages contracted since ordination, and of concubinage. But the Council of Ancyra expressly permits those ordained as deacons, and unmarried, to contract marriage afterward, provided they had protested against the obligation of celibacy during the time of ordination. It is true that this indulgence was not extended to either bishops or priests, and that the Council of Neocaesarea, held shortly after that of Ancyra, pronounced explicitly: presbyterum, si uxorem acceperit, ab ordine deponendum,15 although the Edition: current; Page: [37] marriage was not null, according to the remark by Fr. Thomassin.16 The Council in Trullo, held in the year 692, confirmed the practice of the Greek church in its 13th canon, and the Latin church did not demand at the Council of Florence that it renounce this. Nonetheless, it must not be concealed that many of the Greek priests are monks and observe celibacy, and that the patriarchs and bishops are normally obliged to make a public commitment to the monastic life before being ordained. It is also germane to say that in the Occident, celibacy was prescribed to clerics by the decrees of popes Siricius and Innocent; that the first is from the year 385; that St. Leo extended this law to subdeacons; that St. Gregory had imposed it on the deacons of Sicily; and that it was confirmed by: the Councils of Elvira toward the end of the third century; canon XXXIII of Toledo in the year 400, of Carthage in 419; canon III and IV of Orange in 441, canon XXII and XXIII of Arles in 452; of Tours in 461; of Agde in 506; of Orleans in 538; by our kings’ capitularies and various councils held in the Occident, but mainly by the Council of Trent—although via the respectful remonstrances17 of the emperor, the Duke of Bavaria, the Germans, and even the king of France, people didn’t stop proposing the marriage of priests, and urging this on the pope after the holding of the council. Clerical celibacy had had adversaries for a long time beforehand: Vigilantius and Jovinian rose up in opposition under St. Jerome; Wycliff, the Hussites, the Bohemians, Luther, Calvin, and the Anglicans threw off its yoke; and in the period of our wars of religion, Cardinal Chatillon, Spifame the Bishop of Nevers, and some ecclesiastics of the second order dared to marry publicly. But these examples had no sequel.

When the obligation of celibacy was general in the Catholic church, those among the ecclesiastics who violated it were immediately banned for life from the functions of their order and placed in the ranks of the laity. Justinian, leg. 45. cod. de episcop. & cler.18 then made their children illegitimate and incapable of succeeding and of receiving bequests. Finally, it was Edition: current; Page: [38] ordained that those marriages would be annulled and the parties subjected to punishment, whence it is seen how the infraction became more serious as the law became more deeply rooted. In the beginning, if a priest happened to get married, he was deposed and the marriage remained. Over time, orders were considered as a nullifying obstacle19 to marriage. Today, a simple tonsured cleric who marries no longer enjoys the ecclesiastical privileges concerning jurisdiction and exemption from public burdens.20 By his marriage, he is considered to have renounced the clerical estate and its rights. Fleury, Institutes of Ecclesiastical Law. Tom. I. Anc. & nouv. Discipline of the Church by Fr. Thomassin.

It follows from this review, says the late abbé St. Pierre (speaking not as a religious polemicist, but as a simple Christian man of politics and a simple citizen of a Christian society), that priestly celibacy is merely a point of discipline; that it is not essential to the Christian religion; that it has never been regarded as one of the foundations of the schism we have with the Greeks and the Protestants; that it has been voluntary in the Latin church; that since the church has the power to change all points of discipline that are of human origin, then if the estates of the Catholic church got big benefits from returning to that ancient liberty, without undergoing any real harm, it would be desirable for that to happen; and that the question of these benefits is less theological than political, and concerns more the sovereigns than the church, which would have nothing more to do than pronounce upon it.21

But are there benefits in restoring22 ecclesiastics to the ancient liberty of marriage? This is a phenomenon that the czar found so striking when he traveled throughout France incognito23 that he couldn’t understand how, in a state where he encountered such good laws and such wise establishments, a practice had been allowed to last for so many centuries which, on the one hand, was of no importance to religion, and on the other hand, was so Edition: current; Page: [39] harmful to Christian society. We will not render a verdict on whether the czar’s astonishment was well-founded, but it is not useless to summarize abbé St. Pierre’s memoir, and that is what we are going to do.

Benefits of priestly marriage: (1) If forty thousand parish priests in France had eighty thousand children, since those children would unquestionably be better raised, the state would gain subjects and good people, and the church would gain faithful. (2) Ecclesiastics being by their status better husbands than other men, there would be forty thousand women happier and more virtuous. (3) There are few men for whom celibacy is not difficult to observe, which is how it can happen that the church suffers a great scandal from a priest who falls short of continence, whereas no utility redounds to other Christians from the man who lives continently. (4) A priest would scarcely be less meritorious before God in putting up with the shortcomings of his wife and children than in resisting the temptations of the flesh. (5) The problems of marriage are useful to the man who puts up with them; the difficulties of celibacy are useful to no one. (6) The parish priest who is a virtuous head of household would be useful to more people than the one who practices celibacy. (7) Some ecclesiastics for whom the observation of celibacy is very difficult would believe they had not fully met its conditions, when they have nothing to blame themselves for in this regard. (8) A hundred thousand married priests would form a hundred thousand families, which would provide more than ten thousand inhabitants per year; even if you counted only five thousand, this reckoning would still produce a million Frenchmen in two hundred years. Whence it follows that without priestly celibacy, we would have today four million more Catholics (counting only since Francis I), which would form a substantial sum of money if it is true, as an Englishman has calculated, that one man is worth nine pounds sterling to the state. (9) Noble houses would find in the bishops’ families offshoots to prolong their existence, &c. See the polit. works of abbé St. Pierre, vol. II, p. 146.

Means of returning freedom of marriage to ecclesiastics. We must: (1) form a body to meditate on the obstacles and to work on removing them; (2) negotiate with the princes of the Roman communion and form a confederation with them; (3) negotiate with the court of Rome. For abbé St. Pierre claims it is better to use the pope’s intervention than the authority of a national Edition: current; Page: [40] council—even though, according to him, the national council no doubt shortens the proceedings, and even though, according to many theologians, that tribunal is adequate for an affair of this nature. Here now are the objections that abbé St. Pierre himself put forth against his scheme, along with his responses to them.

First objection: The Italian bishops could thus be married, like St. Ambrose, and the cardinals and the pope, like St. Peter.

Response: Most certainly. Abbé St. Pierre sees no problem in following these examples, nor disadvantage in the pope and cardinals having good wives, virtuous children, and a well-ordered family.

Second objection: The people have a habitual veneration for those who maintain celibacy, which it is appropriate to preserve.

Response: Among the Dutch and English pastors, those who are virtuous are no less respected by the people for being married.

Third objection: In celibacy, priests have more time to give to the functions of their estate than they would if married.

Response: The Protestant ministers find plenty of time to have children, to raise them, to be governors of their families, and to watch over their parishes. It would be an insult to our churchmen not to assume as much from them.

Fourth objection: Young parish priests of thirty years would have five or six children—sometimes little payback for their estate, little fortune, and consequently a lot of trouble.

Response: Whoever is put forward for orders is acknowledged as a wise and able man; he is obliged to have a patrimony; he will have his benefice; his wife’s dowry may be respectable. Experience shows that those parish priests descended from poor parents are not, for all that, more of a burden to the church or to their parish. Moreover, why is it necessary that one portion of churchmen live in opulence while the other languishes in poverty? Wouldn’t it be possible to imagine a better distribution of ecclesiastical revenues?

Fifth objection: The Council of Trent regards celibacy as a state more perfect than marriage.

Response: There are ambiguities to avoid in the words state, perfect, obligation. Why claim that a priest is more perfect than St. Peter? The Edition: current; Page: [41] objection proves too much, and therefore it proves nothing. My thesis, says abbé St. Pierre, is purely political, and consists in three propositions: (1) Celibacy is a matter of pure ecclesiastical discipline, which the church can change; (2) it would be advantageous to Roman Catholic states for this discipline to be changed; (3) while waiting for a national or general council, it is appropriate for the court of Rome to receive a specified sum to expedite exemptions from celibacy—payable by those requesting the exemption.

Such is the system of abbé St. Pierre, which we present because the design of our work demands it, and on which we leave the verdict to those whose place it is to judge these important matters. But we cannot refrain from remarking in passing that it was only in a Dutch edition based on a faulty copy that this philosopher-citizen put forth an objection that presents itself quite naturally, and that is not one of the least important ones: namely, the disadvantage of benefices rendered hereditary, a disadvantage that is only too strongly felt and that would become even more widespread. What then, are all resignations of benefices and all coadjutories to be extinguished, and the conferment of all benefices referred to superiors? Perhaps that would not be worse; a bishop who knows his diocese and its good subjects is certainly as well situated to name someone to a vacant position as a half-dead churchman pestered by a crowd of relations and friends with vested interests—how many simonies and scandalous trials prevented!

To complete this article, it would remain for us to speak of monastic celibacy. But we will content ourselves with observing, along with the celebrated M. Melon,24 (1) that it would be enormously advantageous for society and individuals for the prince to use strictly the power that he has to enforce the law that prohibits the monastic state before the age of twenty-five; or, to use the idea and the expression of M. Melon, that doesn’t permit the alienation of one’s liberty before the age when one can alienate one’s estate. See the rest in the articles Mariage, Moine [Monk], Virginité, Voeux [Vows], &c. (2) We will add with a modern author, whom one cannot either read too much or praise too highly,25 that celibacy can become Edition: current; Page: [42] harmful in proportion as the corps of the celibate is too extensive, and thus the corps of the laity is not extensive enough; (3) that human laws, made to speak to the mind, must give precepts but not counsel; and that religion, made to speak to the heart, must give much counsel but few precepts. That when, for example, religion offers rules not for the proper but for the best, not for what is good but for what is perfect, it is fitting that these rules be counsel and not laws. For perfection does not concern the universality of men or of things. That what’s more, if they are laws, then countless others will be needed to enforce the first ones; that experience has confirmed these principles; that when celibacy, which used to be only counsel in Christianity, became an explicit law within it for a certain order of citizens, new ones were needed every day to reduce men to the observation of the latter; and consequently, that the legislator wore himself out and wore out society making men perform by precept what those who love perfection would have performed themselves as counsel. (4) That by the nature of the human understanding, in religious affairs we like everything that presupposes an effort, just as in moral matters we have a speculative liking for everything that bears the imprint of severity; and so celibacy was bound to be, as has in fact happened, more agreeable to those peoples for whom it seemed least suitable, and for whom it could have the most deplorable effects; to be retained in Europe’s southern countries, where by the nature of the climate it was more difficult to practice; to be proscribed in the countries of the north, where the passions are less lively; to be accepted where there are few inhabitants and rejected in areas where there are many.

These observations are so fine and so true that they cannot be repeated in too many places. I have drawn them from the excellent work of Président de M . . . ; What preceded is either from M. Fleury, or from Fr. Alexandre, or from Fr. Thomassin. Add to that what the Memoirs of the academy of Inscriptions & the political works of abbé de St. Pierre and M. Melon have furnished me, and a scant few sentences are left to me in this article, and even those are drawn from a work that one can find praised in the Journal de Trevoux, Feb. 1746.26 Despite these authorities, I would not be surprised Edition: current; Page: [43] if it were to find critics and opponents. But it might also happen that, just as at the Council of Trent, it was (it is said) the young ecclesiastics who most doggedly rejected the proposal for priestly marriage, it may be those among the celibate who most need women, and who have least read the authors I have just cited, who will criticize their principles most openly.

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Volume 3 (1753)

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Masterpiece (Chef-d’Œuvre)**

For other entries on early manufacturing, see Industry, Innovation, Invention, and Masterships, below.

*Masterpiece (Arts, Crafts), one of the most difficult works in a profession, executed by candidates wishing to join a guild or corporation, after completing a period as an apprentice and journeyman, according to the rules of the guild. Each corporation has its own masterpiece, which is carried out in the presence of doyens, syndics, senior members, and other officers and dignitaries of the corporation. It is presented to the guild’s members, who examine it before it is registered. Some corporations allow the aspiring master craftsman to choose between several different masterpieces, while others ask for more than one. See the rules of these corporations concerning the prevailing norm for the reception of master craftsmen. The masterpiece in architecture is a classic exercise, such as designing a slanting arch, the top and sides of which hold up a cylindrical ceiling; the carpenters’ masterpiece is a curved stair stringer; silk weavers, whether to be received as companions or as masters, must restore a loom to its working order, after the masters and syndics have brought about whatever changes to it they see fit, as, for example, untying the strings or breaking the threads of the Edition: current; Page: [48] chain at irregular intervals. It is hard to see the utility of the masterpiece. If the candidate can do his job well, then it is a waste of time examining him. If he cannot do his job well, then it should not stop him from joining a corporation, since he will only be harming himself. A reputation as a bad worker will soon force him to give up a job in which he will inevitably face ruin if he finds no work. To be convinced of the truth of these remarks, one needs only know a little of what happens at examinations. Nobody can be a candidate who has not passed through the preliminaries, and it is impossible for anyone not to have learned something of the trade in the four or five years that the preliminaries last. If the candidate is the master’s son, he is generally exempted from doing a masterpiece. Everyone else, even the town’s most skillful workers, will find it hard to produce a masterpiece that is acceptable to the guild, if ever they are disliked by the guild.76 If they are liked, on the other hand, or if they have money, even if they know nothing whatsoever about the job, then they can either bribe the people supervising them during the execution of the masterpiece, carry out a poor piece of work that will be received as a masterpiece or present an excellent piece of work done by someone else. It is clear that such practices do away with any advantages that can be claimed for the masterpiece or for guilds, and yet guilds and corporate bodies for manufacturing continue to exist all the same.

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Citizen (Citoyen)**

*Citizen (Ancient and modern history, Public law) is someone who is a member of a free association1 of many families, who shares in the rights of this association, and who benefits from its liberties.2 See Société [Society or Association], Cité [City], Ville Franche [Free Town], Franchises [Liberties]. Someone who resides in such a society for certain business, and who has to go away after his business is done is not a citizen of this society; he is only a temporary subject. Someone who makes it his usual abode, but who plays no role in these rights and liberties, is also not a citizen. Someone who has been divested of these rights and liberties has ceased to be a citizen. Strictly speaking, one only accords this title to women, young children, and servants as family members of a citizen, but they are not truly citizens.

One may identify two types of citizens, the originary and the naturalized. The originary are those who are born citizens. The naturalized are those to whom society allows participation in these rights and liberties, even though they were not born among them.

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The Athenians were very cautious about according the title of citizen of their city to foreigners; they invested much more dignity in this than did the Romans. With them, the title of citizen never came to be held in contempt; but from their high opinion of it, they have not reaped what is perhaps its greatest benefit, namely, that of growing by means of all those who have aspired to it. There were not many citizens in Athens who were not born to parents who were citizens. When a young man had reached the age of twenty, he was registered in the ληξιαρχικον γραμματειον;3 the state counted him among its members. In an adoption ceremony, they made him recite, while facing the sky, the following oath: Arma non dehonestabo; nec adstantem, quisquis ille fuerit, socium relinquam; pugnabo quoque pro focis et aris, solus et cum multis; patriam nec turbabo, nec prodam; navigabo contrà quamcumque destinatus fuero regionem; solemnitates perpetuas observabo; receptis consuetudinibus parebo, et quascumque adhuc populus prudenter statuerit, amplectar; et si quis leges susceptas sustulerit, nisi comprobaverit, non permittam; tuebor denique, solus et cum reliquis omnibus, atque patria sacra colam. Dii Cognitores, Agrauli, Enyalius, Mars, Jupiter, Floreo, Augesco duci. Plut. In peric.4 Notice a prudenter [a prudent man] who, in abandoning judgment on the new laws to each individual, was capable of causing much trouble. Otherwise, this oath is very noble and very wise.

One became a citizen of Athens, however, through adoption by a citizen, and through the consent of the people: but this benefit was not widespread. Edition: current; Page: [51] If one was not judged to be a citizen before twenty years of age, one was considered to no longer be one when advanced age prevented him from attending to public functions. It was the same for the exiles and the banished, unless they had become so through ostracism; those who had suffered that judgment were only sent away.

To constitute a true Roman citizen, three things were needed: to have one’s residence in Rome, to be a member of one of the thirty-five tribes, and to be able to attain the honors of the republic. Those who through concession but not birth possessed some of the rights of a citizen were strictly speaking only honorary. See Cité [City], Jurisprudence.

When people say that there were more than four million Roman citizens in the census Augustus carried out, it is clear that they are including both those who were presently residing in Rome and those who, having spread out across the empire, were only honorary.

There was a great difference between a citizen and a resident. According to the law de incolis,5 citizens were created and were given all the privileges of citizenship6 through birth alone. These privileges could not be acquired by length of residence. Under the consuls it was only the benefaction of the state, and under the emperors it was only their will, which could remedy in this case a defective descent.

It was the first privilege of a Roman citizen to be judged only by the people. The law Portia prohibited a citizen from being put to death. Even in the provinces, he was not subjected to the arbitrary power of a proconsul or a propraetor. The civis sum [I am a citizen] stopped these subaltern tyrants in their tracks. In Rome, says M. de Montesquieu, in his book The Spirit of the Laws, Book XI, Chapter XIX, as well as in Lacedemon, liberty for the citizens and servitude for the slaves was extreme.7 However, in spite of the privileges, the power, and the grandeur of these citizens—of whom Cicero was moved to write (or. pro M. Fonteio) an qui amplissimus Gallia cum infino cive Romano comparandus est?8—it seems to me that the government of that Edition: current; Page: [52] republic was constituted in such a way that in Rome one had a less precise idea of a citizen than in the canton of Zurich. To be convinced of this, it is only a matter of paying attention to what we are going to say in the rest of this article.

Hobbes does not distinguish between subject and citizen9—which is true, if you take the term subject in its strict sense and citizen in its broadest sense, and consider that the latter is to laws alone what the former is to a sovereign. They are both commanded, but one by a moral being and the other by a physical person. The term citizen fits neither those who live subjugated, nor those who live isolated. Whence it follows that those who live absolutely in the state of nature, as do sovereigns, and those who have completely renounced that state, as do slaves, cannot be regarded as citizens—unless one claims that there is no society based on reason where there is no being that is moral, immutable, and above the sovereign physical person. Overlooking this exception, Pufendorf divided his work on duties into two parts—one the duties of man, the other the duties of the citizen.10

Since the laws governing the free associations of families are not the same everywhere and since most societies have a hierarchical order constituted by dignities, the citizen can again be looked upon both in relation to the laws of his society and in relation to the rank he occupies in the hierarchical order. In the second case, there will be some difference between the citizen as magistrate and the citizen as bourgeois; and in the first, between the citizen of Amsterdam and of Basel.

While acknowledging the distinctions of civil societies and the order of citizens in each society, Aristotle nonetheless recognized as true citizens only those who have a role in the judiciary, and who could expect to pass from the state of simple bourgeois to the first ranks of the magistracy, which fits only pure democracies. It must be acknowledged that it is almost always someone who enjoys these prerogatives who is truly a public man, and that one has no clear distinction between subject and citizen unless the latter is Edition: current; Page: [53] supposed to be a public man, and unless the role of the former could never be anything but that of a private man, de quidam.11

In restricting the term citizen to those who have founded the state through the first union of families, and to their successors from father to son, Pufendorf introduces a frivolous distinction that sheds little light in his work and that can plunge a civil society into a great deal of trouble, by distinguishing the originary from the naturalized citizens via a misconceived notion of nobility. The citizens in their capacity as citizens, that is to say, in their societies, are all equally noble, because nobility comes not from ancestry but from the common right to the leading honors of the magistracy.

Since the moral, sovereign being is to the citizen what the physical despotic person is to the subject, and since the most perfect slave does not cede his whole being to his sovereign, a fortiori does the citizen have rights that he reserves to himself and from which he never desists. There are occasions in which he finds himself in line, I don’t say with his fellow citizens, but with the moral being who commands them all. This being has two titles: one private and the other public. The former should find no resistance, while the latter can experience resistance on the part of individuals, and even succumb to them in contestation. Since this moral being has properties, commitments, farms, farmers, etc., it is also necessary to distinguish in him, so to speak, the sovereign and the subject of sovereignty. In these cases, he is both judge and party. This is doubtless a drawback, but it affects all government in general, and by itself, it proves nothing for or against except by its rarity or its frequency. It is certain that subjects or citizens will be less exposed to injustices, to the extent that the sovereign being, physical or moral, is more rarely judge and party, on those occasions where he is attacked as a private individual.

In times of trouble, the citizen will take the side of the party that is for the established system. During the dissolution of a system, he will follow the party of his city if it is unanimous; if there is division in the city, he will embrace the party that is for the equality of its members and the liberty of all.

The more the citizens approach equality in ambition and in wealth, the more peaceful the state will be. This benefit seems to belong to pure democracy, Edition: current; Page: [54] exclusive of all other governments. But in even the most perfect democracy, complete equality among the members is a chimerical thing, and that is perhaps the principle of dissolution for that form of government—unless it is remedied by all the injustices of ostracism. It is with government in general as it is with animal life: each step in life is a step toward death. The best government is not the one that is immortal, but the one that lasts the longest and is the most peaceful.

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Trading Company (Compagnie de Commerce)*

Trading Company. This term means an association formed for undertaking, implementing, or managing any commercial operations.

These companies are of two kinds, either private or privileged.

Private companies are normally formed by a small number of individuals who each furnish a portion of the capital, or simply their time and advice, and sometimes both, on the conditions agreed to in the partnership contract. These companies more commonly bear the denomination of firms [sociétés]. See Société [Society or Association].

Usage has nonetheless preserved the name company for private firms or partnerships when there are a large number of members, substantial capital, and enterprises distinguished by their risk or their scale. These sorts of company-firms are most often composed of persons from various occupations who, being inexperienced in trade, entrust the direction of operations to partners or to competent agents under a general plan. Although the operations of these companies receive no public preference over private operations, they are nonetheless always regarded askance in commercial locales, because any competition reduces profit. But that reason itself ought to make them very agreeable to the state, whose commerce can be extended and perfected only through the merchants’ competition.

Even in general, these companies are useful to traders because they extend a nation’s knowledge of, and interest in, that sector that is always envied and often despised—despite its being the sole source of all others.

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Abundant money, low interest rates, sound public credit, the growth of luxury—all clear signs of public prosperity—are the usual results of these sorts of establishments. They contribute in turn to that prosperity, by multiplying the various kinds of occupation for the people, their ease, their consumption, and finally the revenues of the state.

There is one case, however, in which they might be harmful: that is when dividends are distributed as shares that are traded and transferred without further formality. By this means, foreigners may elude that wise law that in civilized states prohibits non-naturalized or non-domiciled foreigners from participating in armaments companies. Thanks to these shares, peoples who have a better rate of interest than their neighbors can attract from afar all the profit from the trade of these neighbors—sometimes even ruin them, if it is in their interest. It is only then that merchants have a right to complain. Another general rule: anything that can be subject to speculation is dangerous in a nation that pays a higher rate of interest.

The usefulness of these associations to investors is much more ambiguous than to the state. Nonetheless, it is unfair to be biased against all schemes just because most of those that have been seen to hatch at various times have failed. The usual pitfalls are lack of thrift (inseparable from large operations), lavish expense on establishments before being assured of profit, impatience to see gain, hasty loss of appetite for the project, and finally, discord.

Credulity, daughter of ignorance, is imprudent, but it is contradictory to abandon an enterprise one knew to be risky simply because its risks have been unfurled. Fortune seems to take pleasure in making those who solicit her pass through trials; her largesse is not reserved for those discouraged by her first whims.

There are some general rules by which people who are not acquainted with commerce but would like to become interested in it can protect themselves: (1) At a time when a nation’s capital stock has increased among all classes of people—although with some disproportion among them—the types of commerce that have raised up great fortunes, and that sustain brisk merchant competition, never procure substantial profits; the more this competition increases, the more noticeable the disadvantage becomes. (2) In distant and risky trade, it is imprudent to employ capital whose revenue is not superfluous to subsistence. For if the stakeholders annually Edition: current; Page: [57] withdraw either their dividends or simply their interest (if it is at any tolerably substantial rate), any losses that might occur fall immediately on the capital. Sometimes, this capital itself is found to be already diminished by the extraordinary expenses of the first few years. Operations languish or lack boldness; the plan as conceived cannot be fulfilled, and the dividends will certainly be mediocre, even if things go well. (3) Any plan that shows only profits is drawn up by a man lacking either prudence or sincerity. (4) An excellent commercial operation is one in which, following the ordinary course of events, capital runs no risk. (5) The gains from trade are almost always proportional to the uncertainty of success; the operation is good if this proportion is very clear. (6) The selection of individuals who should be assigned the conduct of the enterprise is the most essential item in its success. The one who is capable of taking in a broad overview of things and of directing each particular operation to the common benefit will do quite poorly on the details; aptitude for the latter indicates talent, but often only that. Without understanding commerce, one can be enriched by its means. If the laws were not burdened with formalities, a skillful merchant would surely be a good judge; he would in every case be a great financier. But just because a man knows the laws, just because he has administered the public revenues well or has profited much in one type of trade, it does not follow that his judgment ought to prevail in all commercial deliberations.

There have never been so many plans and projects of this kind since the return of peace,1 and it is noteworthy that virtually everyone has turned his sights toward Cadiz, Martinique, and St. Domingue.2 That did not require much skill, and however little discussion one may have wanted to engage in, it was easy to predict the fate that the stakeholders have experienced. The result is that much more capital has left this trade than has entered into it as surplus.

If one had been busy discovering new mines or establishing solid factories in lesser-known cities such as Naples or Hamburg; if companies had employed a great deal of capital, wisely managed, in the trade of Louisiana Edition: current; Page: [58] or the North; if they had set up enterprises in our Antilles (which are conducive to them), as in Guadeloupe and Cayenne,3 they would soon have recognized that there are even bigger and more solid fortunes to be made in the branches of commerce that are not open than have been made up to now. Means of subsistence for the people and wherewithal for families would have doubled in less than ten years.

These details would perhaps not be suitable for an ordinary dictionary, but the purpose of the Encyclopédie is to instruct, and it is important to absolve commerce of the faults of those who have engaged in it.

Privileged companies or guilds are those that have received from the state special favors or rights for certain enterprises, to the exclusion of other subjects. They began in times of barbarism and ignorance, when the seas were covered with pirates, the art of navigation was crude and uncertain, and the use of insurance was not well known. At that time, it was necessary for those who tried their luck in the midst of so many perils to diminish these by sharing them, to engage in mutual support, and to band together in political bodies. The advantage that states derived from them led states to grant encouragements and special protection to these bodies; afterward, the needs of those states and the merchants’ greed imperceptibly perpetuated these privileges, under the pretext that trade could not be carried on otherwise.

This prejudice has not entirely dissipated as people have become more civilized and the human sciences more perfected, because it is easier to imitate than to reason. And even today, many people think that it is useful to restrict competition in certain cases.

One of these special cases that people cite is that of an enterprise that is new, risky, or costly. Everyone will no doubt agree that cases of this type require the special favor and encouragement of the state.

If these favors and encouragements are fiscal exemptions, it is clear that the state loses nothing from the fact that a larger number of subjects will profit from them, since it is a new industry that it is favoring. If it is outlays, bonuses, whatever is more certain and even indispensable, it is clear that three infallible consequences result from competition. First, a greater number Edition: current; Page: [59] of men are enriched; the state’s investment brings returns more surely and promptly. Second, the establishment will be brought to its perfection (which is the purpose of the outlays) to the extent that greater efforts contribute to it. Third, the outlays will cease sooner.

The reader will be better instructed on this matter if I place before him the opinions of one of England’s most skillful men of commerce. I speak of Mr. Josiah Child, ch. iii of one of his treatises entitled, Trade, and interest of money considered.4

No one is justified in flattering himself that he thinks any better; and what I will say, when supported by such an authority, will be less open to criticism. It is good to observe that the author was writing in 1669, and that many things have changed since then, but virtually all of them in extension of his principles.5

Companies of Merchants [says Mr. Child] are of two sorts, viz., Companies in joynt Stock, such as the East-India-Company, the Morea-Company (which is a Branch of the Turkey-Company) and the Greenland-Company, which is a Branch of the Muscovia-Company; the other sort are Companies who trade not by a joynt Stock, but only are under a Government and Regulation, such are the Hambrough-Company, the Turkey-Company, the Eastland-Company, the Muscovia-Company.

It hath for many Years been a moote case, whether any Encorporating of Merchants, be for publik Good or not.

For my own part I am of Opinion:

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I. That for Countries with which his Majesty hath no Allieance, nor can have any by reason of their distance, or Barbarity, or non-Communication with the Princes of Christendom, &c., where there is a necessity of Maintaining Forces and Forts (such as East-India and Guinia), Companies of Merchants are absolute necessary.

II. It seems evident to me that the greatest part of these two Trades ought for publick Good, to be managed by joynt Stock.

[Since that time the English have found the secret of reconciling the liberty and protection of commerce on the coast of Africa. See Grande Bretagne, its commerce.6]

III. It’s questionable to me, whether any other Company of Merchants are for publick good or hurt.

IV. I conclude however, that all restrictions of Trade are naught, and consequently that no Company whatsoever, whether they Trade in a Joynt Stock or under Regulation, can be for publick Good, except it may be easie for all, or any of his Majesty’s Subjects to be admitted into all, or any of the said Companies, at any time for a very inconsiderable Fine, and that if the Fine exceed 20 l. including all Charges of admission, it is too much, and that for these Reasons.

1. Because the Dutch who thrive best by Trade, and have the surest rules to thrive by, admit not only any of their own People, but even Jews and all kind of Aliens, to be Free of any of their Societies of Merchants, or any of their Cities or Towns Corporate.

2. Nothing in the World can enable us to coape with the Dutch in any Trade, but encrease of Hands and Stock, which a general admission will do; many Hands and much Stock being as necessary to the Prosperity of any Trade, as Men and Money to warfare.

3. There is no pretence of any good to the Nation by Companies, but only Order and Regulation of Trade; and if that be preserved (which the admission of all that will come in and submit to the Regulation, will not prejudice) all the good to the Nation that can be hoped for by Companies, is obtained.

4. The Eastland, besides our Native Commodities, spend great quantities of Italian, Spanish, Portugal, and French Commodities, viz. Oyle, Edition: current; Page: [61] Wine, Fruit, Sugar, Succads, Shoomack, &c. Now, in regard our East-Country Merchants of England are few, compared with the Dutch, and intend principally that one Trade out and home, and consequently are not so conversant in the aforesaid Commodities, nor forward to adventure upon them, and seeing that by the Companies Charter our Italian, Spanish, Portugal and French Merchants, who understand those Commodities perfectly well, are excluded those Trades, or at least, if the Company will give them leave to send out those Goods, are not permitted to bring in the Returns; it follows, that the Dutch must supply Denmark, Sweeden, and all parts of the Baltique, with most of those Commodities, and so it is in fact.

5. The Dutch who have no Eastland-Companies, yet have ten times the Trade to the Eastern parts as we have; and for Italy, Spain and Portugal, where we have no Companies, we have yet left full as much, if not more Trade, then the Dutch. [If, in this situation, English trade was equal to that of Holland in the countries just named, it is evident that either this trade was increased by the liberty of Northern shipping, or that England resold to Holland a part of its return cargo, and thereby deprived itself of a substantial portion of its benefit. It is an effect of all restricted shipping, because large stocks alone procure large sales.] And for Russia and Greenland where we have Companies (and I think Establisht by Act or Acts of Parliament) our Trade is in effect wholly lost, while the Dutch have, without Companies, encreased theirs to above forty times the Bulk of what the residue of ours now is.

From whence may be inferred:

  • 1. That restrained limitted Companies are not alone sufficient to preserve and encrease a Trade.
  • 2. That limitted Companies, though Established by Act of Parliament, may lose a Trade.
  • 3. That Trade may be carried on to any part of Christendom, and encreased without Companies.
  • 4. That we have declined more, at least have encreased less, in those Trades limitted to Companies, then in others where all his Majesties Subjects have had equal freedom to Trade.

The common Objections against this easie admission of all his Majesties Subjects into Companies of Merchants, are:

Object. 1. If all persons may come into any Company of Merchants on such easie terms, then young Gentlemen, Shop-keepers and divers others Edition: current; Page: [62] will turn Merchants, who through their own unskillfulness will pay dear for our native Commodities here, and sell them cheap abroad; and also buy Foreign Commodities dear abroad, and sell them here for less then their cost, to the Ruin of themselves, and Destruction of Trade.

I answer, first, caveat emptor, let particular Men look to themselves,7 and so doubtless they will in those Trades for which there are now Companies, as well as they do in others for which there are no Companies.

It is the care of Law-makers first and principally, to provide for the People in gross, not particulars, and if the consequence of so easie an admission, should be to make our Manufactures cheap abroad, and Foreign Commodities cheap here (as is alledged), our Nation in general would have the advantage both ways.

Object. 2. If all should be admitted &c. Shop-keepers, being the Retailors, of the same Commodities the Company Imports, would have so much the advantage of the Merchant, that he would beat the Merchant wholly out of the Trade.

I answer, first, We see no such thing in Holland, nor in the open Trades, viz. France, Spain, Portugal, Italy, and all our own Plantations, neither can that well be, for to drive a retail Trade to any purpose, requires a Mans full Stock, as well as his full attendance, and so doth it to drive the Trade of a Merchant, and therefore few can find Stock and time to attend both; from whence it follows, that of the many Hundreds which in memory have turned Merchants, very few continued long to follow both, but commonly after two or three Years Experience, betake themselves wholly to Merchandizing, or returned to the sole Exercise of their Retail way; but whether they do, or do not, concerns not the Nation in general, whose common Interest is to buy cheap, whatever appellation the Seller hath, whether that of a meer Merchant, Gentleman, or a Shop-keeper.

Object. 3. If Shop-keepers and other unexperienced persons may turn Merchants, &c. they will through Ignorance neglect buying and sending out our Native Manufactures, and will send out our Money, or Bills of Exchange to buy Foreign Commodities, which is an apparent National loss.

I answer, that Shop-keepers are, like all other Men (led by their profit) and if it be for their Advantage to send out Manufactures, they will do it without forcing; and if it be for their Profit to send over Money or Edition: current; Page: [63] Bills of Exchange, they will do that, and so will Merchants as soon and as much as they.

Object. 4. If any may be admitted, &c. what do we get by our seven Years Service, and the great Sums of Money our Parents gave to bind us Apprentices to Merchants? &c. And who will hereafter bind his Son to a Merchant?

I answer, The end of Service and giving of Money with Apprentices, I have always understood to be the Learning of the Art or Science of Merchandizing, not the purchasing of an Immunity or Monopoly to the prejudice of our Country; and that it is so, is evident from the practice, there being many general Merchants that are free of no particular Company, who can have as large Sums of Money with Apprentices, as any other that are free of one or more particular Companies of Merchants; and many Merchants that are free of particular Companies, unto whom few will have any considerable sums of Money with Apprentices; the proportion of Money given with Apprentices not following the Company a Merchant is free of, but the condition the Master, as to his more or less reputed skill in his Calling, Thriving or going backward, greater or lesser Trade, well or ill Government of himself and Family, &c.

Obj. 5. If all should be admitted on such easie terms, will not that be manifest Injustice to the Companies of Merchants, who by themselves or Predecessors have been at great Disburstments to purchase Priviledges & Immunities abroad, as the Turkey-Company, and the Hambrough-Company have done.

I answer, That I am yet to learn that any Company of Merchants not trading with a joynt Stock, such as the Turkey, Hambrough, Muscovia and Eastland Companies ever purchased their Priviledges, or built and maintained Forts, Castles or Factories, or made any Wars at their own charge; but I know the Turkey Company do maintain an Embassador and two Consuls, and are sometimes necessitated to make Presents to the Grand Senior,8 or his great Officers; and the Hambrough Company are at some charge to maintain their Deputy, and Minister at Hambrough; and I think it would be great Injustice that any should trade to the places within their Charters, without paying the same Duties or Leviations towards the Companies charge as the present Adventurers do pay, but I know not why any should be barred from trading to those places, or forced to pay a great Fine for admition, that are willing to pay Edition: current; Page: [64] the Companies Duties, and submit to the Companies regulation and orders in other respects.

Obj. 6. If all may be admitted as aforesaid, then such numbers of Shop-keepers and others would come into the Society of Merchants, as would by the Majority of Votes so much alter the Governours, Deputy and Assistants of the respective Companies, that Ignorant Persons would come into those ruling places, to the general prejudice of those Trades.

I answer, Those that make this Objection, if they be Merchants, know there is very little in it, for that it is not to be expected that twenty Shop-keepers will come into any one Company in a Year; and therefore can have no considerable influence upon the Elections; but if many more should come in, it would be the better for the Nation, and not the worse for the Company, for that all men are lead by their Interest, and it being the common Interest of all that engage in any Trade, that the Trade should be regulated and governed by wise, honest and able men, there is no doubt but most men will Vote for such as they esteem so to be, which is manifest in the East-India-Company, where neither Gentlemen nor Shopkeepers were at first excluded, neither are they yet kept out; any English-man whatsoever being permitted to come into that Company that will buy an Action, paying only five Pounds to the Company for his admission; and yet undeniable experience hath convinced all Gain-sayers in this matter; that Company, since its having had so large and National a Foundation, having likewise had a succession of much better Governours, Deputies and Assistants then ever it had upon that narrow bottom it stood formerly, when none could be admitted to the freedom of that Company, for less than a Fine of Fifty Pounds; and the success hath been answerable, For the first Company settled upon that narrow limitted Interest, although their Stock was larger, then this, decayed and finally came to ruin and destruction; Whereas on the contrary, this being settled on more rational, and consequently more just, as well as more profitable Principles, hath through Gods Goodness thriven and encreased to the trebling of their first Stock.

What concerns the various companies of Europe is relegated to the commerce of each state. This article is by M. V.D.F.

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Competition (Concurrence)*

Competition, in matters of commerce. This word sets out the idea of several persons aspiring to one preference: thus, when various individuals undertake to sell the same commodity, each one strives to offer it better or at a lower price, to obtain the preference of the buyer.

One immediately sees that competition is the soul and the spur of industry, and the most active principle of commerce.

This competition is either external or internal.

The external competition of a nation’s commerce consists in being able to sell abroad the products of its land and industry in the same quantity as other nations sell theirs—proportional to their respective populations, their capital stock, and the extent and fertility of their lands. The nation that does not sustain this competition in the proportion that we have just discussed will inevitably possess power that is inferior to that of others, because its men are less employed, less rich, less happy, thenceforth relatively fewer—in short, in less of a position, relatively speaking, to support the commonwealth. It cannot be too often repeated: the balance of trade is truly the balance of power.

This external competition is not obtained by force; it is the value of the efforts that human industry makes to grasp the tastes of the consumer, even to predict them and stimulate them.

Internal competition is of two kinds: one, between domestic commodities and foreign commodities of the same nature or the same use; and another type, depriving the people of the means of subsistence, should in general Edition: current; Page: [66] be proscribed. Those who contribute to introducing it—either by buying or selling—are genuinely guilty of increasing or maintaining the number of poor with which society is burdened.

The other type of internal competition is that of work among subjects: it consists in the fact that each of them has the capacity to be employed in the manner that he believes most lucrative, or that is most agreeable to him.

This is the principal basis of the freedom of trade: it alone contributes more than any other means to bringing to a nation that external competition which enriches it and makes it powerful. The reason is very simple. I won’t, perhaps, say that every man is so unfortunate as to be naturally inclined to work, but he is naturally inclined to procure his ease; and this ease, the wages of his labor, then makes his occupation agreeable to him. Thus, as long as no internal vice in the state’s administration sets obstacles to human industry, this industry enters by itself into the lists. The more substantial the number of its products, the more moderate is their price; and this price moderation obtains the preference of foreigners.

However, as money enters a state in this way, as the people’s means of subsistence multiply and the number of, or competition among, consumers increases, commodities must be represented by a larger sum. This increase in the price of everything is real, and is the first effect of the progress of human industry. But a fortunate circle of new competitions ushers in appropriate arrangements. The commodities subject to consumption become daily more abundant, and that abundance partly moderates their price increase; the other part is distributed imperceptibly among all those who produce things, or who exchange them, by the reduction in their profits. The reduction in this profit is itself compensated for by the reduction in interest rates, since, as the number of borrowers is found to be fewer than the number of lenders, money loses its value by unanimous agreement, like any other merchandise. This lowering of interest is, as we see, the result of active trade. Thus, we will observe in passing that in order to know whether a nation that has no mines is engaging in as much commerce as others—relative to the respective facility that each has to engage in commerce—it is enough to compare the rates of interest in each. For it is certain that if the competition in these rates is not equal, there will be no equality in the external competition in sales and shipping.

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When, by these manifest signs, one perceives a constant increase in a state’s commerce, all of its parts act and transmit equal movement to each other; it enjoys the full vigor of which it is capable.

A similar situation is inseparable from great luxury. It extends over diverse classes of the people because they are all prosperous. But the luxury that produces public ease, through increase of work, is never to be feared; external competition constantly checks its excess, which would otherwise soon be the fateful end of all prosperity. Human industry then opens new routes; it perfects its methods and its works. Frugal use of time and energy in some sense multiplies men; needs give birth to the arts, competition lifts them up, and the artists’ wealth makes them knowledgeable.

Such are the prodigious effects of this principle of competition—so simple at first sight, as are virtually all the principles of commerce. This one in particular seems to me to have a very rare advantage, namely to be subject to no exceptions. This article is by M. V.D.F.

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Conquest (Conquête)*

Conquest (Law of nations), acquisition of sovereignty by the superior arms of a foreign prince, who forces the defeated to submit to his dominion.

It is very important to establish the just power of the right of conquest—its laws, its spirit, its effects—and the foundations of the sovereignty acquired in this manner. But in order not to get lost on dark and untrod paths from lack of illumination, I will take on enlightened guides, known to all the world, who have newly and attentively traversed these tricky routes and who, holding me by the hand, will prevent me from falling.1

The right of conquest may be defined as a necessary, legitimate, and unfortunate right, which always leaves an immense debt to be discharged if human nature is to be repaid.2

From the right of war derives that of conquest, which is its consequence.3 When a people is conquered, the right of the conqueror follows four sorts of laws: the law of nature, which makes everything tend toward the preservation of species; the law of natural enlightenment, which has us do to others what we would want to have done to us; the law that forms political societies, which are such that nature has not limited their duration; lastly, the law drawn from the thing itself.

Thus, a state that has conquered another treats it in one of these four ways: either it continues to govern its conquest according to its own laws and takes for itself only the exercise of the political and civil government; Edition: current; Page: [69] or it gives its conquest a new political and civil government; or it destroys the society and scatters its members off into other societies; or, finally, it exterminates all the citizens.

The first two ways conform to the law of nations that we presently follow.4 I would merely observe on the second that it is a risky enterprise on the conqueror’s part to want to give his laws and customs to the conquered people; there is no good in that, because one is capable of obeying in all sorts of governments. The last two ways5 conform to the law of nations among the Romans; on which, one can judge how much better we have become. Here homage must be paid to our modern times, to contemporary reasoning, to the religion of the present day, to our philosophy, to our mores. We know that conquest is an acquisition, and that the spirit of acquisition carries with it the spirit of preservation and use, not that of destruction.

When the authors of our public law, for whom ancient histories provided the foundation, have no longer followed cases strictly, they have lapsed into big mistakes.6 They have moved toward the arbitrary; they have presupposed among conquerors a right, I know not which one, of killing. This has made them draw consequences as terrible as the principle, and establish maxims that the conquerors themselves, when they have had the slightest sense, have never adopted. It is clear that, once the conquest is made, the conqueror no longer has the right to kill, because it is no longer for him a case of natural defense and of his own preservation.

What has made our political authors think this way is that they have believed the conqueror had the right to destroy the society; whence they have concluded that he had the right to destroy the men composing it, which is a consequence falsely drawn from a false principle. For it would not follow from the annihilation of the society that the men forming that society should also be annihilated. The society is the union of men and not the men themselves; the citizen may perish, and the man remain.

From the right to kill during conquest, political men have derived the right to reduce to servitude, but the consequence is as ill founded as the principle.

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One has the right to reduce a people to servitude only when it is necessary for the preservation of a conquest. The purpose of conquest is preservation. Servitude is never the purpose of conquest, but it is sometimes a necessary means for achieving preservation.

In this case, it is against the nature of the thing for this servitude to be eternal. It must be possible for the enslaved people to become subjects. Slavery is accidental to conquest. When, after a certain length of time, all the parts of the conquering state are bound to those of the conquered state by customs, marriage, laws, associations, and a certain conformity of spirit, servitude should cease. For the rights of the conqueror are founded only on the fact that these things do not exist and that there is a distance between the two nations, such that the one cannot trust the other.

Thus, the conqueror who reduces a people to servitude should always reserve for himself means—and these means are innumerable—for allowing them to leave it as soon as possible.7

These are not, adds M. Montesquieu, vague things here; these are principles, and our forefathers who conquered the Roman Empire put them in practice. They softened the laws that they had made in the heat, the activity, the impetuosity, the arrogance of victory; their laws had been hard, they made them impartial. The Burgundians, the Goths, and the Lombards always wanted the Romans to be the defeated people; the laws of Euric, of Gundobad, and of Rotharis made the barbarian and the Roman fellow citizens.

Instead of drawing such fatal consequences from the right of conquest, political men would have done better to speak of the advantages this right can sometimes confer on a vanquished people.8 They would have been more sensitive to these advantages if our law of nations were followed exactly and if it were established around the earth. Sometimes the frugality of the conquering nation has put it in position to leave the defeated people the necessities that their own prince had taken from them. One has seen states whose oppression by tax collectors was relieved by the conqueror, who had neither the commitments nor the needs of the legitimate prince. Edition: current; Page: [71] A conquest can destroy harmful prejudices, and, if one dares to say it, can put a nation under a better tutelary spirit. What good could the Spanish not have done for the Mexicans? And what harm did they not bring them by their destructive conquests? I pass over in silence the details on the rules of conduct that the various conquering states should observe for the preservation and the good of their conquests; they will be found in the illustrious author of the Spirit of the Laws.

There would be many remarks to make on conquest considered as a means of acquiring sovereignty; I must again limit myself to the main ones.9

(1) Conquest considered in itself is rather the occasion for the acquisition of sovereignty than the immediate cause of that acquisition. The immediate cause of the acquisition of sovereignty is always the consent of the people, either express or tacit. Without that consent, the state of war still exists between two enemies, and it cannot be said that one is obliged to obey the other; it is merely that the consent of the vanquished is extorted by the superiority of the victor.

(2) Every legitimate conquest assumes that the victor had just cause to make war on the vanquished; without this, conquest is not itself a sufficient title, for one cannot grab the sovereignty of a nation by the law of the strongest, and by seizing possession alone, as with something that belongs to no one. Let no one speak of the prince’s glory in making conquests. His glory is his pride; it is a passion, not a legitimate right. Thus, when Alexander waged war on the most distant peoples, peoples who had never heard of him, such a conquest was certainly no more just title to the acquisition of sovereignty than brigandage is a legitimate means of becoming rich. The number and quality10 of the persons does not change the nature of the action; the offense is the same, the crime is identical.

But if the war is just, the conquest is as well; for first of all, it is a natural result of the victory, and the defeated who surrenders to the victor is merely paying ransom for his life. Besides, since the defeated have engaged in an unjust war by their own fault, rather than granting the just satisfaction they owed, they are held to have tacitly consented in advance to the Edition: current; Page: [72] conditions that the victor might impose on them, provided these contain nothing unjust or inhuman.

What to think of unjust conquests and of submission extorted by violence? Can it bestow a legitimate right? Pufendorf (Bk. VII, ch. vii) responds that one must distinguish whether the usurper has changed a republic into a monarchy, or instead has dispossessed the legitimate monarch. In the latter case, he is absolutely obliged to return the crown to the one he has stripped of it, or to his heirs, until one can reasonably assume that they have renounced their pretentions. And this is what one always assumes when a substantial amount of time has flowed by without their having been willing or able to make an effort to recover the crown.

Thus, in relation to sovereignty, the law of nations admits of a kind of prescription between kings and free peoples; it is what the interest and tranquility of societies demands. The peaceful and sustained possession of sovereignty has to put it definitively beyond attack; otherwise there would be no end of disputes concerning realms and their limits, which would be a source of perpetual war. And there would hardly be a sovereign today who possessed authority legitimately.

It is in reality the people’s duty to resist the usurper at the beginning with all their might and to remain faithful to their sovereign. But if, despite all their efforts, their sovereign gets the worst of it and is no longer in a position to validate his law, they have no further obligations and can provide for their own preservation.

Peoples cannot do without government. And since they are not bound to expose themselves to perpetual war in order to uphold the interests of their first sovereign, they may render the right of the usurper legitimate by their consent. In these circumstances, the dispossessed sovereign should find consolation for the loss of his state as for a misfortune without remedy.

With regard to the first case, if the usurper has changed a republic into a monarchy, if he governs with moderation and equity, it is enough for him to have reigned peacefully for some time in order to give occasion to believe that the people are adjusting to his domination, and thus to erase what was vicious in the manner by which he had acquired it. This is what one may apply to the reign of Augustus, or if one does not want to apply it to him, one must nonetheless accept our maxim, that by the lapse of time, Edition: current; Page: [73] Usurpers of provinces become just princes by giving just laws. But if, on the other hand, the prince who has made himself master of the government of a republic drives it tyrannically, if he mistreats the citizens and oppresses them, one is then not obliged to obey him. In these circumstances, even the longest possession entails nothing else but a long continuation of injustice.

For the rest, nothing should better cure princes of the folly of distant usurpations and conquests than the example of the Spanish and Portuguese, and of all other less distant conquests—their uselessness, their uncertainty, and their reversals of fortune. Countless examples teach us how little these sorts of acquisition should be relied on. It happens sooner or later that a superior power uses the same means to take these acquisitions away from the one who has made them, or from his children. This is how France lost under John’s reign what Philip Augustus and St. Louis had conquered from the English, and how Edward III lost the conquests he had himself made in France. Then one finds one of Edward’s successors (Henry V) favorably restoring all of his predecessors’ losses, and the French in their turn recovering a short time afterward everything that prince had taken from them.11

Conquests are easily made, because they are made with all one’s forces and because one profits from the opportunity. They are difficult to preserve, because they are defended with only a part of these forces. The aggrandizement of a conquering prince’s state reveals new areas by which it can be taken, and favorable conjunctures are chosen to this effect. It is the fate of heroes to ruin themselves conquering countries that they lose afterward. The reputation of their arms may extend their state, but the reputation of their justice would increase its strength more solidly. Thus, just as monarchs must have wisdom to legitimately increase their power, they must have no less prudence in order to limit it. Article by Ch. de Jaucourt

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Public Corruption (Corruption Publique)*

*Public Corruption (Politics and Morality). It has two sources: the nonobservance of good laws; the observance of bad laws. It has always seemed to me more difficult to have good laws be observed rigorously than to abrogate bad ones. Abrogation is the result of public authority. Observation is the result of private integrity.

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Democracy (Démocratie)*

Pons writes that “like Montesquieu, de Jaucourt does not believe that democracy is possible in a large state” (205). But Pons’s edition includes only the first two paragraphs of the article. A reading of the full article, as translated below, will provide a fuller opportunity to gauge the author’s endorsement of democracy. See also the article Federal Republic, below, for further discussion of the possibilities of popular government in large states.

Democracy (Political law) is one of the simple forms of government, the one in which the people as a body have sovereignty. Every republic in which sovereignty resides in the hands of the people is a democracy; and if the sovereign power is found in the hands of only part of the people, it is an aristocracy. See Aristocracy.

Although I do not think that democracy is the most convenient or most stable form of government, although I am persuaded that it is disadvantageous for large states, I nonetheless believe it to be one of the most ancient forms among nations that have followed as equitable this maxim:

“That whatever the members of the society have an interest in should be administered by all in common.”1

The natural equity that exists among us, says Plato (speaking of Athens, his Country), makes us seek in our government an equality consonant with Edition: current; Page: [79] the law, while at the same time making us submit to those among us who have the most ability and wisdom.

It seems to me not without reason that democracies boast of being nurseries of great men.2 In fact, since there is no one in popular governments who does not have a part in the administration of the state—each according to his status3 and his merit—since there is no one who does not participate in the fortunes or misfortunes of events, all individuals vie with each other in applying themselves and interesting themselves in the common good, because there are no revolutions that are not useful or harmful to all. Moreover, democracies lift spirits, because they show the way to honors and glory, which are more open to all citizens, more accessible and less limited than under government of a few or government of one, in which countless obstacles prevent them from appearing. It is these happy prerogatives of democracy that fashion men, great deeds and heroic virtues. To be convinced of it, one need only cast one’s eyes over the republics of Athens and Rome, which by their constitutions raised themselves above all the world’s empires. And wherever one follows their conduct and their maxims, they will produce virtually the same effects.

It is thus not a matter of indifference to seek the fundamental laws that constitute democracies, and the principle that alone can preserve and maintain them; this is what I propose to sketch here.4

But before going any further, it is necessary to remark that in a democracy, each citizen does not have the sovereign power, or even a part of it; that power resides in the general assembly of the people convoked according to the laws. Thus, the people in a democracy are in certain respects sovereign, and in other respects they are subjects.5 They are sovereign by their votes, which are their wills; they are subjects as members of the assembly vested with sovereign power. Since, therefore, democracy is only properly formed when each citizen has entrusted the right of settling all common Edition: current; Page: [80] affairs to an assembly composed of all, there arise several things absolutely necessary for the constitution of this sort of government.

(1) There must be certain settled times and places for common deliberation over public affairs. Otherwise, the members of the sovereign council might not assemble at all, and then nothing would be dealt with; or else they would assemble in different times and different places, giving birth to factions that would rupture the essential unity of the state.

(2) It must be established as a rule that the plurality of votes will be considered the will of the whole body; otherwise, no affair can ever be brought to conclusion, because it is impossible that a large number of persons will always be of the same opinion.

(3) It is essential to the constitution of a democracy that there be magistrates charged with convoking the assembly of the people in extraordinary cases, and with having the decrees of the sovereign assembly executed. Since the sovereign council cannot always be on the alert, it is obvious that it cannot deal with everything by itself. For as concerns pure democracy—that is, the one in which the people in themselves and by themselves perform alone all the functions of government—I know of none like that in the world, unless perhaps it’s a little dump6 like San-Marino in Italy, where five hundred peasants govern a wretched rock whose possession is envied by no one.7

(4) It is a necessary part of the democratic constitution to divide the people into certain classes, and upon this the duration and prosperity of democracies have always depended. Solon divided the people of Athens into four classes. Guided by the spirit of democracy, he created these four classes to determine not those who could elect, but those who could be elected. And leaving to each citizen the right of suffrage, he decreed that judges could be elected in each of these four classes, but only magistrates in the first three, composed of leisured8 citizens.

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The laws establishing the right to vote are therefore fundamental in this government. Indeed, it is as important in this case to regulate how, by whom, for whom, and on what issues votes should be cast, as it is in a monarchy to know the monarch and how he should govern. At the same time, it is essential to set the age, condition, and number of citizens that have the right to vote; otherwise, it might not be known whether the people have spoken, or only a part of the people.

The method of casting one’s vote is another fundamental law of democracy. One may cast one’s vote by lot or by choice, and even by both. Lot leaves to each citizen a reasonable expectation of serving his Country. But since it is imperfect by itself, the great legislators have always applied themselves to remedying it. With this in mind, Solon determined that only those who presented themselves could be elected; that whoever was elected would be examined by judges, and that each one could accuse him without being unworthy.9 This applied to both lot and choice. On completing his term, the magistrate had to go through a second judgment regarding the way in which he had conducted himself. People without ability, M. de Montesquieu observes here,10 must have been very reluctant to offer their names to be drawn by lot.

The law that determines the way votes are cast is a third fundamental law in democracy. A great question is debated on this score, namely, whether the votes should be public or secret, for both practices are in use in different democracies. It seems they cannot be too secret (to maintain their liberty), nor too public (to make them authentic), so that the lesser people may be enlightened by the leaders and contained by the gravity of certain eminent men. In Geneva, in the election of first magistrates, the citizens cast their votes in public but write them in secret, so that order is then maintained with liberty.11

The people, who have sovereign power, should do by themselves everything they can do well; and what they cannot do well, they should have done by their ministers. But the ministers are not theirs if they do not name Edition: current; Page: [82] them. It is thus a fourth fundamental law of this government that the people name their ministers—that is, their magistrates. Like monarchs, and even more so, they need to be guided by a council or senate. But to have confidence in it, they must elect its members, either by choosing them themselves as in Athens, or through some magistrate they have established to elect them, such as was practiced in Rome on occasion. The people are quite fit to choose those in whom they are to entrust some part of their authority. If there could be doubts about their capacity to discern merit, one need only remember that continual series of excellent choices made by the Greeks and Romans, which will surely not be attributed to chance. However, just as most citizens who have enough capacity to elect do not have enough to be elected, so too the people, who have enough capacity to call others to account for their management, are not fit to manage by themselves, nor to conduct public business, which proceeds at a pace with a certain movement that is neither too slow nor too fast. Sometimes with a hundred thousand arms they upset everything; sometimes with a hundred thousand feet they move only like insects.

Finally, it is a fundamental law of democracy that the people be the legislator. However, there are countless occasions when it is necessary for the senate to be able to enact laws; it is often even appropriate to test a law before establishing it. The constitutions of Rome and Athens were very wise. The decrees of the senate had the force of law for a year; they became permanent only by the will of the people.12 But although every democracy must inevitably have written laws, ordinances, and stable rules and regulations, nonetheless nothing prevents the people who have provided these from revoking them, or changing them any time they think it necessary, unless they have sworn to observe them in perpetuity. And even in that case, the oath obliges only those citizens who have themselves taken it.

Such are the main fundamental laws of democracy. Let us speak now of the spring or principle that is appropriate for the preservation of this type of government.13 This principle can only be virtue, and it is only by means of this that democracies are maintained. Virtue in a democracy is love of Edition: current; Page: [83] the laws and love of Country. Since this love demands self-renunciation, a constant preference of the public interest to one’s own produces all the private virtues; they simply are that preference.14 This love leads to good mores, and good mores lead to love of Country.15 The less we are able to satisfy our private passions, the more we give ourselves up to passions for the general good.

Virtue in a democracy also includes love of equality and of frugality.16 Since everyone there has the same happiness and the same advantages, everyone is bound to taste the same pleasures and form the same hopes, things that can be expected only from a generalized frugality. Love of equality limits ambition to the happiness of rendering greater services to one’s Country than other citizens do. They cannot all render it equal services, but they should equally render it services. Thus, distinctions in a democracy arise from the principle of equality, even when equality seems to be erased by successful services or superior talents. Love of frugality limits the desire of possession to the concern required by what is necessary for one’s family, and even by what is surplus for one’s Country.

Love of equality and love of frugality are strongly aroused by equality and frugality themselves, when one lives in a state in which the laws establish both.17 There are nonetheless cases in which equality among democracy’s citizens can be taken away for democracy’s utility.18

The ancient Greeks, persuaded that peoples who lived in a popular government must of necessity be brought up in the practice of the virtues necessary to maintain democracies, created distinctive institutions to inspire these virtues.19 When you read in the life of Lycurgus the laws he gave the Lacedemonians, you think you are reading the history of the Sevarambes.20 The laws of Crete were the originals for the laws of Lacedemon, and Plato’s laws were their correction.

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Private education should also be extremely attentive about inspiring the virtues we have discussed. But there is one sure way for children to have them, and that is for the fathers themselves to have them.21 One is ordinarily in charge of giving one’s knowledge to one’s children, and even more in charge of giving them one’s passions. If this does not happen, it is because what was done in the father’s house is destroyed by impressions from the outside. It is not young people who degenerate; they are ruined only when grown men have already been corrupted.

The principle of democracy is corrupted when love of the laws and of Country begins to deteriorate, when general and individual education are neglected, when honest desires change their goals, when work and duty are called obstacles. From then on, ambition enters those hearts that can admit it, and avarice enters them all.22 These truths are confirmed by history. Athens had in its midst the same forces when it dominated with so much glory as when it served with so much shame. It had twenty thousand citizens when it defended the Greeks against the Persians, when it disputed for empire with Lacedemon, and when it attacked Sicily. It had twenty thousand when Demetrius of Phalereus enumerated them as one counts slaves in a market. When Philip dared dominate in Greece, the Athenians feared him as the enemy not of liberty but of pleasure. They had passed a law to punish by death anyone who might propose that the silver destined for the theaters be converted to the uses of war.

Finally,23 the principle of democracy is corrupted not only when the spirit of equality is lost but also when the spirit of extreme equality is taken up and everyone wants to be the equal of those chosen to command. At that point, the people, finding intolerable even the power they entrust to others, want to do everything themselves: deliberate for the senate, execute for the magistrates, and cast off all the judges. This abuse of democracy is with reason called a veritable ochlocracy. See this word. In this abuse, there is no more love of order, no more mores—in a word, no more virtue. Corrupters then emerge, petty tyrants having all the vices of a single one. Soon, a Edition: current; Page: [85] single tyrant rises up over the others, and the people lose everything, even the advantages they thought to derive from their corruption.

It would be a fortunate thing if popular government could preserve mores, frugality, love of virtue, execution of the laws; if it could avoid the two excesses—I mean the spirit of inequality that leads to aristocracy, and the spirit of extreme equality that leads to the despotism of one. But it is quite rare that a democracy is able to save itself for long from these two shoals. It is the fate of this government, admirable in its principle, to become almost inevitably the prey of the ambition of some citizens, or of some foreigners, and thereby to pass from a precious liberty into the greatest servitude.

There you have virtually an extract of the book The Spirit of the Laws on that topic, and in any other work but this one, it would be enough to refer to it. I leave it to readers who would like to extend their views still further, to consult Lord Temple in his Posthumous Works, Locke’s Treatise of civil government, and the Discourse on government by Sidney.24 Article by Chevalier de Jaucourt

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Despotism (Despotisme)*

Despotism (Political law), tyrannical, arbitrary, and absolute government of a single man: such is the government of Turkey, the Mogol, Japan, Persia, and virtually all of Asia. Following some celebrated writers, let us unfold its principle and its character, and let us give thanks to heaven for causing us to be born under a different government, where we obey with joy a monarch that it makes us love.

The principle of despotic states is that a lone prince governs everything according to his will, having absolutely no other law to dominate him but that of his whims. It is in the nature of this power that it passes entirely into the hands of the person in whom it is entrusted.1 This person, this vizir, becomes the despot himself, and each individual officer becomes the vizir. The establishment of a vizir flows from the fundamental principle of despotic states.2 When eunuchs have weakened the hearts and minds of the eastern princes, and have often left them ignorant even of their status, these princes are withdrawn from the palace to be placed on the throne. They then appoint a vizir, in order to give themselves up in their seraglio to all the excesses of their most stupid passions. Thus, the more people the prince has to govern, the less he thinks about government; the greater the matters of business, the less he deliberates about them, since this concern belongs to the vizir. The latter, incompetent in his position, can neither express his fears about a future event to the sultan nor blame his lack of success on the Edition: current; Page: [87] caprice of fortune.3 In such a government, the lot of men is no different from that of beasts: instinct, obedience, punishment. In Persia, when the Sophi4 has dismissed someone from favor, it would show a lack of respect to present a petition on the latter’s behalf. When he has condemned him, no one may speak to him further about it or ask for a pardon. If he were drunk or mad, the decree would have to be carried out just the same; otherwise, he would be contradicting himself, and the Sophi cannot contradict himself.

But if, in despotic states, the prince is made a prisoner, he is supposed dead, and another ascends the throne.5 The treaties he makes as a prisoner are null; his successor would not ratify them. Indeed, since he is the law, the state, and the prince, and since as soon as he is no longer the prince he is nothing, if he were not considered dead, the state would be destroyed. The preservation of the state rests only in the preservation of the prince, or rather of the palace in which he is enclosed. This is why he rarely wages war in person.

Despite so many precautions, the succession to dominion in despotic states is no more assured by them, and indeed it cannot be.6 It would be vain to establish inheritance by the eldest; the prince can always choose another. Since each prince of the royal family is equally entitled to be elected, it happens that the one who ascends to the throne has his brothers strangled immediately, as in Turkey; or blinded, as in Persia; or driven mad, as with the Moguls; and if these precautions are not taken, as in Morocco, then each time the throne is vacated a horrible civil war ensues. In this way, no one is monarch except by fact in despotic states.

It is clear that neither natural law nor the law of nations is the principle of such states, nor is honor.7 As the men there are all equal, one cannot prefer oneself to others; as the men there are all slaves, one cannot prefer oneself to anything. Still less would we look there for some spark of magnanimity—would the prince give out a share of what he is so far from Edition: current; Page: [88] having?8 Neither grandeur nor glory are found in him. The whole support of his government is based on fear of his vengeance; this beats down all courage; it extinguishes the least feeling of ambition.9 Religion, or rather superstition, does the rest, because this is a new fear added to the first.10 In the Mohammedan empire, the people derive the principal part of the respect they have for their prince from religion.

Let us go into more detail, to better unveil the nature of and problems with the despotic governments of the Orient.

First of all, since despotic government is exercised over peoples that are timid and beaten down, everything turns on a small number of ideas; education is limited to putting fear in their hearts, and servitude in practice. Knowledge is dangerous there, emulation lethal. It is equally pernicious whether one reasons well or badly; that one is reasoning is enough to offend this kind of government.11 Education is therefore nothing there; one could only make a bad subject by wanting to make a good slave:

Knowledge, talents, public liberty, All is dead under the yoke of despotic power.12

Women are slaves there, and since having many of them is permitted, countless considerations oblige them to be enclosed. Since sovereigns take as many as they want, they have such a large number of children by them that they can scarcely have affection for them, nor the latter for their brothers.13 Moreover, there are so many intrigues in their seraglios—those places where artifice, wickedness, and deceit reign in silence—that the prince himself, becoming daily more imbecilic, is in fact only the first prisoner of his palace.

It is an established custom in despotic countries not to approach any superior without giving him presents.14 The emperor of the Moguls does not accept requests from his subjects unless he has received something from them. This is bound to be the way in a government where one is filled with Edition: current; Page: [89] the idea that the superior owes nothing to the inferior, in a government where men believe themselves bound only by the punishments that the former mete out to the latter.

Poverty and the uncertainty of fortunes naturalizes usury there, as each one increases the price of his money in proportion to the peril involved in lending it.15 Destitution is omnipresent in these miserable countries; everything is taken away, including the recourse to borrowing. Government could not be unjust without hands to inflict its injustices. Now it is impossible for these hands not to be used on their own behalf; therefore, embezzlement is inevitable there. In countries where the prince declares himself owner of all the land and heir to all his subjects, cultivation of the land is always abandoned. All is fallow, all is deserted.16

When the Savages of Louisiana want fruit, they cut down the tree and gather the fruit.17

There you have despotic government, says the author of the Spirit of the Laws; Raphael did no better in painting the School of Athens.

In a despotic government of that nature, there are no civil laws on landed property, since it all belongs to the despot.18 Nor are there any on inheritance, because the sovereign has the sole right of succession. Because trade belongs exclusively to the despot in some countries, all types of laws concerning commerce are rendered useless. Since extreme servitude cannot be increased, new laws to increase taxes in wartime do not make their appearance in the despotic countries of the Orient, as they do in republics and monarchies, where the science of government can procure an increase in wealth for the government in time of need.19 Because marriages are contracted with female slaves in Oriental countries, there are scarcely any civil laws about dowries or the privileges of wives.20 In Masulipatam,21 the Edition: current; Page: [90] existence of written laws has not been discovered; the Vedas and other similar books contain no civil laws. In Turkey, where people are equally unbothered about the fortune, life, or honor of the subjects, all disputes are speedily concluded in one way or another. The pasha has canings under the soles of the pleaders’ feet meted out at whim, and sends them back home.22

If pleaders are punished in this way, how rigorous must the penalties be for those who have committed some offense? Thus, when we read in history about examples of the atrocious justice of the sultans, we feel with a kind of sorrow the sickness in human nature. In Japan it is even worse; there, almost all crimes are punished by death. There, it is not a question of correcting the guilty but of avenging the emperor. A man who risks some money in gambling is punished by death because he has neither the ownership nor the usufruct of his property; it is the kubo who does.23

The people, who possess nothing of their own in the despotic lands we have depicted, have no sense of attachment to Country, and are bound by no obligation to its master. Thus, following M. La Loubère’s observation (in his Historical account of Siam),24 since the subjects have to suffer the same yoke no matter the prince, and since they cannot be made to bear a heavier one, they never take any part in the fortunes of whoever is governing them. At the least sign of disturbance or unrest, they placidly let the crown go to whoever has the most strength, nimbleness, or political savvy, whoever it may be. A Siamese man happily exposes himself to death to avenge a private insult, to escape from a burdensome life, or to avoid a cruel torture; but to die for prince or Country is a virtue unknown in that land. They lack the motives that animate other men; they have neither liberty nor property. Those imprisoned by the king of Pegu25 remain tranquilly in the new habitation assigned them, because it cannot be worse than Edition: current; Page: [91] the prior one. The inhabitants of Pegu act in the same way when they are taken by the Siamese. Those wretches—equally crushed in their country by servitude, equally indifferent toward the change of residence—have the good sense to say with the ass in the fable:

Fight it out and let us pasture, Our enemy, he is our master.26

The rebellion of Sacrovir brought joy to the Roman people; the universal hatred Tiberius had attracted by his despotism made people wish for a happy outcome for the public enemy:27 multi odio praesentium, suis quisque periculis laetabantur, says Tacitus.28

I know that the kings of the Orient are regarded as the adoptive children of heaven. Their souls are thought to be celestial, and to surpass others in virtue as much as the prosperity of their condition surpasses that of their subjects. Nonetheless, once the subjects revolt, the people come to harbor doubts on which is the worthier soul, that of the legitimate prince or that of the rebel subject, and on whether the celestial adoption hasn’t passed from the person of the king to that of the subject. Moreover, in those countries there are no small revolts;29 there is no space between murmur and sedition, sedition and catastrophe. The malcontent goes straight to the prince, strikes him, overthrows him—he erases even the thought of him. In an instant the slave is the master; in an instant he is the usurper and is legitimate. Great events are not prepared by great causes there; on the contrary, the least accident produces a great revolution, often as unforeseen by those who effect it as by those who suffer it. At the time when Osman, emperor of the Turks, was deposed, he was only being asked to give justice on some grievances; a voice arose from the crowd by chance, pronouncing the name of Mustapha, and suddenly Mustapha was emperor.

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Father Martini30 claims that the Chinese have convinced themselves that in changing the sovereign they are conforming to the will of heaven, and they have sometimes preferred a bandit to the prince who was already on the throne. But, he says, aside from the fact that this despotic authority is deprived of defense, since its exercise terminates entirely in the prince, it is weakened for not being shared and transmitted to other persons. Whoever wants to dethrone the prince has scarcely anything else to do but play the role of sovereign and capture its spirit. Authority, being contained within a single man, passes easily from one man to another, for lack of people in positions who have an interest in preserving royal authority. It is thus only the prince who is interested in defending the prince, whereas countless hands have an interest in defending our kings.

Thus, far from a despot’s being assured of maintaining himself on the throne, he is only closer to falling from it. Far from his even being secure in his life, he is only more exposed to seeing its course cut short in a violent and tragic manner, like his reign. The person of a sultan is often torn to pieces with less formality than that of a malefactor from the dregs of the people. If they had less authority, they would have more security: nunquam satis fida potentia, ubi nimia.31 Caligula, Domitian, and Commodus, who reigned despotically, were assassinated by those whose deaths they had decreed.

Let us conclude that despotism is equally harmful to princes and peoples in all times and all places, because it is everywhere the same in its principle and in its effects. It is particular circumstances—religious opinion, prejudice, received examples, established customs, manners, mores—that make up the differences one encounters among them throughout the world. But whatever these differences, human nature always rises up against a government of this kind, which is the misery of prince and subjects.32 And if we still see so many idolatrous and barbarous nations subject to this government, it is because they are enchained by superstition, education, habit, and climate.

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In Christianity, on the other hand, there cannot be an unlimited sovereignty, because however absolute that sovereignty may be supposed, it cannot include an arbitrary and despotic power, with no other rule or reason than the will of the Christian monarch. Look, how could the creature claim such a power, since the sovereign himself does not have it? His absolute domain is not founded on blind will; his sovereign will is always determined by the immutable rules of wisdom, justice, and goodness.

Thus, to echo La Bruyère,

to say that a Christian prince is the arbiter of the lives and property of his subjects is to say simply that men, by their crimes, become naturally subject to the laws and justice of which the prince is the depository. To add that he is the absolute master of all the property of his subjects—without consideration, without account or discussion—this is the language of flattery, it is the opinion of a favorite who will recant at the hour of death. (Chap. X du Souverain)33

But one may suggest that a king is master of the lives and property of his subjects because, loving them with a paternal love, he preserves them and takes care of their fortunes as he would something that was most proper to him. In this fashion, he conducts himself as if everything belonged to him, taking absolute power over all their possessions in order to protect and defend them. It is by this means that, winning the hearts of his people and thereby everything they have, he can declare himself their master, even though he never causes them to lose their ownership of it, except in cases ordained by law.

“It does not,” says a councilor of state (M. La Mothe le Vayer, in a book entitled The Household management of the Prince,34 which he dedicated to Louis XIV, ch. ix), “it does not, Sire, set harmful limits to your sovereign will, to set them in conformity with those by which God has intended to limit his own. If we say that Your Majesty owes protection Edition: current; Page: [94] and justice to his subjects, we add at the same time that Your Majesty is made accountable for this obligation, and for all of your actions, only to the one by whom all kings on earth are exalted. Finally, we do not attribute any personal property to your people except to thereby further exalt the dignity of your monarchy.”

Also, Louis XIV always recognized that he could do nothing contrary to the laws of nature, the laws of nations, or the fundamental laws of the state. In the treatise Of the rights of the Queen of France, published in 1667 by order of that august monarch to justify his claims over a part of the Catholic Low Countries, one finds these fine words:

That kings have that happy impotence, of being unable to do anything against the laws of their country. . . . It is (adds the author) neither imperfection nor weakness in a supreme authority to submit to the law of his promises, or to the justice of his laws. The necessity of doing well and the powerlessness to fail are the highest means of all his perfection. God himself, according to the thought of Philo the Jew, cannot go further. And it is this divine impotence that sovereigns, who are his images on earth, should particularly imitate in their states. (Page 279 of the edition printed according to the Royal printer’s copy.)

Let it not be said, therefore (continues the same author, who speaks in the name of, and with the approbation of, Louis XIV), let it not be said that the sovereign is not subject to the laws of his state, since the contrary proposition is a truth of the law of nations, which flattery has sometimes attacked, but which good princes have always defended as the tutelary divinity of their states. How much more legitimate is it to say with the wise Plato that the perfect felicity of a realm is for a prince to be obeyed by his subjects, for the prince to obey the law, and for the law to be upright and always directed toward the public good?

The monarch who thinks and acts in this way is indeed worthy of the name of Great, and he who can only augment his glory by continuing a dominance that is full of clemency, doubtless merits the title of Well-Loved.35 Article by Chevalier de Jaucourt.

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Volume 5 (1755)

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Natural Right (Droit Naturel)**

This article was controversial in its time and continues to be interpreted in different ways. Praised by the friendly Journal encyclopédique (February 15, 1756), it was attacked by Abraham Chaumeix in his Préjugés légitimes, II, 78–80, for attempting to free human beings of their obligations to God and country, leaving them with merely a vague duty to the “human species.” “You are a citizen of the world, and a patriot of nowhere. You have to do nothing, conceive of nothing, meditate on nothing except the temporal interests of yourself and other men,” he sums up Diderot’s pernicious doctrine. Some later commentators have seen Diderot’s “general will” in the light of Rousseau’s, but others see it as more like Adam Smith’s universal principle of sympathy in The Theory of Moral Sentiments. For his part, Rousseau criticized this article in the first version of the Social Contract (bk. 1, chap. 2), though the chapter was deleted in the definitive version.1

*Natural Rights2 (Morality). These words are used so frequently that almost everyone is convinced that they are clearly understood. This feeling Edition: current; Page: [98] is common to the philosopher and to the man who does not think, with the only difference that in regard to the question “What are rights?” the latter, in that moment lacking both terms and ideas, refers you to the tribunal of conscience and remains silent, while the first is only reduced to silence and to more profound reflections after having turned in a vicious circle that brings him back to the very point from which he departed or draws him to some other question that is not less difficult to resolve than the one he thought he was rid of by its definition.

The philosopher under question says: “Rights are the foundation or the primary object of justice.” But what is justice? “It is the obligation to render to each person what belongs to him.” But what belongs to one rather than to another in a state of things where everything belongs to everyone and where perhaps the distinct idea of obligation would not yet exist? And what would an individual owe to others if he were to allow them everything and ask nothing of them? It is here that the philosopher begins to feel that of all the notions of morality, that of natural rights is one of the most important and most difficult to determine. Therefore we believe we will have accomplished a great deal in this article if we have succeeded in clearly establishing a few principles that might assist someone to resolve the most considerable difficulties customarily proposed against the notion of natural rights. For this purpose it is necessary to discuss the question thoroughly and to advance nothing that is not clear and evident, with at least the kind of evidence that moral questions permit and that satisfy every sensible man.

(1) It is evident that if man is not free or if his instantaneous resolutions or even his indecision arise from something material that is external to his soul, then his choice is not the pure act of an incorporeal substance or of a simple faculty of that substance; there will therefore be neither rational benevolence nor rational malevolence, although it is possible to be both benevolent and malevolent at an animal level; there will be neither good nor evil in the moral sense, neither right nor wrong, neither obligation nor privilege. Hence we see, although we say it in passing, how important it is to establish firmly the reality, I do not say of what is voluntary, but of freedom, which is too often confused with the former.

(2) We live in a state of being that is poor, contentious, and anxious. We have passions and needs. We want to be happy; and at every moment the Edition: current; Page: [99] unjust and passionate man feels inclined to do to others what he would not wish to have done to himself. This is a judgment he makes at the bottom of his soul and that he cannot avoid. He sees his own malevolence and must admit it to himself, or grant to everyone the same authority that he arrogates to himself.

(3) But with what can we reproach a man who is tormented by passions so violent that even life becomes an onerous burden if he does not satisfy them and that in order to acquire the right to dispose of the existence of others, abandons to them his own? What shall we answer him if he intrepidly says, “I feel that I bring terror and disorder in the midst of mankind, but I must either be unhappy or make others unhappy; and nobody is dearer to me than I am to myself. Let no one reproach me with this abominable predilection: it is not free. It is the voice of nature that never explains itself more powerfully than when it speaks to me in my favor. But is it only in my heart that it makes itself heard with the same violence? O men! it is to you I appeal: which one among you who on the point of death would not buy back his life at the expense of the greater part of the human race if he could count on impunity and secrecy? But he will continue: I am fair and sincere; if my happiness demands that I destroy the lives of all those who disturb me, it is also necessary for an individual, whoever he may be, to be able to destroy mine if he is similarly disturbed; reason requires this, and I subscribe to it; I am not so unjust as to insist upon a sacrifice from another person that I do not wish to make for him.”

(4) I perceive first of all one thing that seems to me acknowledged by the good and the evil person, that we must apply reason in all matters, because man is not only an animal but an animal who reasons; that there are consequently, in regard to the question under discussion, ways to discover the truth; that the person who refuses to search for it renounces his human condition and must be treated by the rest of his species as a wild beast; and that the truth once discovered, whoever refuses to conform to it is mad or evil practicing a morality of malevolence.

(5) What shall we therefore answer our violent reasoner before we stifle him? That his entire discourse is reduced to knowing if he acquires the right over the lives of others by abandoning his own to them; because he does not want only to be happy, he wants to be fair and by his fairness Edition: current; Page: [100] brush far away from him the epithet of evil person; without which it would be necessary to stifle him without an answer. We shall therefore draw his attention to the fact that even if what he abandons would belong to him so completely that he were able to dispose of it at will, and that the condition that he proposes to others would be even advantageous to them, he has no legitimate authority to make them accept it; that the person who says “I want to live” has as much justification as the person who says “I want to die”; that the latter has only one life and by abandoning it makes himself the master of an infinity of lives; that his exchange would be hardly equitable if there were only himself and another evil person on the entire surface of the earth; that it is absurd to make others desire what one desires; that it is uncertain that the peril in which he places his fellow man is equal to the one to which he really wishes to be exposed; that what he allows to chance cannot be of proportionate value compared to what he forces me to chance; that the question of natural rights is much more complicated than it appears to him; that he appoints himself as judge and plaintiff, and that this matter would certainly not fall within the competence of his court.

(6) But if we take away from the individual the right of deciding about the nature of right and wrong, where shall we place this great question? Where? Before the entire human race; for only they may decide the issue, since the good of all is the only passion they have, particular wills are suspect; they can be good or evil, but the general will is always good: it is never wrong, it never will be wrong. If animals were on an approximate level with us, if there were certain means of communication between them and us, if they were able to convey clearly their feelings and thoughts and know ours with the same clarity: in a word, if they were able to vote in a general assembly, it would be necessary to summon them there, and the cause of natural rights would no longer be pleaded before humanity but before the animal kingdom [animalité]. But animals are separated from us by invariable and eternal barriers; and it is a question here of a category of knowledge and ideas peculiar to mankind which emanate from its dignity and which constitute it.

(7) It is to the general will that the individual must address himself to know up to what point he must be a man, a citizen, a subject, a father, a child, and when it is suitable to live or to die. The general will determines Edition: current; Page: [101] the limits of all duties. You have the most sacred natural rights in everything that is not contested by the entire species. They will enlighten you on the nature of your thoughts and your desires. Everything that you will conceive, everything that you will contemplate will be good, noble, exalted, and sublime if it is in the general and common interest. The only essential quality in your species is what you demand from all your fellow men for your happiness and for theirs. It is this conformity of you with all of them and all of them with you that will mark you when you go beyond or stay within the limits of your species. Therefore never lose sight of it; otherwise you will see the notions of benevolence, justice, humanity, and virtue blurred in your understanding. Say often to yourself: I am a man, and I do not have any other truly inalienable rights than those of humanity.

(8) But you will say to me, where is the depository of this general will? Where could I consult it? In the principles of law written by all civilized nations; in the social practices of savage and barbaric peoples; in the tacit conventions between enemies of mankind among themselves; and even in the feelings of indignation and resentment, these two passions which nature seems to have placed even in animals to compensate for the deficiency of laws in society and the blemish of public vengeance.

(9) If you therefore meditate carefully on the foregoing, you will remain convinced: (i) that the man who listens only to his particular will is the enemy of the human race; (ii) that the general will in each individual is a pure act of understanding that reasons in the silence of the passions about what man can demand of his fellow man and about what his fellow man can rightfully demand of him; (iii) that this consideration of the general will of the species as well as the common desire is the rule of conduct relating one individual to another in the same society, one individual to the society of which he is a member, and the society of which he is a member to other societies; (iv) that the submission to the general will is the bond of all societies, without excluding those formed by crime (alas! virtue is so beautiful that thieves respect its image in the very center of their dens!); (v) that the laws must be made for all and not for one, otherwise this solitary being would resemble the violent reasoner whom we have stifled in section 5; (vi) that since of the two wills, the one general and the other particular, the general will never falls into error, it is not difficult to see on which one, Edition: current; Page: [102] for the happiness of the human race, the legislatures ought to depend, and what veneration we owe the august mortals whose particular wills reunite both the authority and the infallibility of the general will; (vii) that if one were to assume the notion of the species being in perpetual flux, the nature of natural rights would not change, since it would always be related to the general will and to the common desire of the entire species; (viii) that equity is to justice as cause is to its effect, or that justice cannot be anything else than declared equity; (ix) that all these inferences are evident to the person who reasons, and that the person who does not wish to reason, renouncing his human condition, must be treated as an unnatural being.

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Natural Law (Droit de la Nature)**

This article is by Boucher d’Argis; in the third volume of the Encyclopédie, he is introduced to the readers in the following terms: “Thanks to the care of M. Boucher d’Argis, well known for his excellent works, jurisprudence, which is unfortunately a necessary science as well as an extensive one, will now appear in the Encyclopédie with all the detail it deserves.” The article on natural law is the second one on this topic in the Encyclopédie. The article which precedes this, entitled simply “Natural Right” (Droit Naturel), is by Diderot. Whereas Diderot’s article deals extensively with the moral issues involved and presents his personal views on justice, good, evil, and general will, the present article approaches the problem essentially from a historical point of view and offers a good introduction to the main authorities to whom eighteenth-century thinkers turned for definitions of natural law.

Law of Nature, or Natural Law, in its broadest sense, is taken to designate certain principles which nature alone inspires and which all animals as well as all men have in common. On this law are based the union of male and female, the begetting of children as well as their education, love of liberty, self-preservation, concern for self-defense.

It is improper to call the behavior of animals natural law, for, not being endowed with reason, they can know neither law nor justice.

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More commonly we understand by natural law certain laws of justice and equity which only natural reason has established among men, or better, which God has engraved in our hearts.

The fundamental principles of law and all justice are: to live honestly, not to give offense to anyone, and to render unto each whatever is his. From these general principles derive a great many particular rules which nature alone, that is, reason and equity, suggest to mankind.

Since this natural law is based on such fundamental principles, it is perpetual and unchangeable: no agreement can debase it, no law can alter it or exempt anyone from the obligation it imposes. In this it differs from positive law, meaning those rules which only exist because they have been established by precise laws. This positive law is subject to change by right of the same authority that established it, and individuals can deviate from it if it is not too strict. Certain people improperly mistake natural law for the law of nations. This latter also consists in part of rules which true reason has established among all men; but it also contains conventions established by men against the natural order, such as wars or servitude, whereas natural law admits only what conforms to true reason and equity.

The principles of natural law, therefore, form part of the law of nations, particularly the primitive law of nations; they also form part of public and of private law: for the principles of natural law, which we have stated, are the purest source of the foundation of most of private and public law. But public and private law contain rules based on positive laws. See Law of Nations, Positive Law, Public Law, Private Law (Droit des Gens, Droit Positif, Droit Public, Droit Privé). From these general ideas on natural law it becomes clear that this law is nothing other than what the science of manners and customs calls morality.

This science of manners or of natural law was known only imperfectly to the ancients; their wise men and their philosophers have spoken of it most often in a very superficial way; they introduced into it errors and vices. Pythagoras was the first to undertake a discussion of virtue. After him Socrates gave the best and broadest treatment, but he wrote nothing, being content to teach his disciples by means of simple conversations. Nevertheless he is considered the father of moral philosophy. The entire ethics of Plato, the disciple of Socrates, is contained within ten dialogues, several Edition: current; Page: [105] of which deal specifically with natural law and politics. This is the case with Plato’s treatises on the republic, on laws, on politics. Aristotle, Plato’s most celebrated disciple, was the first among ancient philosophers to have given a somewhat methodical system of ethics; but he deals more with the duties of the citizen than with those of man in general and with the reciprocal duties of those who are citizens in a well-run state.

The best treatise on morality that we have from the ancients is the De Officiis by Cicero which contains a summary of the principles of natural law. Still, a great many subjects are missing. They may have been contained in his treatise on the republic of which only fragments remain. There are also some good things in his treatise on laws, where he attempts to prove that there is a natural law independent of the institutions of men, which has its origins in the will of God. He demonstrates that this is the basis of all just and reasonable laws; he shows the importance of religion in civil society and concludes at length on the reciprocal duties of citizens.

The principles of natural equity were not unknown to Roman jurisconsults: some even claimed to follow them rather than the severe laws; this was the case for the sect of the Proculeans, whereas the Sabinians followed the letter of the law rather than the principles of equity.1 But in what has remained of the works of this great number of jurisconsults, one does not see that they treated ex professo either of natural law or of the law of nations.

Even the books of Justinian contain at most a few definitions and some very rudimentary notions about these two laws. We find these in the digest De justitia et jure and in the institutes De juri naturali: gentium et civili.

Among modern authors, Melanchthon gives a sketch of natural law in his Ethics. Benedict Winkler also sometimes mentions it in his Principes de droit, but he often mistakes man-made law for natural law.2

The famous Grotius is the first to have drafted a system of natural law in a treatise in three books entitled De jure belli et pacis. The title suggests merely the subdivisions of the law of nations, and it is true that the greatest Edition: current; Page: [106] part of the work deals with the law of war. In spite of this, the principles of natural law are laid down in the Preliminary Discourse, on the certitude of law in general, as well as in the first chapter. In this chapter, after having given the outline of the whole work and having defined the meaning of war and the ways in which one can understand the term law, Grotius explains that law taken as meaning a certain rule can be divided into natural law and arbitrary law. Natural law, according to him, consists in certain principles of true reason, which make us realize that a certain action is honest or dishonest, depending on whether it is or is not in accord with a reasonable and sociable nature. God, who is the creator of nature, therefore approves or condemns such action. Grotius examines how many different kinds of natural law exist, and how they can be distinguished from rules to which the name is applied erroneously. He maintains that neither the instinct men have in common with animals nor the instinct characteristic of all men, properly speaking, constitutes natural law. Finally he examines how the maxims of natural law can be proven.

The remainder of his work is mainly concerned with the laws of war and therefore with political law and the law of nations. Nevertheless a few topics can also be related to natural law, such as justifiable self-defense, rights common to all peoples, the original acquisition of property, other ways of acquiring property; the law concerning paternal power, marriage, legal and religious bodies, the power of sovereigns over their subjects, and masters over their slaves; territorial possessions, alienation of property; inheritance ab intestat, promises and contracts, oaths, royal promises and oaths, public treaties promulgated by the sovereign without his order, damages caused unjustly and the obligations which result; the rights of embassies, the right of burial, penalties, and how they are transmitted.

Shortly after the appearance of Grotius’s treatise, John Selden, the famous English jurisconsult, published a treatise on all the Hebrew laws concerning natural law. He entitled it De jure naturae et gentium apud Hebraeos.3 This is an erudite but unsystematic work, written in obscure language. In addition, this author does not derive the natural principles from the light of reason only. He simply deduces them from the seven supposed precepts Edition: current; Page: [107] given to Noah, the number of which is uncertain and which are based on a very dubious tradition. Often he even contents himself with relating the decisions of the rabbis, without examining whether they are well founded.

Thomas Hobbes was one of the greatest geniuses of his century, though unfortunately prejudiced by the indignation aroused in him by the seditious persons then fomenting troubles in England. In 1642 he published, in Paris, a treatise about the citizen4 where, among other dangerous opinions, he tries to establish, in accordance with Epicurus’s ethics, that the basis of society is self-preservation and private interest. This leads him to conclude that men have the desire, the strength, and the power to inflict evil upon each other, and that the state of nature is a state of war of all against all. He assigns to kings a limitless authority not only in matters of state, but also in matters of religion. Lambert Velthuisen, the Dutch philosopher, published a dissertation attempting to justify the way in which natural laws are presented in the treatise about the citizen. But he could only do it by either abandoning Hobbes’s principles or attempting to give them a favorable interpretation.5 Hobbes published still another work, called Leviathan,6 which states, in summary, that without peace there can be no security in a state; that peace cannot exist without control, and control cannot exist without weapons, and that weapons are useless unless they are in the hands of one person, etc. He openly maintains that the will of the sovereign not only creates the just and the unjust but also religion; that any divine revelation can become obligatory only after the sovereign, to whom he attributes arbitrary powers, has proclaimed it as law.

Since then Spinoza had the same ideas about the state of nature and has based them on the same principles.

We shall not attempt here to refute the pernicious systems of these two philosophers. It is easy to perceive their errors.

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Baron Puffendorf, having conceived the plan of a system of the law of nature and of nations, followed the spirit of Grotius; he examined things at their origin and took advantage of the knowledge of those who preceded him. To this he added his own discoveries and published a first treatise under the title of Elements of Universal Jurisprudence. This work, even though not perfect, gave such evidence of the great quality of the author that the following year7 the Elector Palatine Charles-Louis called him to his University of Heidelberg and founded for him the chair of Professor of Natural Law and the Law of Nations.

Barbeyrac in his Preface to the translation of Puffendorf’s treatise mentions another German professor called Buddaeus, who had been Professor of Natural Law and Ethics at Hall [sic, Halle] in Saxony and who was the author of a history of natural law.8

M. Burlamaqui, author of the principles of natural law of which we shall speak in a minute, used to be Professor of Natural and Civil Law in Geneva. This gives us a chance, in passing, to note that in several states of Germany and Italy the usefulness of establishing public schools dealing with natural law and the law of nations has been recognized. This law is the basis of civil, public, and private law. It would be well if the study of natural law and the law of nations and that of public law were held in equally high esteem everywhere. Let us return to Puffendorf whom we left for a moment.

The Elements of Universal Jurisprudence is not his only work on natural law. Two years later he produced his legal treatise De jure naturae et gentium which was translated and annotated by Barbeyrac; Puffendorf has also published an abridgment of this treatise, entitled The Duties of Man and the Citizen. Though his great work is called Of the Law of Nature and of Nations, he deals far more extensively with the law of nations than of nature. It has been analyzed under Law of Nations (Droit des Gens), to which we refer the reader.

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The most recent, the most precise, and the most methodical work that we have on natural law is the one which we have already mentioned by J. J. Burlamaqui, Councillor of State and formerly professor of Natural and Civil Law in Geneva. In 1747 in Geneva this work was printed in quarto. It is entitled Principles of Natural Law and is divided into two parts.9

The first part deals with general principles of law, the second with natural laws. Each of the two parts is divided into several chapters, and each chapter into several paragraphs.

In the first part, which relates to general principles of law, after having defined natural law, the author seeks the principles of this science in man’s nature and in his condition; he examines man’s actions, in particular as they concern the law; he explains that understanding is necessarily just, that its perfection consists in the knowledge of truth, and that ignorance and error are two obstacles to this knowledge.

From there he goes on to man’s will, to his instincts, inclinations, passions; to the use man makes of his freedom when he is dealing with truth and self-evident things, with good and evil, and with things not easily defined.

Man is capable of direction in his behavior, and he is accountable for his own actions.

The distinctions of the various conditions of man also enter into the knowledge of natural law; man has to be considered in his original state in relation to God, in relation to society or by himself. There have to be considerations of accessory and adventitious10 conditions resulting from war and peace, from birth and marriage. The weakness of man at birth puts children in a natural position of dependence on their parents; the situation of man vis-à-vis property and government brings about still other related conditions.

It would not be proper for men to live without rules; rules presuppose a final goal; that of man is to aspire to happiness; this is the system of Providence; it is the essential desire of man, inseparable from reason which is man’s basic guide. Since true happiness cannot be incompatible with the Edition: current; Page: [110] nature and condition of man, rules of conduct consist in a distinction between good and evil, in a comparison of past and present, in not seeking a good that may give rise to greater evil, in accepting a small evil if it is followed by a great good, in giving preference to the greatest good, in certain cases in being persuaded only by probability or verisimilitude and finally in acquiring the inclination toward the truly good.

In order really to know natural law, one has to understand what is meant by obligation in general. Law taken as power produces obligations; rights and obligations are several: some are natural, others are acquired; some are such that they cannot be rigidly fulfilled, others cannot be renounced. These obligations are also distinguished by their object. For instance, there is the right we have over ourselves, which is called liberty; the right of property or estate over things that belong to us; the right one has over the person or actions of another, which is called sovereignty or authority; finally the right one can have over things belonging to someone else, which is also of several kinds.

Man, by nature a dependent being, must take law as the rule of his action, for law is nothing other than a rule set down by the sovereign. The true foundations of sovereignty are power, wisdom, and goodness combined. The goal of laws is not to impede liberty but to direct properly all man’s actions.

In substance these are the topics considered by M. Burlamaqui in the first section of his work. In the second, which deals specifically with natural law, he defines it as the law God imposes on all men, which they can come to know by the light of their reason alone when they examine their nature and condition.11

Natural law is the systematization, the collection, or the body of these same laws. Natural jurisprudence is the art of arriving at the knowledge of the laws of nature, of developing them, and of applying them to man’s actions.

We cannot doubt realities of natural law, since everything contributes to proving the existence of God. He has the right to prescribe laws to men, Edition: current; Page: [111] and it is a consequence of His power, wisdom, and goodness to give men rules of conduct.

The ways by which one can distinguish what is just and unjust or what is dictated by natural law are:

  • (1) Instinct or a certain inner feeling that makes us lean toward certain actions or away from them.
  • (2) Reason, which confirms instinct; it develops principles and deduces consequences.
  • (3) God’s will, made known to man—and so becoming the supreme rule.

Man cannot arrive at a knowledge of natural laws except by examining his nature, his make-up, and his condition. All natural laws are concerned with three objects: God, the self, and others.

Religion is the principle of the laws which concern God.

Self-love is the principle of natural laws relating to ourselves.

The spirit of society is the basis of those laws which relate to others.

God has sufficiently revealed the natural laws to man; men can still help each other to know them. These laws are the work of God’s goodness. They do not depend upon an arbitrary institution; therefore they oblige all men to conform to them. They are perpetual, immovable, and admit no exceptions.

To apply natural law to actions, that is, to render equitable judgment, one has to consult one’s conscience, which is nothing else but one’s reason. When the question arises whether someone can be held responsible for the consequences of a bad action, it must be ascertained whether he knew the law and the fact or whether forces beyond his control constrained him to act contrary to natural law.

The authority of natural laws stems from the fact that they owe their existence to God. Men submit to them because to observe them leads to the happiness of men and society. This is a truth demonstrated by reason. It is equally true that virtue by itself is a principle of inner satisfaction, whereas vice is a principle of unrest and trouble. It is equally certain that virtue produces great external advantage, while vice produces great ills.

Yet virtue does not always have for those who practice it as happy outward effects as it should have. One can frequently observe the good and evil of nature and of fortune distributed unequally and not according to the merits of each individual. Evils resulting from injustice fall upon the Edition: current; Page: [112] innocent as well as upon the guilty, and often virtue itself is subject to persecution.

All man’s prudence is not sufficient to relieve such disorders. Still another consideration is necessary to force men to observe the natural laws, namely, the immortality of the soul and the belief in the future, where what might be missing in the sanction of natural laws will be carried out if divine wisdom deems it necessary.

This is how our author proves the authority of natural law over reason and religion, which are the two great lights given by God for man’s conduct.

The Preface of the book announces that this treatise is merely the beginning of a more extensive work, or a complete system of the law of nature and of nations, which the author intends to publish. However, since his plans were thwarted by other commitments and by ill health, he was determined to publish this first part. Though this is an excellent summary of natural law, one cannot help hoping that the author will complete the work he has undertaken, where the subject will be treated to the fullest extent.12

One can also refer to what is said on natural law in several places by the author of The Spirit of the Laws.13 (A)

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Public Law (Droit Public)**

This article contains a lucid summary of the proper scope of government, as seen by a mainstream establishment lawyer well versed in both French law and the natural-law tradition. See also Boucher d’Argis’s entry Natural Law [Droit de la Nature] above.

Public Law is law established for the common utility of the people considered as a political body, as distinct from private law, which is created for the utility of each person considered individually and independent of other men.

Public law is either general or particular.

That public law is called general which regulates the foundations of civil society that are common to most states, and the interests that these states have with each other.

Some people confuse general public law with the law of nations, which is not accurate, at least without making distinctions. For the law of nations, which has (as all law in general does) two purposes, public utility and private utility, is divided into the public law of nations and the private law of nations. Thus, the general public law is indeed a part of the law of nations and is the same thing as the public law of nations. But it does not include the whole law of nations, since it does not include the private law of nations. See below, Droit des Gens [Law of Nations].

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Particular public law is the law that regulates the foundations of each state; it differs in this respect both from general public law (which concerns the relations that the different states can have with each other) and from private or particular law per se (which concerns each of the members of a state separately).

Particular public law is composed, in part, of precepts from divine law and from natural law, which are invariable; in part, from the law of nations, which changes little (except over a long series of years); and finally, it is also composed of part of the civil law of the state concerned—that is, of the part of that law that has as its purpose the body of the state. Thus, a part of the particular public law is founded on ancient customs (written or unwritten), on laws, ordinances, edicts, declarations, charters, diplomas,1 etc. Being founded on positive human law, this part of particular public law can be changed according to time and circumstance by those who have the public power.

The purpose of the particular public law of each state is generally to establish and maintain that general administration2 necessary for the good order and tranquility of the state; to procure what is most beneficial to all the members of the state, considered collectively or separately—whether it concerns the goods of the soul, the goods of the body, or the goods of fortune.

The destiny of men in the providential order is to cultivate the earth and aspire to the sovereign good. Men inhabiting the same country, having sensed the necessity they were under to lend each other mutual assistance, joined together in society; this is what formed the different states.

To maintain good order in each of these societies or states, a certain form of government had to be established. And to make this form or general administration be observed, the members of each society or state were obliged to establish a public power above them.

This power was bestowed upon one man or several or all those who compose the state. In some places, it is perpetual; in others, those who are vested with this power exercise it for only a certain time fixed by the laws. Edition: current; Page: [115] Whence arises the distinction between monarchical, aristocratic, and democratic or popular states.3

The rights4 of the public power are: the legislative power; the right of causing the laws to be executed or dispensed with; of rendering and causing the rendering of justice; of granting favors, distributing employments and honors; establishing officers and dismissing them, having a fisc or a public patrimony, imposing taxes, coining money, allowing certain persons to form a political body together, regulating the social orders, making treaties of alliance, navigation, and commerce with foreigners; creating fortified places, levying troops and disbanding them, making war and peace.

These rights extend not only over those who are members of a state; most of these same rights extend also over foreigners, who are subject to the general laws of state administration during the whole time they live there, and to the laws concerning the property they possess there even when they are not living there.

The commitments of the person or persons on whom the public power is bestowed are to maintain good order in the state.

For their part, the members of the state must be subject to the public power, and to the persons who represent it in some section of government; likewise, they must be subject to the laws and observe them.

The common and particular good of each member of the state, which forms in general the object of the particular public law, includes within itself many objects belonging to the latter, which form some more or less substantial portion of it.

Everything connected to civil ecclesiastical government, military justice, or finance belongs therefore to the public law.

Thus, it is up to public law to regulate everything concerning religion, to prevent the disorders that the diversity of opinion can cause, to make people respect the holy places, observe the saints’ days, and other rules of discipline relative to religion; to preserve a fitting order and decency in pious ceremonies; to prevent abuses that can be committed during the Edition: current; Page: [116] holiest practices, and to prevent the formation of any new establishments in religious matters without approval by those who have the capacity to do this. One must merely pay heed that the task of maintaining religion in its purity, and of making its external ritual be observed, is entrusted to the two powers, spiritual and temporal—each according to the extent of its capacity.

From this standpoint, one must also include what concerns the clergy in general, the different bodies and individuals of which it is composed (whether secular or regular), and everything that has some connection to religion and piety, such as the universities, the secondary schools and academies for the instruction of youth, the poorhouses, etc.5

Likewise, public law has in view everything related to mores, such as luxury, intemperance, prohibited games, decency in public spectacles, debauchery, frequenting of bad places, swearing and blasphemy, judicial Astrology, and the imposters known by the name of soothsayers, witches, magicians, and those weak enough to allow themselves to be abused by these.

Just as public law provides for the goods of the soul—that is, for what touches religion and mores—it also provides for bodily goods. Whence the laws that have health as their object—that is, preserving or restoring the salubriousness of the air and the purity of the water, the good quality of the other things that nourish the body, the choice of remedies, the competence of doctors and surgeons; the precautions taken against contagious diseases.

It is also a continuation of the same object to provide for what concerns living provisions—such as bread, wine, meat, and the other foods—whether related to the husbandry (for those who need it) or to their protection, transportation, sale, and preparation, even for what is used in the feeding of the animals that serve in the cultivation of the land or in the transport.

Distinguishing among costumes according to the status and condition of persons, and the task of repressing luxury, are likewise objects of public law in every state.6

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The laws also contain many rules relating to clothing, such as whatever concerns the quality that the materials are supposed to have, the distinction among costumes according to status, and what tends toward the repression of luxury.

It also provides that buildings be constructed in a solid manner, and that nothing be made that is contrary to the decor of the city; that the streets and public ways be made secure and convenient, and not obstructed. This has produced a multitude of particular regulations whose object is to prevent sundry accidents that might occur due to the imprudence of the workers or the drivers of horses or wagons, etc.

One of the greatest objects of the public law of every state is the administration of justice in general. But not everything related to this belongs equally to public law. In this regard, one must distinguish form and content, civil matters and criminal matters.

The form of the administration of justice belongs to public law, in civil matters as well as in criminal matters. This is why individuals are not allowed to deviate from it.

But in substance, the arrangement of the laws concerning what touches individuals in civil matters belongs to private law. Thus, individuals can deviate from it by agreement—unless there is some contrary law, in which case this law forms part of public law.

As for the punishment of crimes and misdemeanors, it is entirely in the jurisdiction of public law. One does not include in this category certain acts that interest only individuals, but solely those that disturb public order, directly or indirectly—such as heresy, blasphemy, sacrilege, and other impieties; the crime of lèse-majesté, rebellions against justice, illicit assemblies, bearing of arms, and assaults;7 duels, the crime of embezzlement, extortion, and other official malfeasance; the crime of counterfeiting, assassination, homicide, poisoning, parricide, and other attacks on the life of others or one’s own; the exposure of children, robbery and larceny, fraudulent bankruptcy, the crime of forgery, attacks against modesty, slander, and other acts injurious to the government, etc.

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It is clear from what has just been said that whatever concerns the functions of judicial officials and other public officials is likewise a matter of public law.

The public law of each state also has as its object everything belonging to the governing of finances, such as the assignment and levying of taxes, the proportion that is to be maintained in their distribution, and the abuses that might slip into these operations or in the collection.

Finally, this same law embraces everything related to the common utility, such as shipping and commerce, colonies, manufactures, the sciences, arts and trades, workers of every kind, the power of masters over their servants and domestics, and the submission that the latter owe their masters, and everything that concerns the public tranquility, such as regulations made for the relief of the poor, for obliging able-bodied mendicants to work, for the confinement of vagabonds and vagrants.8

It would be very curious to detail all these matters, but since this could not be done without repeating part of the subject matter of the articles Crime, Gouvernement, Puissance Publique [Public Power], and other similar ones, it will be enough to refer to those articles. (A)

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Natural Equality (Egalité Naturelle)**

Natural Equality (Natural law) is that which is found among all men solely by the constitution of their nature. This equality is the principle and foundation of liberty. Natural or moral equality is therefore based on the constitution of human nature common to all men, who are born, grow, live, and die in the same way.

Since human nature is the same in all men, it is clear according to natural law that each person must value and treat other people as so many individuals who are naturally equal to himself, that is to say, as men like himself.

Several consequences ensue from this principle of the natural equality of men. I shall rapidly examine the principal ones.

(1) It follows from this principle that all men are naturally free and that the faculty of reason could only make them dependent for their own welfare.

(2) That in spite of all the inequalities produced in the political government by the differences in station, by nobility, power, riches, etc., those who have risen the most above others must treat their inferiors as being naturally equal to them by avoiding any insults, by demanding nothing beyond what is required, and by demanding with humanity only what is unquestionably due.

(3) That whoever has not acquired a particular right, by virtue of which he can demand preferential treatment, must not claim more than others Edition: current; Page: [120] but, on the contrary, allow them to enjoy equally the same rights that he assumes for himself.

(4) That anything which is a universal right must be either universally enjoyed or alternately possessed, or divided into equal portions among those who have the same right, or allotted with equitable and regulated compensation; or finally if this is possible, the decision should be made by lot: a quite suitable expedient that removes any suspicion of contempt and partiality without diminishing in any way the esteem of those people not immediately favored. Finally, to go even further, I base on the incontestable principle of natural equality, as did the judicious Hooker,1 all the duties of charity, of humanity, and of justice which all men are obliged to practice toward one another, and it would not be difficult to demonstrate this.

The reader will derive other consequences that arise from the principle of the natural equality of men. I shall observe only that it is the violation of this principle that has established political and civil slavery. The result is that in the countries subject to arbitrary power, the princes, the courtiers, the principal ministers, those who control the finances, possess all the riches of the nation, while the rest of the citizens have only the necessaries of life, and the great majority of people groan in poverty.

Nevertheless let no one do me the injustice of supposing that with a sense of fanaticism I approve in a state that chimera, absolute equality, which could hardly give birth to an ideal republic. I am only speaking here of the natural equality of men.

I know too well the necessity of different ranks, grades, honors, distinctions, prerogatives, subordinations that must prevail in all governments. And I would even state that natural or moral equality are not contrary to this. In the state of nature men are truly born into equality but do not know how to remain so. Society forces them to lose it, and they only become equal again by laws. Aristotle relates that Phaleas of Chalcedon had imagined a way to equalize the fortunes of the republic: he would have the rich give dowries to the poor and not receive any in their turn, and the poor receive money for their daughters and not give any to others. “But,” as the Edition: current; Page: [121] author of the Spirit of Laws has observed, “has any republic ever accommodated itself to such a regulation? It places the citizens in conditions of such striking discrimination that they would hate even that equality that one would attempt to establish, and that would be foolish to try to introduce.”2 Article by Chevalier de Jaucourt.

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Eulogy for President Montesquieu (Eloge de M. le Président de Montesquieu)*

Though twenty-eight years his junior, d’Alembert, the author of this entry, had become not only an admirer but a friend of Montesquieu’s. He was present at Montesquieu’s deathbed in February 1755. Diderot, for his part, was the only member of the philosophic community to attend his funeral. The editors then took the unusual step of beginning the next volume of the work, volume 5, which appeared in November of that year, with a lengthy eulogy with a title set in a large typeface. The eulogy contains both an appreciation of Montesquieu’s life and career and an editorial summary of the doctrine contained in his Spirit of the Laws—a work that would loom so large in the political articles of the dictionary throughout its publication history that it seemed appropriate for inclusion in this anthology. The eulogy provides a revealing glimpse into how the Encyclopedists viewed the place of Montesquieu and his work in the encyclopedic project itself, and into their perceptions of the kind of criticism then being made of Montesquieu’s powerful but complex new doctrine. It appeared in English translation for the first time in the London, 1777, edition of Montesquieu’s works published by T. Evans, though we have offered a new translation here. Most of the merely biographical information in it has been omitted. It should also be noted that the summary of The Spirit of the Laws appears in the Encyclopédie as a note, but for the sake of convenience it is reproduced here as text.

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Eulogy for President Montesquieu

The interest that good citizens take in the Encyclopédie, and the great number of men of letters who devote their works to it, would seem to allow us to regard it as one of the most appropriate monuments to serve as depositories of the sentiments of the Country, and of the homage that it owes to the celebrated men who have honored it. Convinced, nonetheless, that M. Montesquieu had the right to expect panegyrists other than ourselves and that the public grief would have merited more eloquent spokesmen, we would have contained within ourselves the just regrets and respect that we have for his memory. But the acknowledgment of what we owe him is too precious for us to leave responsibility for it to others. Benefactor of humanity by his writings, he deigned also to be a benefactor of this work, and our gratitude wishes only to trace some lines at the foot of his statue.

[A summary of Montesquieu’s life and early writings follows; at 5:viii, d’Alembert appends a lengthy footnote discussing The Spirit of the Laws; its translation follows here.]

Since most men of letters who have spoken of The Spirit of the Laws have been more fond of criticizing it than of providing an accurate notion of it, we are going to attempt to fulfill what they ought to have done and to unfold its plan, character, and purpose. Those who find the analysis too long will perhaps consider, after reading it, that this was the only means of enabling one to grasp the author’s method. One should remember, moreover, that the history of celebrated writers is only the history of their thoughts and their works, and that that part of their eulogy is the most essential and the most useful part, especially at the head of a work such as the Encyclopédie.

Men in the state of nature—abstracted of all religion, knowing no other law [loi] in the disagreements they may have except that of the animals, the right of the stronger—one should regard the establishment of societies as a kind of treaty against this unjust law [droit], a treaty designed to establish among the different parts of the human race a sort of scale. But with natural equilibrium as with moral, it is rare for it to be perfect and durable, and the treaties of the human race are like the treaties among our princes—a constant seed of divisions. Interest, need, and pleasure have brought men Edition: current; Page: [124] closer together, but those same motives constantly push them to want to enjoy the advantages of society without bearing its burdens. It is in this sense that one may say with the author that men, as soon as they are in society, are in a state of war. For war assumes in those who wage it, if not equality of strength, at least the opinion of that equality, whence arises the desire and mutual expectation of defeating each other. Now in the social state, if the balance is never perfect among men, it is not too unequal, either. On the contrary, they would either have no conflicts in the state of nature, or, if necessity drove them to it, one would find weakness fleeing before strength, oppressors without combat, and the oppressed without resistance.

Thus, there you have men, brought together and armed all at the same time—embracing each other on the one hand, if one may speak in this way, and looking to do mutual harm on the other. The laws are the more or less efficacious bonds designed to suspend or restrain their blows. But since the vast expanse of the globe we inhabit and the natural differences in the regions of the earth and in the peoples who cover it do not permit all men to live under one and the same government, the human race has had to distribute itself into a certain number of States, distinguished by the differences in the laws they obey. A single government would have made of the human race but one body, languishing and attenuated, extended without vigor over the surface of the earth. The different States are so many agile and robust bodies which, extending their hands to each other, form but one, whose reciprocal action everywhere fosters movement and life.

One may distinguish three sorts of government: the republican, the monarchical, the despotic. In the republican, the people as a body have sovereign power; in the monarchical, one person governs by fundamental laws; in the despotic, no other law is known but the will of the master, or rather of the tyrant. This is not to say that there are only these three types of States in the world; it is not even to say that there are States that belong solely and rigorously to one or another of these forms. Most are, so to speak, half and half, or shaded blends of these forms: here monarchy inclines to despotism; there, monarchical government is combined with republican; elsewhere, it is not the whole people, it is a part of the people who make the laws. But the foregoing division is nonetheless exact and precise. The three species of government that it includes are distinguished in such a way that they have, Edition: current; Page: [125] properly speaking, nothing in common, and yet all States that we know of partake of one or the other of them. It was thus necessary to form particular classes out of these three species and to apply oneself to determining the laws appropriate to them. It will be easy afterward to modify these laws in their application to whatever government it may be, according to whether it belongs more or less to these different forms.

In the various States, the laws should be relative to their nature, that is, to what constitutes them, and to their principle, that is, what supports them and gives them their activity—an important distinction, the key to countless laws, and the author derives many conclusions from it.

The principal laws relative to the nature of democracy are that the people be in some respects the monarch and in others the subject, that they elect and judge their magistrates, and that the magistrates make the decisions on certain occasions. The nature of monarchy demands that there be many intermediate powers and ranks between the monarch and the people, and a body that is depository of the laws and mediator between the subjects and the prince. The nature of despotism demands that the tyrant exercise his authority either by himself alone or through one person who represents him.

As for the principle of the three governments, that of democracy is love of the republic, that is, of equality; in monarchies, where one alone is the dispenser of distinctions and rewards, and where people are accustomed to confuse the State with this one man, the principle is honor—that is, ambition and love of esteem; under despotism, finally, it is fear. The more vigorous these principles are, the more stable the government; the more they are altered and corrupted, the more the government tends toward its destruction. When the author speaks of equality in democracies, he does not mean an equality that is extreme, absolute, and therefore chimerical; he means that happy equilibrium that makes all citizens equally subject to the laws, and with an equal interest in observing them.

In each government, the laws of education should be relative to the principle. What is meant here by education is the one received on entering the world, not the one given by parents and masters, which is often contrary to it, especially in certain States. In monarchies, education should have as its object urbanity and reciprocal esteem; in despotic States, terror and abasement of spirits. In republics, one needs all the power of education; it should Edition: current; Page: [126] inspire a noble but painful sentiment: self-renunciation, whence is born love of Country.

The laws that the legislator enacts should be in conformity with the principle of each government: in a republic, to maintain equality and frugality; in a monarchy, to support nobility without crushing the people; under despotic government, to keep all estates equally silent. One must not accuse M. de Montesquieu here of tracing out for sovereigns the principles of arbitrary power, whose very name is so odious to just princes, and all the more so to the wise and virtuous citizen. To show what has to be done to preserve such power is to work toward annihilating it. The perfection of this government is its ruin. And the exact code of tyranny, such as the author presents it, is simultaneously the satire and the most fearsome scourge of tyrants. As for the other governments, they each have their advantages: the republican is more appropriate for small States, the monarchical for large ones; the republican is more subject to excesses, the monarchical to abuses; the republican brings more maturity into the execution of the laws, the monarchical more dispatch.

The different principles of the three governments are bound to produce differences in the number and purposes of the laws, in the form of the sentences and the nature of the punishments. Since the constitution of monarchies is unchanging and fundamental, it requires more civil laws and tribunals so that justice may be rendered in a more uniform and less arbitrary manner. In moderate States, whether monarchies or republics, one cannot bring too many formalities to bear on the criminal laws. Punishment must be not only in proportion with the crime, but also as mild as possible, especially in a democracy; the opinion attached to punishments will often have more effect than their actual scale. In republics, one must judge according to the law, because no individual is in command of changing it. In monarchies, the sovereign’s clemency can sometimes soften the law; but crimes must never be judged except by the magistrates expressly charged with knowing about them. Finally, it is mainly in democracies that the laws should be rigorous against luxury, the relaxation of mores, and the seduction of women. The mildness of women and even their weakness renders them fit enough to govern in monarchies, and history proves that they have often worn the crown with glory.

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Having surveyed each government in particular, M. de Montesquieu next examines them in the relationship they may have with each other, but only from the most general viewpoint—that is, the viewpoint uniquely related to their nature and their principle. Envisioned in this manner, States can have no other relationships but that of defending or attacking. Confined by nature to a small State, republics cannot defend themselves without allies, but it is with other republics that they should be allied; the defensive strength of monarchy consists mainly in having frontiers out of attack range. Like men, States have the right to attack for their own preservation: from the right of war derives the right of conquest, a right that is necessary, legitimate, and unfortunate, which always leaves an immense debt to be discharged if human nature is to be repaid,1 and whose general law is to do the least harm possible to the vanquished.2 Republics are less able to conquer than monarchies; immense conquests presuppose despotism, or ensure it. One of the great principles of the spirit of conquest should be to improve the condition of the conquered people as much as possible. This simultaneously satisfies the natural law and the maxim of State. Nothing is more noble than Gelon’s peace treaty with the Carthaginians, by which he prohibited them from immolating their own children in the future.3 In conquering Peru,4 the Spanish ought likewise to have obliged the inhabitants to no longer immolate men to their gods, but they thought it more beneficial to immolate these very peoples. They had nothing more for a conquest than a vast desert; they were forced to depopulate their country, and they weakened themselves forever by their own victory. One may sometimes be obliged to change the laws of the defeated people; nothing can ever oblige one to take away their mores or even their customs, which are often their whole mores. But the surest means of preserving a conquest is, if possible, to put the vanquished people on the level of the conquering people, to accord them the same rights and privileges. This is the means the Romans often used; this is especially the means Caesar used with respect to the Gauls.

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In considering each government both in itself and in its relation with others, we have thus far been concerned neither with what they ought to have in common, nor with the particular circumstances drawn either from the nature of the country or from the genius of the people. This is what now needs to be explored.

The common law of all governments, at least of moderate and therefore just governments, is the political liberty that each citizen should enjoy.5 This liberty is not the absurd license of doing what one wants, but the power to do everything the laws permit. It can be envisioned either in its relation with the constitution, or in its relation with the citizen.6

In the constitution of each State, there are two sorts of powers, the legislative and the executive power. This latter has two objects, the internal affairs of the State and its external ones. The degree of perfection in a constitution’s political liberty depends on the legitimate distribution and the appropriate allocation of these different kinds of power. M. de Montesquieu brings in as evidence the constitution of the Roman republic and that of England. He finds the principle of the latter in the fundamental law of the ancient Germans’ government: that unimportant affairs were decided by the chieftains, and that great affairs were brought to the tribunal of the nation after being debated by the chieftains. M. de Montesquieu does not examine whether the English do or do not enjoy that extreme political liberty which their constitution provides them;7 it suffices for him to say that it is established by their laws. He is even further from intending to satirize other States.8 On the contrary, he believes that an excess even of good things is not always desirable, that extreme liberty has its disadvantages as does extreme servitude, and that in general, human nature adjusts better to a middling condition.9

Political liberty considered in relation to the citizen consists in the security that he is sheltered by the laws, or at least he is of the opinion that he Edition: current; Page: [129] has that security which causes one citizen not to fear another.10 It is mainly through the nature and proportion of the punishments that this liberty is established or destroyed.11 Crimes against religion should be punished by privation of the goods that religion procures; crimes against mores, by shame; crimes against public tranquility, by prison or exile; crimes against security, by corporal punishment. Writings should be less punished than actions; simple thoughts should never be punished. Nonjudicial accusations, spies, anonymous letters: all these expedients of tyranny, equally shameful to those who are their instruments and to those who use them, should be proscribed in a good monarchical government. It is not permissible to accuse except in the face of the law, which always punishes either the accused or the slanderer. In every other case, those who govern should say with Emperor Constans:12 We cannot suspect a man who has no accuser even though he does not lack enemies. It is very good to have established a public party who is charged in the name of the State to prosecute crimes, and who has all the usefulness of the informant without having the vile interests, the disadvantages, and the infamy.13

The level of taxes should be in direct proportion with liberty.14 Thus, in democracies, they can be greater than elsewhere without being onerous, because every citizen regards them as a tribute15 he pays to himself, which ensures the tranquility and the lot of each member. Moreover, in a democratic State, the unfaithful use of public revenue is more difficult, because it is easier to know about and punish, since the agent owes an account, so to speak, to the first citizen who demands it.

In any government, the least onerous type of tax is the one established on merchandise, because the citizen pays without being aware of it.16 The excessive number of troops in time of peace is only a pretext to burden Edition: current; Page: [130] the people with taxes, a means of enervating the State, and an instrument of servitude. The direct collection17 of taxes, which brings the whole yield into the public fisc, is incomparably less burdensome to the people, and therefore more advantageous (when it can take place) than the farming of these same taxes, which always leaves a portion of State revenues in the hands of some private individuals. All is lost especially (these are the terms of the author) when the profession of tax-farmer becomes honorable,18 and it becomes honorable as soon as luxury is in force. To let a few men feed on the public sustenance in order to fleece them in their turn, as has been practiced in the past in certain States, is to remedy one injustice by another, and to do two bad things instead of one.

Let us move now, with M. Montesquieu, to the particular circumstances that are independent of the nature of the government and that are bound to modify its laws. The circumstances that come from the nature of the country are of two sorts: some are related to the climate, others to the terrain. No one doubts that climate has an influence on the customary arrangement of bodies, and therefore on characters.19 This is why the laws should be in conformity with the nature of the climate in indifferent matters, and conversely, should combat them when the effects are vicious. Thus, in countries where the use of wine is harmful, the law that prohibits it is a very good one. In countries where the heat of the climate leads to laziness, the law that encourages work is a very good one. The government may thus remedy the effects of the climate, and this suffices to safeguard The Spirit of the Laws from the very unjust criticism made of it, that it attributes everything to cold and heat. For besides the fact that heat and cold are not the only things by which climates are distinguished, it would be as absurd to deny certain effects of climate as to want to attribute everything to it.

The use of slaves, established in the warm countries of Asia and America but condemned in the temperate climates of Europe, gives the author occasion to treat of civil slavery.20 Since men have no more right over the liberty than over the lives of one another, it follows that slavery, generally Edition: current; Page: [131] speaking, is contrary to natural law. In fact, the right of slavery cannot come from war—since then, it could be based only on the ransoming of one’s life, and there is no right over the lives of those who are no longer attacking. Nor can it come from a man’s sale of himself to another—since every citizen, being indebted to the State for his life, is all the more indebted to it for his liberty, and therefore is not in charge of selling it. Besides, what would be the price of this sale? It cannot be the money given to the seller, since the moment one turns oneself into a slave, all one’s possessions belong to the master. Now, a sale without a price is as chimerical as a contract without conditions. There has perhaps been only one just law in favor of slavery: this was the Roman law that made the debtor a slave of the creditor. In order to be equitable, even this law had to limit the servitude as to degree and time. Slavery can at most be tolerated in despotic States, where free men, too weak against the government, seek for their own utility to become the slaves of those who tyrannize the State; or else in climates whose heat so enervates the body and so weakens morale that men are brought to perform an arduous duty only by the fear of punishment.21

Alongside civil slavery, one may place domestic servitude—that is, the servitude in which women are held in certain climes.22 It can take place in those Asian countries where they are living with men before being able to make use of their reason: nubile by the law of climate, a child by the law of nature. This subjection becomes even more necessary in countries where polygamy is established—a custom that M. Montesquieu does not pretend to justify insofar as it is contrary to religion, but which, in the places where it is accepted (and speaking only politically), can be well-founded up to a certain point, either on the nature of the country, or on the relationship between the number of women and the number of men. On this occasion, M. Montesquieu speaks of renunciation and of divorce, and he establishes on good grounds that once it is allowed, renunciation ought to be permitted to women as well as to men.23

If climate has so much influence over domestic and civil servitude, it has no less over political servitude—that is, over the servitude that subjects Edition: current; Page: [132] one people to another. The peoples of the North are stronger and hardier than those of the South. Thus, the latter in general are bound to be subjugated, the former are bound to be conquerors; the latter slaves, the former free. It is also what history confirms: Asia has been conquered eleven times by the peoples of the North; Europe has suffered many fewer revolutions.24

With regard to the laws in their relationship with the nature of the terrain,25 it is clear that democracy is more appropriate than monarchy for sterile countries, where the earth needs all of men’s industry. Moreover, liberty is in that case a kind of compensation for the harshness of the work. More laws are needed for an agricultural people than for a people who raise flocks; more for the latter than for a hunting people; more for a people who make use of money than for those unfamiliar with money.

Finally, one should consider the particular genius of the nation.26 The vanity that enlarges objects is a good resource for government; the pride that devalues them is a dangerous resource. The legislator should respect prejudices, passions, abuses up to a certain point. He should imitate Solon, who gave the Athenians not the best laws in themselves, but the best ones they could have. The gay character of those people demanded easier laws; the hard character of the Lacedemonians, more rigorous laws. The law is a bad means of changing manners and customs; it is by reward and example that one must try to achieve this end. At the same time, however, it is true that a people’s laws, when one is not bent on grossly and directly offending their mores, are bound to imperceptibly influence these mores—either to reinforce them or to change them.

After thoroughly exploring in this manner the nature and the spirit of the laws relative to the different types of country and people, the author returns anew to consider States in their relations to each other. At first, in comparing them among themselves in a general manner, he had been able to envision them only in relation to the harm they could do each other. Here, he envisions them in relation to the mutual assistance they can give Edition: current; Page: [133] each other; as it happens, this assistance is mainly founded on commerce.27 If the spirit of commerce naturally produces a spirit of interest opposed to the sublimity of the moral virtues, it also renders a people naturally just, and it banishes laziness and brigandage. Free nations that live under moderate governments are bound to engage in more commerce than slave nations. One nation should never exclude another nation from its trade without very good reasons.28 Nonetheless, liberty in this area is not an absolute faculty granted to traders to do what they want, a faculty that would often be harmful to them; it consists only in hampering traders to the benefit of trade.29 In a monarchy, the nobility should not devote themselves to it, still less the prince. Finally, there are nations for which commerce is disadvantageous—not those that need nothing, but those that need everything, a paradox the author makes concrete by the example of Poland, which lacks everything except wheat, and which, through the commerce it engages in, deprives the peasants of their sustenance in order to satisfy the luxury of the lords. On the subject of the laws that commerce requires, M. Montesquieu presents the history of these different revolutions, and this part of his book is neither the least interesting nor the least curious. He compares the impoverishment of Spain by the discovery of America to the fate of that imbecilic prince of the fable—ready to die of hunger for having asked the gods that everything he touched be converted into gold.30 Since the use of money is a substantial part of the topic of commerce, and its main instrument, he thus thought he should treat the operations on the currency, on exchange, on the payment of public debt, on lending at interest—upon which he defines the laws and limits, and which he in no way confuses with the so justly condemned excesses of usury.31

The population and the number of inhabitants have an immediate relationship with commerce.32 Since the purpose of marriage is population, M. Montesquieu thoroughly examines that important matter here. What most Edition: current; Page: [134] encourages propagation is public continence; experience proves that illicit unions contribute little, and indeed are harmful. It is with justice that the consent of the father has been established for marriage; however, restrictions ought to be placed on this, for the law ought in general to encourage marriage. The law that prohibits the marriage of mothers with sons is (independent of the precepts of religion) a very good civil law. For aside from many other reasons, since the contracting parties are of very different ages, these sorts of marriages can rarely have propagation as their purpose. The law that prohibits the marriage of father and daughter is based on the same motives; however (speaking only from the perspective of civil law), it is not as indispensably necessary as the other to the purpose of population, since the capacity for procreation ends much later in men. Thus, the contrary custom has occurred among certain peoples upon whom the light of Christianity has not shone. Since nature brings itself to bear on marriage, it is a bad government that would need to encourage it. Liberty, security, moderate taxes, and proscription of luxury are the true principles and the true supports of population. Nonetheless, one may successfully enact laws to encourage marriage when, despite the corruption, there still remain resources in the people that attach them to their Country. Nothing is finer than Augustus’s laws for encouraging the propagation of the species; unfortunately, he passed these laws during the decay, or rather the fall, of the republic. The demoralized citizens must have foreseen that they would no longer be bringing anyone into the world but slaves; thus, the execution of these laws was quite weak during the entire time of the pagan emperors. Constantine in the end abolished them in becoming a Christian, as if Christianity’s purpose was to depopulate society by recommending the perfection of celibacy to a small number.

The establishment of poorhouses,33 depending on the spirit with which it is done, can harm population or encourage it. There may, and even should be, poorhouses in a State in which most of the citizens have only their resourcefulness as an asset, because that resourcefulness may sometimes fall short through misfortune. But the assistance that these poorhouses give should be only temporary, in order not to encourage mendicancy Edition: current; Page: [135] and idleness. One must begin by making the people rich, and afterward build poorhouses for pressing, unforeseen needs. Woe betide the countries in which the multitude of poorhouses and of monasteries (which are only perpetual poorhouses) makes everyone comfortable except those who work.

M. Montesquieu has thus far spoken only of human laws. He now passes to the laws of religion,34 which in almost all States form such an essential object of government. He everywhere praises Christianity, he shows its advantages and its greatness, he seeks to make it loved. He maintains that it is not impossible, as Bayle claimed,35 for a society of perfect Christians to form a durable and coherent State. But he also thought it permissible for him to examine what the different religions (humanly speaking) might have that is in conformity with, or contrary to, the genius and situation of the peoples who profess them. It is from this point of view that one must read everything he wrote on this matter, which has been the subject of so many unjust rantings. It is especially surprising that in an age that calls so many other ages barbarous, what he said about tolerance should have been made a crime against him, as if to tolerate a religion was to approve of it, as if even the Gospel did not proscribe every other means of spreading itself but mildness and persuasion. Those in whom superstition has not extinguished every feeling of compassion and justice will be unable to read without being moved to pity the remonstrance to the inquisitors—that odious tribunal which outrages religion while appearing to avenge it.36

Finally, after treating individually the different types of law that men may have, it remains only to compare them all together, and to examine them in their relationship with the things they ordain.37 Men are governed by different types of law: by natural law, common to each individual; by divine law, which is that of religion; by ecclesiastical law, which is that of the administration of the religion; by civil law, which is that of the members of the same society; by political law, which is that of the government Edition: current; Page: [136] of that society; by the law of nations, which is that of societies’ relations with each other. These laws each have their distinctive objects, which must not be confused. One must never regulate by one type of law what belongs to another, so as to avoid sowing disorder and injustice in the principles that govern men. The principles that prescribe the type of law, and that circumscribe its purpose, must also prevail in the manner of drafting them.38 As far as possible, the spirit of moderation must dictate all its clauses and provisions. Well-made laws will be in conformity with the spirit of the legislator, even when appearing to be opposed to it.39 Such was the famous law of Solon, by which all those who took no part in an act of sedition were declared infamous. It either prevented seditions or made them useful by forcing all members of the republic to attend to its true interests. Ostracism itself was a very good law. For on the one hand, it treated the affected citizen honorably, and on the other, it made provision against the effects of ambition. Moreover, a great many votes were necessary, and banishment was only possible every five years. Often, laws that seem the same have neither the same motive nor the same effect nor the same level of equity: the form of government, the specific conjunctures, the character of the people change everything. Finally, the style of the laws should be simple and serious. They can dispense with motivating, because the motive is assumed to exist in the mind of the legislator. But when they do motivate, it should be on evident principles; they should not resemble that law which, prohibiting the blind from pleading, adduces as a reason that they cannot see the ornaments of the magistracy.40

To show by examples the application of his principles, M. de Montesquieu chose two different peoples, the most celebrated on earth and the one whose history interests us the most: the Romans and the French.41 He devotes himself to only a part of the jurisprudence of the former, that which concerns inheritance. As for the French, he goes into the greatest detail on the origin and revolutions of their civil laws, and on the different customs, abolished or still extant, that have resulted from them. He mainly covers Edition: current; Page: [137] the feudal laws—that type of government which was unknown to all of antiquity, which will perhaps be unknown forever to future ages, and which did so much good and so much harm. He especially discusses these laws in their relationship to the establishment and the revolutions of the French monarchy. He proves, against Abbé Du Bos,42 that the Franks truly entered as conquerors into Gaul, and that it is not true, as that author claims, that they had been called by the people to succeed to the rights of the Roman emperors who were oppressing them. He does so in detail that is profound, exact, and remarkable, though it is impossible for us to follow it here, and in any case, its principal points will be found scattered throughout different parts of this dictionary, in related articles.

Such is a general analysis—though very imperfect and ill-formed—of the work of M. de Montesquieu; we have separated it from the rest of his eulogy in order not to interrupt the order of our account too much.

[D’Alembert completes his obituary, emphasizing the criticisms of The Spirit of the Laws and Montesquieu’s response; along the way, he cites a brief notice that occurred in the English newspaper the Evening Post, which it seemed appropriate to include here as it appears in d’Alembert’s text, in English. It is at 5:xvi.]

On the 10th of this month, died at Paris, universally and sincerely regretted, Charles Secondat, Baron of Montesquieu, and President a mortier of the Parliament of Bourdeaux. His virtues did honour to human nature, his writings justice. A friend to mankind, he asserted their undoubted and inalienable rights with freedom, even in his own country, whose prejudices in matters of religion and government [it must be remembered that it is an Englishman who is speaking]43 he had long lamented, and endeavoured (not without some success) to remove. He well knew, and justly admired the happy constitution of this country, where fix’d and known Laws equally restrain monarchy from Tyranny, and liberty from licentiousness. His Works will illustrate his name, and Edition: current; Page: [138] survive him, as long as right reason, moral obligation, and the true spirit of laws, shall be understood, respected and maintained.

[D’Alembert finishes the eulogy in the following way.]

Death prevented him from giving us any further benefits. And combining our own regrets with those of all Europe, we might write on his tomb: Finis vitae ejus nobis luctuosus, Patriae tristis, extraneis etiam ignotisque non sine curâ fuit.44

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Child (Enfant)**

Contemporary political criticism of the Encyclopédie included the claim that its authors were undermining paternal authority. See especially Jaucourt’s article Government, below. The present article was also criticized for its political implications.1

Child, son or daughter (Natural Law, Morality): Relation of a son or daughter to his or her father and mother. Roman Law extends the word “child” to grandchildren as well, be they of male or female descent.

Children, because of their close relationship to those who beget, feed, and educate them, have certain indispensable obligations toward their father and mother, such as deference, obedience, honor, and respect. They should also always be of service and give aid commensurate with their situation and gratitude.

Due to the state of weakness and ignorance into which children are born, they find themselves naturally subject to their father and mother, to whom nature gives all the necessary power to govern those for whom they must procure every advantage.

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As a result, children, for their part, must honor their mother and father in word and in deed. They owe them obedience, not a limitless obedience but one as extensive as this relationship demands and one as great as possible, given the dependency either party may have on mutual superiors. Children must feel affection, esteem, and respect for their father and mother and must testify to these sentiments in all their conduct. They must render their parents all services of which they are capable, advise them in business matters, console them in their misfortunes, patiently tolerate their bad moods and their defects. There is neither age, nor rank, nor position that can exempt a child from these sorts of duties. Finally, a child must aid, assist, and feed his mother and father, should the latter become needy or indigent. Solon was praised for having taxed with infamy all those who fail in this last duty, though it be infrequent in comparison with the need of fathers and mothers to nourish and raise their children.

However, to better understand the nature and the appropriate limits of the duties we have just discussed, we must carefully distinguish the three estates [états] of children, in accordance with the three phases of their lives.

In the first, their judgment is imperfect, and they lack discernment, as Aristotle says.

At the second, when their judgment is mature, they are still members of the paternal family; or, put another way and according to the same philosophy, they are not yet on their own.

The third and last occurs when they have left the family through marriage at an appropriate age.

All the actions of children of the first estate are subject to direction by their father and mother, for it is right that those not capable of managing themselves be governed by others, and only those who gave birth to a child are naturally responsible for governing him.

In the second phase, that is to say when children have attained the age where their judgment is fully developed, only matters important to the welfare of the paternal or maternal family depend on the will of the father and mother, and for the following reason: it is right that the interest of one party conform to the interests of all. With regard to all other actions, children have the moral power to do what they deem appropriate. Nevertheless, they should always strive to conduct themselves in a manner agreeable to their parents.

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Still, since this obligation is not founded on a right that the parents can exert to its full effect, but rather on what is demanded by natural affection, respect, and gratitude toward those who bestow life and education, then if a child fails in these duties, what he does against his parents’ wishes is no more null and void than a donation by a legitimate property owner made in violation of the rules of frugality becomes invalid solely for that reason.

In the third and last phase, the child is absolute master of himself in all respects, but he does not cease, for the rest of his life, to be obliged to have sentiments of affection, honor, and respect, whose foundations subsist forever. It follows from this principle that the acts of a king cannot be annulled simply because his father or mother has not authorized them.

If a child never acquires a sufficient degree of reason to govern himself, as happens with idiots and those born insane, he will always depend on the will of his father and mother. But these examples are rare and outside the ordinary course of nature. The bonds of children’s subjection thus resemble their swaddling clothes: they are necessary only because of the frailty of childhood. Age, which brings reason, places them outside paternal power and makes them masters of themselves. They have as much liberty vis-à-vis their father or mother as does a charge who, once his legally determined minority reaches its term, becomes the equal of his guardian.

The liberty of children arrived at the age of complete men, and the obedience they owe their father and mother beforehand, are not incompatible. Similarly, according to the most zealous defenders of absolute monarchy, the subjection of a prince during his minority to the queen regent, his wet nurse, his tutors, or his governors is not incompatible with the right to the crown he inherited from his father, or the sovereign authority which will one day be vested in him when age will have made him capable of ruling himself and others.

Although children, once they find themselves at an age to know what nature’s laws or civil society ask of them, are not obliged to violate these laws to satisfy their parents, a child is always obliged to honor his father and mother in recognition of the care they took of him, and nothing will exempt him from this. I say that he is forever obliged to honor his father and his mother, because the mother has as much right as the father, and should the father ever order the contrary, the child should not obey him.

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At the same time, I add, and most expressly, that the duties of honor, respect, attachment, and gratitude due the father and the mother may be more or less extensive on the part of children and may be proportional to the care parents invested in educating them, and to parental sacrifices. Otherwise, a child does not have much obligation to parents, who, after having brought him into the world, neglected to provide for him according to their situation, to furnish him the means to one day live happily or usefully, while they gave themselves up to their pleasures, tastes, passions, and the dissipation of their fortune, those vain and superfluous expenditures of which we see so many examples in the lands of luxury. “You deserve nothing from our country for having given it a citizen,” rightly states a Roman poet, “if as a result of your care he is not useful to the republic in times of war and peace and if he is not capable of making the most of our lands.”

  • Gratum est, quod patriae civem, populoque dedisti;
  • Si facis ut patriae sit idoneus, utilis agris
  • Utilis & bellorum, & pacis rebus agendis.
  • Juvenal, Sat., xiv. 70 & seqq.2

It is therefore easy to decide the long-debated question as to whether the perpetual obligation of children toward their father and mother is principally founded on birth or on the benefits of education. In effect, in order to reasonably claim that someone is greatly accountable to us for a good received, we have to have known to whom we were giving, at what cost, and if it had been our intent to render service to the beneficiary rather than to procure something useful or pleasurable for ourselves. We must know if we were compelled to act by reason, by our senses, or to satisfy some desire, and finally, if what we give can be useful to the recipient without our doing him other favors.

Many important questions related to this subject are still bandied about, though the majority can be resolved according to the principles we have established. Nevertheless, here are the main ones:

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(1) It may be asked whether or not the promises and engagements of a child are valid. I answer that the promises and engagements of a child who finds himself in the first category of childhood we defined are null and void, since all consent supposes (a) the physical power to consent; (b) the moral power to consent, that is, the use of reason; (c) a serious and free use of these two sorts of power. Now children, who cannot reason, fulfill neither of these conditions. But when the faculty of judgment is perfectly formed, it is likely that according to natural law, the child who freely committed himself to something, say, a loan, without having been surprised or deceived, must pay back this loan without having recourse to the benefits of civil law.

(2) It may be asked if a child, having grown up, may not leave his family without his mother and father’s acquiescence. I answer that in the independent state of nature, the heads of families cannot retain a child against his will when he gives good reasons for wanting to separate from his parents and to live free.

It follows that children, once they are mature, can marry without the consent of their father and mother, because the obligation to listen to and to respect the advice of one’s superiors does not detract from the right to dispose of one’s property and oneself. I know that the right of fathers and mothers is legitimately founded on their power, their love, and their reason. All this is true insofar as the child is in a state of ignorance and drunk with passion, but when children have attained the age of their reason’s maturity, they can dispose of themselves when taking a step where liberty is absolutely essential—that is to say, marriage. One cannot love through the heart of another. In a word, paternal power consists of raising and governing one’s children for as long as they are not in a state to govern themselves, but, according to natural right, it does not extend any further. See Father, Mother, Paternal Power.

(3) It is asked if children, even those who are still in their mother’s belly, can acquire and maintain a right of property for goods transferred to them. Civilized nations have established that this be the case. Moreover, reason and natural equity authorize such a practice.

(4) Finally, it may be asked if children may be punished for a crime committed by their father or their mother. But that is a shameful question. Edition: current; Page: [144] Nobody can be reasonably punished for a crime committed by another when he himself is innocent. All merits and demerits are personal and depend on the individual’s will, which is the most personal and inalienable of life’s possessions. Human laws that condemn children for the crimes of their fathers are therefore as unjust as they are barbarous. “It is despotic furor,” aptly says the author of The Spirit of the Laws, “that demands that the disgrace of the father lead to that of the children and women: they are unfortunate enough without being criminals. Moreover, it is necessary that the prince allow supplicants to mediate between the accused and himself so that they may move him to clemency or enlighten his justice.”3 Article by Chevalier de Jaucourt

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Savings (Epargne)*

Savings (Morality), signifies sometimes the treasury of the prince, savings treasurer, savings revenue.

Savings in this sense is hardly in use any more; today, one instead says royal treasury.

Savings, the law of savings, expression used by some modern scientists to express the decree by which God regulates, in the simplest and most constant manner, all the movements, all the alterations, and the other natural changes. See Action, Cosmology, &c.

Savings, in the most common sense, is a function of economy; properly speaking, it is the care and skill necessary to avoid superfluous expenses, and to incur those expenses that are indispensable at little cost. The observations one is going to read here could have gone with the word Economy, which has a broader sense, and which embraces all legitimate means, all the efforts necessary to preserve and increase any possession, and especially to dispense it appropriately. It is in this sense that one says family economy, bees’ economy, national economy. Notwithstanding, the terms savings and economy express virtually the same idea, and they will be employed indiscriminately in this essay, according as how they appear more convenient for exactness of expression.

Economic savings have always been regarded as a virtue, both under paganism and by Christians; there have even been heroes who have practiced it with perseverance. Nonetheless, we must admit that this virtue is too modest, or if you will, too obscure to be essential to heroism; few heroes Edition: current; Page: [146] Edition: current; Page: [147] are capable of reaching that far. Economy accords much better with politics; it is its basis, its support, and one may say in a word that it is inseparable from it. Indeed, the government ministry is properly the concern of public economy; thus, M. de Sully, that great minister, that such wise and zealous steward, entitled his memoirs, Royal Economies, &c.1


Res Domestica (Frugality)

A woman with compasses (for measuring resources) in her right hand and a wand and ship’s rudder (for household leadership) in her left (alongside beehive).

In the background, a rich dissolute household is depicted on the left, a modest and frugal household on the right.

Economic savings therefore join forces perfectly with piety; they are its faithful companion. It is there that a Christian soul finds resources assured for so many good works prescribed by charity.

In any case, there is perhaps no people today less fond of, nor less acquainted with, savings than the French. As a result, there is scarcely a people more agitated or more exposed to the sorrows and miseries of life. Despite this, the indifference, or rather the contempt, we have for this virtue is inspired in us from childhood by a bad education, and especially by the bad examples that we constantly see. We are forever hearing praise for sumptuous meals and feasts, magnificence in clothes, apartments, furniture, &c. All of this is represented not only as the purpose and reward of work and talent, but especially as the fruit of taste and genius, as the mark of a noble soul and an elevated mind.

Furthermore, whoever has a certain air of elegance and tidiness in everything around him, whoever knows how to do the honors in his house and at his table, will surely pass for a man of merit and a sophisticate, even if he lacks the essentials in everything else.

In the midst of these praises poured out to luxury and expense, how to plead the case for savings? Nowadays we don’t take care in studied speeches, education, or sermons to recommend work, savings, or frugality as useful and worthy qualities. It is unheard of to exhort young people to renounce wine, rich food, finery, to know how to do without vain superfluities, to adapt early on to simple necessities. Such exhortations would seem base and offensive. They are nonetheless quite consistent with the maxims of wisdom, and would perhaps be more efficacious than any other morality in making men orderly and virtuous. Unfortunately, they are not fashionable among us; we are becoming daily more alienated from them. Edition: current; Page: [148] Everywhere the reverse is insinuated: flabbiness and the comforts of life. I remember that in my youth, young people who were too preoccupied with their finery were observed with a sort of contempt: today, those who have a simple and unaffected air would be regarded with contempt. Education ought to teach us to become useful, sober, disinterested, beneficent citizens: how it estranges us from that great goal today! It teaches us to multiply our needs, and it thereby makes us more grasping, more burdensome to ourselves, harsher and more useless to others.

If a young man has more talent than fortune, one will at most say to him in a vague manner that he should think seriously about his advancement, that he should be faithful in his duties, avoid bad company, debauchery, &c. But no one will say to him what in fact needs to be said and repeated constantly: that to ensure the necessities of life and advance by legitimate means, to become an honorable man and a virtuous citizen, useful to himself and his Country, he must be hardy and patient, he must work without respite, avoid expense, contemn both pain and pleasure, and finally, rise above the prejudices that encourage luxury, dissipation, and flabbiness.

The efficacy of these means is well-enough known: nonetheless, since a certain idea of baseness is wrongly attached to everything that smacks of saving and economy, one would not dare give such advice, which would seem like preaching avarice—on which point, I would observe in passing that of all the vices combated by morality, none is less clearly defined than that one.

Misers are often depicted to us as people without honor and without humanity, people who live only to enrich themselves, and who sacrifice everything to the passion for accumulation; indeed, as unfeeling people who, in the midst of abundance, push far away from them all the sweet pleasures of life, and who deny themselves even the strict necessities. But few people would recognize themselves in this frightful painting, and if all these circumstances were necessary to constitute the miserly man, there would hardly be any on earth. To truly merit this odious characterization, it is enough to have a violent desire for wealth and few scruples about the means of acquiring it. Avarice is not essentially connected to stinginess; perhaps it is not even incompatible with splendor and prodigality.

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Nonetheless, by a lack of justice that is only too ordinary, the sober, attentive, and hardworking man who, by his work and savings, lifts himself imperceptibly above his fellows is commonly labeled a miser; but would to heaven that we had more misers of that kind. Society would find itself much better off that way, and we would not suffer as many injustices on men’s part. In general these men—repressed, if you will, but more economizers than misers—are almost always good company; sometimes, they even become compassionate. And if they are not found to be generous, they are at least found to be quite fair-minded. Finally, one almost never loses anything with them, whereas one loses more often than not with the spendthrifts. These economizers, in a word, function within the framework of honest saving, on which we wrongly lavish the word avarice.

The ancient Romans, more enlightened than us on this matter, were quite far from acting this way. Far from regarding parsimony as base or vicious conduct—an error that is too common among the French—they identified it, on the contrary, with the most complete probity. They considered these virtuous habits so inseparable that the well-known expression vir frugi signified at the same time the sober and economizing man, the honest man, the good man.

The Holy Spirit presents us with the same idea; in countless passages he sings the praises of economy, and everywhere he distinguishes it from avarice. He marks the difference in a quite concrete manner when he says, on the one hand, that there is nothing more wicked than avarice and nothing more criminal than the love of money (Ecclesiast. x.9.10.),2 and on the other when he exhorts us to work, to savings, to sobriety, as the sole means of enrichment; when he shows us ease and wealth as desirable goods, as the happy fruits of a sober and industrious life.

Go, he says to the lazy man, go to the ant, and look at how she collects in the summer enough to live on during the other seasons. Prov. vi.6.

Whoever, says he again, is slothful and negligent in his work is hardly better than the spendthrift. Prov. xviii.9.

He likewise assures us that the lazy man who does not want to plow during the cold will be reduced to begging in the summer. Prov. xx.4.

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He tells us in another place: however little you may give way to the sweet pleasures of rest, indolence, and laziness, poverty will come and establish itself in your midst and will make itself strongest there. But, he continues, if you are active and industrious, your harvest will be like an abundant spring, and dearth will fly far away from you. Prov. vi.10.11.

He recalls the same lesson a second time by saying that he who plows his field will be satisfied, but that he who loves idleness will be overtaken by indigence. Prov. xxviii.19.

He warns us at the same time that the worker subject to drunkenness will never become rich. Ecclesiastes, xix.1.3

That whoever loves wine and rich food will not only not become wealthy, but will even fall into poverty. Prov. xxi.17.

He prohibits us from looking at wine when it is shining in a glass, for fear that that liquor may make impressions on us that are agreeable but dangerous, and that in the end, like the snake and the basilisk, it will kill us with its poison. Prov. xxiii.31.32.

Cut back, he says elsewhere, cut back on the wine to those who are charged with public office, for fear that, inebriated on that treacherous beverage, they may come to forget justice, and may alter the rights of the poor. Prov. xxxi.4.5.

Be content, he says again, with goat’s milk for your food, and let it furnish the other needs of your house, &c. Prov. xxvii.27.

What instruction and encouragement to savings and frugal work do we not find in his eulogy to the strong woman! He depicts her as a careful and economizing mother and family woman, who brings sweetness to the life of her husband and spares him countless anxieties; who launches important enterprises and sets herself to work on them; who gets up before sunrise to distribute the work and food to her domestics; who augments her domain by new acquisitions; who plants vines; who makes fabric to furnish her house and for outside trade; who has no other finery but a simple and natural beauty; who nonetheless will on occasion put on the richest clothes; who offers only words of mildness and wisdom; who, finally, is compassionate and kindly toward the less fortunate. Prov. xxxi. &c.

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To these precepts, to these examples of economy so well traced in the books of wisdom, let us add a word from St. Paul, and let us confirm the whole by an act of saving that J. C. has left us. Writing to Timothy, the apostle wants bishops to be capable, among other qualities, of raising their children and ordering their domestic affairs—in a word, of being good stewards. Indeed, he says, if they cannot run their house, how can they run the affairs of the church? Si quis autem domui suae praeesse nescit, quomodò ecclesiae Dei diligentiam habebit? First epistle to Timothy, chap. iii.4–5.

The Savior himself also gives us an excellent lesson in economy when, after multiplying five loaves and two fishes to the point of satisfying a crowd of people following him, he then has the remaining pieces—which fill twelve baskets—collected, so that, as he says, nothing will be lost: colligite quae superaverunt fragmenta ne pereant. John vi.12.4

Despite these authorities, so respectable and so sacred, the taste for vain pleasures and foolish expenses is the dominant passion with us—or rather, it is a type of mania which possesses great and small, rich and poor, and for which we often sacrifice a goodly part of our necessities.

Nonetheless, only someone with no experience of the world would seriously propose the total abolition of luxury and superfluities; that is not my intention. The common run of men are too weak, too much the slaves of custom and opinion, to resist the torrent of bad example. But if it is impossible to convert the multitude, it is perhaps not difficult to persuade the people in office—enlightened and judicious people to whom one can exhibit the abuse of a thousand essentially useless expenses, whose suppression would in no way impede the public’s liberty; expenses, moreover, that have no properly virtuous end and that could be employed with more wisdom and utility: fireworks and other firecrackers, public balls and banquets, ambassadors’ ceremonial entrances, &c. What mummery, what child’s play, what millions are lavished in Europe to pay tribute to custom! Whereas there are real and pressing needs which cannot be satisfied because we are not faithful to the national “economy.”5

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But what am I saying? We began to sense the futility of these expenses and our ministry already recognized it when, after heaven gratified our wishes with the birth of the Duke of Burgundy6—that young prince so dear to France and to all of Europe—we preferred, in expressing the common joy at this happy event, we preferred, I say, to light up on all sides the flame of Hymen and show the people his laughter and his games for encouraging population through new marriages, than to follow custom by engaging in ill-advised extravagances or lighting up useless and expensive fireworks that shine for a moment and then go out.

This quite reasonable conduct returns perfectly in the thought of a wise Swede who, when he was giving a sum of money two years ago to begin an establishment useful to his Country, expressed himself in this way in a letter he wrote on the subject:

May heaven grant that the fashion be established among us, that for any event that causes public rejoicing, our joy may break out only in acts useful to society! Soon we would see numerous honorable monuments to our reason, which would much better perpetuate the memory of deeds worthy of passing into posterity, and would be much more glorious for humanity, than all those tumultuous trappings of festivals, banquets, balls, and other diversions commonly used on such occasions.

(Gazette de France, 8 December 1753. Sweden.)

The same proposal is well confirmed by the example of an emperor of China who lived in the last century, and who, during one of the great events of his reign, forbade his subjects to engage in the ordinary rejoicings consecrated by custom, whether to spare them the useless and misplaced costs, or to engage them more plausibly in effecting some durable good—more glorious for himself, more advantageous to his whole people than the frivolous and passing amusements of which no visible utility remains.

Here is another striking example I should not forget:

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“The ministry of England,” says a gazette . . . from the year 1754, “had a thousand guineas counted out for M. Wal, ex-ambassador of Spain in London, which is, it is said, the normal present that the state gives to foreign ministers on leaving Great Britain.”

Who doesn’t see that a thousand guineas or a thousand louis make for a more useful and reasonable present than would a jewel, designed solely for the adornment of an office?

After these great examples of political savings, would anyone dare blame that Dutch ambassador who, receiving upon his departure from a foreign court a portrait of the prince bedecked with diamonds, but finding this magnificent present quite meaningless, frankly asked what it might be worth? When he was assured that the whole thing cost forty thousand gold crowns, he said: “couldn’t I have been given a bill of exchange for a similar sum to draw on an Amsterdam banker?” This Dutch naïvete makes us laugh at first, but in examining it closely, sensible people will manifestly consider that he was right, and that a good bill for forty thousand crowns is much more serviceable than a portrait.

In following the same taste for saving, how many cutbacks, how many useful and practicable establishments of so many different kinds! What savings are possible in the dispensing of justice, in administration and in finance, since it would be easy, by simplifying the collection of taxes and other matters, to employ many fewer people in all those things than at present! This item is important enough to merit specific treatises; we have many on this subject that one may very fruitfully read.

What savings are possible in the discipline of our troops, and what advantages could be drawn from it for king and state, if we devoted ourselves as the ancients did to occupying them usefully! I will talk about it on some other occasion.

What savings are possible in the administration of the arts and commerce, by lifting the obstacles found at every turn to the transport and sale of merchandise and commodities—but especially by restoring little by little the general liberty of the crafts and trades, such as it existed in the past in France, and such as it still exists today in many neighboring states; for that reason abolishing the onerous formalities of masterships, initiations, Edition: current; Page: [154] notarized letters of apprenticeship, and other such practices that stop the activity of workers, often alienating them completely from useful occupations and then consigning them to miserable extremities; practices, finally, that the spirit of monopoly introduced into Europe and that are only maintained in these enlightened times by the inattentiveness of legislators. All of us have only too much aversion to arduous work; we must not increase its difficulty, nor generate occasions or pretexts for our laziness.7

Moreover, independent of the masterships, there are countless abusive and ruinous customs among the workers that ought to be abolished pitilessly: such, for example, as all rights of compagnonnage,8 all feasts of the workers’ community, all assembly fees, cameos, wax candles, feasts, and drinking parties—perpetual occasions of idleness, excess, and waste, which inevitably redound against the public, and which do not accord with national economy.

What savings would be possible, finally, in the exercise of religion, by abolishing three-quarters of our feast days, as has been done in Italy, in Austria, in the Low Countries, and elsewhere. France would gain millions every year; besides which, many expenses incurred these days in our churches would be saved. On this score, may the reader pardon a citizen animated by love of the public good for the following details.

What relief and what savings for the public if the distribution of consecrated bread were cut back!9 It is one of the most useless expenses, a nonetheless substantial expense that makes plenty of people complain aloud. It is said that certain parish officers make petty exactions from them—doubtless unknown by the police—and that since there is no settled law on it, they fleece the citizens with impunity according to how easy it is to do so. Be that as it may, it is demonstrated by an exact calculation that consecrated bread costs many millions per year in France. And yet there is no need for Edition: current; Page: [155] it, indeed there are regions in the realm where it is not given out at all. In a word, it carries no more benediction than the water employed in blessing it, and consequently, one could stick to the water that costs nothing, and abolish the expense of the consecrated bread as being onerous to plenty of people.

After pointing to the abolition of consecrated bread, I don’t think I need to spare most of the collection plates in use among us, especially for the location of seats. All trafficking is prohibited in the temple of the Lord; he himself proscribed it loudly, and I see nothing in the Gospel on which he spoke out more forcefully. Domus mea domus orationis est, vos autem fecistis illam speluncam latronum. Luke, xix.46.10 It seems to me that this is a lesson both for pastors and for magistrates.

Nothing more indecent than selling places in church. Our ecclesiastical gentlemen take great care to place themselves comfortably and properly, seated and kneeling; it is fitting for all the faithful to do likewise—conveniently, and without ever paying up for it. For this, there should be benches suited to the purpose, benches that would fill the nave and the sides and that would leave only simple passageways. I have seen something approaching this in a province of the realm, but much better in England and Holland, where one is seated in the church without cost, and without being interrupted by beggars, collectors, or seat renters. Here, the Protestants give us a fine example to follow, if we were reasonable enough and disinterested enough for that.

It will doubtless be asked: how to provide for ordinary expenses, given this cutback in receipts? Here is the sure and easy means: cut out a good part of these expenses completely, and moderate where possible those believed to be indispensable. What is the necessity for so many cantors and other officers in the parishes? What good are so many lanterns, so many ornaments, so many bells, &c.? If one were a bit more reasonable, would there have to be so much display, so many lamps, so much ringing to bury the dead? One could say the same about countless other onerous superfluities, which bespeak more love of loot (in some) and love of ostentation (in others) than zeal for religion and true piety.

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What’s more, it is not always possible for simple individuals to remedy such abuses. Each person knows the tyranny of custom, each person even groans under it as an individual; nonetheless, everyone bears the yoke. The man-child fears censure and the “what will they say?” and no one dares resist the torrent. Thus, it is up to government to determine once and for all, depending on differences in social condition, all funerary expenses, marriage and baptism expenses, &c. I think we could reduce them to about a third of what they cost today, to the great benefit of the public, in such a way that it would be a firm rule for all families, and it would be absolutely forbidden to individuals and priests to make or bear any expense beyond that.

Some modern political men have wisely observed that the excessive number of clergy is manifestly contrary to national opulence, which is mainly true of the regular clergy of both sexes. In fact, except for those who have a useful and recognized ministry, all the others live at the expense of the true workers, without producing anything profitable to society; they do not even contribute to their own subsistence, fruges consumere nati; Hor. bks. I. ep. ii.v.29.11 And though born for the most part into the most modest circumstances, and subject by their condition to the rigors of penitence, they find means of eluding the ancient law of work, and of leading a sweet and tranquil life without being obliged to wipe away the sweat from their faces.

To arrest such a big political problem, only the number of subjects necessary for the service of the church ought to be admitted to orders. As for the cloistered who have a public ministry, one can only praise their zeal in fulfilling their arduous functions, and one should regard them as precious subjects for the state. As for those who have no important occupations, it would seem appropriate to reduce their number in the future, and to look for ways of making them more useful.

There you have many means of saving that political men have already lighted upon. But here is another one of which they have not yet scratched the surface, though it is among the most interesting: I am talking about gambling casinos,12 which are manifestly contrary to the national good. Edition: current; Page: [157] But I am talking especially about the taverns which have so multiplied and are so harmful among us that they are the most common cause of the poverty and disorder of the people.

The taverns,13 properly understood, are a constant occasion for excess and waste, and it would be very useful, from a religious and a political perspective, to abolish the greater portion of them as they come to be vacant. It would be no less important to forbid all settled and recognized persons in each parish to frequent them during work days; to close them with strict precision at nine o’clock in the evening in every season, and finally, to subject all violators to a stiff fine, half of which would go to the informers and half to the inspectors.

It will be said that these regulations, although useful and reasonable, would diminish the yield on the excise taxes. But firstly, the realm is not made for excise taxes, excise taxes are made for the realm; they are properly speaking a resource for meeting its needs. If, however, by whatever cause it may be, they become harmful to the state, there is no doubt they must be rectified or other less ruinous measures sought—somewhat as we change or discontinue a remedy when it becomes harmful to the sick person.

Moreover, the proposed regulations should not alarm royal budget officials for the very good reason that what is not consumed in the taverns will be consumed even more—and more universally—in private homes, though ordinarily without excess and without waste of time; whereas the taverns, always open, disrupt our workers so much that one cannot usually count on them or see the end of a work once begun. We complain constantly about the harshness of the weather; why don’t we rather complain about our imprudence, which leads us to make and to tolerate countless expenses and waste?

Another proposal that belongs to public saving would be to found state pawnshops in all our big cities, where people could procure money on collateral and without interest, or perhaps one could get two percent per year to provide for administrative costs. The lender-usurers are known to be very harmful to the public, and thus quite a few losses would be avoided if Edition: current; Page: [158] one could bypass their services. It would thus be very desirable for pious souls and kindly hearts to think seriously about effecting the auspicious foundations of which we speak.

Aside from the general convenience of free and easy loans for the people, I regard it as one of the advantages of these establishments that they would be so many known offices where one could with confidence deposit sums that one is not always in a position to place usefully, and that one sometimes finds awkward. How many misers are there who, fearing for the future, don’t dare part with their money, and who, despite their precautions, always have to fear theft, fire, pillage, &c.? How many workers, how many domestics and other isolated people are there who, having saved a small sum—ten pistoles (a hundred crowns, more or less)—do not in fact know what to do, and are with reason apprehensive about dissipating or losing it? I thus find it advantageous in all these cases to be able to deposit any sum whatsoever with certainty, and to be free to withdraw it at will. Countless sums, small and large, that today remain inactive would thereby be made to circulate throughout the public. On the other hand, the individual depositors would avoid many anxieties and swindles; moreover, they would be less liable to lend their money unsuitably or spend it foolishly. Thus, each person would recover his funds or his savings if his business was in order, and most workers and domestics would become more orderly and economizing.

This habit of economy in the smallest matters is more important to the general good than people think, and on this count we are far behind neighboring nations, which are almost all more accustomed than we are to saving and to the economizing mentality. Here we see an item that is distinctive of the English and that deserves to be reported. We are assured that in most of their big houses, there is what they call a saving-man14—that is, a careful and thrifty domestic who is on constant alert that nothing is out of place, nothing gets lost or wasted. His sole job is to wander around at all hours through the nooks and crannies of a big house, from the cellar to the attic, in the courtyards, stables, gardens, and other appendages, to put back in its place everything he finds displaced, and to bring into its pantry everything he encounters that is scattered and abandoned—all sorts of used metal, Edition: current; Page: [159] the ends of boards and other wood, rope, leather, candles, all sorts of rags, furniture, utensils, tools, &c.

Aside from countless small things—each of little value, though together amounting to something and being saved from loss by this economizing—he just as often saves things of value, which the masters, domestics, or workers leave out of place by forgetfulness or by whatever other reason it may be. His vigilance stirs the attentiveness of the others, and his position makes him the antagonist of mischief and the repairer of negligence.

I already indicated above that it is a question here of public savings, and that I would be touching hardly at all on the conduct of private individuals. Many people, however, have only countered me with the supposed disadvantages of totally abolishing our luxury, a charge which does not attack my thesis and which therefore goes awry. Nonetheless I will attempt to respond to the objection as if I found that it had some solid basis.

If, it is said, so many projects of reform and perfection were followed, such that on the one hand, useless expenses were abolished, and on the other, people dedicated themselves on all sides to fruitful enterprises—in a word, such that economy became fashionable among the French—one would indeed soon see our opulence noticeably increase. But what would be done with so much accumulated wealth? Moreover, most subjects, less employed in the arts of splendor, would scarcely have a share in such opulence and would no doubt languish in the midst of the general abundance.

It is easy to respond to this difficulty. If economic savings took root among us and we gave more attention to the necessities and less to superfluities, I agree that there would indeed be fewer frivolous and misplaced expenses, but there would also be many more reasonable and virtuous ones. The rich and the great, being less indebted, would be more likely to pay off their creditors. Moreover, being more powerful and more flush with cash, they would find it easier to marry off their children. Instead of placing one in marriage, they would place two, and instead of two, they would place four, so that fewer reversals of fortune and extinctions of family lines would be seen. We would pay less attention to splendor, caprice, and vanity, but more to justice, beneficence, and true glory. In a word, many fewer subjects would be employed in sterile arts, arts of amusement and frivolity, but many more in worthwhile and necessary arts. At that point, if Edition: current; Page: [160] there were fewer artisans of luxury and pleasure, fewer useless domestics at loose ends, there would in recompense be more cultivators and other precious instruments of true wealth.

It has been demonstrated, to whoever reflects on it, that subjects’ differences in occupation produce national opulence or scarcity—in a word, what is good or bad for society. It is perfectly well known that if someone can keep a man on a wage basis, it will be more advantageous to him to have a good gardener than to maintain an ornamental domestic. Some jobs, then, are infinitely more useful than others. And if most men were employed more intelligently and usefully, the nation would be more powerful, and individuals more comfortable.

Moreover, since the habitual practice of savings would produce, at least among the rich, a superabundance of goods that are almost never seen here, a noticeable relief for the people would ensue, in that the lower classes would then feel less anxiety and would be less crushed by the great. Let the wolf cease to be hungry and he will no longer ravage the sheepfolds.

Be that as it may, the proposals and actions articulated above would seem more attractive to us if bad habit, ignorance, and flabbiness had not made us indifferent to the advantages of savings, and especially if such a precious habit had not been confused, more often than not, with avarice—an error we find exemplified in the mostly unfavorable judgment in our own time toward a virtuous and disinterested citizen, the late M. Godinot, canon of Rheims.

A passionate lover of agriculture, he dedicated all the leisure left over from his official duties to the study of natural science and rural pastimes. He was especially fond of perfecting the cultivation of vines, and even more the making of wines, and he soon found the art of making them so superior and so perfect that he later furnished them to all the potentates of Europe.15 That gave him the means to accumulate, in the course of a long life, prodigious sums of money. This Christian philosopher meditated for a long time over the noblest and worthiest use of his beneficence.

Moreover, he lived in the greatest simplicity, in the faithful and constant practice of visible savings, which even seemed excessive. Thus, common Edition: current; Page: [161] minds, who judge only by appearances, and who did not understand his grand designs, regarded him for many years with merely a sort of contempt. And they continued on in the same vein until, educated and completely won over by the useful establishments and constructions by which he decorated the city of Rheims, and especially by the immense projects he undertook at his own expense to bring abundant and salubrious water there which had been lacking before, they—along with the rest of France—finally lavished him with the praise and admiration they could no longer refuse to his generous patriotism.16

Such a splendid model will doubtless touch the hearts of Frenchmen, encouraged as well by the example of many societies established in England, Scotland, and Ireland—societies concerned solely with economizing views, which annually make substantial gifts out of their own funds to husbandmen and artisans17 who distinguish themselves by the superiority of their works and their discoveries. The same taste has spread to Italy. Last year, we learned about the new establishment of an academy of agriculture in Florence.

But it is mainly in Sweden that the economizing science seems to have fastened the seat of its empire. In other countries it is cultivated only by some amateurs, or by weak companies still little known and of little repute. In Sweden, it has a royal academy devoted solely to it, made up and maintained, moreover, by all the most learned and distinguished elements of the state—an academy that sets aside everything that is merely erudition, amusement, and curiosity, and that allows only research and observations tending toward palpable, physical utility.18

It is by this abundant source that our economizing journal is most often enriched—a new production whose purpose makes it worthy of the ministry’s full attention, and whose utility would make it win out over all those academy compendia of ours if the government put in charge men perfectly familiar with the economizing sciences and arts; and if these precious men, animated and guided by an enlightened superior, were never at the mercy Edition: current; Page: [162] of the enterprisers and thus never deprived of the just honoraria so much owing to their work.

It would in fact be entirely consistent with justice and public economy not to abandon the majority of subjects to the rapacity of those who employ them and whose main goal, or rather only goal, is to profit from the labor of another without regard to the workers’ good. On this, I observe that in this conflict of interests, the government ought to abrogate every concession19 of exclusive rights, to close its ears to every representation which, dressed up as the public good, is in essence suggested by the spirit of monopoly, and that it ought to effect without manipulation what is equitable in itself and favorable to the openness and liberty of the arts and of commerce.

Be that as it may, we can congratulate France for the fact that in the midst of so many academy members devoted to the craze for sophistication but mostly untouched by useful research, she counts some superior talents, men accomplished in every kind of science, who have continued to combine beauty of style and even the graces of eloquence with the most solid studies. These men, having dedicated themselves for quite a few years now to economizing works and experiments, have enriched us, as is well known, with the most important discoveries.

Finally, it appears that since the peace of 1748,20 the taste for public economy is imperceptibly winning over all of Europe. More enlightened than in the past, princes today are much less ambitious about aggrandizing themselves through war. Both history and experience have taught them that it is an uncertain and destructive path. The improvement of their states shows them another way, shorter and more assured. Thus, they are virtually competing with each other for improvements and seem more disposed than ever to profit from the many works published in our time on commerce, shipping, and finance, on the exploitation of the land, on the establishment and progress of the most useful arts. These are favorable inclinations, which would contribute to make the subjects more frugal, healthier, happier, and I even think more virtuous.

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Indeed, true economy, which is equally unknown to the miser and the spendthrift, holds a golden mean between the opposing extremes. It is to the lack of that much reviled virtue that one must attribute most of the evils that cover the face of the earth. The only-too-frequent taste for amusements, superfluities, and delights brings about flabbiness, idleness, expense, and often scarcity, but always at least a thirst for riches, which become all the more necessary as one becomes subject to more needs. These then produce ruses and detours, rapacity, violence, and so many other excesses that arise from the same source.

Thus, I am loudly preaching public and private savings, but it is a wise and disinterested savings, one that brings courage against pain, firmness against pleasure, and that is in the end the best resource of beneficence and generosity. It is that honest parsimony that was so dear in the past to Pliny the Younger, and that enabled him, as he said himself, to make large public and private liberalities out of a modest fortune. Quidquid mihi pater tuus debuit, acceptum tibi ferri jubeo; nec est quod verearis ne sit mihi ista onerosa donatio. Sunt quidem omnino nobis modicae facultates, dignitas sumptuosa, reditus propter conditionem agellorum nescio minor an incertior; sed quod cessat ex reditu, frugalitate suppletur, ex quâ velut a fonte liberalitas nostra decurrit. Letters of Pliny, book II. letter iv. Countless gestures of beneficence are found in all these letters. See especially bk. III. lett. xi., bk. IV. lett. xiii., &c.21

Nothing ought to be more strongly recommended to young people than this virtuous habit, which would become for them a protection against all the vices. This is where ancient education was more coherent and more reasonable than our own. They accustomed children early on to household management, as much by their own example as by the nest egg22 they gave them, which the latter, although young and dependent, turned to good Edition: current; Page: [164] account. This light administration gave them the beginnings of diligence and solicitude, which became useful for the rest of their lives.

How different from the ancients’ is our thinking about these things! Today, one wouldn’t dare turn young people toward economy; it would be thought unfeeling to inspire them with a taste and esteem for it: a quite common error in our age, but a pernicious error that does endless harm to our mores. Prizes for eloquence and poetry have been established in countless places; who among us will establish prizes for saving and frugality?

What’s more, these proposals have no other goal but to enlighten men on their interests, to make them more attentive to necessities, less ardent for superfluities—in a word, to apply their ingenuity to more fruitful purposes, and to employ a greater number of subjects for the moral, physical, and palpable good of society. May heaven grant that such mores take the place of interest, luxury, and pleasure among us; what ease, what happiness and peace would result for all our citizens! This article is by M. Faiguet.

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Pin (Epingle)*

Pinmaking had an honored place among eighteenth-century commentators. In his Cyclopedia article for “pin,” Chambers had already written that “the number of artificers employed” in their manufacture was “incredible.”1 Adam Smith was already using the example of pin manufacturing to illustrate the modern division of labor in the early draft of The Wealth of Nations and in his lectures on jurisprudence in the 1760s before he made the example famous in The Wealth of Nations itself. It would seem that Smith had Deleyre’s Encyclopédie article mainly in mind rather than Chambers’s earlier entry, since he attributes to pinmaking “about eighteen distinct operations” rather than the twenty-five that appear in the Englishman’s work.2 Another difference between Chambers and Deleyre is the Baconian flourish that Diderot appends to the latter’s article. See the entry on Deleyre in Contributors, above, pp. xxvii–xxviii.

Pin (Mechanical art), a small straight metal tool, pointed at one end, used as a detachable clip on linen and fabrics to fix the different shapes given to them when dressing, working, or packing.

Of all mechanical works, the pin is the thinnest, commonest, and cheapest. And yet, it is one of those that demand perhaps the most combinations.3 Edition: current; Page: [166] Thus it happens that art as well as nature displays its prodigies in small objects, and that industry is as limited in its focus as it is wondrous in its resourcefulness. For a pin undergoes eighteen operations before becoming an item of trade.

[Deleyre next describes the eighteen operations in detailed numbered paragraphs. Then, in his remaining six long paragraphs, he distinguishes pin types by length and width and by materials (brass vs. iron), treating the preparation of the raw materials in some detail. We omit these paragraphs and include only Diderot’s editorial identification at the end.]

This article is by M. Delaire, who was describing the manufacture of the pin in the workers’ actual workshops, based on our designs, at the same time that he was publishing in Paris his analysis of Chancellor Bacon’s sublime and profound philosophy. Bacon’s work, combined with the foregoing description, will prove that a good mind can sometimes enjoy the same success rising to the highest contemplations of philosophy as it does descending to the most minutely detailed mechanics. Moreover, whoever has some acquaintance with the views the English philosopher held as he was composing his works will not be surprised to see his disciple pass without disdain from his research on the general laws of nature to the least important use of nature’s productions.

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Slavery (Esclavage)*

Although organized abolitionist movements, often under religious inspiration, did not begin until the 1770s and 1780s in France and England, authors such as Montesquieu and Voltaire had begun to criticize the institution earlier in the century. And Diderot had had a hand in the wide-ranging attack on the slave trade that Raynal included in his Philosophical and political history of the settlements and trade of the Europeans in the East and West Indies, which appeared in 1770.1 Here, Jaucourt draws mainly on Montesquieu for his critique. See also Traffic in Blacks, below.

Slavery (Natural law, Religion, Morality). Slavery is the establishment of a right founded on force. This right makes a man belong to another man so much that the latter is the absolute master of his life, his goods, and his liberty.

This definition is almost equally suitable for civil slavery and political slavery. To outline its origin, its nature, and its foundation, I will borrow many things from the author of the Spirit of the laws, without stopping to praise the solidity of his principles, because I can add nothing to his glory.2

All men are born free. In the beginning, they had but one name, one condition. In the time of Saturn and Rhea, says Plutarch, there were neither Edition: current; Page: [168] masters nor slaves.3 Nature had made them all equal. But this natural equality was not preserved for long; men strayed from it little by little, servitude was introduced by degrees, and it seemed to have been founded on free conventions, even though necessity was its source and origin.

When, as an inevitable result of the multiplication of the human race, men began to tire of the simplicity of the early centuries, they sought new means of enhancing the comforts of life and acquiring superfluous goods. It seems clear that rich people engaged the poor to work for them, in exchange for a certain wage. Since this expedient seemed very convenient to both sides, many decided to ensure their status and enter forever on the same footing into someone’s family, on condition he furnish them food and all the other necessities of life. Thus, servitude was at first created by free consent, and by a contract to do in order that one give to us: do ut facias.4 This association was conditional, or only for certain things, according to the laws of each country, and the conventions of the interested parties. In a word, such slaves were properly speaking only servants or mercenaries, quite similar to our domestics.

But men did not leave things there; they found so many advantages in making another do what they would have been obliged to do themselves, that to the extent that they wanted to expand, arms in hand, they established the custom of granting life and corporal liberty to prisoners of war, on condition that they forever serve as slaves those into whose hands they had fallen.

Since they preserved some vestige of an enemy’s resentment toward the wretches they reduced to slavery by right of arms, they ordinarily treated them with much harshness. Cruelty seemed excusable toward people at whose hands they risked experiencing the same fate, so they imagined being able to kill such slaves with impunity by an angry impulse or for the slightest fault.

Once this license had been authorized, they extended it under an even less plausible pretext to those who were born slaves, and even those bought Edition: current; Page: [169] or acquired by whatever other means. Thus, servitude came to be naturalized, so to speak, by the fate of war. Those that fortune favored and left in the state in which nature had created them were called free; those on the contrary whom weakness and misfortune subjected to the victors were called slaves. And the philosophers themselves—judges of the merit of men’s actions—regarded the conduct of this victor, who made his victim into a slave instead of wresting his life away, as an act of charity.

The law of the strongest, the right of war harmful to nature, ambition, the thirst for conquest, the love of domination and of indolence—these introduced slavery, which, to the shame of humanity, has been accepted by virtually all the world’s peoples. In fact, we cannot cast our eyes over sacred history without discovering the horrors of servitude. Profane history—the history of the Greeks, the Romans, and all other peoples that pass for the most civilized—are so many monuments to that ancient injustice engaged in with more or less violence over the whole face of the earth, varying with the times, places, and nations.

There are two types of slavery or servitude, real and personal. Real servitude is that which attaches the slave to the land; personal servitude concerns the care of the house and is more related to the person of the master. The extreme abuse in slavery is when it is found to be simultaneously personal and real. Such was the servitude of foreigners among the Jews, who engaged in the harshest treatment of them. In vain did Moses cry out to them, “You have no rigorous dominion over your slaves; you will not oppress them.” He could never manage through his exhortations to soften the harshness of his ferocious nation; thus, he tried to bring some remedy through his laws.

He began by fixing a term to slavery, and by ordaining that it would last at most until the jubilee year for foreigners, and for the space of six years for the Hebrews. Levit. ch. xxv.V.39.

One of the main reasons for his institution of the Sabbath was to procure some respite for servants and slaves. Exodus, ch. xx. and xxiii.5 Deuteronomy, ch. xvi.

He also established that no one would be able to sell his liberty unless he was reduced to having absolutely nothing more to live on. He prescribed Edition: current; Page: [170] that when slaves were redeemed, their service would be taken into account, in the same way the income already derived from a sold property entered in compensation into the price of the resale when the ex-owner recovered it. Deuteron. ch. xv., Levitic. ch. xxv.

If a master had gouged out an eye or broken a tooth of one of his slaves (and a fortiori, no doubt, if he had done something worse), the slave was to have his liberty, in compensation for this loss.

Another one of that legislator’s laws provides that, if a master strikes his slave and the slave dies as a result of the blow, the master must be punished as being guilty of homicide. It is true that the law adds that if the slave lives for a day or two, the master is exempt from the punishment. The reason for this law was perhaps that when the slave did not die on the spot, it was presumed that the master did not intend to kill him. And at that point, it was thought that he was punished enough by losing what the slave had cost him, or the service he would have gotten from him. At least this is what we are given to understand by the words that follow the text, for this slave is his money.

In any case, it was quite a strange people, following M. de Montesquieu’s remark, whose civil law ceased to adhere to natural law.6 This is not how St. Paul thought of the matter when, in preaching the light of the Gospel, he offered this precept from nature and from religion, which ought to be deeply engraved on the hearts of all men: Masters (Ep. to the Coloss. iv.1), treat your slaves justly and fairly, knowing that you also have a Master in heaven—that is, a master who has no regard for this distinction of conditions, forged by pride and injustice.

The Lacedemonians were the first Greeks who introduced the use of slaves, or who began to reduce to servitude the Greeks they had taken as prisoners of war. They went even further (and I greatly regret being unable to draw the curtain over this part of their history): they treated their Helots in the most barbarous fashion. These people, inhabitants of the territory of Sparta who had been defeated in their revolt by the aristocratic Spartans,7 were condemned to perpetual slavery, and masters were prohibited from emancipating them or selling them outside the country. Thus, the Helots Edition: current; Page: [171] saw themselves subject to all the work outside the house, and to all sorts of insults inside the house. Their excessive misery reached the point where they were the slaves not only of a citizen, but also of the public. Many peoples have only a real slavery, because their women and children do the domestic work. Others have a personal slavery, because luxury demands service from the slaves within the house. But here, real slavery and personal slavery were combined in the same persons.

It was not the same with the other Greek peoples. There, slavery was vastly milder, and even slaves who were too roughly treated by their masters could ask to be sold to another. This is what Plutarch teaches us, de superstitione, p. 66. v. I ed. of Wechel.8

According to Xenophon, the Athenians in particular acted with great mildness toward their slaves. They punished severely, sometimes even with death, whoever had beaten another’s slave. With reason, Athenian law did not want to add the loss of security to the loss of liberty. Thus, we don’t see the slaves disturbing that republic in the way they convulsed Lacedemon.

It is easy to understand that in a moderate government, the humanity shown toward slaves can alone prevent the dangers that could be feared from there being too many of them. Men grow accustomed to servitude, provided their master is not harsher than the servitude itself.9 Nothing is better suited to confirm this truth than the slaves’ status among the Romans in the republic’s heyday, and this status deserves to attract our attention for a few moments.

The early Romans treated their slaves with more decency than any other people have done. Masters regarded them as their companions; they lived, worked, and ate with them. The greatest punishment they inflicted on a slave who had committed some offense was to attach a pitchfork on his back or his chest, stretch his arms over both ends of it, and lead him around that way in public places. It was an ignominious punishment and nothing more. Mores sufficed to maintain the slaves’ fidelity.

Far from preventing by coercive laws the multiplication of these living, animated organs of household economy, they encouraged it with all their Edition: current; Page: [172] might, joining their slaves together by a kind of marriage, contuberniis. In this manner they filled their houses with domestics of both sexes, and went far toward populating the state. The slaves’ children, who over time made the wealth of a master, were born in an atmosphere of trust around him. He alone was charged with their upkeep and their education. The fathers, free of this burden, followed the penchant of nature and multiplied without fear of a large family. Without jealousy, they looked upon a happy society of which they regarded themselves as members. They felt that their soul could rise up like that of their master, and they did not feel the difference between the condition of a slave and of a free man. Often, indeed, generous masters arranged instruction in exercises,10 music, and Greek letters. Terence and Phaedrus are quite good examples of this kind of education.11

The republic made use of this people of slaves, or rather of subjects, to its great benefit. Each of them had his peculium—that is, his little treasure, his little purse, which he possessed on conditions his master imposed on him.12 With this nest egg, he worked wherever his talent carried him. This one did banking, that one went in for sea trade; one sold retail merchandise, another applied himself to some mechanical art, or else leased or exploited lands. But there was no one who did not dedicate himself to profiting from this nest egg, which simultaneously procured him comfort in his present servitude and the hope of future liberty. All these measures spread abundance and animated the arts and industry.

Once they were enriched, these slaves had themselves enfranchised and became citizens. The republic constantly replenished itself, receiving new families in its midst as the old ones were destroyed. Such were the best days of slavery, as long as the Romans preserved their mores and their integrity.

But when they had aggrandized themselves by their conquests and their plunder, when their slaves were no longer the companions of their labor but were employed to become the instruments of their luxury and their Edition: current; Page: [173] pride, the slaves’ condition totally changed its face.13 They came to be regarded as the basest part of the nation, and consequently no one had any scruples about treating them inhumanely. By reason of the fact that mores were gone, men had recourse to the law. And indeed, some terrible ones were needed to establish the security of these cruel masters, who lived amidst their slaves as if amidst their enemies.

Under Augustus—that is, at the beginning of the tyranny—the senatus-consultum Silanianum was passed,14 along with many other laws that ordained that when a master was killed, all the slaves who were under the same roof or within earshot would be condemned to death. In this case, those who gave refuge to a slave in order to save him were punished as murderers. Even the slave whose master had ordered him to kill him and who had obeyed would be guilty. The one who had not prevented the master from killing himself would be punished. If a master was killed on a trip, those who remained with him and those who fled were both put to death. Let us add that during his life, this master could kill his slaves with impunity and subject them to torture. It is true that afterward, there were emperors who diminished this authority. Claudius decreed that sick slaves abandoned by their masters would be free if they returned to health. In rare cases, this law assured their liberty; it should also have secured their life, as M. de Montesquieu has very well said.15

Moreover, all these cruel laws we have just been talking about were applicable even to those whose innocence was proven.16 These laws arose not from the civil government, but from a defect in the civil government. They were not derived from the equity of the civil laws, since they were contrary to the principle of the civil laws. Properly speaking, they were founded on the principle of war, except that the enemies were within the bosom of the state. The senatus-consultum Silanianum is said to derive from the law of nations, which states that a society, even an imperfect one, must preserve itself. But an enlightened legislator avoids the frightful misfortune of becoming a terrifying legislator. In the end, the barbarism toward slaves was Edition: current; Page: [174] pushed so far that it produced the slave wars which Florus compared to the Punic wars, and which, by their violence, shook the Roman Empire to its foundations.17

I like to imagine that there are still happy climes on earth whose inhabitants are gentle, tender, and compassionate—such as the Indians of the peninsula on this side of the Ganges. They treat their slaves as they treat themselves. They take care of their children, marry them off, and easily grant them their liberty. In general, the slaves that belong to simple and hardworking people of open and sincere mores are happier than anywhere else. They suffer only real slavery, which is less hard for them and more useful for their masters. This was the case with the slaves of the ancient Germans. Tacitus says these peoples did not keep them in the house to make each one work at a certain task, as we do. Instead, they assigned each slave his private manor in which he lived as a head of household. The only servitude the master imposed on him was to oblige him to pay an annual land rent in cereal, livestock, hides, or fabrics. In this way, adds the historian, you could not distinguish the master from the slave by their earthly delights.

When they had conquered the Gauls under the name of Franks, they sent their slaves to cultivate the lands that fell to them by lot. They were called people under power, gentes potestatis in Latin, attached to the glebe, addicti glebae.18 And it is from these serfs that France has been populated ever since. Their multiplication created almost as many villages out of the farms they cultivated (and these lands retained the name villae) as the Romans had given them. Hence have arisen the words village and villein, in Latin villa & villani, to mean country folk of low extraction. Thus, two kinds of slaves were seen in France, those of the Franks and those of the Gauls, and they all went to war, whatever M. de Boulainvilliers might say about it.19

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These slaves belonged to their patrons, of whom they were reputed to be men of the body, as they used to say back then. With time, they became subject to harsh corvée labor and were so attached to their masters’ land that they seemed like part of it, so that they could not set up elsewhere or even get married on another lord’s land without paying what was called the fors-mariage or mé-mariage fee.20 Even the children brought forth by the union of two slaves who belonged to different masters were distributed; or else one of the patrons, to avoid this distribution, gave another slave in exchange.

A military government, in which authority was parceled out among many lords, was bound to degenerate into tyranny—and this did not fail to happen. Ecclesiastical and lay patrons everywhere abused their power over their slaves. They overwhelmed them with so many labors, annual payments, corvées, and so many other kinds of mistreatment that in 1108, the miserable serfs, no longer able to bear the harshness of the yoke, brought on that famous revolt described by historians, which eventually ended up procuring their enfranchisement. For up to that time, our kings had tried without any success to soften the condition of slavery by their edicts.

Nonetheless, as Christianity began to gain ground, more humane sentiments were embraced. Moreover, our sovereigns, determined to humble the lords and rescue the lower orders from the yoke of their power, made the decision to enfranchise the slaves. Louis the Fat21 was the first to give an example, and in enfranchising the serfs in 1135, he partly succeeded in taking back the authority over his vassals that they had usurped. In 1223, Louis VIII22 distinguished the beginning of his reign by a similar enfranchisement. Finally, Louis X, called the Headstrong,23 offered an edict on this subject that seems to us worthy of being reported here:

Louis, by the grace of God, king of France and of Navarre: to our friends and trusty companions . . . since, according to the law of nature, each person must be born free . . . we, considering that our realm is Edition: current; Page: [176] named and called the realm of the Franks,24 and wanting the thing in truth to be in accordance with the name . . . by deliberation of our grand council, have ordained and do ordain that everywhere in our realm . . . freedom [franchise] be given on good and legally valid conditions . . . and so that all the lords who have men of the body will follow our example in restoring to freedom, &c. Given in Paris the third of July, the year of grace 1315.25

Still, it was only around the 15th century that slavery was abolished in the greater part of Europe. And yet, only too many vestiges of it still exist in Poland, Hungary, Bohemia, and many parts of lower Germany; see the works of Messrs. Thomasius and Hertius; there are even some sparks of it in our customaries; see Coquille.26 In any case, almost within the space of the century following the abolition of slavery in Europe, the Christian powers, having made conquests in countries where they thought it advantageous to have slaves, permitted the buying and selling of them and forgot the principles of nature and Christianity, which render all men equal.

After surveying the history of slavery from its origins to our day, we are going to prove that it wounds the liberty of man, that it is contrary to natural and civil right, that it is offensive to the best forms of government, and finally, that it is useless in itself.

The liberty of man is a principle that was accepted long before the birth of J. C. by all nations that profess generosity. The natural liberty of man—this is to recognize no sovereign power on earth and to be subject to no legislative authority whatsoever, but only to follow the laws of nature. Liberty in society is to be subject to a legislative power established by the consent of the community, and not to be subject to the whim or to the fickle, uncertain, and arbitrary will of a single man in particular.

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Such liberty, by which one is not subjected to an absolute power, is so tightly bound up with the preservation of man that it can be separated from it only by whatever simultaneously destroys his preservation and his life. Thus, whoever tries to usurp an absolute power over someone thereby places himself in a state of war with him, so that the latter can regard the conduct of the former only as a manifest attack on his life. In fact, from the moment a man wants to subject me to his domination against my will, I have reason to presume that if I fall into his hands, he will treat me according to his whim and will not scruple to kill me when the fancy strikes him. Liberty is, so to speak, the rampart of my preservation and the foundation of all other things that belong to me. Thus, whoever wants to make me a slave in the state of nature authorizes me to repulse him by any means, in order to secure my person and my property.

Since all men naturally have equal liberty, they cannot be stripped of this liberty without their having occasioned this by some criminal acts. Certainly, if a man in the state of nature has deserved death at the hands of someone whom he has offended, and who has become in this case master of his life, the latter, when he has the guilty party in his hands, can make a deal with him and employ him in his service; in this, he does him no wrong. For ultimately, when the criminal finds that his slavery is more burdensome and more troublesome than the loss of his existence, it is within his power to attract the death that he desires by resisting and disobeying his master.

What makes the death of a criminal lawful in civil society is that the law punishing him was made in his favor.27 A murderer, for example, has benefited from the law that condemns him. It has preserved his life at every moment; therefore, he cannot complain about that law. It would not be the same with the law on slavery. The law establishing slavery would be against him in every case without ever being for him, which is contrary to the fundamental principle of all societies.

Property rights over men and over things are two quite different rights. Although every lord says of whoever is subject to his domination, that person belongs to me, his property over such a man is not the same as the property he can claim when he says, that thing belongs to me. Property in a Edition: current; Page: [178] thing brings with it a full right to use it, consume it, and destroy it, whether because it is found profitable or out of pure whimsy, so that however one disposes of it, no wrong is done to it. But the same expression applied to a person signifies only that the lord has a right, exclusive of anyone else, to govern this person and prescribe laws to him, while at the same time he is himself subject to many obligations in relation to that same person, so that in any case his power over that person is very limited.

Whatever great injuries we have received from a man, once we have become reconciled with him, humanity does not permit us to reduce him to a condition in which no trace of the natural equality of all men remains, and thus to treat him like a beast of which we are the master, able to dispose of him at our whim. The peoples who have treated slaves as a good that they could dispose of at will have been nothing but barbarians.

Not only is it the case that one cannot, properly speaking, have a property right in persons. But in addition, it is repugnant to reason for a man who has no power over his own life to be able to give to another, either by his own consent or by any kind of agreement, the right that he does not have himself. Thus, it is not true that a free man can sell himself.28 A sale presupposes a price. If the slave sold himself, all his goods become the property of the master; thus, the master would give nothing and the slave would receive nothing. He would have a nest egg, someone will say; but the nest egg is attached to the person. The liberty of each person is a part of the public liberty. This status, in the popular state, is even a part of sovereignty. If liberty has a price for the one who buys it, it is priceless for the one who sells it.

Civil law, which has permitted the division of property among men, could not have ranked among that property a portion of the men who are to take part in the division. Civil law, which makes restitution in contracts that contain some sort of damage, cannot keep from making restitution for an agreement that contains the most enormous of all damages. Thus, slavery is no less contrary to civil law than to natural law. What civil law could keep a slave from saving himself from servitude, since he is not in society, and thus, no civil law affects him? He can be restrained only by a family law, by the master’s law—that is, by the law of the strongest.

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If slavery is offensive to natural and civil law, it is also harmful to the best forms of government. It is contrary to monarchical government, in which it is supremely important neither to beat down nor to debase human nature.29 In democracy, where everyone is equal, and in aristocracy, where the laws should put their effort into making everyone as equal as the nature of the government can permit, slaves are contrary to the spirit of the constitution; they would serve only to give citizens a power and a luxury they should not have.

Moreover, in every government and in every country, however arduous the work that society requires, one can do anything with free men—by encouraging them with rewards and privileges, by adjusting the work to their strength, or by replacing it with machines invented and applied by art, depending on location and need. See the evidence for this in M. de Montesquieu.30

Finally, we may again add with that illustrious author that slavery is useful to neither master nor slave:31 not to the slave, because he can do nothing from virtue; not to the master, because he contracts all sorts of vices and bad habits from his slaves that are contrary to the laws of society, because he grows imperceptibly accustomed to neglecting all the moral virtues, because he becomes proud, curt, angry, harsh, voluptuous, and barbarous.

Thus, everything favors leaving man the dignity that is natural to him. Everything cries out to us that we cannot deprive him of that natural dignity which is liberty; the rule of the just is not founded on power but on what conforms to human nature. Slavery is a humiliating condition not only for the one who suffers it, but for humanity itself, which is degraded by it.

Since the principles just stated are unassailable, it will not be difficult to demonstrate that slavery can never be sugarcoated by any reasonable cause—not by the right of war, as the Roman jurisconsults used to think, nor by the right of acquisition or the right of birth, as some moderns have wanted to persuade us. In a word, nothing in the world can render slavery legitimate.32

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In past centuries, people said that the right of war authorizes the right of slavery. It prescribed that prisoners be slaves, so that they would not be killed. But today, we are disabused of this generosity, which consisted of making your conquered into your slave rather than massacring him. We have come to understand that this supposed charity is nothing but the charity of a brigand, who glories in giving life to those he has not killed. Nowadays, it is only the Tartars who put to the sword their prisoners of war and who think they are doing them a favor when they sell them or distribute them to their soldiers.33 Among all other peoples who have not shed every generous sentiment, killing in war is only permissible in cases of necessity. But as soon as one man has made another a prisoner, one cannot say that he was under necessity to kill him, since he has not killed him. The only right that war can give over captives is the right to secure them sufficiently so that they are in no position to do harm.

The acquisition of slaves by means of money is even less able to establish a right of slavery, because money, and all that it represents, cannot confer a right to deprive someone of his liberty. Moreover, the traffic in slaves, for the purpose of deriving a vile profit as if from brute beasts, is repugnant to our religion, which came for the purpose of erasing all traces of tyranny.

Slavery is certainly not better founded on birth. This supposed right falls with the other two. For if a man could not sell himself or be bought, still less could he sell his unborn child. If a prisoner of war could not be reduced to servitude, still less his children. In vain would one object that if the children are conceived and brought into the world by a slave mother, the master does them no wrong in appropriating them and reducing them to the same condition; that because the mother has nothing of her own, her children can be raised only from the master’s goods, which furnish them food and the other necessities of life before they are in a position to serve him. These are but frivolous ideas.

If it is absurd for a man to have a property right over another man, he is a fortiori unable to have one over his children. Moreover, nature, which has given milk to mothers, has provided adequately for the children’s nourishment, and the remainder of their childhood is so close to the age at which Edition: current; Page: [181] they have the greatest capacity to make themselves useful that it could not be said that whoever nourishes them in order to be their master is giving them anything. If he has furnished something for the upkeep of the child, the thing is so modest that any man, however mediocre the faculties of his soul and body, can earn enough to pay off that debt within a few years. If slavery were founded on nourishment, it would have to be reduced to persons incapable of earning their living. But no one wants those slaves.

There can be no justice in a convention, express or tacit, by which the slave mother subjects the children she has brought into the world to the same condition into which she has fallen, because she cannot stipulate for her children.

To sugarcoat this pretext for child slavery, it has been said that they would not be in the world if the master had wanted to use the right given him by war of putting their mother to death. But the assumption is false that all who are taken in war, even the most just war in the world—and especially women, who are at issue here—can be legitimately killed. Spirit of the laws, bk. XV.34

It was an arrogant presumption on the part of the ancient Greeks to imagine that since the barbarians were slaves by nature (that is how they spoke) and the Greeks free, it was just for the former to obey the latter. That being the case, it would be easy to treat as barbarians all peoples whose mores and customs are different from our own, and (without other pretext) to attack them in order to place them under our laws. It is only the prejudices of pride and ignorance that make us renounce the virtue of humanity.

Thus, it goes directly against nature and the law of nations to believe that the Christian religion gives those who profess it a right to reduce to servitude those who do not profess it, in order to work more easily toward its propagation. It was this way of thinking, however, that encouraged the destroyers of America in their crimes, and this is not the only time that men have used the religion against its own maxims, which teach us that the status of neighbor35 extends throughout the world.

It is playing with words, or rather engaging in mockery, to write, as one of our modern authors has done, that it is small-minded to imagine that Edition: current; Page: [182] having slaves degrades humanity, because the liberty that each European thinks he enjoys is nothing but the power to break his chains in order to give himself a new master—as if the chain of a European was the same as that of a slave from our colonies.36 It is clear that this author has never been placed in slavery.

Still, are there no places or situations in which slavery derives from the nature of things? I respond to this question, firstly, that there are none. I next respond, with M. de Montesquieu, that if there are countries in which slavery seems based on a natural cause, it is those in which the heat enervates the body and so weakens the sense of spirit that men are led to an arduous duty only by the fear of punishment. In those countries, since the master is as craven toward his prince as his slave is toward himself, civil slavery is accompanied by political slavery.

Under arbitrary governments, it has been very easy to sell oneself, because political slavery in some sense destroys civil liberty.37 Dampier says that everyone seeks to sell himself in Achim.38 Some of the leading lords have no fewer than a thousand slaves, who are the leading merchants, who also have many slaves under them, and these latter many others; they are inherited and there is a traffic in them. There, the free men, who are too weak to oppose the government, seek to become the slaves of those who tyrannize the government.

Notice that in despotic states, where men are already under political slavery, civil slavery is more bearable than elsewhere.39 Each person is happy enough to have his sustenance and his life. Thus, the slave’s condition is scarcely more burdensome than the subject’s condition; these are two conditions that converge. But although slavery in these countries is based, so to speak, on a natural cause, it is nonetheless true that slavery is contrary to nature.

In all Mohammedan states, servitude is rewarded by the idleness that those slaves are enabled to enjoy who serve in sensual pleasure.40 It is this Edition: current; Page: [183] idleness that makes the seraglios of the East places of delight even for those against whom they are created. People who fear only work can find their happiness in these tranquil places. But it is clear that in this way, one runs counter even to the purpose for which slavery is established. These latter reflections are from The Spirit of the laws.

Let us conclude that slavery—founded by force, by violence, and in certain climates by an excess of servitude—can perpetuate itself in the world only by the same means. Article by Chevalier de Jaucourt.

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Volume 6 (1756)

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State of Nature (Etat de Nature)*

State of Nature (Natural law). Generally and properly speaking, this is the state of man at the moment of his birth, but in common usage this word has different acceptations.

This state can be envisioned in three ways: in relation to God; in imagining each person as he would be found alone and without the aid of his fellows; and finally, according to the moral relation that exists among all men.

From the first perspective, the state of nature is the condition of man considered as God made him, the most excellent of all animals. Whence it follows that he should recognize the Author of his existence, admire his works, offer up a worship worthy of him, and conduct himself as a being endowed with reason, so this state is contrary to the life and condition of the animals.

From the second perspective, the state of nature is the sad situation to which one imagines man would be reduced if he were abandoned to himself upon entering into the world. In this sense, the state of nature is contrary to the life that has been civilized by human industry and service.

From the third perspective, the state of nature is the state of men insofar as they have no other moral relations but those founded on the universal ties resulting from the resemblance in their nature, independent of all subjection. At this level, those said to live in the state of nature are those who are neither subject to the dominion of each other, nor dependent upon a common master. Thus, the state of nature is in that case opposed to the civil state, and it is in this latter sense that we are going to consider it in the present article.

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This state of nature is a state of perfect freedom, a state in which men can do what they please and dispose of themselves and their possessions as they see fit without depending on the will of anyone, provided they stay within the bounds of the natural law.1

This state is also a state of equality, such that all power and all jurisdiction are reciprocal. For it is evident that beings of the same species and the same rank, who share in nature’s same advantages and who have the same faculties, ought likewise to be equal among themselves, without any subordination. This state of equality is the foundation of the duties of humanity. See Equality.

Although the state of nature is a state of liberty, it is in no way a state of license,2 for a man in this state does not have the right to destroy himself, any more than to destroy another. He must make the best use of his liberty that his own preservation demands of him. The state of nature has the law of nature as a rule. Reason teaches all men, if they would but consult it, that being all equal and independent, no one must do harm to another concerning his life, his health, his liberty, and his property.

But in order that no one in the state of nature undertakes to do harm to his neighbor, each person, being equal, has the power to punish the guilty with penalties that are proportional to their offences and that strive to make amends for the harm and to prevent something similar from happening in the future.3 If each individual lacked the power to repress the wicked in the state of nature, it would follow that the magistrates of a political society would be unable to punish a foreigner, because in relation to such a man, those magistrates can have no more right than each person can have naturally in relation to another. This is why each individual in the state of nature has a right to kill a murderer, in order to deter others from homicide. If someone sheds the blood of a man, his blood will also be shed by a man, says the great law of nature. And Cain was so fully convinced of it that he cried out, after killing his brother: Quiconque me trouvera me tuera.4

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For the same reason, a man in the state of nature can punish the various infractions of the laws of nature in the same manner they can be punished in any civilized government. Most domestic laws are just only insofar as they are founded on natural laws.

It has often been asked where and when men are or have been in the state of nature.5 I answer that since the princes and magistrates of independent societies that are found throughout the earth are in the state of nature, it is clear that the world has never been and will never be without a certain number of men in the state of nature. When I speak of princes and magistrates of independent societies, I consider them in themselves abstractly. For what puts an end to the state of nature is solely the convention by which men enter voluntarily into the body politic. All other kinds of commitments that men may make together leave them in the state of nature. For example, the promises and compacts for truck between two men on a desert island that Garcilaso de la Vega speaks of in his History of Peru, or between a Spaniard and an Indian in the American deserts, must be exactly performed, even though these two men are on this occasion in the state of nature vis-à-vis each other. Honesty and faith-keeping are things that men must observe religiously as men, not as members of the same society.

Thus, the state of nature must not be confused with the state of war.6 These two states seem to me as contrary to one another as a state of peace, assistance, and mutual preservation is to a state of enmity, violence, and mutual destruction.

When men live together in conformity with reason, without any superior on earth who has the authority to judge their differences, they find themselves to be precisely in the state of nature. But the violence of one person against another, in a situation in which there is no common superior on earth to whom to appeal, produces the state of war. Absent a judge before whom a man can call out an aggressor, there is no doubt that he has the right to wage war on this aggressor, even though both of them are members of the same society and subjects of the same state.

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Thus, I can kill on the spot a thief who besets me, who seizes the reins of my horse or stops my coach. This is because the law made for my preservation, if it can be interposed to assure my life against a present and sudden attack, gives me the liberty to kill this thief, since there is not enough time to call him before our common judge and have the laws decide a case in which the harm may be irreparable. The lack of a common judge vested with authority puts all men in a state of nature, and the unjust and sudden violence that I just spoke of produces the state of war, whether or not there is a common judge.

Thus, let us not be surprised if history tells us little about men who have lived together in the state of nature.7 The inconveniences of such a state (which I am about to explain) and the desire and need for society have obliged individuals to join together early on in a civil body that would be fixed and durable. But if we cannot suppose that men have ever been in the state of nature, because we lack historical accounts in this regard, we could also doubt whether the soldiers who composed Xerxes’ armies had ever been children, since history does not indicate as much, and speaks of them only as grown men bearing arms.

Government always precedes records. Rarely are belles-lettres cultivated among a people before a long continuation of civil society has, by other more necessary arts, provided for its safety, ease, and plenty. Men begin to search the history of the founders of that people and to research its origins when the memory of them has been lost or grown obscure. Societies have this in common with individuals: they are usually quite ignorant in their birth and their infancy. If they know something afterward, it is only by means of monuments that others have preserved. Those monuments that we have of political societies make us see clear examples of the beginnings of some of these societies, or at least they make us see their manifest footsteps.

One can scarcely deny that Rome and Venice, for example, took their beginnings from independent people, among whom there was no superiority, no subjection.8 The same thing is found already established in the Edition: current; Page: [191] greater part of America, in Florida and in Brazil, where there is no question of king or community or government. In a word, it is probable that all political societies have been formed by a voluntary union of persons in the state of nature, who have agreed on the form of their government and who have been led to this union by consideration of the things that are wanting in the state of nature.

First, there want laws that are established, accepted, and approved by common consent, as the standard of right and wrong, of justice and injustice.9 For though the laws of nature be plain and intelligible to all rational people, yet men, through interest or ignorance, evade or ignore them without scruple.

In the second place, there wants in the state of nature a known and impartial judge who has authority to terminate all differences in conformity with established laws.

In the third place, there often wants in the state of nature a coercive power for executing a sentence. Those who have committed some crime in the state of nature employ force if they can to bolster the injustice, and their resistance sometimes makes their punishment dangerous.

Thus, weighing the advantages of the state of nature with its defects, men soon preferred to join together in society. Hence it comes to pass that we seldom find any number of people living together for long in the state of nature. The inconveniences they find there force them to seek in the established laws of a government a sanctuary for the preservation of their properties. And in this we have the source and the limits of legislative power and executive power.

Aside from the freedom to enjoy innocent pleasure, men have in fact two sorts of power in the state of nature. The first is to do what they find fitting for their preservation and that of others, following the spirit of the laws10 of nature. If it were not for human depravity, it would not be necessary to abandon the natural community in order to create smaller ones. The other power that men have in the state of nature is to punish the crimes Edition: current; Page: [192] committed against the laws. In entering a society, these same men merely remit to that society the powers they had in the state of nature. Thus, the legislative authority of any government can never extend beyond what the public good demands. Consequently, this authority must be reduced to preserving the properties that each person keeps from the state of nature. Thus, whoever has the sovereign power of a community is obliged to follow no other rules in his conduct but the tranquility, security, and property11 of the people—quid in toto terrarum orbe validum sit, ut non modò casus rerum, sed ratio étiam, causaeque noscantur. Tacit. history. lib. I. Article by Chevalier de Jaucourt.12

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Compound States (Etats Composés)*

Jaucourt here follows Pufendorf in seeking an alternative to Hobbes’s theory of absolute unitary sovereignty.1

Compound States (Political law). Term used for those states formed by the union of several simple states. One may define them, with Pufendorf, as an assemblage of states tightly bound by some particular tie, so that they seem to be but a single body in relation to the matters that concern them in common, even though each one of them preserves full and complete sovereignty independent of the others.

This assemblage of states is formed either by the union of two or several distinct states under one and the same king, as for example England, Scotland, and Ireland were before the union of Scotland and England in our time;2 or else when several independent states confederate in order to form Edition: current; Page: [194] but a single body; such are the United Provinces of the Low Countries, and the Swiss Cantons.

The first type of union can be made either on the occasion of a marriage, or in virtue of a succession, or when a people chooses as king a prince who was already sovereign of another realm, so that those different states come to be united under a prince who governs each one singly by its fundamental laws.

As for composite states that are formed by the permanent confederation of several states, it must be remarked that this confederation is the sole means by which several small states, too weak for each of them individually to maintain themselves against their enemies, may preserve their liberty.

These confederated states make a mutual commitment to exercise certain parts of sovereignty only by common accord, especially those that concern their mutual defense against external enemies. But each of the confederates retains complete liberty to exercise as it sees fit the parts of sovereignty not mentioned in the act of confederation as having to be exercised in common.

It is absolutely necessary in confederated states: (1) that specific times and places of ordinary assembly be indicated; (2) that some member be named who would have power to convoke the assembly for extraordinary affairs not admitting of delay. Or, in making a resolution, they might set up an assembly composed of deputies from each state, which is always in a condition of readiness and which dispatches the common business according to the orders of their superiors. Such is the assembly of the Estates General at the Hague, and perhaps no other example could be cited.

It is asked whether the decision on common affairs must depend on the unanimous consent of the whole body of confederates, or only on the majority. It seems to me that in general, since the liberty of a state is the power to decide in the last resort on the affairs that concern its own preservation, one cannot consider a state to be free by the treaty of confederation when it can be constrained by proper authority to do certain things. If, however, in the assemblies of the confederated states, there happened to be one state that refused—out of an insane stubbornness—to yield to the deliberation of the others in very important affairs, I believe one could either break the confederation with this state that is betraying the common cause, or even Edition: current; Page: [195] use against it all the means permitted in the state of natural liberty against the violators of alliances.

Composite states are dissolved (1) when some of the confederates separate to govern their affairs apart, which ordinarily happens because they think that union is more of a burden than a benefit to them. (2) Internecine wars among the confederates also break their union—unless, with the return of peace, the confederation is renewed at the same time. (3) From the moment one of the confederated states is subjugated by a foreign power or becomes the dependent of another state, the confederation no longer exists for it—unless, after being constrained to surrender to the victor by force of arms, it later comes to be delivered from this subjection. (4) Finally, a composite state becomes a simple state if all the confederated peoples submit to the sovereign authority of one person alone, or if one of these states, by the superiority that its forces give it, reduces the others to the status of province. See on this matter the Latin essay by Pufendorf, de systematibus civitatum, in-4°.3 Read also the history of the United Provinces and that of the Swiss Cantons;4 there, you will find some remarkable things on their respective unions and confederations. Article by Chevalier de Jaucourt.

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Volume 7 (1757)

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Foundation (Fondation)**

This important article by Turgot (1727–81), the future royal administrator and controller-general under Louis XVI, was written in 1756, when he was a Wunderkind and protegé of Vincent de Gournay, intendant of commerce and leading propagandizer for a more open trade policy.1

Foundation (Politics and Natural law). [The words found, fundament, foundation, are applied to every durable and permanent establishment by a quite natural metaphor, since the very word establishment is based on precisely the same metaphor. In this sense, one says the foundation of an empire, a republic. But in this article, we will not speak of such great objects. What we could say about them concerns the original principles of political law, the first institution of governments among men. See Government, Conquest & Legislation. One also says found a sect. V. Sect. Finally, one says found an academy, a high school, a poorhouse, a convent, masses, prizes to distribute, public games, &c. To found in this sense] is to assign a fund or Edition: current; Page: [200] a sum of money in order to its being employed in perpetuity for fulfilling the purpose the founder had in view, whether that purpose regards divine worship, or public utility, or the vanity of the founder, often the only real one, even while the two others serve to veil it.

[The formalities necessary to transfer to those charged with fulfilling the intentions of the founder; the property or use of funds the latter has designated; the precautions to take in assuring the perpetual execution of the commitment entered into by these persons; the compensation due those who may have an interest in this transfer or property (as, for example, the suzerain deprived forever of the fees he was collecting on the fund at each change of owner); the limits that policy has wisely meant to place on the excessive multiplication of these imprudent liberalities—in short, different circumstances, essential or subordinate to the foundations, have given rise to different laws, whose detail does not belong to this article, and for which we would refer the reader to the articles Foundation (Jurisp.), Mortmain, Amortization, &c. In this one, our goal is only to examine] the utility of foundations in general, in respect to the public good, and chiefly to demonstrating their impropriety. May the following considerations concur with the philosophic spirit of the age, in discouraging new foundations and in destroying all remains of superstitious respect for the old ones!

(1) A founder is a man who desires the effect of his own will to endure forever. Now, even if we suppose him to be actuated by the purest motives, how many reasons there are to question his enlightenment! How easy it is to do harm in wishing to do good! To foresee with certainty that an establishment will produce only the effect desired from it, and no effect at variance with its object; to discern, beyond the illusion of a near and apparent good, the real evils which a long series of unseen causes may bring about; to know what are the real sores of society, to arrive at their causes, to distinguish remedies from palliatives; to defend oneself against the prestige of a seductive project, to take a severe and tranquil view of it amidst that dazzling atmosphere in which the praises of a blind public, and our own enthusiasm, show it [to be] surrounded; this would need the effort of the most profound genius, and perhaps the political sciences of our time are not yet sufficiently advanced to enable the best genius here to succeed.

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By these institutions support is often given to a few individuals against an evil the cause of which is general, and sometimes the very remedy opposed to the effect increases the influence of the cause. We have a striking example of this kind of abuse in the establishment of houses designed as asylums for repentant women. In order to obtain entrance, proof of a debauched life must be made. I know well that this precaution has been made in order to prevent the foundation being diverted to other objects; but that only proves that it is not by such establishments, powerless against the true causes of libertinage, that it can be combated. What I have said of libertinage is true of poverty. The poor have incontestable claims on the abundance of the rich; humanity and religion alike make it a duty on us to relieve our fellow-creatures when under misfortune. It is in order to accomplish these indispensable duties that so many charitable establishments have been raised in the Christian world to relieve necessities of every kind, that so many poor are gathered together in hospitals2 and are fed at the gates of convents by daily distributions. What is the result? It is that precisely in those countries where gratuitous resources are most abundant, as in Spain and some parts of Italy, there misery is more common and more widely spread than elsewhere. The reason is very simple, and a thousand travelers have observed it. To enable a large number of men to live gratuitously is to subsidize idleness and all the disorders which are its consequences; it is to render the condition of the ne’er-do-well preferable to that of the honest workingman. Consequently it diminishes for the State the sum of labor and of the productions of the earth, a large part of which is thus left necessarily uncultivated. Hence frequent scarcities, the increase of misery, and depopulation. The race of industrious citizens is displaced by a vile populace, composed of vagrant beggars given up to all sorts of crime. [To see the abusive character of these ill-directed alms, imagine a state so well administered that no poor people are found there (doubtless a possibility for any state that has colonies to populate; see Mendicity). The establishment of free assistance for a certain number of men would immediately create poor people there—that is, it would give a certain number of men an interest in becoming poor by abandoning their occupations. From this would result Edition: current; Page: [202] a loss] of the labor and wealth of the State [and] a great increase of public burdens, thrown on the shoulders of the industrious man, and an increase of all the disorders we see in the present constitution of society. It is thus that the purest virtues can deceive those who surrender themselves without precaution to all suggestions that they inspire. But if these pious and respectable designs contradict in practice the hopes that were conceived for them, what must we think of those endowments (undoubtedly numerous) whose only motive and object is the satisfaction of a frivolous vanity? I do not fear to say that were we to weigh the advantages and the disadvantages of all the foundations in Europe, perhaps there would not be found one which would stand the test of an enlightened scrutiny.

(2) But of whatever utility a foundation might be at its conception, it bears within itself an irremediable defect which belongs to its very nature—the impossibility of maintaining its fulfillment. Founders deceive themselves vastly if they imagine that their zeal can be communicated from age to age to persons employed to perpetuate its effects. There is no body that has not in the long run lost the spirit of its first origin [even if it had that spirit for a certain time]. There is no sentiment that does not become weakened, by mere habit and by familiarity with the objects which excite it. What confused emotions of horror, of sadness, of deep feeling for humanity, of pity for the unfortunates who are suffering, does that man experience who for the first time enters the ward of a hospital! Well, let him open his eyes and look around. In this very place, in the midst of these assembled human miseries, the ministers provided to relieve them walk about with an air careless and expressionless; they mechanically and without interest distribute from invalid to invalid the food and the remedies prescribed, and sometimes do so even with a brutal callousness; they give way to heedless conversation, and sometimes to ideas of the silliest and the grossest; vanity, envy, hatred, all the passions reigning there, as elsewhere, do their work, and the groans from the sickbed, the cries of acute pain, do not disturb the habitués any more than the murmur of a rivulet interrupts an animated conversation. [It is hard to imagine, but we have seen the same bed be simultaneously a death bed and a bed for debauchery. See Poorhouse.] Such are the effects of habit in relation to objects the most capable of moving the human heart. Thus it is that no enthusiasm can be constantly sustained. And how without Edition: current; Page: [203] enthusiasm can ministers of a foundation fulfill its purpose always and with precision? What interest, in their case, can counteract idleness, that weight attached to human nature which tends constantly to retain us in inaction? The very precautions which the founder has taken in order to ensure for them a constant revenue dispenses them from meriting it by exertion. Are there superintendents, inspectors, appointed to see the work of the foundation carried out? It will be the same with these inspectors [as with anyone set up to maintain any rule whatsoever]. If the obstacle to the right working comes from idleness, the same idleness on their part will prevent them from exposing it; if the abuse proceeds from pecuniary interest, they will too readily share in it. [See Inspecteurs.] Supervisors themselves would need to be supervised, [and where would this ridiculous progression stop? It is true that canons have been obliged to be assiduous about offices, reducing virtually their entire revenue to manual distributions. But this measure can only oblige one to a purely corporal assistance, and what use can that be for all the foundations’ other and much more important goals?] Thus almost all old foundations have degenerated from their primitive institution. Then the same spirit which had devised the first has created new ones on the same plan, or a different plan, which, after having degenerated in their turn, are displaced in the same manner. Measures are ordinarily so well taken by the founders to protect their establishments from exterior innovations, that generally it is found to be easier to found new establishments than to reform the old; but, through these double and triple renovations, the number of useless mouths in society and the sum of wealth kept from general circulation are continually increased.

[Certain foundations cease to be fulfilled by a still different reason, and through the mere lapse of time: these are the foundations based on money and on annuities. It is well-known that every kind of annuity has lost virtually all of its value in the long run, because of two causes. The first is the gradual and progressive increase in the face value of the silver mark, which means that whoever originally received one pound—worth twelve ounces of silver—today receives only one of our pounds, which is not worth one seventy-third of those twelve ounces. The second cause is the increase in the quantity of silver, which means that today, one can procure with three ounces only what could be had for one ounce before America was discovered. Edition: current; Page: [204] There would not be a big disadvantage in this if those foundations were entirely destroyed. But the body of the foundation endures nonetheless; it is only the conditions that are no longer fulfilled. For example, if the revenues of a hospital suffer this decrease, then they get rid of sickbeds, and they content themselves with providing for the upkeep of chaplains.]

(3) I will suppose that a foundation has had at its origin an incontestable utility, that sufficient precautions have been taken against its degeneration through idleness and negligence, that the nature of its funds has sheltered it from the revolutions of monetary changes, then I say that the very immutability which the founders have succeeded in giving it is still a substantial disadvantage, because time brings about new revolutions which sweep away the utility it might have had at its origin, and which can even render it harmful. Society has not always the same needs; the nature and dispositions of properties, the divisions between different orders of the people, opinions, manners [mœurs], the general occupations of the nation or of its different sections, the climate even, the maladies, and the other accidents of human life—all experience a continual variation. New needs arise, others cease to be felt. The proportion of those remaining declines from day to day, and along with them the utility of the foundations designed to relieve them diminishes or disappears. The wars of Palestine gave rise to innumerable foundations whose utility ceased with the wars. Without speaking of the military religious orders, Europe is still covered with leper hospitals (maladreries), although for long leprosy has been almost unknown. The greater number of foundations long survive their utility: first, because there are always men who profit by them, and who are interested in maintaining them; secondly, because even when we become convinced of their inutility, we make long delays before deciding either upon the measures or the formalities necessary to overthrow establishments consolidated for many centuries, [which are often connected to other establishments we are afraid to overthrow,] or deciding upon the use or the distribution we should make of their property; [thirdly, because we make long delays in convincing ourselves of their inutility, so that they sometimes have the time to become harmful before we have suspected that they are not useful.

[There is every reason to presume that a foundation, however useful it may appear, will one day become at least useless, perhaps harmful, and will Edition: current; Page: [205] be that way for a long time. Isn’t this reason enough to stop any founder who proposes any other goal but that of satisfying his vanity?]

(4) I have said nothing of the splendor of the buildings and of the pomp connected with some of the grand foundations. It would be perhaps to value very favorably the utility of these objects if we estimated them at one-hundredth part of the whole cost.

(5) Woe to me if my object be, in presenting these considerations, to concentrate man’s motives in his mere self-interest, and to render him insensible to the sufferings or the happiness of his fellow-creatures, to extinguish in him the spirit of a citizen, and to substitute an indolent and base prudence for the noble passion of being useful to mankind. In place of the vanity of founders, I desire that humanity, that the passion of the public good, should procure for men the same benefits, but more surely, more completely, and at less cost, and without the drawbacks of which I have complained.

Among the different needs of society intended to be fulfilled by means of durable establishments or foundations, let us distinguish two kinds. One belongs to society as a whole, and is just the result of the interest of each of its members, such as the general needs of humanity, sustenance for everyone, the good manners [mœurs] and education of children, for all families. [And this interest is more or less pressing for different needs, for a man feels the need for sustenance more strongly than his interest in giving his children a good education.] It does not require much reflection to be convinced that the first kind of social needs is not of a nature that can be fulfilled by foundations, or by any other gratuitous means, and that, in this respect, the general good ought to be the result of the efforts of each individual for his own interests. Every able-bodied man ought to procure his subsistence by his work, because if he were fed without working, it would be so at the cost of those who work. What the State owes to all its members is the destruction of the obstacles which impede them in their industry, or which trouble them in the enjoyment of the product which is its recompense. While these obstacles subsist, particular benefits will not diminish the general poverty, for the cause will remain untouched. For the same reason every family owes education to the children who are born to it; [they all have an immediate interest in it,] and it is only from the efforts of each in particular that Edition: current; Page: [206] the general perfection of education can arise. If you amuse yourself in endowing masters and bursaries in high schools, the utility of which will be felt only by a small number of men, favored by chance, who have not perhaps the necessary talents to profit by them, that will be, for the whole nation, but a drop of water spread on a vast sea, and you will have procured, at very great expense, very small results. And then, do you have to accustom people to be asking for everything, receiving everything, never owing anything to themselves? This sort of mendicancy, spread out over all conditions of men, degrades a people and substitutes for the high impulses a character of lowness and intrigue. Are men powerfully interested in that good which you would procure for them? Leave them free to attain it;3 this is the great, the only principle. Do they appear to you to be actuated by less ardor toward it than you would desire to see? Increase their interest in it. You wish to perfect education—propose prizes for the emulation of parents and children, but let these prizes be offered to whosoever can merit them, offered at least to every order of citizens; let employments and places become the recompense of merit, and the sure prospect of work, and you will see emulation struck up at once in the heart of all families. Your nation will soon be raised above its old level, you will have enlightened its spirit, you will have given it character [mœurs], you will have done great things, and you will have done all at less expense than founding one college.

The other class of public needs intended to be provided for by foundations comprises those regarded as accidental, which, limited to particular places and particular times, enter less into the system of general administration, and may demand particular relief. It is desired to remedy the hardships of a scarcity, or of an epidemic, to provide for the support of some old men, or of some orphans, for the rescue of infants exposed, for the working or maintaining works to improve the amenity or the salubrity of a town, for the improving of agriculture or some arts in a backward condition in a locality, for rewarding the services rendered by a citizen to the town of which he is a member, to attract to it men celebrated for their talents, etc. Now, it is above all necessary that the means taken by public establishments or foundations should be the best in order to procure for their subjects all Edition: current; Page: [207] these benefits as fully as possible. The free employment of a part of the revenues of a community (or the contribution of all its members) in cases where the need is pressing and general; a free association and voluntary subscriptions by several generous citizens, in cases where the need is less urgent and less generally felt—that would be the true means of fulfilling all kinds of schemes really useful, and this method would have the inestimable advantage over foundations of being subject to no great abuse. As the contribution of each is entirely voluntary, it is impossible for the funds to be diverted from their destination. If they were, their source would be soon dried up. There would be no money sunk in useless expenses, in luxury, or in construction. It is a partnership of the same kind as those made for business [commerce], with the difference that its object is only the public good; and as the funds are employed only under the eyes of the shareholders, these are able to see them employed in the most advantageous manner. Resources would not be permanent for needs that are temporary; succor would be given only to the portion of society that suffered, to the branch of commerce that languished. If the need ceased, the liberality would cease, and its course would be directed to other needs. There would never be useless repetitions of schemes, because the generosity of the public benefactors would be determined only by the actual utility recognized. In fine, this method would withdraw no funds from general circulation, the lands would not be irrevocably possessed by idle hands, and their productions under the hands of an active proprietor would have no limit except that of their fecundity. Is it said that these ideas are chimerical? England, Scotland, Ireland are full of such voluntary associations, and they have experienced from them, for many years, the happiest effects. What has taken place in England can take place in France, and [whatever is said about it,] the English have not the exclusive right to be citizens. We have already in some provinces examples of such associations, which prove their possibility. I would cite in particular the city of Bayeux, whose inhabitants are associated in order to banish begging entirely from their town, and have succeeded in providing work for all able-bodied mendicants, and alms for all those unfit for work. This fine example deserves to be proposed for the emulation of all our towns. Nothing would be so easy, if we really willed it, as to direct to objects of certain and general utility the emulation and the tastes of a Edition: current; Page: [208] nation so sensible to honor as ours is, and so easy to lend itself to all the impressions which the government might know how to give.

(6) These reflections ought to strengthen our approval of the wise restrictions which the king, by his edict of 1749, has made to the liberty of creating new foundations.4 Let us add that they ought to leave no doubt on the incontestable right possessed by the government—in the first place, in the civil order, next, by the government and the church, in the order of religion—to dispose of old foundations, to extend their funds to new objects, or, better still, to suppress them altogether. Public utility is the supreme law, and it ought not to be nullified by any superstitious respect for what we call the intention of the founder—as if ignorant and short-sighted individuals had the right to chain to their capricious wills the generations that had still to be born. Neither should we be deterred by the fear to infringe upon the pretended rights of certain bodies—as if private bodies had any rights opposed to those of the State. Citizens have rights, and rights sacred for the very body of society. They exist independent of that society. They are its necessary elements. They enter into it with all their rights, solely that they may place themselves under the protection of those same laws to which they sacrifice their liberty. But private bodies do not exist of themselves, nor for themselves; they have been formed by society, and they ought not to exist a moment after they have ceased to be useful.

We conclude. No work of man is made for immortality; and since foundations, always multiplied by vanity, would in the long run, if uninterfered with, absorb all funds and all private properties, it would be absolutely necessary at last to destroy them. If all the men who have lived had had a tombstone erected for them, it would have been necessary, in order to find ground to cultivate, to overthrow the sterile monuments and to stir up the ashes of the dead to nourish the living.

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Gallantry (Galanterie)*

The author, who is unidentified but who modern scholars suggest may have been Diderot, hints in this article at a political typology of gallant manners, stretching both from primitive to civilized societies across time and from “free peoples” to the government of one across regime types.

Gallantry (Morals). One may consider this word under two general acceptations: (1) in men, it is a marked attention to telling women, in a refined and delicate manner, things that please them and that give them a good opinion of themselves and of us. This art, which could improve and console them, too often serves only to corrupt them.

It is said that all courtiers are polite; assuming this is true, it is not true that all are gallant.

Worldly practice may produce common politeness, but nature alone produces that seductive and dangerous characteristic that makes a man gallant, or that disposes him to become so.

It has been claimed that gallantry is the light, delicate, perpetual lie of love. But perhaps love lasts only because of the assistance lent to it by gallantry; is it only because gallantry no longer takes place between the spouses that love ceases?

Unhappy love excludes gallantry; the ideas gallantry inspires require a free spirit, and it is happiness that affords this.

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Truly gallant men have become rare; they seem to have been replaced by a kind of opportunist. Bringing only affectation to bear on what they do (because they have no grace) and jargon to what they say (because they have no wit), they have substituted a vapid boredom for the charms of gallantry.

Among savage peoples, who have no ordered government and live almost without clothing, love is only a need. In a state where everyone is a slave, there is no gallantry, because men lack liberty and women lack dominion. Among a free people, one will find great virtues but a politeness that is coarse and rough-hewn; a courtier from the court of Augustus would be quite an odd man for one of our modern courts. In a government in which one alone is charged with the affairs of all, the idle citizen, placed in a situation that he cannot change, will at least think of making it bearable. From this common necessity, a more extended social circle will emerge: women will have more liberty there; men will form a habit of pleasing them; and little by little, we see taking shape an art that will be the art of gallantry. Then, gallantry will spread a general hue over the mores of the nation and its productions in every genre. The latter will lose grandeur and force, but they will gain mildness, sweetness, and a certain original charm that other peoples will try to imitate, but that will give them a gauche and ridiculous air.

There are men whose mores have always been more redolent of particular systems than of the generally prevailing conduct—these men are the philosophers. They have been criticized for not being gallant, and it must be admitted that it was difficult for them to combine gallantry with their rigid idea of the truth.

However, the philosopher sometimes has this advantage over the man of the world: if a word escapes him that is truly gallant, the contrast between the word and the person’s character makes it come out all the more like flattery.

(2) Gallantry, considered as a vice of the heart, is only libertinage on which an honorable name has been bestowed. In general, peoples rarely fail to mask common vices by honorable designations. The words gallant and gallantry have other acceptations. See the preceding article.1

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Geneva (Genève)**

When this article by d’Alembert appeared in 1757, Diderot’s friend Friedrich Melchior Grimm inserted the following comment in his Correspondance littéraire, an account of the latest events in the literary world of Paris, which he regularly sent to various German princes: This article “is causing a great stir: its author very rashly asserts that the theologians of Geneva are Socinians, and even deists; this represents a particularly bad blunder by M. d’Alembert since he surely had no intention of incurring the displeasure of the Republic of Geneva.”1

It may seem surprising that such an attack on one of the editors of the Encyclopédie should come from a close friend of Diderot and appear in a periodical to which Diderot himself frequently contributed. Yet even if this comment was not inspired by Diderot, it certainly expressed his own reactions, for Geneva proved to be the single most controversial article of the Encyclopédie, and the storm of controversy it provoked did much to endanger Diderot’s cherished enterprise.

The article owes a great deal to Voltaire. The previous year d’Alembert had visited Voltaire in Geneva, and Voltaire had profited from this opportunity Edition: current; Page: [212] to further his own designs in the city in which he had recently taken up residence. It was Voltaire who was convinced that the ministers of Geneva were really no longer Calvinists but enlightened Unitarians and even deists, though perhaps without knowing it themselves. He was anxious to help them shed the vestiges of their Calvinist past and, in particular, their aversion to the theater, which was and had always been his passion. He felt that d’Alembert’s article would provide welcome reinforcement for his campaign to turn Geneva into the city of philosophy, and his first reaction on receiving the seventh volume of the Encyclopédie was enthusiastic: “My dear courageous philosopher,” he wrote to d’Alembert, “I have just been reading and rereading your excellent article ‘Geneva.’ I feel that the Council and the people should be profoundly grateful to you; and you deserve to be thanked even by the ministers.”2

As it turned out, the Genevans proved most ungrateful for d’Alembert’s somewhat tactless suggestions on how to improve their city, and the ministers in particular were outraged at the suggestion that they no longer upheld the teachings of Calvin. A committee of nine was appointed by the city to draw up a declaration refuting d’Alembert’s assertions; it also sent letters of protest to d’Alembert and Diderot, and tried, unsuccessfully, to get d’Alembert to retract his controversial remarks.

The article displeased not only the Genevans, it also aroused the Catholics in France who rightly saw d’Alembert’s praise of Genevan institutions as an indirect attack on Catholic orthodoxy. It was d’Alembert’s misfortune that Geneva appeared at the very time when the philosophes were under intense attack as a result of the attempted assassination of Louis XV, and the unhappy editor saw his article used by his adversaries as a convenient club with which to destroy the Encyclopédie. A third onslaught from still another quarter followed in 1758: Jean-Jacques Rousseau, until recently a contributor himself to the Encyclopédie, came to the defense of his native city in his Lettre à M. d’Alembert sur les spectacles (Letter to d’Alembert on the theatre). Unlike d’Alembert’s other critics, Rousseau was not aroused by the former’s remarks on the religious opinions of the Genevans, but by the suggestion that Geneva needed a theater. This he rejects indignantly on Edition: current; Page: [213] the grounds that the theater corrupts the moral fiber of a nation; d’Alembert, he implies, could scarcely have suggested anything more likely to bring about the downfall of Geneva.

In the midst of all this controversy d’Alembert resigned as coeditor of the Encyclopédie. He himself maintained that his decision had nothing to do with Geneva, but it is certain that Diderot’s displeasure, Rousseau’s attack, and the violent criticism he received from both Protestants and Catholics were all persuasive arguments in favor of abandoning his exposed position. This “desertion,” as Diderot called it, was a heavy blow: the Encyclopédie was deprived of an illustrious editor who was a member of the French Academy as well as of the academies of Berlin, London, Stockholm, and Bologna; and many, among them Voltaire, expected that this resignation would mark the end of the Encyclopédie. That this did not happen is largely due to Diderot’s decision to ride out the storm.3

Geneva (History and Politics). This city is situated on two hills, at the foot of the lake which today is named after the city but formerly was called Lake Leman. It is very pleasantly situated. On one side one sees the lake, on the other the Rhone, and all around, the smiling countryside. Along the lake there are hills dotted with country houses, while a few miles away rise the Alpine peaks, which are always covered with ice and look as if they are made of silver when on a fine day the sun shines on them. As a rich and busy trading center, Geneva owes its prominence to the harbor, with its jetties, its boats, its markets, etc., as well as to its location between France, Italy, and Germany. The city has several fine buildings and attractive promenades. The streets are lighted at night, and on the banks of the Rhone a very simple pumping machine has been installed that provides water even for the highest quarters, located a hundred feet above. The lake is approximately eighteen leagues long and four to five across at its widest point. It is a kind of little sea with storms and other remarkable phenomena. See Trombe (Waterspout), see Seiche (Tidal Wave), etc., and the Edition: current; Page: [214] Histoire de l’académie des sciences for the years 1741 and 1742. Geneva lies on latitude 46°12′, longitude 23°45′.

Julius Caesar mentions Geneva as a city of the Allobroges, who were then already under Roman dominion. He came to the city to oppose the passage of the Helvetii, today called the Swiss. As soon as Christianity was introduced, the city became a bishopric suffragan to Vienne.4 At the beginning of the fifth century Emperor Honorius ceded it to the Burgundians. These were driven out by the Frankish kings in 534. When toward the end of the ninth [sic] century Charlemagne set out to war against the Lombard kings in order to free the pope (who rewarded him with the imperial crown), he passed through Geneva and chose it as the meeting place of all his armies. Later the city was annexed to the German Empire, and it was here that Conrad assumed the imperial crown in 1034. Succeeding emperors, however, neglected to keep their eyes on the city, since for three hundred years they were preoccupied with the great difficulties in their relationship with the popes. This enabled Geneva gradually to throw off its yoke and to become an imperial city whose bishop was its prince, or rather its lord, for the authority of the bishop was tempered by the authority of the citizens. The coat of arms which it chose at that time gave expression to this mixed constitution: on one side an imperial eagle, on the other a key representing the power of the church, with the device Post tenebras lux [Light after darkness]. The city of Geneva kept these arms when it renounced the Roman Church. The keys [sic] in its coat of arms are now all it holds in common with the papacy. It is actually rather strange that Geneva retained them after having broken, with a sort of superstitious zeal, all the bonds that could possibly bind it to Rome. Geneva apparently thought that the device, Post tenebras lux, expressed so perfectly its present attitude to religion, that there was no need to change anything in its coat of arms.

The dukes of Savoy, neighbors of Geneva, repeatedly made covert attempts, sometimes with the aid of the bishops, to establish their authority over the city, but the latter resisted courageously, supported by its alliance with Fribourg and Berne. At that time, that is to say, around 1526, the Council Edition: current; Page: [215] of Two Hundred was established. The ideas of Luther and Zwingli were beginning to penetrate. Berne had rallied to them; Geneva received them favorably and was finally converted to them in 1535. The papacy was no longer recognized, and since that time the bishop resides in Annecy. He still carries the title “Bishop of Geneva” but has no more jurisdiction over the city than the bishop of Babylon has in his diocese.

Between the two doors of Geneva’s city hall one can still see a Latin inscription commemorating the abolition of the Catholic religion. In it the pope is called “Antichrist.” This name, which the Genevans’ fanatic love of liberty and innovation gave him in a century that was still half barbarous, today seems scarcely worthy of a city so imbued with the philosophic spirit. We venture to suggest that the Genevans replace this insulting and vulgar monument with an inscription that is truer, nobler, and simpler. For Catholics the pope is the head of the true church, for reasonable and moderate Protestants he is a sovereign whom they respect as a prince without obeying him, but in a century such as ours there is no one for whom he is still the Antichrist.

In order to defend its liberty against encroachment by the dukes of Savoy and by its bishops, Geneva strengthened its position still more by an alliance with Zurich and, above all, with France. Thanks to this aid it resisted the weapons of Charles-Emmanuel and the wealth of Philip II, a prince whose memory is assured of the execration of posterity because of his ambition, his despotism, his cruelty, and his superstition. Henri IV, who had sent three hundred soldiers to help Geneva, soon thereafter himself needed the city’s help: it was of some use to him in his wars with the League5 and on other occasions. This is the origin of the privileges which the Genevans, like the Swiss, enjoy in France.

The Genevans, wishing to bring fame to their city, called in Calvin. He enjoyed a great and well-deserved reputation because he was a man of letters of the first rank, who wrote Latin as well as a dead language can be written, and French with a purity of style that was exceptional for Edition: current; Page: [216] his time. This purity, which our grammarians still admire today, renders his writings far superior to almost all others written in his century, just as today the works of the Messieurs of Port-Royal6 still seem far superior to the barbarous rantings of their adversaries and contemporaries. Calvin was both an excellent jurist and as enlightened a theologian as a heretic can be, and together with the magistrates he drew up a compendium of civil and ecclesiastical laws that was approved in 1543 by the people and has become the basic code of the republic. The excess of ecclesiastical property, which before the Reformation fed the luxury of the bishops and their subordinates, was now used to found a hospital, a college, and an academy; but the wars in which Geneva had to engage for almost sixty years prevented the arts and commerce from flourishing as much as the sciences. In 1602 the failure of the attempt by the Duke of Savoy to scale the walls brought peace to the republic. The Genevans repulsed their enemies, who had attacked by surprise, and they hanged thirteen of the leading enemy generals in order to give the Duke of Savoy a distaste for such undertakings. They thought they were justified in treating men who attacked their city without a declaration of war as if they were highwaymen. The strange new policy of waging war without having declared it was not yet known in Europe; and even if it had then been followed by the great states, it would still be true that it is too much against the interest of small states ever to gain favor among them.

When Duke Charles-Emmanuel saw himself repulsed and his generals hanged, he gave up the idea of conquering Geneva. His example served as a lesson for his successors, and since that time the city has been at peace and has not ceased to grow in population, in wealth, and in beauty. From time to time the tranquility of the republic has been slightly disturbed by internal dissensions, of which the last broke out in 1738,7 but peace was luckily restored by means of the mediation of France and the Swiss Confederation, while external security is today more firmly established than ever with two Edition: current; Page: [217] new treaties, one concluded with France in 1749, the other with the king of Sardinia8 in 1754.

It is very remarkable that a city, which scarcely counts twenty-four thousand souls and has a fragmented territory containing fewer than thirty villages, is nevertheless a sovereign state and one of the most prosperous cities of Europe. Geneva is rich because of its liberty and its commerce and often sees everything around it in flames without being in any way affected. The events that disturb Europe are only a spectacle for this city from which it profits without taking any part. Because it is linked to France by treaties and commerce and to England by commerce and religion, it maintains an impartial opinion on the rights and wrongs of the wars which those two powerful nations wage against each other, and at the same time it is too prudent to take any part in these wars. Geneva judges all the sovereigns of Europe without flattery, insult, or fear.

The city is well fortified, especially on the side facing the prince it fears the most, the king of Sardinia. The side bordering France has been left almost completely open and undefended. Military service, however, is performed as in a fortress city. The arsenals and military storehouses are well stocked, and every citizen is a soldier, as in Switzerland or in ancient Rome. Genevans are permitted to serve in foreign armies, but the state does not supply any power with bodies of troops, and no recruiting is allowed on its territory.

While the city is wealthy, the state is poor because of the people’s aversion to all new taxes, even the least burdensome. The revenue of the state comes to less than five hundred thousand livres in French money, but the admirable economy with which this is administered makes it quite sufficient for all the needs of the city and even produces reserves for emergencies.

There are four classes of inhabitants in Geneva: the citizens who are the sons of bourgeois and were born in the city; they alone can become magistrates. The bourgeois who are the sons of bourgeois or of citizens but were born in a foreign country, or who are foreigners to whom the magistracy has granted the rights of a bourgeois, which it has the power to do; these can be members of the General Council and even of the Grand Conseil, Edition: current; Page: [218] called the “Council of the Two Hundred.” The residents are foreigners who have the permission of the magistrate to reside in the city but do not exercise any function. Lastly the natives are the children of residents; they have some privileges which their forefathers did not possess, but they are excluded from the government.

The government is headed by four syndics who can hold this position for only one year and must wait at least four years before holding it again. They are aided by the Petit Conseil, composed of twenty counselors, a treasurer, and two secretaries of state, and by another body called Le Corps de la Justice. These two bodies deal with the daily business that demands immediate action, whether criminal or civil.

The Grand Conseil is composed of two hundred and fifty citizens or bourgeois. It judges major civil suits, it grants pardons, coins money, elects the members of the Petit Conseil, and decides what matters should be brought before the General Council. This General Council comprises all citizens and bourgeois, with the exception of those under twenty-five years of age, and of those who are bankrupt or have incurred censure of some sort. This assembly holds the legislative power; it has the right of decision over war and peace, the right to form alliances, levy taxes, and elect the principal magistrates. The election is conducted with orderly decorum in the cathedral, even though there are about fifteen hundred electors.

This fact shows us that the government of Geneva has all the advantages and none of the drawbacks of democracy: everything is under the direction of the syndics; everything is originally discussed in the Petit Conseil, which also has the ultimate executive responsibility. Thus it seems that the city of Geneva has taken as its model the very wise law of the ancient Germanic government: De minoribus rebus principes consultant, de majoribus omnes; ita tamen, ut ea quorum penes plebem arbitrium est, apud principes praetractentur.9

The civil law of Geneva is almost entirely drawn from Roman law, with some modifications: for example, a father can leave no more than half his Edition: current; Page: [219] property to any heir he wishes to designate; the rest is equally divided between his children. This law on the one hand guarantees the independence of the children and on the other forestalls any injustice by the fathers.

M. de Montesquieu is right to give the name of “beautiful law” to the law that excludes from responsible positions in the republic all citizens who do not pay their father’s debts after his death, and, of course, also all those who do not pay their own debts.10

The degrees of family relationship that prohibit marriage do not go beyond those laid down in Leviticus: thus first cousins are allowed to marry, but on the other hand no dispensation can be obtained in forbidden cases. Divorce is granted, upon declaration in a court of law, in cases of adultery or intentional desertion.

Criminal justice is dispensed scrupulously rather than harshly. Torture, which has already been abolished in several states and should be abolished everywhere because it is useless cruelty, is forbidden in Geneva. It is administered only to criminals who are already condemned to death, in order to discover their accomplices, if that is necessary. The accused has the right to ask for a transcript of the proceedings and to be assisted by his relatives and a lawyer who defends his case before the judges in open court. Criminal sentences are rendered by the syndics in the public square with great ceremony.

Hereditary titles are unknown in Geneva. The son of a first magistrate remains lost in the crowd if he does not rise above it by his merit. Neither nobility nor wealth carry with them rank, prerogatives, or easy access to public office. Corrupt practices are strictly forbidden. Offices carry so little remuneration that they do not tempt cupidity. Only noble souls are tempted, because of the high esteem in which these offices are held.

There are few lawsuits. Most of them are settled out of court by the efforts of mutual friends, by the lawyers themselves, and by the judges.

Sumptuary laws prohibit the use of jewels and gold, limit funeral expenses, and oblige all citizens to go on foot on the city streets. Carriages are used only for trips to the countryside. In France these laws would be considered too strict and almost barbarous and inhuman, but they do not Edition: current; Page: [220] restrict the true comforts of life which can always be obtained at little expense. The laws only eliminate lavishness, which does not bring happiness and bankrupts us without being useful.

There exists no city perhaps where there are more happy marriages. On this point there is a gap of two hundred years between Geneva and our morals. Thanks to the regulations against luxury, no one is afraid to have many children. In Geneva luxury is not, as in France, one of the chief obstacles to population increase.

No theater is permitted in Geneva. There is no objection to plays in themselves, but it is feared that troops of actors would spread the taste for adornment, dissipation, and loose morals among the youth. Would not, however, a series of laws, strictly applied, on the conduct of the actors counteract this undesirable effect? In this way Geneva would possess both theater and good morals and would enjoy the advantages of both. Theatrical performances would educate the taste of the citizens and endow them with a delicacy of tact and a subtlety of feeling, which it is very difficult to acquire otherwise. Literature would profit while morals would not decline, and Geneva would add to the wisdom of Sparta the civility of Athens. There is another consideration, worthy of a republic that is so wise and enlightened, which might induce it to allow a theater. One of the principal causes of the loose morals for which we reproach actors is undoubtedly the barbarous prejudice against the acting profession. These men who are so indispensable to the progress and the vitality of the arts have been forced to live in a state of degradation. They seek in pleasures compensations for the esteem their estate cannot bring them. An actor whose morals are good should be doubly respected, but he is given scarcely any credit for his morality. The tax farmer who is an affront to the penury of the nation from which he draws his wealth, the courtier who fawns and does not pay his debts, those are the types of men we honor most highly. It would be better if actors were not only tolerated in Geneva, but if they were first restrained by wise regulations, then protected, and even granted respect as soon as they were worthy of it. In short, if they were treated exactly like other citizens, the city would soon enjoy the advantage of having a company of honorable actors, something that we believe to be so rare and yet is rare only by our own fault. I might add that such a company would Edition: current; Page: [221] soon be the best in Europe. Many people would hasten to Geneva who have great inclination and talent for the theater but who at present fear they would be dishonored by acting. There they would cultivate a talent that is so pleasing and so unusual, not only without shame but even in an atmosphere of respect. While many Frenchmen now find a stay in Geneva depressing because they are deprived of seeing plays, the city, which is already the abode of philosophy and liberty, would then also be the abode of respectable pleasure. Foreigners would no longer be surprised that in a city where regular performances of decent plays are forbidden, vulgar and stupid farces, as offensive to good taste as to good morals, may be presented. This is not all. Little by little the example of the Genevan actors, their steady conduct, and the esteem it would bring them would serve as a model to the actors of other nations and as a lesson to those who until now have treated them so inconsistently and even harshly. We would no longer see them being on the one hand pensioners of the government and on the other the objects of anathema. Our priests would lose the habit of excommunicating them, and our bourgeois of viewing them with disdain. Then a small republic could claim the glory of having reformed Europe in this respect, and this is perhaps more important than one thinks.

Geneva has a university called the Académie, where the young people are taught free of charge. The professors can become magistrates, and in fact several have held the office. This does much to stimulate the zeal and the fame of the Academy. A few years ago a school of design was founded as well. The lawyers, the notaries, and the doctors belong to associations to which one is admitted only after public examination, and all the craft guilds also have their regulations, their apprenticeships, and masterpieces.

The public library contains a good selection of books. It contains twenty-six thousand volumes and quite a number of manuscripts. These books can be borrowed by all citizens. Thus everyone reads and becomes enlightened, and the Genevans are much better educated than any other people. There is no suggestion that this might be bad, as some people maintain it would be for our country. Perhaps the Genevans and our politicians are equally right.

After England, Geneva was the first to practice smallpox inoculation, which is so difficult to introduce in France and which nevertheless will be Edition: current; Page: [222] introduced,11 although a number of our doctors still fight it, as their predecessors fought the circulation of the blood, emetics, and so many other incontrovertible truths and useful practices.

All the sciences and almost all the arts have been so well cultivated in Geneva that one would be surprised to see the list of scholars and artists of all kinds produced by the city during the last two centuries. Sometimes it has even had the good fortune to have famous foreigners choose to live in Geneva because of its pleasant location and the freedom enjoyed by its inhabitants. M. de Voltaire, who took up residence in Geneva three years ago, is now accorded the same tokens of esteem and respect by these republicans which he formerly received from several monarchs.

The most flourishing manufacture in Geneva is watchmaking. It employs more than five thousand persons, that is to say, more than a fifth of the citizens. Nor are the other arts neglected, particularly agriculture: painstaking cultivation compensates for the lack of fertile land.

All the houses are built of stone. This often prevents fires, which are also promptly contained because of the good arrangements for extinguishing them.

Genevan hospitals are not, as elsewhere, merely a retreat for the poor who are sick or crippled. While they offer shelter to the homeless poor, they provide above all a great many small pensions that are distributed to poor families to help them live at home and continue working. Every year the hospitals spend more than three times their revenues, so generous are charitable gifts of every kind.

We must still speak of religion in Geneva. This is the section of the article that is perhaps of greatest interest to philosophers. We are now going to take up this subject, but we beg our readers to remember that we are writing only as historians, not as partisans. Our theological articles are intended to serve as antidote to the present article, and, besides, to recount is not Edition: current; Page: [223] to approve. We refer our readers to the words Eucharistie [Eucharist], Enfer [Hell], Foi [Faith], Christianisme [Christianity], etc., to caution them beforehand against what we are going to say.12

The ecclesiastical constitution of Geneva is purely presbyterian. There are no bishops, not to speak of canons. Not that there is objection to the institution of episcopacy, but the Genevans do not grant it any divine right and are of the opinion that a small republic is better served by ministers who are not as rich and influential as the bishops.

The ministers are either pastors, like our parish priests, or postulants, like those of our priests who do not have a living. The minister’s income does not exceed twelve hundred livres, and there are no perquisites. The state provides the income since the church owns nothing. No one is accepted into the ministry before the age of twenty-four and only after examinations that are very strict in respect to knowledge and to morality. One would wish that most of our Catholic churches would follow this example.

The clergy plays no role in funerals. These are a purely administrative matter and are performed without any pomp. The Genevans believe that to put on a display after death is ridiculous. The dead are buried in a large cemetery quite far from the city, a custom that should be followed everywhere. See Exhalasion [Exhalation].13

The clergy of Geneva have exemplary morals. The ministers live in great concord. One does not see them, as in other countries, quarrel bitterly among themselves about unintelligible subjects, persecute each other, and accuse each other in unseemly fashion before the magistrates. Yet they are far from all thinking alike on the articles that elsewhere are considered the most essential to religion. Several no longer believe in the divinity of Jesus Christ, which Calvin, their leader, defended with such zeal that he had Servetus Edition: current; Page: [224] burned at the stake.14 When anyone speaks to them about this execution, which mars the charity and moderation of their patriarch, they do not attempt to justify him. They admit that Calvin’s action was very reprehensible, and they confine themselves (if it is a Catholic who speaks with them) to contrasting the execution of Servetus with that dreadful Saint Bartholomew’s Day, which every good Frenchman would wish to erase from our history with his own blood. They also compare it to the execution of John Hus, which even the Catholics, they remind their interlocutor, no longer attempt to justify; it was an action that equally violated humanity and good faith and should cover the memory of the emperor Sigismund15 with opprobrium for all time.

“It is no small sign of the progress of human reason,” writes M. de Voltaire, “that it was possible to publish in Geneva, with public approval, the statement (in the Essai sur l’histoire universelle by the same author) that Calvin had a cruel soul as well as an enlightened mind. The murder of Servetus today seems abominable.”16 We believe that the praise which this noble freedom of thought and of writing deserves should be addressed equally to the author, to his century, and to Geneva. How many countries are there where philosophy has made just as much progress but where truth is still captive, where reason does not dare raise her voice to thunder against abuses she condemns in silence, where we find only too many pusillanimous writers, called “wise men,” still respecting prejudices they could combat with complete propriety and safety!

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Hell, one of the principal tenets of our faith, is no longer given such importance by several ministers in Geneva. According to them it would be an insult to the divinity if we imagined that this Being full of goodness and justice were capable of punishing our offenses with eternal torments. They explain as best they can the passages in the Bible which are explicitly contrary to their opinion and assert that in the Holy Scriptures one must never take anything literally if it seems to go against humanity and reason. They believe that there is punishment in the afterlife, but that it is only temporary. Thus purgatory, once one of the principal causes of the separation of the Protestants from the Roman Catholic Church, is today the only punishment after death that many of the former will accept. Here is another item to add to the history of human contradictions.

In short, many of the ministers of Geneva have no other religion than a perfect Socinianism;17 they reject everything called “mystery” and imagine that the first principle of a true religion is not to propose any belief that conflicts with reason. When they are pressed on the question of the “necessity” of revelation, a dogma that is so basic to Christianity, many substitute the term “utility,” which seems more agreeable to them. If they are not orthodox in this, at least they are true to their principles. See Socianisme [Socinianism].

A clergy holding these opinions must needs be tolerant and is tolerant enough to be viewed with disfavor by the ministers of the other reformed churches. One might add further, without any intention of approving the religion of Geneva, that there are few countries where the theologians and the clergymen are more opposed to superstition. As a result, because intolerance and superstition serve only to increase the number of unbelievers, one hears less complaint in Geneva than elsewhere about the spread of unbelief, and this should not surprise us. Here religion consists almost entirely in the adoration of a single God, at least among all classes other than the common people. Respect for Jesus Christ and for the scriptures is perhaps all that distinguishes the Christianity of Geneva from pure deism.

The clergymen of Geneva are not merely tolerant: they remain entirely within their province and are the first to set an example for the citizens by Edition: current; Page: [226] submitting to the laws. The Consistory, charged with watching over morals, inflicts only spiritual punishment. The great quarrel between the priesthood and the empire, which in the age of ignorance imperiled the crown of many an emperor, and which—we know this only too well—causes troublesome disturbances in more enlightened times, is unknown in Geneva where the clergy does nothing without the approval of the magistrates.

Worship is very simple in Geneva. The churches contain no images, no lights or ornaments. However, a portal in very good taste has just been added to the cathedral; little by little the interior of the churches will perhaps be embellished. Indeed, what objection could there be to having paintings and statues? If one wishes, the common people could be told not to worship them and to look on them only as monuments destined to recount in a striking and pleasing manner the principal events of religion. This would be to the advantage of the arts yet would bring no profit to superstition. The reader surely realizes that we are speaking here according to the principles of the ministers of Geneva, and not those of the Catholic Church.

The divine service includes both sermons and singing. The sermons are almost entirely concerned with morality and are all the better for that. The singing is in rather bad taste, and the French verses that are sung are in even worse taste. It is to be hoped that Geneva will become reformed on these two points. An organ has just been placed in the cathedral, and perhaps God will now be praised in better language and in better music. We must admit, however, that the Supreme Being is honored in Geneva with a seemliness and calm that is not noticeable in our churches.

Perhaps we will not devote articles of such length to the greatest monarchies, but in the eyes of the philosopher, the Republic of the Bees is no less interesting than the history of great empires. It may be that the model of a perfect political administration can be found only in small states. If religion does not allow us to believe that the Genevans have successfully worked for their happiness in the next world, reason forces us to believe that they are perhaps as happy as one can be in this world:

O fortunatos nimium, sua si bona norint!18 (O)

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Government (Gouvernement)*

This article, written during the Seven Years’ War, shortly before the controversy that brought publication of the Encyclopédie to an end, is one of the more ambitious and wide-ranging of Jaucourt’s many political articles. It was also one of the most frequently attacked of the political articles. Drawing on a combination of Locke and Sidney, as well as Pufendorf and Montesquieu, the author addresses the origins and functions of government in historical and philosophical fashion. Critics especially condemned Jaucourt’s use of the Lockean argument that children are born under no government, and that the age of reason brings with it the right to choose one’s government.1

Government (Natural and political law), manner in which sovereignty is administered in each state. Let us examine the origin, the forms, and the causes of the dissolution of governments. This subject merits the close attention of peoples and sovereigns.

In earliest times, the father was by rights the prince and the born governor of his children. For it would have been quite difficult for them to live together without some kind of government. And what simpler and more suitable government could be imagined than the one in which a father administers the executive power of nature’s laws within his family!

It was difficult for children, once they had become grown men, not to continue assigning the authority of this natural government to their father Edition: current; Page: [228] by tacit consent. They were accustomed to see themselves guided by his concern and to bring their conflicts before his tribunal. Since community property was established between them, and the sources of the desire to possess were still unknown, no disputes caused by greed sprouted up. And if one arose over other topics, who could better judge them than a father full of enlightenment and tenderness?

In those days, no distinction was made between minority and majority. And if a child was old enough to dispose of his person and the possessions his father gave him, he had no desire to escape from his tutelage, because nothing held him there. Thus, the government to which each person freely submitted always carried on to the satisfaction of each, and was much more a protection and safeguard than a brake and subjection. In a word, children could not elsewhere find a greater security for their peace, their liberty, or their happiness than in paternal guidance and government.

This is why fathers became the political monarchs of their families. And since they lived for a long time and normally left able heirs worthy of succeeding them, they thereby laid the foundations of hereditary or elective realms, which since have been organized by various constitutions and various laws, according to the country, place, circumstance, and situation.

If, after the father’s death, the nearest heir was not capable of government because of lack of age, wisdom, prudence, courage, or some other quality; or if various families agreed to unite and live together in a society, let there be no doubt that at that point, all who composed those families were using their natural liberty to place over them whomever they judged most capable of governing them. We see that the peoples of America who live at a distance from the conquerors’ sword and from the sanguinary domination of the two great empires of Peru and Mexico, still enjoy their natural liberty and conduct themselves in that manner. Sometimes they choose the last governor’s heir as their leader, sometimes the most valiant and brave among them. It is thus likely that every people, however populous they may have become, however vast the country they may occupy, owes their beginning to one or several families associating together. One cannot assign conquest as the origin of the establishment of nations; conquests arise Edition: current; Page: [229] from the corruption of peoples’ primitive condition, and from their immoderate desires. See Conquête.2

Since it is certain that every nation owes its beginnings to one or several families, it must have preserved, at least for a certain time, the paternal form of government. That is, it must have obeyed only the laws of a feeling of affection and tenderness that the example of a leader excites and stimulates between brothers and relatives—a mild authority that gives them every shared good, and that claims no property for itself.

Thus, every people on earth, at its birth and in its native country, has been governed as we see the small tribal peoples of America governed today, and as the ancient Scythians—who were virtually the breeding ground of other nations—are said to have been governed. But as these peoples grew in the number and extent of their families, the feelings of fraternal union were bound to weaken.

The families of those nations that through particular causes remained the least numerous, and that stayed the longest in their native land, have been the most consistent in preserving their original form of entirely simple and natural government. But those nations that, too cramped in their own country, saw themselves obliged to transmigrate have been forced by circumstances and by the complications of travel, or by the nature and situation of the country to which they moved, to establish by free consent the forms of government most suitable to their character, their position, and their number.

All public governments seem manifestly to have been formed by deliberation, consultation, and agreement. Who doubts, for example, that Rome and Venice began with men who were free and independent of each other, among whom there was no natural superiority or subjection, and who agreed to form an association of government? Taking nature in itself, however, it is not impossible for men to be able to live without any public government. Edition: current; Page: [230] The inhabitants of Peru had none; even today, the Cheriquanas, the Floridians, and others live in bands without rules or laws. But since other less savage peoples must have repulsed private injuries more efficaciously, they generally made the decision to choose a type of government and submit to it. They had recognized that the disorders would never end if they did not give authority and power to someone or to several among them to resolve all disputes, since no one lacking that authority had a right to pose as lord and judge of anyone else. That was the conduct of those who came from Sparta with Pallanta, mentioned by Justin.3 In a word, all political societies have begun by a voluntary union of individuals, who have made the free choice of a type of government. Then, the formal disadvantages of some of these governments obliged the same men who were members of them to reform them, change them, and establish different ones.

In these sorts of establishments, if it happened at first (as was possible) that men were content to refer everything to the wisdom and discretion of the one or several who were chosen as the first governors, experience showed that this arbitrary government destroyed the public good, and far from remedying the problem, aggravated it. That is why men made laws, in which each person could read his duty and know the punishments due to those who violate them.

Of these laws, the principal one was that each person would have and possess with security that which properly belonged to him. This law is from natural right. Whatever power may be granted to those who govern, they have no right to seize the possessions that belong to any subject, not even the least portion of these possessions, against the consent of the owner. Not even the most absolute power, albeit absolute when it is necessary to exercise it, is arbitrary on this point. The well-being of an army and of the state demand blind obedience to superior officers; a soldier who signals his opposition is punished with death. And yet, the general himself, with all his power of life and death, does not have the power to dispose of a penny of that soldier’s possessions, or to seize the smallest part of what belongs to him as property.

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I know that that general can make conquests, and that there are authors who regard conquests as the origin and foundation of governments.4 But conquests are as far from being the origin and foundation of governments as the demolition of one house is from being the true cause of the construction of another house on the same site. In truth, the destruction of one state does prepare for a new state. But the conquest that establishes it by force is only one more injustice. All legitimate sovereign power must emanate from the free consent of the people.

Some peoples have placed this sovereign power in all the heads of household, assembled and united in a council, upon which is devolved the power to make laws for the public good, and to have these laws executed by magistrates delegated for the purpose. Then, the form of this government is named a democracy. See Democracy.5

Other peoples have assigned all sovereign authority to a council composed of the leading citizens, and then the form of this government is called an aristocracy. See Aristocratie [Aristocracy].

Other nations have entrusted sovereign and undivided power, and all the rights essential to it, to the hands of one man—king, monarch, or emperor—and then the form of this government is a monarchy. See Monarchy.6

When power is placed in the hands of this one man, and afterward to his heirs, it is a hereditary monarchy. If it is conferred on him only during his life, on condition that after his death the power return to those who have given it to him and that they name a successor, it is an elective monarchy.

Other peoples, making a kind of division of the sovereignty and mixing, so to speak, the forms of government we have just discussed, have entrusted different parts of it to different hands, have tempered monarchy with aristocracy and at the same time have granted the people some share in the sovereignty.

It is certain that a society has the freedom to form a government in the manner it pleases, to mix it and combine it in different ways. If the legislative Edition: current; Page: [232] power has been given by a people to one person, or to several persons for life or for a limited time, then when that time is up, the sovereign power returns to the society from which it emanated. Once it has returned there, society may dispose of it anew as it pleases, placing it again in the hands of those it finds good, in the manner it judges appropriate, and thus setting up a new form of government. Pufendorf may say what he likes about how all types of mixed government are irregular, but true regularity will always be that which is most consistent with the good of civil society.7

Some political writers claim that since all men are born under a government, they do not have the freedom to set up a new one. They say each person is born a subject of his father or his prince, and consequently, each is in a perpetual obligation of subjection or fidelity. This reasoning is more specious than solid. Never have men regarded any natural subjection in which they are born, with respect to their father or their prince, as a tie that obliges them to submit without their own consent. Sacred and profane history furnish us frequent examples of a multitude of people who have withdrawn from the obedience and the jurisdiction under which they were born, from the family and the community in which they had been raised, in order to establish new societies and new governments elsewhere.

It is these emigrations, at once free and legitimate, that have produced such a large number of small societies which have spread out to different countries, expanded, and settled there to the extent they found subsistence; or until the strongest, swallowing up the weakest, established large empires on their remains, which in turn were smashed and dissolved into various small dominions. If it were true that men did not have the natural liberty to separate themselves from their families and their government, whatever it may be, in order to set up others as they desire, then instead of numerous realms, only a single monarchy would have been found in the earliest ages.

It is clear by the practice of governments themselves, as well as by the laws of right reason, that a child is born as a subject of no country and of no government. He remains under the tutelage and authority of his father until he has reached the age of reason. At that age of reason, he is a free Edition: current; Page: [233] man, he has the authority to choose the government under which he finds it good to live, and to join the political body that he likes the best. Nothing but his sole consent is capable of reducing him to the subjection of any power on earth. The consent that subjects him to some government is either express or tacit. Express consent makes him unquestionably a member of the society that he adopts. Tacit consent binds him to the laws of the government in which he enjoys possession. But if his obligation begins with his possessions, it also ends with their enjoyment. Then, proprietors of this kind have the freedom to incorporate themselves into another community, or to set up a new one in vacuis locis (as they say in legal terms), in a desert or in some area of the world that is without possessors and without dwellings.8

Nonetheless, although men are free to leave one government in order to submit to another, it must not be concluded from this that the government they prefer to submit to is more legitimate than the one they have left. Governments of whatever sort that have as their foundation the free acquiescence of the people—either express, or justified by long and peaceful possession—are equally legitimate, at least as long as the sovereign’s intention is to strive for the people’s happiness. Nothing can degrade a government like real and open violence, either in its establishment or in its exercise—I mean usurpation and tyranny. See Usurpation and Tyranny.

But the question that most divides minds is to determine what is the best form of government.9 From the meeting held on this subject by the seven noble lords of Persia until our own day, men have come to different conclusions on this great question—discussed already in Herodotus—and have almost always resolved it by a taste based on habit or inclination, rather than by an enlightened and reflective taste.

It is certain that each form of government has advantages and disadvantages which are inseparable from it. There is no perfect government on earth. And however perfect it may appear in speculation, it will always be accompanied in practice and in the hands of men by instability, revolutions, Edition: current; Page: [234] and vicissitudes. In the end, the best will be destroyed, as long as it is men who govern men.

In general, however, one could respond to the question put forth by saying that the image of the best form of government ought to be drawn from a moderation fit for repressing license without degenerating into oppression. This is the one which, in avoiding extremes, will be able to provide for good order and for internal and external needs, while leaving the people sufficient guarantees that it will not stray from these ends.

Lacedemon’s legislator, seeing that the three types of simple government each had great disadvantages—that monarchy degenerated easily into arbitrary power, aristocracy into an unjust government of some individual, and democracy into a blind domination without rules—Lycurgus, I say, thought he ought to introduce these three types of government into that of his Country, and blend them, so to speak, into a single one, so that they might use each other as balance and counterweight. That wise mortal was not mistaken—at least no republic has preserved its laws, its customs, and its liberty for as long as the republic of Lacedemon.

In Europe, there is a thriving state in which the three powers are even better blended than in the republic of the Spartans. Political liberty is the direct purpose of the constitution of that state, which, by all appearances, can perish only when legislative power is more corrupt than executive power.10 No one has given a better exposition of the fine system of government in the state that I am speaking of than the author of The Spirit of the Laws.

Nonetheless, it is quite necessary to observe that no government is equally suitable for every people. Their form must endlessly depend on locale and climate as well as on the mind, the genius, and the character of the nation, and on its extent.

Whatever form one prefers, there is always a primary goal in any government, which must be taken from the general good of the nation. On this principle, the best government is the one that makes the greatest number of people happy. Whatever the form of political government, the duty of whoever is charged with it, in whatever manner it may be, is to work to render Edition: current; Page: [235] the subjects happy—by procuring them, on the one hand, the amenities of life, security, and tranquility; and on the other, all the means that might contribute to their virtues. The sovereign law of every good government is the public good, salus populi, suprema lex esto: thus, amidst the differences of opinion over the forms of government, everyone unanimously agrees on this latter truth.

In starting from this principle, it is doubtless important to research what would be the most perfect government one could establish in the world, even though others serve the purposes of the societies for which they have been created. And although it is not as easy to found a new government as it is to build a ship on a new theory, the subject is nonetheless among the worthiest for our curiosity. Even in a situation where the question concerning the best form of government has been decided by the universal consent of the political class, who knows if, several centuries later, an occasion might not arise for reducing theory to practice, either by the dissolution of an ancient government or by other events that demand the establishment somewhere of a new government? In every situation, it is bound to be advantageous for us to know what is most perfect within a given type, in order to be in a position to bring all government constitutions as close to this point of perfection as possible—by new laws, imperceptible alterations in the prevailing laws, or innovations conducive to the good of society. The passing of the centuries has served to perfect many arts and many sciences; why would it not serve to perfect the different types of government, and give them the best form?

In a new constitution or a reformed government, enlightened principles and known experience would already enable one to avoid all the palpable defects that are opposed—or that could not fail to be opposed—to its growth, strength, and prosperity.

A government would be defective if the laws and customs of a state were not consistent with the people’s nature or with the characteristics and situation of the country—for example, if the laws tended to turn toward arms a people suited for the arts of peace; or if these same laws neglected to encourage and honor commerce and manufactures, in a country favorably situated for drawing great profit from them. A government would be defective if the constitution of the fundamental laws were advantageous only to the great, or if it tended to make the dispatch of public business at once Edition: current; Page: [236] slow and difficult. Such are the laws to be reformed in Poland, where on the one hand, whoever kills a peasant gets off with a fine, and on the other, the opposition of a single member of the assembly breaks up the Diet, which in any case is limited to too short a time for the dispatch of public business.11 Lastly (for I have no intention of satirizing existing states), a government is substantially defective wherever regulations and customs are found that are contrary to the essential maxims of good politics. And if, as ill luck would have it, one were able to gloss over these defects under the specious pretext of religion, their effects would be much more pernicious.

It is not enough to abrogate the laws that are mistakes in a state; the good of the people must also be the great end of government. Governors are named to fulfill this end, and the civil constitution that vests them with this power is committed to it by the laws of nature and the law of reason, which has determined this end in every form of government as the motive force of its good fortune. The greatest good of the people is their liberty. Liberty is to the body of the state what health is to each individual. Without health, man cannot taste pleasure; without liberty, happiness is banished from states. A patriotic governor will therefore see that the right to defend and maintain liberty is the most sacred of his duties.

Next, the principal concern that ought to occupy him is to work to prevent all the sorry causes of the dissolution of government. This dissolution can occur by disorders from within and by violence from without.

(1) This dissolution of government can occur when the legislative power is altered.12 Legislative power is the soul of the body politic; this is where the members of the state derive everything necessary for their preservation, their union, and their happiness. Thus, if the legislative power is ruined, the dissolution and death of the entire body politic follow.13

(2) A government may be dissolved when whoever has supreme executive power abandons his post, so that the laws already made cannot be executed.14 Edition: current; Page: [237] These laws are not established for their own sake; they have been created only to be the bonds of society that continue each member in his function. If the laws cease, the government ceases at the same time; the people become a confused multitude, without order or restraint. When justice is no longer administered and therefore the rights of each person are no longer secure, there remains no more government. Once the laws are no longer enforced, it is as if there are no laws. A government without laws is a political mystery, inconceivable to man’s mind and incompatible with human society.

(3) Governments can be dissolved when the legislative or executive power acts by force, beyond the authority delegated to them and in a manner opposed to the confidence people placed in them. This is what happens, for example, when those who are vested with these powers usurp the citizens’ possessions and make themselves absolute arbiters of things that properly belong to the community—I mean the life, liberty, and wealth of the people. The reason men enter a political society is to preserve their own possessions, and the end for which they invest certain persons with legislative authority and executive power is to have laws and power that will protect and preserve what properly belongs to the whole society.

If it happens that those who hold the reins of government find resistance when they use their power for the destruction and not the preservation of the things that belong properly to the people, they should blame only themselves, because the public good and society’s benefit are the purpose of the institution of government. Whence it necessarily arises that power cannot be arbitrary and that it must be exercised according to the established laws, so that the people may know their duty and find their security in the shadow of the laws, and so that the governors may at the same time be restrained within just limits and not be tempted to employ the power they have at hand to do things harmful to political society.

(4) Finally, a foreign force, foreseen or unforeseen, may entirely dissolve a political society; when that society is dissolved by a foreign force, it is certain that its government can exist no more.15 Thus, the conqueror’s sword overthrows, confounds, destroys all things, and the society and government are thereby broken in pieces, because those who are subjugated are Edition: current; Page: [238] deprived of the protection of that government which they used to depend upon, and which had been designed to defend them. Everyone easily understands that when society is dissolved, government can no longer last. At that point, it is as impossible for government to last as it is for the structure of a house to last after the materials with which it had been constructed have been dispersed by a hurricane, or scrambled pell-mell in a heap by an earthquake.

Independent of these misfortunes, it must be agreed that there is no absolute stability in humanity. For what exists immutably exists necessarily, and this attribute of the Supreme Being cannot belong to man or his works. The best-instituted governments, like the best-constituted animal bodies, carry within them the principle of their destruction. Establish with Lycurgus the best laws; imagine with Sidney the means of founding the wisest republic;16 bring it about, with Alfred, that a populous nation finds its happiness in a monarchy17—all this will last only a certain time. After growing and expanding, states then tend toward their decline and their dissolution. Thus, the only way of prolonging the life of a flourishing government is to bring it back, on every favorable occasion, to the principles on which it was founded. When these occasions present themselves often and when they are grasped appropriately, governments are happier and more durable. When these occasions arise rarely or when they are not taken advantage of, the political body fades, dries out, and perishes. Article by Chev. de Jaucourt.

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Cereals (Grains)*

This 1758 article is one of the earliest and most important statements of the theories of a group of political economists who subsequently called themselves the Physiocrats, a term coined in the 1760s after the Greek for “the rule of nature.” Quesnay was the acknowledged leader of the group. The Physiocrats had a theory not only of economics, but of government, and were keenly interested in the effects of wealth on fiscal and military strength, as is seen in this article. For the present volume, only the introductory material and the final pages on the “Maxims of Economic Government” are included, along with the one footnote supplied by Quesnay for that text. The bulk of the remainder, which comprises two-thirds of the entire entry and which consists of a detailed quantitative analysis of agricultural productivity, is omitted.

Cereals (Political economy). The main items of commerce1 in France are cereals, wines and brandies, salt, hemp and flax, wool, and other animal products. The manufacture of cloth and common fabrics can greatly increase the value of hemp, flax, and wool, and can procure subsistence for many men employed in such profitable work. But it is perceived today that the production and trade of most of these commodities are almost annihilated in France. For a long time, luxury manufactures have seduced the nation. We have neither the silk nor the wool suitable for making nice fabrics Edition: current; Page: [240] and fine cloth. We have devoted ourselves to an industry that is foreign to us, and we have employed a multitude of men in it at a time when the realm was being depopulated and the countryside was becoming deserted. We have brought down the price of our wheat so that manufacturing and manual labor will be less expensive than abroad. Men and wealth have accumulated in the cities.

Agriculture, the most fertile and the noblest part of our commerce, the source of the revenues of the realm, has not been envisioned as the primary source of our wealth; it has seemed to interest only the farmer and the peasant. Their work has been limited to the subsistence of the nation, which pays the expenses of agriculture through the purchase of commodities. And it has been believed that this was a trade or traffic built upon industry, which was bound to bring gold and silver into the realm. Planting of vines has been prohibited; cultivation of mulberry trees has been recommended; the sale of agricultural products has been stopped, and landed income has been reduced, all to encourage manufactures that are harmful to our own commerce.

France can produce in abundance all materials of primary necessity. Luxury merchandise is the only thing it can buy from abroad. Mutual traffic between nations is necessary to support commerce. But we have become mainly attached to the fabrication and trade of commodities that we can get from abroad. And by an overly avid commercial rivalry, we have wanted to harm our neighbors and deprive them of the profit they would derive from us by the sale of their merchandise.

Through this policy, we have extinguished a reciprocal trade between them and us that was entirely to our advantage. They have prohibited the import of our commodities, and we buy from them in contraband and at high cost the materials that we employ in our manufactures. To earn a few million to manufacture and sell fine fabric, we have lost billions on the produce of our land; and the nation, decked out in gold and silver, thought it enjoyed a flourishing commerce.

These manufactures have plunged us into a disordered luxury that has spread a little to other nations and has excited their emulation. We have perhaps surpassed them by our human industry, but that advantage has mainly been sustained by our own consumption.

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The subjects’ consumption is the source of the sovereign’s revenue, and the sale of the surplus abroad increases the subjects’ wealth. The prosperity of the State depends on the convergence of these two advantages. But the consumption that is maintained by luxury is too limited; it can support itself only by opulence. Men who are little favored by fortune can engage in it only to their detriment and to the disadvantage of the State.

The most enlightened ministry knows that the consumption which can procure large revenues for the sovereign, and which brings happiness to his subjects, is that general consumption which satisfies the needs of life. Only indigence can reduce us to drinking water, eating bad bread, and covering ourselves in rags. All men strive through their work to get themselves good food and good clothing. Their efforts cannot be too strongly encouraged, for these are the revenues of the realm, the profits and expenses of the people that create the wealth of the sovereign.

The detail with which we are going to treat the income procured by abundant cereal harvests, and freedom of trade for this commodity, will sufficiently prove how far the production, sale, and consumption of materials of primary necessity interest all the different estates of the realm, and will enable us to decide what we should expect today of the government’s views on the restoration of agriculture.

[The author then offers a detailed analysis of the grain trade, omitted here.]

Maxims of Economic Government

I. The works of human industry do not multiply wealth. The works of agriculture compensate for its costs, pay the manual labor of cultivation, and procure gains for the husbandmen; moreover, they produce real-estate income. Those who buy the products of industry pay for the merchants’ expenses, manual labor, and profit, but these works produce no revenue beyond that.

Thus, all the expenses for works of human industry are drawn only from real-estate income, for the works that do not produce income can exist only through the wealth of those who pay for them.

Compare the profit of the workers who manufacture works of industry with that of the workers whom the cultivator employs in cultivating the Edition: current; Page: [242] land, and you will find that the profit in both cases is limited to the upkeep of those workers, that this profit is not an increase in wealth, and that the value of the industrial works is proportional to the value itself of the upkeep that the workers and merchants consume. Thus, the artisan destroys as much in upkeep as he produces through his work.

There is therefore no multiplication of wealth in the production of industrial works, since the value of those works rises only from the price of the upkeep that the workers consume. The merchants’ large fortunes should be viewed in no other way; they are the results of large commercial enterprises, which combine profits similar to those of the petty merchants, in the same way that the enterprises of large work projects bring about large fortunes by the small profits drawn from the work of a large number of workers. All these contractors make fortunes only because others incur expenses. Thus, there is no increase in wealth.

It is the source of men’s subsistence that is the origin of wealth. It is human industry that prepares this wealth for men’s use. The proprietors pay for the works of industry in order to enjoy them. Their income thereby becomes common to all men.

Men are therefore multiplied in proportion to real-estate income. Some generate wealth by cultivation, others get it ready for enjoyment, and those who enjoy it pay both.

Real estate, men, and wealth are therefore necessary in order to have wealth and men. Thus, a State populated only by merchants and artisans could survive only by the real-estate income of foreigners.

II. The works of industry contribute to population and to the increase of wealth. If a nation gains a million from abroad by its manual labor on domestically manufactured merchandise, and if it also sells abroad a million’s worth in foodstuffs from its crop, both of these results are equally an increase in wealth for it and are equally advantageous for it, provided that it has more men than the income from the kingdom’s soil can maintain. For then, a portion of these men can subsist only through the products of manual labor that they sell abroad.

In that case, a nation is getting all the output from men and the soil that it can get. But it gains much more on the sale of a million in merchandise from its crop than on the sale of a million in products of manual labor, Edition: current; Page: [243] because in the latter case it gains only the price of the artisan’s work, while in the former it gains the price of the work of cultivation and the price of the contents produced by the soil. Thus, in the equality of the amounts derived from the sale of these different kinds of merchandise, the crop trade is always proportionally much more profitable.

III. The works of industry that employ men to the detriment of the cultivation of real estate are harmful to population and to the increase of wealth. If a nation that sells abroad a million’s worth in products of manual labor and a million’s worth in merchandise from its crop does not have enough men busily bringing returns on its real estate, it loses much on the employment of men tied up in the manufacture of products of manual labor that it sells abroad. For then, men can engage in this work only to the detriment of the income from the soil, and the work yield of the men who cultivate the earth can be double or triple that of the manufacture of products of manual labor.

IV. The wealth of the cultivators generates the wealth of cultivation. The work yield of cultivation can be nil or almost nil for the State when the cultivator cannot defray the expenses of good cultivation. A poor man whose work draws from the earth only foodstuffs of little value (like potatoes, buckwheat, chestnuts, etc.)—who lives on them, who buys nothing and sells nothing—works only for himself alone. He lives in destitution; he and the land he cultivates bring no returns to the State.

Such is the effect of indigence in the provinces where there are no husbandmen in a position to employ peasants, and where these very poor peasants can by themselves obtain only bad food and bad clothes.

Thus, the employment of men in agriculture can be unfruitful in a realm in which they do not have the wealth necessary to prepare the earth to yield rich harvests. But real-estate income is always assured in a realm well populated with rich husbandmen.

V. Works of industry contribute to the increase in real-estate income, and real-estate income supports the works of industry. A nation which, by the fertility of its soil and the difficulty of its transport, had an annual surplus of foodstuffs that it could not sell to its neighbors, and which could sell them easily transportable products of manual labor, would have an interest in attracting many manufacturers and artisans who would consume the foodstuffs Edition: current; Page: [244] of the country, sell their works abroad, and increase the wealth of the nation by their profits and their consumption.

But then, this arrangement is not easy, because manufacturers and artisans gather in a country only in proportion to the real income of the nation—that is, in proportion as there are proprietors or merchants who can buy their works at almost as good a price as they would sell them for elsewhere, and who would procure their sale as they manufactured them. This is hardly possible in a nation that does not itself have the turnover of its foodstuffs, and where the low value of these same foodstuffs does not presently produce enough income to establish manufactures and manual-labor works.

Such a plan can be executed only very slowly. Many nations that have tried it have even found it impossible to achieve it.

It is the only situation, however, in which the government might usefully involve itself in the progress of industry in a fertile realm.

For when the farm trade is easy and free, the manual-labor works are always unfailingly assured by the real-estate income.

VI. A nation that has a brisk trade in domestic foodstuffs can always maintain, at least for itself, a brisk trade in products of manual labor. For it can always pay, in proportion to the income from real estate, the workers who manufacture the manual-labor works that it needs.

Thus, the trade in works of industry belongs as surely to that nation as the trade in domestic foodstuffs.

VII. A nation that has little commerce in domestic foodstuffs and is reduced to getting by on a commerce in industry is in a precarious and uncertain state. For its commerce can be taken away from it by other rival nations that engage with more success in this same commerce.

Moreover, such a nation is always a dependent of nations that sell it materials of primary need. It is reduced to a severe economy because it has no revenue to dispense, and because it cannot extend and support its trade, its industry, and its shipping except by savings, whereas those that have real estate increase their revenues by their consumption.

VIII. An extensive internal commerce in products of manual labor can exist only by real-estate revenues. One must examine the proportion of external to internal trade in the industrial works of a realm. For if the internal commerce of products of manual labor was worth, for example, three million, Edition: current; Page: [245] and the external commerce one million, then three-quarters of this entire commerce of products of manual labor would be paid for by the real-estate income of the nation, since the foreigner would be paying for only a quarter of it.

In this case, the real-estate income would be the main wealth of the realm. Then the main object of the government would be to attend to the maintenance and increase of the real-estate income.

The means consist in the freedom of commerce and in the preservation of the cultivators’ wealth. Without these conditions, the income, the population, and the products of industry are destroyed.

Agriculture produces two sorts of wealth: namely, the annual yield on the proprietors’ income, and the restitution of the expenses of cultivation.

The income must be spent, in order to be distributed annually to all citizens and to provide for the tax revenues of the State.

The wealth employed in the cost of cultivation should be reserved to the cultivators and exempt from all taxes. For if one takes it away, one destroys agriculture, abolishes the gains made by the residents of the countryside, and halts the source of State revenues.

IX. A nation with a large territory that lowers the prices of its domestic foodstuffs to encourage the manufacture of manual-labor works destroys itself on all sides. For if the cultivator is not compensated for the great expenses that agriculture demands and if he does not make a profit, agriculture perishes. The nation loses the income from its real estate. The labor from the manual-labor works diminishes, because this labor can no longer be paid for by real-estate proprietors. The country is depopulated by poverty and by the desertion of the manufacturers, artisans, day-laborers, and peasants, who can subsist only in proportion to the gains procured them by the nation’s income.

Then the forces of the realm are destroyed. Wealth is wiped out, taxes overburden the people, and the revenues of the sovereign decline.

Thus, such poorly understood management would alone suffice to ruin a State.

X. The advantages of external commerce do not consist in an increase in monetary wealth. The surplus wealth procured by the external commerce of a nation may not be a surplus in monetary wealth, because external Edition: current; Page: [246] commerce with foreigners may take place by the exchange of other merchandise consumed by that nation. But for that same nation, this is nonetheless a source of wealth that it enjoys, and that it might convert (through economizing) into monetary wealth for other uses.

Viewed as merchandise, moreover, foodstuffs are a combination of monetary wealth and real wealth. A husbandman who sells his wheat to a merchant is paid in money; with this money, he pays the proprietor, the taxes, his domestics, and his workers, and he buys the merchandise he needs. The merchant who sells the wheat to the foreigner and buys other merchandise from him, or who trades with him through exchange, resells in his turn the merchandise he has brought in, and with the money he receives, he buys some more wheat. Therefore, the wheat viewed as merchandise is a source of monetary wealth for the sellers, and real wealth for the buyers.

Thus, the foodstuffs that can be sold should always be regarded indifferently in a State as monetary and real wealth, which the subjects can use as it suits them.

The wealth of a nation is not determined by the supply of monetary wealth. The latter can increase or decrease without being noticed, because it is always effective in a State by its quantity, or by the celerity of its circulation, in proportion to the abundance and value of the foodstuffs. Spain, which enjoys the treasures of Peru, is always exhausted by its needs. England supports its opulence by real wealth; the paper that represents its money has a value assured by the commerce and the property income of the nation.

It is thus not the greater or lesser monetary wealth that decides the wealth of a State, and the prohibitions on the export of money from a realm to the detriment of profitable trade can be founded only on some harmful prejudice.

For the support of a State, real wealth is necessary—that is, wealth that is always regenerating, always sought after, and always being paid for, in order to enjoy it, to obtain commodities, and to satisfy the needs of life.

XI. One cannot know the commercial advantages or the state of each nation’s wealth by the balance of trade between various nations. For some nations may be richer in men and real estate than others, and the latter may have less internal commerce, less consumption, and more external commerce than the former.

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Moreover, some of these nations may have more merchandise trade than others. The trade that brings in the selling price of merchandise they resell is a larger share of the balance, without the core of this trade being as profitable to them as a lesser trade engaged in by other nations selling their own products abroad.

The commerce in products of manual labor is deceptive as well, because people include in the end result the price of raw materials, which should be distinguished from the cost of the manufacturing work.

XII. It is by the internal and external commerce, and especially the state of the internal commerce, that one may judge the wealth of a nation. For if it has high consumption of its foodstuffs at high prices, its wealth will be proportional to the abundance and the prices of the foodstuffs it consumes, because these same foodstuffs are real wealth by reason of their abundance and their expensiveness. Because of the opportunities that exist to sell them, they can be susceptible to any other employment in times of extraordinary need. It suffices to have the basis of them in real wealth.

XIII. A nation should not envy the commerce of its neighbors when it gets the best yield possible from its soil, its men, and its shipping. For it could not undertake any ill-intentioned initiatives against the commerce of its neighbors without disturbing its state and doing itself harm, especially in the reciprocal trade it has established with them.

Thus, commercial nations that are rivals or even enemies should be more concerned with maintaining or if possible expanding their own trade than with seeking to directly harm others’ trade. They should even encourage it, because nations’ reciprocal trade is mutually supported by the wealth of sellers and buyers.

XIV. In reciprocal trade, the nations that sell the most necessary or useful merchandise have the advantage over those that sell luxury merchandise. A nation whose real estate assures it a trade in its domestic foodstuffs, and therefore also an internal commerce in products of manual labor, is independent of other nations. It trades with other nations only to maintain, facilitate, and extend its external commerce. And to preserve its independence and its advantage in the reciprocal trade, it should as much as possible get only luxury merchandise from them, and should sell them merchandise that is necessary for life’s needs.

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By the real value of these different kinds of merchandise, they will think that this reciprocal trade is more favorable to them. But the advantage is always with the nation that sells the most useful and necessary merchandise.

For then its trade is based on the needs of others; it sells them only its surplus, and its purchases show only its opulence. The others have more interest in selling to it than it needs to buy. And it is easier for it to cut back on luxuries than for others to economize on necessities.

It must even be observed that States that dedicate themselves to luxury manufactures experience difficult vicissitudes. For when times are tough, the luxury trade languishes and the workers find themselves without bread and without employment.

If trade were free, France could produce an abundance of foodstuffs of first necessity that would suffice for a high level of consumption and a brisk external commerce, and that could support a large trade in manual-labor works within the realm.

But the condition of its population does not permit it to employ many men in luxury work. And to facilitate the external trade in domestically grown merchandise, it even has an interest in undertaking a reciprocal commerce abroad by the purchase of luxury merchandise.

Besides, it should not completely aspire to a general commerce. It should sacrifice some of the less important branches in favor of other parts that are more profitable to it, and that would increase and ensure the real-estate income of the realm.

Nonetheless, all commerce should be free, because it is in the merchants’ interest to apply themselves to the most certain and profitable branches of external trade.

It is enough for the government: to attend to the increase in property income in the realm, to not obstruct human industry, and to leave citizens with the facility and choice of expenses.

To reinvigorate agriculture by the activity of commerce in the provinces where foodstuffs go unsold.

To abolish prohibitions and impediments detrimental to internal trade and to reciprocal external trade.

To abolish or moderate excessive river and transit tolls, which destroy the income of distant provinces, where foodstuffs can be traded only after Edition: current; Page: [249] long transport. Those who own these tolls will be sufficiently compensated by their part in the general increase in the propertied income of the realm.

It is no less necessary to extinguish the privileges usurped by provinces, cities, or communities for their particular advantage.

It is also important everywhere to facilitate the communication and transportation of merchandise by the repair of roads and the navigation of rivers.2

Again, it is essential not to subject the commerce of provincial foodstuffs to prohibitions and transitory or arbitrary permissions, which ruin the countryside on the captious pretext of assuring abundance in the cities. The cities survive on the expenditures of the proprietors who inhabit them. Thus, destroying real-estate income neither encourages the cities nor procures the good of the State.

The governance of the nation’s income should not be abandoned to the discretion or authority of subordinate and particular administration.

One must not limit the export of cereals to particular provinces,3 because they run out before other provinces can resupply them. The inhabitants can be exposed for several months to a scarcity that is rightly attributed to the exportation.

But when the freedom to export is general, the gathering up of cereals is not perceptible, because the merchants get it from all parts of the realm, and especially from provinces where the price of cereals is low.

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Then, there are no more provinces where foodstuffs remain unsold.

Commerce and agriculture progress together. Export never removes more than a surplus that would not exist without it, and that always maintains abundance and increases incomes within the realm.

This increase in income augments population and consumption, because expenses increase while procuring profits that attract men.

By this progress, a realm may arrive in short order at a high degree of power and prosperity. By quite simple means, a sovereign may thus make much more profitable conquests in his own State than those he would launch against his neighbors. The progress is rapid; under Henry IV, the kingdom, exhausted and burdened with debt, soon became a country of abundance and wealth. See Tax.

Observations on the necessity of wealth for the cultivation of cereals. It must never be forgotten that this state of prosperity to which we can aspire is much less the fruit of the farmer’s work than the result of the wealth he is able to employ in the cultivation of the land. It is the manure that procures rich harvest; it is the livestock that produce the manure; it is the money that provides the livestock and that furnishes the men to manage them. It has been seen in the detailed analysis above that the expenses for thirty million acres of land treated by small-scale farming are only 285 million, while the expenses for 30 million well-treated acres in large-scale farming would be 710 million. But in the first case, the yield is only 390 million, while in the second it would be 1,378,000,000. Greater expenses would yield still greater profits. For their part, the extra men and expenses demanded by good farming for the purchase and management of livestock get a yield that is scarcely less substantial than that of the harvests.

Notwithstanding, bad farming demands a lot of work; but since the cultivator is unable to make the necessary expenses, his labors are unfruitful. He succumbs, and the imbecile bourgeois attribute his failure to laziness. They doubtless believe it is enough to plow, to torment the earth in order to force it to bear good harvests. People applaud when someone says to a poor man who is not employed, go plow the earth. It is the horses and the oxen, not the men, that must plow the earth. It is the flocks that must fertilize it; without this aid, the earth does little to reward the cultivators’ labors. Do they not know, moreover, that the earth does not make the investments, Edition: current; Page: [251] that on the contrary it makes one wait a long time for the harvest? What then could be the fate of that poor man who is told, go plow the earth? Can he cultivate on his own behalf? Will he find work with the farmers if they are poor? The latter, powerless to pay the expenses of good farming and in no position to pay the wages of domestics and workers, cannot employ the peasants. The earth, without fertilizer and almost uncultivated, can only leave both groups to languish in poverty.

It must again be observed that all the inhabitants of the realm have to profit from the advantages of good farming, in order for it to support itself and yield much in revenues for the sovereign. By increasing the proprietors’ income and the farmers’ profits, it procures gains for all the other estates, and maintains a level of consumption and expense that support it in turn. But if the sovereign’s taxes are fixed on the cultivator himself, if they take away his profits, agriculture withers and the proprietors’ income diminishes. This results in an unavoidable saving that influences the wage-earners, the merchants, the workers, the domestics. The general system of expenses, works, profits, and consumption is disturbed; the State is weakened; the imposition of taxes becomes more and more destructive. A realm can thus be flourishing and imposing only because of production that is being renewed or regenerated constantly from the wealth itself of a large and active people whose human industry is supported and animated by the government.

It has been imagined that the disorder that government can cause in the fortunes of private individuals is a matter of indifference to the State, because, it is said, if some become rich at the expense of others, the wealth exists equally throughout the realm. This idea is false and absurd, for a State’s wealth is not maintained by itself. It is preserved and increased only insofar as it is renewed by being employed, and managed with intelligence. If the cultivator is ruined by the royal budget official, then the incomes in the realm are wiped out, and trade and industry languish. The worker lacks work; the sovereign, the proprietors, the clergy are deprived of revenue; expenses and profits are abolished. Wealth enclosed in the coffers of the budget official is unfruitful—or if it is lent out at interest, it overburdens the State. The government must therefore be very mindful about preserving the wealth necessary to all the productive professions for the production and increase of the wealth of the realm.

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Observations on the population supported by the cultivation of cereals. Finally, it must be recognized that the produce of the earth is not wealth in itself; it is wealth only insofar as it is necessary for men, and insofar as it is tradable. It is thus wealth only in proportion to its consumption and to the number of men who need it. Each man who lives in society does not apply his work to all his needs, but by the sale of what his work produces, he procures what he is lacking. Thus, everything becomes tradable; everything becomes wealth by a mutual traffic among men.4 If the number of men falls by a third in a State, its wealth must fall by two-thirds, because each man’s expenditures and product form a double wealth in the society. There were around 24 million men in the kingdom a hundred years ago. After virtually constant wars for forty years, and after the Revocation of the Edict of Nantes,5 the census of 1700 still found nineteen million, five hundred thousand. But the ruinous war of the succession to the crown of Spain,6 the realm’s fall in incomes caused by the obstruction of commerce and by arbitrary tax impositions, the wretched poverty of the countryside, the desertion abroad, the throng of domestics that poverty and the military oblige to retreat into the large cities where debauchery replaces marriage for them; the disorders of luxury (which are compensated, unfortunately, by economizing on propagation)—all these causes give only too much sanction to the opinion of those who today would reduce the number of men in the realm to sixteen million. And there are a great number in the countryside who are reduced to procuring their food by the cultivation of buckwheat or other low-cost cereals; thus, they are of as little use to the State by their work as by their consumption. The peasant is useful in the countryside only to the extent that he produces and earns by his labor, and to the extent that his consumption, in good food and good clothing, contributes to support the price of foodstuffs and the income from property, and to increase the number of manufacturers and artisans and make them Edition: current; Page: [253] profitable—all of whom can pay the king levies in proportion to production and profits.

Thus, it should be understood that whether poverty increases or the kingdom loses still a few more million men, present wealth would diminish excessively, and other nations would draw a double advantage from this disaster. But if the population were reduced to half of what it should be—that is, half of what it was a hundred years ago—the realm would be devastated. Only a few cities or a few commercial provinces would be inhabited; the rest of the realm would be uncultivated. Property would no longer yield income; there would be an overabundance of lands everywhere, and they would be abandoned to whoever would like to use them—without paying or knowing the proprietors.

I repeat, land is wealth only because its produce is necessary to satisfy men’s needs, and because it is these needs themselves that establish wealth. Thus, the more men there are in a realm whose territory is extensive and fertile, the more wealth there is. Cultivation animated by men’s needs is the most fecund source of this wealth, and the main support of population. It furnishes the materials necessary for our needs, and procures revenues for the sovereign and income for the proprietors. Population increases much more by income and expenses than by the nation’s propagation itself.

Observations on cereal prices. Income multiplies expenses, and expenses attract men seeking profit. Foreigners quit their Country to come and participate in the ease of an opulent nation, and their confluence again increases its wealth, by supporting through consumption the high price of the products of agriculture, and by stimulating through this high price the abundance of these products. For not only does the high price encourage the progress of agriculture, but the wealth it procures consists in the high price itself. The value of a setier7 of wheat considered as wealth consists only in its price. Thus, the more abundant and expensive are wheat, wine, wool, and livestock, the more wealth there is in the State. Abundance along with unsold goods is not wealth. High prices along with penury is wretched poverty. Abundance with high prices is opulence. I mean permanent high prices and abundance. Edition: current; Page: [254] For transitory high prices would not procure a general distribution of wealth to the whole nation, nor would they increase the proprietors’ income or the king’s revenues. They would only be advantageous to a few private individuals who would then have foodstuffs to sell at a high price.

Foodstuffs can therefore be wealth for any nation only because of abundance and high prices maintained constantly by good farming, high consumption, and external trade. One should even recognize that relative to a whole nation, abundance and high prices that prevail abroad are great wealth for that nation, especially if that wealth consists in agricultural production. For it is wealth in property limited in each realm to the territory that can produce it. Thus, by its abundance and its high price, it is always to the advantage of the nation that has the most and that sells it to others. For the more a realm can obtain wealth in money, the more powerful it is and the more the capacities of individuals are extended—because money is the sole wealth that can lend itself to all uses and that can determine the relative strength of each nation.

Nations are poor wherever the country’s produce that is most necessary to life is at a low price. This produce is the most precious and tradable good; it can go unsold only by lack of population and external trade. In these cases, the source of monetary wealth is lost in countries deprived of the advantages of commerce, where men, severely reduced to the goods necessary for survival, cannot procure those necessary to satisfy the other needs of life and the security of their Country. That is the situation of our provinces where foodstuffs are undervalued—those lands of abundance and poverty, where forced labor and extreme saving are not even resources for procuring money.

When foodstuffs are expensive, and when income and profits increase proportionally, one can make economizing arrangements to diversify expenses, pay debts, make acquisitions, get children settled, etc. The ease resulting from the high price of foodstuffs consists in the possibility of these arrangements. This is why the cities and provinces of a realm in which foodstuffs are expensive are more populous than those where all the foodstuffs are at too low a price, because this low price snuffs out income, cuts expenses, destroys commerce, and abolishes the gains from all other occupations, the works and wages of artisans and day laborers. Moreover, Edition: current; Page: [255] it wipes out the king’s revenues, because the greater part of the commerce for consumption occurs through exchange of foodstuffs, and does not contribute to the circulation of money. It does not bring the king excise levies on the consumption of subsistence goods from these provinces, and very little on property income.

When trade is free, the high price of foodstuffs inevitably has its limits fixed by the very prices of the foodstuffs of other nations that are extending their trade everywhere. It is not the same with the high or low cost of foodstuffs caused by the lack of freedom of trade. These variations succeed each other in turn and irregularly. Each of them is highly disadvantageous, and they both almost always depend on a defect in the government.

The usual high price of wheat that procures so much revenue for the State is not harmful to the common people. A man consumes three setiers of wheat. If, because of the high price, he bought each setier at four pounds more, this price would increase his expenses by at most one shilling per day. His wage would also increase proportionally, and this increase would be a small matter for those who paid it, in comparison with the wealth that would result from the high price of wheat. Thus, the advantages of the high price of wheat are not destroyed by the increase in the workers’ wage. For this increase is far from approaching that of the farmers’ profit, the proprietors’ income, the yield on the tithe, or the king’s revenues. It is also easy to perceive that these benefits would not have increased by a twentieth, perhaps even by a fortieth, the price of the manual labor in manufacturing, which has led to the imprudent decision to ban the export of wheat, and which has caused an immense loss to the State. It is, moreover, a great drawback to accustom the same common people to buy wheat at too low a price; they become less industrious, they live on cheap bread and become lazy and arrogant. The independent farmers find workers and domestics with difficulty; thus, they are poorly served in abundant years. It is important for the lesser people to earn more and to be pressed by need to earn. In the last century, when wheat sold for much more, the people got used to it, they earned in proportion, and they were bound to be more industrious and more comfortable.

Thus, by the term high cost here, we do not mean a price that could ever be excessive, but only a common price between us and the foreigner. For Edition: current; Page: [256] assuming freedom of external trade, the price will always be determined by the competition in neighboring nations’ trade in foodstuffs.

Those who do not envision the full scope of the distribution in a State’s wealth may object that high prices are beneficial only to the sellers, and that they impoverish those who buy; that it therefore decreases the latter’s wealth as much as it increases the former’s. According to these ideas, then, high prices can under no circumstances be an increase of wealth in the State.

But don’t the high prices and abundance of agricultural products increase the cultivators’ profits, the king’s revenue, the income of the proprietors and the benefice-holders who enjoy the tithe? Doesn’t this wealth itself increase expenses and profits? Don’t the day laborer, the artisan, the manufacturer, etc., have their time and their works paid for in proportion to the cost of their subsistence? The more income there is in a State, the more it happens that commerce, manufactures, the arts, the crafts, and other occupations become necessary and lucrative.

But this prosperity can exist only because of the high price of our foodstuffs. For when the government halts the turnover in landed produce, and when it lowers its price, it opposes abundance and reduces the nation’s wealth in proportion to its lowering the price of foodstuffs, which are converted into money.

This condition of high prices and abundance has existed in the realm as long as our cereals have been an item of trade, cultivation of the land has been protected, and population has been large. But the obstruction of the grain trade, the formulation and imposition of excise levies, the poor employment of men and wealth in luxury manufactures, the constant wars, and other causes of depopulation and indigence have destroyed these advantages. And the State annually loses more than three-quarters of the yield it drew a century ago from the cultivation of cereals, without including the other losses that inevitably result from this enormous degradation of agriculture and of the population. Article by M. QUESNAY, the son.

In order not to make this article too long, we refer to Nielle [Blight] for that which concerns grain diseases.

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Volume 8 (1765)

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Habeas Corpus*

Habeas Corpus (England’s jurisprudence), a law common to all English subjects, which gives a prisoner the capacity to be released on bail.

To understand this law well, one must know that when an Englishman is arrested, at least if it is not for a crime worthy of death, he sends a copy of the mittimus to the chancellor (or to any judge of the exchequer), who is obliged, without removal, to grant him an act called habeas corpus. On reading this act, the jailer or concierge must bring the prisoner and give an account of the reasons for his detention at the tribunal where the act is sent. Then the judge pronounces whether the prisoner is in the kind of situation where paying bail is an option or not. If he is not in that situation, he is sent back to prison; if it is a case where he has that right, he is sent away on bail.

This is one of the finest privileges that a free nation can enjoy. For as a result of this act, prisoners of state have the right to choose the tribunal where they want to be judged, and to be released on bail if no one brings forward the cause of their detention, or if their judgment is postponed.

This law, necessary to prevent arbitrary imprisonments that a king would employ to make himself absolute, could have deplorable consequences in extraordinary cases—for example in a conspiracy, where the precise observation of formalities would encourage those with bad intentions, and would assure suspect persons of the facility to execute their bad designs. It seems therefore that in cases of this nature, the public good demands that the law be suspended for a certain time. And in fact, since its establishment, it has at times been suspended in England.

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It was suspended for a year in 1722 because there were rumors of a conspiracy formed against King George I and against the state.1 The lords who then spoke out in the high chamber for this suspension said that when an act became contrary to the public good because of rare and unforeseen circumstances, it was inevitably necessary to set it aside for a certain time; that in the Roman republic, composed of the royal power, the nobles’ power, and that of the people—represented by the senate and the tribunes—the consuls had only a quite limited power, but at the first rumor of conspiracy, those magistrates were immediately vested with supreme authority, to ensure the preservation of the republic. However, other lords attacked the suspension in general, and even more its length, which they opposed with strong reasons. They maintained that such a bill granted the king of England power as great as that of a Roman dictator; that under such a bill, no one could be arrested without being told the name of the accuser who cast suspicion on him, in order to make clear that the conspiracy was not serving as a cover for other causes of discontent; that the act of habeas corpus has never been suspended for more than six months; that by suspending it for a year, the bill would offer a pernicious example, authorizing the sovereign to demand its prorogation for a second year or more—by means of which, the act that did more than any other to assure the nation’s liberty would be imperceptibly destroyed.

“It is true,” says the author of The Spirit of the Laws on this subject,2 “that if the legislative power leaves to the executive the right to imprison citizens who might make bail for their conduct, there is no more liberty. But if they are arrested only to respond without delay to an accusation that the law has rendered capital, then they are truly free, since they are subject only to the power of the law. Now if the legislative power thinks itself in danger because of some secret conspiracy against the state or some correspondence with external enemies, it could, for a brief and limited time, permit the executive power to arrest suspected citizens, who would lose their liberty for a time only to preserve it forever.” (D.J.)

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Man (Homme)**

This brief essay by Diderot is written under the influence of early Physiocratic doctrine, which highlighted a preference for agriculture over the luxury trades. For the emphasis on population, see Quesnay’s essay Cereals and Diderot’s essay Political Arithmetic, both in this volume.

*Man (Politics). There are only two true sources of wealth: man and the land. Man is worth nothing without the land, and land yields nothing without man.

The true worth of man lies in numbers; the more numerous a society is, the more powerful it will be in times of peace and the more formidable in times of war. This is why a sovereign should give serious attention to increasing the number of his subjects. The greater their number, the more merchants, workers, and soldiers he will have.

Should there be one single man among those over whom he rules who is afraid to have children, or who leaves life without regret, the state would be in a deplorable situation.

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It is not sufficient, however, for a state to have many men; they must be industrious and healthy.

Men will be healthy if their standards of morality are high and if they can easily become and remain affluent.

Men will be industrious if they are free.

The lack of commercial freedom can result, in a given province, in affluence that can become an evil as terrible as poverty. In such a case the nation is being subjected to the worst possible government. See the articles Government, Laws, Taxes, Population, Liberty, etc. [Gouvernement, Lois, Impôts, Population, Liberté].

Our children will be our men; a country, therefore, must take care of its children. This means that special attention must be given to fathers, mothers, and nurses.

The five thousand children who are abandoned each year in Paris could be a seedbed for soldiers, sailors, and tillers of the soil.

The number of those employed in the luxury trades and in domestic service should be reduced. Under certain conditions the luxury trades do not yield sufficient profit for the men whom they employ; but domestic employment always results in a loss. A tax should be levied on domestic servants in order to lighten the tax burden of the rural population.

It is the life of the rural laborers that is the most fatiguing. If they are also the least well fed, they will either leave their occupation or they will perish. Only ignorance or cruelty can prompt anyone to say that, if they were comfortably off, they would leave their occupation.

It is the hope for a pleasant existence that prompts men to choose a certain way of life. It is the enjoyment of a pleasant mode of life that calls them to it or keeps them in it.

To employ men is worthwhile when the profit exceeds the expense of the wages. The wealth of a nation is the sum total of this profit.

The bigger and the better distributed the net product is, the better the government. An equally distributed net profit may be better than a greater profit unequally distributed. Such a distribution would divide a people in two classes, of which one would have a surfeit of riches, while the other was dying of privations.

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As long as land is allowed to remain untilled while men are employed in manufactures, the state sustains a loss.

We could add a great many more items to these clear and simple principles. A sovereign could find them himself if he had the courage and good will needed to put them into practice.

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Honor (Honneur)*

Even before Montesquieu stirred controversy by claiming in The Spirit of the Laws (3.5–7) that honor and not virtue was the motive force of monarchy, honor was sometimes seen as a political and not merely a social or individual phenomenon. In this unsigned article, Saint-Lambert, whose authorship has been determined only by recent scholarship, treats all of these dimensions together.

Honor (Morals). It’s the esteem we have for ourselves as well as our opinion1 about the right we have to others’ esteem because we have not strayed from the principles of virtue and because we feel ourselves strong enough to follow those principles. That’s the thinking man’s honor, and the reason he carefully fulfills the duties of man and citizen is to preserve it.

The feeling [sentiment] of self-esteem is the most delicious of all. But the most virtuous man is often crushed under the weight of his imperfections, and he seeks in the looks and countenance of men the expression of an esteem that would reconcile him with himself.

Whence two kinds of honor: the honor inside us that is based on what we are, and the honor in others based on what they think of us.

In the man of the people—and by people I mean all social conditions—I single out only the man who examines the scope of his duties in order to fulfill them, and their nature in order to impose only the real ones upon Edition: current; Page: [265] himself. In the man of the people, honor is the esteem he has for himself, and his right to the public’s esteem as a result of his exactitude in observing certain laws established by prejudice and custom.

Some of these laws are in harmony with reason and nature; others are in conflict. Even the most just are often respected only because they are established.

Among even the most enlightened peoples, the bulk of enlightenment is never widespread. The people possess only received and unexamined opinions, foreign to reason. These opinions fill up their memories and direct their mores; they obstruct, repress, reinforce, corrupt, and perfect the instinct of nature.

Among even the most polished nations, honor can be attached sometimes to respectable qualities and actions, often to pernicious practices, sometimes to extravagant customs, sometimes to vice.

Even today in certain parts of Europe, the most cowardly and odious acts of vengeance are honored. And almost everywhere—in spite of religion, reason, and virtue—revenge is honored.

In a polished nation full of wit and strength, laziness and gravity are held in honor.

In most of Europe, a mistaken application of shame, attached to what is called “never failing,”2 forces whoever has been unjust for a moment to be unjust his entire life.

If there are governments where caprice decides independent of the law, where the arbitrary will of the prince or his ministers distributes rewards and punishments without consulting order and justice, the soul of the people, numbed by fear and beaten down by authority, rises to no noble sentiments. In that condition, man esteems neither himself nor his fellows. He fears punishment more than shame, for what shame do slaves have to fear if they consent to be slaves? But these harsh and unjust governments, cruel and offensive to humanity, either do not exist or exist only as temporary abuses.3 We must never consider men in this humiliating condition.

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A genius of the first order has claimed that honor is the spring of monarchies and virtue that of republics. Is it permissible to see some errors in the works of that great man—who possessed both honor and virtue!4

He does not define honor, and in reading him, one cannot attach a precise idea to this word.5 He defines virtue as “the love of the laws and of Country.”6

All men from top to bottom love their Country—that is, they love it in their family, in their possessions, and in their fellow citizens from whom they expect aid and comfort. When men are content with the government under which they live, whatever its type, they love the laws. They love the princes and the magistrates who protect and defend them. The manner by which the laws are established, executed, or avenged, and the form of government are what one calls the political order. I think President Montesquieu would have expressed himself with more precision if he had defined virtue as “love of the political order and of Country.”

All men possess a love of order.

They love order in the works of nature. They love the proportion and symmetry in that tree whose leaves are spread out in a circle over its stalk; in the rainbow of colors distributed symmetrically over the insect, the flower, or the shell; in the assemblage of different parts that compose an animal’s shape. They love order in works of art. The proportion and symmetry in a poem, in a piece of music, in a building, or in a garden give the mind the capacity to assemble quickly and easily a multitude of objects; to see things whole in a glance; to move back and forth from one part to another without getting lost; to retrace its steps at will; to turn its attention where it wants; and to be sure that the object that occupies it will not cause it to lose the object that just occupied it.

Political order, aside from the secret pleasure of collecting and keeping in the mind a lot of knowledge and ideas, also gives us the pleasure of marveling at them. It astonishes us and gives us a grand idea of our nature. We Edition: current; Page: [267] find it difficult, useful, and beautiful. We see with surprise how a multitude of effects arise from a small number of causes. We admire the harmony in the different parts of government. We are as capable in a monarchy as in a republic of loving to fanatical excess this useful, simple, and grand order which fixes our ideas, elevates our soul, enlightens us, protects us, and decides our fate. When content with their government, the farmer (whether French or Roman), the patrician, or the nobleman7—all of them love order and Country. In the Persian monarchy, one didn’t approach the altars of the gods without invoking them for their Country. It was not allowed for the citizen to pray only for himself. The Incan monarchy was merely one immense family, whose monarch was the father.8 The days when the citizen cultivated his field were workdays. The days when he cultivated the field of the State and of the poor were holidays.

But under monarchy as under republic, this love of Country, this virtue, is the mainspring only in some situations and some circumstances. Honor is everywhere a more constantly active motive. The civic and mural crowns,9 giving victors the names of the country of conquest, the triumphs—all these things excited Roman souls to great deeds more than did love of Country. Let it not be said that I am here confusing honor and glory. I know the distinction, but I believe that wherever one loves glory, there is honor. With virtue, honor supports the consular fasces10 and the royal scepter. Honor or virtue in either a republic or a monarchy is the mainspring—depending on the nature of the laws and the power, scope, dangers, or flourishing of the state.

In great empires, one is guided more by honor, by the desire and expectation of esteem. In small states, it is more the love of political order and of Country. In these latter, a more perfect order prevails. In small states, one loves one’s Country because the ties of attachment to her are scarcely more than those of nature. Citizens are united among themselves by blood and Edition: current; Page: [268] by mutual good offices. The state is but a family joined by all the feelings of the heart, which are always stronger in proportion as they are less extensive. Large fortunes are impossible, and because cupidity is less aroused there, it cannot hide itself in the darkness. Mores are more pure and the social virtues are political virtues.

Notice that early Rome and the small Greek republics, where enthusiasm for Country reigned, were often in danger; the slightest war threatened their constitution and their liberty. Being in great peril, the citizens naturally made great efforts. In military success, they hoped for the preservation of all that was most dear to them. Rome showed less extreme love of Country in the war against Pyrrhus than in the war against Porsena, less in the war against Mithridates than in the war against Pyrrhus.11

In a large state, whether republic or monarchy, wars are rarely dangerous for the constitution of the state or the fortunes of the citizenry. The people seldom have anything to fear except some frontier fortifications. The citizen has nothing to hope for from the success of the nation. He is rarely in circumstances where he can feel and manifest enthusiasm for his Country. These large states would have to be threatened by a calamity entailing that of each citizen—then patriotism will awaken. When King William had retaken Namur, the poll tax was established in France, and the citizens, delighted to see a new resource for the state, received this tax edict with cries of joy.12 At the gates of Rome, Hannibal caused no more alarm or suffering than France feels in our time during the illness of its king.13 If the loss of the famous battle of Hochstädt led the French to compose songs to express their discontent at the ministry, the people of Rome more Edition: current; Page: [269] than once enjoyed humiliating their magistrates after a defeat of the Roman armies.14

But why is this honor—almost always a leading motive under all governments—sometimes so bizarre? Why is it rated among those customs that are either puerile or pernicious? Why does it sometimes impose duties condemned by nature, virtue, and refined reason? And why is it that in certain times, it is especially attributed to certain qualities and actions, while in other times to actions and qualities of the opposite kind?

We must recall David Hume’s great principle of utility. It is always utility that decides concerning our esteem.15 The man who may be useful to us is the man that we honor, and among all peoples, the man without honor is the one whose character is thought to make him unable to serve society.

But certain qualities and talents are more or less useful in different times—honored at first, they are less so afterward. To find the causes of this difference, we must take society at its birth, look at honor in its origins, and follow the progress of society and the changes in honor.

In the forests where nature placed him, man is born to combat man and nature. Too weak against his fellows and against tigers, he joins with the former to combat the latter. At first, bodily strength is the principal source of merit. Debility is all the more despised, in that, before the invention of those arms with which a weak man can engage in combat without disadvantage, bodily strength was the foundation of valor. Even if violence is unjust, it does not take away from honor. The mildest of occupations is combat. Courage is the only virtue, and victory is the only noble deed. After courage, the most honored qualities are love of truth, candor, and good faith—qualities that presuppose it. After weakness, nothing is more shameful than lying. If common ownership of women is not established, conjugal fidelity will be women’s honor, because they must without assistance prepare the warriors’ meals, keep and defend the house, and raise Edition: current; Page: [270] the children. This is because, given the equality of conditions, marriage is decided by personal preference. Choice and commitments are free, leaving no excuse for someone to break them. This gross people is necessarily superstitious, and the superstition will determine the species of its honor, in the conviction that the gods give victory to the good cause. Differences will be decided by conflict, and citizen will spill the blood of citizen out of honor. People believe there are fairies that have relationships with the gods, and the respect felt for them is extended to their entire sex. A woman is believed to be incapable of lacking fidelity to a worthy man, and the honor of the husband depends on the chastity of his wife.

And yet, men in this condition are constantly feeling new needs. Some among them invent arts or machines. The entire society enjoys the use of these things. The inventor is honored, and the mind’s merit begins to be respected. As society expands and becomes more polished, a multitude of connections arise between an individual and the many. Rivalries are more frequent, passions collide; countless laws are needed. These laws are harsh and they are powerful. And men, forced to engage in combat all the time, are also forced to change weapons. Deceit and dissimulation are common. There is less horror at falsity, and prudence is honored. A thousand qualities of the soul are revealed; they acquire names and pass into usage. They place men into classes that are more carefully distinguished from each other than nations were. These classes of citizens have the honor attached to these different ideas.

Superior enlightenment acquires the principal esteem. Strength of soul is more respected than strength of body. The attentive legislator excites the most necessary talents; it is then that he distributes what are called honors. These are the distinctive mark by which he announces to the nation that a certain citizen is a man of merit and of honor. There are honors for all classes. The ribbon of Saint Michael is given to the skilled merchant and the industrious artisan;16 why not use it to decorate the intelligent, hardworking, frugal farmer who fructifies the earth?

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After satisfying the functions of their status, many men in a society perfected in this way enjoy a repose that would be poisoned by boredom without the aid of the agreeable arts. In such an uncorrupted society, these arts support the love of virtue, the sensibility of the soul, and the taste for order and beauty. They dissipate boredom and enrich the mind. And their output, having become one of the principal needs of the leading classes of citizens, is honored even by those who cannot enjoy them.

In this extended society, pure mores seem less useful to the mass of the state than activity and great talent. These lead to honors and enjoy general esteem, and often it is difficult to tell whether those who possess these honors have virtue. Soon, one no longer blushes at being foolish or poor.

Society is corrupted day by day. At first, industry and even cupidity have been stimulated, because society needs its opulent citizens. But opulence leads to jobs, and venality is then introduced. Wealth is overly honored, jobs and wealth are hereditary, and birth is honored.

If the good fortune of being pleasing to princes and ministers leads to jobs and honors and wealth, then the art of pleasing is honored.

Soon immense and rapid fortunes arise. There are honors without work, dignities and jobs without functions. The arts of luxury multiply; fantasy attaches a price to that which has none. The taste for beauty is worn out in idle men who want only enjoyment. These men demand what’s unique, the arts are degraded, frivolity spreads, and the agreeable is honored more than the beautiful, the useful, or the decent.

At that point, honors and even glory are separated from true honor, which no longer exists except in a small number of men who have the strength to be enlightened and the courage to be poor. The honor of prejudice is extinguished. And the honor that had sustained the vigor of the nation is no longer more prevalent in the second and lowest classes than true honor is in the first.

But in a monarchy—of all governments, the one that most easily reforms its abuses and its mores without changing its nature—the legislator sees the evil, learns of the remedy, and makes that remedy a practice.

By choice, let him in all areas decorate talents combined with virtue. And without virtue, let genius itself be neither advanced nor honored, however useful it may be. For nothing is as useful to a state as true honor.

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Let vice alone be branded and let no class of citizens be degraded, so that every man in any class may think well of himself, do good, and be content.

Let the prince attach the idea of honor and virtue to the love and observance of all the laws. Let the warrior who fails in his discipline be as dishonored as the one who flees before the enemy.

Let him learn not to change and not to multiply his laws. They must be respected, but they must not be terrifying. Let him be loved. In a country where honor is to reign, the legislator must be loved; he must not be feared.17

Honor must give each citizen a horror of evil and a love of his duty. Let him never be a slave attached to his state, but let him be condemned to shame if he can do no good.

Let the prince be persuaded that the virtues which establish societies when they are small and poor sustain societies when they are extensive and powerful. The Mandevilles and their infamous echoes will never persuade men that courage, fidelity to one’s commitments, or respect for truth and justice are not necessary in large states.18

Let the prince be persuaded that these virtues and all others will accompany talent when the celebrity and glory of genius do not save people from the shame of bad morals. Honor is active, but the day when intrigue and credit obtain honors is the moment when it rests.

Peoples are rarely corrupted without being enlightened. But then it is easy to bring them back to order and to honor. Nothing is so difficult to govern poorly, or so easy to govern well, as a thinking people. Such a people has less of the prejudice and enthusiasm of each status, but it can preserve the lively feeling of honor.

Let industry be stimulated by love of wealth and some honors. But let the virtues and the political or military talents be stimulated only by honors or by glory.

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A prince who overturns abuses in one part of the administration shatters them in all others. There is scarcely an abuse that is not the effect of vice and that does not produce vice.

Finally, when the government has revitalized honor, it will direct it and purify it. It will take away from honor whatever it carried over from barbarous times. It will restore to honor whatever the reign of luxury and flabbiness had taken away from it. In each citizen, honor will soon be the consciousness of one’s love of duty and of the principles of virtue, and the recognition that he gives himself and expects from others that he is fulfilling his duties and following moral principles.

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Poorhouse (Hôpital)*

For other discussions of this old-regime social institution, see Public Law, Eulogy for Montesquieu, Foundation, Law, Masterships, Population, and Five Percent Tax, in this volume.

*Poorhouse (Grammar, Morals, and Politics). In the past, this word signified only hostelry; hospitals were public houses where foreign travelers received the aid of hospitality. There are no more of these houses; today there are places where the poor of every kind take refuge, and where they are well or poorly provided with the things necessary for the urgent needs of life.

In the early church, the bishop was charged with the immediate care of the poor of his diocese. When the ecclesiastics had assured income, a quarter of it was earmarked for the poor, and the houses of piety we call hospitals were founded. See the articles Dixmes [Tithe], Clergé [Clergy].

Even in their temporal dimension, these houses were administered by priests and deacons, under the inspection of the bishop. See Evêque [Bishop], Diacre [Deacon].

They were later endowed by private individuals, and they had income; but in the relaxation of discipline, the clerics who possessed their administration converted them into benefices. It was to remedy this abuse that the Council of Vienne transferred the administration of the hospitals to lay people, who would swear an oath and answer to episcopal authority, Edition: current; Page: [275] and the Council of Trent confirmed this decree.1 See Econome [Church Management].2

We will not go into historical detail on the different hospitals; instead we will substitute some general perspectives on the manner of making these establishments worthy of their purpose.

It is much more important to work to prevent poverty than to multiply sanctuaries for the poor.

A sure means of increasing the present revenues of the poorhouses would be to reduce the number of the poor.

Wherever moderate work suffices to provide for the needs of life, and wherever a little economizing in times of health prepares a resource for a prudent man in his age of infirmity, there will be few poor people.

In a well-governed state, there should not be poor people, except men who are born into indigence or who fall into it by accident.

I cannot count those young and vigorous lazybones as poor. Finding easier and more substantial aid in our misguided charity than in what they would procure by their own labor, they fill our streets, our churches, our highways, our towns, our cities, and our countryside. Those vermin can exist only in a state in which the value of men is unknown.3

To make the condition of the professional beggars and the true poor equal by mixing them up in the same houses is to forget that there are uncultivated lands to clear, colonies to populate, manufactures to support, and public works to continue.

If a society has refuges solely for the truly poor, it is consistent with religion, reason, humanity, and public health that they be the best possible.

It is not that the poorhouses should be fearsome to the unfortunate, but that the government should be fearsome to idlers.

Among the true poor, some are healthy and others sick.

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There is no disadvantage in having the habitations of the healthy poor be in the cities; there are, it seems to me, several reasons requiring that the habitations of the sickly poor be distant from where healthy men live.

A poorhouse of sick people is a building in which architecture should subordinate its art to the views of the doctor. To mix the sick in the same place is to destroy the ones by the others.

Poorhouses are no doubt necessary everywhere; but shouldn’t they all be connected by a general correspondence?

If there were a general reservoir for the alms, whence they were distributed through the whole extent of a realm, these salutary waters would be directed wherever the fire raged the most.

A sudden scarcity or an epidemic immediately multiply the poor of a province. Why not transfer the customary or momentary surplus of one poorhouse to another?

If one listens to those who cry out against this plan, one sees that it is for the most part horrible men who drink the blood of the poor and who find their private advantage in the general disorder.

The sovereign is the father of all his subjects. Why would he not be the general cashier of his poor subjects?

It is up to him to bring the narrow views of individual founders back to the general utility. See the article Foundation.4

The fund for the poor is so sacred that it would blaspheme against royal authority to imagine that it could ever be diverted, even in times of extreme need for the state.

Is there anything more absurd than for one poorhouse to go into debt while another is becoming rich? What if they were all pillaged?

So many agencies have been set up, and even quite uselessly; how could this one, whose utility would be so great, be impossible? The greatest difficulty one would find, perhaps, is in discovering the revenues of all the poorhouses. They are, nonetheless, well known to those who administer them.

If a precise statement of the revenues of all the workhouses were published, with periodic lists of expenses and receipts, the relation between assistance and needs would be known. And one would have too bad an Edition: current; Page: [277] opinion of men to believe that this would be without effect; commiseration is natural to us.

We will not enter here into a critical examination of the administration of our poorhouses. One may consult on this the various essays that M. de Chamousset has published under the title Views of a citizen.5 It will be seen there that of the sick who enter the Hôtel-Dieu, a quarter perish, whereas only an eighth are lost at the Charity, a ninth and even a fourteenth in other poorhouses. Where does the frightful difference come from? See the articles Hôtel Dieu and Charité.

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Tax (Impôt)*

This article by Jaucourt appears under both the Political law and Finances categories. It will be noted that Jaucourt did not subscribe to the Physiocratic proposal of taxing only landed property, but instead combined the political analysis of Montesquieu with the commercial and financial expertise of Véron de Forbonnais, a protégé of Vincent de Gournay and himself a contributor to the Encyclopédie. See Forbonnais’s articles Competition and Trading Company, above.

Tax (Political law and Finances), contribution that individuals are expected to make to the state for the preservation of their lives and properties.

This contribution is necessary for the upkeep of the government and the sovereign. For it is only by levies that it can procure the tranquility of the citizens, and during that time they cannot refuse reasonable payment without betraying their own interests.

But how should taxes be collected? Should they fall on persons, on land, on consumption, on merchandise, or on something else? Each of these questions, and those related to them in any detailed discussion, would require a profound treatise that would also be adapted to different countries according to their situation, their extent, their government, their production, and their trade.

Nonetheless, we can establish some decisive principles on this important matter. Let us draw these principles from the luminous writings of excellent Edition: current; Page: [279] citizens, and let us transfer them into a work that exudes progress in knowledge, love of humanity, the glory of sovereigns, and the happiness of subjects.

The sovereign’s glory is to demand only just and absolutely necessary levies, and the subjects’ happiness is to pay only the same. If the prince’s right to collect taxes is based on the state’s needs, then he must demand only levies that are consistent with those needs, give them back immediately after those needs are satisfied, and employ the yield only for those same purposes—not diverting them to his private use or in lavish outlays for persons who do not contribute to the public good.

The taxes in a state are what the sails are on a ship—they are to guide it, secure it, and bring it to port, rather than burden it, keep it tied up at sea, and ultimately submerge it.

Since taxes are established to furnish indispensable necessities, and since all subjects contribute with a portion of the goods that belong to them as property, it is appropriate for them to be collected directly, without expense, and to enter promptly into state coffers. Thus, the sovereign should watch over the conduct of the people entrusted with tax collection, to prevent and punish their customary surcharges. Nero in his prime passed a very wise edict. He ordained that the magistrates of Rome and the provinces receive complaints against the public tax farmers at any moment, and that they judge them on the spot. Trajan decreed that judgment in doubtful cases be made against his receivers.

When all the individuals in a state are citizens, when each one possesses in his domain what the prince possesses in his dominion, taxes may be placed on persons, on land, on consumption, on merchandise, or on one or two of these things together—depending on the urgency of the situations that require them with absolute necessity.

The personal or head tax has all the disadvantages of arbitrariness, and its method is not at all popular. Nonetheless, it can serve as an expedient when there is an essential need for sums that would otherwise be unavoidably shifted onto commerce, land, or its produce. This tax is also admissible provided that it be proportional, and that it fall more heavily on prosperous folks and not at all on the bottom classes of the people. Although all subjects enjoy equally the protection of the government and the security Edition: current; Page: [280] that it procures them, the inequality in their fortunes and in the advantages they draw from them argues for impositions consistent with this inequality, and means that these impositions should be, so to speak, in geometric progression—two, four, eight, sixteen—on the prosperous. For this tax must not fall on the necessities.

In Athens, the citizens were divided into four classes: those who got five hundred measures of dry or liquid fruit from their property and paid the public one talent—that is, sixty minae; those who got three hundred measures owed a half-talent; those who had two hundred measures paid ten minae; those in the fourth class paid nothing. The tax was equitable; if it was not proportional to property, it was at least proportional to needs. It was considered that each person had equal physical necessities, that these physical necessities should not be taxed, that abundance should be taxed, and that superfluity should be taxed even more.

Insofar as the taxes in a luxury-based realm are not set up in such a way that they are collected from individuals in proportion to their prosperity, the condition of that realm cannot improve. One portion of the subjects will live in opulence and will eat the food of a hundred families in one meal, whereas the other portion will have only bread and will waste away daily. A tax that annually cut out five, ten, thirty, fifty gold crowns from the frivolous expenses of each prosperous family—with the cut being made in proportion to the prosperity of that family—would suffice along with current revenues to pay off the state debts, or to defray the costs of a just war, without the yeoman farmer hearing about it except in the public prayers.1

It is believed that in France, a tax imposed only on the cities—on glass and crystal works, silverware, coachmen, lackeys, horse-drawn coaches, sedan carriages, calico from the Indies, and other similar items—would bring in annually fifteen or twenty million.2 This is no less necessary to put the brakes on the depopulation of the countryside than to manage an allocation of taxes by a method that most conforms to distributive justice. This method consists in applying them to the greatest luxury, as being the most onerous to the state. It is an incontestable truth that the weight of Edition: current; Page: [281] taxes is felt especially strongly in this kingdom because of the inequality of its assessment, and that the total forces of the body politic are prodigious.

Let us move to the tax on land, a very wise tax when it is devised according to a detailed count, a true and precise estimate. It’s a matter of implementing its collection at little expense, as is done in England. In France, rolls are drawn up where the various classes of property are placed. When these classes are distinguished with justice and enlightenment, there is nothing to be said against it. But it is difficult to know well the different values of the different properties, and even harder to find people who do not have an interest in ignoring them in the preparation of the rolls. There are two sorts of injustice to fear: the injustice of man and the injustice of the matter. However, if taxes are moderate on the people, some private injustices by more prosperous people are not going to merit great attention. If, on the other hand, taxes do not leave the people with enough to live on honorably, it will be the most glaring injustice and will have the greatest implications. If some number of subjects happen to get lost in the crowd and do not pay enough taxes, the harm is tolerable. But if some number of citizens who have only the necessities pay too much, their ruin redounds against the public. When the state proportions its fortunes to the people’s, the ease of the people soon raises the fortunes of the state.

Thus, the share of taxes imposed on the farmer in proportion to his industry must not be heavy or so demoralizing in its nature that he is afraid to clear a new field, increase the number of his livestock, or display a new source of industry, for fear of seeing an increase in that arbitrary tax that he cannot pay.3 Then he would feel no more emulation to engage in acquisition, and in losing the hope of becoming rich, his interest would be in presenting himself as poorer than he really is. People who claim that the peasant should not live in ease spout a maxim that is as false as it is contrary to humanity.

It would again be bad administration to tax the industry of artisans, for this would make them pay the state precisely because they are producing value within the state that did not previously exist. It would be a means of wiping out human industry, ruining the state, and cutting off its source of levies.

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Moderate and proportional taxes on the consumption of foodstuffs and merchandise are the least onerous for the people, the most lucrative for the sovereign, and the most just. They are least onerous for the people because they are paid imperceptibly and daily, without discouraging industry, insofar as they are the fruit of the will and capacity to consume. They yield more for the sovereign than any other kind because they apply to everything that is consumed every day. Finally, they are the most just, because they are proportional, because whoever possesses wealth cannot enjoy it without paying in proportion to his capacity. These truths, despite being self-evident, could be supported by the constant experience of England, Holland, Prussia, and some Italian cities, if examples were fit sources of persuasion.

But consumption taxes must not be added to personal taxes that are already substantial. This would crush the people, whereas substituting a consumption tax for a personal tax would obtain more money in a milder and more imperceptible manner.

In employing this tax, it must be observed that the foreigner pays a great portion of the levies added to the price of the merchandise he buys from the nation. Thus, merchandise that serves only for luxury and that comes from foreign countries should be heavily taxed. When this merchandise consists in things that can grow or be manufactured in the country, import duties on them will be raised and manufacturing or agriculture will be encouraged. As for merchandise that can be transported abroad, if it is publicly beneficial for them to leave, then the export duties will be lifted, and the export may even be facilitated by liberal incentives.

Finally, the taxes on foodstuffs and merchandise consumed in the country are the ones that the people feel the least, because a formal demand is not made of them. These sorts of levies can be so wisely handled that the people are almost unaware they are paying them.

To this end, it is of great moment that the seller of the merchandise be the one who pays the duty. He knows very well that he is not paying it for himself; the buyer who provides the funds pays it and mixes it in with the price. Moreover, when it’s the citizen who pays, all kinds of difficulties arise, even including searches that are permitted in his house. Nothing is more contrary to liberty. Those who establish these sorts of Edition: current; Page: [283] taxes have not the good fortune of having discovered the best kind of administration.4

For the price of the item and the tax on the item to be mixed together in the payer’s mind, there must be some relationship between the value of the merchandise and the tax; one must not impose an excessive levy on a foodstuff of little value. There are countries in which the levy is fifteen or twenty times the value of the foodstuff—a foodstuff essential to life. Then the prince who imposes such taxes on that foodstuff strips his subjects of their illusions; they see they are burdened by such unreasonable levies that they feel nothing any more except their poverty and their servitude. Moreover, for the prince to be able to levy a tax that is so disproportional to the value of an item, he must farm out the item; the people must be able to buy it only from his tax collectors, which brings countless disasters.

Since fraud is quite lucrative in this case, the natural punishment—the one demanded by reason, namely, the confiscation of the merchandise—becomes incapable of halting it. Thus, recourse must be had to Japanese punishments and those similar to the ones inflicted for the greatest crimes. People who could not be regarded as wicked men are punished as villains; all sense of proportion in punishment is eliminated.

Let us add that the more the people are placed under the necessity of defrauding that tax collector, the more the latter is enriched and the former are impoverished. Eager to arrest the fraud, the tax collector never stops complaining, or demanding, usurping, and obtaining extraordinary means of vexation, and then all is lost.5

In a word, the advantages of the consumption tax consist in the moderation in levies on essential commodities, the liberty in payment on consuming them, and the uniformity of imposition. Otherwise, this kind of tax, admirable in principle, has nothing but disadvantages. For evidence of this, look in the excellent work entitled Inquiries and considerations on state finance, 1758, in 4°, 2 vols.6

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The arbitrary tax by head is more consistent with servitude than any other. The proportional tax on land is consistent with justice. The tax on merchandise is appropriate to the liberty of a commercial people. This tax is properly paid by the buyer, although the merchant advances it both to the buyer and to the state. The more moderate the government is, the more the spirit of liberty will reign, the more security fortunes will enjoy, and the easier it will be for merchants to advance substantial levies to the state and to private individuals. In England, a merchant actually lends the state fifty pounds sterling for each barrel of wine he receives from France. Where is the merchant who would dare do something of this order in a country governed like Turkey? And if he dared to do it, how could he with a fortune that was suspect, uncertain, ruined?

Most republics can increase taxes in time of pressing need, because the citizen, who believes he is paying to himself, has the will to pay them—and usually the power, as a result of the nature of the government. Under a moderate monarchy, taxes can be increased because the wisdom and skill of the government can procure wealth; it is a kind of reward to the prince for the respect he has for the laws.7

Nonetheless, the more he respects them, the more he is bound to limit the taxes he is forced to establish, to distribute them proportionally according to people’s ability to pay, and to cause them to be collected with order and without charges and fees. The sense of equity in the city of Rome’s levy of taxes fit the fundamental principle of the government as founded by Servius Tullius, and could not be infringed upon without the republic collapsing at the same time, as experience showed.

The tax imposed by Aristides on all of Greece to defray the costs of the war against the Persians was allocated with such mildness and justice that the taxpayers called this tax the happy fate of Greece, and it is in all likelihood the only time a tax has received this fine description.8 It amounted to 450 talents; soon Pericles increased it by a third. After it was eventually tripled, without war becoming any more ruinous because of its duration or the various accidents of fortune, the weight of this tax arrested the Edition: current; Page: [285] progress of the [Greek] conquests and emptied the veins of the people, who, having become too weak to resist Philip, fell under the yoke of his dominion.9

Thus, let us make it a fundamental maxim not to measure taxes by what the people can give, but by what they should equitably give. And if one is sometimes forced to measure taxes by what the people can give, this must at least be according to what they can give all the time. Without this adjustment, it will happen that one will be forced either to overcharge those unfortunate people—that is, to ruin the state—or else to float loans in perpetuity, which leads to a perpetual surcharge on the tax imposed, since the interest must be paid. In the end, disorder in state finances inevitably results, not counting innumerable drawbacks during the course of these loans. The principle that has just been advanced is much more certain, of wider effect, and more advantageous to the monarchy, than the treasures amassed by kings.

The sovereign must eliminate all taxes that are vicious by nature—without seeking to repress their abuses, because that is not possible. When a tax is vicious in itself, as all arbitrary levies are, the form of collection (however good) merely changes the name of the excesses without remedying their cause.

The maxim of the great empires of the east—to remit levies to the provinces that have suffered—ought to be taken up in all monarchical states. There are some states where it is adopted, but where it simultaneously weighs people down as much as, or more than, if it had not been, because the prince levies neither more nor less and the whole state becomes jointly liable. To relieve a village that pays poorly, another village that pays better is burdened with the debt. The first is not restored to prosperity; the second is ruined. Between the necessity of paying to avoid executions, which follow promptly, and the danger of paying for fear of surcharges, the people grow desperate.10

Some have dared to suggest that the joint liability of the residents of the same village is reasonable because a fraudulent plot could be assumed Edition: current; Page: [286] on their part. But where does the idea come from that, based on mere suppositions, something that is unjust in itself and ruinous for the state has to be established? It is said that the collection of taxes must be fixed in order to correspond to expenses that are fixed. Yes, the collection of taxes that are not unjust and ruinous. Remit such taxes without hesitation; they will inevitably be fruitful. Nonetheless, can’t cuts be made to some of these expenses that are called fixed? Can’t harmonization do for the administration of a state what it can do in the house of a private individual? Does a state have no expedients for economizing in times of peace, for clearing its debts, even setting up savings for unforeseen events and dedicating them to the public good—while in the meantime making them constantly circulate through the hands of the treasurers or receivers, as loans to solid companies that would establish discount banks, or by other means?

There are a hundred schemes for making the state rich, as opposed to a single one whose goal would be to enable each individual to enjoy the wealth of the state. Glory, grandeur, power of a realm! How vain and meaningless are these words next to the words liberty, ease, and happiness of the subjects! What then, would it not make a nation rich and powerful to enable each of its members to participate in the wealth of the state? Do you want to achieve this in France? A host of methods come to mind. I will cite a few of the ones by which I cannot better terminate this article.

(1) It’s a matter of powerfully encouraging agriculture, population, and commerce, sources of the wealth of subject and sovereign. (2) Proportion the benefits from the affairs of state finance to the benefits from trade and from the clearing of lands in general. For then, the enterprises of state finance will work out for the best, since they will be without risk. Besides which, it must not be forgotten that the state financiers’ profit is always a reduction in the people’s income and in the king’s revenue. (3) Restrain the immoderate resort to useless wealth and office. (4) Abolish monopolies, tolls, exclusive privileges, letters of mastership, windfall inheritance,11 duties on franc-fief,12 the number of tax farmers and their vexations. (5) Cut Edition: current; Page: [287] out the majority of feast days.13 (6) Correct the abuses and complications of the taille, the militia burden,14 and the salt tax. (7) Do not engage in extraordinary arrangements to diminish the value of the currency. (8) Allow the transport of specie, because it is a just and beneficial thing. (9) Keep interest rates as low as is permitted by the combined number of lenders and borrowers in the state. (10) Finally, lighten taxes and allocate them according to the principles of distributive justice, that justice by which kings are the representatives of God on earth. France would be only too powerful, and the French only too happy, if these methods were in practice. But is the dawn of a bright day ready to appear? (D.J.)

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This brief argument for freedom of divorce under the Grammar category is a typical example of the elusive method of approaching political questions often resorted to by Diderot and other contributors. Divorce was in fact greatly liberalized for a time during the French Revolution.

*Indissoluble (Grammar), what cannot be dissolved or broken. Marriage is an indissoluble commitment. The wise man shudders at the very idea of an indissoluble commitment. The legislators who have prepared indissoluble ties for men have not been very familiar with his natural inconstancy. How many criminals and wretches have they created?

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Industry (Industrie)*

This article appears under the categories of Political law and Commerce. In the previous article, by the same title and under the Metaphysics rubric in the Encyclopédie, Jaucourt expressly borrows from the Physiocrat Quesnay in redefining this traditional term to emphasize both the mechanical arts and the process of invention, as opposed to mere “imitation” or “routine.” New machines for productive labor, of course, were of great interest to the Encyclopedists. It is also of note how many of the staple controversies surrounding the industrial revolution of the nineteenth century are already making their appearance in this article from the early 1760s. See the article Invention, below. On the semantic front, see the translators’ note, above, for contemporary usage of the term “industrie,” which is well exemplified by the illustration on the following page.

Industry (Political law and Commerce). This word signifies two things: either the simple work of the hands, or the mind’s inventions in useful machines, relative to the arts and crafts. Industry includes sometimes one, sometimes the other of these two things, and it often combines both of them.

It concerns the cultivation of the land, manufactures, and the arts; it fertilizes everything and spreads abundance and life everywhere. Just as destructive nations do harm that lasts longer than they do, industrious nations do good that does not even end with themselves.

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Industria (Industry)

In foreground, woman with spur, hourglass, rooster, and beehive (all symbols of industriousness); in background, the Roman freedman C. Furius Chresimus rebuffs witchcraft charges by showing proof of his own industrious farming.

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In America, the land naturally brings forth many fruits that people live on. If the land were left uncultivated in Europe, there would scarcely appear anything but forests, oak, pine, and other sterile trees. Thus, to make the land productive in Europe, a great deal of labor, industry, and knowledge was necessary. This is because needs, industry, and knowledge always proceed at the same pace. That’s why in European states, independent farmers and usefully industrious men should be highly protected and rewarded. The reason is evident: every increase in cultivation, as well as all industry, multiplies foodstuffs and merchandise, attracting into the state the money that is the sign of their valuations.

It is a timeworn truth almost shameful to repeat, but in certain countries, there are people who evade the ways and means offered them to make the land fruitful, and who persist in sacrificing principles of this kind to the prejudices that dominate them. They are unaware that the obstacles imposed on industry completely destroy it, and that on the other hand, the efforts of industry that are encouraged make it prosper marvelously through the emulation and profit that result. Far from imposing taxes on industry, one must give incentives to those who have best cultivated their fields, and to the workers who have gone furthest in making their work meritorious. No one is unaware of how far this method has succeeded in the three realms of Great Britain. In our day, by this means alone, one of Europe’s most significant cloth manufactures has been set up in Ireland.

Just as the consumption of merchandise increases with the cheapness of manual labor, industry influences the price of this manual labor every time it can reduce the amount of work or the number of hands employed. Such is the effect of watermills, windmills, looms, and so many other machines, the fruit of precious industry. As examples, one may cite the machines invented by M. de Vaucanson;1 the machine for working up raw silk that has been known in England for twenty years; sawmills for lumber—by which, under the inspection of a single man and by means of a single axle, up to forty-eight eighteen-foot boards are worked up in one hour of favorable Edition: current; Page: [292] winds; the ribbon looms with multiple shuttles also have countless advantages. But all these things are so well known that it is useless to expand on them. M. Melon has said it well: to make with one man, with the help of the machines of industry, what one would make with two or three men without these machines is to double or triple the number of citizens.2

The occasions for the employment of manufacturing workers know no bounds but those of consumption; consumption in turn is limited only by the price of labor. Thus, the nation that possesses the cheapest manual labor, and whose merchants content themselves with the most moderate profit, will engage in the most lucrative commerce, all circumstances being equal. Such is the power of industry, when at the same time the channels of internal and external commerce are free. Then, it opens new markets to consumption, and even forces access into those that are closed to it.

Against the utility of the inventions of industry, let it no longer be objected that every machine that reduces manual labor by half instantly takes away the means of subsistence from half the workers in the craft; that the workers without employment would sooner become beggars burdening the state than learn another craft; that consumption has its limits, so that even assuming it doubles, via the resourcefulness we are extolling so much here, it will diminish as soon as the foreigner procures machines similar to ours; that in the end, no advantage will remain to the inventing country from its inventions of industry.

Such objections are typically devoid of good sense and enlightenment. They resemble the objections that the Thames boatmen put forward against the construction of the Westminster bridge. Haven’t those boatmen found something to do with themselves, while the construction of that bridge has been expanding new commodities throughout the city of London? Isn’t it better to anticipate the industry of other peoples in using machines, than to wait for them to force us to adopt the use of those machines in order to preserve our competitive position in the same markets? The surest profit will always go to the nation that has been industrious first; and all things equal, the nation whose industry is the freest will be the most industrious.

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Nonetheless, we do not mean to disapprove of the care that a government may take in preparing with some prudence the use of industrious machines that are capable of suddenly doing too much damage to the occupations that employ men. However, this prudence itself is only necessary in a straitened condition3—which is the first vice one must begin by destroying. In any event, whether invention be discouraged, whether progress in the arts takes place, industry seems to have reached the point where its gradations today are quite mild, and its violent shocks are very little to be feared.

In the end, we conclude that one cannot protect industry too much, if one considers how far it can go in yielding returns for the common good in all the liberal and mechanical arts. Witness the advantages drawn from it by Painting, Engraving, Sculpture, Printing, Clock-making, Jewelry-making, the manufactures in linen, wool, silk, gold, silver—in a word, all crafts and all occupations. (D.J.)

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Innovation (Political government), novelty, or important change made in the political government of a state, against the practice and rules of its constitution.

These sorts of innovation are always deformities in the political order. Laws and customs that are well established and consistent with the character of a nation have their place in the scheme of things. Everything is so well linked that a novelty that has its advantages and disadvantages, and that is brought in to replace current abuses without mature reflection, will never fit with the fabric of a timeworn part, because it is not matched to the piece.

If only time would stop, to afford the leisure to remedy its ravages. . . . But it’s a wheel that turns with such rapidity; the means of replacing a spoke that is missing, or that is menacing! . . .

The revolutions brought by time in the course of nature arrive step by step; one must therefore imitate this slowness in the useful innovations that may be introduced into the state. For it is not a question here of changes in the administration of a particular city.

But above all, when a political innovation needs to be supported by examples, they must be taken from times of enlightenment, moderation, and tranquility, not looked for in the days of darkness, turmoil, and austerity. These children of pain and blindness are normally monsters that bring disorder, misery, and desolation. (D.J.)

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Intendants (Intendans)*

There are several articles under this general heading, including two lengthy and historically descriptive entries by the jurist Boucher d’Argis. The unsigned article translated here, whose author remains unknown, is important because of its robust advocacy of a reform in the French political system—a system powerfully shaped by the creation of royal intendants under Richelieu in the early seventeenth century—in the direction of stronger local government and administration. Proposals to strengthen the provincial estates had been made by the circle around the Duke of Burgundy under Louis XIV (Fénelon was its leading figure) and afterward by Mirabeau, Turgot, Necker, and others. A November 12, 1764, letter by Diderot to the publisher Le Breton complains that the latter had markedly censored this entry, indicating its topical sensitivity.

Intendants (Modern history), assigned by H. M.1 to the provinces and generalities of the realm. . . .

The authority of the intendants is, as can be seen, very extensive in pays d’élection,2 since they alone decide on the allocation of taxes, the quantity and time of compulsory labor, the new commercial establishments, the distribution of troops in the different provincial locations, the price and Edition: current; Page: [296] apportionment of fodder granted to the men of war; since the purchases of foodstuffs to fill the king’s warehouse are made by their order and by their law; since it is they who preside at the military levies and who resolve the difficulties that arise on that occasion; since it is by them that the ministry is informed on the condition of the provinces—their production, their markets, their burdens, their losses, their resources, etc.; since in fact, under the name intendants of justice, police, and finances, they cover virtually every aspect of administration.

Provincial estates are the best remedy for the disadvantages of a large monarchy. They are even of the essence of monarchy, which requires not powers but intermediary bodies between the prince and the people.3 The provincial estates do for the prince a part of what the prince’s officials would do, and although they take the place of the official, they are unwilling and unable to put themselves in the prince’s place. At worst, this is what one might fear of the Estates General.4

The prince may be knowledgeable about the general order, the fundamental laws, his situation relative to the foreigner, the rights of his nation, etc.

But without the aid of the provincial estates, he can never know the wealth, the forces, the resources, what troops and taxes he can and should levy, etc.

In France, the king’s authority is nowhere more respected than in the pays d’état. In their august assemblies, it appears in all its splendor. It is the king who convokes and dismisses these assemblies; he names its president; he can exclude whom he wills; he is present through his agents. The limits of authority are never brought into question; only the choice of means to obey that authority is weighed, and it is usually the fastest means that are chosen. If the province is found to be in no position to pay the charges imposed upon it, it limits itself to representations, which are never more than an exposition of their present contribution, their past efforts, their current needs, their means, their zeal, and their respect. Whether the king perseveres in his will or whether he changes his will, all obey. The approbation Edition: current; Page: [297] that the notables who make up these estates offer to the prince’s demands serves to persuade the people that they were just and necessary; they have an interest in making the people obey promptly. More is given than in the pays d’élection, but it is given freely, voluntarily, with zeal, and everyone is content.

In the provinces enlightened by the constant discussion of public business, the taille on property has been established without difficulty; the barbarisms and injustices of the taille on persons are no longer known there. You don’t see collectors followed by bailiffs or soldiers spying to see if they can bring to light some rags that were left to a poor wretch to cover his children, and get him to sell them—rags that barely escaped the exactions of the previous year. You don’t see that multitude of fiscal officials who absorb a part of the taxes and tyrannize the people. There is only one general treasurer for the whole province; the collection is assigned, without remuneration, to officials appointed by the estates, or to municipal officials.

The private treasurers of the towns and villages have modest salaries; it is they who collect the taille that they are responsible for. Since it is on property, if there are delays, they do not risk losing their advances; they recover them without expense. Delays are rare, and the recoveries are almost always prompt.

In the pays d’état, you don’t see three hundred tax collectors, sheriffs, or mayors of a single province, groaning in prison for an entire year—and in many cases dying—for not having brought in the taille from their villages, which had been made insolvent. You don’t see a village whose territory yields 4000 pounds being charged 7000 pounds in taxes. The yeoman farmer is not afraid of enjoying the fruits of his labor and of appearing to increase his comfort; he knows that his additional payments will be exactly proportional to what he has acquired. He has no cause to corrupt or to sway a collector; he has no cause to plead at an election’s election,5 before the intendant of the intendant in council.

The king does not tolerate losses in the pays d’état; the province always furnishes exactly the sum required of it. The allocation, done equitably Edition: current; Page: [298] and always proportionally by wealth, does not overburden the comfortable farmer in order to relieve the unfortunate—who, however, is indemnified.

As for public works: the engineers, the contractors, the workers, the property taken away from private individuals—everything is paid for exactly and is levied without expense. No roads or bridges are built that are useful to only a few people; they are not slaves to an eternal and blind avarice.

If certain changes in the value of property or in commerce should occur, the whole province is informed, and the administration makes the necessary changes.

The different orders in the estates enlighten each other mutually. Since none of them have authority, they cannot oppress each other; they all discuss, and the king decrees. These assemblies produce men who are capable of public affairs. It was by arranging the election of the consuls of Aix and explicating the interests of Provence to the assembly that Cardinal Janson6 became a celebrated diplomat.

You don’t travel across the kingdom without perceiving the excellent administration of the estates and the pernicious administration of the pays d’élection. It is not necessary to ask questions, but only to look at the residents of the countryside, in order to know whether you’re in a pays d’état or a pays d’élection. What an endless resource these pays d’états are for the realm!

Compare what the king gets from Normandy with what he gets from Languedoc. These provinces are of the same scope, but the arid sands of the latter send more money to the royal treasury than the opulent pasture and fertile countryside of the former. What would these pays d’état be like if the king’s domains were leased out to and exploited by the estates themselves? That was the plan of the late Duke of Burgundy,7 and to this plan he added a greater one, that of putting the entire realm into provincial estates.

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If the realm has sudden and unforeseen needs that require a prompt remedy, it is from the pays d’état that the prince should expect this remedy. Despite its moors and its small size, Brittany gave a third more in tax contributions in the last war8 than vast and rich Normandy. Provence, a sterile land, gave twice as much as Dauphinois, a land abundant in every species of production.

Devastated by enemy armies and weighed down by the burdens of war, Provence proposes to levy and maintain an army of thirty thousand men at its own expense. Languedoc sends the Prince of Conti two thousand mules to enable him to profit from his victories and from his passage of the Alps.9

What I am saying is known to everyone, and abroad our Estates-run provinces have a reputation for opulence. They have more credit than the government; they have more than the king himself.

Let us remember that in the last war, Genoa would lend to the king only on Languedoc’s guaranty.10

There are intendants in these provinces. It is desirable for them always to be men who merely watch over it for the prince. It is desirable for them never to extend their authority, and for that authority to be greatly moderated in the pays d’élection.

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This article by Jaucourt deals with a subject of great importance to the Encyclopédie. Interest in inventions and inventors is an ever-recurring theme. D’Alembert, in The Preliminary Discourse,1 and Diderot, in his article Encyclopédie, both stress the vital role of the mechanical arts and the crucial contributions of inventors to the progress and happiness of mankind. Among the three key inventions that expanded the limits of the world are the compass, the printing press, and gunpowder. Each of these inventions is treated in a long article; a complete list of articles on inventions in the Encyclopédie would be infinitely varied, including, among many other items, Glass Blowing, Metallurgy, and Incubator (Verre; Metallurgie; Poulets, Four à).

Invention (Arts and Sciences). A general term which can be applied to everything that is found, invented, or discovered, and which is of use or interest in the arts, sciences, and crafts. To some extent this term is synonymous with “discovery,” though less striking; I should like to be permitted Edition: current; Page: [301] here to use them interchangeably, without repeating the interesting things the reader should already have read under the word Discovery.2

We owe inventions to time, pure chance, to lucky and unforeseen speculations, mechanical instincts, as well as to the patience and resourcefulness of those who work.

The useful inventions of the thirteenth and fourteenth centuries did not at all result from the researches of those who are known as wits in polite society, nor did they come from speculative philosophers. They were the fruit of that mechanical instinct with which nature has endowed some men, independent from philosophy. The invention of spectacles, known as besicles,3 to assist the weakened sight of old men dates from the end of the thirteenth century. It is said that we owe it to Alexander Spina. In that same century the Venetians already possessed the secret of making crystal mirrors. Faience earthenware which was used in Europe instead of porcelain was discovered in Faenza; windmills date from approximately the same period. The making of paper from pounded and boiled cloth was invented in the early fourteenth century. Cortusius speaks of a certain Pax who established the first papermaking factory in Padua a century before the invention of printing. This is how early discoveries happily produce their first fruit, and often thanks to men who remain unknown.4

I say the first fruit, for it has to be observed that the most interesting and useful things that we possess today in the arts were not found in the state in which we see them now. Everything was discovered in rough form or in parts and has been gradually brought to greater perfection. At least this seems to be the case for those inventions of which we have spoken, and it can be proven for the invention of glass, the compass, printing, clocks, mills, telescopes, and many others.

I shall not mention the discoveries in the sciences that could have been prepared by the labors of preceding centuries; this would be a subject for Edition: current; Page: [302] too extensive a research. Nor shall I speak of discoveries that are supposedly modern, yet are merely old theories, put forward once again, and more clearly. In any case, such discussions would prove very little. In order to remain within the framework of the arts, I shall be satisfied to observe that a shorter or longer time lapse was needed to perfect the inventions which originally, in uncivilized centuries, were the products of chance or mechanical genius.

Guttenburg [sic] invented only movable characters, carved in relief on wood and on metal. It was Schöfer who improved this invention and found the secret of casting these characters. How much this art has been perfected since Schöfer is well known.

The invention of the compass in the twelfth century is of the same order as the invention of printing, whether its use was first discovered by the mariner Goya, a native of Malfi, or by the English, or the French, or the Portuguese. In the beginning men knew only how to place the magnetized needle on a piece of cork floating on water; later this needle was suspended on a pivot inside a box that in its turn was suspended. Finally it was fixed onto a mariner’s card or a piece of talc upon which had been traced a circle divided into thirty-two equal parts to mark the thirty-two wind directions, together with another concentric circle divided into 360 degrees, which measured the angles and separations of the compass.

The invention of windmills (perhaps originating in Asia) became successful only when geometry perfected the machine, which is based entirely upon the theory of compound movement.

How many centuries have elapsed between the moment when Ctesibius made the first watch run by a movement, probably around 613 in Rome, and the most recent pendulum clock made in England by Graham or in France by Julien Le Roi. Did not Huygens or Leibniz and many others contribute to their perfection?5

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I could say almost as much about the development of the small telescope, from Metius to the Benedictine Dom Noël. Can there be any doubt about the difference between the rough cut of the diamond discovered by chance three centuries ago by Louis de Berquen, and the beautiful brilliant or rose cut our gem cutters are able to execute today?6 Usage and practice have taught them all kinds of ways of cutting stones, and their eyes and their hands are the guides. It is the forty-seventh proposition of the first book of Euclid which has made possible the achievement of such beautiful proportions when cutting these precious stones into lozenges, triangles, facets, and bevels, which give them their brilliance and glittering effect. Thus those men who were fortunate enough to be born at the right time, had a perfect knowledge of mechanics, and have taken advantage of the sketchy simplicity of early inventions; and slowly, thanks to their shrewdness, they brought them to the degree of perfection where we see them today.

Inventions are the children of time, but, if I may say so, industriousness can speed the delivery. How many centuries did men walk on silk without knowing how to make use of it, how to adorn themselves with it. No doubt nature has in her storehouse treasures which are as precious and which she keeps for the moment when we least expect them; let us always be prepared to take advantage of them.

Often an invention illuminates a preceding one and throws a few flickers of light on one that is to follow. I am not saying that any invention is always productive in itself. Great rivers do not always rise in the waters of other great rivers. But inventions which seem to be without any general relationship still cross-fertilize each other; they reappear in a thousand ways that shorten and assist men’s labors, and there is nothing more gratifying than the invention or perfection of arts that aim at the happiness of mankind. Such inventions have the advantage over political enterprises7 in that they bring about the public good without harming anyone. The most spectacular conquests are bathed only in sweat, tears, and blood. He who discovers some secret useful to life, such as, for example, the dissolution of Edition: current; Page: [304] stones in the bladder, would not have to fear the remorse that is inseparable from glory where crime and unhappiness are mingled. The invention of the compass and the printing press opened wider horizons and beautified and enlightened the world. If we scan history we will see that inventors were the first to be deified; the world adored them as visible gods.

After this we need not be astonished that inventors are sensitive to the honor of being discoverers. It is the last thing of which a man would want to divest himself. After Thales discovered the relationship between the sun’s diameter and the circle this star describes around the earth, he communicated this discovery to someone who offered him anything he would desire for it. Thales asked only to be allowed to keep the honor of the discovery. This wise man of Greece, poor and old, was left untouched by the thought of money or profit or any kind of advantage, but he feared the injustice that might deprive him of his deserved glory.8

Moreover, all those who, thanks to their astuteness, their labors, their talents, and their diligence, will be able to combine research and observation, profound theory and experimentation, will continually enrich existing inventions and discoveries and will have the glory of paving the way for new ones.

If I may repeat here the words which the editors of this work wrote in the Introduction to Volume III:

The Encyclopédie will write the history of our century’s wealth in this subject; it will do so for our own century, which is ignorant of this history, and for the centuries to come, which thus will be able to go further. Discoveries in the arts will no longer run the danger of being forgotten; facts will become known to the philosophers, and reflection will be able to simplify and enlighten blind practice.

For the success of this enterprise, however, it is necessary that an enlightened government be willing to grant it a powerful and constant protection against injustice, persecution, and the calumny of enemies. (D.J.)

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Volume 9 (1765)

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Ars Politica (Statecraft)

Female symbol of statecraft in foreground, with scales (for justice and prudence) in her right hand and lictors’ rods (for enforcement) at her feet; in background, Spartan citizens swear oath to Lycurgus to follow laws that he, as the foundational lawgiver of the community, had laid down.

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Legislator (Législateur)**

The term “legislator” is sometimes translated as “lawgiver” for this period, connoting a somewhat wider meaning than our modern word. (See Lycurgus in the illustration for a flavor of this wider meaning.) Long thought to be the work of Diderot, the present article is now known to have been written by the Marquis de Saint-Lambert. Either way, the essay is widely agreed to be one of the most important and richly textured political articles in the Encyclopédie. The author’s wide-ranging approach to government, with its emphasis on climate, religion, manners, and liberty, evokes Montesquieu and Hume. His distinction between the esprit de communauté and the esprit de propriété is an original formulation, as is his precise way of drawing a relationship between commerce and constitutions, with its particular emphasis upon Europe’s constitutional diversity.

Legislator (Politics). The legislator is the one who has the power to make or to abrogate laws. In France the king is the legislator; in Geneva it is the people;1 in Venice and Genoa, the nobility; in England there are the two houses and the king.

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Every legislator must defend the security of the state and the welfare of the citizens.

By uniting to form a society, men sought a more fortunate condition than the state of nature, which had two advantages, equality and freedom, and two disadvantages, the fear of violence and the privation of assistance, either in obtaining primary necessities or in warding off danger. To protect themselves from these disadvantages they then consented to lose a little of their equality and freedom; and the legislator has fulfilled his goal when he takes away from men the least possible degree of equality and freedom, and he thereby procures for them the greatest degree of security and welfare.

[The legislator must make, maintain, or change the constitutive or civil law.

Constitutive law is law that constitutes the type of government. In making these laws, the legislator will take into account the extent of the country that the nation possesses, the nature of its soil, the power of the neighboring nations, their character, and the character of his own nation.

A small state should be republican. Its citizens are too enlightened about their interests. Those interests are not complicated enough for them to want to allow a monarch—who would be no more enlightened than they are—to decide about them. The entire state could conceive the same opinion in an instant, which would often be opposed to the king’s will. The people, who cannot constantly keep themselves within the bounds of a just liberty, would be independent as soon as they want to be. This eternal discontent, attached to the condition of man—and of obedient man—would in these circumstances not be limited to murmurs; there would be no interval between the whim and the resolution.

The legislator will see that in a fertile country, in which the cultivation of the land occupies the largest portion of the inhabitants, the citizens are bound to be less jealous of their liberty, because they need only tranquility and because they have neither the will nor the time to occupy themselves with the details of administration. Besides, as President Montesquieu says, when liberty is not the sole possession, one is less attentive about defending it.2 For the same reason, peoples that inhabit rocky hillsides or sterile mountains are less disposed to the government of one. Their liberty is their Edition: current; Page: [309] sole possession. In addition, if they want by means of industry and commerce to replace what nature refuses them, they need an extreme liberty.

The legislator will give the government of one to states of a certain expanse. It is too hard for their different parts to come together suddenly in order to make easy resolutions. Promptness in resolution and execution, which is the great advantage of monarchical government, causes orders, punishments, and assistance to move when they need to, and instantaneously, from one province to another. The different parts of a large state are united under the government of one, but in a large republic, factions would inevitably be formed, which could tear it apart and destroy it. Moreover, large states have many neighbors, they give umbrage, they are exposed to frequent wars. And here is the triumph of monarchical government; it is especially in warfare that it has the advantage over republican government. It has going for it secrecy, unity, celerity, no opposition, no slowness. The Roman victories prove nothing against me; the world they subjugated was either barbarous, or divided, or softened up. And when they waged wars that placed the republic in danger, they hastened to create a dictator, a magistrate more absolute than our kings. Holland, led in peacetime by her magistrates, has created stadholders in her wars against Spain and against France.]

The legislator reconciles the civil laws with constitutive law; in regard to many cases they will not be the same in a monarchy as in a republic, in an agricultural nation or in a nation devoted to commerce; they will change according to the times, the customs, and the climate. But has the climate as much influence on men as a few authors have maintained, and has it had such little influence on us as other authors have declared? This question deserves the attention of the legislator.3

[Men are everywhere susceptible to the same passions, but they can receive them by different causes and in different manners. They can receive the first impressions with more or less sensibility. And if climate can make but little difference in the type of passion, it can make much difference in sensations.

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Unlike southern peoples, northern peoples do not receive lively impressions whose effects are prompt and rapid. A robust constitution, body heat concentrated by the cold, and food that has little succulence, all do much to make northern peoples feel hunger as a public privation. In some cold and humid countries, the animal spirits are numb, and violent stimuli are needed to make men feel their own existence.

Southern peoples need less food, which nature furnishes them in abundance. The heat of the climate and the liveliness of the imagination exhaust them and make labor difficult for them.

A great deal of labor and industry are needed for someone to be clothed and sheltered in such a manner as not to suffer from the rigors of the cold. But to protect oneself from the heat, only some trees, a hammock, and rest are necessary.

Northern peoples have to be occupied with the task of procuring themselves the necessities, but the southerners feel the need of amusement. The Samoyeds4 hunt, open up a cave, prepare skins for clothing, cut and transport wood for maintaining a fire and hot drinks, whereas the African savage goes around completely naked, slakes his thirst at a fountain, collects fruit, and sleeps or dances in the shade.

The southern peoples’ liveliness of sense and imagination make the physical pleasures of love more necessary to them than to the northern peoples. But, says President Montesquieu, since southern women lose their beauty at the age when reason begins, those peoples are bound to do less to bring the moral dimension into love than the peoples of the north, where intellect and reason accompany beauty.5 The Caffres,6 the peoples of Guyana and Brazil make their women work like beasts, while the Germans honor them like divinities.

The liveliness of each impression and the little need felt to retain and combine their ideas must be the reason why southern peoples will have little coherence and much inconsistency in their minds. They are guided by the moment; they forget time and sacrifice life to a single day. The Carib Edition: current; Page: [311] weeps in the evening out of regret at having sold his bed in the morning to get drunk on eau-de-vie.

In the north, in order to provide for needs that demand more perseverance, industry, and combining of ideas, people must have more coherence, regularity, logic, and reason in their minds. In the south, people are bound to have sudden enthusiasms, fits of anger, terrorizing panics, groundless hopes and fears.

These climatic influences are to be sought among peoples that are still savage, and that are situated either near the equator or near the polar circle. In temperate climates, and among peoples who are only a few degrees from each other, the climatic influences are less perceptible.

The legislator of a savage people must pay close attention to the climate, and rectify its effects by legislation—both with respect to subsistence and commodities, and with respect to mores. There is no climate, says Mr. Hume, in which the legislator is unable to establish mores that are strong, pure, sublime, weak, or barbarous.7 In our long-since civilized countries, the legislator, without overlooking climate, will pay more attention to prejudices, opinions, and established mores. Depending upon whether these mores, opinions, and prejudices correspond to or are contrary to his designs, he must combat them or reinforce them by his laws. Among European peoples, the causes of prejudices, customs, mores, and their opposites must be sought not only in the governments under which they live, but also in the diversity of governments under which they have lived, each of which has left its trace. Among us, one finds vestiges of the ancient Celts; one finds customs that come down to us from the Romans; others have been brought to us by the Germans, the English, the Arabs, &c.]

For men to feel as little as possible that they have lost the two advantages of the state of nature, equality and independence, the legislator in all climates, circumstances, and governments must propose to change private and property interests to community interests. Legislation is more or less perfect, according to what extent it leads to this goal; and the more it has succeeded, the more real is the possibility of general security and welfare. Edition: current; Page: [312] In a nation where community interests prevail, the order of the prince or the magistrate does not seem like an order of the Country, for each man has already become, as Metastasio8 says, compagno delle legge e non seguace, “the friend and not the slave of the laws.” Love of Country is the only object of passion that unites competitors or antagonists; it smothers dissension; each citizen sees in another citizen only a useful member of the state; everyone proceeds together contentedly toward the public good; love of Country gives the most noble kind of courage: the sacrifice of oneself to what is loved. Love of Country enlarges one’s outlook because it directs our attention to a thousand objects that interest other people as well: it raises the soul above petty interests; it purifies by making certain things obtained through injustice less necessary for our existence; it provides the enthusiasm of virtue. A state animated with this spirit does not threaten its neighbors with invasion, and they have nothing to fear from them. We have just seen that a state cannot expand without losing its freedom, and as it extends its frontiers, it must yield greater power to a smaller number of men, or to a single man, until it has become a great empire with the laws, glory, and welfare of the people bound to disappear in the rule of despotism. A state in which the love of Country reigns supreme fears this misfortune as the worst of all, remains at peace, and allows others to do so. Look at the Swiss, this country of good citizens, respected by all of Europe, surrounded by more powerful nations: they owe their tranquility to the esteem and confidence of their neighbors, who are acquainted with their love of peace, freedom, and Country. If a nation in which community interests prevail does not regret having submitted its will to the general will [see Natural Right], if it does not feel the weight of the law, it feels even less the burden of taxation; they pay little, they pay with joy. These happy people multiply, and the excess population becomes a new cause of security and welfare.

[In legislation, everything is linked; everything depends on everything else; the effects of a good law extend over a thousand things extraneous to that law. One good procures another; the effect reacts upon the cause; the general order maintains all parts; each part exerts influence on the other Edition: current; Page: [313] and on the general order. The spirit of community, spread throughout the whole, links and vitalizes the whole.

In democracies, the citizens are more free and equal because of the constitutive law than in other governments. In democracies, where the state is truly the possession of each individual because of the role the people play in affairs, the weakness of the Country increases patriotism, men in communal danger become necessary to each other, and the virtue of each draws profit and strength from the virtue of all. In democracies, I say, less art and less care are therefore necessary than in states where the power and administration are in the hands of a small number or of one alone.

When the spirit of community is not the necessary effect of the constitutive laws, it must be the effect of the forms, of some laws, and of the administration. Look at the seed within us of passions that pit us against our fellows—now as rivals, now as enemies. Look at the seed within us of passions that unite us to society. It is up to the legislator to repress the former and stimulate the latter. In stimulating these social passions, he will dispose the citizens to the spirit of community.

By means of laws that require the citizens to render each other mutual services, he can inculcate a habit of humanity in them; by means of laws, he can make of that virtue one of the mainsprings of his government. I am speaking of the possible, and I call it possible, because it has been real in the other hemisphere. The laws of Peru aimed to unite the citizens by chains of humanity. While laws in other systems of legislation prohibited men from harming each other, in Peru they constantly ordained that men do good to each other. In establishing the community of goods (as much as is possible outside the state of nature), these laws weakened the spirit of property, source of all vice. In Peru, the holidays and the first days of spring were days where people cultivated the state fields, the old man’s or the orphan’s field. Every citizen worked for the mass of citizens; he deposited the fruit of his labor in the state warehouses, and received the fruit of others’ labor in return. That people had as enemies only men capable of evil. They attacked neighboring peoples in order to eliminate their barbarous customs. The Incas wanted to attract all nations to their amiable mores. Even in combating the cannibals, they avoided destroying them; they seemed to seek less the submission than the welfare of the vanquished.

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The legislator can establish a relationship of benevolence between himself and his people, and between his people and himself, thereby extending the spirit of community. The people love a prince who is concerned with their welfare. The prince loves men who entrust their fate with him; he loves the witnesses of his virtues, the organs of his glory. Benevolence turns the state into a family that obeys paternal authority. What might a prince like Henry IV have done without the superstition that brutalized his age and made his people ferocious! In all times and in all monarchies, skillful princes have made use of benevolence as a resource. The greatest praise one can bestow upon a king is the one that a Danish historian bestowed upon Canute the Good: “he lived with his people like a father with his children.”9 Friendship, beneficence, generosity, and gratitude will inevitably be common virtues in a government where benevolence is one of the mainsprings. Those virtues formed Chinese morals until the reign of Chi-T-Sou.10 When the emperors of that empire—too vast for an ordered monarchy—began to make themselves feared, when they made their authority depend less on the love of the people than on their Tartar soldiers, Chinese morals stopped being pure, but they remained mild.

One can imagine what energy, what activity, what enthusiasm, what courage this spirit of benevolence might spread among the people, and how it interests the whole nation in the community. I am glad to say that in France, we have more than once seen examples of this. Benevolence is the sole remedy for the abuses that are inevitable in those governments whose constitutions leave the least liberty to their citizens and the least equality among them. The constitutive and civil laws will inspire less the benevolence than the conduct of the legislator, and the forms by which his will is announced and executed.

The legislator will excite the sentiment of honor—that is, the desire for the esteem of self and others, the desire to be honored, to have honors. This is a necessary force in all governments. But the legislator will take care that this sentiment be joined to the spirit of community, as in Sparta and Edition: current; Page: [315] Rome, and that the citizen, attached to his own honor and his own glory, be if possible even more attached to the honor and glory of his Country. In Rome, there was a temple of honor, but one couldn’t enter except by passing through the temple of virtue.11 Independent of love of Country, the feeling of honor can make the citizens capable of grand efforts for her.12 But it does not join them together; on the contrary, it multiplies for them the objects of jealousy. The interest of the state is sometimes sacrificed to the honor of a single citizen, and honor leads all of them to distinguish themselves from each other more than to cooperate under the yoke of their duties in upholding the laws and in the general good.]

Should the legislator make the practice of religion one of the mainsprings in the machinery of government?

[If the religion is false, then as enlightenment spreads among men, it will make known this falsity, not to the bottom class of the people but to the first orders of citizens—that is, to the men who are destined to lead the rest and who owe them an example of patriotism and the virtues. If the religion had been the source of their virtues, then once disabused of that religion, one would see them change their morals. They would lose a bridle and a motive, and would be disillusioned.]

If the religion is the true one, then new dogmas and new opinions can be involved in political questions; and this new way of thinking can be opposed to the government. Now, if the people are accustomed to obeying by the force of religion more than by that of laws, they will follow the stream of its opinions, and they will overthrow the constitution of the state, or will no longer follow its impulses. [What ravages the Anabaptists caused in Westphalia! The Abyssinian fast weakened them to the point of rendering them incapable of sustaining the travails of war.13 Wasn’t it the Puritans who led the hapless Charles I to the scaffold?14 The Jews didn’t dare engage in combat on the Sabbath day.]

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If the legislator makes religion one of the mainsprings of the state, it necessarily gives too much influence to priests, who will soon acquire political ambition. In countries where the legislator has, so to speak, amalgamated religion with the government, we have seen priests who, after they have become important, favor despotism to increase their own authority; and this authority, once established, threatens despotism and contests its power to tyrannize the people.

Finally religion would be a mainspring whose widespread consequences could never be entirely foreseen nor controlled by the legislator. This is a sufficient reason for him to make the principal laws (either constitutive or civil) and their execution independent of religious worship and dogmas; but he must respect and love religion and make it loved and respected.

The legislator must never forget the disposition of human nature for superstition. He can assume that it will exist at all times and among all peoples: it will always be blended even with the true religion. Knowledge and the progress of reason are the best remedies against this sickness of our species, but up to a certain point it is incurable and thereby deserves much indulgence.

[The conduct of the Chinese in this regard seems to me excellent. Philosophers are ministers of the prince, and the provinces are covered with pagodas and gods. Severity is never used toward those who worship the gods. But when a god has not answered the prayers of the people and they have become discontented to the point of allowing themselves some doubt about his divinity, the mandarins seize this moment to abolish one superstition; they smash the god and overturn the temple.]

The education of children will be for the legislator an effective means of attaching the people to the Country, of inspiring them with community spirit, humanity, benevolence, public virtues, private virtues, love of honesty, passions useful to the state, and finally of giving them and of conserving for them the kind of character, of genius that is suitable to the nation. Whenever the legislator was careful in encouraging the proper education for inspiring in his people the character they should have, this character had great force and endured for a long time. [In the space of 500 years, virtually no change was made in the astonishing mores of Lacedemon. Among the ancient Persians, education made them love the monarchy and their laws. It is especially to education that the Chinese owe the immutability of their Edition: current; Page: [317] mores. For a long time, the Romans taught their children only agriculture, the military art, and the laws of their country; they inspired in them only a love of frugality, glory, and Country; they gave their children only their knowledge and their passions. In any Country, there are different orders, different classes. There is virtue and knowledge that should be common to all orders and classes; there is virtue and knowledge that is more suitable to certain professions. And the legislator must ensure that these important details are looked after. It is especially princes and the men destined to hold our fate in the balance that must be educated in governing a nation in the manner that she wants to be and ought to be. In Sweden, the king is not in charge of his son’s education. It was not long ago that at the assembly of the estates of that realm, a senator said to the governor of the heir to the throne: “Take the prince to the shacks of the industrious poor. Make him see the wretches up close, and teach him that it is not to serve the whims of a dozen sovereigns that the peoples of Europe have come into being.”

[When forms, education, constitutive and civil laws have all contributed to assuring the defense and survival of the state, the tranquility of the citizens and their mores; when the people are attached to Country and have taken on the sort of character that is most appropriate to the government under which they are to live, a manner of thinking is established that comes to be perpetuated in the nation. Everything associated with the constitution and with the mores seems sacred. The spirit of the people does not allow itself to examine the utility of a law or custom. People don’t discuss the relative necessity of duties; they know only how to respect and follow them. And if they do argue about their boundaries, it is less to restrict these boundaries than to extend them. That is when citizens have principles that are rules for their conduct, and the legislator adds the authority of opinion to the authority given him by the laws. This authority of opinion enters into all governments, and reinforces them.15 It is because of opinion that virtually everywhere, the majority—poorly governed—do not murmur about obeying the minority. The real forces are with the subjects, but opinion constitutes the force of the masters; this is true even down to despotic Edition: current; Page: [318] states. If the emperors of Rome and the sultans of the Turks have reigned by fear over the great majority of their subjects, then to make themselves feared, they also had praetorians and janissaries whom they ruled by opinion.16 Sometimes this opinion is merely a widespread idea that the ruling family has a real right to the throne; sometimes, it is connected to religion, sometimes to the idea people have adopted concerning the scale of the oppressive power; the only truly solid opinion is the one founded on the welfare and approbation of the citizens.

The power of opinion also increases through habit, if it is not weakened by unforeseen shocks, sudden revolutions, and great blunders.

Through administration, the legislator preserves the power, welfare, and genius of his people. Without a good administration, the best laws save neither states from decadence nor peoples from corruption.

Since the laws must deprive the citizens of the least liberty possible and leave as much equality as possible among them, then in governments where men are the least free and the least equal, it is by administration that the legislator must make them forget what they have lost of the two great advantages of the state of nature. He must constantly consult the desires of the nation. He must expose the details of administration to the eyes of the public. He must account to them for his favors. He must even enlist the people to take an interest in the government, to discuss it, to follow its operations; this is a means of making them attached to Country. “The legislator,” says a king who writes, lives, and reigns as a philosopher, “must persuade the people that the law alone can do everything, and that fantasy can do nothing.”

The legislator will dispose his people to humanity by the goodness and consideration with which he treats every manner of man—whether citizen or stranger: by encouraging inventions and men useful to the human race; by the pity he will evince toward the poor; by his attentiveness about avoiding war and superfluous expenses; finally, by the esteem he will himself accord to men known by their goodness.

The same conduct that contributes to spreading the sentiment of humanity among his people stimulates within himself that sentiment of Edition: current; Page: [319] benevolence that is the bond between him and his people. Sometimes he will stimulate this sentiment by dazzling sacrifices of his personal interest to his nation’s interest—by preferring in his favors, for example, the man useful to Country over the man useful only to himself. A king of China, not finding his son to be worthy of succeeding him, had his scepter passed on to his minister, and said: “I would rather my son do poorly and my people do well than my son do well and my people do poorly.” In China, the kings’ edicts are exhortations by a father to his children. The edicts have to instruct and exhort as much as they command. This was the practice of our kings in the past, and they have lost something by neglecting it. The legislator can’t give all the orders of the state too many proofs of his benevolence. A king of Persia admitted the plowmen to his table, and said to them, “I am one among you. You need me, and I need you; let us live as brothers.”

By distributing honors justly and fittingly, the legislator will animate the sentiment of honor and will steer it toward the good of the state. When honors are a reward for virtue, honor will bring virtuous actions.17

The legislator holds in his hands two reins with which he can guide the passions at will—I mean punishments and rewards. Punishments should only be imposed by the tribunals in the name of the law. But the legislator should reserve to himself the power to freely distribute a portion of the rewards.

In a country where the constitution of the state gives the citizens an interest in the government and where education and administration have engraved in men honor and patriotic principles and sentiments, it suffices to impose the lightest punishments on the guilty. It is enough that these punishments indicate that the punished citizen has committed an offence; the looks of his fellow citizens add to his chastisement. The legislator is in charge of attaching the gravest punishments to the most dangerous vices for his nation. He could make people regard real advantages as punishments, if it were useful that the nation’s desires not be inclined in that direction. He could even make men regard as real punishments what in other Edition: current; Page: [320] countries might serve as rewards. In Sparta, after certain offenses, a citizen was no longer allowed to lend out his wife. Among the Peruvians, the citizen prohibited from working in the public field would have been a very unhappy man. Under these sublime bodies of laws, a man saw himself as punished when he was brought back to his personal interest and the spirit of property. Nations are degraded when torture or the privation of possessions become ordinary forms of correction; it is proof that the legislator is obliged to punish what the nation would no longer punish. In republics, the law should be mild, because one is never exempt from it. In monarchies, it should be more severe, because the legislator must make his clemency loved by pardoning in spite of the law. Nonetheless, among the Persians before Cyrus, the laws were quite mild.18 They condemned to death or infamy only the citizens who had done more evil than good.

In countries where punishments can be light, modest rewards for virtue are sufficient. Virtue is pretty weak and pretty rare if one has to pay for it. Rewards can serve to change the spirit of property into a spirit of community: (1) when they are granted upon proof of this latter sort of spirit; (2) by accustoming citizens to regard as rewards the new occasions given them to sacrifice personal interest to the interest of all.

The legislator can set a boundless price on his benevolence by bestowing it only upon men who have served the state well.

If ranks, preeminences, and honors are always a prize for service, and if they impose the duty of rendering new services in turn, they will not excite the envy of the multitude, who will not feel the humiliation of ranks. The legislator will give them other consolations for that inequality of wealth which is an inevitable effect of large states. It must be that one can only achieve extreme opulence by an industry that enriches the state, never at the expense of the people. It must be that the burdens of society are made to fall on the rich men who enjoy the advantages of society. The taxes in the hands of a legislator who administers well are a means of abolishing certain abuses, or a pernicious form of industry, or vice. They can be a means of encouraging the most useful type of industry, of exciting certain talents and certain virtues.

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The legislator will not regard courtly ritual19 and ceremonies as indifferent matters; he must strike the eyesight, the sense that acts most on the imagination. The ceremonies should awaken in the people a feeling for the power of the legislator, but they should also be linked to the idea of virtue. They should call up the recollection of noble deeds, the memory of magistrates, illustrious warriors, good citizens. Most of the ceremonies and courtly rituals of our moderate governments of Europe would be fitting only for the despots of Asia. And many are ridiculous, because they no longer have the relationship with mores and customs that they had at the time of their institution. They used to be respectable; now they make us laugh.

[The legislator will not neglect manners.20 When manners are no longer the expression of morals, they are at least their bridle; they force men to seem to be what they ought to be. And if they only imperfectly replace morals, they nonetheless often have the same effects. It is from the place of the legislator’s residence, by his examples and by the example of respected men that manners spread throughout the people.

Public games, spectacles, and assemblies will be one of the means the legislator uses to join the citizens together. The Swiss brotherhoods,21 the English coteries,22 our spectacles, our holidays and festivals all spread the spirit of society, which contributes to the spirit of patriotism. These assemblies, moreover, accustom men to appreciate the value of the attention and judgment of the multitude; they enhance the love of glory and the fear of shame. Only timid vice or failed pretentiousness severs itself from these assemblies. And in any case, even if they had no other use than to multiply our desires, they would still merit the attention of the legislator.

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In reminding himself of the purposes and principles of all legislation, he must, in proportion to what men have lost of their liberty and their equality, compensate them by a tranquil enjoyment of their possessions and a protection against authority that will prevent them from desiring a less absolute government, where the advantage of more liberty is almost always disturbed by the anxiety of losing it.]

If the legislator neither respects nor consults the general will; if he makes his power felt more than that of the law; if he treats men with arrogance, talent with indifference, poverty with harshness; if he sacrifices his subjects to his family, the finances to his fantasies, peace to his glory; if his favor is granted to the man who knows how to please more than to the man who can serve; if honor, if position are obtained by intrigue; if taxes increase, then the community spirit disappears; impatience overcomes the citizen of a republic; languor grips the citizen of the monarchy; he looks for the state and sees nothing else but the prey of a master; work slows down; the prudent man remains idle; the virtuous man is merely a fool; the veil of public opinion falls; national principles seem to be nothing more than prejudices, and they are in fact only that; people are drawn closer to the law of nature because legislation violates their rights; morals no longer exist; the nation loses its character; the legislator is astonished at the total lack of public assistance, and he increases the rewards for services rendered; but those individuals who flattered virtue have lost their value, which was maintained only by public opinion; in place of the noble passions that previously motivated the people, the legislator tries to substitute greed and fear, and he further increases the vice and degradation of the nation. If in his perversity he retains those phrases, those expressions of benevolence used by his predecessors to announce their good will, if he retains the language of a father with the conduct of a despot, he plays the role of a charlatan who is at first scorned and soon imitated; he introduces treachery and duplicity into the nation, and, as Guarini23 says, viso di carità, mente d’invidia.24

[Sometimes the legislator sees the constitution of the state dissolve, and the genius of the people expire, because the body of laws had only one Edition: current; Page: [323] object, and as this object changes, first the mores and soon the laws could not remain the same.

Lacedemon was founded to preserve liberty in the middle of a host of petty states that were weaker than herself, because they did not have her mores. But she lacked the power to grow without destroying herself. The object of legislation in China was the tranquility of the citizens through the exercise of mild virtues. That great empire would not have been the prey of hordes of Tartars if the legislators there had inspired and maintained the strong virtues, and if as much thought had been given to elevating the soul as to directing it. Too much of the object of legislation in Rome was aggrandizement. Peace for the Romans was a state of turmoil, factions, and anarchy; they devoured each other when they no longer had the world to subdue. Too much of the object of legislation in Venice is to hold the people in slavery. They are either softened up or degraded, and the vaunted wisdom of that government is merely the art of surviving without power and without virtues.

Often a limited legislator unties the springs of the government and disrupts its principles, because he does not sufficiently see their unity, and because he gives all his attention to the part that he sees alone or that is closest to his private taste, his character.

One conqueror, greedy for conquests, will neglect jurisprudence, commerce, the arts. Another stimulates the nation to commerce and neglects war. A third does too much to promote the arts of luxury, while the useful arts are depreciated. And so on for the rest. There is no nation—at least no great nation—that cannot be, under a good government, simultaneously warlike and commercial, learned, and polite.

I am going to terminate this article, already too long, with some reflections on the present state of Europe.

The system of equilibrium, which out of a multitude of states forms but a single body, influences the decision making of all legislators. Constitutive laws, civil laws, and administration are more closely linked today with the law of nations, and indeed are more dependent on it than they were in the past. Nothing happens any more in one state that doesn’t interest all others, and the legislator of one powerful state influences the destiny of all Europe.

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Out of this new situation for men, there arise many consequences.

For example, there can be small monarchies and large republics. In the former, the government will be maintained by associations, alliances, and by the general system. The petty princes of Germany and Italy are monarchs, and if their people got tired of their government, they would be repressed by the sovereigns of the large states. The dissensions and parties inseparable from large republics would not nowadays be able to weaken them to the point of exposing them to invasion. No one profited from the civil wars of Switzerland and Poland.25 Many powers will always league together against the one that wants to aggrandize itself. If Spain were a republic, and were threatened by France, she would be defended by England, Holland, &c.

Today in Europe there is a moral impossibility to effect conquests.26 The result of this impossibility for the people has until now been, perhaps, more disadvantageous than advantageous. Some legislators have neglected the part of the administration that gives strength to states, and we’ve seen great kingdoms under clear skies languish without wealth and without power.

Other legislators have regarded conquests as merely difficult but not impossible, and their ambition has been busy multiplying the means of conquering. Some of these have given their states a purely military form, and leave their subjects hardly any job to do but that of soldier; others maintain mercenary armies even in peace, which ruins the state finances and promotes despotism. Magistrates and some lictors would make men obey the law, but immense armies are needed to make men serve a master. That’s the main object of most of our legislators, and to fulfill it they find themselves obliged to employ the sorry expedients of debt and taxes.]

Some legislators have profited by the enlightenment that has rapidly spread for fifty years from one end of Europe to the other and illuminated the details of administration, the means of encouraging population, Edition: current; Page: [325] stimulating industry, conserving the advantages of the present state of affairs, and procuring new ones. We can believe that the lights of reason and knowledge preserved by the printing press cannot be extinguished and can increase even more. If some despot wanted to plunge his nation into darkness again, some free nations will exist to restore the light for them.

During enlightened centuries it is impossible to base legislation on false beliefs or personal folly; even charlatanism and the bad faith of ministers are immediately perceived and only arouse the indignation of the people. It is equally difficult to spread destructive fanaticism, like the kind cultivated by the disciples of Odin27 and Mohammed: you cannot make any modern nation of Europe accept prejudices that are contrary to the rights of men and the laws of nature.

All nations today have rather just ideas of their neighbors, and consequently they have less blind enthusiasm for their Country than in the Dark Ages; there is hardly any enthusiasm when there is a great deal of enlightenment; this type of patriotic zeal represents the impulses of a passionate rather than an educated soul. When people compare all the nations in regard to their laws, morals, and men of talent, they will find so few reasons to prefer one to the other that if they conserve for their Country that love which is the fruit of personal interest, they will at least no longer have that blind enthusiasm which is the fruit of exclusive esteem.

In our day and age you could not inspire by the tactics of supposition, imputation, and political artifice national hatreds as intense as those leaders previously inspired. Libel directed against us by our neighbors has hardly any effect except on the weak and vile part of the inhabitants of a capital, which includes the worst of the rabble as well as the best of the people.

Religion, which has become more enlightened from day to day, teaches us that we must not hate those people who do not think like us; we know today how to distinguish the sublime spirit of religion from the suggestions of its ministers. We have seen in our time the Protestant powers at war with the Catholic powers, and not one of them has succeeded with their Edition: current; Page: [326] plan of inspiring the people with that brutal and ferocious zeal that people previously had against each other, even during the peace among nations of different forms of worship.

All men from all countries have become necessary for the exchange of the fruits of industry and the products of their earth; commerce is a new bond for men; it is in the interest of every nation that another nation conserves its wealth, industry, banks, luxury, and agriculture; the ruin of Leipzig, Lisbon, and Lima28 caused bankruptcy to spread throughout Europe and had an effect on the fortunes of millions of citizens.

Commerce, as enlightenment, diminishes the ferocious part of man, but just as enlightenment removes the enthusiasm of narrow esteem, commerce also removes perhaps the enthusiasm for virtue; it slowly extinguishes the spirit of disinterestedness, which is replaced with that of justice; it softens the customs and morals that are refined by enlightenment, but by directing men to what is useful more than to what is beautiful, to the prudent rather than to the grand, it diminishes perhaps the generosity, power, and greatness of morality.

Given the commercial outlook and the knowledge that men today have of the true interests of all nations, it follows that legislators must be less preoccupied with defense and conquest than they previously were; it follows that they must favor the cultivation of the land and the arts and encourage the consumption and the manufacture of their products; but they must take care at the same time that refined customs and morals do not lose their force and that the high regard of martial virtues are maintained.

For there will always be wars in Europe; we can rely here on the interests of ministers; but those wars that were fought because of a conflict between nations will be promoted in the future mainly by legislators.

[What is also bound to set Europe ablaze is the differences between governments. This splendid part of the world is divided into republics and monarchies. The spirit of the latter is active, and although it may not be in their interest to expand, they may initiate conquests at times when they are governed by men who are not guided by their nation’s interest. The Edition: current; Page: [327] spirit of republics is pacific, but the love of liberty—or a superstitious fear of losing it—will often induce republican states to wage war in order to humble or repress monarchical states. This arrangement of Europe will sustain an emulation of the strong and warlike virtues, for the diversity of sentiments and mores that are born from different governments will counter the progress of that flabbiness, that excessive mildness in mores that is the effect of commerce, luxury, and protracted peace.]

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Legislation (Législation)*

This short entry is typical of Diderot’s practice of raising large questions in few words.

Legislation (Grammar and Politics), the art of giving laws to peoples. The best legislation is that which is the simplest and most consistent with nature. It is not a matter of opposing men’s passions, but, on the contrary, of encouraging them by applying them to the private and public interest. By this means, the number of crimes and criminals will be diminished, and the laws will be reduced to a very small number. See the articles Legislator and Laws.

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Natural Liberty (Liberté Naturelle)*

This article and Civil Liberty are unsigned and anonymous, though note that the third in what forms a sort of sequence, Political Liberty, is signed by Jaucourt. Liberté Naturelle appears before Liberté Civile in the Encyclopédie.

Natural Liberty (Natural right), right that nature gives all men to dispose of their persons and their property in the manner they judge most conducive to their happiness, under the restriction that they do it within the terms of natural law and that they not abuse it to the detriment of other men. The laws of nature are therefore the rule and measure of this liberty, for although men in the primitive state of nature are in a state of independence toward each other, they are all dependent upon the laws of nature, by which they ought to direct their actions.

The first state that man acquires by nature and that is considered the most precious of all the goods he might possess is the state of liberty. He cannot exchange himself with another, or sell himself, or ruin himself. For all men are naturally born free—that is, they are not subject to the power of a master, and no one has a right of property over them.

By virtue of this state, all men hold from nature itself the power to do what they will and to dispose as they wish of their actions and their property, provided they not act against the laws of the government to which they are subject.

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Among the Romans, a man lost his natural liberty when he was taken by the enemy in an open war or when, to punish him for some crime, he was reduced to the condition of a slave. But the Christians have abolished servitude in peace and war, to the point where prisoners taken in the war on the infidels are considered free men, so that whoever kills one of these prisoners would be regarded and punished as a murderer.

Moreover, all Christian powers have judged that a servitude that gives the master a right of life and death over his slaves is incompatible with the perfection to which the Christian religion summons men. But how is it that the Christian powers have not judged that this same religion, independent of natural law, cries out against the enslavement of the Negroes? it’s because they need them for their colonies, their plantations, and their mines. Auri sacra fames!1

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Civil Liberty (Liberté Civile)*

This article and Natural Liberty are unsigned and anonymous, though note that the third in what forms a sort of sequence, Political Liberty, is signed by Jaucourt.

Civil Liberty (Law of nations). This is the natural liberty, stripped of that part constituting the independence of individuals and communal goods, to live under the laws that procure them security and property. This civil liberty consists at the same time in not being able to be forced to do a thing that the law does not decree, and one is in this state only because one is governed by civil laws. Thus, the better these laws are, the more auspicious is this liberty.

No word, as M. de Montesquieu says, has struck minds in so many ways as has liberty.1 Some have taken it for the ease of removing the person to whom they had given tyrannical power; some, for the faculty of electing the person whom they were to obey. Others have taken this word for the right to be armed and to be able to use violence; still others, for the privilege of being governed only by a man of their own nation, or by their own laws. Many have attached this name to one form of government and excluded the others. Those who had tasted republican government put it in that government, whereas those who had enjoyed monarchical government placed it in monarchy. In short, each person has given the name of liberty to Edition: current; Page: [332] the government that was consistent with his customs or his inclinations. But liberty is the right to do everything the laws permit, and if one citizen could do what these laws forbid, he would no longer have liberty because the others would also have this same power. It is true that this liberty is found only in moderate governments—that is, in governments whose constitution is such that no one is constrained to do the things the law does not oblige him to do, or kept from doing the things the law permits him to do.

Civil liberty is thus founded on the best possible laws. And in a state that had its fair share of them, the man who had been brought to trial under the law, and who was going to be hung the next day, would be freer than a Turkish pasha.2 Consequently, there is no liberty in states in which the legislative and executive powers are in the same hands. A fortiori, there is no more liberty in those states in which the power of judging is joined to the legislative and executive.3

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Political Liberty (Liberté Politique)*

Political Liberty (Political right). The political liberty of a state is formed by the fundamental laws that establish the distribution between the legislative power, the executive power over things depending on the law of nations, and the executive power over things depending on the civil law, so that these three powers are bound together.1

The political liberty of a citizen is that tranquility of mind that comes from the opinion each person has of his security, and in order for him to have this security, the government must be such that one citizen cannot fear another citizen. Good civil and political laws2 assure this liberty;3 it also triumphs when the criminal laws derive every punishment from the particular nature of the crime.4

There is one nation in the world whose constitution has political liberty as its direct purpose.5 If the principles on which it bases this constitution are solid, its advantages must be recognized. It is on this subject that I remember hearing a fine English talent say that Corneille has better depicted the lofty sentiments that political liberty inspires than any of their poets, in this speech that Viriatus made to Sertorius:

  • Set free the Tagus, and forget the Tiber.
  • Freedom is naught when all the world is free.
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  • ’Tis sweet to show one’s freedom to the eyes
  • Of those enslaved along the Rhone or captive
  • In Rome, and see envied by humbled peoples
  • That deep respect which is the valiant’s portion.
  • Sertorius, act. IV, sc. vi.6

I do not claim to determine whether the English presently enjoy the prerogative I am discussing; it is enough for me to say with M. de Montesquieu that it is established by their laws, and that after all, this extreme political liberty should not mortify those who have only a moderate one, because the excess even of reason is not always desirable, and men in general almost always accommodate themselves better to middle ways than to extremes.7 (D.J.)

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Liberty; Inscription, Medals (Liberté)*

Liberty (Inscription, Medals). On medals, Liberty holds in its right hand a bonnet, which is its symbol. Everyone knows that this was given to those who were enfranchised. Appian1 recounts that after the assassination of Caesar, one of the murderers carried around the city a bonnet at the end of a pike, as a sign of liberty. On Mount Aventine, there was a famous temple dedicated to Liberty, with a square in front, around which ranged a portico that people called the atrium libertatis. Under this portico was the celebrated library of Asinius Pollio, who rebuilt that edifice.2

Under Tiberius, a statue to Liberty was built in the public square, once the death of Sejanus was known.3 Josephus reports that after the massacre of Caius, Cassius Chaerea came to ask the consuls for the password, which had not been seen within anyone’s memory, and that the word they gave him was liberty.4

Caius having died, a monument to Liberty was built under Claudius’s reign. But Nero plunged the empire into a cruel servitude. His death again spread a general joy. All the people of Rome and the provinces took the bonnet of liberty; it was a universal triumph. People rushed to represent Edition: current; Page: [336] the image of Liberty everywhere on statues and coins, thinking it was being reborn.

One particular inscription tells us of a new statue of Liberty built under Galba.

Here it is, as it is read in Rome on the marble base that supported that statue:

Imaginum domus Aug. cultoribus signum Libertatis restitutae, Ser. Galbae imperatoris Aug. curatores anni secundi, C. Turranius Polubius, L. Calpurnius Zena, C. Murdius Lalus, C. Turranius Florus, C. Murdius Demosthenes.5

On the left side of the base is written:

Dedic. id. Octob. C. Bellico Natale Cos. P. Cornelio Scipione Asiatico.6

These two consuls were substituted in the year 68 of Jesus Christ.

This statue, or something similar, was the model for so many coins struck during the time of the same emperor, coins that bore on the reverse side, libertas August. libertas restituta, libertas publica.7 In imitation of the capital, the provinces erected similar statues. In the cabinet of the king of France, there is a Greek medallion of Galba, with the figure of Liberty and the word Eleuteria.8 (D.J.)

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Liberty; Mythology, Iconology (Liberté)*

Liberty (Mythology, Iconology), goddess of the Greeks and Romans. The Greeks invoked her under the name of Eleutheria, and sometimes they said Theoi Eleuteroi, gods of liberty. The Romans, who called her Libertas, held this divinity in singular veneration, built her numerous temples and altars, and erected a goodly number of statues to her. On Mount Aventine, Tiberius Gracchus dedicated a magnificent temple to her, supported by bronze columns and decorated with sumptuous statues. In front of it was a courtyard called the atrium Libertatis.1

After Julius Caesar subjected the Romans to his dominion, they raised a new temple in honor of that goddess, as if their liberty had been restored by the one who had sapped its foundations. But on a medallion of Brutus, one sees Liberty in the shape of a woman, holding with one hand the hat, symbol of liberty, and in the other hand two daggers with the inscription, idibus Martiis, “on the ides of March.”

The goddess was even represented by a woman dressed in white, holding the bonnet in her right hand, and a javelin or rod in her left, like the one the masters used to strike their slaves when they enfranchised them. Sometimes, there is a chariot next to her.

On other medallions, she is accompanied by two women, named Adioné and Abéodoné, regarded as her followers because liberty includes the power of going and coming where one wants.2

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Some Italian cities—such as Bologna, Genoa, Florence—used to have on their flags and their coats of arms the word liberty, and they were right. But this fine motto no longer suits them today; it belongs to London to make a trophy of it. (D.J.)

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Law (Loi)*

French dictionaries have generally distinguished between loi, any command or rule that has the force of established authority behind it, and droit, a normative term meaning “right” or “correct” or “just” which comes to be used as “law” by extension. By adopting Montesquieu’s definition of loi at the outset of this article, Jaucourt gives a specific inflection to the discussion. See the translators’ note, above, for loi and droit.

Law (Natural, moral, divine, and human law). Law in general is human reason insofar as it governs all the earth’s peoples, and the political and civil laws of each nation are bound to be only the particular cases to which this human reason is applied.1

Law may be defined as a rule prescribed by the sovereign to his subjects, either to impose upon them the obligation to do or not do certain things under the threat of some punishment, or to allow them the liberty to act or not act in other things as they find appropriate, and to assure them the full enjoyment of their right in this regard.

Men, says M. de Montesquieu, are governed by various sorts of laws.2 They are governed by natural law; by divine law, which is that of religion; by ecclesiastical law (otherwise called canonical), which is that of the administration of religion; by the law of nations, which can be considered as the civil law of the world in the sense that each people is a citizen of it; by Edition: current; Page: [340] the general political law, whose object is human wisdom, and which has founded all societies; by the particular political law, which concerns each society; by the law of conquest founded on the fact that one people was willing or able or under some necessity to do violence to another; by the civil law of each society, which allows one citizen to defend his goods and his life against every other citizen; finally, by domestic law, which comes from the fact that a society is divided into various families needing private government. Thus, there are different orders of laws, and the sublimity of human reason consists in knowing well which of these orders is most suitable to the things that need to be decreed, and in not bringing confusion into the principles that ought to govern men.

A host of reflections arise on this subject. Let us articulate some of them from the profound writings of those fine talents who have enlightened the world with their works on this important matter.

The binding force that the inferior laws have flows from that of the superior laws. Thus, nothing can be prescribed within families that is contrary to the laws of the state of which they are a part. In each civil state, nothing can be ordained that is contrary to the laws that bind all peoples, such as those that prescribe not to take the property of another, to redress the damage one has done, to keep one’s word, &c., and these laws common to all nations must include nothing that is contrary to the supreme dominion of God over his creatures. Thus, once there are things in the inferior laws that are contrary to the superior laws, they no longer have the force of laws.

A more extensive code of laws is necessary for a people dedicated to commerce than for a people satisfied to cultivate their lands.3 The latter people needs a greater one than a people who live by their flocks. These last need a greater one than a people who live by hunting. Thus, the laws should be closely related to the way in which the various peoples procure their subsistence.

In despotic governments, the despot is the prince, the state, and the laws.4 In monarchical governments there is one law. Where it is precise, the judge follows it; where it is not, he seeks its spirit. In republican governments, Edition: current; Page: [341] it is in the nature of the constitution for judges to follow the letter of the law. There is no citizen against whom one can interpret a law when it is a question of his property, his honor, or his life. In England the jury decides on the fact; the judge pronounces the punishment imposed by law: he needs only his eyes for that.

Those who have in their hands the laws to govern peoples must always allow themselves to be governed by the laws. It is the law and not man that must rule. The law, says Plutarch, is the queen of all mortals and immortals.5 The edict of 1499 alone, issued by Louis XII, makes his memory dear to all who dispense justice in this kingdom, and to all who love justice. By that memorable edict, he decrees “that the law always be followed, despite the orders contrary to the law that importunity might wrest from the monarch.”6

The motive and effect of the laws must be the prosperity of the citizens. This prosperity arises from the integrity of mores, the maintenance of the police, the uniform distribution of justice, the strength and opulence of the state; the laws are the sinews of good administration. When someone asked King Anaxidamus of Lacedemon who had the authority in Sparta, he answered it was the laws. He could have added: along with the mores that they influence, and from which they derive their force.7 In fact, the laws and mores of the Spartans, intimately united in the hearts of the citizens, formed so to speak but a single body. But let us not expect to see Sparta reborn in the midst of commerce and the love of profit.

“The great difference Lycurgus introduced between Lacedemon and other cities,” says Xenophon, “consists in the fact that he has above all made the citizens obey the laws. They run when the magistrate calls them, whereas in Athens, a rich man would despair if it were thought he depended on the magistrate.”8

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There’s more: the first function of the Lacedemonian ephors upon taking office was a public proclamation by which they enjoined the citizens not to observe the laws but to love them, so that observing them would not be hard.

Nothing should be dearer to men than laws designed to make them good, wise, and happy. The laws will be precious to the people to the extent that the people regard them as a rampart against despotism, and as the safeguard of a just liberty.

Amongst the laws, there are excellent ones, deficient ones, and useless ones. Every good law should be just, easy to execute, and particularly appropriate to the government and the people who receive it.

Any equivocal law is unjust, because it strikes without warning. Any law that is not clear, plain, and precise is deficient.

The laws should begin directly with the jussive terms.9 The preambles that are usually placed there are invariably superfluous, even though they were invented for the justification of the legislator and for the satisfaction of the people. If the law is bad, contrary to the public good, the legislator should certainly refrain from issuing it; if it is necessary, essential, indispensable, he has no need to justify it.

The laws should change, but their style should always be the same—that is, simple, precise, always conveying the antiquity of their origins, like a sacred and unalterable text.

Let the laws always exude candor; made to prevent or punish men’s wickedness, they should have the greatest innocence.

Laws that offended the principles of nature, morality, or religion would inspire horror. In the proscription of the Prince of Orange by Philip II, the latter prince promises to whoever kills him, or to his heirs, twenty thousand gold crowns and noble status—this, on the king’s honor and as a servant of God. Nobility promised for such an action! Such an action decreed in one’s capacity as a servant of God! All this overthrows equally the ideas of honor, morality, and religion.10

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When one does go so far as to offer reasons for a law, this reason must be (1) worthy of it. A Roman law determines that a blind man cannot plead because he does not see the ornaments of the magistracy.11 It is pathetic to offer such a bad reason when so many good ones present themselves. (2) The alleged reason must be true. Charles IX was declared of age at the beginning of his 14th year because, said Chancellor de l’Hôpital, the laws regard the year as beginning when it concerns acquiring honors; but is the government of peoples only an honor? (3) In the laws, one must reason from reality to reality and not from reality to image or image to reality. The law of the Lombards, bk. II. tit. XXXVII, prohibits a woman who has taken a nun’s habit from marrying.12

“For,” says this law, “if a husband who has engaged a woman by a ring cannot marry another without committing a crime, then all the more so for the spouse of God or of the Blessed Virgin.”

Finally, once the condition of things has been fixed in a law, one must not add vague expressions to it. In a criminal ordinance of Louis XIV, after an enumeration of royal cases, there is added: “And those the royal judges have judged in all times.”13 This addition brings back the arbitrariness that had just been avoided.

The laws do not make the rule of justice.14 Rules are general, the laws are not; rules guide, laws command; the rule serves as a magnetic compass, the laws as a pair of geometer’s compasses.15

Following Solon’s example, one must impose on the people less the best laws in themselves than the best that the people can bear in their situation.16 Otherwise, it is better to let the disorders exist than to pretend to rectify Edition: current; Page: [344] them by laws that will not be observed. For this is to abase the laws without remedying the problem.

There is nothing so splendid as a state in which there are suitable laws and in which they are observed by reason and by passion, as was done in Rome during the earliest times of the republic. For then, all the strength a faction could have is joined to the wisdom of the government.17

It is true that the laws of Rome became powerless to preserve her, but it is a normal thing that good laws, which have made a small republic grow, become a burden to it when it is enlarged, because they were made only to effect its enlargement.

There is a considerable difference between laws that enable a people to make itself master of others, and those that maintain its power once it is acquired.18

Laws that cause what is indifferent to be regarded as necessary are not sensible. And they also have this disadvantage: they cause what is necessary to be considered indifferent.19 Thus, the laws should only pronounce on essential things.

If indifferent laws are not good, useless ones are even less so, because they weaken necessary laws. Those that can be eluded also weaken legislation. A law should have its effect, and departures from it for some private agreement must not be permitted.20

Many laws that seem the same are quite different.21 For example, Greek and Roman laws punished the receiver of stolen goods just as they did the robber; French law does likewise. The former were reasonable, the latter is not. Among the Greeks and Romans, the robber was condemned to a pecuniary punishment, so it was quite necessary to punish the receiver with the same punishment, for a man who contributes in any way whatsoever to damages should remedy them. But in France, since the punishment for robbery is capital, it has not been possible to punish the receiver like the Edition: current; Page: [345] robber without going to extremes. The one who receives stolen goods may in countless circumstances receive them innocently; the one who robs is always guilty. In truth, the receiver prevents conviction for a crime already committed, but the other commits the crime. All is passive in the one; there is action in the other. The robber must overcome more obstacles, and his soul must be hardened against the laws for a longer time.

Since the laws cannot foresee or trace out every case, it is up to reason to compare the omitted facts with the ones specified. When the law is found to be mute, the public good must decide. Custom can do nothing then, because there is a danger that it may be applied badly and that people will want to guide it instead of following it.

But bolstered by a chain and by a succession of examples, custom supplies the defect of the law, takes its place, has the same authority, and becomes a tacit or prescriptive law.

The cases that depart from the common law should be articulated by the law;22 this exception is a homage that confirms the law’s authority. But nothing taints it like the arbitrary and indeterminate extension of one case to another. It is better to wait for a new law for a new case than to transcend the limits of the exception already made.

It is especially in situations of rigor that sobriety is needed in multiplying the cases cited by the law. The kind of mental subtlety that goes around drawing inferences is contrary to the sentiments of humanity and to the perspectives of the legislator.

Laws occasioned by the alteration of things and of time should cease with the reasons that brought them into being, far from being revived by conjectural similarities, because the latter are almost never the same, and every comparison is suspect, dangerous, and capable of leading astray.

New laws are established either to confirm the old ones, to reform them, or to abolish them. All additions merely burden and entangle the body of laws. Following the Athenian example, it would be better to periodically collect the superannuated, contradictory, useless, and abusive laws, in order to purify and diminish the nation’s code.

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Thus, when it is said that no one should consider himself more prudent than the law, it is living laws that are meant, not dormant laws.

One must hasten to abrogate laws worn out by time, for fear that contempt for dead laws might redound against living laws, and that this gangrene might overtake the entire body of law [droit].

But if it is necessary to change the laws, bring to the task so many solemnities and precautions that the people will naturally conclude that the laws are indeed sacred, since so many formalities are needed to abrogate them.23

Do not change customs and manners by the laws; that would be tyranny. Indifferent matters are not in the law’s bailiwick; customs and manners must be changed by other customs and manners.24 If the laws obstructed manners in France, they would perhaps obstruct the virtues. Let this light-minded people do25 frivolous things seriously and serious things gaily.26 Nonetheless, the laws can contribute in forming the mores, manners, and character of a nation; England is an example.

Everything that concerns the rules of modesty, shame, or decency can hardly be included in a code of laws. It is easy to regulate by laws what one owes others; it is difficult to include in them all that one owes oneself.27

All things being equal, the multiplicity of laws proves the poor constitution of a government. Since they are only made to repress injustice and disorder, there must necessarily be more disorder in a state where there are more laws.

The uncertainty and inefficacy of laws proceeds from their multiplicity, from their defective composition, style, and sanction; from deadlocks among interpreters,28 contradictory judgments, etc.

The laws are subject to a kind of pillaging at the hands of that long procession of jurisconsults who comment on them. The very sight of their compilations is enough to overwhelm the most indefatigable soul. Their Edition: current; Page: [347] glosses and subtleties are the snares of chicanery. All quotations, if they are not from the law, ought to be prohibited at the bar. These quotations are only men that one shows to other men, but doubtful cases must be judged by reasons, not authorities.

There are retroactive laws that come to the aid of anterior laws, and that extend their effect over cases they had not foreseen. There should very rarely be these dual-purpose laws that concern both the past and the future.

A retroactive law should confirm and not reform that which precedes it; reform always causes disturbances, whereas confirmatory laws solidify order and tranquility.

In a state with no fundamental laws, the succession to dominion cannot be fixed, since the successor is declared by the prince, by his ministers, or by civil war. What evils and disorders result!29

The laws have wisely established formalities in the administration of justice, because these formalities are the palladium of liberty.30 But the number of formalities could be so large that it would violate the purpose of the very laws that had established them. Then there would be no end of confusion. Ownership of property would remain uncertain, and the parties would be ruined by virtue of investigating it. There are countries in Europe in which people are in that situation.

Princes have issued good laws but sometimes so ineptly that they have produced only harmful effects. Louis the Debonair had the bishops rebelling against him because of the rigid laws he prescribed to them, which went beyond the purpose he should have set for himself in the circumstances of the times.31

To know and depict the character of nations and of kings, one must illuminate their history by their laws and their laws by their history.32 The laws of Charlemagne reveal a prince who understands everything by his spirit of foresight, who brings together everything by the force of his genius. By his laws, pretexts to elude duties are eliminated, negligence is Edition: current; Page: [348] corrected, abuses reformed or prevented. A head of household could learn from them how to govern his home. The king ordered that the eggs from the barnyards of his domains and the useless produce from his gardens be sold, and it is known from history that he distributed to his people all the Lombards’ wealth and the immense treasures of those Huns who had ravaged the world.33

In every society, it is force or the law that dominates. Sometimes force covers itself in the law, sometimes the law relies upon force. Whence three kinds of injustice: open violence, the violence that walks in the shadow of the law, and the violence born from the rigors of the law.

Legislators’ passions and prejudices sometimes seep into their laws and color them; sometimes they remain there and become part of them.

In a time of decadence, Justinian ventured to reform the jurisprudence of enlightened ages. But it’s in enlightened days that it is fitting to correct the days of darkness.

In spite of myself, I will end all these reflections bearing on the laws in general. But I will speak separately of the fundamental laws, the civil, criminal, divine, human, moral, natural, penal, political, sumptuary laws, &c., and I will try to unfold in a few words their nature, character, spirit, and principles. (D.J.)

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Fundamental Law (Loi Fondamentale)*

Fundamental Law (Political law), any primordial law on the constitution of a government.

The fundamental laws of a state, in their fullest extent, are not only the ordinances by which the entire body of the nation determines what should be the form of government and how one will succeed to the throne;1 they are also the conventions between the people and the individual or group on whom sovereignty is conferred—which conventions regulate the manner by which one must govern and prescribe limits to sovereign authority.

These regulations are called fundamental laws because they are the basis and foundation of the state, upon which the edifice of government is raised, and because the people regard them as producing its entire strength and security.

It is nonetheless only in what might be called an abusive manner that the word laws is applied to them; for properly speaking, they are veritable conventions. But since these conventions are obligatory between the contracting parties, they have the force of laws themselves.

To assure their success in a limited monarchy, however, the entire body of the nation may reserve to itself the legislative power and the nomination of its magistrates; it may entrust the judicial power and the power of establishing taxes to a senate or a parliament; it may give the monarch the military and executive power, among other prerogatives. If the Edition: current; Page: [350] government is set up on this footing by the primordial act of association, this primordial act bears the name the fundamental laws of the state, because they constitute its security and its liberty. What’s more, such laws do not make sovereignty imperfect; on the contrary, they perfect it and submit the sovereign to the necessity of good conduct by making him, so to speak, impotent to engage in bad conduct.

Let us also add that there is a kind of fundamental laws of right and necessity that are essential to all governments, even in states where sovereignty is, so to speak, absolute, and this law is that of the public good, from which the sovereign cannot stray without to a certain extent failing in his duty. (D.J.)

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Lübeck, the law (German law). It is originally the law that Lübeck established in its jurisdiction to rule and govern it.

Since this city acquired great authority in the past by its power and its maritime trade, it happened that its laws and statutes were adopted by most of the cities situated on the North Sea. Stralsund, Rostock, and Wismar in particular obtained from their masters the freedom to introduce this law, and other cities admitted it despite their sovereigns.

Many authors trace the beginnings of this law to Frederick II, who was the first to accord liberty to the city of Lübeck, and also to confirm its statutes and its legatine power.1 It is nonetheless likely that the law that governs the city was not established all at once, but that new articles were added from time to time according to the various circumstances. It was not until 1582 that the senate of Lübeck organized all of its statutes into one body of laws, which came into being in 1586. Even today, the authority of this code is highly respected in Holstein, Pomerania, Mecklenburg, Prussia, and Livonia. Although the cities of these countries no longer have the privilege of appealing to Lübeck, their trials are nonetheless judged according to the law of that city, which is observed particularly in the tribunal of Wismar.

One may consult the Latin work of Jean Sibrand on this matter, and the erudite commentary Commentarius ad jus Lubecense [Commentary on Edition: current; Page: [352] Lübeck law] by David Moevius, who was at first professor at Grypswald, and ultimately vice-president of the chamber of Wismar.2 (D.J.)

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Machiavellianism (Machiavélisme)**

This article was written by Diderot.

Machiavellianism (History of Philosophy), an abhorrent type of politics that can be described in two words—the art of tyranny—whose principles were propagated in the works of the Florentine Machiavelli.

Machiavelli was endowed with profound genius, and was a learned scholar in many fields. He knew ancient and modern languages. He had an extensive knowledge of history. He took an interest in moral philosophy and politics. He paid due attention to literature. He wrote a few comedies which are by no means worthless. It is claimed that he taught Cesare Borgia how to rule.1 What is for certain is that he found the despotic rule of the house of Medici repugnant, and that this hatred—that he was too firm in his beliefs to hide—exposed him to long and cruel persecutions. He was suspected of having been involved in the Soderini conspiracy.2 He was caught and sent to prison; but the courage with which he resisted the agonizing interrogation he received saved his life. The Medici, who could not Edition: current; Page: [354] ruin him on this occasion, protected him and—out of charity—employed him to write history. He did it; his past experiences did not cause him to be any more cautious. He was once again caught up in a plot that a few citizens had hatched to assassinate Cardinal Giulio de’ Medici, who was subsequently elevated to the rank of sovereign pontiff under the title Clement VII. All that they could put forward against him was his continual praise of Brutus and Cassius. If there was not enough evidence to condemn him to death, there was more than enough to punish him by cancelling his allowance, which happened to him. This new setback threw him into destitution, which he endured for some time. He died aged 48, in 1527, as a result of a self-administered drug he took to protect himself against illness.3 He left behind a son called Luke Machiavelli. His final discourses, if it is to be believed, were of the utmost profanity. He said that he preferred to be in hell with Socrates, Alcibiades, Caesar, Pompey, and the other great men of antiquity, than in heaven with the founders of Christianity.

He left us eight books on the history of Florence, seven on the art of war, four on the republic, three books of discourses on Titus Livius, the life of Castruccio, two comedies, and the treatises on the prince and the senator.

Few works have caused such a stir as the treatise on the prince: it is here that he teaches sovereigns to spurn religion, the rules of justice, the inviolability of pacts and all that is sacred, when it is in one’s interest to do so. The fifteenth and twenty-fifth chapters could be entitled “circumstances where it is suitable for the prince to be a villain.”

How can one explain that one of the most ardent defenders of the monarchy should suddenly become a vile advocate of tyranny? Here is my explanation, and I outline my opinion only as an idea that is not entirely implausible. When Machiavelli wrote his treatise on the prince, it is as if he had said to his fellow citizens, “read this work well. If you ever accept a ruler, he will be as I portray him: this is the ferocious creature to whom you shall surrender.”4 Such was the error of his contemporaries, if they were unaware of his goal: they took satire for praise. Lord Chancellor Bacon Edition: current; Page: [355] made no mistake when he said: this man teaches tyrants nothing; they are well aware of what they have to do, but he informs the common people of what they have to fear. Est quod gratias agamus Machiavello & hujus modi scriptoribus, qui apertè & indissimulanter proferunt quod homines facere soleant, non quod debeant.5 Be that as it may, one can hardly doubt that at least Machiavelli had sensed that sooner or later there would be a general outcry against his work, and that his opponents would never manage to demonstrate that his prince was an unfaithful portrayal of the majority of those who have been the most impressive rulers over men.

I have heard that a philosopher, who was questioned by a great prince on a refutation of Machiavellianism he had just published, replied, “Sire, I should think the first lesson Machiavelli taught his disciple was to refute his work.”6

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Masterships (Maîtrises)*

For related entries on economic policy, see Masterpiece, Trading Company, Competition, and Savings, the latter also written by Faiguet de Villeneuve.

Masterships (Arts, Commerce, Politics). People think that masterships and preferential initiations were established to certify the competence required in those who practice commerce and the arts, and even more to foster emulation, order, and equity among them. But in truth, they are merely refinements on monopoly that are truly harmful to the national interest—besides which, they have no necessary connection with the wise arrangements that ought to guide the commerce of a great people. We will even show that nothing contributes more to fortify ignorance, bad faith, and laziness in the various occupations.1

The Egyptians, Greeks, Romans, and Gauls preserved a great deal of order in all parts of their government. Nonetheless, one does not find that they adopted masterships—or the exclusive profession of the arts and commerce—as we have. They allowed all citizens to practice an art or commerce; hardly anywhere in ancient history does one find any trace of Edition: current; Page: [357] these privative rights that today make up the main regulatory system for mercantile bodies and communities.

Even in our day, there are many peoples that do not subject workers and traders to masterships and ceremonial initiations. Leaving aside the Orientals, where these are unknown, we are assured that there are virtually none in England, Holland, Portugal, and Spain. There are none at all in our colonies, any more than in certain of our modern cities, such as Lorient, St. Germain, Versailles, and others. We even have privileged places in Paris where many people work and trade without special legal status—all to the public’s satisfaction. Moreover, how many occupations are there that are completely free, and that nonetheless exist to all subjects’ advantage? From which I conclude that masterships are not necessary, since people have done without them for a long time, and do without them every day without drawback.

No one is unaware that the masterships have degenerated considerably since their original establishment. In the beginning, they consisted more in maintaining good order among the workers and merchants than in taking substantial sums from them. But since they have been turned into a tax, “they are nothing more,” says Furetiere,2than cabal, drunkenness and monopoly.” The richest or most powerful usually manage to exclude the weakest, and thereby draw everything to themselves—a persistent abuse that can never be eradicated except by introducing competition and liberty into each occupation. Has perniciosas pestes ejicite, refrenate coemptiones istas divitum, ac velut monopolii exercendi licentiam. Bk. I Eutopiae Mori.3

I believe I can add to this what Colbert said to Louis XIV. “The rigor shown in accepting a merchant in most of the large cities of your realm is an abuse that your majesty has an interest in correcting. For it prevents many people from launching into commerce, where they would quite often be more successful than those who are in it. What is the necessity of a man going through an apprenticeship? At most, this can only be good for Edition: current; Page: [358] the workers, so that they not undertake a craft they don’t know; but the others, why make them waste their time? Why prevent people who have in some cases learned more in foreign countries than they need in order to open a business from doing so, just because they are missing a certificate of apprenticeship? If they have the industry to earn their living, is it justice to prevent them from doing so in the name of your majesty—common father of his subjects, who is obliged to take them under his protection? I therefore think that if you were to pass an ordinance by which you abolished all prior regulations on this subject, you would do no further harm.” Testam. polit. ch. xv.4

No one complains about the free market fairs established in many parts of the realm, which are in some way illegitimate deviations5 from the masterships. Nor does anyone complain in Paris that it is permissible to bring provisions there twice a week. Finally, all of those successful talents who have excelled in our midst in all genres of literature and science are not owing to masterships or privative rights.

Thus, administration and what is called mastership must not be confused: these ideas are quite different, and the one perhaps never leads to the other. Thus, the origin of masterships must not be traced either to the perfection of administration or to the needs of the state, but solely to the spirit of monopoly that normally prevails among workers and merchants. It is well understood, in fact, that masterships were unknown four or five centuries ago. I have looked at the administrative regulations from those times, which begin by announcing a perfect freedom in whatever concerns the arts and commerce: It is permitted to he who wills, &c.

The spirit of monopoly subsequently blinded workers and merchants; they believed, wrongly, that the general liberty of commerce and the arts was detrimental to them. With this conviction, they conspired together to Edition: current; Page: [359] have themselves given certain regulations that would be favorable to themselves in the future, and that would pose an obstacle to new entrants. First of all, therefore, they obtained full privileges for all those who were actually established in such and such an occupation. At the same time, they took measures to subject candidates to exams and initiation fees that were not substantial at first, but that under various pretexts increased prodigiously. On which, I must here make an observation that seems to me important: namely, that the first authors of these establishments, which would be ruinous for the public, labored—without being aware of it—against their own posterity. However little they reflected on the vicissitudes of families, they ought in fact to have considered that, since their descendants were not all going to be able to undertake the same occupation, they were going to be subject over the centuries to all the obstructions of the masterships. And this is a reflection that ought to be made today by those who are most obsessed by them and who think they are useful to their trade, whereas they are truly damaging to the nation. I appeal to the experience of our neighbors, who are enriching themselves in better ways by opening to everyone the career of arts and commerce.6

The corporate bodies and communities look only with jealousy at the large number of candidates, and consequently they do everything possible to reduce them. That is why they are constantly inflating the initiation fees, at least for those who are not masters’ sons. On the other hand, when the ministry on certain occasions announces the creation of new, moderately priced masterships, these corporate bodies, still guided by the spirit of monopoly, prefer to acquire them for themselves under assumed names and by this means buy them up for their own benefit than to see them pass into the hands of good subjects whose work would compete with theirs.

But what I find most peculiar and most iniquitous is the practice of many corporate communities in Paris, of depriving a widow of all her rights and making her quit her shop and her trade when she marries a man who is not in a mastership situation. For what basis is there for causing her and her children such substantial damage—damage that should be the punishment for only some great crime? The entire crime for which she is criticized and Edition: current; Page: [360] punished with such severity is that she is taking, as they say, a husband without quality.7 But what police or what law—indeed what power on earth—can obstruct in this way the inclinations of free persons by preventing marriages that are otherwise honorable and legitimate? Moreover, where is the justice in punishing the children of a first union, and who are master’s sons—where, I say, is the justice of punishing them for their mother’s second nuptials?

If the claim simply were that in marrying a master’s widow, the man without quality acquired no rights for himself, and that on his wife’s death he must soon cease a trade to which he was not admitted by the corporate community, I would find less to complain about. But that a widow who has freedom of trade in her own right as long as she remains in widowhood, and that this widow should come to lose this right and in some sense that of her children upon remarriage, for the sole reason that the statutes exclude her husband—this is, I say it loudly, the most rank injustice. Nothing is more opposed to what God prescribed in Exodus xxii.22: “viduae & pupillo non nocebitis.”8 It is obvious in fact that a custom so unreasonable and so contrary to natural law tends toward the oppression of widows and orphans. And one sees upon reflection that it could only have been brought in on the sly, without having been well discussed or well examined.

There you have the arbitrary lawmaking on masterships, giving rise to dubious regulations favorable to some and harmful to the majority. But is it fitting for individuals without authority, without enlightenment, and without literacy to impose a yoke on their fellow citizens, to establish for their own advantage laws that are onerous to society? And in the end, can our magistracy approve such assaults against the public liberty?

Much has been said in recent years about encouraging population, and doubtless this is the ministry’s intention.9 But unfortunately, we are in contradiction with ourselves on this, since in general there is nothing more contrary to marriage than subjecting citizens to the entanglements of the masterships, and obstructing widows on this matter to the point of taking Edition: current; Page: [361] away from them in certain cases all the resources of their trade. This bad policy reduces quite a few people to bachelorhood, it occasions vice and disorder, and it diminishes our true wealth.

In fact, since it is difficult to become master,10 and is hardly possible otherwise to support a wife and children, quite a few people who feel and fear this predicament renounce marriage forever and abandon themselves afterward to laziness and debauchery. Others, frightened by the same difficulties, think of looking far and wide for the best positions, and persuaded by public rumor that foreign countries are more favorable, they scramble to transfer their talent and their heart there. Moreover, it is not the deformed, the weak, or the imbeciles who think of expatriating; it is always the most vigorous and the most enterprising who go and try their fortunes abroad, and who sometimes go to the ends of the earth with the same goals in mind. These emigrations, so disgraceful to our administration, and which different causes occasion every day, can only bring a palpable weakening of the national power; this is why it is important to work to prevent them. One of the most effective means of doing this would be to award solid benefits to the conjugal union—in a word, to make the masterships free or of low cost to married people, whereas they would be very expensive for bachelors (if it were not considered preferable to exclude them completely).11

In any case, I repeat that masterships are not a necessary consequence of an exact administration. Properly speaking, they serve only to reinforce division and monopoly among us. Without these things, it is easy to establish order and equity in commerce.

A municipal chamber could be formed in our good cities, composed of five or six aldermen with a magistrate at their head, to regulate gratis everything concerning the administration of the arts and commerce. Those who wanted to make or sell some works or merchandise would have only to present themselves to this chamber, declare what they were interested in, and give their name and address so they could be overseen by juridical visits that would be fixed in number and in the salary awarded to the overseers.

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With regard to the competence required to practice each occupation as a master, it seems to me this should be evaluated as a whole, without chicanery and without partiality, by the number of years of practice. I mean that whoever demonstrated, for example, eight or ten years of work with masters, would be considered at that time, ipso facto, without certificate of apprenticeship, without masterwork and without exam, to be reasonably conversant with his art or trade—and worthy, in a word, of achieving the mastership under the conditions prescribed by his majesty.

In fact, why is it necessary to subject simple journeymen12 to dubious masterworks and countless other obstructive formalities to which masters’ sons are not subjected? It is doubtless imagined that the latter are more skillful, and this ought naturally to be the case; however, experience shows the opposite clearly enough.

A simple journeyman always has great difficulties to overcome in establishing himself in an occupation. He is usually less rich and less protected, in less of a position to get settled and make himself known. Nonetheless, he is as much a member of the commonwealth as anyone else, and he should experience the protection of the laws equally. It is therefore unjust to aggravate the unhappiness of his condition, or to make it more difficult and costly for him to get established—in a word, to subject a weak and defenseless subject to ruinous ceremonies from which those with more wherewithal and more protection are exempt.

Moreover, is it really beyond doubt that masterworks are necessary for the perfection of the arts? As for me, I don’t believe it in any way. To do well usually requires only exactitude and probity, and fortunately, these good qualities are within the reach of the most middling subjects. I would add that a man who is tolerably familiar with his occupation can work fruitfully for the public and for his family, without being in a position to perform prodigies of art. Is it better in that case for him to remain without employment? Heaven forbid! He will work usefully for the common and middling folk, and then his work will be paid only its correct value, whereas the same work often becomes very expensive in masters’ hands. The great worker, Edition: current; Page: [363] the man of taste and genius, will soon be known by his talents, and he will employ them for the rich, the curious, and the delicate. Thus, whatever capacity one may have to receive masters of middling competence, one should not be afraid of lacking excellent artists if the need arises. It is not the obstructionist masterships that form them, it is the nation’s taste and the price one might pay for beautiful work.

One may infer from these reflections that, since all subjects are equally dear and equally subject to the king, his majesty could with justice establish a uniform regulation for the initiation of workers and traders. And let it not be said that the masterships are necessary to assign the capitation13 and make people pay it, since, after all, all this is done equally well in the cities where there are few or no masterships. Moreover, one would still preserve the corporate bodies and communities, as much to maintain order and administration as to assign the public taxes.

But from another angle, I maintain that as they operate today, masterships and initiations enable many subjects to evade the capitation who would pay it under any other circumstances. In fact, since the difficulty of becoming a master forces many people in commerce and the arts to grow older as shop boys, go-betweens, journeymen, etc., those folks—almost always isolated, unsettled, and little known—dodge personal taxes easily enough. Whereas if the masterships were more accessible, there would be many more masters as a result—people set up for the arts and for commerce who would all pay the capitation to the advantage of the public and the king.

Another advantage that might be found in the corporate bodies forged by the ties of mastership in our time is that, instead of burdening candidates with substantial taxes that melt in the hands of the leaders, and that are generally unfruitful, one could resort to the more prudent arrangement of procuring all members some recourse against a bankruptcy disaster. I will explain.

A young merchant commonly spends around 2,000 francs for his initiation and all appurtenances, and as we have said, this is pure loss. I would like it if, on site and after the competency exam we have indicated or some other that might be thought preferable, the candidates were made to count Edition: current; Page: [364] out the sum of 10,000 pounds,14 in order to confer the right and reputation of merchant upon them—a sum from which they would be paid interest at four percent for as long as they wanted to engage in trade. This money would immediately be placed at five or six percent with people who were solvent as well as very reputable. By means of the 10,000 pounds advanced by all merchants, each would have in his corporate body a credit of 40,000 francs in the bank or in the general office, so that those who furnished them with merchandise or with money would always be able to ensure their credit up to the above-mentioned sum of 40,000 pounds.

Whereas today one approaches the matter of commercial credit with fear and trembling, the new regulation would increase confidence and therefore circulation. It would also prevent most bankruptcies, mainly because one would see many fewer adventurers getting themselves into trades that would then require liquidity. This is also a principle of exclusion that would be more effective, more favorable to the old families and to those already established, than the present rigors of the masterships, which have no effect on commerce but to arrest its progress.

With a surplus in interest in the bank, even if placed at five percent, the bank would replace the gaps and losses it would still sometimes absorb, but these would be quite rare because commerce, as we have seen, would only be engaged in by people with known funds and resources. If, however, some loss were incurred beyond the yield, which is difficult to believe, that loss would then be borne by the entire corps, according to the capitation tax imposed on each of the members. This contribution, which would perhaps not take place once in twenty years, would become almost imperceptible to the individuals, and it would prevent the ruin of so many honorable people often crushed nowadays by even a single bankruptcy. If a man wanted to leave the trade, his 10,000 pounds would be returned to him, provided he has satisfied the creditors who had vested funds in the bank.

Moreover, what is being said here in a few words regarding the merchants could be applied commensurately to the workers. Virtually the same Edition: current; Page: [365] arrangements could be employed to increase the credit of the notaries and the public’s confidence in them.

Be that as it may, since it is natural to employ rewards and punishments in order to interest each individual (according to his own status) in making himself useful to the public, those who have distinguished themselves for some years by their vigilance, their rectitude, and their skill could be rewarded with a kind of insignia that the corporate authorities would accord them as an authentic testimony of their exactitude and their probity. On the other hand, if someone engages in proven mischief or misconduct, he will be ordered to pay a fine and will be obliged to endure a sign of infamy and reprimand on his door for some time—a much wiser practice than walling up his shop.

In a word, one may take all manner of precautions to ensure that each person fulfills the duties of his status, but everyone must be left the freedom of doing well. Far from fixing the number of subjects there must be in the useful occupations, which is absolutely unreasonable—unless we are going to simultaneously fix the number of children that must be born—what is necessary is to provide all citizens with the possibility of employing their faculties and talents appropriately.

With such regulations, each person will presumably want to pride himself on his honor, and the system will be more faithfully observed than ever—without needing recourse to cumbersome expedients, which are a source of divisions and of trials between the different bodies of the arts and commerce. Another useful result arises from the above-noted precautions, namely, that the reliable and competent people to whom one could turn are easily known—knowledge that is today acquired only after many attempts, normally at one’s own expense.

To respond to what is often said against liberty in the arts and commerce, namely, that there would be too many people in each occupation: It is obvious that nobody would reason that way if they examined the matter closely. For after all, would freedom of trade make everybody quit his first condition to take up a new one? Doubtless not: each would remain in his place, and no occupation would be overburdened, because all of them would be equally free. In truth, many people who are presently too wretched to aspire to masterships would suddenly see themselves rescued Edition: current; Page: [366] from servitude and able to engage in work on their own account, in which there is something to be gained for the public.

“But,” it is said, “don’t you see that countless subjects who have no settled condition would soon pile in once they see the doors to the arts and commerce opened to everyone, and thereby disturb the harmony that we see prevailing in those activities?”

What a ridiculous objection! If access to the arts and commerce became easier and freer, too many people, it is said, would profit from the freedom. Well, wouldn’t this be the greatest good that could be desired? Unless perhaps one thinks that it is better to subsist by some vicious ingenuity, or wallow in idleness, than to devote oneself to some honest labor. In a word, I do not understand how one could hesitate to open the career in commerce and the arts to all subjects, since in the end there is nothing to deliberate over, and there is more advantage in having many workers and merchants—even if some of them are found to be unskillful—than to make idleness almost inevitable, and thereby produce loafers, robbers, and rogues.

What a sorry lot is man’s! At birth, most of them don’t have a place to rest their heads, not the tiniest space within the great expanse that belongs to their parents and whose rent doesn’t have to be paid. But it was not enough for the rich and the great to have overrun estates, lands, houses; they also had to establish masterships, they had to prohibit the weak and defenseless from engaging in the quite natural use of their industry and their hands.

The arrangement I point to here would soon produce a more lively and extensive commerce throughout the realm. Manufacturers and other merchants would multiply on every side and would be in a better position than they are today to offer their merchandise at a favorable price—especially if, to complete the reform, at least three-quarters of our feast days were abolished, and if the yield from the import and export duties imposed on merchandise and foodstuffs were transferred to the general capitation, at least those that are collected in the interior of the realm and from province to province.

We are sometimes surprised that certain nations offer almost everything at a better price than the French,15 but this is not a secret they have to the Edition: current; Page: [367] exclusion of ourselves. The true reason for this moral and political phenomenon is that commerce is regarded by them as the principal affair of state, and that it is more protected there than it is by us. Another reason that counts for much here is that their customs are less cumbersome and less ruinous for commerce, at least for all their manufacturing and their harvest. Moreover, these commercial peoples experience practically none of the exclusiveness involved in the masterships or the privileged companies; even less do they have our feast days, and this is where they have quite an advantage over us. All of this, combined with their low interest rates and with the great economy and simplicity of their manner of living and dressing, puts them in a position to sell at a modest price, and to preserve their commercial superiority. Nothing prevents us from profiting by their example and from working to imitate them; then we will soon be moving along as their equals. Let’s return to our subject.

It is maintained that a general freedom in the arts and commerce would harm those who are already masters, since any man could then work, manufacture, and sell.

On this point, we should take the unbiased view that there would not be as many new masters as is imagined. In fact, there are countless difficulties in starting out. At first, one lacks knowledge and practice, and above all, one doesn’t have sufficient funds at the right time for convenient lodging, for getting settled, for making an advance and taking risks, etc. Nonetheless, all this is necessary, and will always make these establishments very difficult. Thus, the existing masters would still profit for a long time from the advantage they have over all the new arrivals. And with the nation enjoying freedom of trade—and enjoying it equally—it would at worst find itself in this respect virtually at the point where it was several centuries ago, at the point where our colonies still are, and even most foreigners, who procure abundance and wealth through their freedom in the arts and commerce, as is well known.

Moreover, the interests of the old and new masters can be reconciled without anyone having cause for complaint. Here’s the accommodation one could make: allow the old masters time to exploit their exclusive rights. Freedom in the arts and commerce would be granted only on condition of paying half what is disbursed today for masterships and initiations; this Edition: current; Page: [368] would continue for a period of twenty years. After this, one would pay in perpetuity only a quarter of what it costs—that is, a mastership or initiation that amounts to 1,200 pounds would be modified at first to 600 pounds, and at the end of twenty years, it would be fixed for good at 300 pounds for the whole thing, without the feast and without other ceremonies. For the space of twenty years, the sums payable by the new masters would be employed to the benefit of the old—as much to discharge the debts of their corporate community as for their private capitation—and this, to compensate them proportionally. But afterward, the sums arising from new initiations, which would be paid equally by all subjects—masters’ sons and others—would be converted into city tolls, to the benefit of the inhabitants, and not dissipated as they are today in Te deums, consecrated bread, feasts, shindigs,16 &c.

In any case, I believe that while waiting for this freedom, one could establish right now a free marketplace in the large cities—a marketplace that would be open four or five times a year, with complete freedom to bring all nonprohibited merchandise, but with this essential precaution: that the merchants not be constrained to set up in certain buildings, certain enclosures, where the leases and stalls are too expensive.

Besides the masterships’ drawback in harming population, as has been shown above, they have another one that is scarcely less important: they cause the public to be much more poorly served. Since the masterships can in fact be obtained by favor and by money, and since they do not essentially presuppose either competence or integrity in those who obtain them, they are less fit for distinguishing merit or establishing justice and order among the workers and merchants than for perpetuating ignorance and monopoly in trade, in that they give sanction to bad subjects who afterward make us pay—I don’t say for their initiation fees alone, but even for their negligence and their mistakes.

Moreover, since most masters employ a number of workers and make only a vague and general inspection of them, their works are rarely as perfect as they ought to be—a result all the more inevitable in that these subordinate workers are paid meagerly and have no strong interest in Edition: current; Page: [369] managing the master’s practice, since they normally aim only at passing the time or else rushing through many works, if they are (as is said) by the piece. Whereas if doing well were permissible to anyone who had the will to do so, many of those who are working with masters would soon be working on their own account. And since every artisan would then be less burdened with work and would want to secure the practice, it would inevitably happen that the man who today is negligent in working for others would become more careful and more dedicated as soon as he was working for himself.

Finally, the most terrible disadvantage of the masterships is that they are the usual cause of the large number of idlers, bandits, and robbers that are seen in all parts. This is because they make access to the arts and commerce so difficult and so tedious that many people, repelled by these first obstacles, withdraw forever from useful occupations and usually survive thereafter only by mendicancy, counterfeiting, and contraband, by swindles, theft, and other crimes. In fact, most malefactors condemned to the galleys or to capital punishment were originally poor orphans, dismissed soldiers, fired domestics, or such other isolated subjects. Having not been placed in solid crafts, and finding constant obstacles to all the good they might do, they thereby see themselves led, as it were, into a frightful series of crimes and misfortunes.

How many other people of different sorts are there—hermits, seekers,17 charlatans, etc.—and how many candidates for the useless and harmful professions, who have no other calling but one possessing all the difficulties now associated with the arts and commerce, many of whom are without property and employment and are only too often reduced to looking desperately for the wherewithal they don’t find anywhere else?

Let commerce, agriculture, and all the necessary arts be encouraged, let all subjects be permitted to exploit their possessions and their talents, let the trades be taught to all soldiers, let the children of the poor be employed and instructed, let order, work, and commodiousness prevail in the poorhouses,18 let all who present themselves there be admitted, let all beggars in Edition: current; Page: [370] good health be sheltered and corrected. Soon, instead of the vagabonds and thieves that are so common in our day, only hard-working men will be seen. With the people able to earn their living and avoid misery by means of work, they will never be reduced to pernicious and deplorable extremities.

Pauciores alantur otio, reddatur agricolatio, lanificium instauretur, ut sit honestum negotium quo se utiliter exerceat otiosa ista turba, vel quos hactenùs inopia fures facit, vel qui nunc errones aut otiose sunt ministri, fures nimirum utrique futuri. Bk. I Eutopiae.19 Article by M. Faiguet de Villeneuve.

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Volume 10 (1765)

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Manners (Manière)*

The role of manners in achieving certain political ends, particularly stability, was a topic that much interested the eighteenth century. In this essay, Saint-Lambert ranges across space and time—from ancients to moderns, from despotisms to democracies—to reflect upon the nature and effects of manners, drawing on but criticizing Montesquieu’s discussion of the relationship between manners, laws, and regimes.

Manners (Grammar, Politics, Morals). In the most generally accepted sense, these are the customs established to make the commerce that men ought to have among themselves milder. They are the expression of mores, or merely the effect of submission to customs. They are to morals what the liturgy is to religion: they manifest them, preserve them, or take their place, and consequently they are of greater importance to societies than moralists have thought.

It is not well enough understood how our machinelike habit makes us engage in acts whose moral principle we no longer have within us, and how this habit contributes to preserving that principle. When certain acts or movements are connected in our minds with the ideas of certain virtues or sentiments, those acts or movements recall those sentiments and virtues within us. See Liaison des Idées [Connection of Ideas].

In China, children give their parents extraordinary honors. They constantly show them external signs of respect and love. It is likely that there Edition: current; Page: [374] is more display than reality in these external signs, but respect and love for parents is livelier and more consistent in China than in countries where the same sentiments are commanded1 without laws prescribing the manner of manifesting them. In France, the people are far from respecting all the grandees they greet, but the grandees are more respected there than in countries where the established manners do not impose signs of respect toward them.

Among the Germans, and afterward among us in the age of chivalry, women were honored like gods. Gallantry was a liturgy, and in this liturgy as in all others, there were the lukewarm and the hypocrites. But they still honored women, and they certainly loved them and respected them more than the kaffir who makes them work while he rests, and the Asiatic who enchains them and caresses them like animals designed for his pleasures.

The habit of certain acts, certain gestures, certain movements, certain external signs maintains the same sentiments within us better than all the dogmas and all the metaphysics in the world.

I said that the machinelike habit makes us engage in acts whose moral principle we no longer have within us. I said it preserves the principle within us. It does more; it increases it and generates it.

There is no passion in our soul, no affection, no sentiment, no emotion that does not have its effect on our body, that does not raise, collapse, relax, or tighten some muscles, and that does not have a more or less specific expression in our varying exterior. Pains and pleasures, desires and fears, love and aversion—whatever may be their moral cause—have within us more or less the physical effects that are made manifest by signs that are more or less perceptible. All the affections marked on the face present a certain expression; they make up what is called the physiognomy; they change the body’s habit; they give bearing and take it away; they cause us to make certain gestures, certain movements. This is an uncontested truth.

But it is no less true that once the movement of the muscles and nerves that is the usual effect of a certain passion is stimulated and repeated within us without the aid of that passion, it reproduces itself there to a certain point.

The effects of music on us are palpable evidence of this truth. The impression of the sonorous body on our nerves stimulates different movements Edition: current; Page: [375] there, many of which are of the same kind that a certain passion would stimulate. And if these movements succeed each other, if the musician continues to bring the same sort of disturbance to the nervous system, then soon this or that passion—joy, sadness, anxiety, etc.—is transmitted into the soul. It follows from this observation, whose truth any man endowed with a little refinement in his organs can attest within himself, that if certain passions bring certain movements to the body, these movements bring the soul back to these passions. Now since manners consist for the most part in gestures, bodily habits, gait, then actions—which are the signs, the expression, the effects of certain sentiments—are bound not only to manifest or preserve these sentiments, but sometimes to generate them.

The ancients paid more attention than we do to the influence of manners on mores, and to the relations between the habits of the body and of the soul. Plato distinguishes two sorts of dance. The one is an art of imitation—properly speaking pantomime—which is the only dance appropriate to the theater. The other is the art of accustoming the body to decent bearing, to making ordinary movements with propriety. This kind of dance has been preserved by the moderns, and our dancing masters are professors of manners. Molière’s dancing master was not as wrong as we think in, if not preferring himself, then at least comparing himself to the philosophy master.2

Manners should express the respect and submission of inferiors toward superiors, the marks of humanity and condescension by superiors toward inferiors, and the sentiments of benevolence and esteem between equals. They regulate deportment and prescribe it to the different orders, to the citizens of the different estates.

It is clear that manners as well as mores are bound to vary according to the different forms of government.3 In despotic countries, marks of submission on the part of inferiors are extreme. The satraps of Persia used to prostrate themselves in the dust before their kings, and the people likewise prostrated themselves before the satraps; Asia has not changed.

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In despotic countries, the marks of humanity and condescension on the part of superiors are reduced to very little. There is too big a gap between what a man is and what a man in office4 is for them ever to be able to approach each other. There, superiors show inferiors only disdain and sometimes an insulting pity.

Since the equal slaves of a common master have no esteem either for themselves or for their peers, they show no marks of it in their manners. They have weak feelings of benevolence for each other. They expect little from each other; slaves raised in servitude do not know how to love. They are more eagerly occupied in shifting the weight of their irons onto each other than in helping each other bear them. They have more the air of imploring pity than of expressing propriety.

In democracies, in governments where the legislative power resides in the body of the nation, manners show only weak evidence of dependency relations—of whatever kind. There are fewer manners and established customs than expressions of nature. Liberty is manifested in the bearing, the character traits, and the actions of every citizen.

In aristocracies, and in countries where public liberty is no more but where civil liberty is enjoyed—in countries where the few make the laws, and especially in those where one alone rules, though by the laws—there are many manners and customs by convention. In these countries, to please is an advantage, to displease a misfortune. One pleases by one’s charms and even one’s virtues, and manners are usually noble and agreeable. The citizens have a mutual need to preserve each other, assist each other, elevate or enjoy each other. They are afraid of alienating their fellow citizens by letting their faults be seen. Everywhere, one sees hierarchy and esteem, respect and liberty, the desire to please and sincerity.

Normally in these countries, one notices at first glance a certain uniformity; the characters seem to resemble each other because their differences are hidden by manners. Much more rarely than in republics does one find those original characters who seem to owe nothing except to nature—not only because manners impede nature but because they change it.

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In countries where there is little luxury, where the people are occupied by commerce and by the cultivation of the land, where men view each other more via interests of first necessity than reasons of ambition or tastes in pleasure, the externals are simple and honest, and manners are more sensible than affectionate.5 There, it is not a question of finding charms and displaying them; one promises and demands only justice. In general, in all countries where nature is not disturbed by emotions imprinted by government, where the natural is rarely forced to present itself and is fairly unfamiliar with the need to constrain itself, manners count for nothing; there are very few manners unless the laws have established them.

President Montesquieu criticizes the legislators of China for mixing together religion, mores, laws, and manners.6 But wasn’t it to eternalize the legislation they meant to enact that those sublime geniuses bound together things that in many governments are independent, and sometimes even opposed to each other? It was by supporting the moral with the natural and the political with the religious that they made the constitution of the state eternal, and the mores immutable. If there are circumstances, if the centuries bring moments when it would be good for a nation to change its character, then the legislators of China have been wrong.

I observe that the nations that have preserved their national spirit the longest are those in which the legislator has established the closest connection between the constitution of the state, religion, mores, and manners, and above all those in which manners have been instituted by the laws.

In antiquity, the Egyptians were the people that changed the most slowly, and that people was guided by rites, by manners. The subjects of Psammetichus and Apries are recognizable under the dominion of the Persians and the Greeks; they are recognizable under the Romans and under the Mamelukes.7 Even today among the modern Egyptians, vestiges of their ancient customs are still seen, so powerful is the force of habit.

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After the Egyptians, the Spartans are the people who preserved their character the longest. They had a government in which mores, manners, laws, and religion joined together, fortified each other, and were made for each other. Their manners were instituted. The form and topics of conversation, the deportment of the citizens, the way in which they approached each other, their conduct during meals, the details of propriety and decency—in short, the externals—all had occupied Lycurgus’s talents along with virtue and the essential duties. Thus, in the reign of Nerva, the Lacedemonians—who had been subjugated for a long time and were no longer a free people—were still a virtuous people. Nero, going to Athens to cleanse himself after his mother’s murder, did not dare move on to Lacedemon. He feared the looks of its citizens, and there were no priests there who expiated parricides.8

I believe that the French are the modern European people whose character is most pronounced and has experienced the least alteration. They are, says M. Duclos, what they were in the time of the crusades: a lively, gay, generous, brave, sincere, presumptuous, fickle, conceited, rash nation.9 France changes fashions but not mores. Manners, so to speak, made up part of her laws in the past. The code of chivalry, the customs of the old valiant knights, the rules of the old-style civility had manners as their purpose. More than in the rest of Europe, in France they are still one of the purposes of that second education one receives upon entering the world, which unfortunately accords too little with the first.

Manners, therefore, should be one of the goals of education, and can be established even by the laws, at least as often as by example. Morals are the interior of man, manners are his e