He argued that the native peoples had rational souls like the settlers that colonised their land and that consequently they were every bit as human as the colonisers and must be treated as their ethical equals. The Spaniards had, indeed, a moral obligation towards the natives and must discharge this obligation before they incurred the wrath of God.
Anthony Pagden, who has carried out extensive recent research into the context and background of this dispute, and the personalities involved in it, fills in much of the detail. It was only when the president of the panel, Soto, intervened that the debate drew to an inconclusive close.
A French translation of this work was made by Jacques de Miggrode and published in Antwerp in at the behest of the Dutch States General who commissioned the work as a warning against Spanish imperialism.
Une Apologie du Cannibalisme: édition intégrale (Études) (French Edition) - Kindle edition by B. Beau. Download it once and read it on your Kindle device, PC. Une Apologie du Cannibalisme: édition intégrale (Études) (French Edition) La vie et la mort: Croyances et doctrines de l'antiquité chinoise (édition intégrale).
What rights could they be said to have? And a related issue, not directly raised or contested by Las Casas: in what sense, if any, could European monarchs claim jurisdiction over the New World? What was the basis of their authority apart from the brute exercise of power? The Tempest is no exception to this rule. In particular, the close of the play throws up issues of special interest that claim our attention, notably in relation to questions of distributive and commutative justice. Dost thou think so, spirit? Mine would, sir, were I human. And mine shall. Hast thou, which art but air, a touch, a feeling Of their afflictions, and shall not myself, One of their kind, that relish all as sharply Passion as they, be kindlier moved than thou art?
The rarer action is In virtue than in vengeance. They being penitent, The sole drift of my purpose doth extend Not a frown further. Go release them, Ariel. And they shall be themselves.
It is a sign that the end of the play approaches and with it the resolution of the drama. Yet resolution will not be reached, forgiveness not bestowed, without a reminder of the wrongs committed. Flesh and blood, You, brother mine, that entertained ambition, Expelled remorse and nature, whom, with Sebastian — Whose inward pinches therefore are most strong — Would have killed your king, I do forgive thee, Unnatural though thou art.
Thy pulse Beats as of flesh and blood; […] Thy dukedom I resign, and do entreat Thou pardon me my wrongs. For you, most wicked sir, whom to call brother Would even infect my mouth, I do forgive Thy rankest fault, all of them, and require My dukedom of thee, which perforce I know Thou must restore. My dukedom since you have given me again, I will requite you with as good a thing. Was Milan thrust from Milan, that his issue Should become kings of Naples? Prospero addresses Caliban:. Go, sirrah, to my cell.
Take with you your companions. As you look To have my pardon, trim it handsomely. But where is the commutative justice? The seminal articles by Francis Barker and Peter Hulme, and by Paul Brown, have offered penetrating assessments of The Tempest in terms which illuminate its relationship to modern day colonialist and political theory as well as to Elizabethan and Jacobean conceptualisations of the same. And as Meredith Anne Skura justifiably points out, the play allows Caliban the extensive airing of his views and of the injustices he suffers:.
Shakespeare was the first to show one of us mistreating a native, the first to represent a native from the inside, the first to allow a native to complain on stage, and the first to make that New World encounter problematic enough to generate the current attention to the play. However, this latter development is an involuntary concomitant of the teleology of justice and of the drama , not an essential component of it; and he consequently receives nothing in exchange for the wrongs he has suffered because it is not admitted that he has suffered any wrongs.
The conclusion of the drama leaves this particular ethical issue inconclusive. The aesthetic space […] is constituted by the simultaneous appropriation of and swerving from the discourse of power. On the one hand, justice can be enacted in such a way as to bring about reconciliation between opposing political interests and the preservation of dynastic order before power itself is voluntarily laid down by Prospero. At the same time, however, what Prospero restores is an order of culture, owing to the supernatural control he wields.
The fantasy of justice he creates is itself not a natural product, but an ideological one, premised on the assumption that art and nature can coincide. The self-reflexive nature of the play highlights just how precarious that ideological construct is: it is a dream that rounds off a sleep, an insubstantial pageant on a shadow stage. Hume is English, a republican, and a Protestant, he has always spoken of the French with esteem, and of kings and Catholics with moderation; and it is possible that this singularity has offended a nation that is too much in the habit of seeing in monarchies only a herd of slaves and in papists Edition: current; Page: [ 17 ] only a band of fanatics; a nation, in short, that is too prone to denying the existence of liberty, virtue, and philosophy in any government but its own.
The English, who possess the Roman virtue of partiality for their country, have themselves blamed him for this fault and they think a good deal less of this author than we ourselves do. The English have reproached him for causing tears to be shed over the fate of Marie Stuart and of Charles I. This simple good heartedness makes his impartiality more noble and his philosophy more touching. Hume has to say about the French nation when he thinks praise is deserved, the moderation with which he speaks of the church of Rome, or of the unfortunate Stuarts, would not be a reason for them to accuse this author of popery, of Jacobitism, and of Francomania, and his works would be as famous in London as they are in Paris.
You would have remarked in my writings, that my principles are, all along, tolerably monarchical, and that I abhor that low practice, so prevalent in England, of speaking with malignity of France. That I am a lover of liberty will be expected Edition: current; Page: [ 19 ] from my country, though I hope that I carry not that passion to any ridiculous extreme. Smollett believes himself to be entirely above all national prejudice and jealousies; he sees himself as perfectly free of those unjust partisan sentiments that dishonour the works of several English historians; he assures the reader that no religious controversy, no political faction commands his ardent allegiance.
This manner of declaration appears to us all the more astonishing in that we can scarcely think of any historian who surpasses Mr. Smollett in partiality, whether in the various parallels he has drawn between the monarchs of France and the kings of Great Britain, or in the exaggerated praises he is forever heaping on his fellow-countrymen. More circumspect at times, but also more satirical and more caustic than Rapin de Thoyras, he rails against Catholicism, he dredges up everything that indecency and irreligion have expounded against the venerable bishops who brought renown to England; he sees their zeal as blind fanaticism, their candour as hypocrisy, their attachment to the Roman church as criminal, outrageously independent, an unpardonable felony.
Here the similarity of views seems almost automatic. Hume would Edition: current; Page: [ 20 ] not disown as his master regards as incompatible with the duties of an historian. We have never before seen a history so dominated by the dangerous art that makes the most evil characters seem bearable by hiding certain traits and by softening what remains through the use of clever shading and nuances.
But that is not all.
His taste for paradox and his partiality are often only too glaringly apparent in his character portrayals of several important personages. The portrait of James II is so lacking in features resembling the original that one must needs have seen attached to it the name of this monarch to believe that it is he whom Mr. Hume has sought to depict as a prince who was steady in his counsels, diligent in his schemes, brave in his enterprises, faithful, sincere, and honourable in his dealings with all men.
Quite to the contrary, the Huguenot editor asserts, James II had been, in fact, cruel, vindictive, cowardly and treacherous. The partisan spirit that encumbered the author in his treatment of the Stuart period and caused him, in combination with his affectation of impartiality, to fall into so many revolting contradictions, hinders him less as he moves away from modern times. But on the other hand, one would like to find these same improvements in what he has to say of the origins and progress of the Reformation and of the spirit that inspired the Reformers.
There are passages where one is tempted to think that Mr. Hume is a papist, did we not already know him for a pyrrhonian. A proper sense of historical writing that sets aside or touches only lightly the unessential, that selects and arranges interesting events judiciously and presents them clearly, can be detected everywhere in these two new volumes.
The horrendous consequences of it are only too well known: all of Europe was horror-struck and roused to indignation: these just feelings are renewed in their entirety as we peruse this history. Possessing all the virtues of the good king, Charles I reappears here, hunted down, arrested, held a prisoner in captivity. This monarch, charged by unlawful procedure, judged without legitimate authority, condemned for no crime, here moves to tears all readers who will find him even greater on the scaffold, even more steadfast, generous, and virtuous than he had appeared during the triumphs and reversals that were the glory, as they were the misfortune, of his reign.
Every passage in which Hume rehabilitates the names of English Catholics is underlined by the Jesuit editors. These lessons are quite explicit and, in part, anticipate some of the more eccentric and extreme interpretations of the work by counter-revolutionary thinkers after One has only to compare this history of the reign of Charles I with others that have also been written in accordance with Protestant prejudice, to sense Mr.
Without including in this comparison any Catholic Edition: current; Page: [ 23 ] writer, we can draw the following conclusions: 1. That since their separation from the Roman Church, Protestants, left to their own thinking, can have only an irresolute and uncertain doctrine which leaves them exposed to the most frightful aberrations, with no solid means to regulate their belief and bring it to true uniformity.
That the influence of their doctrine has given rise to the most horrible disruptions in England, and the most abominable crimes against sovereigns. That this heretical fanaticism not only spreads with great rapidity, it also provides a rich and inexhaustible breeding ground for dangerous monsters; since the Independents, had their leader Cromwell not forestalled the danger, were on the point of being subjugated by the Agitators, or the Levellers, a sect whose enthusiasm, grafted onto the fanaticism of these same Independents, aimed to introduce perfect equality among the citizens, and, consequently, the most monstrous confusion and anarchy in the government.
That debate, as Mr. As I have already pointed out, the question of whether Hume really implies all this, whether the Jesuits made a correct or distorted interpretation of his intentions, is somewhat irrelevant to my purpose. The essential fact is that such interpretations were made and made frequently by an astonishing variety of readers in eighteenth-century France. Still, this aspect of the History was not seen as an insuperable problem.
Hume to be strictly impartial in his treatment of this reign: he is too biased against the person, the court, and the religion of James II, as well as against France, Louis XIV, and all forms of zeal, to prevent his pen from leaving traces of his prejudices in this history. Hume is still the least biased against the Roman Church, and the least prejudiced in favour of the Protestant sects; for this he deserves due credit.
Doctor Burnet complacently relates all the infamies the monks were accused of in the reports prepared by the commissioners Henry VIII sent to all the religious houses to make inquiries regarding the conduct and morals of the nuns and friars. Hume, wiser and more circumspect in his judgements, does not rely much on the accuracy of these reports; ever on guard against the partisan spirit that dictated them, he acknowledges that in times of faction, especially of the religious variety, little truth is to be expected from even the most ostensibly authentic testimony.
He refuses as well to impute to the Catholic religion abuses that the Church in fact condemns, such as exposing false relics, and the pious impostures employed in some places by the monks to increase the devotion and consequently the contributions of the people. Such fooleries, he writes, as they are to be found in all ages and nations, and even took place during the most refined periods of antiquity, form no particular or violent reproach to the Catholic religion.
It must be admitted, Monsieur, that nothing resembles less the ordinary rantings of Protestant writers than does such language. Edition: current; Page: [ 26 ] But even here we must make a distinction. It was especially this last section which permitted the French historian to praise the work as a more geographically restricted version of his own Essai sur les Moeurs. Hume no longer seemed to be the divinely impartial historian, that rare angel of truth. Just as many traditionalists in France had been disappointed in to see the free-thinking Philosophical Essays appear only a few years after the fairly orthodox Political Discourses of , a number of conservative French admirers of the Stuarts and Tudors withdrew their support for the historian after the appearance of the Plantagenets.
The philosophes too spoke admiringly of impartiality but felt, certainly, that it should never be allowed to develop to the point where it might become a source of comfort to the enemy. Hume, it is that he is rather too fond of paradox, a failing that sometimes leads his reasoning astray; he is also a Jacobite. Why, Grimm complained, did Hume feel it necessary to add to the confusion of the philosophic battle by discussing rather sceptically—and, yes, with an appalling lack of originality—the epistemological doctrines Locke had settled once and for all?
Hume and twenty other Englishmen, has been persecuted in the land of the Welches [the French] and his book has been burned there. All of which goes to prove that the English are men and the French are children. Hume in his History perhaps flattered those naughty children too much.
The fact remains that the philosophes did identify or did their best to identify the historical efforts of Hume and Voltaire. They, as well as Dr. It is therefore in the name of England, France, Germany, Italy, and in the name of posterity, that I entreat you to write this history. Remember that you alone are in a position to write it; that many centuries will pass before another Monsieur Hume is born, and that it is a benefit you owe to the universe, both present and future.
Hume to write an ecclesiastical history. It would be, at this juncture, one of the finest of literary enterprises, and one of the greatest services rendered to philosophy and to humanity. I much prefer seeing you whip in hand, dealing out justice to all those celebrated ruffians who have disturbed the peace of your country.
After the Plantagenets, Hume abandoned English history. Although he had at one time thought of continuing the work, the plan was never realized. But no matter how interesting that subject might be in your hands, I would nevertheless have preferred to see you undertake an ecclesiastical history.
What the philosophes wanted from an ecclesiastical history is not a matter of doubt. Still, I shall never get over being denied the ecclesiastical history I requested of you so many times, which you alone perhaps in Europe are capable of writing, which would be quite as interesting as Greek and Roman history, were you willing to give yourself the trouble of painting our holy mother the Church au naturel. Clearly it was the medieval section of the History which proved most useful to them. Hume, illustrious in the same career.
Hume, a witness whose testimony will not be seen as suspect, admits in good faith that the inveterate animosity of the Irish toward the English, their attachment to freedom, property, and their ancient customs, their envy of the English recently transplanted to Ireland and fear that even worse mistreatment from them would follow, in short, dissatisfaction with Edition: current; Page: [ 33 ] the English government, these were the true causes of this civil war. Those who estimate the number of dead to be sixty or eighty thousand, exaggerate by half.
The major conclusion that emerges from an examination of the evidence is, however, that the History, valuable as it may have seemed to the philosophes, proved to be infinitely more exploitable by the traditionalists. An anonymous eighteenth-century commentator of the Hume-Rousseau quarrel obliquely suggested that this was the case:. You are aware no doubt that our philosophers had fallen into great disrepute, at the time they concluded that David Hume would make a suitable recruit for their sect and would help to raise it up.
He was a foreigner, imperturbably stolid, bold in his speculations, and sufficiently well behaved in his actions. He had written the History of his country for England, and four volumes of philosophy for France. His History, which had little success in London, succeeded very well in Paris, among our philosophers and their disciples, because of the four volumes of philosophy that buttressed their principles.
They spoke of it with great enthusiasm: it was purchased, scarcely read, and praised to the skies. That Hume was more routinely praised than carefully read by the philosophe party is entirely possible.
Reaction was inevitable. Voltaire had spoken of the English as tolerant in religion, moderate and free in politics and, most important of all, profound in their philosophical thinking. If only, Voltaire seemed to be saying, France took England for its model, then all would be well.
Lefebvre de Beauvray disagreed vehemently. We are harangued every day on how little liberty is afforded under monarchical government. To silence these critics, I shall ask them only to weigh the following considerations, set out in good faith by Mr. Or should it be found impossible to restrain the license of human disquisitions, it must be acknowledged that the doctrine of obedience ought alone to be inculcated and that the exceptions, which are rare, ought seldom or never to be mentioned in popular reasonings and discourses. Nor is there any danger that mankind, by this prudent reserve, should universally degenerate into a state of abject servitude.
Obliged to curry favour with the Populace, they saw themselves obliged to applaud its folly, or to fall in with its rage. Cromwell was not just the worst of these parliamentary leaders; no man since Mohammed, de Beauvray affirms, had exhibited to the same degree such a harmful mixture of genius and low cunning. Voltaire had painted a very rosy picture of religious toleration in England; each Englishman, we remember, is seen as going to heaven by the road of his choice. Hume, in his descriptions of the Civil War period, gives us a rather different version of things and, still according to Lefebvre de Beauvray, his picture is one which deprives the British people of any right to accuse other nations of religious persecution:.
Never was there an Inquisition like that instigated by the Puritans of England and the Covenanters of Scotland. The supposedly religious confederation known as the Covenant brought fire and sword to all parts of the Three Kingdoms. It was, in a sense, this league that prepared the horrific tragedy whose outcome was so fatal to the royal family and still causes sons to lament the crime of their fathers. Similarly, those who make a great show of tolerance often reveal a most intolerant character. Without themselves deigning to tolerate anyone, they want everyone to tolerate them.
Some reproach him his Scottish birth and his predilection for the Court party. As a consequence they deny him the acclaim his writings and research deserve. If they persist in the assertion that Mr. Hume is not a good historian, then England does not yet have a national history and can never have one. Voltaire had Edition: current; Page: [ 39 ] also praised the English for their civic virtues.
But was England really such a model island of patriots and philosophers? What is significant for us is that he too found proofs for his arguments in the impartial Mr. Hume frankly admitted, for example, that the English at the time of the Norman Conquest showed very little of that patriotism which they liked to boast of as almost hereditary in their nation.
The British Cabinet had always known that its unruly subjects had either to be amused or to be feared:. To avoid being reduced to this last extremity, it seeks to keep its restless population occupied. And if such enterprises turn out to be ruinous for the nation, it lulls the people with celebrations of these glorious triumphs that in fact exhaust it. That is why one of the most astute political thinkers of England Mr. The philosophes were not to be allowed the satisfaction of thinking that all of modern philosophy supported their cause.
Hume was not really an angel of truth, but he could be spirited away from his evil brothers and put to work against their incredulity.
Happily, there was a remedy for their blindness:. More judicious authors have remedied this failing with more accurate studies, based on authentic documentation. If among those persons who have fallen away from religion because of unfortunate prejudices there can be found minds of rectitude and equity and hearts inclined to virtue, what better way for them to be cured of their prejudices and reconciled to Christianity than by reading the life of Jesus Christ and the lives of the saints who, imbued with the spirit of Jesus Christ, have exemplified in all of their conduct the Edition: current; Page: [ 42 ] grandeur and simplicity of the Gospels?
There they will find human nature ennobled by the most exalted virtues, practiced in full brilliance and without ostentation. Apparently a perusal of Hume could be added profitably to readings from the gospels.
Already author of an anti- Emile and an anti- Contrat social, Gerdil set out again to attack the artificiality of contract theory. Man is born for society; the contracts of Hobbes, Locke, and Rousseau are false, the concept of natural equality is a harmful myth; ultimately, the organization of man in society is a reflection of the government of God.
One is not surprised to find this learned ecclesiastic defending theocracy as the true basis of government. Little more than a clever transition is required to perform this textual miracle. The origin of Edition: current; Page: [ 43 ] public authority does not rest, then, in the free consent of individuals who have given up for this purpose part of their natural rights. Public authority takes all its force from the right that nature implicitly gives every society to see to its well-being and survival:.
Gerdil applauds this argument as entirely solid. Unfortunately, Hume spoils his line of reasoning somewhat by his subsequent conclusions. Gerdil gives the obviously confused but no doubt well-intentioned Monsieur Hume a kindly correction on this point:. The establishment of government conforms to the intentions of the omniscient Being, and the sovereign occupies a place in society that is designated expressly by Providence; but the abuse that a bandit makes of his physical power in order to rob the passerby is a crime against the laws of God, who, while allowing this evil, disapproves of it, condemns and punishes it.
How then could Mr. Hume suggest that the authority of the most lawful prince is not more sacred, or more inviolable than that of a brigand? We must therefore look upon the establishment of government not only as the simple effect of this secret influence that animates all of nature but also as an institution that God desires, that conforms to the intentions of the all wise Being and to his supreme beneficence. This conformity that Mr. Hume acknowledges is revealed to us by right reason, informs us by clear and immediate logic that we cannot attack the sovereign authority of government without at the same time defying the intentions, the laws, and the will of the omniscient Being.
This proves sufficiently that such authority is sacred and inviolable. What reason demonstrates on this subject is fully confirmed by the testimony of the Scriptures which reveal to us in a more distinct and authentic manner the will of the Supreme Being. Christianity, he maintained to the contrary, has been a civilizing and beneficial factor in good government throughout the ages:.
Christianity has had a civilizing effect on customs, it has checked the spirit of sedition, it has uprooted and destroyed the seeds of civil war. It is therefore undeniable that it has been a force for good in the universe. These same frenzied tubthumpers who constantly proclaim Christianity to be a religion of disorder and discord, a disruptive force that overturns states, kingdoms, and empires, also seek to depict it as a bloodthirsty religion, the most dangerous to crowned heads. In that, they are not of the same opinion as one of the most celebrated learned men of this century who, though a Protestant, acknowledges that, of all religions, Catholicism is the most favourable to sovereigns.
Hume, Hist. Hume does not speak of it. Quite to the contrary, James was forced to leave the English throne because he was excessively tolerant. But he wished to grant complete freedom of conscience to all sects within his kingdom, and to mitigate the harshness of the laws against Catholics, without, however, as he persisted in asserting to his last breath Hume, t. That was the source of his misfortunes!
Hume: a Protestant in origin, an unbeliever by profession, a subject and partisan of the House of Hanover: his authority should not be suspect to our panegyrist. Here is how he ends his history of James II. The philosophes maintain that religion is unnecessary in a well-run society. No legislator has set out to bring under the rule of law a people deprived of a belief in God and in a future life. It is sheer folly to consider feasible an enterprise that no sage has ever dared to attempt.
First of all, it is absurd to suppose that there were priests before there was religion. Hume, who is anything but biased in their favour, acknowledges in good faith that they are not the original authors of religion or of superstition; that at most they may have helped to foster it. We can conclude without hesitation that the same is true of religion, since it is grafted on nature. If some traces of humanity, morals, order, and learning are to be found in the fifteenth century, it is undeniably to Christianity that we must be grateful.
The clergy, Hume is quoted as maintaining, also served during this time as a barrier against political despotism. Not only did the clergy of the pre-Reformation Church stand as a barrier against despotism, but the union of the Western Churches under one sovereign pontiff facilitated commerce and was a highly desirable, politically unifying principle. The wealth and splendour of the Church had the effect of encouraging the arts.
Though some corruption in the Church indeed existed, it was not the main cause of the Reformation, nor was the issue of religion the main cause of the massacres which took place in England, Scotland, and Ireland at that time. Tudor, II. The question is to determine whether the Calvinists had a legitimate claim, whether the government was obligated, in terms of natural law, to satisfy it, and whether it could do so as a matter of sound Edition: current; Page: [ 52 ] policy.
In this regard, we invite dispassionate consideration of the following:.
The character of the first Calvinist ministers is well known, as is the nature of their doctrine; they taught that the Catholic religion was an abomination and that its adherents were denied salvation. David Hume acknowledges that in Scotland, in the year , a bare toleration of the new preachers would have been equivalent to a deliberate plan to destroy the national religion; he proves the point by his account of the fanatical conduct of these sectaries, Histoire de la Maison de Tudor, t.
III, p. IV, p. In France the situation was no different. Where the Calvinists managed to gain control, no practice of the Catholic religion was allowed: by what right then could they claim that their own should be tolerated? Apologists like Bergier and Gerdil quote Hume as naturally, almost, as they quote Bossuet. In fact, they both sometimes quote Hume and Bossuet together on the same point. Monsieur Bergier, as is customary with theologians, ends by indicting his adversaries as disturbers of the peace and as bad citizens; he bases his claim on the authority of a renowned philosopher Mr.
Hume who acknowledges that those who attack the established religion of a country may be good reasoners, but are clearly bad citizens.
We will answer Monsieur Bergier by pointing out that it is scarcely fitting for theologians and priests to accuse philosophers of causing disorder in the state. We will say to him that it is theology, with its shameful abuses of power, that has been in a position over nearly the last eighteen centuries to disturb the peace of nations;. We will say to him that. As for the opinion of Mr. Hume which seems to provide Monsieur Bergier with such a triumphant victory, we will respond by saying to him that the authority of a philosopher does not carry the same weight for other philosophers, as the authority of a Church Father or Council might for a theologian; we will say to him that Mr.
Hume could have been mistaken in his judgement of those who oppose established opinion and that if he had taken careful note of the countless evils brought down on the world by Christianity, he would have been obliged to admit that those who forcefully attack prejudice and superstition are, on the contrary, very good citizens indeed. Few philosophes showed any real objections to living under a political despot provided he, like Frederick the Great, for example, was witty and a good priest-hater as well.
As is well known, the intellectual mood in France was soon to change. A second generation of philosophes begins to emerge in the s and s, still anti-clerical—although this question was by now rather old hat—but more interested in investigating and pointing out the sins of kings than of priests.
These last very definitely do not claim David Hume as an ally. There is even some apprehension on their part that he might be just what Trublet, Bergier, Nonnotte, Royou, Gerdil, Lefebvre de Beauvray, and others in their use of him had suggested he was—a treacherous enemy in disguise. It is in the correspondence of Turgot and Hume exchanged between the years and that we catch perhaps our first real glimpse—and it is still only a glimpse—of what was to be a consciously acknowledged fundamental disagreement between Hume and the politically idealistic French intellectuals of this later period.
Unlike the other philosophes, however, he showed on the occasion of the Hume-Rousseau quarrel a certain unflattering if sincere reserve in judging the wrongs of the affair which left unsatisfied the wounded feelings of the Scottish historian. Their tendency, moreover, was surely rather to do hurt than service to mankind. Unlike you, I am far from judging them to be harmful to the interests of mankind; on the contrary, I think that he is one of the authors who has contributed most to morals and the good of humanity. Far from reproaching him for having on this point set himself too much apart from common notions, I believe, on the contrary, that he has respected still too many prejudices.
I think that he has not gone far enough along that road, but it is by following his road that we shall one day reach the goal of bringing mankind closer to equality, justice, and humanity. The Contrat social, however, is a different matter:. To my mind, Emile seems inspired by the purest morality ever taught in lesson form, although I think one could go even farther; but I shall be very careful not to tell you my ideas on that subject, for you would judge me to be even more mad than Rousseau.
Only the extreme right had taken grateful notice of his conservatism. Opinion, not contract, was at the basis of human government and most governments had, in fact, been founded on conquest or usurpation. Established government bears a sacred authority by the very fact that it is established. Resistance to it is always unwise and must be considered only as a last resort since nothing is more terrible to contemplate than the anarchy that would result from a complete dissolution of government:.
Did one generation of men go off the stage at once, and another succeed, as is the case with silk-worms and butterflies, the new race, if they had sense enough to choose their government, which surely is never the case with men, might voluntarily, and by general consent, establish their own form of civil polity, without any regard to the laws or precedents, which prevailed among their ancestors. But as human society is in perpetual flux, one man every hour going out of the world, another coming into it, it is necessary, in order to preserve stability in government, that the new brood should conform themselves to the established constitution, and nearly follow Edition: current; Page: [ 58 ] the path which their fathers, treading in the footsteps of theirs, had marked out to them.
Some innovations must necessarily have place in every human institution, and it is happy where the enlightened genius of the age gives these a direction to the side of reason, liberty, and justice: but violent innovations no individual is entitled to make: they are even dangerous to be attempted by the legislature: more ill than good is ever to be expected from them: and if history affords examples to the contrary, they are not to be drawn into precedent, and are only to be regarded as proofs, that the science of politics affords few rules, which will not admit of some exceptions.
Hume may not have been entirely sure that the old gods existed but, in the best sceptical tradition, he held that they ought to be worshipped. The course of history is cyclical; the new ideals of liberty and progress represent recurrent political delusions. I know you are one of those, who entertain the agreeable and laudable, if not too sanguine hope, that human society is capable of perpetual progress towards perfection, that the increase of knowledge will still prove favourable to good government, and that since the discovery of printing we need no longer dread the usual returns of barbarism and ignorance.
Pray, do not the late events in this country appear a little contrary to your system? Here is a people thrown into disorders not dangerous ones, I hope merely from the abuse of liberty, chiefly the liberty of the press; without any grievance, Edition: current; Page: [ 59 ] I do not only say, real, but even imaginary; and without any of them being able to tell one circumstance of government which they wish to have corrected: They roar liberty, though they have apparently more liberty than any people in the world; a great deal more than they deserve; and perhaps more than any men ought to have.
You see, I give you freely my views of things, in which I wish earnestly to be refuted: The contrary opinion is much more consolatory, and is an incitement to every virtue and laudable pursuit. If my departure allowed me a few moments, I would add a word or two in defence of my ideas on the perfectibility and the perfecting of our poor species. These minor disorders now taking place before our eyes do not shake my confidence one whit; and I say, with more justification than the General of the Jesuits— alios ventos alias tempestates vidimus. Good government will not come without crises, and these will be accompanied by disorder.
Should we blame enlightenment and liberty for guiding us through this turbulence to a happier state? Obviously not. Injuries will be suffered during our passage, of course! But will these be more harmful than the injuries suffered under the rule of tyranny and superstition that seeks to smother liberty and enlightenment, and strives to do so through means that, once things have progressed beyond a certain point, are either totally useless or entirely abominable, and often both one and the other?
I doubt that you think so any more than I do. The people preoccupied with their necessities, the great with their pleasures, have no time to be savants and to shake off their prejudices on their own; but a consequence of the progress in knowledge is that one does not need to be a savant to have good sense and to popularize truths that today can be made convincing only with work and effort.
Adieu, Monsieur—time is short and I must hurry. In fact time was running short; there were many important reforms to carry out; perhaps even, for others if not for Turgot, Edition: current; Page: [ 60 ] there was a revolution to prepare.
Himself a victim of the lettre de cachet, Mirabeau, composing this work in prison in , protested against all forms of ministerial despotism. Both natural and positive law, he affirmed, condemned arbitrary imprisonment. There is even much to suggest that, had he been alive, he would have heartily approved the suspension of habeas corpus in England during the period when Mirabeau was actually composing his work. The great philosopher certainly forgot himself most strangely if it is true that he seriously hesitated on this occasion.
Mirabeau admits that Hume in a preceding passage had seemed to call this law necessary for the protection of liberty in a mixed monarchy and had seemed to say that, since it existed nowhere but in England, it alone was a consideration sufficient to induce the English to prefer their constitution to all others. To this Mirabeau adds the following comment:. If the law which prohibits all forms of arbitrary imprisonment is essentially requisite for the protection of liberty, it is forever sacred and irrefragable; for what is the benefit of government if not the protection of liberty?
And what can authorize it to commit evils it must prevent? In any case, if the sole object of government is not to guarantee our liberty and property, what care we for its fine police; what care we for the advantage of society that serves as a pretext for all forms of individual injustice if that advantage can only be obtained at the cost of the rights and benefits whose protection and enhancement formed the original purpose of our uniting with our fellow-creatures.
The lesson, Mirabeau concludes, is obvious: France Edition: current; Page: [ 62 ] could do away with its system of lettres de cachet and its complicated apparatus of despotism which induced foreigners to laugh at Frenchmen as poor, down-trodden slaves. Let us not then abuse this word necessity, capable of authorizing every act of tyranny, as well as arbitrary imprisonment. Never let it be introduced into a legal cause, or in any circumstance that is anticipated in the law.
When this deadly necessity exists in fact, it requires no explanation: no one will call it into question. This supposition of a state of emergency is thus entirely irrelevant to the present discussion; we have asked the question: Is the use of lettres de cachet just? Is it beneficial? We are given the answer that there are circumstances when they become necessary. Why this ridiculous evasion? Do such circumstances exist? No, they do not, and if they did, it is highly doubtful that the lettres would be obeyed; for orders so arbitrary can have force only in times of the most peaceful and complete obedience.
Mirabeau does in fact condescend to cite facts to support his arguments but, in the typical radical tradition of many later revolutionists, he prefers to talk of principles rather than precedents. History is somehow irrelevant in a question of right:. Polemical details should never be more than a secondary consideration in politico-philosophical writings, if I may employ that term, and the principles of natural law must be given first place. Arguments of reason are always infinitely stronger than those of any other authority and in political and philosophical matters they render historical dissertations that are subject to interminable Edition: current; Page: [ 63 ] debate quite superfluous.
Besides rejecting history altogether, another possibility open to the revolutionary who finds the evidence of history in apparent contradiction with his principles is, of course, to rewrite history or at least to find historians whose ideas are more in keeping with those principles. But more on that later.
Let us now examine the work of another radical theoretician who found it necessary at this time to attack the historian Hume. In the work Des droits et des devoirs du citoyen, this disciple of Rousseau, who tended in his own writings to defend a primitive form of idealistic communism, gives us a fairly good idea why. All these unconnected facts slip from my memory, I have wasted my time. During this same period we find the future revolutionary leader Brissot de Warville largely agreeing that history should be, first and foremost, a school of liberalism.
Who among them will not amend an inclination for arbitrary government after contemplating the fate of Charles I and James II? The first duty of the historian is thus to be courageous and fearless, if he wishes to be useful. Impartiality is seen by Brissot as a rather secondary virtue in the historian.
In fact, Brissot makes it something of a sin for the historian to be impartial in the wrong way. She has been blamed as an historian whose partiality for republicanism is too marked. But how could she have avoided partiality while depicting the tyrannical excesses that signalled the ministries of the Buckinghams, the Lauds, and the Straffords? Her partiality in favour of that system speaks highly of both her spirit and her intellect.
Partiality for characters alone dishonours the historian. Respect for the sacred rights that nature has granted to mankind is what distinguishes this history and places it well above that of Hume, whose fawning courtier spirit often alters or effaces the colours of truth. Madame Macaulay has had the courage to. And now I have but one wish: that her History be translated into French.
The change in political climate which took place between the s and the s is well illustrated by earlier French reactions to republican interpretations of the English revolution. Edition: current; Page: [ 66 ] The hostility expressed by Bossuet in the seventeenth century toward these fiendish regicides is still very much alive a century later.
The last two lines of the play, significantly, are spoken by the heroic General Monk:. From my early youth, I have nourished my mind by reading those histories which exhibit liberty in its most exalted state; the word Republic alone is enough to raise up my heart, and my soul rejoices every time I think of the independence of the Greeks or the free and noble pride of the Romans. The mind of the historian must be similarly disposed, in my view, if he wishes to see the events he recounts in a manner that differs from the productions of most of our political writers, those outrageous and contemptible sycophants whose only talent lies in casting a seductive veil over the most monstrous vices;.
I propose in my history to accord praise only to true virtue, paying no heed to the rank or fame of those who have dishonoured their name, etc. She protests that she will say nothing that is improper, nothing that breathes licence or sedition; but does she speak the language of the good citizen, does she seem to love the public peace when she asserts that whoever attempts to reconcile monarchy with liberty is a rebel in the blackest and fullest sense; he is a rebel to the laws of his country, the laws of nature, the laws of reason, and the laws of God.
The next two decades were to witness a rapid evolution of French political attitudes.
A similar evolution in political attitudes is reflected to some extent by the opinions of a few pre-revolutionary writers who take a more positive approach to the idea of Cromwell as the central figure in philosophical tragedy. You have such a subject to deal with and yet you speak to me always of ancient Persians and Greeks, you give me novels in rhyme! Pray, bestir yourselves! Paint me a Cromwell!
I was told that the play was a masterpiece, and that the case of kings and the people had never before been presented with such force, eloquence, or truth. Cromwell was the avenger, a hero worthy of the sceptre he had dashed from a treacherous hand that was guilty of criminal actions against the state. Kings inclined in their hearts to commit injustice had never managed to read through this drama without sensing that a deathly paleness had crept over their arrogant brow. January 30th is dedicated everywhere in the Anglican church to a lengthy annual service commemorating the martyred Prince.
During the prayers of this service, worshippers beg for Divine mercy and implore God to never again ask England for the blood of the holy martyr who faced with calm serenity the outrages leading up to death, following in the footsteps of his Saviour who died praying for his assassins and executioners. The House of Hanover, moreover, played no part in those crimes. In total disagreement with such sentiments, Mercier sees the Edition: current; Page: [ 72 ] English of the year as a wiser race and favouring a rather different attitude towards the Protector:. The English are still the leading nation of Europe: they continue to enjoy their ancient glory for having shown their neighbours the kind of government that befits men who are jealous of their rights and their happiness.
There are no longer solemn processions commemorating Charles I; people see more clearly in politics. The new statue of the Protector Cromwell has just been erected. We will see that not even in the Convention a decade later was such an enthusiastic attitude to Cromwell anywhere to be found. Although during the Revolution his ostensible opinion was to be quite different, the pre-revolutionary Brissot also greatly admired Cromwell if we are to believe his own retrospective account of certain cherished youthful dreams:.
This notion of revolution, which I dared not avow, often occupied my thoughts. It seemed to me not impossible to renew that revolution. Brissot in fact was, perhaps more than any other revolutionary figure, deeply influenced by the events of Stuart history. As in the case of Mirabeau, his favourite historian of those events, several years before the Revolution, was Catherine Macaulay. In May Brissot expressed the hope that she would also write the history of the American revolution so that Americans might learn how to avoid the faults of the English, who had allowed republicanism to Edition: current; Page: [ 73 ] die in their own country.
Perhaps he owed some of his enormous success to the party whose principles he embraced, the party of the Crown against the people; he espoused it in all his undertakings and made himself odious in the eyes of the partisans of republicanism; but philosophers forgave him his attachment, his devotion to the Crown of England, because of his philosophical observations which, moreover, he scattered throughout his History.
This was not in itself bad but French intellectuals had now outgrown that intermediate stage of enlightenment and needed something more. The struggle now had to be more political than religious in emphasis. Hume did not, in my view, advance that kind of philosophy far enough: clearly, he belonged to those times when one protested more against the influence of priests than in favour of men. We must, however, blame Hume rather more severely for his apology of the Stuarts, as well as his unduly pompous encomiums on the English constitution and on Roman law; he must be censured as well for confounding too often the people and the populace.
He had never heard the dismal, soul-wrenching sound of a prison gate closing behind him. Hume had no need of such beliefs; his soul was desiccated and his character matched the cause he defended, a cause in which nothingness is a resource. Because as a recipient of pensions and great income he enjoyed drinking champagne and living the Epicurean life.
One almost hears in the distance, not the intellectual Brissotins of a decade later, but the ostentatiously austere and often frankly obscurantist followers of Robespierre. Such bitter attacks on the Scottish historian are still fairly rare before If we find, for example, a Mably attacking Hume at this time, we find also a Gudin de La Brenellerie defending him.
Hume, moreover, could still appeal in the s to the fashionable nobility he had pleased so much a quarter of a century earlier. At the time he was writing, all of France was waiting for the promised convocation of the States-General. Malesherbes, less than one year before the fall of the Bastille, runs over in his mind the intellectual achievements of the century and the titles of important works which, because of censorship restrictions, had not appeared in France with the express or sometimes even tacit permission of the authorities and yet which were necessary.
Someone once said of Malesherbes that he devoted his lifetime to pleading the cause of the people before the tribunal of the king and that he died pleading the cause of the king before the tribunal of the people. On the whole, it is also to this same group that Hume the historian—despite the extreme reactions of the Bergiers and the Brissots—appealed most during this period. Both were eventually to recover their losses in prestige but at different times and in different ways.
But before that, within only a few years, Hume the historian would play his greatest political role ever, as prophet of the French counter-revolution. We have examined at the beginning of chapter I the prevailing eighteenth-century view of history. History shows us the stable facts of human nature. True enough, events in one century may differ from events in another: that is because of particular variations which characterize each nation and each century. Since the human heart and the human passions do not change, the present and the future must resemble the past.
If this were not true then history would have no purpose; the past is not studied for its own sake. It is the science, admittedly imperfect, admittedly based on analogy, of human social behaviour. One must be just as empirically minded, just as anti- a priori in dealing with this science as with any other. It is as impossible as miracles are in the universe of Newton. Neither human nature nor the law of gravity can be repealed. History is thus the ordered apprehension of the moral nature of things. It condemns in advance any over-optimistic attempts to achieve ideal or drastically rational political change.
Meister in sums up the view very clearly and with a certain irony not uncommon at this time in the writings of those who felt the reassuring weight of the centuries behind them as they attacked the impertinent a priorists:. It may be that a great moral transformation has recently occurred in the world and that a marvellous revolution has suddenly turned all order and principles upside down. Now if the occult influence of some supernatural power had not Edition: current; Page: [ 81 ] magically transformed all of these relationships, could we really have imagined that the more or less haphazardly traced boundaries of a metaphysical notion are all that is needed to contain the volatile fluctuations of the human will and passions?
Would we still be allowed to doubt that only a form of government that has never existed anywhere is incontestably the most perfect and most admirable? I have the greatest respect for pamphlet-philosophy revolutions, especially when they are backed by a coalition as terrifying as that formed by the rabble mob and the army; but no matter how decisive their progress may seem, I rather fear that a force which should never be overlooked must inevitably return, namely, the force of things and circumstances. Paine reasons in this work, like most of our modern legislators, in the manner of a simple philosopher, never departing from the principles of natural law and their most logical consequences.
In Edition: current; Page: [ 82 ] contrast, Mr. In politics one must consider not only what is right, but also what is useful. Reason unaided teaches us natural law; but only experience combined with observation can inform us with any certainty on what is truly useful. No one questions that the people, strictly speaking, have the right to elect their kings, and even to depose them at will. It does not take a great philosopher to prove that truth; but it takes more than a philosopher to decide the question on the basis of utility, and one of the great principles of politics is that it is not always useful for the people to do what they have a right to do.
The truths that regard our rights are immutable; those relating to utility vary according to circumstance, and the situation of the world is always changing. From this we do not conclude that government must be constantly in the process of changing its principles but rather that it must take care to modify them only with that same wise and unhurried gradualism observed by nature in her own operations.
The eighteenth century had indeed witnessed the production of a good many rather long, geometrically assembled, highly indigestible ex professo treatises on natural law, most of which, when all was said and done, proved impeccably in many languages that man should be just. One sometimes has, on reading such productions, the classic impression of watching mountains give birth to mice. The reformer of society should be guided, then, by positive law rather than by so-called natural law.
He should consult Hume and Montesquieu, not the reason of the Age of Reason. A principle is. Politics is not. New ideas cannot. One does not become a legislator overnight. Those who scorn the notion of consulting the oracles of antiquity, those who look with pity on the Senate of Rome, the Areopagus of Athens, and the Parliament of England, the meditations of Montesquieu, the observations of Blackstone, the reflections of Hume, Robertson, Ferguson, and Delolme, may indeed be men of genius but their genius is most immature, most hasty, and, let us say the word, most infantile, if they dismiss in that way the wisdom of the ages.