Ambroise Clément draws the distinction between two different kinds of charity: true voluntary charity and coerced government “charity” which is really a tax (1852)

In the wake of the tsunamis which detroyed so many lives in south Asia both governments and private individuals have donated funds to help in the relief work. A French classical liberal from the mid-19thC ponders the difference between the two types of charitable giving:

Voltaire lampooned the excessively optimistic Leibnitzian philosophers in his philosophic tale Candide by exposing his characters to one disaster after another, like a tsunami in Lisbon, to show that this was not “the best of all possible worlds”

In 1755 an earthquake and tsunami hit the city of Lisbon, at that time the 4th largest city in Europe. Voltaire used the event in his philosophic tale Candide to argue that this is not the best of all possible worlds:

Frederick Millar is upset that especially at Christmas time the bad effects of the letter-carrying monopoly of the Post Office are felt by the public (1891)

In a collection of essays edited by Thomas Mackay over 100 years ago there is this interesting attack on the evils of the government monopoly Post Office at Christmas-time:

During the American Revolution Thomas Paine penned a patriotic song called “Hail Great Republic” which is to be sung to the tune of Rule Britannia (of course!) (1776)

Paine is well known for having penned a number of patriotic songs during the period of the American Revolution such as "The Liberty Tree", "The Boston Patriotic Song", and the one which is our quote of the week - "Hail Great Republic" (which is to be sung to the tune of "Rule Britannia").

As if in answer to Erasmus' prayer, Spencer does become a Philosopher of the Kitchen arguing that “if there is a wrong in respect of the taking of food (and drink) there must also be a right” (1897)

In The Principles of Ethics Spencer has a section in which he has something to say about the ethics of nutrition and the preference of many to denounce the excess swallowing of liquids rather than of solids:

Erasmus argues that Philosophizing is all very well but there is also a need for there to be a Philosopher of the Kitchen (1518)

Erasmus discusses the merits of feasting with two friends, Austin and Christian. After some witty repartee Austin concludes that Christian is a true "Philosopher of the Kitchen":

Wolowski and Levasseur argue that Property is “the fruit of human liberty” and that Violence and Conquest have done much to disturb this natural order (1884)

One of the many articles translated from the French which appeared in Lalor’s Cyclopedia in 1884. This one is a spirited defence of the natural right to property:

David Hume argued that Individual Liberty emerged slowly out of the “violent system of government” which had earlier prevailed in Europe (1778)

In one of the last sections he wrote in the multi-volume History of England, Hume steps back to survey the entire sweep of English constitutional development. One of the key factors in leading to the creation of English liberty was the ending of serfdom:

James Bryce believed that the Founders intended that the American President would be “a reduced and improved copy of the English king” (1885)

Bryce discusses the office of President and the manner of his election in a Chapter on "The President":

Ludwig von Mises laments the passing of the Age of Limited Warfare and the coming of Mass Destruction in the Age of Statism and Conquest (1949)

Published in the immediate aftermath of the Second World War, Mises’ magnum opus, Human Action (1949) contained a chapter on "The Economics of War" in which he laments the killing of innocents:

Voltaire notes that where Commerce and Toleration predominate, a Multiplicity of Faiths can live together in Peace and Happiness (1764)

In his Philosophical Dictionary Voltaire makes a connection between economic prosperity and religious toleration in England:

Thomas Gordon believes that bigoted Princes are subject to the “blind control” of other “Directors and Masters” who work behind the scenes (1737)

Thomas Gordon, one of the co-authors of Cato’s Letters, introduced his multi-volume translation of the works of Tacitus with a number of Discourses supposedly on Tacitus but which he also used to criticize the behavior of the contemporary British government:

Shakespeare farewells his lover in a Sonnet using many mercantile and legal metaphors (1609)

This sonnet is striking for its use of mercantile and legal metaphors, perhaps drawing upon Shakespeare’s own experience as an entrepreneur:

Samuel warns his people that if they desire a King they will inevitably have conscription, requisitioning of their property, and taxation (7th century BC)

The prophet Samuel tells the people of Israel what lies in store for them if they have their wish granted that a King rule over them:

The Prophet Isaiah urges the people to “beat their swords into plowshares” and learn war no more (700s BC)

The Gospels draw heavily on the Book of Isaiah for a utopic view of the world. The famous "swords to plowshares" quote (Isaiah 2:4) is but one of its famous proclamations:

The Psalmist laments that he lives in a Society which “hateth peace” and cries out “I am for peace: but when I speak they are for war” (1000 BC)

One of the 150 poems, songs, and prayers from the Old Testament’s Book of Psalms:

Voltaire on the Benefits which Trade and Economic Abundance bring to People living in the Present Age (1736)

Voltaire’s poem celebrating the fact that he was living in an age of developing commerce and markets:

John Taylor on how a “sound freedom of property” can destroy the threat to Liberty posed by “an adoration of military fame” and oppressive governments (1820)

In 1820 Taylor was concerned that the promise of the American constitution, to radically limit the power of the central state, was being undermined by interventionist economic policies:

Bruno Leoni on the different Ways in which Needs can be satisfied, either voluntarily through the Market or coercively through the State (1963)

In a lecture given to the Freedom School in Colorado Springs in 1963, the Italian liberal jurist Leoni examines the differences between satisfying needs through voluntary cooperation (i.e. the market) and coercion (i.e. voting):

Thomas Hodgskin on the Suffering of those who had been Impressed or Conscripted into the despotism of the British Navy (1813)

Hodgskin was forced to leave the British Navy after being physically punished for complaining about the brutal treatment of sailors who been impressed (conscripted):

Sir Edward Coke defends British Liberties and the Idea of Habeas Corpus in the Petition of Right before Parliament (1628)

After a series of debates in parliament in early 1628, Sir Edward Coke wrote and got adopted one of the founding documents securing the liberties of Englishmen:

Algernon Sidney’s Motto was that his Hand (i.e. his pen) was an Enemy to all Tyrants (1660)

In the Foreword to the Liberty Fund edition of Sidney’s Discourses Thomas G. West discusses the importance of Sidney’s work to the American Founding Fathers:

Bernhard Knollenberg on the Belief of many colonial Americans that Liberty was lost because the Leaders of the People had failed in their Duty (2003)

In his magisterial history of the American Revolution, Bernhard Knollenberg remarks upon the problems facing the Continental Congress in September 1774:

Jean Barbeyrac on the Virtues which all free Men should have (1718)

In his translation of Samuel Pufendorf’s treatise on natural law, The Whole Duty of Man (1691, 1718), Jean Barbeyrac included a number of essays and commentaries. In one, a “Discourse on the Benefits Conferred by the Laws”, he made the following observation:

Robert Nisbet on the Shock the Founding Fathers would feel if they could see the current size of the Military Establishment and the National Government (1988)

In 1988 Nisbet gave a series of lectures to celebrate the bicentennial of the American Constitution. He reflected on what the Framers would be most struck by in America today and concluded that they would be incredulous at the staggering size of the military establishment and the Leviathan-like size of the national government: