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Title: History of Civilization in England,  Vol. 2 of 3
Author: Buckle, Henry Thomas
Language: English
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*** Start of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "History of Civilization in England,  Vol. 2 of 3" ***

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                        CIVILIZATION IN ENGLAND.

                          HENRY THOMAS BUCKLE.

                           IN THREE VOLUMES.
                                VOL. II.

                             _NEW EDITION._

                            60 YORK STREET.

                     ANALYTICAL TABLE OF CONTENTS.

                               CHAPTER I.



  Importance of the question, as to whether the historian should
  begin with studying the normal or the abnormal condition of
  society                                                             1-3

  Greater power of the church in France than in England                 4

  Hence in France during the sixteenth century everything was more
  theological than in England                                         6-8

  Hence, too, toleration was impossible in France                    9-11

  But at the end of the sixteenth century scepticism appeared in
  France, and with it toleration began, as was seen in the Edict
  of Nantes                                                         11-15

  The first sceptic was not Rabelais, but Montaigne                 15-18

  Continuation of the movement by Charron                           18-21

  Henry IV. encouraged the Protestants                              23-24

  And they were tolerated even by the queen-regent during the
  minority of Louis XIII.                                           24-26

  The most remarkable steps in favour of toleration were,
  however, taken by Richelieu, who effectually humbled the
  church                                                            27-34

  He supported the new secular scheme of government against the
  old ecclesiastical scheme                                         34-42

  His liberal treatment of the Protestants                          42-46

  They are deserted by their temporal leaders, and the management
  of the party falls into the hands of the clergy                   46-51

  Hence the French Protestants, being headed by the clergy,
  become more intolerant than the French Catholics, who are
  headed by statesmen                                               51-55

  Evidence of the illiberality of the French Protestants            55-72

  They raise a civil war, which was a struggle of classes rather
  than of creeds                                                       73

  Richelieu put down the rebellion, but still abstained from
  persecuting the Protestants                                       73-76

  This liberal policy on the part of the government was only part
  of a much larger movement                                         76-77

  Illustration of this from the philosophy of Descartes             77-92

  Analogy between Descartes and Richelieu                           92-93

  The same anti-ecclesiastical spirit was exhibited by their
  contemporaries                                                    93-95

  And by Mazarin                                                    96-98

  It was also seen in the wars of the Fronde                       99-102

  But notwithstanding all this, there was a great difference
  between France and England; and the prevalence of the
  protective spirit prevented the French from becoming free       102-107

                               CHAPTER II.


  About the eleventh century the spirit of inquiry began to
  weaken the church                                               108-110

  Coinciding with this, the feudal system and an hereditary
  aristocracy appeared                                            110-112

  The nobles displace the clergy, and celibacy is opposed by the
  principle of hereditary rank                                        112

  In England the nobles were less powerful than in France         113-116

  And were glad to ally themselves with the people against the
  crown                                                           116-118

  Hence a spirit of popular independence unknown in France, where
  the nobles were too powerful to need the help of the people     118-119

  Effects of this difference between the two countries in the
  fourteenth century                                              119-122

  Centralization was in France the natural successor of feudality 122-126

  This state contrasted with that of England                      126-127

  Power of the French nobles                                      128-131

  Illustration from the history of chivalry                       131-135

  Another illustration from the vanity of the French and pride of
  the English                                                     135-137

  Also from the practice of duelling                                  137

  The pride of Englishmen encouraged the Reformation                  138

  Analogy between the Reformation and the revolutions of the
  seventeenth century                                             138-139

  Both were opposed by the clergy and nobles. Natural alliance
  between these two classes                                       139-142

  In the reign of Elizabeth both classes were weakened            143-146

  James I. and Charles I. vainly attempted to restore their power     147

                              Chapter III.


  Difference between the Fronde and the great English rebellion   148-150

  The English rebellion was a war of classes                      150-159

  But in France the energy of the protective spirit and the power
  of the nobles made a war of classes impossible                  160-162

  Vanity and imbecility of the French nobles                      162-170

  As such men were the leaders of the Fronde, the rebellion
  naturally failed                                                167-173

  But the English rebellion succeeded because it was a democratic
  movement headed by popular leaders                              174-175

                               CHAPTER IV.


  The protective spirit in France, having produced these
  political evils, was carried into literature under Louis XIV.,
  and caused an alliance between literature and government        176-177

  Servility in the reign of Louis XIV.                            177-181

  Men of letters grateful to Louis XIV.                               182

  But his system of protecting literature is injurious            183-188

  Its first effect was to stop the progress of science            188-192

  Even in mechanical arts nothing was effected                    192-194

  Decline in physiology, in surgery, and in medicine              194-197

  Also in zoology and in chemistry                                    197

  Nor was anything done in botany                                 198-202

  Intellectual decay under Louis XIV. was seen in every
  department of thought, and was the natural consequence of
  patronage                                                       202-205

  Illustrations from the history of French art                    205-208

  And from every branch of literature                             208-210

  Universal decline of France during the latter part of the reign
  of Louis XIV.                                                   210-212

                               CHAPTER V.


  English literature unknown in France in the reign of Louis XIV. 213-214

  But began to be studied after his death, when the most eminent
  Frenchmen visited England. This caused a junction of French and
  English intellects                                              215-227

  Admiration of England expressed by Frenchmen                    228-229

  Hence liberal opinions in France, which the government
  attempted to stifle                                                 229

  Consequent persecution of literary men by the French government 230-242

  Violence of the government                                      242-246

  In France literature was the last resource of liberty           246-247

  Reasons why literary men at first attacked the church and not
  the government                                                  247-253

  Hence they were led to assail Christianity                      254-258

  But until the middle of the reign of Louis XV. the political
  institutions of France might have been saved; after that period
  all was over                                                    258-259

                               CHAPTER VI.


  Historical literature in France before the end of the sixteenth
  century                                                         261-265

  Improvement in the method of writing history late in the
  sixteenth century                                               266-267

  Still further progress early in the seventeenth century         268-270

  Which became more marked in Mezeray's history in 1643           271-272

  Retrograde movement under Louis XIV.                            273-279

  Illustration of this from the work of Audigier                  279-282

  And from that of Bossuet                                        282-291

  Immense improvements introduced by Voltaire                     292-313

  His History of Charles XII.                                     292-295

  His Age of Louis XIV.                                           296-297

  His Morals, Manners, and Character of Nations                   297-298

  His views adopted by Mallet, Mably, Velly, Villaret, Duclos,
  and Hénault                                                     299-300

  His habit of looking at epochs                                      301

  A remark of his adopted by Constant                                 302

  He advocated free trade                                             304

  His anticipation of Malthus                                     304-305

  His attack on the Middle Ages                                   305-306

  And on the pedantic admirers of antiquity                       306-308

  He weakened the authority of mere scholars and theologians      308-309

  Who had repeated the most childish absurdities respecting the
  early history of Rome                                           309-310

  In attacking which Voltaire anticipated Niebuhr                 310-313

  Ignorant prejudice against him in England                           313

  His vast labours were aided by Montesquieu                          314

  The works of Montesquieu, and value of his method               314-319

  The discourses of Turgot, and their influence                   320-321

  All this hastened the advance of the French Revolution          321-322

                              CHAPTER VII.


  Recapitulation of preceding views                                   323

  Difference between certainty and precision                      324-326

  The intellect of France began to attack the state about 1750    326-327

  Rise of the political economists                                327-330

  Influence of Rousseau                                           330-331

  Just at the same time the government began to attack the church 332-334

  And to favour religious toleration                              334-336

  Abolition of the Jesuits                                        336-346

  Calvinism is democratic; Arminianism is aristocratic            339-342

  Jansenism being allied to Calvinism, its revival in France
  aided the democratic movement, and secured the overthrow of
  the Jesuits, whose doctrines are Arminian                       343-345

  After the fall of the Jesuits the ruin of the French clergy was
  inevitable                                                      347-348

  But was averted for a time by the most eminent Frenchmen
  directing their hostility against the state rather than against
  the church                                                      349-351

  Connexion between this movement and the rise of atheism         351-353

  Same tendency exhibited in Helvétius                            353-357

  And in Condillac                                                357-360

  The ablest Frenchmen concentrate their attention on the
  external world                                                  360-361

  Effects of this on the sciences of heat, light, and electricit  361-363

  Also on chemistry and geology                                   364-373

  In England during the same period there was a dearth of great
  thinkers                                                        374-375

  But in France immense impetus was given to zoology by Cuvier
  and Bichat                                                      375-376

  Bichat's views respecting the tissues                           377-421

  Connexion between these views and subsequent discoveries        383-386

  Relation between inventions, discoveries, and method; and
  immense importance of Bichat's method                           386-389

  Bichat's work on life                                           390-395

  Great and successful efforts made by the French in Botany       395-399

  And in mineralogy by De Lisle and Haüy                          399-403

  Analogy between this and Pinel's work on insanity               403-404

  All these vast results were part of the causes of the French
  Revolution                                                          405

  Physical science is essentially democratic                      406-410

  The same democratic tendency was observable in changes of dress 410-412

  And in the establishment of clubs                               412-415

  Influence of the American Rebellion                             415-418

  Summary of the causes of the French Revolution                  418-420

  General reflections                                             420-424

                              CHAPTER VIII.


  In the preceding Chapters four propositions have been
  established                                                     425-426

  The truth of which may be further verified by studying the
  history of Spain                                                    426

  In Spain, superstition is encouraged by physical phenomena      426-434

  It was also encouraged by the great Arian war with France       434-439

  And, subsequently, by the war with the Mohammedans              439-444

  These three causes influenced the policy of Ferdinand and
  Isabella                                                        444-446

  Continuation of the same policy by Charles V. and by Philip II. 446-453

  Philip II., notwithstanding his repulsive qualities, was loved
  by the nation                                                   453-455

  Their affection for him was the result of general causes,
  which, during several centuries, have made the Spaniards the
  most loyal people in Europe                                         455

  Origin of Spanish loyalty, and evidence of it                   455-461

  Loyalty became united with superstition, and each strengthened
  the other                                                       461-462

  In consequence of this union, great foreign conquests were
  made, and a great military spirit was developed                 461-465

  But this sort of progress, depending too much upon individuals,
  is necessarily unstable                                         465-466

  The progress of England, on the other hand, depends upon the
  ability of the nation, and therefore, continues, whether
  individual rulers are skilful, or whether they are unskilful    466-467

  In Spain, the ruling classes were supreme; the people counted
  for nothing; and hence the grandeur of the country, which was
  raised up by the able princes of the sixteenth century, was as
  quickly pulled down by the weak princes of the seventeenth      467-472

  The decay of Spain, in the seventeenth century, was connected
  with the increasing influence of the clergy                     472-483

  The first use which the clergy made of their power was to expel
  all the Moors                                                   483-496

  Effect of this expulsion in impoverishing Spain                 497-499

  Decline of manufactures, and of population, and increase of
  poverty                                                         499-511

  In 1700, when affairs were at their worst, the Austrian dynasty
  was succeeded by the Bourbon                                    513-514

  Spain was now ruled by foreigners                               514-520

  Who endeavoured to improve the country by weakening the church  521-525

  But the authority of the church had so enfeebled the national
  intellect, that the people, immersed in ignorance, remained
  inert                                                           525-543

  Government attempted to remedy this ignorance by calling in
  foreign aid                                                     534-545

  The influence of foreigners in Spain was displayed in the
  expulsion of the Jesuits, in 1767                               545-546

  And in the attacks made on the Inquisition                      547-548

  It was also displayed in the foreign policy of Spain            548-550

  All this was promoted by the authority and high character of
  Charles III.                                                    552-554

  But it was of no avail; because politicians can do nothing,
  when the spirit of the country is against them                  534-555

  Still, Charles III. effected great improvements, from which, on
  a superficial view, permanent benefit might have been expected  555-568

  Summary of what was accomplished for Spain, by the government,
  between the years 1700 and 1788                                 568-570

  Inasmuch, however, as these ameliorations were opposed to the
  habits of the national character, a reaction was inevitable     570-571

  In 1788, Charles III. was succeeded by Charles IV., and the new
  king, being a true Spaniard, the reaction began                 571-573

  In the nineteenth century, political reformers again
  endeavoured to improve Spain                                        574

  For the reasons already stated, their efforts were fruitless,
  notwithstanding the early establishment in that country of
  municipal privileges, and of popular representation             575-576

  In this way, general causes always triumph over particular
  actions                                                         577-578

  Those general causes predetermined the country to superstition,
  and it was impossible for individuals to make head against them 578-583

  Nothing can weaken superstition but knowledge                       583

  Such failures are the more observable, because Spain enjoys
  immense natural advantages                                      583-585

  And has possessed great patriots and great legislators              585

  The Spaniards have, moreover, long been celebrated for honour,
  courage, temperance, humanity, and religious sincerity          585-588

  So far, however, as national progress is concerned, these noble
  qualities are useless, while ignorance is so gross and so
  general                                                         588-592

  This it is, which, isolating Spain from the rest of the
  civilized world, keeps alive that spirit of superstition, that
  reverence for antiquity, and that blind and servile loyalty,
  which, as long as they last, will render improvement
  impossible; and which must last until ignorance is removed      592-597


                               CHAPTER I.


The consideration of these great changes in the English mind, has led me
into a digression, which, so far from being foreign to the design of
this Introduction, is absolutely necessary for a right understanding of
it. In this, as in many other respects, there is a marked analogy
between investigations concerning the structure of society and
investigations concerning the human body. Thus, it has been found, that
the best way of arriving at a theory of disease is by beginning with the
theory of health; and that the foundation of all sound pathology must be
first sought in an observation, not of the abnormal, but of the normal
functions of life. Just in the same way, it will, I believe, be found,
that the best method of arriving at great social truths, is by first
investigating those cases in which society has developed itself
according to its own laws, and in which the governing powers have least
opposed themselves to the spirit of their times.[1] It is on this
account that, in order to understand the position of France, I have
begun by examining the position of England. In order to understand the
way in which the diseases of the first country were aggravated by the
quackery of ignorant rulers, it was necessary to understand the way in
which the health of the second country was preserved by being subjected
to smaller interference, and allowed with greater liberty to continue
its natural march. With the light, therefore, which we have acquired by
a study of the normal condition of the English mind, we can, with the
greater ease, now apply our principles to that abnormal condition of
French society, by the operations of which, at the close of the
eighteenth century, some of the dearest interests of civilization were

  [1] The question as to whether the study of normal phenomena should or
      should not precede the study of abnormal ones, is of the greatest
      importance; and a neglect of it has introduced confusion into every
      work I have seen on general or comparative history. For this
      preliminary being unsettled, there has been no recognized principle
      of arrangement; and historians, instead of following a scientific
      method suited to the actual exigencies of our knowledge, have
      adopted an empirical method suited to their own exigencies; and
      have given priority to different countries, sometimes according to
      their size, sometimes according to their antiquity, sometimes
      according to their geographical position, sometimes according to
      their wealth, sometimes according to their religion, sometimes
      according to the brilliancy of their literature, and sometimes
      according to the facilities which the historian himself possessed
      for collecting materials. All these are factitious considerations;
      and, in a philosophic view, it is evident that precedence should be
      given to countries by the historian solely in reference to the ease
      with which their history can be generalized; following in this
      respect the scientific plan of proceeding from the simple to the
      complex. This leads us to the conclusion that, in the study of Man,
      as in the study of Nature, the question of priority resolves itself
      into a question of aberration; and that the more aberrant any
      people have been, that is to say, the more they have been
      interfered with, the lower they must be placed in an arrangement of
      the history of various countries. Coleridge (_Lit. Remains_, vol.
      i. p. 326, and elsewhere in his works) seems to suppose that the
      order should be the reverse of what I have stated, and that the
      laws both of mind and body can be generalized from pathological
      data. Without wishing to express myself too positively in
      opposition to so profound a thinker as Coleridge, I cannot help
      saying that this is contradicted by an immense amount of evidence,
      and, so far as I am aware, is supported by none. It is contradicted
      by the fact, that those branches of inquiry which deal with
      phenomena little affected by foreign causes, have been raised to
      sciences sooner than those which deal with phenomena greatly
      affected by foreign causes. The organic world, for example, is more
      perturbed by the inorganic world, than the inorganic world is
      perturbed by it. Hence we find that the inorganic sciences have
      always been cultivated before the organic ones, and at the present
      moment are far more advanced than they. In the same way, human
      physiology is older than human pathology; and while the physiology
      of the vegetable kingdom has been successfully prosecuted since the
      latter half of the seventeenth century, the pathology of the
      vegetable kingdom can scarcely be said to exist, since none of its
      laws have been generalized, and no systematic researches, on a
      large scale, have yet been made into the morbid anatomy of plants.
      It appears, therefore, that different ages and different sciences
      bear unconscious testimony to the uselessness of paying much
      attention to the abnormal, until considerable progress has been
      made in the study of the normal; and this conclusion might be
      confirmed by innumerable authorities, who, differing from
      Coleridge, hold that physiology is the basis of pathology, and that
      the laws of disease are to be raised, not from the phenomena
      presented in disease, but from those presented in health; in other
      words, that pathology should be investigated deductively rather
      than inductively, and that morbid anatomy and clinical observations
      may verify the conclusions of science, but can never supply the
      means of creating the science itself. On this extremely interesting
      question, compare _Geoffroy Saint-Hilaire_, _Hist. des Anomalies de
      l'Organisation_, vol. ii. pp. 9, 10, 127; _Bowman's Surgery_, in
      _Encyclop. of the Medical Sciences_, p. 824; _Bichat_, _Anatomie
      Générale_, vol. i. p. 20; _Cullen's Works_, vol. i. p. 424;
      _Comte_, _Philos. Positive_, vol. iii. pp. 334, 335; _Robin et
      Verdeil_, _Chimie Anatomique_, vol. i. p. 68; _Esquirol_, _Maladies
      Mentales_, vol. i. p. 111; _Georget_, _de la Folie_, pp. 2, 391,
      392; _Brodie's Pathology and Surgery_, p. 3; _Blainville_,
      _Physiologie comparée_, vol. i. p. 20; _Feuchtersleben's Medical
      Psychology_, p. 200; _Lawrence's Lectures on Man_, 1844, p. 45;
      _Simon's Pathology_, p. 5.

      Another confirmation of the accuracy of this view is, that
      pathological investigations of the nervous system, numerous as they
      have been, have effected scarcely anything; the reason evidently
      being, that the preliminary knowledge of the normal state is not
      sufficiently advanced. See _Noble on the Brain_, pp. 76-92, 337,
      338; _Henry on the Nervous System_, in _Third Report of Brit.
      Assoc._ p. 78; _Holland's Medical Notes_, p. 608; _Jones and
      Sieveking's Patholog. Anat._ p. 211.

In France, a long train of events, which I shall hereafter relate, had,
from an early period, given to the clergy a share of power larger than
that which they possessed in England. The results of this were for a
time decidedly beneficial, inasmuch as the church restrained the
lawlessness of a barbarous age, and secured a refuge for the weak and
oppressed. But as the French advanced in knowledge, the spiritual
authority, which had done so much to curb their passions, began to press
heavily upon their genius, and impede its movements. That same
ecclesiastical power, which to an ignorant age is an unmixed benefit, is
to a more enlightened age a serious evil. The proof of this was soon
apparent. For when the Reformation broke out, the church had in England
been so weakened, that it fell almost at the first assault; its revenues
were seized by the crown,[2] and its offices, after being greatly
diminished both in authority and in wealth, were bestowed upon new men,
who, from the uncertainty of their tenure, and the novelty of their
doctrines, lacked that long-established prescription by which the claims
of the profession are mainly supported. This, as we have already seen,
was the beginning of an uninterrupted progress, in which, at every
successive step, the ecclesiastical spirit lost some of its influence.
In France, on the other hand, the clergy were so powerful, that they
were able to withstand the Reformation, and thus preserve for themselves
those exclusive privileges which their English brethren vainly attempted
to retain.

  [2] A circumstance which Harris relates with evident delight, and goes
      out of his way to mention it. _Lives of the Stuarts_, vol. iii. p.
      300. On the amount of loss the church thus sustained, see
      _Sinclair's Hist. of the Revenue_, vol. i. pp. 181-184, and
      _Eccleston's English Antiquities_, p. 228.

This was the beginning of that second marked divergence between French
and English civilization,[3] which had its origin, indeed, at a much
earlier period, but which now first produced conspicuous results. Both
countries had, in their infancy, been greatly benefited by the church,
which always showed itself ready to protect the people against the
oppressions of the crown and the nobles.[4] But in both countries, as
society advanced, there arose a capacity for self-protection; and early
in the sixteenth, or probably even in the fifteenth century, it became
urgently necessary to diminish that spiritual authority, which, by
prejudging the opinions of men, has impeded the march of their
knowledge.[5] It is on this account that Protestantism, so far from
being, as its enemies have called it, an aberration arising from
accidental causes, was essentially a normal movement, and was the
legitimate expression of the wants of the European intellect. Indeed,
the Reformation owed its success, not to a desire of purifying the
church, but to a desire of lightening its pressure; and it may be
broadly stated, that it was adopted in every civilized country, except
in those where preceding events had increased the influence of the
ecclesiastical order, either among the people or among their rulers.
This was, unhappily, the case with France, where the clergy not only
triumphed over the Protestants, but appeared, for a time, to have gained
fresh authority by the defeat of such dangerous enemies.[6]

  [3] The first divergence arose from the influence of the protective
      spirit, as I shall endeavour to explain in the next chapter.

  [4] On the obligations Europe is under to the Catholic clergy, see some
      liberal and very just remarks in _Kemble's Saxons in England_, vol.
      ii. pp. 374, 375; and in _Guizot's Civilisation en France_. See
      also _Neander's Hist. of the Church_, vol. iii. pp. 199-206,
      255-257, vol. v. p. 138, vol. vi. pp. 406, 407; _Palgrave's
      Anglo-Saxon Commonwealth_, vol. i. p. 655; _Lingard's Hist. of
      England_, vol. ii. p. 44; _Klimrath_, _Travaux sur l'Hist. du
      droit_, vol. i. p. 394; _Carwithen's Hist. of the Church of
      England_, vol. i. p. 157.

  [5] The way in which this acted is concisely stated by Tennemann: 'Wenn
      sich nun auch ein freierer Geist der Forschung regte, so fand er
      sich gleich durch zwei Grundsätze, welche aus jenem Supremat der
      Theologie flossen, beengt und gehemmt. Der erste war: die
      menschliche Vernunft kann nicht über die Offenbarung
      hinausgehen.... Der zweite: die Vernunft kann nichts als wahr
      erkennen, was dem Inhalte der Offenbarung widerspricht, und nichts
      für falsch erkennen, was derselben angemessen ist,--folgte aus dem
      ersten.' _Gesch. der Philos._ vol. viii. part i. p. 8.

  [6] As to the influence of the Reformation generally, in increasing the
      power of the Catholic clergy, see M. Ranke's important work on the
      _History of the Popes_; and as to the result in France, see
      _Monteil_, _Hist. des divers Etats_, vol. v. pp. 233-235. Corero,
      who was ambassador in France in 1569, writes, 'Il papa può dire a
      mio giudizio, d'aver in questi romori piuttosto guadagnato che
      perduto, perciochè tanta era la licenza del vivere, secondo che ho
      inteso, prima che quel regno si dividesse in due parti, era tanta
      poca la devozione che avevano in Roma e in quei che vi abitavano,
      che il papa era più considerato come principe grande in Italia, che
      come capo della chiesa e pastore universale. Ma scoperti che si
      furono gli ugonotti, cominciarono i cattolici a riverire il suo
      nome, e riconoscerlo per vero vicario di Cristo, confirmandosi
      tanto più in opinione di doverlo tener per tale, quanto più lo
      sentivano sprezzare e negare da essi ugonotti.' _Relations des
      Ambassadeurs Vénitiens_, vol. ii. p. 162. This interesting passage
      is one of many proofs that the immediate advantages derived from
      the Reformation have been overrated; though the remote advantages
      were undoubtedly immense.

The consequence of all this was, that in France, every thing assumed a
more theological aspect than in England. In our country, the
ecclesiastical spirit had, by the middle of the sixteenth century,
become so feeble, that even intelligent foreigners were struck by the
peculiarity.[7] The same nation, which, during the Crusades, had
sacrificed innumerable lives in the hope of planting the Christian
standard in the heart of Asia,[8] was now almost indifferent to the
religion even of its own sovereign. Henry VIII., by his sole will,
regulated the national creed, and fixed the formularies of the church,
which, if the people had been in earnest, he could not possibly have
done; for he had no means of compelling submission; he had no standing
army; and even his personal guards were so scanty, that at any moment
they could have been destroyed by a rising of the warlike apprentices of
London.[9] After his death, there came Edward, who, as a Protestant
king, undid the work of his father; and, a few years later, there came
Mary, who, as a Popish queen, undid the work of her brother; while she,
in her turn, was succeeded by Elizabeth, under whom another great
alteration was effected in the established faith.[10] Such was the
indifference of the people, that these vast changes were accompanied
without any serious risk.[11] In France, on the other hand, at the mere
name of religion, thousands of men were ready for the field. In England,
our civil wars have all been secular; they have been waged, either for a
change of dynasty, or for an increase of liberty. But those far more
horrible wars, by which, in the sixteenth century, France was desolated,
were conducted in the name of Christianity, and even the political
struggles of the great families were merged in a deadly contest between
Catholics and Protestants.[12]

  [7] The indifference of the English to theological disputes, and the
      facility with which they changed their religion, caused many
      foreigners to censure their fickleness. See, for instance, _Essais
      de Montaigne_, livre ii. chap. xii. p. 365. Perlin, who travelled
      in England in the middle of the sixteenth century, says, 'The
      people are reprobates, and thorough enemies to good manners and
      letters; for they don't know whether they belong to God or the
      devil, which St. Paul has reprehended in many people, saying, Be
      not transported with divers sorts of winds, but be constant and
      steady to your belief.' _Antiquarian Repertory_, vol. iv. p. 511,
      4to, 1809. See also the remarks of Michele in 1557, and of Crespet
      in 1590; _Ellis's Original Letters_, 2nd series, vol. ii. p. 239;
      _Hallam's Constitutional History_, vol. i. p. 102; _Southey's
      Commonplace Book_, 3rd series, p. 408.

  [8] An historian of the thirteenth century strikingly expresses the
      theological feelings of the English crusaders, and the complete
      subordination of the political ones: 'Indignum quippe judicabant
      animarum suarum salutem omittere, et obsequium c[oe]lestis Regis,
      clientelæ regis alicujus terreni postponere; constituerunt igitur
      terminum, videlicet festum nativitatis beati Johannis Baptistæ.'
      _Matthæi Paris Historia Major_, p. 671. It is said, that the first
      tax ever imposed in England on personal property was in 1166, and
      was for the purpose of crusading. _Sinclair's Hist. of the
      Revenue_, vol. i. p. 88: 'It would not probably have been easily
      submitted to, had it not been appropriated for so popular a

  [9] Henry VIII. had, at one time, fifty horse-guards, but they being
      expensive, were soon given up; and his only protection consisted of
      'the yeomen of the guard, fifty in number, and the common servants
      of the king's household.' _Hallam's Const. Hist._ vol. i. p. 46.
      These 'yeomen of the guard were raised by Henry VII. in 1485.'
      _Grose's Military Antiquities_, vol. i. p. 167. Compare _Turner's
      Hist. of England_, vol. vii. p. 54; and _Lingard's Hist. of
      England_, vol. iii. p. 298.

  [10] Locke, in his first Letter on Toleration, has made some pungent,
       and, I should suppose, very offensive, observations on these rapid
       changes. _Locke's Works_, vol. v. p. 27.

  [11] But, although Mary easily effected a change of religion, the
       anti-ecclesiastical spirit was far too strong to allow her to
       restore to the church its property. 'In Mary's reign, accordingly,
       her parliament, so obsequious in all matters of religion, adhered
       with a firm grasp to the possession of church-lands.' _Hallam's
       Const. Hist._ vol. i. p. 77. See also _Short's Hist. of the Church
       of England_, p. 213; _Lingard's Hist. of England_, vol. iv. pp.
       339, 340; _Butler's Mem. of the Catholics_, vol. i. p. 253; and
       _Carwithen's Hist. of the Church of England_, vol. i. p. 346.

  [12] 'Quand éclata la guerre des opinions religieuses, les antiques
       rivalités des barons se transformèrent en haîne du prêche ou de la
       messe.' _Capefigue_, _Hist. de la Réforme et de la Ligue_, vol.
       iv. p. 32. Compare _Duplessis Mornay_, _Mém. et Correspond._, vol.
       ii. pp. 422, 563; and _Boullier_, _Maison Militaire des Rois de
       France_, p. 25, 'des querelles d'autant plus vives, qu'elles
       avoient la religion pour base.'

The effect this difference produced on the intellect of the two
countries is very obvious. The English, concentrating their abilities
upon great secular matters, had, by the close of the sixteenth century,
produced a literature which never can perish. But the French, down to
that period, had not put forth a single work, the destruction of which
would now be a loss to Europe. What makes this contrast the more
remarkable is, that in France the civilization, such as it was, had a
longer standing; the material resources of the country had been earlier
developed; its geographical position made it the centre of European
thought;[13] and it had possessed a literature at a time when our
ancestors were a mere tribe of wild and ignorant barbarians.

  [13] The intellectual advantages of France, arising from its position
       between Italy, Germany, and England, are very fairly stated by M.
       Lerminier (_Philosophie du Droit_, vol. i. p. 9).

The simple fact is, that this is one of those innumerable instances
which teach us that no country can rise to eminence so long as the
ecclesiastical power possesses much authority. For, the predominance of
the spiritual classes is necessarily accompanied by a corresponding
predominance of the topics in which those classes delight. Whenever the
ecclesiastical profession is very influential, ecclesiastical literature
will be very abundant, and what is called profane literature will be
very scanty. Hence it occurred, that the minds of the French, being
almost entirely occupied with religious disputes, had no leisure for
those great inquiries into which we in England were beginning to
enter;[14] and there was, as we shall presently see, an interval of a
whole generation between the progress of the French and English
intellects, simply because there was about the same interval between the
progress of their scepticism. The theological literature, indeed,
rapidly increased;[15] but it was not until the seventeenth century that
France produced that great secular literature, the counterpart of which
was to be found in England before the sixteenth century had come to a

  [14] Just in the same way, the religious disputes in Alexandria injured
       the interests of knowledge. See the instructive remarks of M.
       Matter (_Hist. de l'Ecole d'Alexandrie_, vol. ii. p. 131).

  [15] _Monteil_, _Hist. des divers Etats_, vol. vi. p. 136. Indeed, the
       theological spirit seized the theatre, and the different
       sectarians ridiculed each other's principles on the stage. See a
       curious passage at p. 182 of the same learned work.

Such was, in France, the natural consequence of the power of the church
being prolonged beyond the period which the exigencies of society
required. But while this was the intellectual result, the moral and
physical results were still more serious. While the minds of men were
thus heated by religious strife, it would have been idle to expect any
of those maxims of charity to which theological faction is always a
stranger. While the Protestants were murdering the Catholics,[16] and
the Catholics murdering the Protestants, it was hardly likely that
either sect should feel tolerance for the opinions of its enemy.[17]
During the sixteenth century, treaties were occasionally made between
the two parties; but they were only made to be immediately broken;[18]
and, with the single exception of l'Hôpital, the bare idea of toleration
does not seem to have entered the head of any statesman of the age. It
was recommended by him;[19] but neither his splendid abilities, nor his
unblemished integrity, could make head against the prevailing
prejudices, and he eventually retired into private life without
effecting any of his noble schemes.[20]

  [16] The crimes of the French Protestants, though hardly noticed in
       _Felice's History of the Protestants of France_, pp. 138-143, were
       as revolting as those of the Catholics, and quite as numerous
       relatively to the numbers and power of the two parties. Compare
       _Sismondi_, _Hist. des Français_, vol. xviii. pp. 516, 517, with
       _Capefigue_, _Hist. de la Réforme_, vol. ii. p. 173, vol. vi. p.
       54; and _Smedley_, _Hist. of the Reformed Religion in France_,
       vol. i. pp. 199, 200, 237.

  [17] In 1569 Corero writes: 'Ritrovai quel regno, certo, posto in
       grandissima confusione; perchè, stante quella divisione di
       religione (convertita quasi in due fazioni e inimicizie
       particolari), era causa ch' ognuno, senza che amicizia o parentela
       potesse aver luoco, stava con l'orecchie attente; e pieno
       disospetto ascoltava da che parte nasceva qualche romore,' _Relat.
       des Ambassad. Vénitiens_, vol. ii. p. 106. He emphatically adds,
       'Temevano gl' ugonotti, temevano li cattolici, tenieva il
       prencipe, temevano li sudditi.' See also, on this horrible state
       of opinions, _Sismondi_, _Hist. des Français_, vol. xviii. pp. 21,
       22, 118-120, 296, 430. On both sides, the grossest calumnies were
       propagated and believed; and one of the charges brought against
       Catherine de Medici was, that she caused the Cesarean operation to
       be performed on the wives of Protestants, in order that no new
       heretics might be born. _Sprengel_, _Hist. de la Médecine_, vol.
       vii. p. 294.

  [18] _Mably_, _Observations sur l'Hist. de France_, vol. iii. p. 149. In
       the reign of Charles IX. alone, there were no less than five of
       these religious wars, each of which was concluded by a treaty. See
       _Flassan_, _Hist. de la Diplomatie Française_, vol. ii. p. 69.

  [19] For which l'Hôpital was accused of atheism: 'Homo doctus, sed verus
       atheus.' _Dict. Philos._ article _Athéisme_, in _[OE]uvres de
       Voltaire_, vol. xxxvii. pp. 181, 182.

  [20] I have not been able to meet with any good life of this great man:
       that by Charles Butler is very superficial, and so is that by
       Bernardi, in _Biog. Univ._ vol. xxiv. pp. 412-424. My own
       information respecting l'Hôpital is from _Sismondi_, _Hist. des
       Français_, vol. xviii. pp. 431-436; _Capefigue_, _Hist. de la
       Réforme_, vol. ii. pp. 135-137, 168-170; _De Thou_, _Hist. Univ._
       vol. iii. pp. 519-523, vol. iv. pp. 2-8, 152-159, vol. v. pp.
       180-182, 520, 521, 535, vol. vi. pp. 703, 704; _Sully_,
       _[OE]conomies Royales_, vol. i. p. 234. Duvernet (_Hist. de la
       Sorbonne_, vol. i. pp. 215-218) is unsatisfactory, though fully
       recognizing his merit.

Indeed, in the leading events of this period of French history, the
predominance of the theological spirit was painfully shown. It was shown
in the universal determination to subordinate political acts to
religious opinions.[21] It was shown in the conspiracy of Amboise, and
in the conference of Poissy; and still more was it shown in those
revolting crimes so natural to superstition, the massacres of Vassy and
of St. Bartholomew, the murder of Guise by Poltrot, and of Henry III. by
Clement. These were the legitimate results of the spirit of religious
bigotry. They were the results of that accursed spirit, which, whenever
it has had the power, has punished even to the death those who dared to
differ from it; and which, now that the power has passed away, still
continues to dogmatize on the most mysterious subjects, tamper with the
most sacred principles of the human heart, and darken with its miserable
superstitions those sublime questions that no one should rudely touch,
because they are for each according to the measure of his own soul,
because they lie in that unknown tract which separates the Finite from
the Infinite, and because they are as a secret and individual covenant
between Man and his God.

  [21] 'Ce fut alors que la nation ne prit conseil que de son fanatisme.
       Les esprits, de jour en jour plus échauffés, ne virent plus
       d'autre objet que celui de la religion, et par piété se firent les
       injures les plus atroces.' _Mably_, _Observations sur l'Hist. de
       France_, vol. iii. p. 145.

How long these sad days[22] would, in the ordinary course of affairs,
have been prolonged in France, is a question which we now perhaps have
no means of answering; though there is no doubt that the progress even
of empirical knowledge must, according to the process already pointed
out, have eventually sufficed to rescue so great a country from her
degraded position. Fortunately, however, there now took place what we
must be content to call an accident, but which was the beginning of a
most important change. In the year 1589, Henry IV. ascended the throne
of France. This great prince, who was far superior to any of the French
sovereigns of the sixteenth century,[23] made small account of those
theological disputes which his predecessors had thought to be of
paramount importance. Before him, the kings of France, animated by the
piety natural to the guardians of the church, had exerted all their
authority to uphold the interests of the sacred profession. Francis I.
said, that if his right hand were a heretic, he would cut it off.[24]
Henry II., whose zeal was still greater,[25] ordered the judges to
proceed against the Protestants, and publicly declared that he would
'make the extirpation of the heretics his principal business.'[26]
Charles IX., on the celebrated day of St. Bartholomew, attempted to
relieve the church by destroying them at a single blow. Henry III.
promised to 'oppose heresy even at the risk of his life;' for he said,
'he could not find a prouder grave than amidst the ruins of heresy.'[27]

  [22] The 19th and 20th volumes of _Sismondi's Histoire des Français_
       contain painful evidence of the internal condition of France
       before the accession of Henry IV. Indeed, as Sismondi says (vol.
       xx. pp. 11-16), it seemed at one time as if the only prospect was
       a relapse into feudalism. See also _Monteil_, _Hist. des divers
       Etats_, vol. v. pp. 242-249: 'plus de trois cent mille maisons
       détruites.' De Thou, in the memoirs of his own life, says, 'Les
       loix furent méprisées, et l'honneur de la France fut presque
       anéanti ... et sous le voile de la religion, on ne respiroit que
       la haîne, la vengeance, le massacre et l'incendie,' _Mém. de la
       Vie_, in _Histoire Univ._ vol. i. p. 120; and the same writer, in
       his great history, gives almost innumerable instances of the
       crimes and persecutions constantly occurring. See, for some of the
       most striking cases, vol. ii. p. 383, vol. iv. pp. 378, 380, 387,
       495, 496, 539, vol. v. pp. 189, 518, 561, 647, vol. vi. pp. 421,
       422, 424, 426, 427, 430, 469. Compare _Duplessis_, _Mém. et
       Correspond._ vol. ii. pp. 41, 42, 322, 335, 611, 612, vol. iii.
       pp. 344, 445, vol. iv. pp. 112-114; _Benoist_, _Hist. de l'Edit de
       Nantes_, vol. i. pp. 307, 308; _Duvernet_, _Hist. de la Sorbonne_,
       vol. i. p. 217.

  [23] This, indeed, is not saying much; and far higher praise might be
       justly bestowed. As to his domestic policy, there can be only one
       opinion; and M. Flassan speaks in the most favourable terms of his
       management of foreign affairs. _Flassan_, _Hist. de la Diplomatie
       Franç._ vol. ii. pp. 191, 192, 294-297, vol. iii. p. 243. And see,
       to the same effect, the testimony of M. Capefigue, an unfriendly
       judge. _Hist. de la Réforme_, vol. vii. p. xiv. vol. viii. p. 156.
       Fontenay Mareuil, who was a contemporary of Henry IV., though he
       wrote many years after the king was murdered, says, 'Ce grand roy,
       qui estoit en plus de considération dans le monde que pas un de
       ses prédécesseurs n'avoit esté depuis Charlesmagne.' _Mém. de
       Fontenay_, vol. i. p. 46. Duplessis Mornay calls him 'le plus
       grand roy que la chrestienté ait porté depuis cinq cens ans;' and
       Sully pronounces him to be 'le plus grand de nos rois.' _Duplessis
       Mornay_, _Mém. et Correspond._ vol. xi. pp. 30, 77, 131; _Sully_,
       _[OE]conomies Royales_, vol. vii. p. 15. Compare vol. vi. pp. 397,
       398, vol. ix. pp. 35, 242, with some sensible remarks in _Mém. de
       Genlis_, Paris, 1825, vol. ix. p. 299.

  [24] So it is generally related: but there is a slightly different
       version of this orthodox declaration in _Smedley's Hist. of the
       Reformation in France_, vol. i. p. 30. Compare _Maclaine's note_
       in _Mosheim's Eccles. Hist._ vol. ii. p. 24, with _Sismondi_,
       _Hist. des Français_, vol. xvi. pp. 453, 454, and _Relat. des
       Ambassad. Vénitiens_, vol. i. p. 50, vol. ii. p. 48. It was also
       Francis I. who advised Charles V. to expel all the Mohammedans
       from Spain, _Llorente_, _Hist. de l'Inquisition_, vol. i. p. 429.

  [25] The historian of the French Protestants says, in 1548, 'le nouveau
       roi Henry II. fut encore plus rigoureux que son père.' _Benoist_,
       _Hist. de l'Edit de Nantes_, vol. i. p. 12.

  [26] M. Ranke (_Civil Wars in France_, vol. i. pp. 240, 241) says, that
       he issued a circular 'addressed to the parliaments and to the
       judicial tribunals, in which they were urged to proceed against
       the Lutherans with the greatest severity, and the judges informed
       that they would be held responsible, should they neglect these
       orders; and in which he declared plainly, that as soon as the
       peace with Spain was concluded, he was determined to make the
       extirpation of the heretics his principal business.' See also, on
       Henry II., in connexion with the Protestants, _Mably_, _Observ.
       sur l'Hist. de France_, vol. iii. pp. 133, 134; _De Thou_, _Hist.
       Univ._ vol. i. pp. 334, 335, 387, vol. ii. p. 640, vol. iii. pp.
       365, 366; _Felice's Hist. of the French Protestants_, p. 58.

  [27] He said this to the Estates of Blois in 1588. _Ranke's Civil Wars
       in France_, vol. ii. p. 202. Compare his edict, in 1585, in
       _Capefigue_, _Hist. de la Réforme_, vol. iv. pp. 244, 245, and his
       speech in vol. v. p. 122; and see _Benoist_, _Hist. de l'Edit de
       Nantes_, vol. i. p. 328; _Duplessis Mornay_, _Mém. et Corresp._
       vol. i. p. 110; _De Thou_, _Hist. Univ._ vol. i. p. 250, vol.
       viii. p. 651, vol. x, pp. 294, 589, 674, 675.

These were the opinions expressed, in the sixteenth century, by the
heads of the oldest monarchy in Europe.[28] But with such feelings, the
powerful intellect of Henry IV. had not the slightest sympathy. To suit
the shifting politics of his age, he had already changed his religion
twice; and he did not hesitate to change it a third time,[29] when he
found that by doing so he could ensure tranquillity to his country. As
he had displayed such indifference about his own creed, he could not
with decency show much bigotry about the creed of his subjects.[30] We
find, accordingly, that he was the author of the first public act of
toleration which any government promulgated in France since Christianity
had been the religion of the country. Only five years after he had
solemnly abjured Protestantism, he published the celebrated Edict of
Nantes,[31] by which, for the first time, a Catholic government granted
to heretics a fair share of civil and religious rights. This was,
unquestionably, the most important event that had yet occurred in the
history of French civilization.[32] If it is considered by itself, it is
merely an evidence of the enlightened principles of the king; but when
we look at its general success, and at the cessation of religious war
which followed it, we cannot fail to perceive that it was part of a vast
movement, in which the people themselves participated. Those who
recognize the truth of the principles I have laboured to establish, will
expect that this great step towards religious liberty was accompanied by
that spirit of scepticism, in the absence of which toleration has
always been unknown. And that this was actually the case, may be easily
proved by an examination of the transitionary state which France began
to enter towards the end of the sixteenth century.

  [28] With what zeal these opinions were enforced, appears, besides many
       other authorities, from Marino Cavalli, who writes in 1546, 'Li
       maestri di Sorbona hanno autorità estrema di castigare li eretici,
       il che fanno con il fuoco, brustolandoli vivi a poco a poco.'
       _Relat. des Ambassad. Vénitiens_, vol. i. 262; and see vol. ii.
       p. 24.

  [29] Indeed, Clement VIII. was afterwards apprehensive of a fourth
       apostasy: 'Er meinte noch immer, Heinrich IV. werde zuletzt
       vielleicht wieder zum Protestantismus zurückkehren, wie er es
       schon einmal gethan.' _Ranke_, _die Päpste_, vol. ii. p. 246. M.
       Ranke, from his great knowledge of Italian manuscripts, has thrown
       more light on these transactions than the French historians have
       been able to do.

  [30] On his conversion, the character of which was as obvious then as it
       is now, compare _Duplessis Mornay_, _Mém. et Correspond._ vol. i.
       p. 257, with _Sully_, _[OE]conomies Royales_, vol. ii. p. 126. See
       also _Howell's Letters_, book i. p. 42; and a letter from Sir H.
       Wotton in 1593, printed in _Reliquiæ Wottonianæ_, p. 711. See also
       _Ranke_, _Civil Wars in France_, vol. ii. pp. 257, 355;
       _Capefigue_, _Hist. de la Réforme_, vol. vi. pp. 305, 358.

  [31] The edict of Nantes was in 1598; the abjuration in 1593.
       _Sismondi_, _Hist. des Français_, vol. xxi. pp. 202, 486. But in
       1590 it was intimated to the pope as probable, if not certain,
       that Henry would 'in den Schooss der katholischen Kirche
       zurückkehren.' _Ranke_, _die Päpste_, vol. ii. p. 210.

  [32] Of this edict, Sismondi says, 'Aucune époque dans l'histoire de
       France ne marque mieux peut-être la fin d'un monde ancien, le
       commencement d'un monde nouveau.' _Hist. des Français_, vol. xxi.
       p. 489.

The writings of Rabelais are often considered to afford the first
instance of religious scepticism in the French language.[33] But, after
a tolerably intimate acquaintance with the works of this remarkable man,
I have found nothing to justify such an opinion. He certainly treats the
clergy with great disrespect, and takes every opportunity of covering
them with ridicule.[34] His attacks, however, are always made upon their
personal vices, and not upon that narrow and intolerant spirit to which
those vices were chiefly to be ascribed. In not a single instance does
he show any thing like consistent scepticism;[35] nor does he appear to
be aware that the disgraceful lives of the French clergy were but the
inevitable consequence of a system, which, corrupt as it was, still
possessed every appearance of strength and vitality. Indeed, the immense
popularity which he enjoyed is, almost of itself, a decisive
consideration; since no one, who is well informed as to the condition of
the French early in the sixteenth century, will believe it possible that
a people, so sunk in superstition, should delight in a writer by whom
superstition is constantly attacked.

But the extension of experience, and the consequent increase of
knowledge, were preparing the way for a great change in the French
intellect. The process, which had just taken place in England, was now
beginning to take place in France; and in both countries the order of
events was precisely the same. The spirit of doubt, hitherto confined to
an occasional solitary thinker, gradually assumed a bolder form: first
it found a vent in the national literature, and then it influenced the
conduct of practical statesmen. That there was, in France, an intimate
connexion between scepticism and toleration, is proved, not only by
those general arguments which make us infer that such connexion must
always exist, but also by the circumstance, that only a few years before
the promulgation of the Edict of Nantes, there appeared the first
systematic sceptic who wrote in the French language. The Essays of
Montaigne were published in 1588,[36] and form an epoch, not only in the
literature, but also in the civilization, of France. Putting aside
personal peculiarities, which have less weight than is commonly
supposed, it will be found that the difference between Rabelais and
Montaigne is a measure of the difference between 1545[37] and 1588, and
that it, in some degree, corresponds with the relation I have indicated
between Jewel and Hooker, and between Hooker and Chillingworth. For, the
law which governs all these relations is the law of a progressive
scepticism. What Rabelais was to the supporters of theology, that was
Montaigne to the theology itself. The writings of Rabelais were only
directed against the clergy; but the writings of Montaigne were directed
against the system of which the clergy were the offspring.[38] Under the
guise of a mere man of the world, expressing natural thoughts in common
language, Montaigne concealed a spirit of lofty and audacious
inquiry.[39] Although he lacked that comprehensiveness which is the
highest form of genius, he possessed other qualities essential to a
great mind. He was very cautious, and yet he was very bold. He was
cautious, since he would not believe strange things because they had
been handed down by his forefathers; and he was bold, since he was
undaunted by the reproaches with which the ignorant, who love to
dogmatize, always cover those whose knowledge makes them ready to
doubt.[40] These peculiarities would, in any age, have made Montaigne a
useful man: in the sixteenth century they made him an important one. At
the same time, his easy and amusing style[41] increased the circulation
of his works, and thus contributed to popularize those opinions which he
ventured to recommend for general adoption.

  [33] On Rabelais, as the supposed founder of French scepticism, compare
       _Lavallée_, _Hist. des Français_, vol. ii. p. 306; _Stephen's
       Lectures on the History of France_, vol. ii. p. 242; _Sismondi_,
       _Hist. des Français_, vol. xvi. p. 376.

  [34] Particularly the monks. See, among numerous other instances, vol.
       i. pp. 278, 282, vol. ii. pp. 284, 285, of _[OE]uvres de
       Rabelais_, edit. Amsterdam, 1725. However, the high dignitaries of
       the church are not spared; for he says that Gargantua 'se morvoit
       en archidiacre,' vol. i. p. 132; and on two occasions (vol. iii.
       p. 65, vol. iv. pp. 199, 200) he makes a very indecent allusion to
       the pope. In vol. i. pp. 260, 261, he satirically notices the way
       in which the services of the church were performed: 'Dont luy dist
       le moyne: Je ne dors jamais à mon aise, sinon quand je suis au
       sermon, ou quand je prie Dieu.'

  [35] His joke on the strength of Samson (_[OE]uvres de Rabelais_, vol.
       ii. pp. 29, 30), and his ridicule of one of the Mosaic laws (vol.
       iii. p. 34), are so unconnected with other parts of his work, as
       to have no appearance of belonging to a general scheme. The
       commentators, who find a hidden meaning in every author they
       annotate, have represented Rabelais as aiming at the highest
       objects, and seeking to effect the most extensive social and
       religious reforms. This I greatly doubt, at all events I have seen
       no proof of it; and I cannot help thinking that Rabelais owes a
       large share of his reputation to the obscurity of his language. On
       the other side of the question, and in favour of his
       comprehensiveness, see a bold passage in _Coleridge's Lit.
       Remains_, vol. i. pp. 138, 139.

  [36] The two first books in 1580; the third in 1588, with additions to
       the first two. See _Niceron_, _Mém. pour servir à l'Hist. des
       Hommes illustres_, vol. xvi. p. 210, Paris, 1731.

  [37] The first impression of the Pantagruel of Rabelais has no date on
       the title-page; but it is known that the third book was printed in
       1545, and the fourth book in 1546. See _Brunet_, _Manuel du
       Libraire_, vol. iv. pp. 4-6, Paris, 1843. The statement in _Biog.
       Univ._ vol. xxxvi. pp. 482, 483, is rather confused.

  [38] Mr. Hallam (_Lit. of Europe_, vol. ii. p. 29) says, that his
       scepticism 'is not displayed in religion.' But if we use the word
       'religion' in its ordinary sense, as connected with dogma, it is
       evident, from Montaigne's language, that he was a sceptic, and an
       unflinching one too. Indeed, he goes so far as to say that all
       religious opinions are the result of custom: 'Comme de vray nous
       n'avons aultre mire de la vérité et de la raison, que l'exemple et
       idée des opinions et usances du païs où nous sommes: _là est
       tousiours la parfaicte religion_, la parfaicte police, parfaict et
       accomply usage de toutes choses.' _Essais de Montaigne_, p. 121,
       livre i. chap. xxx. As a natural consequence, he lays down that
       religious error is not criminal, p. 53; compare p. 28. See also
       how he notices the usurpations of the theological spirit, pp. 116,
       508, 528. The fact seems to be, that Montaigne, while recognizing
       abstractedly the existence of religious truths, doubted our
       capacity for knowing them; that is to say, he doubted if, out of
       the immense number of religious opinions, there were any means of
       ascertaining which were accurate. His observations on miracles
       (pp. 541, 653, 654, 675) illustrate the character of his mind; and
       what he says on prophetic visions is quoted and confirmed by
       Pinel, in his profound work _Aliénation Mentale_, p. 256. Compare
       _Maury_, _Légendes Pieuses_, p. 268 note.

  [39] His friend, the celebrated De Thou, calls him 'homme franc, ennemi
       de toute contrainte.' _Mémoires_, in _De Thou_, _Hist. Univ._ vol.
       i. p. 59: see also vol. xi. p. 590. And M. Lamartine classes him
       with Montesquieu, as 'ces deux grands républicains de la pensée
       française.' _Hist. des Girondins_, vol. i. p. 174.

  [40] He says (_Essais_, p. 97), 'Ce n'est pas à l'adventure sans raison
       que nous attribuons à simplesse et ignorance la facilité de croire
       et de se laisser persuader.' Compare two striking passages, pp.
       199 and 685. Nothing of this sort had ever appeared before in the
       French language.

  [41] Dugald Stewart, whose turn of mind was very different from that of
       Montaigne, calls him 'this most amusing author.' _Stewart's
       Philos. of the Mind_, vol. i. p. 468. But Rousseau, in every
       respect a more competent judge, enthusiastically praises 'la
       naïveté, la grâce et l'énergie de son style inimitable.' _Musset
       Pathay_, _Vie de Rousseau_, vol. i. p. 185. Compare _Lettres de
       Sévigné_, vol. iii. p. 491, edit. Paris, 1843, and _Lettres de
       Dudeffand à Walpole_, vol. i. p. 94.

This, then, is the first open declaration of that scepticism, which,
towards the end of the sixteenth century, publicly appeared in
France.[42] During nearly three generations, it continued its course
with a constantly increasing activity, and developed itself in a manner
similar to that which took place in England. It will not be necessary to
follow all the steps of this great process; but I will endeavour to
trace those which, by their prominence, seem to be the most important.

  [42] 'Mais celui qui a répandu et popularisé en France le scepticisme,
       c'est Montaigne.' _Cousin_, _Hist. de la Philos._, II. série, vol.
       ii. pp. 288, 289. 'Die erste Regung des skeptischen Geistes finden
       wir in den Versuchen des Michael von Montaigne.' _Tennemann_,
       _Gesch. der Philos._ vol. ix. p. 443. On the immense influence of
       Montaigne, compare _Tennemann_, vol. ix. p. 458; _Monteil_,
       _Divers Etats_, vol. v. pp. 263-265; _Sorel_, _Bibliothèque
       Françoise_, pp. 80-91; _Le Long_, _Bibliothèque Historique_,
       vol. iv. p. 527.

A few years after the appearance of the Essays of Montaigne, there was
published in France a work, which though now little read, possessed in
the seventeenth century a reputation of the highest order. This was the
celebrated _Treatise on Wisdom_, by Charron, in which we find, for the
first time, an attempt made in a modern language to construct a system
of morals without the aid of theology.[43] What rendered this book, in
some respects, even more formidable than Montaigne's, was the air of
gravity with which it was written. Charron was evidently deeply
impressed with the importance of the task he had undertaken, and he is
honourably distinguished from his contemporaries, by a remarkable purity
both of language and of sentiment. His work is almost the only one of
that age in which nothing can be found to offend the chastest ears.
Although he borrowed from Montaigne innumerable illustrations,[44] he
has carefully omitted those indecencies into which that otherwise
charming writer was often betrayed. Besides this, there is about the
work of Charron a systematic completeness which never fails to attract
attention. In originality, he was, in some respects, inferior to
Montaigne; but he had the advantage of coming after him, and there can
be no doubt that he rose to an elevation which, to Montaigne, would
have been inaccessible. Taking his stand, as it were, on the summit of
knowledge, he boldly attempts to enumerate the elements of wisdom, and
the conditions under which those elements will work. In the scheme which
he thus constructs, he entirely omits theological dogmas;[45] and he
treats with undissembled scorn many of those conclusions which the
people had hitherto universally received. He reminds his countrymen that
their religion is the accidental result of their birth and education,
and that if they had been born in a Mohammedan country, they would have
been as firm believers in Mohammedanism as they then were in
Christianity.[46] From this consideration, he insists on the absurdity
of their troubling themselves about the variety of creeds, seeing that
such variety is the result of circumstances over which they have no
control. Also it is to be observed, that each of these different
religions declares itself to be the true one;[47] and all of them are
equally based upon supernatural pretensions, such as mysteries,
miracles, prophets, and the like.[48] It is because men forget these
things, that they are the slaves of that confidence which is the great
obstacle to all real knowledge, and which can only be removed by taking
such a large and comprehensive view, as will show us how all nations
cling with equal zeal to the tenets in which they have been
educated.[49] And, says Charron, if we look a little deeper, we shall
see that each of the great religions is built upon that which preceded
it. Thus, the religion of the Jews is founded upon that of the
Egyptians; Christianity is the result of Judaism; and, from these two
last, there has naturally sprung Mohammedanism.[50] We, therefore, adds
this great writer, should rise above the pretensions of hostile sects,
and, without being terrified by the fear of future punishment, or
allured by the hope of future happiness, we should be content with such
practical religion as consists in performing the duties of life; and,
uncontrolled by the dogmas of any particular creed, we should strive to
make the soul retire inward upon itself, and by the efforts of its own
contemplation, admire the ineffable grandeur of the Being of beings, the
supreme cause of all created things.[51]

  [43] Compare the remarks on Charron in _Tennemann_, _Geschichte der
       Philosophie_, vol. ix. p. 527, with two insidious passages in
       _Charron_, _De la Sagesse_, vol. i. pp. 4, 366.

  [44] The obligations of Charron to Montaigne were very considerable, but
       are stated too strongly by many writers. _Sorel_, _Bibliothèque
       Françoise_, p. 93; and _Hallam's Literature of Europe_, vol. ii.
       pp. 362, 509. On the most important subjects, Charron was a bolder
       and deeper thinker than Montaigne; though he is now so little
       read, that the only tolerably complete account I have seen of his
       system is in _Tennemann_, _Gesch. der Philosophie_, vol. ix. pp.
       458-487. Buhle (_Geschichte der neuern Philosophie_, vol. ii. pp.
       918-925) and Cousin (_Hist. de la Philos._ II. série, vol. ii. p.
       289) are short and unsatisfactory. Even Dr. Parr, who was
       extensively read in this sort of literature, appears only to have
       known Charron through Bayle (see notes on the Spital Sermon, in
       _Parr's Works_, vol. ii. pp. 520, 521); while Dugald Stewart, with
       suspicious tautology, quotes, in three different places, the same
       passage from Charron. _Stewart's Philosophy of the Mind_, vol. ii.
       p. 233, vol. iii. pp. 365, 393. Singularly enough, Talleyrand was
       a great admirer of _De la Sagesse_, and presented his favourite
       copy of it to Madame de Genlis! See her own account, in _Mém. de
       Genlis_, vol. iv. pp. 352, 353.

  [45] See his definition, or rather description, of wisdom, in Charron,
       _De la Sagesse_, vol. i. p. 295, vol. ii. pp. 113, 115.

  [46] _De la Sagesse_, vol. i. pp. 63, 351.

  [47] 'Chacune se préfère aux autres, et se confie d'être la meilleure et
       plus vraie que les autres, et s'entre-reprochent aussi les unes
       aux autres quelque chose, et par-là s'entre-condamnent et
       rejettent.' _De la Sagesse_, vol. i. p. 348; see also vol. i. pp.
       144, 304, 305, 306, vol. ii. p. 116. Expressions almost identical
       are used by M. Charles Compte, _Traité de Législation_, vol. i.
       p. 233.

  [48] 'Toutes trouvent et fournissent miracles, prodiges, oracles,
       mystères sacrés, saints prophètes, fêtes, certains articles de foy
       et créance nécessaires au salut.' _De la Sagesse_, vol. i. p. 346.

  [49] Hence he opposes proselytism, and takes up the philosophic ground,
       that religious opinions, being governed by undeviating laws, owe
       their variations to variations in their antecedents, and are
       always, if left to themselves, suited to the existing state of
       things: 'Et de ces conclusions, nous apprendrons à n'épouser rien,
       ne jurer à rien, n'admirer rien, ne se troubler de rien, mais quoi
       qu'il advienne, que l'on crie, tempête, se resoudre à ce point,
       que c'est le cours du monde, _c'est nature qui fait des siennes_.'
       _Dela Sagesse_, vol. i. p. 311.

  [50] 'Mais comme elles naissent l'une après l'autre, la plus jeune bâtit
       toujours sur son aînée et prochaine précédente, laquelle elle
       n'improuve, ni ne condamne de fond en comble, autrement elle ne
       seroit pas ouïe, et ne pourroit prendre pied; mais seulement
       l'accuse ou d'imperfection, ou de son terme fini, et qu'à cette
       occasion elle vient pour lui succéder et la parfaire, et ainsi la
       ruine peu-à-peu, et s'enrichit de ses dépouilles, comme la
       Judaïque a fait à la Gentille et Egyptienne, la Chrétienne à la
       Judaïque, la Mahometane à la Judaïque et Chrétienne ensemble: mais
       les vieilles condamnent bien tout-à-fait et entièrement les
       jeunes, et les tiennent pour ennemies capables.' _De la Sagesse_,
       vol. i. p. 349. This, I believe, is the first instance in any
       modern language of the doctrine of religious development; a
       doctrine which, since Charron, has been steadily advancing,
       particularly among men whose knowledge is extensive enough to
       enable them to compare the different religions which have
       prevailed at different times. In this, as in other subjects, they
       who are unable to compare, suppose that everything is isolated,
       simply because to them the continuity is invisible. As to the
       Alexandrian doctrine of development, found particularly in Clement
       and Origen, see _Neander's Hist. of the Church_, vol. ii. pp.
       234-257; and in particular pp. 241, 246.

  [51] _De la Sagesse_, vol. i. pp. 356, 365; two magnificent passages.
       But the whole chapter ought to be read, livre ii. chap. v. In it
       there is an occasional ambiguity. Tennemann, however, in the most
       important point, understands Charron as I do in regard to the
       doctrine of future punishments. _Geschichte der Philosophie_,
       vol. ix. p. 473.

Such were the sentiments which, in the year 1601, were for the first
time laid before the French people in their own mother-tongue.[52] The
sceptical and secular spirit, of which they were the representatives,
continued to increase; and, as the seventeenth century advanced, the
decline of fanaticism, so far from being confined to a few isolated
thinkers, gradually became common, even among ordinary politicians.[53]
The clergy, sensible of the danger, wished the government to check the
progress of inquiry;[54] and the pope himself, in a formal remonstrance
with Henry, urged him to remedy the evil, by prosecuting the heretics,
from whom he thought all the mischief had originally proceeded.[55] But
this the king steadily refused. He saw the immense advantages that would
arise, if he could weaken the ecclesiastical power by balancing the two
sects against each other;[56] and therefore, though he was a Catholic,
his policy rather leaned in favour of the Protestants, as being the
weaker party.[57] He granted sums of money towards the support of their
ministers and the repair of their churches;[58] he banished the Jesuits,
who were their most dangerous enemies;[59] and he always had with him
two representatives of the reformed church, whose business it was to
inform him of any infraction of those edicts which he had issued in
favour of their religion.[60]

  [52] The first edition of _La Sagesse_ was published at Bourdeaux in
       1601. _Niceron_, _Hommes illustres_, vol. xvi. p. 224; _Hallam's
       Lit. of Europe_, vol. ii. p. 509; _Biog. Univ._ vol. viii. p. 250.
       Two editions were susequently published in Paris, in 1604 and
       1607. _Brunet_, _Manuel du Libraire_, vol. i. p. 639.

  [53] Sismondi (_Hist. des Français_, vol. xxii. p. 86) and Lavallée
       (_Hist. des Français_, vol. iii. p. 84) have noticed the
       diminution of religious zeal early in the seventeenth century; and
       some curious evidence will also be found in the correspondence of
       Duplessis Mornay. See, for instance, a letter he wrote to Diodati,
       in 1609: 'A beaucoup aujourd'hui il fault commencer par là, qu'il
       y a une religion, premier que de leur dire quelle.' _Duplessis_,
       _Mém. et Corresp._ vol. x. p. 415. This middle, or secular party,
       received the name of 'Politiques,' and began to be powerful in
       1592 or 1593. Benoist (_Hist. de l'Edit de Nantes_, vol. i. p.
       113), under the year 1593, contemptuously says: 'Il s'éleva une
       foule de conciliateurs de religion;' see also pp. 201, 273. In
       1590, and in 1594, the 'Politiques' are noticed by De Thou (_Hist.
       Univ._ vol. xi. p. 171, vol. xii. p. 134); and on the increase, in
       1593, of 'le tiers parti politique et négociateur,' see
       _Capefigue_, _Hist. de la Réforme_, vol. vi. p. 235. See also,
       respecting 'les politiques,' a letter from the Spanish ambassador
       to his own court, in 1615, in _Capefigue's Richelieu_, vol. i. p.
       93; and for the rise in Paris, in 1592, of a 'politisch und
       kirchlich gemässigte Gesinnung,' see _Ranke_, _die Päpste_,
       vol. ii. p. 243.

  [54] The Sorbonne went so far as to condemn Charron's great work, but
       could not succeed in having it prohibited. Compare _Duvernet_,
       _Hist. de la Sorbonne_, vol. ii. p. 139, with _Bayle_, article
       Charron, note F.

  [55] In the appendix to Ranke (_Die Römischen Päpste_, vol. iii. pp.
       141, 142), there will be found the instructions which were given
       to the nuncio, in 1603, when he was sent to the French court; and
       which should be compared with a letter, written in 1604, in
       _Sully_, _[OE]conomies Royales_, vol. v. p. 122, edit. 1820.

  [56] 'Sein Sinn war im Allgemeinen, ohne Zweifel, das Gleichgewicht
       zwischen ihnen zu erhalten.' _Ranke_, _die Päpste_, vol. ii. pp.
       430, 431. 'Henri IV, l'expression de l'indifférentisme religieux,
       se posa comme une transaction entre ces deux systèmes.'
       _Capefigue_, _Hist. de la Réforme_, vol. vi. p. 358. 'Henry IV.
       endeavoured to adjust the balance evenly,' _Smedley's Hist. of the
       Reformed Religion in France_, vol. iii. p. 19. See also _Benoist_,
       _Hist. de l'Edit de Nantes_, vol. i. p. 136. Hence, of course,
       neither party was quite satisfied. _Mably's Observations_, vol.
       iii. p. 220; _Mezeray_, _Histoire de France_, vol. iii. p. 959.

  [57] Compare _Capefigue_, _Hist. de la Réforme_, vol. viii. p. 61, with
       _Bazin_, _Hist. de Louis XIII_, vol. i. pp. 32, 33. See also, on
       his inclination towards the Protestants, _Mém. de Fontenay
       Mareuil_, vol. i. p. 91. Fontenay, p. 94, mentions, as a singular
       instance, that 'il se vist de son temps des huguenots avoir des

  [58] _Sully_, _[OE]conomies Royales_, vol. iv. p. 134, vol. vi. p. 233;
       _Duplessis Mornay_, _Mém. et Corresp._ vol. xi. p. 242; _Benoist_,
       _Hist. de l'Edit de Nantes_, vol. ii. pp. 68, 205. These grants
       were annual, and were apportioned by the Protestants themselves.
       See their own account, in _Quick's Synodicon in Gallia_, vol. i.
       pp. 198, 222, 246, 247, 249, 275-277.

  [59] Henry IV. banished the Jesuits in 1594; but they were allowed,
       later in his reign, to make fresh settlements in France.
       _Flassan_, _Hist. de la Diplomatie_, vol. vi. p. 485; _Bazin_,
       _Hist. de Louis XIII_, vol. i. p. 106; _Monteil_, _Divers Etats_,
       vol. v. p. 192 note; _De Thou_, _Hist. Univ._ vol. xiv. p. 298.
       Compare the notices of them in _Sully_, _[OE]conomies_, vol. ii.
       p. 234, vol. iv. pp. 200, 235, 245. But there can be little doubt
       that they owed their recall to the dread entertained of their
       intrigues (_Grégoire_, _Hist. des Confesseurs_, p. 316); and Henry
       evidently disliked as well as feared them. See two letters from
       him in _Duplessis_, _Mém. et Corresp._ vol. vi. pp. 129, 151. It
       would appear, from the _Mém. de Richelieu_, vol. v. p. 350, Paris,
       1823, that the king never restored to them their former authority
       in regard to education.

  [60] _Bazin_, _Hist. de Louis XIII_, vol. i. pp. 142, 143; _Le Vassor_,
       vol. i. p. 156; _Sismondi_, vol. xxii. p. 116; _Duplessis Mornay_,
       vol. i. p. 389; _Sully_, _[OE]conomies_, vol. vii. pp. 105, 432,

Thus it was, that in France, as well as in England, toleration was
preceded by scepticism; and thus it was, that out of this scepticism
there arose the humane and enlightened measures of Henry IV. The great
prince, by whom these things were effected, unhappily fell a victim to
that fanatical spirit which he had done much to curb;[61] but the
circumstances which occurred after his death, showed how great an
impetus had been given to the age.

  [61] When Ravaillac was examined, he said, 'qu'il y avait été excité par
       l'intérêt de la religion, et par une impulsion irrésistible.'
       _Bazin_, _Hist. de Louis XIII_, vol. i. p. 38. This work contains
       the fullest account I have met with of Ravaillac; of whom there
       is, moreover, a description in _Les Historiettes de Tallemant des
       Réaux_, vol. i. p. 85, Paris, 1840, a very curious book.

On the murder of Henry IV., in 1610, the government fell into the hands
of the queen, who administered it during the minority of her son, Louis
XIII. And it is a remarkable evidence of the direction which the mind
was now taking, that she, though a weak and bigoted woman,[62] refrained
from those persecutions which, only one generation before, had been
considered a necessary proof of religious sincerity. That, indeed, must
have been a movement of no common energy, which could force toleration,
early in the seventeenth century, upon a princess of the house of
Medici, an ignorant and superstitious Catholic, who had been educated
in the midst of her priests, and had been accustomed to look for their
applause as the highest object of earthly ambition.

  [62] Le Vassor (_Hist. de Louis XIII_, vol. i. p. 279) calls her
       'superstitieuse au dernier point;' and, in vol. v. p. 481, 'femme
       crédule et superstitieuse.' See also vol. iii. p. 250, vol. vi. p.
       628; and _Grégoire_, _Hist. des Confesseurs_, p. 65.

Yet this was what actually occurred. The queen continued the ministers
of Henry IV., and announced, that in every thing she would follow his
example.[63] Her first public act was, a declaration, that the Edict of
Nantes should be inviolably preserved; for, she says, 'experience has
taught our predecessors, that violence, so far from inducing men to
return to the Catholic church, prevents them from doing so.'[64] Indeed,
so anxious was she upon this point, that when Louis, in 1614, attained
his nominal majority, the first act of his government was another
confirmation of the Edict of Nantes.[65] And, in 1615, she caused the
king, who still remained under her tutelage,[66] to issue a
declaration, by which all preceding measures in favour of the
Protestants were publicly confirmed.[67] In the same spirit, she, in
1611, wished to raise to the presidency of parliament the celebrated De
Thou; and it was only by making a formal announcement of his heresy,
that the pope succeeded in frustrating what he considered an impious

  [63] 'Elle annonça qu'elle vouloit suivre en tout l'exemple du feu
       roi.... Le ministère de Henri IV, que la reine continuoit.'
       _Sismondi_, _Hist. des Français_, vol. xxii. pp. 206, 210; and see
       two letters from her, in _Duplessis Mornay_, _Mém. et Corresp._
       vol. xi. p. 282, vol. xii. p. 428. Sully had feared that the death
       of Henry IV. would cause a change of policy: 'que l'on s'alloit
       jeter dans des desseins tous contraires aux règles, ordres et
       maximes du feu roy.' _[OE]conomies Royales_, vol. viii. p. 401.

  [64] See the declaration in Bazin, _Hist. de Louis XIII_, vol. i. pp.
       74, 75; and notices of it in _Mém. de Richelieu_, vol. i. p. 58;
       _Capefigue's Richelieu_, vol. i. p. 27; _Benoist_, _Hist. de
       l'Edit de Nantes_, vol. ii. p. 7; _Le Vassor_, _Hist. de Louis
       XIII_, vol. i. p. 58. But none of these writers, nor Sismondi
       (vol. xxii. p. 221), appear to be aware that the issuing of this
       declaration was determined on, in council, as early as the 17th of
       May; that is, only three days after the death of Henry IV. This is
       mentioned by Pontchartrain, who was then one of the ministers. See
       _Mém. de Pontchartrain_, edit. Petitot, 1822, vol. i. p. 409; a
       book little known, but well worthy of being read.

  [65] _Bazin_, _Hist. de Louis XIII_, vol. i. p. 262; _Benoist_, _Hist.
       de l'Edit de Nantes_, vol. ii. p. 140; _Mém. de Fontenay Mareuil_,
       vol. i. p. 257; _Le Vassor_, vol. i. p. 604.

  [66] 'Laissant néanmoins l'administration du royaume à la reine sa
       mère.' _Mém. de Bassompierre_, vol. ii. p. 52. Compare _Sully_,
       _[OE]conomies_, vol. ix. p. 177. She possessed complete authority
       over the king till 1617. See _Mémoires de Montglat_, vol. i. p.
       24: 'avoit été tenu fort bas par la reine sa mère.' See also _Le
       Vassor, Hist. de Louis XIII_, vol. ii. pp. 640, 677, 716, 764.

  [67] _Bazin_, _Hist. de Louis XIII_, vol. i. pp. 381, 382.

  [68] In 1611, 'le pape le rejeta formellement comme hérétique.' _Bazin_,
       vol. i. p. 174. This is glossed over by Pontchartrain (_Mémoires_,
       vol. i. p. 450); but the statement of M. Bazin is confirmed in the
       preface to _De Thou_, _Histoire Universelle_, vol. i. p. xvi.

The turn which things were now taking, caused no little alarm to the
friends of the hierarchy. The most zealous churchmen loudly censured the
policy of the queen; and a great historian has observed that when,
during the reign of Louis XIII., such alarm was caused in Europe by the
active encroachments of the ecclesiastical power, France was the first
country that ventured to oppose them.[69] The nuncio openly complained
to the queen of her conduct in favouring heretics; and he anxiously
desired that those Protestant works should be suppressed, by which the
consciences of true believers were greatly scandalized.[70] But these,
and similar representations, were no longer listened to with the respect
they would formerly have received; and the affairs of the country
continued to be administered with those purely temporal views, on which
the measures of Henry IV. had been avowedly based.[71]

  [69] 'Der erste Einhalt den die kirchliche Restauration erfuhr, geschah
       in Frankreich,' _Ranke_, _die Römischen Päpste_, vol. iii. p. 160.

  [70] This desire was expressed several times, but in vain: 'Gern hätten
       die Nuntien Werke wie von Thou und Richer verboten, aber es war
       ihnen nicht möglich,' _Ranke_, _die Päpste_, vol. iii. p. 181,
       Anhang. Compare _Mém. de Richelieu_, vol. ii. p. 68; _Mém. de
       Pontchartrain_, vol. i. p. 428.

  [71] This decline of the ecclesiastical power is noticed by many writers
       of the time; but it is sufficient to refer to the very curious
       remonstrance of the French clergy, in 1605, in _De Thou_, _Hist.
       Univ._ vol. xiv. pp. 446, 447.

Such was now the policy of the government of France; a government
which, not many years before, had considered it the great duty of a
sovereign to punish heretics and extirpate heresy. That this continued
improvement was merely the result of the general intellectual
development, is evident, not only from its success, but also from the
character of the queen-regent and the king. No one who has read the
contemporary memoirs, can deny that Mary de Medici and Louis XIII. were
as superstitious as any of their predecessors; and it is, therefore,
evident, that this disregard of theological prejudices was due, not to
their own personal merits, but to the advancing knowledge of the
country, and to the pressure of an age which, in the rapidity of its
progress, hurried along those who believed themselves to be its rulers.

But these considerations, weighty as they are, will only slightly
diminish the merit of that remarkable man, who now appeared on the stage
of public affairs. During the last eighteen years of the reign of Louis
XIII., France was entirely governed by Richelieu,[72] one of that
extremely small class of statesmen to whom it is given to impress their
own character on the destiny of their country. This great ruler has, in
his knowledge of the political art, probably never been surpassed,
except by that prodigy of genius who, in our time, troubled the fortunes
of Europe. But, in one important view, Richelieu was superior to
Napoleon. The life of Napoleon was a constant effort to oppress the
liberties of mankind; and his unrivalled capacity exhausted its
resources in struggling against the tendencies of a great age.
Richelieu, too, was a despot; but his despotism took a nobler turn. He
displayed, what Napoleon never possessed, a just appreciation of the
spirit of his own time. In one great point, indeed, he failed. His
attempts to destroy the power of the French nobility were altogether
futile;[73] for, owing to a long course of events, the authority of that
insolent class was so deeply rooted in the popular mind, that the
labours of another century were required to efface its ancient
influence. But, though Richelieu could not diminish the social and moral
weight of the French nobles, he curtailed their political privileges;
and he chastised their crimes with a severity which, for a time at
least, repressed their former license.[74] So little, however, can even
the ablest statesman effect, unless he is seconded by the general temper
of the age in which he lives, that these checks, rude as they were,
produced no permanent result. After his death, the French nobles, as we
shall presently see, quickly rallied; and, in the wars of the Fronde,
debased that great struggle into a mere contest of rival families. Nor
was it until the close of the eighteenth century, that France was
finally relieved from the overweening influence of that powerful class,
whose selfishness had long retarded the progress of civilization, by
retaining the people in a thraldom, from the remote effects of which
they have not yet fully recovered.

  [72] As M. Monteil says (_Hist. des Français des divers Etats_, vol.
       vii. p. 114), 'Richelieu tint le sceptre; Louis XIII. porta la
       couronne.' And Campion (_Mémoires_, p. 37) calls him 'plutôt le
       maître que le ministre;' and adds, pp. 218, 219, that he 'avoit
       gouverné dix-huit ans la France avec un pouvoir absolu et une
       gloire sans pareille.' Compare _Mém. du Cardinal de Retz_, vol. i
       p. 63.

  [73] The common opinion, put forth in _Alison's Hist. of Europe_, vol.
       i. pp. 101-104, and in many other books, is that Richelieu did
       destroy their influence; but this error arises from confusing
       political influence with social influence. What is termed the
       political power of a class, is merely the symptom and
       manifestation of its real power; and it is no use to attack the
       first, unless you can also weaken the second. The real power of
       the nobles was social, and that neither Richelieu nor Louis XIV.
       could impair; and it remained intact until the middle of the
       eighteenth century, when the intellect of France rebelled against
       it, overthrew it, and finally effected the French Revolution.

  [74] Richelieu appears to have formed the design of humbling the nobles,
       at least as early as 1624. See a characteristic passage in his
       _Mémoires_, vol. ii. p. 340. In _Swinburne's Courts of Europe_,
       vol. ii. pp. 63-65, there is a curious traditional anecdote,
       which, though probably false, shows, at all events, the fear and
       hatred with which the French nobles regarded the memory of
       Richelieu more than a century after his death.

Although in this respect Richelieu failed in achieving his designs, he
in other matters met with signal success. This was owing to the fact,
that his large and comprehensive views harmonized with that sceptical
tendency, of which I have just given some account. For this remarkable
man, though he was a bishop and a cardinal, never for a moment allowed
the claims of his profession to make him forego the superior claims of
his country. He knew, what is too often forgotten, that the governor of
a people should measure affairs solely by a political standard, and
should pay no regard to the pretensions of any sect, or the propagation
of any opinions, except in reference to the present and practical
welfare of men. The consequence was, that, during his administration,
there was seen the marvellous spectacle of supreme authority wielded by
a priest, who took no pains to increase the power of the spiritual
classes. Indeed, so far from this, he often treated them with what was
then considered unexampled rigour. The royal confessors, on account of
the importance of their functions, had always been regarded with a
certain veneration; they were supposed to be men of unspotted piety;
they had hitherto possessed immense influence, and even the most
powerful statesmen had thought it advisable to show them the deference
due to their exalted position.[75] Richelieu, however, was too familiar
with the arts of his profession, to feel much respect for these keepers
of the consciences of kings. Caussin, the confessor of Louis XIII., had,
it seems, followed the example of his predecessors, and endeavoured to
instill his own views of policy into the mind of the royal penitent.[76]
But Richelieu, so soon as he heard of this, dismissed him from office,
and sent him into exile; for, he contemptuously says, 'the little father
Caussin' should not interfere in matters of government, since he is one
of those 'who have always been brought up in the innocence of a
religious life.'[77] Caussin was succeeded by the celebrated Sirmond; but
Richelieu would not allow the new confessor to begin his duties, until
he had solemnly promised never to interfere in state affairs.[78]

  [75] On their influence, see _Grégoire_, _Histoire des Confesseurs_; and
       compare the remarks of Mr. Grote, a great writer, whose mind is
       always ready with historical analogies. _Grote's Hist. of Greece_,
       vol. vi. p. 393, 2nd edit. 1851. Many of the French kings had a
       strong natural affection for monks; but the most singular instance
       I have found of this sort of love is mentioned by no less a man
       than De Thou, respecting Henry III. De Thou (_Hist. Univ._ vol. x.
       pp. 666, 667) says of that prince: 'Soit tempérament, soit
       éducation, la présence d'un moine faisait toujours plaisir à
       Henri; et je lui ai moi-même souvent entendu dire, que leur vue
       produisoit le même effet sur son âme, que le chatouillement le
       plus délicat sur le corps.'

  [76] One of his suggestions was, 'sur les dangers que couroit le
       catholicisme en Allemagne, par ses liaisons avec les puissances
       protestantes.' _Grégoire_, _Histoire des Confesseurs_, p. 342. The
       fullest account of Caussin is in _Le Vassor_, _Hist. de Louis
       XIII_, vol. ix. pp. 287-299; to which, however, Grégoire never
       refers. As I shall have frequent occasion to quote Le Vassor, I
       may observe, that he is far more accurate than is generally
       supposed, and that he has been very unfairly treated by the
       majority of French writers, among whom he is unpopular, on account
       of his constant attacks on Louis XIV. Sismondi (_Hist. des
       Français_, vol. xxii. pp. 188, 189) speaks highly of his _Hist. of
       Louis XIII_; and so far as my own reading extends, I can confirm
       his favourable opinion.

  [77] 'Le petit père Caussin.' _Mém. de Richelieu_, vol. x. p. 206; and
       at p. 217, he is classed among the 'personnes qui avoient toujours
       été nourries dans l'innocence d'une vie religieuse;' see also p.
       215, on his 'simplicité et ignorance.' Respecting Richelieu's
       treatment of Caussin, see _Mém. de Montglat_, vol. i. pp. 173-175;
       _Lettres de Patin_, vol. i. p. 49; _Des Réaux, Historiettes_, vol.
       ii. p. 182.

  [78] _Sismondi, Hist. des Français_, vol. xxiii. p. 332; _Tallemant des
       Réaux, Historiettes_, vol. iii. p. 78 note. Le Vassor (_Hist. de
       Louis XIII_, vol. x. part ii. p. 761) says, that Sirmond 'se
       soutint à la cour sous le ministère de Richelieu, parce qu'il ne
       se mêloit point des affaires d'état.' According to the same writer
       (vol. viii. p. 156), Richelieu thought at one time of depriving
       the Jesuits of their post of confessor to the king.

On another occasion of much more importance, Richelieu displayed a
similar spirit. The French clergy were then possessed of enormous
wealth; and, as they enjoyed the privilege of taxing themselves, they
were careful not to make what they considered unnecessary contributions
towards defraying the expenses of the state. They had cheerfully
advanced money to carry on war against the Protestants, because they
believed it to be their duty to assist in the extirpation of
heresy.[79] But they saw no reason why their revenues should be wasted
in effecting mere temporal benefits; they considered themselves as the
guardians of funds set apart for spiritual purposes, and they thought it
impious that wealth consecrated by the piety of their ancestors should
fall into the profane hands of secular statesmen. Richelieu, who looked
on these scruples as the artifices of interested men, had taken a very
different view of the relation which the clergy bore to the country.[80]
So far from thinking that the interests of the church were superior to
those of the state, he laid it down as a maxim of policy, that 'the
reputation of the state was the first consideration.'[81] With such
fearlessness did he carry out this principle, that having convoked at
Nantes a great assembly of the clergy, he compelled them to aid the
government by an extraordinary supply of 6,000,000 francs; and finding
that some of the highest dignitaries had expressed their discontent at
so unusual a step, he laid hands on them also, and to the amazement of
the church, sent into exile not only four of the bishops, but likewise
the two archbishops of Toulouse and of Sens.[82]

  [79] _Lavallée_, _Hist. des Français_, vol. iii. p. 87; _Le Vassor_,
       _Hist. de Louis XIII_, vol. iv. p. 208; _Bazin_, _Hist. de Louis
       XIII_, vol. ii. p. 144; _Benoist_, _Hist. de l'Edit de Nantes_,
       vol. ii. pp. 337, 338. Benoist says: 'Le clergé de France,
       ignorant et corrompu, croyoit tout son devoir compris dans
       l'extirpation des hérétiques; et même il offroit de grandes
       sommes, à condition qu'on les employât à cette guerre.'

  [80] In which he is fully borne out by the high authority of Vattel,
       whose words I shall quote, for the sake of those politicians who
       still cleave to the superannuated theory of the sacredness of
       church-property: 'Loin que l'exemption appartienne aux biens
       d'église parce qu'ils sont consacrés à Dieu, c'est au contraire
       par cette raison même, qu'ils doivent être pris les premiers pour
       le salut de l'état; car il n'y a rien de plus agréable au Père
       commun des hommes, que de garantir une nation de sa ruine. Dieu
       n'ayant besoin de rien, lui consacrer des biens, c'est les
       destiner à des usages qui lui soient agréables. De plus, les biens
       de l'église, de l'aveu du clergé lui-même, sont en grande partie
       destinés aux pauvres. Quand l'état est dans le besoin, il est sans
       doute le premier pauvre, et le plus digne de secours.' _Vattel_,
       _le Droit des Gens_, vol. i. pp. 176, 177.

  [81] 'Que la réputation de l'état est préférable à toutes choses.' _Mém.
       de Richelieu_, vol. ii. p. 482. This was in 1625, and by way of
       refuting the legate.

  [82] _Sismondi_, _Hist. des Français_, vol. xxiii. pp. 477, 478;
       _Bazin_, _Hist. de Louis XIII_, vol. iv. pp. 325, 326. The
       Cardinal de Retz, who knew Richelieu personally, says: 'M. le
       cardinal de Richelieu avoit donné une atteinte cruelle à la
       dignité et à la liberté du clergé dans l'assemblée de Mante, et il
       avoit exilé, avec des circonstances atroces, six de ses prélats
       les plus considérables.' _Mém. de Retz_, vol. i. p. 50.

If these things had been done fifty years earlier, they would most
assuredly have proved fatal to the minister who dared to attempt them.
But Richelieu, in these and similar measures, was aided by the spirit of
an age which was beginning to despise its ancient masters. For this
general tendency was now becoming apparent, not only in literature and
in politics, but even in the proceedings of the ordinary tribunals. The
nuncio indignantly complained of the hostility displayed against
ecclesiastics by the French judges; and he said that, among other
shameful things, some clergymen had been hung, without being first
deprived of their spiritual character.[83] On other occasions, the
increasing contempt showed itself in a way well suited to the coarseness
of the prevailing manners. Sourdis, the archbishop of Bourdeaux, was
twice ignominiously beaten; once by the Duke d'Epernon, and afterwards
by the Maréchal de Vitry.[84] Nor did Richelieu, who usually treated the
nobles with such severity, seem anxious to punish this gross outrage.
Indeed, the archbishop not only received no sympathy, but, a few years
later, was peremptorily ordered by Richelieu to retire to his own
diocese; such, however, was his alarm at the state of affairs, that he
fled to Carpentras, and put himself under the protection of the
pope.[85] This happened in 1641 and nine years earlier, the church had
incurred a still greater scandal. For in 1632, serious disturbances
having arisen in Languedoc, Richelieu did not fear to meet the
difficulty by depriving some of the bishops, and seizing the
temporalities of the others.[86]

  [83] 'Die Nuntien finden kein Ende der Beschwerden die sie machen zu
       müssen glauben, vorzüglich über die Beschränkungen welche die
       geistliche Jurisdiction erfahre.... Zuweilen werde ein Geistlicher
       hingerichtet ohne erst degradirt zu seyn.' _Ranke_, _die Päpste_,
       vol. iii. p. 157: a summary, in 1641, of the complaints of the
       then nuncio, and of those of his predecessors. Le Vassor (_Hist.
       de Louis XIII_, vol. v. pp. 51 seq.) has given some curious
       details respecting the animosity between the clergy and the
       secular tribunals of France in 1624.

  [84] _Sismondi_, _Hist. des Français_, vol. xxiii. p. 301; _Mém. de
       Bassompierre_, vol. iii. pp. 302, 353. Bazin, who notices this
       disgraceful affair, simply says (_Hist. de Louis XIII_, vol. iii.
       p. 453): 'Le maréchal de Vitry, suivant l'exemple qui lui en avoit
       donné le duc d'Epernon, s'emporta jusqu'à le frapper de son
       bâton.' In regard to Epernon, the best account is in _Mém. de
       Richelieu_, where it is stated (vol. viii. p. 194) that the duke,
       just before flogging the archbishop, 'disoit au peuple,
       "Rangez-vous, vous verrez comme j'étrillerai votre archevêque."'
       This was stated by a witness, who heard the duke utter the words.
       Compare, for further information, _Le Vassor_, _Hist. de Louis
       XIII_, vol. x. part ii. p. 97, with _Tallemant des Réaux_,
       _Historiettes_, vol. iii. p. 116. Des Réaux, who, in his own way,
       was somewhat of a philosopher, contentedly says: 'Cet archevêque
       se pouvoit vanter d'être le prélat du monde qui avoit été le plus
       battu.' His brother was Cardinal Sourdis; a man of some little
       reputation in his own time, and concerning whom a curious anecdote
       is related in _Mém. de Conrart_, pp. 231-234.

  [85] _Sismondi_, _Hist. des Français_, vol. xxiii. p. 470. Le Vassor
       (_Hist. de Louis XIII_, vol. x. part ii. p. 149) says: 'Il
       s'enfuit donc honteusement à Carpentras sous la protection du

  [86] 'Les évêques furent punis par la saisie de leur temporel; Alby,
       Nimes, Uzés, furent privées de leurs prélats.' _Capefigue's
       Richelieu_, Paris, 1844, vol. ii. p. 24. The Protestants were
       greatly delighted at the punishment of the bishops of Alby and
       Nimes, which 'les ministres regardoient comme une vengeance
       divine.' _Benoist_, _Hist. de l'Edit de Nantes_, vol. ii. pp. 528,

The indignation of the clergy may be easily imagined. Such repeated
injuries, even if they had proceeded from a layman, would have been hard
to endure; but they were rendered doubly bitter by being the work of one
of themselves--one who had been nurtured in the profession against which
he turned. This it was which aggravated the offence, because it seemed
to be adding treachery to insult. It was not a war from without, but it
was a treason from within. It was a bishop who humbled the episcopacy,
and a cardinal who affronted the church.[87] Such, however, was the
general temper of men, that the clergy did not venture to strike an
open blow; but, by means of their partisans, they scattered the most
odious libels against the great minister. They said that he was
unchaste, that he was guilty of open debauchery, and that he held
incestuous commerce with his own niece.[88] They declared that he had no
religion; that he was only a Catholic in name; that he was the pontiff
of the Huguenots; that he was the patriarch of atheists;[89] and what
was worse than all, they even accused him of wishing to establish a
schism in the French church.[90] Happily the time was now passing away
in which the national mind could be moved by such artifices as these.
Still the charges are worth recording, because they illustrate the
tendency of public affairs, and the bitterness with which the spiritual
classes saw the reins of power falling from their hands. Indeed, all
this was so manifest, that in the last civil war raised against
Richelieu, only two years before his death, the insurgents stated in
their proclamation, that one of their objects was to revive the respect
with which the clergy and nobles had formerly been treated.[91]

  [87] In a short account of Richelieu, which was published immediately
       after his death, the writer indignantly says, that 'being a
       cardinal, he afflicted the church.' _Somers Tracts_. vol. v. p.
       540. Compare _Bazin_, _Hist. de Louis XIII_, vol. iv. p. 322.

  [88] This scandalous charge in regard to his niece was a favourite one
       with the clergy; and among many other instances, the accusation
       was brought by the Cardinal de Valençay in the grossest manner.
       See _Tallemant des Réaux_, _Historiettes_, vol. iii. p. 201.

  [89] 'De là ces petits écrits qui le dénonçaient comme le "pontife des
       huguenots" ou "le patriarche des athées."' _Capefigue's
       Richelieu_, vol. i. p. 312.

  [90] Compare _Des Réaux_, _Historiettes_, vol. ii. p. 233, with _Le
       Vassor_, _Hist. de Louis XIII_, vol. viii. part ii. pp. 177, 178,
       vol. ix. p. 277.

  [91] See the manifesto in _Sismondi_, _Hist. des Français_, vol. xxiii.
       pp. 452, 453.

The more we study the career of Richelieu, the more prominent does this
antagonism become. Every thing proves that he was conscious of a great
struggle going on between the old ecclesiastical scheme of government
and the new secular scheme; and that he was determined to put down the
old plan, and uphold the new one. For, not only in his domestic
administration, but also in his foreign policy, do we find the same
unprecedented disregard of theological interests. The House of Austria,
particularly its Spanish branch, had long been respected by all pious
men as the faithful ally of the church; it was looked upon as the
scourge of heresy; and its proceedings against the heretics had won for
it a great name in ecclesiastical history.[92] When, therefore, the
French government, in the reign of Charles IX., made a deliberate
attempt to destroy the Protestants, France naturally established an
intimate connexion with Spain as well as with Rome;[93] and these three
great powers were firmly united, not by a community of temporal
interests, but by the force of a religious compact. This theological
confederacy was afterwards broken up by the personal character of Henry
IV.,[94] and by the growing indifference of the age; but during the
minority of Louis XIII., the queen-regent had in some degree renewed it,
and had attempted to revive the superstitious prejudices upon which it
was based.[95] In all her feelings, she was a zealous Catholic; she was
warmly attached to Spain; and she succeeded in marrying her son, the
young king, to a Spanish princess, and her daughter to a Spanish

  [92] Late in the sixteenth century, 'fils aîné de l'Eglise' was the
       recognized and well-merited title of the kings of Spain. _De
       Thou_, _Hist. Univ._ vol. xi. p. 280. Compare _Duplessis Mornay_,
       _Mém. et Correspond._ vol. xi. p. 21. And on the opinions which
       the Catholics, early in the seventeenth century, generally held
       respecting Spain, see _Mém. de Fontenay_, _Mareuil_, vol. i. p.
       189; _Mém. de Bassompierre_, vol. i. p. 424.

  [93] As to the connexion between this foreign policy and the massacre of
       Saint Bartholomew, see _Capefigue_, _Hist. de la Réforme_,
       vol. iii. pp. 253, 268, 269.

  [94] On the policy, and still more on the feelings, of Henry IV. towards
       the House of Austria, see _Sully_, _[OE]conomies Royales_, vol.
       ii. p. 291, vol. iii. pp. 162, 166, vol. iv. pp. 289, 290, 321,
       343, 344, 364, vol. v. p. 123, vol. vi. p. 293, vol. vii. p. 303,
       vol. viii. pp. 195, 202, 348.

  [95] _Capefigue's Richelieu_, vol. i. pp. 26, 369; _Mém. de Montglat_,
       vol. i. pp. 16, 17; _Le Vassor_, _Hist. de Louis XIII_, vol i. p.
       268, vol. vi. p. 349; _Sismondi_, _Hist. des Français_, vol. xxii.
       p. 227. Her husband, Henry IV., said that she had 'the soul of a
       Spaniard.' _Capefigue_, _Hist. de la Réforme_, vol. viii. p. 150.

  [96] This was, in her opinion, a master-stroke of policy: 'Entêtée du
       double mariage avec l'Espagne qu'elle avoit ménagé avec tant
       d'application, et qu'elle regardoit comme le plus ferme appui de
       son autorité.' _Le Vassor_, _Hist. de Louis XIII_, vol. i. pp.
       453, 454.

It might have been expected that when Richelieu, a great dignitary of
the Romish church, was placed at the head of affairs, he would have
reëstablished a connexion so eagerly desired by the profession to which
he belonged.[97] But his conduct was not regulated by such views as
these. His object was, not to favour the opinions of a sect, but to
promote the interests of a nation. His treaties, his diplomacy, and the
schemes of his foreign alliances, were all directed, not against the
enemies of the church, but against the enemies of France. By erecting
this new standard of action, Richelieu took a great step towards
secularizing the whole system of European politics. For he thus made the
theoretical interests of men subordinate to their practical interests.
Before his time, the rulers of France, in order to punish their
Protestant subjects, had not hesitated to demand the aid of the Catholic
troops of Spain; and in so doing, they merely acted upon the old
opinion, that it was the chief duty of a government to suppress heresy.
This pernicious doctrine was first openly repudiated by Richelieu. As
early as 1617, and before he had established his power, he, in an
instruction to one of the foreign ministers which is still extant, laid
it down as a principle, that, in matters of state, no Catholic ought to
prefer a Spaniard to a French Protestant.[98] To us, indeed, in the
progress of society, such preference of the claims of our country to
those of our creed, has become a matter of course; but in those days it
was a startling novelty.[99] Richelieu, however, did not fear to push
the paradox even to its remotest consequences. The Catholic church
justly considered that its interests were bound up with those of the
House of Austria;[100] but Richelieu, directly he was called to the
council, determined to humble that house in both its branches.[101] To
effect this, he openly supported the bitterest enemies of his own
religion. He aided the Lutherans against the Emperor of Germany; he
aided the Calvinists against the king of Spain. During the eighteen
years he was supreme, he steadily pursued the same undeviating
policy.[102] When Philip attempted to repress the Dutch Protestants,
Richelieu made common cause with them; at first, advancing them large
sums of money, and afterwards inducing the French king to sign a treaty
of intimate alliance with those who, in the opinion of the church, he
ought rather to have chastized as rebellious heretics.[103] In the same
way, when that great war broke out, in which the emperor attempted to
subjugate to the true faith the consciences of German Protestants,
Richelieu stood forward as their protector; he endeavoured from the
beginning to save their leader the Palatine;[104] and, failing in that,
he concluded in their favour an alliance with Gustavus Adolphus,[105]
the ablest military commander the Reformers had then produced. Nor did
he stop there. After the death of Gustavus, he, seeing that the
Protestants were thus deprived of their great leader, made still more
vigorous efforts in their favour.[106] He intrigued for them in foreign
courts; he opened negotiations in their behalf; and eventually he
organized for their protection a public confederacy, in which all
ecclesiastical considerations were set at defiance. This league, which
formed an important precedent in the international polity of Europe, was
not only contracted by Richelieu with the two most powerful enemies of
his own church, but it was, from its tenor, what Sismondi emphatically
calls a 'Protestant confederation'--a Protestant confederation, he says,
between France, England, and Holland.[107]

  [97] So late as 1656, the French clergy wished 'to hasten a peace with
       Spain, and to curb the heretics in France,' _Letter from Pell to
       Thurloe_, written in 1656, and printed in _Vaughan's Protectorate
       of Cromwell_, vol. i. p. 436, 8vo, 1839. During the minority of
       Louis XIII. we hear of 'les zéléz catholiques, et ceux qui
       désiroient, à quelque prix que ce fut, l'union des deux roys, et
       des deux couronnes de France et d'Espagne, comme le seul moyen
       propre, selon leur advis, pour l'extirpation des hérésies dans la
       chrestienté.' _Sully_, _[OE]con. Royales_, vol. ix. p. 181:
       compare vol. vii. p. 248, on 'les zéléz catholiques espagnolisez
       de France.'

  [98] See _Sismondi_, _Hist. des Français_, vol. xxii. pp. 387-389, where
       the importance of this document is noticed, and it is said that
       Richelieu had drawn it up 'avec beaucoup de soin.' The language of
       it is very peremptory: 'Que nul catholique n'est si aveugle
       d'estimer en matière d'état un Espagnol meilleur qu'un Français

  [99] Even in the reign of Henry IV. the French Protestants were not
       considered to be Frenchmen: 'The intolerant dogmas of Roman
       Catholicism did not recognize them as Frenchmen. They were looked
       upon as foreigners, or rather as enemies; and were treated as
       such.' _Felice's Hist. of the Protestants of France_, p. 216.

  [100] Sismondi says, under the year 1610, 'Toute l'église catholique
        croyoit son sort lié à celui de la maison d'Autriche,' _Hist. des
        Français_, vol. xxii. p. 180.

  [101] 'Sa vue dominante fut l'abaissement de la maison d'Autriche.'
        _Flassan_, _Hist. de la Diplomatie Française_, vol. iii. p. 81.
        And, on the early formation of this scheme, see _Mém. de la
        Rochefoucauld_, vol. i. p. 350. De Retz says, that before
        Richelieu, no one had even thought of such a step: 'Celui
        d'attaquer la formidable maison d'Autriche n'avoit été imaginé de
        personne.' _Mém. de Retz_, vol. i. p. 45. This is rather too
        strongly expressed; but the whole paragraph is curious, as
        written by a man who possessed great ability, which De Retz
        undoubtedly did, and who, though hating Richelieu, could not
        refrain from bearing testimony to his immense services.

  [102] 'Obwohl Cardinal der römischen Kirche, trug Richelieu kein
        Bedenken, mit den Protestanten selbst unverhohlen in Bund zu
        treten,' _Ranke_, _die Päpste_, vol. ii. p. 510. Compare, in
        _Mém. de Fontenay Mareuil_, vol. ii. pp. 28, 29, the reproach
        which the nuncio Spada addressed to Richelieu for treating with
        the Protestants, 'de la paix qui se traitoit avec les huguenots.'
        See also _Le Vassor_, _Hist. de Louis XIII_, vol. v. pp. 236,
        354-356, 567; and a good passage in _Lavallée_, _Hist. des
        Français_, vol. iii. p. 90,--an able little work, and perhaps the
        best small history ever published of a great country.

  [103] De Retz mentions a curious illustration of the feelings of the
        ecclesiastical party respecting this treaty. He says, that the
        Bishop of Beauvais, who, the year after the death of Richelieu,
        was for a moment at the head of affairs, began his administration
        by giving to the Dutch their choice, either to abandon their
        religion, or else forfeit their alliance with France: 'Et il
        demanda dès le premier jour aux Hollandois qu'ils se
        convertissent à la religion catholique, s'ils vouloient demeurer
        dans l'alliance de France.' _Mém. du Cardinal de Retz_, vol. i.
        p. 39. This, I suppose, is the original authority for the
        statement in the _Biog. Univ._ vol. xiv. p. 440; though, as is
        too often the case in that otherwise valuable work, the writer
        has omitted to indicate the source of his information.

  [104] In 1626, he attempted to form a league 'en faveur du Palatin,'
        _Sismondi_, _Hist. des Français_, vol. xxii. p. 576. Sismondi
        seems not quite certain as to the sincerity of his proposal; but
        as to this there can, I think, be little doubt; for it appears
        from his own memoirs, that even in 1624 he had in view the
        recovery of the Palatinate. _Mém. de Richelieu_, vol. ii. p. 405;
        and again in 1625, p. 468.

  [105] _Sismondi_, vol. xxiii. p. 173; _Capefigue's Richelieu_, vol. i.
        p. 415; _Le Vassor_, _Hist. de Louis XIII_, vol. vi. pp. 12, 600;
        and at p. 489: 'Le roi de Suède qui comptoit uniquement sur le

  [106] Compare _Mém. de Montglat_, vol. i. pp. 74, 75, vol. ii. pp. 92,
        93, with _Mém. de Fontenay Mareuil_, vol. ii. p. 198; and
        _Howell's Letters_, p. 247. The different views which occurred to
        his fertile mind in consequence of the death of Gustavus, are
        strikingly summed up in _Mém. de Richelieu_, vol. vii. pp.
        272-277. On his subsequent pecuniary advances, see vol. ix.
        p. 395.

  [107] In 1633, 'les ambassadeurs de France, d'Angleterre et de Hollande
        mirent à profit le repos de l'hiver pour resserrer la
        confédération protestante,' _Sismondi_, _Hist. des Français_,
        vol. xxiii. p. 221. Compare, in _Whitelocke's Swedish Embassy_,
        vol. i. p. 275, the remark made twenty years later by Christina,
        daughter of Gustavus, on the union with 'papists.'

These things alone would have made the administration of Richelieu a
great epoch in the history of European civilization. For his government
affords the first example of an eminent Catholic statesman
systematically disregarding ecclesiastical interests, and showing that
disregard in the whole scheme of his foreign, as well as of his
domestic, policy. Some instances, indeed, approaching to this, may be
found, at an earlier period, among the petty rulers of Italian states;
but, even there, such attempts have never been successful; they had
never been continued for any length of time, nor had they been carried
out on a scale large enough to raise them to the dignity of
international precedents. The peculiar glory of Richelieu is, that his
foreign policy was, not occasionally, but invariably, governed by
temporal considerations; nor do I believe that, during the long tenure
of his power, there is to be found the least proof of his regard for
those theological interests, the promotion of which had long been looked
upon as a matter of paramount importance. By thus steadily subordinating
the church to the state; by enforcing the principle of this
subordination, on a large scale, with great ability, and with unvarying
success, he laid the foundation of that purely secular polity, the
consolidation of which has, since his death, been the aim of all the
best European diplomatists. The result was a most salutary change, which
had been for some time preparing, but which, under him, was first
completed. For, by the introduction of this system, an end was put to
religious wars; and the chances of peace were increased, by thus
removing one of the causes to which the interruption of peace had often
been owing.[108] At the same time, there was prepared the way for that
final separation of theology from politics, which it will be the
business of future generations fully to achieve. How great a step had
been taken in this direction, appears from the facility with which the
operations of Richelieu were continued by men every way his inferiors.
Less than two years after his death, there was assembled the Congress of
Westphalia;[109] the members of which concluded that celebrated peace,
which is remarkable, as being the first comprehensive attempt to adjust
the conflicting interests of the leading European countries.[110] In
this important treaty, ecclesiastical interests were altogether
disregarded;[111] and the contracting parties, instead of, as
heretofore, depriving each other of their possessions, took the bolder
course of indemnifying themselves at the expense of the church, and did
not hesitate to seize her revenues, and secularize several of her
bishoprics.[112] From this grievous insult, which became a precedent in
the public law of Europe, the spiritual power has never recovered; and
it is remarked by a very competent authority that, since that period,
diplomatists have, in their official acts, neglected religious
interests, and have preferred the advocacy of matters relating to the
commerce and colonies of their respective countries.[113] The truth of
this observation is confirmed by the interesting fact, that the Thirty
Years' War, to which this same treaty put an end, is the last great
religious war which has ever been waged;[114] no civilized people,
during two centuries, having thought it worth while to peril their own
safety in order to disturb the belief of their neighbours. This, indeed,
is but a part of that vast secular movement, by which superstition has
been weakened, and the civilization of Europe secured. Without, however,
discussing that subject, I will now endeavour to show how the policy of
Richelieu, in regard to the French Protestant church, corresponded with
his policy in regard to the French Catholic church; so, that, in both
departments, this great statesman, aided by that progress of knowledge
for which his age was remarkable, was able to struggle with prejudices
from which men, slowly and with infinite difficulty, were attempting to

  [108] This change may be illustrated by comparing the work of Grotius
        with that of Vattel. These two eminent men are still respected as
        the most authoritative expounders of international law; but there
        is this important difference between them, that Vattel wrote more
        than a century after Grotius, and when the secular principles
        enforced by Richelieu had penetrated the minds even of common
        politicians. Therefore, Vattel says (_Le Droit des Gens_, vol. i.
        pp. 379, 380): 'On demande s'il est permis de faire alliance avec
        une nation qui ne professe pas la même religion? Si les traités
        faits avec les ennemis de la foi sont valides? Grotius a traité
        la question assez au long. Cette discussion pouvait être
        nécessaire dans un temps où la fureur des partis obscurcissait
        encore des principes qu'elle avait long-temps fait oublier, osons
        croire qu'elle serait superflue dans notre siècle. La loi
        naturelle seule régit les traités des nations; la différence de
        religion y est absolument étrangère.' See also p. 318, and vol.
        ii. p. 151. On the other hand, Grotius opposes alliances between
        nations of different religion, and says, that nothing can justify
        them except 'une extrême nécessité.... Car il faut chercher
        premièrement le règne céleste, c'est à dire penser avant toutes
        choses à la propagation de l'évangile.' And he further recommends
        that princes should follow the advice given on this subject by
        Foulques, Archbishop of Rheims! _Grotius_, _le Droit de la Guerre
        et de la Paix_, livre ii. chap. xv. sec. xi. vol. i. pp. 485, 486,
        edit. Barbeyrac, Amsterdam, 1724, 4to; a passage the more
        instructive, because Grotius was a man of great genius and great
        humanity. On religious wars, as naturally recognized in barbarous
        times, see the curious and important work, _Institutes of
        Timour_, pp. 141, 333, 335.

  [109] 'Le Congrès de Westphalie s'ouvrit le 10 avril 1643.' _Lavallée_,
        _Hist. des Français_, vol. iii. p. 156. Its two great divisions
        at Munster and Osnabruck were formed in March 1644. _Flassan_,
        _Hist. de la Diplomatie_, vol. iii. p. 110. Richelieu died in
        December, 1642. _Biog. Univ._ vol. xxxviii. p. 28.

  [110] 'Les règnes de Charles-Quint et de Henri IV font époque pour
        certaines parties du droit international; mais le point de départ
        le plus saillant, c'est la paix de Westphalie.' _Eschbach_,
        _Introduc. à l'Etude du Droit_, Paris, 1846, p. 92. Compare the
        remarks on Mably, in _Biog. Univ._ vol. xxvi. p. 7, and
        _Sismondi_, _Hist. des Français_, vol. xxiv. p. 179: 'base au
        droit public de l'Europe.'

  [111] Compare the indignation of the pope at this treaty (_Vattel_, _le
        Droit des Gens_, vol. ii. p. 28), with _Ranke's Päpste_, vol. ii.
        p. 576: 'Das religiöse Element ist zurückgetreten; die
        politischen Rücksichten beherrschen die Welt:' a summary of the
        general state of affairs.

  [112] 'La France obtint par ce traité, en indemnité, la souveraineté des
        trois évêchés, Metz, Toul et Verdun, ainsi que celle d'Alsace. La
        satisfaction ou indemnité des autres parties intéressées fut
        convenue, en grande partie, aux dépens de l'église, et moyennant
        la sécularisation de plusieurs évêchés et bénéfices
        ecclésiastiques.' _Koch_, _Tableau des Révolutions_, vol. i. p.

  [113] Dr. Vaughan (_Protectorate of Cromwell_, vol. i. p. civ.) says:
        'It is a leading fact, also, in the history of modern Europe,
        that, from the peace of Westphalia, in 1648, religion, as the
        great object of negotiation, began everywhere to give place to
        questions relating to colonies and commerce.' Charles Butler
        observed, that this treaty 'considerably lessened the influence
        of religion on politics.' _Butler's Reminiscences_, vol. i. p.

  [114] The fact of the Thirty Years' War being a religious contest,
        formed the basis of one of the charges which the church party
        brought against Richelieu: and an author, who wrote in 1634,
        'montroit bien au long que l'alliance du roy de France avec les
        protestantes étoit contraire aux intérêts de la religion
        catholique; parce que la guerre des Provinces Unies, et celle
        d'Allemagne étoient des guerres de religion.' _Benoist_, _Hist.
        de l'Edit de Nantes_, vol. ii. p. 536.

The treatment of the French Protestants by Richelieu is, undoubtedly,
one of the most honourable parts of his system; and in it, as in other
liberal measures, he was assisted by the course of preceding events. His
administration, taken in connexion with that of Henry IV. and the
queen-regent, presents the noble spectacle of a toleration far more
complete than any which had then been seen in Catholic Europe. While in
other Christian countries, men were being incessantly persecuted,
simply because they held opinions different from those professed by the
established clergy, France refused to follow the general example, and
protected those heretics whom the church was eager to punish. Indeed,
not only were they protected, but, when they possessed abilities, they
were openly rewarded. In addition to their appointments to civil
offices, many of them were advanced to high military posts; and Europe
beheld, with astonishment, the armies of the king of France led by
heretical generals. Rohan, Lesdiguières, Chatillon, La Force, Bernard de
Weimar, were among the most celebrated of the military leaders employed
by Louis XIII.; and all of them were Protestants, as also were some
younger, but distinguished officers, such as Gassion, Rantzau,
Schomberg, and Turenne. For now, nothing was beyond the reach of men
who, half a century earlier, would, on account of their heresies, have
been persecuted to the death. Shortly before the accession of Louis
XIII., Lesdiguières, the ablest general among the French Protestants,
was made marshal of France.[115] Fourteen years later, the same high
dignity was conferred upon two other Protestants, Chatillon and La
Force; the former of whom is said to have been the most influential of
the schismatics.[116] Both these appointments were in 1622;[117] and, in
1634, still greater scandal was caused by the elevation of Sully, who,
notwithstanding his notorious heresy, also received the staff of marshal
of France.[118] This was the work of Richelieu, and it gave serious
offence to the friends of the church; but the great statesman paid so
little attention to their clamour, that, after the civil war was
concluded, he took another step equally obnoxious. The Duke de Rohan was
the most active of all the enemies of the established church, and was
looked up to by the Protestants as the main support of their party. He
had taken up arms in their favour, and, declining to abandon his
religion, had, by the fate of war, been driven from France. But
Richelieu, who was acquainted with his ability, cared little about his
opinions. He, therefore, recalled him from exile, employed him in a
negotiation with Switzerland, and sent him on foreign service, as
commander of one of the armies of the king of France.[119]

  [115] According to a contemporary, he received this appointment without
        having asked for it: 'sans être à la cour ni l'avoir demandé.'
        _Mém. de Fontenay_, _Mareuil_, vol. i. p. 70. In 1622, even the
        lieutenants of Lesdiguières were Protestants: 'ses lieutenants,
        qui estant tous huguenots.' _Ibid._ vol. i. p. 538. These memoirs
        are very valuable in regard to political and military matters;
        their author having played a conspicuous part in the transactions
        which he describes.

  [116] 'Il n'y avoit personne dans le parti huguenot si considérable que
        lui.' _Tallemant des Réaux_, _Historiettes_, vol. v. p. 204.

  [117] _Biog. Univ._ vol. xv. p. 247; _Benoist_, _Hist. de l'Edit de
        Nantes_, vol. ii. p. 400.

        [118] Additions to _Sully_, _[OE]conomies Royales_, vol. viii. p.
        496; _Smedley's Hist. of the Reformed Religion in France_,
        vol. iii. p. 204.

  [119] _Capefigue's Richelieu_, vol. ii. p. 57; _Mém. de Rohan_, vol. i.
        pp. 66, 69; _Mém. de Bassompierre_, vol. iii. pp. 324, 348; _Mém.
        de Montglat_, vol. i. p. 86; _Le Vassor_, _Hist. de Louis XIII_,
        vol. vii. p. 157, vol. viii. p. 284. This great rise in the
        fortunes of Rohan took place at different times between 1632 and

Such were the tendencies which characterized this new state of things.
It is hardly necessary to observe how beneficial this great change must
have been; since by it men were encouraged to look to their country as
the first consideration, and, discarding their old disputes, Catholic
soldiers were taught to obey heretical generals, and follow their
standards to victory. In addition to this, the mere social amalgamation,
arising from the professors of different creeds mixing in the same camp,
and fighting under the same banner, must have still further aided to
disarm the mind, partly by merging theological feuds in a common, and
yet a temporal, object, and partly by showing to each sect, that their
religious opponents were not entirely bereft of human virtue; that they
still retained some of the qualities of men; and that it was even
possible to combine the errors of heresy with all the capabilities of a
good and competent citizen.[120]

  [120] Late in the sixteenth century, Duplessis Mornay had to state what
        was then considered by the majority of men an incredible paradox,
        'que ce n'estoit pas chose incompatible d'estre bon huguenot et
        bon Françoys tout ensemble.' _Duplessis_, _Mém. et Correspond._
        vol. i. p. 146. Compare p. 213, vol. ii. pp. 45, 46, 77, 677,
        vol. vii. p. 294, vol. xi. pp. 31, 68; interesting passages for
        the history of opinions in France.

But, while the hateful animosities by which France had long been
distracted, were, under the policy of Richelieu, gradually subsiding, it
is singular to observe that, though the prejudices of the Catholics
obviously diminished, those of the Protestants seemed, for a time, to
retain all their activity. It is, indeed, a striking proof of the
perversity and pertinacity of such feelings, that it was precisely in
the country, and at the period, when the Protestants were best treated,
that they displayed most turbulence. And in this, as in all such cases,
the cause principally at work was the influence of that class to which
circumstances, I will now explain, had secured a temporary ascendency.

For, the diminution of the theological spirit had effected in the
Protestants a remarkable but a very natural result. The increasing
toleration of the French government had laid open to their leaders
prizes which before they could never have obtained. As long as all
offices were refused to the Protestant nobles, it was natural that they
should cling with the greater zeal to their own party, by whom alone
their virtues were acknowledged. But, when the principle was once
recognised, that the state would reward men for their abilities, without
regard to their religion, there was introduced into every sect a new
element of discord. The leaders of the Reformers could not fail to feel
some gratitude, or, at all events, some interest for the government
which employed them; and the influence of temporal considerations being
thus strengthened, the influence of religious ties must have been
weakened. It is impossible that opposite feelings should be paramount,
at the same moment, in the same mind. The further men extend their view,
the less they care for each of the details of which the view is
composed. Patriotism is a corrective of superstition; and the more we
feel for our country, the less we feel for our sect. Thus it is, that
in the progress of civilization, the scope of the intellect is widened;
its horizon is enlarged; its sympathies are multiplied; and, as the
range of its excursions is increased, the tenacity of its grasp is
slackened, until, at length, it begins to perceive that the infinite
variety of circumstances necessarily causes an infinite variety of
opinions; that a creed, which is good and natural for one man, may be
bad and unnatural for another; and that, so far from interfering with
the march of religious convictions, we should be content to look into
ourselves, search our own hearts, purge our own souls, soften the evil
of our own passions, and extirpate that insolent and intolerant spirit,
which is at once the cause and the effect of all theological

It was in this direction, that a prodigious step was taken by the French
in the first half of the seventeenth century. Unfortunately, however,
the advantages which arose were accompanied by serious drawbacks. From
the introduction of temporal considerations among the Protestant
leaders, there occurred two results of considerable importance. The
first result was, that many of the Protestants changed their religion.
Before the Edict of Nantes, they had been constantly persecuted, and
had, as constantly, increased.[121] But, under the tolerant policy of
Henry IV. and Louis XIII., they continued to diminish.[122] Indeed, this
was the natural consequence of the growth of that secular spirit which,
in every country, has assuaged religious animosities. For, by the action
of that spirit, the influence of social and political views began to
outweigh those theological views to which the minds of men had long been
confined. As these temporal ties increased in strength, there was, of
course, generated among the rival factions an increased tendency to
assimilate; while, as the Catholics were not only much more numerous,
but in every respect, more influential, than their opponents, they
reaped the benefit of this movement, and gradually drew over to their
side many of their former enemies. That this absorption of the smaller
sect into the larger, is due to the cause I have mentioned, is rendered
still more evident by the interesting fact, that the change began among
the heads of the party; and that it was not the inferior Protestants who
first abandoned their leaders, but it was rather the leaders who
deserted their followers. This was because the leaders, being more
educated than the great body of the people, were more susceptible to the
sceptical movement, and therefore set the example of an indifference to
disputes which still engrossed the popular mind. As soon as this
indifference had reached a certain point, the attractions offered by the
conciliating policy of Louis XIII. became irresistible; and the
Protestant nobles, in particular, being most exposed to political
temptations, began to alienate themselves from their own party, in order
to form an alliance with a court which showed itself ready to reward
their merits.

  [121] See _Benoist_, _Hist. de l'Edit de Nantes_, vol. i. pp. 10, 14,
        18; _De Thou_, _Hist. Univ._ vol. iii. pp. 181, 242, 357, 358,
        543, 558, vol. iv. p. 155; _Relat. des Ambassadeurs Vénitiens_,
        vol. i. pp. 412, 536, vol. ii. pp. 66, 74; _Ranke's Civil Wars in
        France_, vol. i. pp. 279, 280, vol. ii. p. 94.

  [122] Compare _Hallam's Const. Hist._ vol. i. p. 173, with _Ranke_, _die
        Römischen Päpste_, vol. ii. pp. 477-479. In spite of the increase
        of population, the Protestants diminished absolutely, as well as
        relatively, to the Catholics. In 1598 they had 760 churches; in
        1619 only 700. _Smedley's Hist. of the Reformed Religion in
        France_, vol. iii. pp. 46, 145. De Thou, in the preface to his
        History (vol. i. p. 320), observes, that the Protestants had
        increased during the wars carried on against them, but
        'diminuoient en nombre et en crédit pendant la paix.'

It is, of course, impossible to fix the exact period at which this
important change took place.[123] But we may say with certainty, that
very early in the reign of Louis XIII. many of the Protestant nobles
cared nothing for their religion, while the remainder of them ceased to
feel that interest in it which they had formerly expressed. Indeed, some
of the most eminent of them openly abandoned their creed, and joined
that very church which they had been taught to abhor as the man of sin,
and the whore of Babylon. The Duke de Lesdiguières, the greatest of all
the Protestant generals,[124] became a Catholic, and, as a reward for
his conversion, was made constable of France.[125] The Duke de la
Tremouille adopted the same course;[126] as also did the Duke de la
Meilleraye,[127] the Duke de Bouillon,[128] and a few years later the
Marquis de Montausier.[129] These illustrious nobles were among the most
powerful of the members of the Reformed communion; but they quitted it
without compunction, sacrificing their old associations in favour of
the opinions professed by the state. Among the other men of high rank,
who still remained nominally connected with the French Protestants, we
find a similar spirit. We find them lukewarm respecting matters, for
which, if they had been born fifty years earlier, they would have laid
down their lives. The Maréchal de Bouillon, who professed himself to be
a Protestant, was unwilling to change his religion; but he so comported
himself as to show that he considered its interests as subordinate to
political considerations.[130] A similar remark has been made by the
French historians concerning the Duke de Sully and the Marquis de
Chatillon, both of whom, though they were members of the Reformed
church, displayed a marked indifference to those theological interests
which had formerly been objects of supreme importance.[131] The result
was, that when, in 1621, the Protestants began their civil war against
the government, it was found that of all their great leaders, two only,
Rohan and his brother Soubise, were prepared to risk their lives in
support of their religion.[132]

  [123] M. Ranke has noticed how the French Protestant nobles fell off
        from their party; but he does not seem aware of the remote causes
        of what he deems a sudden apostasy: 'In dem nämlichen Momente
        trat nun auch die grosse Wendung der Dinge in Frankreich ein.
        Fragen wir, woher im Jahr 1621 die Verluste des Protestantismus
        hauptsächlich kamen, so war es die Entzweiung derselben, der
        Abfall des Adels.' _Ranke_, _die Päpste_, vol. ii. p. 476.
        Compare a curious passage in _Benoist_, _Hist. de l'Edit de
        Nantes_, vol. ii. p. 33, from which it appears that in 1611 the
        French Protestants were breaking into three parties, one of which
        consisted of 'les seigneurs d'éminente qualité.'

  [124] 'Le plus illustre guerrier du parti protestant.' _Sismondi_,
        _Hist. des Français_, vol. xxii. p. 505. In the contemporary
        despatches of the Spanish ambassador, he is called 'l'un des
        huguenots les plus marquans, homme d'un grand poids, et d'un
        grand crédit.' _Capefigue's Richelieu_, vol. i. p. 60. His
        principal influence was in Dauphiné. _Benoist_, _Hist. de l'Edit
        de Nantes_, vol. i. p. 236.

  [125] _Biog. Univ._ vol. xxiv. p. 293; and a dry remark on his
        'conversion' in _Mém. de Richelieu_, vol. ii. p. 215, which may
        be compared with _[OE]uvres de Voltaire_, vol. xviii. p. 132, and
        _Bazin_, _Hist. de Louis XIII_, vol. ii. pp. 195-197. Rohan
        (_Mém._ vol. i. p. 228) plainly says, 'le duc de Lesdiguières,
        ayant hardé sa religion pour la charge de connétable de France.'
        See also p. 91, and _Mém. de Montglat_, vol. i. p. 37.

  [126] _Sismondi_, _Hist. des Français_, vol. xxiii. p. 67; _Le Vassor_,
        _Hist. de Louis XIII_, vol. v. pp. 809, 810, 865.

  [127] _Tallemant des Réaux_, _Historiettes_, vol. iii. p. 43. La
        Meilleraye was also a duke; and what is far more in his favour,
        he was a friend of Descartes. _Biog. Univ._ vol. xxviii. pp. 152,

  [128] Sismondi (_Hist. des Français_, vol. xxiii. p. 27) says, 'il
        abjura en 1637;' but according to Benoist (_Hist. de l'Edit de
        Nantes_, vol. ii. p. 550) it was in 1635.

  [129] _Tallemant des Réaux_, _Historiettes_, vol. iii. p. 245. Des
        Réaux, who saw these changes constantly happening, simply
        observes, 'notre marquis, voyant que sa religion étoit un
        obstacle à son dessein, en change.'

  [130] 'Mettoit la politique avant la religion.' _Sismondi_, _Hist. des
        Français_, vol. xxii. p. 264. This was Henry Bouillon, whom some
        writers have confused with Frederick Bouillon. Both of them were
        dukes; but Henry, who was the father, and who did not actually
        change his religion, was the marshal. The following notices of
        him will more than confirm the remark made by Sismondi; _Mém. de
        Bassompierre_, vol. i. p. 455; _Smedley's Reformed Religion in
        France_, vol. iii. p. 99; _Capefigue's Richelieu_, vol. i. p.
        107; _Le Vassor_, _Hist. de Louis XIII_, vol. ii. pp. 420, 467,
        664, vol. iv. p. 519; _Mém. de Richelieu_, vol. i. p. 104, vol.
        ii. p. 259; _Mém. de Duplessis Mornay_, vol. xi. p. 450, vol.
        xii. pp. 79, 182, 263, 287, 345, 361, 412, 505.

  [131] _Benoist_, _Hist. de l'Edit de Nantes_, vol. i. pp. 121, 298,
        vol. ii. pp. 5, 180, 267, 341; _Capefigue's Richelieu_, vol. i.
        p. 267; _Felice's Hist. of the Protestants of France_, p. 206.
        Sully advised Henry IV., on mere political considerations, to
        become a Catholic; and there were strong, but I believe unfounded
        rumours, that he himself intended taking the same course. See
        _Sully_, _[OE]conomies Royales_, vol. ii. p. 81, vol. vii. pp.
        362, 363.

  [132] 'There were, among all the leaders, but the Duke de Rohan and his
        brother the Duke de Soubise, who showed themselves disposed to
        throw their whole fortunes into the new wars of religion.'
        _Felice's Hist. of the Protestants of France_, p. 241. For this,
        M. Felice, as usual, quotes no authority; but Rohan himself says:
        'C'est ce qui s'est passé en cette seconde guerre (1626), où
        Rohan et Soubise ont eu pour contraires tous les grands de la
        religion de France.' _Mém. de Rohan_, vol. i. p. 278. Rohan
        claims great merit for his religious sincerity; though, from a
        passage in _Mém. de Fontenay Mareuil_, vol. i. p. 418, and
        another in _Benoist_, _Hist. de l'Edit de Nantes_, vol. ii. p.
        173, one may be allowed to doubt if he were so single-minded as
        is commonly supposed.

Thus it was, that the first great consequence of the tolerating policy
of the French government was to deprive the Protestants of the support
of their former leaders, and, in several instances, even to turn their
sympathies on the side of the Catholic church. But the other
consequence, to which I have alluded, was one of far greater moment. The
growing indifference of the higher classes of Protestants threw the
management of their party into the hands of the clergy. The post, which
was deserted by the secular leaders, was naturally seized by the
spiritual leaders. And as, in every sect, the clergy, as a body, have
always been remarkable for their intolerance of opinions different to
their own, it followed, that this change infused into the now mutilated
ranks of the Protestants an acrimony not inferior to that of the worst
times of the sixteenth century.[133] Hence it was, that by a singular,
but perfectly natural combination, the Protestants, who professed to
take their stand on the right of private judgment, became, early in the
seventeenth century, more intolerant than the Catholics, who based their
religion on the dictates of an infallible church.

  [133] Sismondi notices this remarkable change; though he places it a few
        years earlier than the contemporary writers do: 'Depuis que les
        grands seigneurs s'étoient éloignés deg églises, c'étoient les
        ministres qui étoient devenus les chefs, les représentans et les
        démagogues des huguenots; et ils apportoient dans leurs
        délibérations cette âpreté et cette inflexibilité théologiques
        qui semblent caractériser les prêtres de toutes les religions, et
        qui donnent à leurs haines une amertume plus offensante.'
        _Sismondi_, _Hist. des Français_, vol. xxii. p. 87. Compare p.
        478. In 1621, 'Rohan lui-même voyait continuellement ses
        opérations contrariées par le conseil-général des églises.'
        _Lavallée_, _Hist. des Français_, vol. iii. p. 88. In the same
        year, M. Capefigue (_Richelieu_, vol. i. p. 271) says, 'Le parti
        modéré cessa d'avoir action sur le prêche; la direction des
        forces huguenotes, était passée dans les mains des ardents,
        conduits par les ministres.'

This is one of the many instances which show how superficial is the
opinion of those speculative writers, who believe that the Protestant
religion is necessarily more liberal than the Catholic. If those who
adopt this view had taken the pains to study the history of Europe in
its original sources, they would have learned, that the liberality of
every sect depends, not at all on its avowed tenets, but on the
circumstances in which it is placed, and on the amount of authority
possessed by its priesthood. The Protestant religion is, for the most
part, more tolerant than the Catholic, simply because the events which
have given rise to Protestantism have at the same time increased the
play of the intellect, and therefore lessened the power of the clergy.
But whoever has read the works of the great Calvinist divines, and above
all, whoever has studied their history, must know, that in the sixteenth
and seventeenth centuries, the desire of persecuting their opponents
burnt as hotly among them, as it did among any of the Catholics even in
the worst days of the papal dominion. This is a mere matter of fact, of
which any one may satisfy himself, by consulting the original documents
of those times. And even now, there is more superstition, more bigotry,
and less of the charity of real religion, among the lower order of
Scotch Protestants, than there is among the lower order of French
Catholics. Yet for one intolerant passage in Protestant theology, it
would be easy to point out twenty in Catholic theology. The truth,
however, is, that the actions of men are governed, not by dogmas, and
text-books, and rubrics, but by the opinions and habits of their
contemporaries, by the general spirit of their age, and by the character
of those classes who are in the ascendant. This seems to be the origin
of that difference between religious theory and religious practice, of
which theologians greatly complain as a stumbling-block and an evil.
For, religious theories being preserved in books, in a doctrinal and
dogmatic form, remain a perpetual witness, and, therefore cannot be
changed without incurring the obvious charge of inconsistency, or of
heresy. But the practical part of every religion, its moral, political,
and social workings, embrace such an immense variety of interests, and
have to do with such complicated and shifting agencies, that it is
hopeless to fix them by formularies: they, even in the most rigid
systems, are left, in a great measure, to private discretion; and, being
almost entirely unwritten, they lack those precautions by which the
permanence of dogmas is effectually secured.[134] Hence it is, that
while the religious doctrines professed by a people in their national
creed are no criterion of their civilization, their religious practice
is, on the other hand, so pliant and so capable of adaptation to social
wants, that it forms one of the best standards by which the spirit of
any age can be measured.

  [134] The church of Rome has always seen this, and on that account has
        been, and still is, very pliant in regard to morals, and very
        inflexible in regard to dogmas; a striking proof of the great
        sagacity with which her affairs are administered. In _Blanco
        White's Evidence against Catholicism_, p. 48, and in _Parr's
        Works_, vol. vii. pp. 454, 455, there is an unfavourable and,
        indeed, an unjust notice of this peculiarity, which, though
        strongly marked in the Romish church, is by no means confined to
        it, but is found in every religious sect which is regularly
        organized. Locke, in his _Letters on Toleration_, observes, that
        the clergy are naturally more eager against error than against
        vice (_Works_, vol. v. pp. 6, 7, 241); and their preference of
        dogmas to moral truths is also mentioned by M. C. Comte, _Traité
        de Législat._ vol. i. p. 245; and is alluded to by Kant in his
        comparison of 'ein moralischer Katechismus' with a
        'Religionskatechismus.' _Die Metaphysik der Sitten_ (_Ethische
        Methodenlehre_), in _Kant's Werke_, vol. v. p. 321. Compare
        _Temple's Observations upon the United Provinces_, in _Works of
        Sir W. Temple_, vol. i. p. 154, with the strict adhesion to
        formularies noticed in _Ward's Ideal Church_, p. 358; and
        analogous cases in _Mill's Hist. of India_, vol. i. pp. 399, 400,
        and in _Wilkinson's Ancient Egyptians_, vol. iii. p. 87; also
        _Combe's Notes on the United States_, vol. iii. pp. 256, 257.

It is on account of these things, that we ought not to be surprised
that, during many years, the French Protestants, who affected to appeal
to the right of private judgment, were more intolerant of the exercise
of that judgment by their adversaries than were the Catholics; although
the Catholics, by recognising an infallible church, ought, in
consistency, to be superstitious, and may be said to inherit intolerance
as their natural birthright.[135] Thus, while the Catholics were
theoretically more bigoted than the Protestants, the Protestants became
practically more bigoted than the Catholics. The Protestants continued
to insist upon that right of private judgment in religion, which the
Catholics continued to deny. Yet, such was the force of circumstances,
that each sect, in its practice, contradicted its own dogma, and acted
as if it had embraced the dogma of its opponents. The cause of this
change was very simple. Among the French, the theological spirit, as we
have already seen, was decaying; and the decline of the influence of the
clergy was, as invariably happens, accompanied by an increase of
toleration. But, among the French Protestants, this partial diminution
of the theological spirit had produced different consequences; because
it had brought about a change of leaders, which threw the command into
the hands of the clergy, and, by increasing their power, provoked a
reaction, and revived those very feelings to the decay of which the
reaction owed its origin. This seems to explain how it is, that a
religion, which is not protected by the government, usually displays
greater energy and greater vitality than one which is so protected. In
the progress of society, the theological spirit first declines among the
most educated classes; and then it is that the government can step in,
as it does in England, and, controlling the clergy, make the church a
creature of the state; thus weakening the ecclesiastical element by
tempering it with secular considerations. But, when the state refuses to
do this, the reins of power, as they fall from the hands of the upper
classes, are seized by the clergy, and there arises a state of things
of which the French Protestants in the seventeenth century, and the
Irish Catholics in our own time, form the best illustration. In such
cases, it will always happen, that the religion which is tolerated by
the government, though not fully recognised by it, will the longest
retain its vitality; because its priesthood, neglected by the state,
must cling closer to the people, in whom alone is the source of their
power.[136] On the other hand, in a religion which is favoured and
richly endowed by the state, the union between the priesthood and
inferior laity will be less intimate; the clergy will look to the
government as well as to the people; and the interference of political
views, of considerations of temporal expediency, and, if it may be added
without irreverence, the hopes of promotion will secularize the
ecclesiastical spirit,[137] and, according to the process I have already
traced, will thus hasten the march of toleration.

  [135] Blanco White (_Evidence against Catholicism_, p. vi.) harshly
        says, '_sincere_ Roman Catholics cannot conscientiously be
        tolerant.' But he is certainly mistaken; for the question is one,
        not of sincerity, but of consistency. A sincere Roman Catholic
        may be, and often is, conscientiously tolerant; a consistent
        Roman Catholic, never.

  [136] We also see this very clearly in England, where the dissenting
        clergy have much more influence among their hearers than the
        clergy of the Establishment have among theirs. This has often
        been noticed by impartial observers, and we are now possessed of
        statistical proof that 'the great body of Protestant dissenters
        are more assiduous' in attending religious worship than churchmen
        are. See a valuable essay by Mr. Mann _On the Statistical
        Position of Religious Bodies in England and Wales_, in _Journal
        of Statist. Soc._ vol. xviii. p. 152.

  [137] Respecting the working of this in England, there are some shrewd
        remarks made by Le Blanc in his _Lettres d'un François_, vol. i.
        pp. 267, 268; which may be compared with _Lord Holland's Mem. of
        the Whig Party_, vol. ii. p. 253, where it is suggested, that in
        the case of complete emancipation of the Catholics, 'eligibility
        to worldly honours and profits would somewhat abate the fever of
        religious zeal.' On this, there are observations worth attending
        to in _Lord Cloncurry's Recollections_, Dublin, 1849, pp. 342,

These generalizations, which account for a great part of the present
superstition of the Irish Catholics, will also account for the former
superstition of the French Protestants. In both cases, the government
disdaining the supervision of an heretical religion, allowed supreme
authority to fall into the hands of the priesthood, who stimulated the
bigotry of men, and encouraged them in a hatred of their opponents.
What the results of this are in Ireland, is best known to those of our
statesmen, who, with unusual candour, have declared Ireland to be their
greatest difficulty. What the results were in France, we will now
endeavour to ascertain.

The conciliating spirit of the French government having drawn over to
its side some of the most eminent of the French Protestants, and having
disarmed the hostility of others, the leadership of the party fell, as
we have already seen, into the hands of those inferior men, who
displayed in their new position the intolerance characteristic of their
order. Without pretending to write a history of the odious feuds that
now arose, I will lay before the reader some evidence of their
increasing bitterness; and I will point out a few of the steps by which
the angry feelings of religious controversy became so inflamed, that at
length they kindled a civil war, which nothing but the improved temper
of the Catholics prevented from being as sanguinary as were the horrible
struggles of the sixteenth century. For, when the French Protestants
became governed by men whose professional habits made them consider
heresy to be the greatest of crimes, there naturally sprung up a
missionary and proselytizing spirit, which induced them to interfere
with the religion of the Catholics, and, under the old pretence of
turning them from the error of their ways, revived those animosities
which the progress of knowledge tended to appease. And as, under such
guidance, these feelings quickly increased, the Protestants soon learned
to despise that great Edict of Nantes, by which their liberties were
secured; and they embarked in a dangerous contest, in which their object
was, not to protect their own religion, but to weaken the religion of
that very party to whom they owed a toleration, which had been
reluctantly conceded by the prejudices of the age.

It was stipulated, in the Edict of Nantes, that the Protestants should
enjoy the full exercise of their religion; and this right they continued
to possess until the reign of Louis XIV. To this there were added
several other privileges, such as no Catholic Government, except that
of France, would then have granted to its heretical subjects. But these
things did not satisfy the desires of the Protestant clergy. They were
not content to exercise their own religion, unless they could also
trouble the religion of others. Their first step was, to call upon the
government to limit the performance of those rites which the French
Catholics had long revered as emblems of the national faith. For this
purpose, directly after the death of Henry IV. they held a great
assembly at Saumur, in which they formally demanded that no Catholic
processions should be allowed in any town, place, or castle occupied by
the Protestants.[138] As the government did not seem inclined to
countenance this monstrous pretension, these intolerant sectaries took
the law into their own hands. They not only attacked the Catholic
processions wherever they met them, but they subjected the priests to
personal insults, and even endeavoured to prevent them from
administering the sacrament to the sick. If a Catholic clergyman was
engaged in burying the dead, the Protestants were sure to be present,
interrupting the funeral, turning the ceremonies into ridicule, and
attempting, by their clamour, to deaden the voice of the minister, so
that the service performed in the church should not be heard.[139] Nor
did they always confine themselves even to such demonstrations as these.
For, certain towns having been, perhaps imprudently, placed under their
control, they exercised their authority in them with the most wanton
insolence. At La Rochelle, which for importance was the second city in
the kingdom, they would not permit the Catholics to have even a single
church in which to celebrate what for centuries had been the sole
religion of France, and was still the religion of an enormous majority
of Frenchmen.[140] This, however, only formed part of a system, by which
the Protestant clergy hoped to trample on the rights of their
fellow-subjects. In 1619, they ordered in their general assembly at
Loudun, that in none of the Protestant towns should there be a sermon
preached by a Jesuit, or indeed by any ecclesiastical person
commissioned by a bishop.[141] In another assembly, they forbade any
Protestant even to be present at a baptism, or at a marriage, or at a
funeral, if the ceremony was performed by a Catholic priest.[142] And,
as if to cut off all hope of reconciliation, they not only vehemently
opposed those intermarriages between the two parties, by which, in every
Christian country, religious animosities have been softened, but they
publicly declared, that they would withhold the sacrament from any
parents whose children were married into a Catholic family.[143] Not,
however, to accumulate unnecessary evidence, there is one other
circumstance worth relating, as a proof of the spirit with which these
and similar regulations were enforced. When Louis XIII., in 1620,
visited Pau, he was not only treated with indignity, as being an
heretical prince, but he found that the Protestants had not left him a
single church, not one place, in which the king of France, in his own
territory, could perform those devotions which he believed necessary
for his future salvation.[144]

  [138] 'Les processions catholiques seraient interdites dans toutes les
        places, villes et châteaux occupés par ceux de la religion.'
        _Capefigue's Richelieu_, vol. i. p. 39.

  [139] Of these facts we have the most unequivocal proof; for they were
        not only stated by the Catholics in 1623, but they are recorded,
        without being denied, by the Protestant historian Benoist: 'On y
        accusoit les Réformez d'injurier les prêtres, quand ils les
        voyoient passer; d'empêcher les processions des Catholiques;
        l'administration des sacremens aux malades; l'enterrement des
        morts avec les cérémonies accoutumées; ... que les Réformez
        s'étoient emparez des cloches en quelques lieux, et en d'autres
        se serroient de celles des Catholiques pour avertir de l'heure du
        prêche; qu'ils affectoient de faire du bruit autour des églises
        pendant le service; qu'ils tournoient en dérision les cérémonies
        de l'église romaine.' _Benoist_, _Hist. de l'Edit de Nantes_,
        vol. ii. pp. 433, 434; see also pp. 149, 150.

  [140] 'On pouvait dire que La Rochelle était la capitale, le saint
        temple du calvinisme; car on ne voyait là aucune église, aucune
        cérémonie papiste.' _Capefigue's Richelieu_, vol. i. p. 342.

  [141] _Mém. de Richelieu_, vol. ii. p. 100. For other and similar
        evidence, see _Duplessis Mornay_, _Mémoires_, vol. xi. p. 244;
        _Sully_, _[OE]conomies Royales_, vol. vii. p. 164; _Benoist_,
        _Hist. de l'Edit de Nantes_, vol. ii. pp. 70, 233, 279.

  [142] _Quick's Synodicon in Gallia_, vol. ii. p. 196.

  [143] For a striking instance of the actual enforcement of this
        intolerant regulation, see _Quick's Synodicon in Gallia_,
        vol. ii. p. 344.

  [144] _Bazin_, _Hist. de Louis XIII_, vol. ii. p. 124; _Mém. de
        Richelieu_, vol. ii. pp. 109, 110; _Felice's Hist. of the
        Protestants of France_, p. 238.

This was the way in which the French Protestants, influenced by their
new leaders, treated the first Catholic government which abstained from
persecuting them; the first which not only allowed them the free
exercise of their religion, but even advanced many of them to offices of
trust and of honour.[145] All this, however, was only of a piece with
the rest of their conduct. They, who in numbers and in intellect formed
a miserable minority of the French nation, claimed a power which the
majority had abandoned, and refused to concede to others the toleration
they themselves enjoyed. Several persons, who had joined their party,
now quitted it, and returned to the Catholic church; but for exercising
this undoubted right, they were insulted by the Protestant clergy in the
grossest manner, with every term of opprobrium and abuse.[146] For those
who resisted their authority, no treatment was considered too severe. In
1612, Ferrier, a man of some reputation in his own day, having disobeyed
their injunctions, was ordered to appear before one of their synods. The
gist of his offence was, that he had spoken contemptuously of
ecclesiastical assemblies; and to this there were, of course, added
those accusations against his moral conduct, with which theologians
often attempt to blacken the character of their opponents.[147] Readers
of ecclesiastical history are too familiar with such charges to attach
any importance to them; but as, in this case, the accused was tried by
men who were at once his prosecutors, his enemies, and his judges, the
result was easy to anticipate. In 1613 Ferrier was excommunicated, and
the excommunication was publicly proclaimed in the church of Nîmes. In
this sentence, which is still extant, he is declared by the clergy to be
'a scandalous man, a person incorrigible, impenitent and ungovernable.'
We, therefore, they add, 'in the name and power of our Lord Jesus
Christ, by the conduct of the Holy Ghost, and with authority from the
church, have cast, and do now cast and throw him out of the society of
the faithful, that he may be delivered up unto Satan.'[148]

  [145] In 1625, Howell writes that the Protestants had put up an
        inscription on the gates of Montauban, 'Roy sans foy, ville sans
        peur.' _Howell's Letters_, p. 178.

  [146] Sometimes they were called dogs returning to the vomit of popery;
        sometimes they were swine wallowing in the mire of idolatry.
        _Quick's Synodicon in Gallia_, vol. i. pp. 385, 398.

  [147] It is observable, that on the first occasion (_Quick's Synodicon_,
        vol. i. p. 362) nothing is said of Ferrier's immorality; and on
        the next occasion (p. 449) the synod complains, among other
        things, that 'he hath most licentiously inveighed against, and
        satirically lampooned, the ecclesiastical assemblies.'

  [148] See this frightful and impious document, in _Quick's Synodicon_,
        vol. i. pp. 448, 450.

That he may be delivered up unto Satan! This was the penalty which a
handful of clergymen, in a corner of France, thought they could inflict
on a man who dared to despise their authority. In our time such an
anathema would only excite derision;[149] but, early in the seventeenth
century, the open promulgation of it was enough to ruin any private
person against whom it might be directed. And they whose studies have
enabled them to take the measure of the ecclesiastical spirit will
easily believe that, in that age, the threat did not remain a dead
letter. The people, inflamed by their clergy, rose against Ferrier,
attacked his family, destroyed his property, sacked and gutted his
houses, and demanded with loud cries, that the 'traitor Judas' should be
given up to them. The unhappy man, with the greatest difficulty,
effected his escape; but though he saved his life by flying in the dead
of the night, he was obliged to abandon for ever his native town, as he
dared not return to a place where he had provoked so active and so
implacable a party.[150]

  [149] The notion of theologians respecting excommunication may be seen
        in Mr. Palmer's entertaining book, _Treatise on the Church_, vol.
        i. pp. 64, 67, vol. ii. pp. 299, 300; but the opinions of this
        engaging writer should be contrasted with the indignant language
        of Vattel, _Le Droit des Gens_, vol. i. pp. 177, 178. In England,
        the terrors of excommunication fell into contempt towards the end
        of the seventeenth century. See _Life of Archbishop Sharpe_,
        edited by Newcome, vol. i. p. 216: compare p. 363; and see the
        mournful remarks of Dr. Mosheim, in his _Eccles. Hist._ vol. ii.
        p. 79; and _Sir Philip Warwick's Memoirs_, pp. 175, 176.

  [150] On the treatment of Ferrier, which excited great attention as
        indicating the extreme lengths to which the Protestants were
        prepared to go, see _Mém. de Richelieu_, vol. i. p. 177; _Mém. de
        Pontchartrain_, vol. ii. pp. 5, 6, 12, 29, 32; _Mém. de Duplessis
        Mornay_, vol. xii. pp. 317, 333, 341, 350, 389, 399, 430;
        _Felice's Hist. of the Protestants of France_, p. 235; _Biog.
        Univ._ vol. xiv. p. 440; _Tallemant des Réaux_, _Historiettes_,
        vol. v. pp. 48-54. Mr. Smedley, who refers to none of these
        authorities, except two passages in Duplessis, has given a
        garbled account of this riot. See his _History of the Reformed
        Religion in France_, vol. iii. pp. 119, 120.

Into other matters, and even into those connected with the ordinary
functions of government, the Protestants carried the same spirit.
Although they formed so small a section of the people, they attempted to
control the administration of the crown, and, by the use of threats,
turn all its acts to their own favour. They would not allow the state to
determine what ecclesiastical councils it should recognize; they would
not even permit the king to choose his own wife. In 1615, without the
least pretence of complaint, they assembled in large numbers at Grenoble
and at Nîmes.[151] The deputies of Grenoble insisted that government
should refuse to acknowledge the Council of Trent;[152] and both
assemblies ordered that the Protestants should prevent the marriage of
Louis XIII. with a Spanish princess.[153] They laid similar claims to
interfere with the disposal of civil and military offices. Shortly after
the death of Henry IV., they, in an assembly at Saumur, insisted that
Sully should be restored to some posts from which, in their opinion, he
had been unjustly removed.[154] In 1619, another of their assemblies at
London declared, that as one of the Protestant councillors of the
Parliament of Paris had become a Catholic, he must be dismissed; and
they demanded that, for the same reason, the government of Lectoure
should be taken from Fontrailles, he also having adopted the not
infrequent example of abandoning his sect in order to adopt a creed
sanctioned by the state.[155]

  [151] _Capefigue's Richelieu_, vol. i. p. 123.

  [152] _Capefigue_, vol. i. p. 123; _Bazin_, _Hist. de Louis XIII_,
        vol. i. p. 364; _Benoist_, _Hist. de l'Edit de Nantes_, vol. ii.
        p. 183; _Mém. de Rohan_, vol. i. p. 130.

  [153] _Capefigue's Richelieu_, vol. i. p. 124; _Mém. de Pontchartrain_,
        vol. ii. p. 100; _Le Vassor_, _Hist. de Louis XIII_, vol. ii. pp.
        333, 334. The consequence was, that the king was obliged to send
        a powerful escort to protect his bride against his Protestant
        subjects. _Mém. de Richelieu_, vol. i. p. 274.

  [154] _Capefigue's Richelieu_, vol. i. p. 38; _Benoist_, _Hist. de
        l'Edit de Nantes_, vol. ii. pp. 28, 29, 63.

  [155] _Mém. de Fontenay Mareuil_, vol. i. p. 450; _Mém. de
        Bassompierre_, vol. ii. p. 161. See a similar instance, in the
        case of Berger, in _Benoist_, _Hist. de l'Edit de Nantes_, vol.
        ii. p. 136, whom the Protestants sought to deprive because 'il
        avoit quitté leur religion.'

By way of aiding all this, and with the view of exasperating still
further religious animosities, the principal Protestant clergy put forth
a series of works, which, for bitterness of feeling, have hardly ever
been equalled, and which it would certainly be impossible to surpass.
The intense hatred with which they regarded their Catholic countrymen
can only be fully estimated by those who have looked into the pamphlets
written by the French Protestants during the first half of the
seventeenth century, or who have read the laboured and formal treatises
of such men as Chamier, Drelincourt, Moulin, Thomson, and Vignier.
Without, however, pausing on these, it will perhaps be thought
sufficient if, for the sake of brevity, I follow the mere outline of
political events. Great numbers of the Protestants had joined in the
rebellion which, in 1615, was raised by Condé;[156] and, although they
were then easily defeated, they seemed bent on trying the issue of a
fresh struggle. In Béarn, where they were unusually numerous,[157] they,
even during the reign of Henry IV., had refused to tolerate the Catholic
religion; 'their fanatical clergy,' says the historian of France,
'declaring that it would be a crime to permit the idolatry of the
mass.'[158] This charitable maxim they for many years actively enforced,
seizing the property of the Catholic clergy, and employing it in support
of their own churches;[159] so that, while in one part of the dominions
of the king of France the Protestants were allowed to exercise their
religion, they, in another part of his dominions, prevented the
Catholics from exercising theirs. It was hardly to be expected that any
government would suffer such an anomaly as this; and, in 1618, it was
ordered that the Protestants should restore the plunder, and reinstate
the Catholics in their former possessions. But the reformed clergy,
alarmed at so sacrilegious a proposal, appointed a public fast, and
inspiriting the people to resistance, forced the royal commissioner to
fly from Pau, where he had arrived in the hope of effecting a peaceful
adjustment of the claims of the rival parties.[160]

  [156] _Bazin_, _Hist. de Louis XIII_, vol. i. p. 381. Sismondi (_Hist.
        des Français_, vol. xxii. p. 349) says that they had no good
        reason for this; and it is certain that their privileges, so far
        from being diminished since the Edict of Nantes, had been
        confirmed and extended.

  [157] M. Felice (_Hist. of the Protestants of France_, p. 237) says of
        Lower Navarre and Béarn, in 1617: 'Three-fourths of the
        population, some say nine-tenths, belonged to the reformed
        communion.' This is perhaps overestimated; but we know, from De
        Thou, that they formed a majority in Béarn in 1566: 'Les
        Protestans y fussent en plus grand nombre que les Catholiques.'
        _De Thou_, _Hist. Univ._ vol. v. p. 187.

  [158] 'Les ministres fanatiques déclaroient qu'ils ne pouvaient sans
        crime souffrir dans ce pays régénéré l'idolâtrie de la messe.'
        _Sismondi_, _Hist. des Français_, vol. xxii. p. 415.

  [159] _Notice sur les Mémoires de Rohan_, vol. i. p. 26. Compare the
        account given by Pontchartrain, who was one of the ministers of
        Louis XIII. _Mém. de Pontchartrain_, vol. ii. pp. 248, 264; and
        see _Mém. de Richelieu_, vol. i. p. 443.

  [160] _Bazin_, _Hist. de France sous Louis XIII_, vol. ii. pp. 62-64.
        The pith of the question was, that 'l'édit de Nantes ayant donné
        pouvoir, tant aux catholiques qu'aux huguenots, de rentrer
        partout dans leurs biens, les ecclésiastiques de Béarn
        démanderent aussytôt les leurs.' _Mém. de Fontenay Mareuil_, vol.
        i. p. 392.

The rebellion thus raised by the zeal of the Protestants, was soon put
down; but, according to the confession of Rohan, one of the ablest of
their leaders, it was the beginning of all their misfortunes.[161] The
sword had now been drawn; and the only question to be decided was,
whether France should be governed according to the principles of
toleration recently established, or according to the maxims of a
despotic sect, which, while professing to advocate the right of private
judgment, was acting in a way that rendered all private judgment

  [161] 'L'affaire de Béarn, source de tous nos maux.' _Mém. de Rohan_,
        vol. i. p. 156; see also p. 183. And the Protestant Le Vassor
        says (_Hist. de Louis XIII_, vol. iii. p. 634): 'L'affaire du
        Béarn et l'assemblée qui se convoqua ensuite à la Rochelle, sont
        la source véritable des malheurs des églises réformées de France
        sous le règne dont j'écris l'histoire.'

Scarcely was the war in Béarn brought to an end, when the Protestants
determined on making a great effort in the west of France.[162] The seat
of this new struggle was Rochelle, which was one of the strongest
fortresses in Europe, and was entirely in the hands of the
Protestants,[163] who had grown wealthy, partly by their own industry
and partly by following the occupation of public pirates.[164] In this
city, which they believed to be impregnable,[165] they, in December,
1620, held a Great Assembly, to which their spiritual chiefs flocked
from all parts of France. It was soon evident that their party was now
governed by men who were bent on the most violent measures. Their great
secular leaders were, as we have already seen, gradually falling off;
and, by this time, there only remained two of much ability, Rohan and
Mornay, both of whom saw the inexpediency of their proceedings, and
desired that the assembly should peaceably separate.[166] But the
authority of the clergy was irresistible; and, by their prayers and
exhortations, they easily gained over the ordinary citizens, who were
then a gross and uneducated body.[167] Under their influence, the
Assembly adopted a course which rendered civil war inevitable. Their
first act was an edict, by which they at once confiscated all the
property belonging to Catholic churches.[168] They then caused a great
seal to be struck; under the authority of which they ordered that the
people should be armed, and taxes collected from them for the purpose of
defending their religion.[169] Finally, they drew up the regulations,
and organized the establishment of what they called the Reformed
Churches of France and of Béarn; and, with a view to facilitate the
exercise of their spiritual jurisdiction, they parcelled out France into
eight circles, to each of which there was allotted a separate general,
who, however, was to be accompanied by a clergyman, since the
administration, in all its parts, was held responsible to that
ecclesiastical assembly which called it into existence.[170]

  [162] On the connexion between the proceedings of Béarn and those of
        Rochelle, compare _Mém. de Montglat_, vol. i. p. 33, with _Mém.
        de Richelieu_, vol. ii. p. 113, and _Mém. de Rohan_, vol. i. p.

  [163] Their first church was established in 1556 (_Ranke's Civil Wars in
        France_, vol. i. p. 360); but, by the reign of Charles IX. the
        majority of the inhabitants were Protestants. See _De Thou_,
        _Hist. Univ._ vol. iv. p. 263, vol. v. p. 379, ad. ann. 1562 and

  [164] Or, as M. Capefigue courteously puts it, 'les Rochelois ne
        respectaient pas toujours les pavillons amis.' _Capefigue's
        Richelieu_, vol. i. p. 332. A delicate circumlocution, unknown to
        Mezeray who says (_Hist. de France_, vol. iii. p. 426) in 1587:
        'et les Rochelois, qui par le moyen du commerce et de la
        _piraterie_,' &c.

  [165] 'Ceste place, que les huguenots tenoient quasy pour imprenable.'
        _Mém. de Fontenay Mareuil_, vol. i. p. 512. 'Cette orgueilleuse
        cité, qui se croyoit imprenable.' _Mém. de Montglat_, vol. i. p.
        45. Howell, who visited Rochelle in 1620 and 1622, was greatly
        struck by its strength. _Howell's Letters_, pp. 46, 47, 108. At
        p. 204, he calls it, in his barbarous style, 'the chiefest
        propugnacle of the Protestants there.' For a description of the
        defences of Rochelle, see _De Thou_, _Hist. Univ._ vol. vi. pp.
        615-617; and some details worth consulting in _Mezeray_, _Hist.
        de France_, vol. ii. pp. 977-980.

  [166] _Bazin_, _Hist. de Louis XIII_, vol. ii. p. 139; _Sismondi, Hist.
        des Français_, vol. xxii. pp. 480, 481. Rohan himself says
        (_Mém._ vol. i. p. 446): 'je m'efforçai de la séparer.' In a
        remarkable letter, which Mornay wrote ten years before this, he
        shows his apprehensions of the evil that would result from the
        increasing violence of his party; and he advises, 'que nostre
        zèle soit tempéré de prudence.' _Mém. et Correspond._ vol. xi. p.
        122; and as to the divisions this caused among the Protestants,
        see pp. 154, 510, vol. xii. pp. 82, 255; and _Sully_,
        _[OE]conomies Royales_, vol. ix. pp. 350, 435.

  [167] 'Les seigneurs du parti, et surtout le sage Duplessis Mornay,
        firent ce qu'ils purent pour engager les réformés à ne pas
        provoquer l'autorité royale pour des causes qui ne pouvoient
        justifier une guerre civile; mais le pouvoir dans le parti avoit
        passé presque absolument aux bourgeois des villes et aux
        ministres qui se livroient aveuglement à leur fanatisme, et à
        leur orgueil, et qui étoient d'autant plus applaudis qu'ils
        montroient plus de violence.' _Sismondi_, _Hist. des Français_,
        vol. xxii. p. 478.

  [168] 'On confisqua les biens des églises catholiques.' _Lavallée des
        Français_, vol. iii. p. 85: and see _Capefigue's Richelieu_,
        vol. i. p. 258.

  [169] 'Ils donnent des commissions d'armer et de faire des impositions
        sur le peuple, et ce sous leur grand sceau, qui étoit une
        Religion appuyée sur une croix, ayant en la main un livre de
        l'évangile, foulant aux pieds un vieux squelette, qu'ils disoient
        être l'église romaine.' _Mém. de Richelieu_, vol. ii. p. 120. M.
        Capefigue (_Richelieu_, vol. i. p. 259) says that this seal still
        exists; but it is not even alluded to by a late writer (_Felice_,
        _Hist. of the Protestants of France_, p. 240), who systematically
        suppresses every fact unfavourable to his own party.

  [170] _Le Vassor_, _Hist. de Louis XIII_, vol. iv. p. 157; _Bazin_,
        _Hist. de Louis XIII_, vol. ii. p. 145; _Benoist_, _Hist. de
        l'Edit de Nantes_, vol. ii. pp. 353-355; _Capefigue's Richelieu_,
        vol. i. p. 258.

Such were the forms and pomp of authority assumed by the spiritual
leaders of the French Protestants; men by nature destined to obscurity,
and whose abilities were so despicable, that, notwithstanding their
temporary importance, they have left no name in history. These
insignificant priests, who, at the best, were only fit to mount the
pulpit of a country village, now arrogated to themselves the right of
ordering the affairs of France, imposing taxes upon Frenchmen,
confiscating property, raising troops, levying war; and all this for the
sake of propagating a creed, which was scouted by the country at large
as a foul and mischievous heresy.

In the face of these inordinate pretensions, it was evident that the
French government had no choice, except to abdicate its functions, or
else take arms in its own defence.[171] Whatever may be the popular
notion respecting the necessary intolerance of the Catholics, it is an
indisputable fact, that, early in the seventeenth century, they
displayed in France a spirit of forbearance, and a Christian charity, to
which the Protestants could make no pretence. During the twenty-two
years which elapsed between the Edict of Nantes and the Assembly of
Rochelle, the government, notwithstanding repeated provocations, never
attacked the Protestants;[172] nor did they make any attempt to destroy
the privileges of a sect, which they were bound to consider heretical,
and the extirpation of which had been deemed by their fathers to be one
of the first duties of a Christian statesman.

  [171] Even Mosheim, who, as a Protestant, was naturally prejudiced in
        favour of the Huguenots, says, that they had established
        'imperium in imperio;' and he ascribes to the violence of their
        rulers the war of 1621. _Mosheim's Eccles. Hist._ vol. ii.
        pp. 237, 238.

  [172] Compare _Mém. de Fontenay Mareuil_, vol. ii. p. 88, with
        _Flassan_, _Hist. de la Diplomatie Française_, vol. ii. p. 351.

The war that now broke out lasted seven years, and was uninterrupted,
except by the short peace, first of Montpelier, and afterwards of
Rochelle; neither of which, however, was very strictly preserved. But
the difference in the views and intentions of the two parties
corresponded to the difference between the classes which governed them.
The Protestants, being influenced mainly by the clergy, made their
object religious domination. The Catholics being led by statesmen, aimed
at temporal advantages. Thus it was, that circumstances had in France so
completely obliterated the original tendency of these two great sects,
that, by a singular metamorphosis, the secular principle was now
represented by the Catholics, and the theological principle by the
Protestants. The authority of the clergy, and therefore the interests of
superstition, were upheld by that very party which owed its origin to
the diminution of both; they were, on the other hand, attacked by a
party whose success had hitherto depended on the increase of both. If
the Catholics triumphed, the ecclesiastical power would be weakened; if
the Protestants triumphed, it would be strengthened. Of this fact, so
far as the Protestants are concerned, I have just given ample proof,
collected from their proceedings, and from the language of their own
synods. And that the opposite, or secular principle, predominated among
the Catholics, is evident, not only from their undeviating policy in the
reigns of Henry IV. and Louis XIII., but also from another circumstance
worthy of note. For, their motives were so obvious, and gave such
scandal to the church, that the pope, as the great protector of
religion, thought himself bound to reprehend that disregard of
theological interests which they displayed, and which he considered to
be a crying and unpardonable offence. In 1622, only one year after the
struggle between the Protestants and Catholics had begun, he strongly
remonstrated with the French government upon the notorious indecency of
which they were guilty, in carrying on war against heretics, not for the
purpose of suppressing the heresy, but merely with a view of procuring
for the state those temporal advantages which, in the opinion of all
pious men, ought to be regarded as of subordinate importance.[173]

  [173] See the paper of instructions from Pope Gregory XV. in the
        appendix to _Ranke_, _die Röm. Päpste_, vol. iii. pp. 173, 174:
        'Die Hauptsache aber ist was er dem Könige von Frankreich
        vorstellen soll: 1, dass er ja nicht den Verdacht auf sich laden
        werde als verfolge er die Protestanten bloss aus
        Staatsinteresse.' Bazin (_Hist. de Louis XIII_, vol. ii. p. 320)
        says, that Richelieu attacked the Huguenots 'sans aucune idée de
        persécution religieuse.' See, to the same effect, _Capefigue's
        Richelieu_, vol. i. p. 274; and the candid admissions of the
        Protestant Le Vassor, in his _Hist. de Louis XIII_, vol. v.
        p. 11.

If, at this juncture, the Protestants had carried the day, the loss to
France would have been immense, perhaps irreparable. For no one, who is
acquainted with the temper and character of the French Calvinists, can
doubt, that if they had obtained possession of the government, they
would have revived those religious persecutions which, so far as their
power extended, they had already attempted to enforce. Not only in their
writings, but even in the edicts of their assemblies, we find ample
proof of that meddling and intolerant spirit which, in every age, has
characterized ecclesiastical legislation. Indeed, such a spirit is the
legitimate consequence of the fundamental assumption from which
theological lawgivers usually start. The clergy are taught to consider
that their paramount duty is to preserve the purity of the faith, and
guard it against the invasions of heresy. Whenever, therefore, they rise
to power, it almost invariably happens, that they carry into politics
the habits they have contracted in their profession; and having long
been accustomed to consider religious error as criminal, they now
naturally attempt to make it penal. And as all the European countries
have, in the period of their ignorance, been once ruled by the clergy,
just so do we find in the law-books of every land those traces of their
power which the progress of knowledge is gradually effacing. We find the
professors of the dominant creed enacting laws against the professors of
other creeds: laws sometimes to burn them, sometimes to exile them,
sometimes to take away their civil rights, sometimes only to take away
their political rights. These are the different gradations through which
persecution passes; and by observing which, we may measure, in any
country, the energy of the ecclesiastical spirit. At the same time, the
theory by which such measures are supported generally gives rise to
other measures of a somewhat different, though of an analogous
character. For, by extending the authority of law to opinions as well as
to acts, the basis of legislation becomes dangerously enlarged; the
individuality and independence of each man are invaded; and
encouragement is given to the enactment of intrusive and vexatious
regulations, which are supposed to perform for morals the service that
the other class of laws performs for religion. Under pretence of
favouring the practice of virtue, and maintaining the purity of society,
men are troubled in their most ordinary pursuits, in the commonest
occurrences of life, in their amusements, nay, even in the very dress
they may be inclined to wear. That this is what has actually been done,
must be known to whoever has looked into the writings of the fathers,
into the canons of Christian councils, into the different systems of
ecclesiastical law, or into the sermons of the earlier clergy. Indeed,
all this is so natural, that regulations, conceived in the same spirit,
were drawn up for the government of Geneva by the Calvinist clergy, and
for the government of England by Archbishop Cranmer and his coadjutors;
while a tendency, precisely identical, may be observed in the
legislation of the Puritans, and to give a still later instance, in that
of the Methodists. It is, therefore, not surprising that, in France, the
Protestant clergy, having great power among their own party, should
enforce a similar discipline. Thus, to mention only a few examples,
they forbade any one to go to a theatre, or even to witness the
performance of private theatricals.[174] They looked upon dancing as an
ungodly amusement, and, therefore, they not only strictly prohibited it,
but they ordered that all dancing-masters should be admonished
by the spiritual power, and desired to abandon so unchristian a
profession. If, however, the admonition failed in effecting its
purpose, the dancing-masters, thus remaining obdurate, were to be
excommunicated.[175] With the same pious care did the clergy superintend
other matters equally important. In one of their synods, they ordered
that all persons should abstain from wearing gay apparel, and should
arrange their hair with becoming modesty.[176] In another synod, they
forbade women to paint; and they declared that if, after this
injunction, any woman persisted in painting, she should not be allowed
to receive the sacrament.[177] To their own clergy, as the instructors
and shepherds of the flock, there was paid an attention still more
scrupulous. The ministers of the Word were permitted to teach Hebrew,
because Hebrew is a sacred dialect, uncontaminated by profane writers.
But the Greek language, which contains all the philosophy and nearly all
the wisdom of antiquity, was to be discouraged, its study laid aside,
its professorship suppressed.[178] And, in order that the mind might not
be distracted from spiritual things, the study of chemistry was likewise
forbidden; such a mere earthly pursuit being incompatible with the
habits of the sacred profession.[179] Lest, however, in spite of these
precautions, knowledge should still creep in among the Protestants,
other measures were taken to prevent even its earliest approach. The
clergy, entirely forgetting that right of private judgment upon which
their sect was founded, became so anxious to protect the unwary from
error, that they forbade any person to print or publish a work without
the sanction of the church; in other words, without the sanction of the
clergy themselves.[180] When, by these means, they had destroyed the
possibility of free inquiry, and, so far as they were able, had put a
stop to the acquisition of all real knowledge, they proceeded to guard
against another circumstance to which their measures had given rise.
For, several of the Protestants, seeing that under such a system, it was
impossible to educate their families with advantage, sent their children
to some of those celebrated Catholic colleges, where alone a sound
education could then be obtained. But the clergy, so soon as they heard
of this practice, put an end to it, by excommunicating the offending
parents;[181] and to this there was added an order forbidding them to
admit into their own private houses any tutor who professed the Catholic
religion.[182] Such was the way in which the French Protestants were
watched over and protected by their spiritual masters. Even the minutest
matters were not beneath the notice of these great legislators. They
ordered that no person should go to a ball or masquerade;[183] nor ought
any Christian to look at the tricks of conjurors, or at the famous game
of goblets, or at the puppet-show; neither was he to be present at
morris-dances; for all such amusements should be suppressed by the
magistrates, because they excite curiosity, cause expense, waste
time.[184] Another thing to be attended to, is the names that are
bestowed in baptism. A child may have two christian names, though one is
preferable.[185] Great care, however, is to be observed in their
selection. They ought to be taken from the Bible, but they ought not to
be Baptist or Angel; neither should any infant receive a name which has
been formerly used by the Pagans.[186] When the children are grown up,
there are other regulations to which they must be subject. The clergy
declared that the faithful must by no means let their hair grow long,
lest by so doing they indulge in the luxury of 'lascivious curls.'[187]
They are to make their garments in such a manner as to avoid 'the
new-fangled fashions of the world:' they are to have no tassels to their
dress: their gloves must be without silk and ribbons: they are to
abstain from fardingales: they are to beware of wide sleeves.[188]

  [174] _Quick's Synodicon in Gallia_, vol. i. p. 62.

  [175] _Ibid._ vol. i. pp. lvii. 17, 131, vol. ii. p. 174.

  [176] 'And both sexes are required to keep modesty in their hair,' &c.
        _Ibid._ vol. i. p. 119.

  [177] _Quick's Synodicon_, vol. i. p. 165.

  [178] The synod of Alez, in 1620, says, 'A minister may at the same time
        be professor in divinity and of the Hebrew tongue. But it is not
        seemly for him to profess the Greek also, because the most of his
        employment will be taken up in the exposition of Pagan and
        profane authors, unless he be discharged from the ministry.'
        _Quick's Synodicon_, vol. ii. p. 57. Three years later, the synod
        of Charenton suppressed altogether the Greek professorships, 'as
        being superfluous and of small profit.' _Ibid._ vol. ii. p. 115.

  [179] The synod of St. Maixant, in 1609, orders that 'colloquies and
        synods shall have a watchful eye over those ministers who study
        chemistry, and grievously reprove and censure them.' _Ibid._ vol.
        i. p. 314.

  [180] _Ibid._ vol. i. pp. 140, 194, vol. ii. p. 110.

  [181] _Quick's Synodicon_, vol. i. pp. lv. 235, 419, vol. ii. pp. 201,
        509, 515. Compare _Benoist_, _Hist. de l'Edit de Nantes_, vol. ii.
        p. 473.

  [182] _Quick's Synodicon_, vol. ii. p. 81.

  [183] _Ibid._ vol. ii. p. 174.

  [184] 'All Christian magistrates are advised not in the least to suffer
        them, because it feeds foolish curiosity, puts upon unnecessary
        expenses, and wastes time,' _Ibid._ vol. i. p. 194.

  [185] This was a very knotty question for the theologians; but it was at
        length decided in the affirmative by the synod of Saumur: 'On the
        13th article of the same chapter, the deputies of Poicton
        demanded, whether two names might be given a child at baptism? To
        which it was replied: The thing was indifferent; however, parents
        were advised to observe herein Christian simplicity.' _Ibid._
        vol. i. p. 178.

  [186] _Ibid._ vol. i. pp. xlvi. 25.

  [187] I quote the language of the synod of Castres, in 1626. _Ibid._
        vol. ii. p. 174.

  [188] _Quick's Synodicon_, vol. i. p. 165, vol. ii. pp. 7, 174, 574,
        583. In the same way, the Spanish clergy, early in the present
        century, attempted to regulate the dress of women. See _Doblado's
        Letters from Spain_, pp. 202-205: a good illustration of the
        identity of the ecclesiastical spirit, whether it be Catholic or

Those readers who have not studied the history of ecclesiastical
legislation, will perhaps be surprised to find, that men of gravity, men
who had reached the years of discretion, and were assembled together in
solemn council, should evince such a prying and puerile spirit; that
they should display such miserable and childish imbecility. But, whoever
will take a wider survey of human affairs, will be inclined to blame,
not so much the legislators, as the system of which the legislators
formed a part. For as to the men themselves, they merely acted after
their kind. They only followed the traditions in which they were bred.
By virtue of their profession, they had been accustomed to hold certain
views, and, when they rose to power, it was natural that they should
carry those views into effect; thus transplanting into the law-book the
maxims they had already preached in the pulpit. Whenever, therefore, we
read of meddling, inquisitive, and vexatious regulations imposed by
ecclesiastical authority, we should remember, that they are but the
legitimate result of the ecclesiastical spirit; and that the way to
remedy such grievances, or to prevent their occurrence, is not by vainly
labouring to change the tendencies of that class from whence they
proceed, but rather by confining the class within its proper limits, by
jealously guarding against its earliest encroachments, by taking every
opportunity of lessening its influence, and finally, when the progress
of society will justify so great a step, by depriving it of that
political and legislative power which, though gradually falling from its
hands, it is, even in the most civilized countries, still allowed in
some degree to retain.

But, setting aside these general considerations, it will, at all events,
be admitted, that I have collected sufficient evidence to indicate what
would have happened to France, if the Protestants had obtained the upper
hand. After the facts which I have brought forward, no one can possibly
doubt, that if such a misfortune had occurred, the liberal, and,
considering the age, the enlightened policy of Henry IV. and Louis XIII.
would have been destroyed, in order to make way for that gloomy and
austere system, which, in every age and in every country, has been found
to be the natural fruit of ecclesiastical power. To put, therefore, the
question in its proper form, instead of saying that there was a war
between hostile creeds, we should rather say that there was a war
between rival classes. It was a contest, not so much between the
Catholic religion and the Protestant religion, as between Catholic
laymen and Protestant clergy. It was a struggle between temporal
interests and theological interests,--between the spirit of the present
and the spirit of the past. And the point now at issue was, whether
France should be governed by the civil power or by the spiritual
power,--whether she should be ruled according to the large views of
secular statesmen, or according to the narrow notions of a factious and
intolerant priesthood.

The Protestants having the great advantage of being the aggressive
party, and being, moreover, inflamed by a religious zeal unknown to
their opponents, might, under ordinary circumstances, have succeeded in
their hazardous attempt; or, at all events, they might have protracted
the struggle for an indefinite period. But, fortunately for France, in
1624, only three years after the war began, Richelieu assumed the
direction of the government. He had for some years been the secret
adviser of the queen-mother, into whose mind he had always inculcated
the necessity of complete toleration.[189] When placed at the head of
affairs, he pursued the same policy, and attempted in every way to
conciliate the Protestants. The clergy of his own party were constantly
urging him to exterminate the heretics, whose presence they thought
polluted France.[190] But Richelieu, having only secular objects,
refused to embitter the contest by turning it into a religious war. He
was determined to chastise the rebellion, but he would not punish the
heresy. Even while the war was raging, he would not revoke those edicts
of toleration by which the full liberty of religious worship was
granted to the Protestants. And when they, in 1626, showed signs of
compunction, or at all events of fear, he publicly confirmed the Edict
of Nantes,[191] and he granted them peace; although, as he says, he knew
that by doing so he should fall under the suspicion of those 'who so
greatly affected the name of zealous Catholics.'[192] A few months
afterwards, war again broke out; and then it was that Richelieu
determined on that celebrated siege of Rochelle, which, if brought to a
successful issue, was sure to be a decisive blow against the French
Protestants. That he was moved to this hazardous undertaking solely by
secular considerations is evident, not only from the general spirit of
his preceding policy, but also from his subsequent conduct. With the
details of this famous siege history is not concerned, as such matters
have no value except to military readers. It is enough to say that, in
1628, Rochelle was taken; and the Protestants, who had been induced by
their clergy[193] to continue to resist long after relief was hopeless,
and who, in consequence, had suffered the most dreadful hardships, were
obliged to surrender at discretion.[194] The privileges of the town were
revoked, and its magistrates removed; but the great minister by whom
these things were effected, still abstained from that religious
persecution to which he was urged.[195] He granted to the Protestants
the toleration which he had offered at an earlier period, and he
formally conceded the free exercise of their public worship.[196] But,
such was their infatuation, that because he likewise restored the
exercise of the Catholic religion, and thus gave to the conquerors the
same liberty that he had granted to the conquered, the Protestants
murmured at the indulgence; they could not bear the idea that their eyes
should be offended by the performance of Popish rites.[197] And their
indignation waxed so high, that in the next year they, in another part
of France, again rose in arms. As, however, they were now stripped of
their principal resources, they were easily defeated; and, their
existence as a political faction being destroyed, they were, in
reference to their religion, treated by Richelieu in the same manner as
before.[198] To the Protestants generally, he confirmed the privilege of
preaching and of performing the other ceremonies of their creed.[199] To
their leader, Rohan, he granted an amnesty, and, a few years afterwards,
employed him in important public services. After this, the hopes of the
party were destroyed; they never again rose in arms, nor do we find any
mention of them until a much later period, when they were barbarously
persecuted by Louis XIV.[200] But from all such intolerance Richelieu
sedulously abstained; and having now cleared the land from rebellion, he
embarked in that vast scheme of foreign policy, of which I have already
given some account, and in which he clearly showed that his proceedings
against the Protestants had not been caused by hatred of their religious
tenets. For, the same party which he attacked at home, he supported
abroad. He put down the French Protestants, because they were a
turbulent faction that troubled the state, and wished to suppress the
exercise of all opinions unfavourable to themselves. But so far from
carrying on a crusade against their religion, he, as I have already
observed, encouraged it in other countries; and, though a bishop of the
Catholic church, he did not hesitate, by treaties, by money, and by
force of arms, to support the Protestants against the House of Austria,
maintain the Lutherans against the Emperor of Germany, and uphold the
Calvinists against the King of Spain.

  [189] On his influence over her in and after 1616, see _Le Vassor_,
        _Hist. de Louis XIII_, vol. ii. p. 508; _Mém. de Pontchartrain_,
        vol. ii. p. 240; _Mém. de Montglat_, vol. i. p. 23; and compare,
        in _Mém. de Richelieu_, vol. ii. pp. 198-200, the curious
        arguments which he put in her mouth respecting the impolicy of
        making war on the Protestants.

  [190] In 1625, the Archbishop of Lyons wrote to Richelieu, urging him
        'assiéger la Rochelle, et châtier ou, pour mieux dire, exterminer
        les huguenots, toute autre affaire cessante.' _Bazin_, _Hist. de
        Louis XIII_, vol. ii. p. 276. See also, on the anxiety of the
        clergy in the reign of Louis XIII. to destroy the Protestants,
        _Benoist_, _Hist. de l'Edit de Nantes_, vol. ii. pp. 155, 166,
        232, 245, 338, 378, 379, 427; _Sismondi_, _Hist. des Français_,
        vol. xxii. p. 485.

  [191] He confirmed it in March 1626; _Flassan_, _Hist. de la Diplomatie
        Française_, vol. ii. p. 399; and also in the preceding January.
        See _Benoist_, _Hist. de l'Edit de Nantes_, vol. ii. appendix,
        pp. 77, 81.

  [192] 'Ceux qui affectent autant le nom de zélés catholiques.' _Mém. de
        Richelieu_, vol. iii. p. 16; and at p. 2, he, in the same year
        (1626), says, that he was opposed by those who had 'un trop
        ardent et précipité désir de ruiner les huguenots.'

  [193] _Sismondi_, _Hist. des Français_, vol. xxiii. p. 66.

  [194] On the sufferings of the inhabitants, see extract from the Dupuis
        Mss., in _Capefigue's Richelieu_, vol. i. p. 351. Fontenay
        Mareuil, who was an eye-witness, says, that the besieged, in some
        instances, ate their own children; and that the burial-grounds
        were guarded, to prevent the corpses from being dug up and turned
        into food. _Mém. de Fontenay Mareuil_, vol. ii. p. 119.

  [195] And in which he would most assuredly have been supported by Louis
        XIII.; of whom an intelligent writer says 'Il étoit plein de
        piété et de zèle pour le service de Dieu et pour la grandeur de
        l'église; et sa plus sensible joie, en prenant La Rochelle et les
        autres places qu'il prit, fut de penser qu'il chasseroit de son
        royaume les hérétiques, et qu'il le purgeroit par cette voie des
        différentes religions qui gâtent et infectent l'église de Dieu.'
        _Mém. de Motteville_, vol. i. p. 425, edit. Petitot, 1824.

  [196] _Bazin_, _Hist. de Louis XIII_, vol. ii. p. 423; _Sismondi_,
        _Hist. des Français_, vol. xxiii. p. 77; _Capefigue's Richelieu_,
        vol. i. p. 357; _Mém. de Fontenay Mareuil_, vol. ii. p. 122.

  [197] 'Les huguenots murmuraient de voir le rétablissement de l'église
        romaine au sein de leur ville.' _Capefigue's Richelieu_, vol. i.
        p. 359.

  [198] 'Dès qu'il ne s'agit plus d'un parti politique, il concéda, comme
        à la Rochelle, la liberté de conscience et la faculté de prêche.'
        _Capefigue's Richelieu_, vol. i. p. 381. Compare _Smedley's Hist.
        of the Reformed Religion in France_, vol. iii. p. 201, with
        _Mémoires de Richelieu_, vol. iv. p. 484.

  [199] The Edict of Nismes, in 1629, an important document, will be
        found in _Quick's Synodicon_, vol. i. pp. xcvi.-ciii., and in
        _Benoist_, _Hist. de l'Edit de Nantes_, vol. ii. appendix, pp.
        92-98; and a commentary on it in _Bazin_, _Hist. de Louis XIII_,
        vol. iii. pp. 36-38. M. Bazin, unfortunately for the reputation
        of this otherwise valuable work, never quotes his authorities.

  [200] In 1633, their own historian says: 'les Réformez ne faisoient plus
        de party.' _Benoist_, _Hist. de l'Edit de Nantes_, vol. ii. p.
        532. Compare Sir Thomas Hanmer's account of France in 1648, in
        _Bunbury's Correspond. of Hanmer_, p. 309, Lond. 1838.

I have thus endeavoured to draw a slight, though, I trust, a clear
outline, of the events which took place in France during the reign of
Louis XIII., and particularly during that part of it which included the
administration of Richelieu. But such occurrences, important as they
are, only formed a single phase of that larger development which was now
displaying itself in nearly every branch of the national intellect. They
were the mere political expression of that bold and sceptical spirit
which cried havoc to the prejudices and superstitions of men. For, the
government of Richelieu was successful, as well as progressive; and no
government can unite these two qualities, unless its measures harmonize
with the feelings and temper of the age. Such an administration, though
it facilitates progress, is not the cause of it, but is rather its
measure and symptom. The cause of the progress lies far deeper, and is
governed by the general tendency of the time. And as the different
tendencies observable in successive generations depend on the difference
in their knowledge, it is evident, that we can only understand the
working of the tendencies, by taking a wide view of the amount and
character of the knowledge. To comprehend, therefore, the real nature of
the great advance made during the reign of Louis XIII., it becomes
necessary that I should lay before the reader some evidence respecting
those higher and more important facts, which historians are apt to
neglect, but without which the study of the past is an idle and trivial
pursuit, and history itself a barren field, which, bearing no fruit, is
unworthy of the labour that is wasted on the cultivation of so
ungrateful a soil.

It is, indeed, a very observable fact, that while Richelieu, with such
extraordinary boldness, was secularizing the whole system of French
politics, and by his disregard of ancient interests, was setting at
naught the most ancient traditions, a course precisely similar was being
pursued, in a still higher department, by a man greater than he; by one,
who, if I may express my own opinion, is the most profound among the
many eminent thinkers France has produced. I speak of Réné Descartes, of
whom the least that can be said is, that he effected a revolution more
decisive than has ever been brought about by any other single mind. With
his mere physical discoveries we are not now concerned, because in this
Introduction I do not pretend to trace the progress of science, except
in those epochs which indicate a new turn in the habits of national
thought. But I may remind the reader, that he was the first who
successfully applied algebra to geometry;[201] that he pointed out the
important law of the sines;[202] that in an age in which optical
instruments were extremely imperfect, he discovered the changes to which
light is subjected in the eye by the crystalline lens;[203] that he
directed attention to the consequences resulting from the weight of the
atmosphere;[204] and that he, moreover, detected the causes of the
rainbow,[205] that singular phenomenon, with which, in the eyes of the
vulgar, some theological superstitions are still connected.[206] At the
same time, and as if to combine the most varied forms of excellence, he
is not only allowed to be the first geometrician of the age,[207] but
by the clearness and admirable precision of his style, he became one of
the founders of French prose.[208] And although he was constantly
engaged in those lofty inquiries into the nature of the human mind,
which can never be studied without wonder, I had almost said can never
be read without awe, he combined with them a long course of laborious
experiment upon the animal frame, which raised him to the highest rank
among the anatomists of his time.[209] The great discovery made by
Harvey of the circulation of the blood, was neglected by most of his
contemporaries;[210] but it was at once recognized by Descartes, who
made it the basis of the physiological part of his work on Man.[211] He
likewise adopted the discovery of the lacteals by Aselli,[212] which,
like every great truth yet laid before the world, was, at its first
appearance, not only disbelieved, but covered with ridicule.[213]

  [201] Thomas (_Eloge_, in _[OE]uvres de Descartes_, vol. i. p. 32) says,
        'cet instrument, c'est Descartes qui l'a créé; c'est
        l'application de l'algèbre à la géométrie.' And this, in the
        highest sense, is strictly true; for although Vieta and two or
        three others in the sixteenth century had anticipated this step,
        we owe entirely to Descartes the magnificent discovery of the
        possibility of applying algebra to the geometry of curves, he
        being undoubtedly the first who expressed them by algebraic
        equations. See _Montucla_, _Hist. des Mathémat._ vol. i. pp. 704,
        705, vol. ii. p. 120, vol. iii. p. 64.

  [202] The statements of Huygens and of Isaac Vossius to the effect that
        Descartes had seen the papers of Snell before publishing his
        discovery, are unsupported by any direct evidence; at least none
        of the historians of science, so far as I am aware, have brought
        forward any. So strong, however, is the disposition of mankind at
        large to depreciate great men, and so general is the desire to
        convict them of plagiarism, that this charge, improbable in
        itself, and only resting on the testimony of two envious rivals,
        has been not only revived by modern writers, but has been, even
        in our own time, spoken of as a well-established and notorious
        fact! The flimsy basis of this accusation is clearly exposed by
        M. Bordas Demoulin, in his valuable work _Le Cartesianisme_,
        Paris, 1843, vol. ii. pp. 9-12; while, on the other side of the
        question, I refer with regret to _Sir D. Brewster on the Progress
        of Optics, Second Report of British Association_, pp. 309, 310;
        and to _Whewell's Hist. of the Inductive Sciences_, vol. ii. pp.
        379, 502, 503.

  [203] See the interesting remarks of Sprengel (_Hist. de la Médecine_,
        vol. iv. pp. 271, 272), and _[OE]uvres de Descartes_, vol. iv.
        pp. 371 seq. What makes this the more observable is this: that
        the study of the crystalline lens was neglected long after the
        death of Descartes, and no attempt made for more than a hundred
        years to complete his views by ascertaining its intimate
        structure. Indeed, it is said (_Thomson's Animal Chemistry_, p.
        512) that the crystalline lens and the two humours were first
        analyzed in 1802. Compare _Simon's Animal Chemistry_, vol. ii.
        pp. 419-421; _Henle_, _Traité d'Anatomie_, vol. i. p. 357;
        _Lepelletier_, _Physiologie Médicale_, vol. iii. p. 160; _Mayo's
        Human Physiol._, p. 279; _Blainville_, _Physiol. comparée_, vol.
        iii. pp. 325-328; none of whom refer to any analysis earlier than
        the nineteenth century. I notice this partly as a contribution to
        the history of our knowledge, and partly as proving how slow men
        have been in following Descartes, and in completing his views;
        for, as M. Blanville justly observes, the chemical laws of the
        lens must be understood, before we can exhaustively generalize
        the optical laws of its refraction; so that, in fact, the
        researches of Berzelius on the eye are complemental to those of
        Descartes. The theory of the limitation of the crystalline lens
        according to the descending scale of the animal kingdom, and the
        connexion between its development and a general increase of
        sensuous perception, seem to have been little studied; but Dr.
        Grant (_Comparative Anatomy_, p. 252) thinks that the lens exists
        in some of the rotifera; while in regard to its origin, I find a
        curious statement in _Müller's Physiology_, vol. i. p. 450, that
        after its removal in mammals, it has been reproduced by its
        matrix, the capsule. (If this can be relied on, it will tell
        against the suggestion of Schwann, who supposes, in his
        _Microscopical Researches_, 1847, pp. 87, 88, that its mode of
        life is vegetable, and that it is not 'a secretion of its
        capsule'). As to its probable existence in the hydrozoa, see
        _Rymer Jones's Animal Kingdom_, 1855, p. 96, 'regarded either as
        a crystalline lens, or an otolithe;' and as to its embryonic
        development, see _Burdach_, _Traité de Physiologie_, vol. iii.
        pp. 435-438.

  [204] Torricelli first weighed the air in 1643. _Brande's Chemistry_,
        vol. i. p. 360; _Leslie's Natural Philosophy_, p. 419: but there
        is a letter from Descartes, written as early as 1631, 'où il
        explique le phénomène de la suspension du mercure dans un tuyau
        fermé par en haut, en l'attribuant au poids de la colonne d'air
        élevée jusqu'au delà des nues.' _Bordas Demoulin_, _le
        Cartésianisme_, vol. i. p. 311. And Montucla (_Hist. des
        Mathémat._ vol. ii. p. 205) says of Descartes, 'nous avons des
        preuves que ce philosophe reconnut avant Torricelli la pesanteur
        de l'air.' Descartes himself says, that he suggested the
        subsequent experiment of Pascal. _[OE]uvres de Descartes_,
        vol. x. pp. 344, 351.

  [205] Dr. Whewell, who has treated Descartes with marked injustice, does
        nevertheless allow that he is 'the genuine author of the
        explanation of the rainbow.' _Hist. of the Induc. Sciences_, vol.
        ii. pp. 380, 384. See also _Boyle's Works_, vol. iii. p. 189;
        _Thomson's Hist. of the Royal Society_, p. 364; _Hallam's Lit. of
        Europe_, vol. iii. p. 205; _[OE]uvres de Descartes_, vol. i. pp.
        47, 48, vol. v. pp. 265-284. On the theory of the rainbow as
        known in the present century, see _Kaemtz_, _Course of
        Meteorology_, pp. 440-445; and _Forbes on Meteorology_, pp.
        125-130, in _Report of British Association_ for 1840. Compare
        _Leslie's Natural Philosophy_, p. 531; _Pouillet_, _Elémens de
        Physique_, vol. ii. p. 788.

  [206] The Hebrew notion of the rainbow is well known; and for the ideas
        of other nations on this subject, see _Prichard's Physical
        History of Mankind_, vol. v. pp. 154, 176; _Kame's Sketches of
        the History of Man_, vol. iv. p. 252, Edinb. 1788; and
        _Burdache's Physiologie_, vol. v. pp. 546, 547, Paris, 1839.

  [207] Thomas calls him 'le plus grand géomètre de son siècle.'
        _[OE]uvres de Descartes_, vol. i. p. 89. Sir W. Hamilton
        (_Discussions on Philosophy_, p. 271) says, 'the greatest
        mathematician of the age;' and Montucla can find no one but Plato
        to compare with him: 'On ne sauroit donner une idée plus juste de
        ce qu'a été l'époque de Descartes dans la géométrie ancienne....
        De même enfin que Platon prépara par sa découverte celles des
        Archimède, des Apollonius, &c., on peut dire que Descartes a
        jetté les fondemens de celles qui illustrent aujourd'hui les
        Newton, les Leibnitz, &c.' _Montucla_, _Hist. des Mathémat._
        vol. ii. p. 112.

  [208] 'Descartes joint encore à ses autres titres, celui d'avoir été un
        des créateurs de notre langue.' _Biog. Univ._ vol. xi. p. 154.
        Sir James Mackintosh (_Dissert. on Ethical Philos._ p. 186) has
        also noticed the influence of Descartes in forming the style of
        French writers; and I think that M. Cousin has somewhere made a
        similar remark.

  [209] Thomas says, 'Descartes eut aussi la gloire d'être un des premiers
        anatomistes de son siècle.' _[OE]uvres de Descartes_, vol. i. p.
        55; see also p. 101. In 1639, Descartes writes to Mersenne
        (_[OE]uvres_, vol. viii. p. 100) that he had been engaged 'depuis
        onze ans' in studying comparative anatomy by dissection. Compare
        p. 174, and vol. i. pp. 175-184.

  [210] Dr. Whewell (_Hist. of the Inductive Sciences_, vol. iii. p. 440)
        says: 'It was for the most part readily accepted by his
        countrymen; but that abroad it had to encounter considerable
        opposition.' For this no authority is quoted; and yet one would
        be glad to know who told Dr. Whewell that the discovery was
        readily accepted. So far from meeting in England with ready
        acceptance, it was during many years most universally denied.
        Aubrey was assured by Harvey that, in consequence of his book on
        the Circulation of the Blood, he lost much of his practice, was
        believed to be crackbrained, and was opposed by 'all the
        physicians.' _Aubrey's Letters and Lives_, vol. ii. p. 383. Dr.
        Willis (_Life of Harvey_, p. xli., in _Harvey's Works_, edit.
        Sydenham Society, 1847) says 'Harvey's views were at first
        rejected almost universally.' Dr. Elliotson (_Human Physiology_,
        p. 194) says, 'His immediate reward was general ridicule and
        abuse, and a great diminution of his practice.' Broussais
        (_Examen des Doctrines Médicales_, vol. i. p. vii.) says, 'Harvey
        passa pour fou quand il annonça la découverte de la circulation.'
        Finally, Sir William Temple, who belongs to the generation
        subsequent to Harvey, and who, indeed, was not born until some
        years after the discovery was made, mentions it in his works in
        such a manner as to show that even then it was not universally
        received by educated men. See two curious passages, which have
        escaped the notice of the historians of physiology, in _Works of
        Sir W. Temple_, vol. iii. pp. 293, 469, 8vo., 1814.

  [211] 'Taken by Descartes as the basis of his physiology, in his work on
        Man.' _Whewell's Hist. of the Induc. Sciences_, vol. iii. p. 441.
        'Réné Descartes se déclara un des premiers en faveur de la
        doctrine de la circulation.' _Renourd_, _Hist. de la Médecine_,
        vol. ii. p. 163. See also _Bordas Demoulin_, _le Cartésianisme_,
        vol. ii. p. 324; and _[OE]uvres de Descartes_, vol. i. pp. 68,
        179, vol. iv. pp. 42, 449, vol. ix. pp. 159, 332. Compare
        _Willis's Life of Harvey_, p. xlv., in _Harvey's Works_.

  [212] 'Les veines blanches, dites lactées, qu'Asellius a découvertes
        depuis peu dans le mésentère.' _De la Formation du F[oe]tus_,
        sec. 49, in _[OE]uvres de Descartes_, vol. iv. p. 483.

  [213] Even Harvey denied it to the last. _Sprengel_, _Hist. de la Méd._
        vol. iv. pp. 203, 204. Compare _Harvey's Works_, edit. Sydenham
        Soc. pp. 605, 614.

These things might have been sufficient to rescue even the physical
labours of Descartes from the attacks constantly made on them by men who
either have not studied his works, or else, having studied them, are
unable to understand their merit. But the glory of Descartes, and the
influence he exercised over his age, do not depend even on such claims
as these. Putting them aside, he is the author of what is emphatically
called Modern Philosophy.[214] He is the originator of that great
system and method of metaphysics, which, notwithstanding its errors, has
the undoubted merit of having given a wonderful impulse to the European
mind, and communicated to it an activity which has been made available
for other purposes of a different character. Besides this, and superior
to it, there is another obligation which we are under to the memory of
Descartes. He deserves the gratitude of posterity, not so much on
account of what he built up, as on account of what he pulled down. His
life was one great and successful warfare against the prejudices and
traditions of men. He was great as a creator, but he was far greater as
a destroyer. In this respect he was the true successor of Luther, to
whose labours his own were the fitting supplement. He completed what the
great German reformer had left undone.[215] He bore to the old systems
of philosophy precisely the same relation that Luther bore to the old
systems of religion. He was the great reformer and liberator of the
European intellect. To prefer, therefore, even the most successful
discoverers of physical laws to this great innovator and disturber of
tradition, is just as if we should prefer knowledge to freedom, and
believe that science is better than liberty. We must, indeed, always be
grateful to those eminent thinkers, to whose labours we are indebted for
that vast body of physical truths which we now possess. But, let us
reserve the full measure of our homage for those far greater men, who
have not hesitated to attack and destroy the most inveterate prejudices:
men who, by removing the pressure of tradition, have purified the very
source and fountain of our knowledge, and secured its future progress,
by casting off obstacles in the presence of which progress was

  [214] M. Cousin (_Hist. de la Philos._ II. série, vol. i. p. 39) says of
        Descartes, 'Son premier ouvrage écrit en français est de 1637.
        C'est donc de 1637 que date la philosophie moderne.' See the same
        work, I. série, vol. iii. p. 77; and compare _Stewart's Philos.
        of the Mind_, vol. i. pp. 14, 529, with _Eloge de Parent_, in
        _[OE]uvres de Fontenelle_, Paris, 1766, vol. v. p. 444, and vol.
        vi. p. 318: 'Cartésien, ou, si l'on veut, philosophe moderne.'

  [215] 'Descartes avait établi dans le domaine de la pensée
        l'indépendance absolue de la raison; il avait déclaré à la
        scholastique et à la théologie que l'esprit de l'homme ne pouvait
        plus relever que de l'évidence qu'il aurait obtenue par lui-même.
        Ce que Luther avait commencé dans la religion, le génie français
        si actif et si prompt l'importait dans la philosophie, et l'on
        peut dire à la double gloire de l'Allemagne et de la France que
        Descartes est le fils aîné de Luther.' _Lerminier_, _Philos. du
        Droit_, vol. ii. p. 141. See also, on the philosophy of Descartes
        as a product of the Reformation. _Ward's Ideal of a Christian
        Church_, p. 498.

  [216] For, as Turgot finely says, 'ce n'est pas l'erreur qui s'oppose
        aux progrès de la vérité. Ce sont la mollesse, l'entêtement,
        l'esprit de routine, tout ce qui porte à l'inaction,' _Pensées_
        in _[OE]uvres de Turgot_, vol. ii. p. 343.

It will not be expected, perhaps it will hardly be desired, that I
should enter into a complete detail of the philosophy of Descartes: a
philosophy which, in England at least, is rarely studied, and therefore,
is often attacked. But it will be necessary to give such an account of
it as will show its analogy with the anti-theological policy of
Richelieu, and will thus enable us to see the full extent of that vast
movement which took place in France before the accession of Louis XIV.
By this means, we shall be able to understand how the daring innovations
of the great minister were so successful, since they were accompanied
and reinforced by corresponding innovations in the national intellect;
thus affording an additional instance of the way in which the political
history of every country is to be explained by the history of its
intellectual progress.

In 1637, when Richelieu was at the height of his power, Descartes
published that great work which he had long been meditating, and which
was the first open announcement of the new tendencies of the French
mind. To this work he gave the name of a 'Method;' and, assuredly, the
method is the most alien to what is commonly called theology that can
possibly be conceived. Indeed, so far from being theological, it is
essentially and exclusively psychological. The theological method rests
on ancient records, on tradition, on the voice of antiquity. The method
of Descartes rests solely on the consciousness each man has of the
operations of his own mind, and lest anyone should mistake the meaning
of this, he, in subsequent works, developed it at great length, and with
unrivalled clearness. For his main object was to popularize the views
which he put forward. Therefore, says Descartes, 'I write in French
rather than in Latin, because I trust that they who only employ their
simple and native reason will estimate my opinions more fairly than they
who only believe in ancient books.'[217] So strongly does he insist upon
this, that, almost at the beginning of his first work, he cautions his
readers against the common error of looking to antiquity for knowledge;
and he reminds them that 'when men are too curious to know the practices
of past ages, they generally remain very ignorant of their own.'[218]

  [217] 'Et si j'écris en français, qui est la langue de mon pays, plutôt
        qu'en latin, qui est celle de mes précepteurs, c'est à cause que
        j'espère que ceux qui ne se servent que de leur raison naturelle
        toute pure, jugeront mieux de mes opinions que ceux qui ne
        croient qu'aux livres anciens.' _Discours de la Méthode_, in
        _[OE]uvres de Descartes_, vol. i. pp. 210, 211.

  [218] _Ibid._ vol. i. p. 127.

Indeed, so far from following the old plan of searching for truths in
the records of the past, the great essential of this new philosophy is
to wean ourselves from all such associations, and, beginning the
acquisition of knowledge by the work of destruction, first pull down, in
order that afterwards we may build up.[219] When I, says Descartes, set
forth in the pursuit of truth, I found that the best way was to reject
every thing I had hitherto received, and pluck out all my old opinions,
in order that I might lay the foundation of them afresh: believing that,
by this means, I should more easily accomplish the great scheme of life,
than by building on an old basis, and supporting myself by principles
which I had learned in my youth, without examining if they were really
true.[220] 'I, therefore, will occupy myself freely and earnestly in
effecting a general destruction of all my old opinions.'[221] For, if we
would know all the truths that can be known, we must, in the first
place, free ourselves from our prejudices, and make a point of
rejecting those things which we have received, until we have subjected
them to a new examination.[222] We, therefore, must derive our opinions,
not from tradition, but from ourselves. We must not pass judgment upon
any subject which we do not clearly and distinctly understand; for, even
if such a judgment is correct, it can only be so by accident, not having
solid ground on which to support itself.[223] But, so far are we from
this state of indifference, that our memory is full of prejudices:[224]
we pay attention to words rather than to things;[225] and being thus
slaves to form, there are too many of us 'who believe themselves
religious, when, in fact, they are bigoted and superstitious; who think
themselves perfect because they go much to church, because they often
repeat prayers, because they wear short hair, because they fast, because
they give alms. These are the men who imagine themselves such friends of
God, that nothing they do displeases Him; men who, under pretence of
zeal, gratify their passions by committing the greatest crimes, such as
betraying towns, killing princes, exterminating nations: and all this
they do to those who will not change their opinions.'[226]

  [219] 'Er fing also vom Zweifel an, und ging durch denselben zur
        Gewissheit über.' _Tennemann_, _Gesch. der Philos._ vol. x. p.
        218. Compare _Second Discours en Sorbonne_, in _[OE]uvres de
        Turgot_, vol. ii. p. 89.

  [220] _Disc. de la Méthode_, in _[OE]uvres de Descartes_, vol. i.
        p. 136.

  [221] 'Je m'appliquerai sérieusement et avec liberté à détruire
        généralement toutes mes anciennes opinions.' _Méditations_ in
        _[OE]uvres de Descartes_, vol. i. p. 236.

  [222] _Principes de la Philosophie_, part i. sec. 75, in _[OE]uvres de
        Descartes_, vol. iii. pp. 117, 118; and compare vol. ii. p. 417,
        where he gives a striking illustration of this view.

  [223] _Méditations_, in _[OE]uvres de Descartes_, vol. i. pp. 303, 304.

  [224] 'Nous avons rempli notre mémoire de beaucoup de préjugés.'
        _Principes de la Philos._ part i. sec. 47, in _[OE]uvres_,
        vol. iii. p. 91.

  [225] _[OE]uvres_, vol. iii. p. 117.

  [226] 'Ce qu'on peut particulièrement remarquer en ceux qui, croyant
        être dévots, sont seulement bigots et superstitieux, c'est à dire
        qui, sous ombre qu'ils vont souvent à l'église, qu'ils récitent
        force prières, qu'ils portent les cheveux courts, qu'ils jeûnent,
        qu'ils donnent l'aumône, pensent être entièrement parfaits, et
        s'imaginent qu'ils sont si grands amis de Dieu, qu'ils ne
        sauroient rien faire qui lui déplaise, et que tout ce que leur
        dicte leur passion est un bon zèle, bien qu'elle leur dicte
        quelquefois les plus grands crimes qui puissent être commis par
        des hommes, comme de trahir des villes, de tuer des princes,
        d'exterminer des peuples entiers, pour cela seul qu'ils ne
        suivent pas leurs opinions.' _Les Passions de l'Ame_, in
        _[OE]uvres de Descartes_, vol. iv. pp. 194, 195.

These were the words of wisdom which this great teacher addressed to his
countrymen only a few years after they had brought to a close the last
religious war that has ever been waged in France. The similarity of
those views to those which, about the same time, were put forth by
Chillingworth, must strike every reader, but ought not to excite
surprise; for they were but the natural products of a state of society
in which the right of private judgment, and the independence of the
human reason, were first solidly established. If we examine this matter
a little closer, we shall find still further proof of the analogy
between France and England. So identical are the steps of the progress,
that the relation which Montaigne bears to Descartes is just the same as
that which Hooker bears to Chillingworth; the same in reference to the
difference of time, and also in reference to the difference of opinions.
The mind of Hooker was essentially sceptical; but his genius was so
restrained by the prejudices of his age, that, unable to discern the
supreme authority of private judgment, he hampered it by appeals to
councils and to the general voice of ecclesiastical antiquity:
impediments which Chillingworth, thirty years later, effectually
removed. In precisely the same way, Montaigne, like Hooker, was
sceptical; but, like him, he lived at a period when the spirit of doubt
was yet young, and when the mind still trembled before the authority of
the Church. It is, therefore, no wonder that even Montaigne, who did so
much for his age, should have hesitated respecting the capacity of men
to work out for themselves great truths; and that, pausing in the course
that lay before him, his scepticism should often have assumed the form
of a distrust of the human faculties.[227] Such shortcomings, and such
imperfections, are merely an evidence of the slow growth of society, and
of the impossibility for even the greatest thinkers to outstrip their
contemporaries beyond a certain point. But, with the advance of
knowledge, this deficiency was at length supplied; and, as the
generation after Hooker brought forth Chillingworth, just so did the
generation after Montaigne bring forth Descartes. Both Chillingworth and
Descartes were eminently sceptical; but their scepticism was directed,
not against the human intellect, but against those appeals to authority
and tradition without which it had hitherto been supposed that the
intellect could not safely proceed. That this was the case with
Chillingworth, we have already seen. That it was likewise the case with
Descartes, is, if possible, still more apparent; for that profound
thinker believed, not only that the mind, by its own efforts, could root
out its most ancient opinions, but that it could, without fresh aid,
build up a new and solid system in place of the one which it had thrown

  [227] As is particularly evident in his long chapter, headed 'Apologie
        de Raimond Sebond.' _Essais de Montaigne_, livre ii. chap. xii.
        Paris, 1843, pp. 270-382, and see _Tennemann_, _Gesch. der
        Philos._ vol. ix. p. 455.

  [228] He very clearly separates himself from men like Montaigne: 'Non
        que j'imitasse pour cela les sceptiques, qui ne doutent que pour
        douter, et affectent d'être toujours irrésolus; car, au
        contraire, tout mon dessein ne tendoit qu'à m'assurer, et à
        rejeter la terre mouvante et le sable pour trouver le roc ou
        l'argile.' _Discours de la Méthode_, in _[OE]uvres de Descartes_,
        vol. i. pp. 153, 154.

It is this extraordinary confidence in the power of the human intellect,
which eminently characterizes Descartes, and has given to his philosophy
that peculiar sublimity which distinguishes it from all other systems.
So far from thinking that a knowledge of the external world is essential
to the discovery of truth, he laid it down as a fundamental principle,
that we must begin by ignoring such knowledge;[229] that the first step
is to separate ourselves from the delusions of nature, and reject the
evidence presented to our senses.[230] For, says Descartes, nothing is
certain but thought; nor are there any truths except those which
necessarily follow from the operation of our own consciousness. We have
no knowledge of our soul except as a thinking substance:[231] and it
were easier for us to believe that the soul should cease to exist, than
that it should cease to think.[232] And, as to man himself, what is he
but the incarnation of thought? For that which constitutes the man, is
not his bones, nor his flesh, nor his blood. These are the accidents,
the incumbrances, the impediments of his nature. But the man himself is
the thought. The invisible me, the ultimate fact of existence, the
mystery of life, is this: 'I am a thing that thinks.' This, therefore,
is the beginning and the basis of our knowledge. The thought of each man
is the last element to which analysis can carry us; it is the supreme
judge of every doubt; it is the starting-point for all wisdom.[233]

  [229] According to the view of Descartes, it was to be ignored, not
        denied. There is no instance to be found in his works of a denial
        of the existence of the external world; nor does the passage
        quoted from him by Mr. Jobert (_New System of Philos._ vol. ii.
        pp. 161, 162, Lond. 1849) at all justify the interpretation of
        that ingenious writer, who confuses certainty in the ordinary
        sense of the word with certainty in the Cartesian sense. A
        similar error is made by those who suppose that his 'Je pense,
        donc je suis,' is an enthymeme; and having taken this for
        granted, they turn on the great philosopher, and accuse him of
        begging the question! Such critics overlook the difference
        between a logical process and a psychological one; and therefore
        they do not see that this famous sentence was the description of
        a mental fact, and not the statement of a mutilated syllogism.
        The student of the philosophy of Descartes must always
        distinguish between these two processes, and remember that each
        process has an order of proof peculiar to itself; or at all
        events he must remember that such was the opinion of Descartes.
        Compare, on the Cartesian enthymeme, _Cousin_, _Hist. de la
        Philos._ I. série, vol. iv. pp. 512, 513, with a note in _Kritik
        der reinen Vernunft, Kant's Werke_, vol. ii. pp. 323, 324.

  [230] _Méditations_, in _[OE]uvres de Descartes_, vol. i. pp. 220, 226;
        and again in the _Objections et Réponses_, _[OE]uvres_, vol. ii.
        pp. 245, 246.

  [231] 'Au lieu que, lorsque nous tâchons à connoître plus distinctement
        notre nature, nous pouvons voir que notre âme, en tant qu'elle
        est une substance distincte du corps, ne nous est connue que par
        cela seul qu'elle pense.' _[OE]uvres de Descartes_, vol. iv. p.
        432. Compare vol. iii. p. 96, _Principes de la Philosophie_, part
        i. sec. 53.

  [232] 'En sorte qu'il me seroit bien plus aisé de croire que l'âme
        cesseroit d'être quand on dit qu'elle cesse de penser, que non
        pas de concevoir qu'elle soit sans pensée.' _[OE]uvres de
        Descartes_, vol. viii. p. 574. That 'the soul always thinks,' is
        a conclusion also arrived at by Berkeley by a different process.
        See his subtle argument, _Principles of Human Knowledge_, part i.
        sec. 98, in _Berkeley's Works_, vol. i. p. 123; and for a curious
        application of this to the theory of dreaming, see _Burdach_,
        _Physiologie comme Science d'Observation_, vol. v. pp. 205, 230.

  [233] _[OE]uvres de Descartes_, vol. i. pp. 251, 252, 279, 293, vol. ii.
        pp. 252, 283.

Taking our stand on this ground, we rise, says Descartes, to the
perception of the existence of the Deity. For, our belief in His
existence is an irrefragable proof that He exists. Otherwise, whence
does the belief arise? Since nothing can come out of nothing, and since
no effect can be without a cause, it follows that the idea we have of
God must have an origin; and this origin, whatever name we give it, is
no other than God.[234] Thus, the ultimate proof of His existence is our
idea of it. Instead, therefore, of saying that we know ourselves because
we believe in God, we should rather say that we believe in God because
we know ourselves.[235] This is the order and precedence of things. The
thought of each man is sufficient to prove His existence, and it is the
only proof we can ever possess. Such, therefore, is the dignity and
supremacy of the human intellect, that even this, the highest of all
matters, flows from it, as from its sole source.[236] Hence, our
religion should not be acquired by the teaching of others, but should be
worked out by ourselves: it is not to be borrowed from antiquity, but it
is to be discovered by each man's mind; it is not traditional, but
personal. It is because this great truth has been neglected, that
impiety has arisen. If each man were to content himself with that idea
of God which is suggested by his own mind, he would attain to a true
knowledge of the Divine Nature. But when, instead of confining himself
to this, he mixes up with it the notions of others, his ideas become
perplexed; they contradict themselves; and the composition being thus
confused, he often ends by denying the existence, not, indeed, of God,
but of such a God as that in whom he has been taught to believe.[237]

  [234] _Ibid._ vol. i. p. 419; and at p. 420: 'Or de tout cela on conclut
        très-manifestement que Dieu existe.' See also pp. 159-162, 280,
        290, 291. But the simplest statement is in a letter to Mersenne
        (vol. viii. p. 529): 'J'ai tiré la preuve de l'existence de Dieu
        de l'idée que je trouve en moi d'un être souverainement parfait.'

  [235] 'Ainsi, quoique, de ce que je suis, je conclue avec certitude que
        Dieu est, je ne puis réciproquement affirmer, de ce que Dieu est,
        que j'existe.' _Règles pour la Direction de l'Esprit_, in
        _[OE]uvres_, vol. xi. p. 274. See also _Principes de la
        Philosophie_, part i. sec. 7, vol. iii. p. 66.

  [236] On this famous argument, which it is said was also broached by
        Anselm, see _King's Life of Locke_, vol. ii. p. 133; the
        Benedictine _Hist. Lit. de la France_, vol. ix. pp. 417, 418;
        _Mosheim's Eccles. Hist._ vol. i. p. 239; and _Cudworth's
        Intellect. Syst._ vol. iii. p. 383.

 [237] 'Et certes jamais les hommes ne pourroient s'éloigner de la vraie
        connoissance de cette nature divine, s'ils vouloient seulement
        porter leur attention sur l'idée qu'ils ont de l'être
        souverainement parfait. Mais ceux qui mêlent quelques autres
        idées avec celle-là composent par ce moyen un dieu chimérique, en
        la nature duquel il y a des choses qui se contrarient; et, après
        l'avoir ainsi composé, ce n'est pas merveille s'ils nient qu'un
        tel dieu, qui leur est représenté par une fausse idée, existe.'
        _[OE]uvres de Descartes_, vol. i. pp. 423, 424.

The mischief which these principles must have done to the old theology
is very obvious.[238] Not only were they fatal, in the minds of those
who received them, to many of the common dogmas--such, for instance, as
that of transubstantiation,[239]--but they were likewise directly
opposed to other opinions, equally indefensible, and far more dangerous.
For Descartes, by founding a philosophy which rejected all authority
except that of the human reason,[240] was, of course, led to abandon
the study of final causes,[241]--an old and natural superstition, by
which, as we shall hereafter see, the German philosophers were long
impeded, and which still hangs, though somewhat loosely, about the minds
of men.[242] At the same time, by superseding the geometry of the
ancients, he aided in weakening that inordinate respect with which
antiquity was then regarded. In another matter, still more important, he
displayed the same spirit, and met with the same success. With such
energy did he attack the influence, or rather the tyranny of Aristotle,
that although the opinions of that philosopher were intimately
interwoven with the Christian theology,[243] his authority was entirely
overthrown by Descartes; and with it there perished those scholastic
prejudices, for which Aristotle, indeed, was not responsible, but which,
under the shelter of his mighty name, had, during several centuries,
perplexed the understandings of men, and retarded the progress of their

  [238] This is delicately but clearly indicated in an able letter from
        Arnaud, printed in _[OE]uvres de Descartes_, vol. ii. pp. 1-36:
        see in particular pp. 31, 34. And Duclos bluntly says: 'Si,
        depuis la révolution que Descartes a commencée, les théologiens
        se sont éloignés des philosophes, c'est que ceux-ci ont paru ne
        pas respecter infiniment les théologiens. Une philosophie qui
        prenoit pour base le doute et l'examen devoit les effaroucher.'
        _Duclos_, _Mémoires_, vol. i. p. 109.

  [239] On the relation of the Cartesian philosophy to the doctrine of
        transubstantiation, compare _Palmer's Treatise on the Church_,
        vol. ii. pp. 169, 170, with _Hallam's Lit. of Europe_, vol. ii.
        p. 453; and the remark ascribed to Hobbes, in _Aubrey's Letters
        and Lives_, vol. ii. p. 626. But Hobbes, if he really made this
        observation, had no right to expect Descartes to become a martyr.

  [240] 'Le caractère de la philosophie du moyen âge est la soumission à
        une autorité autre que la raison. La philosophie moderne ne
        reconnaît que l'autorité de la raison. C'est le cartésianisme qui
        a opéré cette révolution décisive.' _Cousin_, _Hist. de la
        Philos._ II. série, vol. i. pp. 258, 259.

  [241] 'Nous rejetterons entièrement de notre philosophie la recherche
        des causes finales.' _Principes de la Philos._, part i. sec. 28,
        in _[OE]uvres de Descartes_, vol. iii. p. 81. See also part iii.
        sec. 3, p. 182; and his reply to Gassendi, in _[OE]uvres_, vol.
        ii. pp. 280, 281. Compare _Cousin_, _Hist. de la Philosophie_,
        II. série, vol. ii. p. 71, with _Sprengel_, _Hist. de la
        Médecine_, vol. v. p. 203.

  [242] Dr. Whewell, for instance, says, that we must reject final causes
        in the inorganic sciences, but must recognize them in the organic
        ones; which, in other words, simply means, that we know less of
        the organic world than of the inorganic, and that because we know
        less, we are to believe more; for here, as everywhere else, the
        smaller the science the greater the superstition. _Whewell's
        Philos. of the Inductive Sciences_, 8vo., 1847, vol. i. pp. 620,
        627, 628; and his _Hist. of the Induc. Sciences_, vol. iii. pp.
        430, 431. If the question were to be decided by authority, it
        would be enough to appeal to Bacon and Descartes, the two
        greatest writers on the philosophy of method in the seventeenth
        century; and to Auguste Comte, who is admitted by the few persons
        who have mastered his _Philosophie Positive_, to be the greatest
        in our own time. These profound and comprehensive thinkers have
        all rejected the study of final causes, which, as they have
        clearly seen, is a theological invasion of scientific rights. On
        the injury which this study has wrought, and on the check it has
        given to the advance of our knowledge, see _Robin et Verdeil_,
        _Chimie Anat._ Paris, 1853, vol. i. pp. 489, 493, 494, vol. ii.
        p. 555; _Renouard_, _Hist. de la Médecine_, vol. i. pp. 232, 237;
        _Sprengel_, _Hist. de la Médecine_, vol. ii. p. 220; _Geoffroy
        Saint-Hilaire_, _Hist. des Anomalies de l'Organisation_, vol.
        iii. pp. 435, 436; _Herder_, _Ideen zur Gesch. der Menschheit_,
        vol. iii. p. 270; _Lawrence's Lectures on Man_, p. 36; and
        _Burdach_, _Traité de Physiologie_, vol. i. p. 190.

  [243] 'Auf das innigste verbunden mit der Theologie, nicht allein in den
        katholischen, sondern selbst auch in den protestantischen
        Ländern.' _Tennemann_, _Gesch. der Philos._ vol. ix. p. 516.
        Descartes, in a letter to Mersenne (_[OE]uvres_, vol. vi. p. 73),
        writes, in 1629, 'La théologie, laquelle on a tellement
        assujettie à Aristote, qu'il est impossible d'expliquer une autre
        philosophie qu'il ne semble d'abord qu'elle soit contre la foi.'
        Compare vol. vii. p. 344, vol. viii. pp. 281, 497.

  [244] Dr. Brown (_Philosophy of the Mind_, Edinburgh, 1838, p. 172)
        calls Descartes 'that illustrious rebel, who, in overthrowing the
        authority of Aristotle,' &c. See also _Duvernet_, _Hist. de la
        Sorbonne_, vol. ii. p. 192; _Cuvier_, _Hist. des Sciences_, part
        ii. p. 532; and _Locke's Works_, vol. iii. p. 48. This, I need
        hardly say, refers to the habit of appealing to Aristotle, as if
        he were infallible, and is very different from that respect which
        is naturally felt for a man who was probably the greatest of all
        the ancient thinkers. The difference between the Aristotelian and
        Cartesian systems is touched on rather hastily in _Cudworth's
        Intellect. Syst._ vol. i. pp. 170, 171.

These were the principal services rendered to civilization by one of the
greatest men Europe has ever produced. The analogy between him and
Richelieu is very striking, and is as complete as their relative
positions would allow. The same disregard of ancient notions, the same
contempt for theological interests, the same indifference to tradition,
the same determination to prefer the present to the past: in a word, the
same essentially modern spirit, is seen alike in the writings of
Descartes, and in the actions of Richelieu. What the first was to
philosophy, that was the other to politics. But, while acknowledging the
merits of these eminent men, it behoves us to remember that their
success was the result, not only of their own abilities, but likewise of
the general temper of their time. The nature of their labours depended
on themselves; the way in which their labours were received, depended on
their contemporaries. Had they lived in a more superstitious age, their
views would have been disregarded, or, if noticed, would have been
execrated as impious novelties. In the fifteenth, or early in the
sixteenth century, the genius of Descartes and of Richelieu would have
lacked the materials necessary to their work; their comprehensive minds
would, in that state of society, have found no play; they would have
awakened no sympathies; their bread would have been cast upon those
waters which return it not again. And it would have been well for them
if, in such a case, indifference were the only penalty with which they
would be visited. It would have been well if they had not paid the
forfeit incurred by many of those illustrious thinkers who have vainly
attempted to stem the torrent of human credulity. It would have been
well if the church had not risen in her wrath--if Richelieu had not been
executed as a traitor, and Descartes burned as a heretic.

Indeed, the mere fact that two such men, occupying so conspicuous a
place before the public eye, and enforcing views so obnoxious to the
interests of superstition, should have lived without serious danger, and
then have died peaceably in their beds--the mere fact that this should
have happened, is a decisive proof of the progress which, during fifty
years, had been made by the French nation. With such rapidity were the
prejudices of that great people dying away, that opinions utterly
subversive of theological traditions, and fatal to the whole scheme of
ecclesiastical power, were with impunity advocated by Descartes, and put
in practice by Richelieu. It was now clearly seen, that the two foremost
men of their time could, with little or no risk, openly propagate ideas
which, half a century before, it would have been accounted dangerous
even for the most obscure man to whisper in the privacy of his own

Nor are the causes of this impunity difficult to understand. They are to
be found in the diffusion of that sceptical spirit, by which, in France
as well as in England, toleration was preceded. For, without entering
into details which would be too long for the limits of this
Introduction, it is enough to say, that French literature generally was,
at this period, distinguished by a freedom and a boldness of inquiry,
of which, England alone excepted, no example had then been seen in
Europe. The generation which had listened to the teachings of Montaigne
and of Charron, was now succeeded by another generation, the disciples,
indeed, of those eminent men, but disciples who far outstripped their
masters. The result was, that, during the thirty or forty years which
preceded the power of Louis XIV.,[245] there was not to be found a
single Frenchman of note who did not share in the general feeling--not
one who did not attack some ancient dogma, or sap the foundation of some
old opinion. This fearless temper was the characteristic of the ablest
writers of that time;[246] but what is still more observable is, that
the movement spread with such rapidity as to include in its action even
those parts of society which are invariably the last to be affected by
it. That spirit of doubt, which is the necessary precursor of all
inquiry, and therefore of all solid improvement, owes its origin to the
most thinking and intellectual parts of society, and is naturally
opposed by the other parts: opposed by the nobles, because it is
dangerous to their interests; opposed by the uneducated, because it
attacks their prejudices. This is one of the reasons why neither the
highest nor the lowest ranks are fit to conduct the government of a
civilized country; since both of them, notwithstanding individual
exceptions, are, in the aggregate, averse to those reforms which the
exigencies of an advancing nation constantly require. But, in France,
before the middle of the seventeenth century, even these classes began
to participate in the great progress; so that, not only among thoughtful
men, but likewise among the ignorant and the frivolous, there was seen
that inquisitive and incredulous disposition, which, whatever may be
said against it, has at least this peculiarity, that, in its absence,
there is no instance to be found of the establishment of those
principles of toleration and of liberty, which have only been recognized
with infinite difficulty, and after many a hard-fought battle against
prejudices whose inveterate tenacity might almost cause them to be
deemed a part of the original constitution of the human mind.[247]

  [245] That is in 1661, when Louis XIV. first assumed the government.

  [246] M. Barante (_Tableau de la Littérature Française_, pp. 26, 27)
        notices 'cette indépendance dans les idées, ce jugement audacieux
        de toutes choses, qu'on remarque dans Corneille, dans Mézéray,
        dans Balzac, dans Saint-Réal, dans Lamothe-Levayer.' To these may
        be added Naudé, Patin, and probably Gassendi. Compare _Hallam's
        Literat. of Europe_, vol. ii. pp. 364, 365, with _Mackintosh's
        Ethical Philos._ p. 116, and _Lettres de Patin_, vol. i. p. 297,
        vol. ii. pp. 33, 186, 191, 242, 342, 498, 508, vol. iii. p. 87.

  [247] The increase of incredulity was so remarkable, as to give rise to
        a ridiculous assertion, 'qu'il y avoit plus de 50,000 athées dans
        Paris vers l'an 1623.' _Baillet_, _Jugemens des Savans_, Paris,
        1722, 4to. vol. i. p. 185. Baillet has no difficulty in rejecting
        this preposterous statement (which is also noticed in
        _Coleridge's Literary Remains_, vol. i. p. 305; where, however,
        there is apparently a confusion between two different periods);
        but the spread of scepticism among the upper ranks and courtiers,
        during the reign of Louis XIII. and the minority of Louis XIV.,
        is attested by a great variety of evidence. See _Mém. de Madame
        de Motteville_, vol. iii. p. 52; _Mém. de Retz_, vol. i. p. 266;
        _Conrart_, _Mém._ p. 235 note; _Des Réaux_, _Historiettes_, vol.
        vii. p. 143; _Mém. de Brienne_, vol. ii. p. 107 note.

It is no wonder if, under these circumstances, the speculations of
Descartes and the actions of Richelieu should have met with great
success. The system of Descartes exercised immense influence, and soon
pervaded nearly every branch of knowledge.[248] The policy of Richelieu
was so firmly established, that it was continued without the slightest
difficulty by his immediate successor: nor was any attempt made to
reverse it until that forcible and artificial reaction which, under
Louis XIV., was fatal, for a time, to every sort of civil and religious
liberty. The history of that reaction, and the way in which, by a
counter-reaction, the French Revolution was prepared, will be related in
the subsequent chapters of this volume; at present we will resume the
thread of those events which took place in France before Louis XIV.
assumed the government.

  [248] Volumes might be written on the influence of Descartes, which was
        seen, not only in subjects immediately connected with his
        philosophy, but even in those apparently remote from it. Compare
        _Broussais_, _Examen des Doctrines Médicales_, vol. ii. pp. 55
        seq.; _Lettres de Patin_, vol. iii. p. 153; _Sprengel_, _Hist. de
        la Médecine_, vol. iv. p. 238; _Cuvier_, _Hist. des Sciences_,
        part ii. pp. 327, 332, 352, 363; _Stäudlin_, _Geschichte der
        theologischen Wissenschaften_, vol. i. p. 263; _Tennemann_,
        _Gesch. der Philos._ vol. x. pp. 285 seq.; _Huetius de Rebus ad
        eum pertinentibus_, pp. 35, 295, 296, 385-389; _Mosheim's Eccles.
        Hist._ vol. ii. p. 258; _Dacier_, _Rapport Historique_, p. 334;
        _Leslie's Nat. Philos._ p. 121; _Eloges_, in _[OE]uvres de
        Fontenelle_, Paris, 1766, vol. v. pp. 94, 106, 137, 197, 234,
        392, vol. vi. pp. 157, 318, 449; _Thomson's Hist. of Chemistry_,
        vol. i. p. 195; _Quérard_, _France Lit._ vol. iii. p. 273.

A few months after the death of Richelieu, Louis XIII. also died, and
the crown was inherited by Louis XIV., who was then a child, and who for
many years had no influence in public affairs. During his minority, the
government was administered, avowedly by his mother, but in reality by
Mazarin: a man who, though in every point inferior to Richelieu, had
imbibed something of his spirit, and who, so far as he was able, adopted
the policy of that great statesman, to whom he owed his promotion.[249]
He, influenced partly by the example of his predecessor, partly by his
own character, and partly by the spirit of his age, showed no desire to
persecute the Protestants, or to disturb them in any of the rights they
then exercised.[250] His first act was to confirm the Edict of
Nantes;[251] and, towards the close of his life, he even allowed the
Protestants again to hold those synods which their own violence had
been the means of interrupting.[252] Between the death of Richelieu and
the accession to power of Louis XIV., there elapsed a period of nearly
twenty years, during which Mazarin, with the exception of a few
intervals, was at the head of the state; and in the whole of that time,
I have found no instance of any Frenchman being punished for his
religion. Indeed, the new government, so far from protecting the church
by repressing heresy, displayed that indifference to ecclesiastical
interests which was now becoming a settled maxim of French policy.
Richelieu, as we have already seen, had taken the bold step of placing
Protestants at the head of the royal armies; and this he had done upon
the simple principle, that one of the first duties of a statesman is to
employ for the benefit of the country the ablest men he can find,
without regard to their theological opinions, with which, as he well
knew, no government has any concern. But Louis XIII., whose personal
feelings were always opposed to the enlightened measures of his great
minister, was offended by this magnanimous disregard of ancient
prejudices; his piety was shocked at the idea of Catholic soldiers being
commanded by heretics; and, as we are assured by a well-informed
contemporary, he determined to put an end to this scandal to the church,
and, for the future, allow no Protestant to receive the staff of marshal
of France.[253] Whether the king, if he had lived, would have carried
his point, is doubtful;[254] but what is certain is, that, only four
months after his death, this appointment of marshal was bestowed upon
Turenne, the most able of all the Protestant generals.[255] And in the
very next year, Gassion, another Protestant, was raised to the same
dignity; thus affording the strange spectacle of the highest military
power in a great Catholic country wielded by two men against whose
religion the church was never weary of directing her anathemas.[256] In
a similar spirit, Mazarin, on mere grounds of political expediency,
concluded an intimate alliance with Cromwell; an usurper who, in the
opinion of the theologians, was doomed to perdition, since he was soiled
by the triple crime of rebellion, of heresy, and of regicide.[257]
Finally, one of the last acts of this pupil of Richelieu's[258] was to
sign the celebrated treaty of the Pyrenees, by which ecclesiastical
interests were seriously weakened, and great injury inflicted on him who
was still considered to be the head of the church.[259]

  [249] On the connexion between Richelieu and Mazarin, see _Sismondi_,
        _Hist. des Français_, vol. xxiii. pp. 400, 530; and a curious,
        though perhaps apocryphal anecdote in _Tallemant des Réaux_,
        _Historiettes_, vol. ii. pp. 231, 232. In 1636 there was noticed
        'l'étroite union' between Richelieu and Mazarin. _Le Vassor_,
        _Hist. de Louis XIII_, vol. viii. part ii. p. 187.

  [250] 'Mazarin n'avoit ni fanatisme ni esprit persécuteur,' _Sismondi_,
        _Hist. des Français_, vol. xxiv. p. 531. That he did not
        persecute the Protestants is grudgingly confessed in _Felice's
        Hist. of the Protestants of France_, p. 292. See also _Smedley's
        Reformed Religion in France_, vol. iii. p. 222.

  [251] He confirmed it in July, 1643. See _Benoist_, _Hist. de l'Edit de
        Nantes_, vol. iii. appendix, p. 3; and _Quick's Synodicon in
        Gallia_, vol. i. p. ciii.

  [252] In 1659, there was assembled the Synod of Loudon, the moderator of
        which said, 'It is now fifteen years since we had a national
        synod.' _Quick's Synodicon in Gallia_, vol. ii. p. 517.

  [253] Brienne records the determination of the king, 'que cette dignité
        ne seroit plus accordée à des Protestans.' _Sismondi_, _Histoire
        des Français_, vol. xxiv. p. 65.

  [254] He was so uneasy about the sin he had committed, that before his
        death he intreated the Protestant marshals to change their creed:
        'Il ne voulut pas mourir sans avoir exhorté de sa propre bouche
        les maréchaux de la Force et de Chatillon à se faire
        Catholiques.' _Benoist_, _Hist. de l'Edit de Nantes_, vol. ii. p.
        612. The same circumstance is mentioned by Le Vassor, _Hist. de
        Louis XIII_, vol. x. part ii. p. 785.

  [255] Louis XIII. died in May 1643; and Turenne was made marshal in the
        September following. _Lavallée_, _Hist. des Français_, vol. iii.
        pp. 148, 151.

  [256] Sismondi (_Hist. des Français_, vol. xxiv. p. 65) makes the
        appointment of Gassion in 1644; according to Montglat
        (_Mémoires_, vol. i. p. 437) it was at the end of 1643. There are
        some singular anecdotes of Gassion in _Les Historiettes de
        Tallemant des Réaux_, vol. v. pp. 167-180; and an account of his
        death in _Mém. de Motteville_, vol. ii. p. 290, from which it
        appears that he remained a Protestant to the last.

  [257] The Pope especially was offended by this alliance (_Ranke_, _die
        Päpste_, vol. iii. p. 158, compared with _Vaughan's Cromwell_,
        vol. i. p. 343, vol. ii. p. 124); and, judging from the language
        of Clarendon, the orthodox party in England was irritated by it.
        _Clarendon's Hist. of the Rebellion_, pp. 699, 700. Contemporary
        notices of this union between the cardinal and the regicide, will
        be found in _Mém. de Retz_, vol. i. p. 349; _Mém. de Montglat_,
        vol. ii. p. 478, vol. iii. p. 23; _Lettres de Patin_, vol. ii.
        pp. 183, 302, 426; _Marchand_, _Dict. Historique_, vol. ii. p.
        56; _Mem. of Sir Philip Warwick_, p. 377; _Harris's Lives of the
        Stuarts_, vol. iii. p. 393.

  [258] De Retz (_Mémoires_, vol. i. p. 59), who knew Richelieu, calls
        Mazarin 'son disciple.' And at p. 65 he adds, 'comme il marchoit
        sur les pas du cardinal de Richelieu, qui avoit achevé de
        détruire toutes les anciennes maximes de l'état.' Compare _Mém.
        de Motteville_, vol. ii. p. 18; and _Mém. de la Rochefoucauld_,
        vol. i. p. 444.

  [259] On the open affront to the Pope by this treaty, see _Ranke_, _die
        Päpste_, vol. iii. p. 159: 'An dem pyrenäischen Frieden nahm er
        auch nicht einmal mehr einen scheinbaren Antheil: man vermied es
        seine Abgeordneten zuzulassen: kaum wurde seiner noch darin
        gedacht.' The consequences and the meaning of all this are well
        noticed by M. Ranke.

But, the circumstance for which the administration of Mazarin is most
remarkable, is the breaking out of that great civil war called the
Fronde, in which the people attempted to carry into politics the
insubordinate spirit which had already displayed itself in literature
and in religion. Here we cannot fail to note the similarity between this
struggle and that which, at the same time, was taking place in England.
It would, indeed, be far from accurate to say that the two events were
the counterpart of each other; but there can be no doubt that the
analogy between them is very striking. In both countries, the civil war
was the first popular expression of what had hitherto been rather a
speculative, and, so to say, a literary scepticism. In both countries,
incredulity was followed by rebellion, and the abasement of the clergy
preceded the humiliation of the crown; for Richelieu was to the French
church what Elizabeth had been to the English church. In both countries
there now first arose that great product of civilization, a free press,
which showed its liberty by pouring forth those fearless and innumerable
works which mark the activity of the age.[260] In both countries, the
struggle was between retrogression and progress; between those who clung
to tradition, and those who longed for innovation; while, in both, the
contest assumed the external form of a war between king and parliament,
the king being the organ of the past, the parliament the representative
of the present. And, not to mention inferior similarities, there was one
other point of vast importance in which these two great events coincide.
This is, that both of them were eminently secular, and arose from the
desire, not of propagating religious opinions, but of securing civil
liberty. The temporal character of the English rebellion I have already
noticed, and, indeed, it must be obvious to whoever has studied the
evidence in its original sources. In France, not only do we find the
same result, but we can even mark the stages of the progress. In the
middle of the sixteenth century, and immediately after the death of
Henry III., the French civil wars were caused by religious disputes, and
were carried on with the fervour of a crusade. Early in the seventeenth
century, hostilities again broke out; but though the efforts of the
government were directed against the Protestants, this was not because
they were heretics, but because they were rebels: the object being, not
to punish an opinion, but to control a faction. This was the first great
stage in the history of toleration; and it was accomplished, as we have
already seen, during the reign of Louis XIII. That generation passing
away, there arose, in the next age, the wars of the Fronde; and in this,
which may be called the second stage of the French intellect, the
alteration was still more remarkable. For, in the mean time, the
principles of the great sceptical thinkers, from Montaigne to Descartes,
had produced their natural fruit, and, becoming diffused among the
educated classes, had influenced, as they always will do, not only those
by whom they were received, but also those by whom they were rejected.
Indeed, a mere knowledge of the fact, that the most eminent men have
thrown doubt on the popular opinions of an age, can never fail, in some
degree, to disturb the convictions even of those by whom the doubts are
ridiculed.[261] In such cases, none are entirely safe: the firmest
belief is apt to become slightly unsettled; those who outwardly preserve
the appearance of orthodoxy, often unconsciously waver; they cannot
entirely resist the influence of superior minds, nor can they always
avoid an unwelcome suspicion, that when ability is on one side, and
ignorance on the other, it is barely possible that the ability may be
right, and the ignorance may be wrong.

  [260] 'La presse jouissait d'une entière liberté pendant les troubles de
        la Fronde, et le public prenait un tel intérêt aux débats
        politiques, que les pamphlets se débitaient quelquefois au nombre
        de huit et dix mille exemplaires.' _Sainte-Aulaire_, _Hist. de la
        Fronde_, vol. i. p. 299. Tallemant des Réaux, who wrote
        immediately after the Fronde, says (_Historiettes_, vol. iv. p.
        74), 'Durant la Fronde, qu'on imprimoit tout.' And Omer Talon,
        with the indignation natural to a magistrate, mentions, that in
        1649, 'toutes sortes de libelles et de diffamations se publioient
        hautement par la ville sans permission du magistrat.' _Mém.
        d'Omer Talon_, vol. ii. p. 466. For further evidence of the great
        importance of the press in France in the middle of the
        seventeenth century, see _Mém. de Lenet_, vol. i. p. 162; _Mém.
        de Motteville_, vol. iii. pp. 288, 289; _Lettres de Patin_, vol.
        i. p. 432, vol. ii. p. 517; _Monteil_, _Hist. des divers Etats_,
        vol. vii. p. 175.

        In England, the Long Parliament succeeded to the licensing
        authority of the Star-chamber (_Blackstone's Commentaries_, vol.
        iv. p. 152); but it is evident from the literature of that time,
        that for a considerable period the power was in reality in
        abeyance. Both parties attacked each other freely through the
        press; and it is said that between the breaking out of the civil
        war and the restoration, there were published from 30,000 to
        50,000 pamphlets. _Morgan's Ph[oe]nix Britannicus_, 1731, 4to.
        pp. iii. 557; _Carlyle's Cromwell_, vol. i. p. 4; _Southey's
        Commonplace Book_, third series, p. 449. See also on this great
        movement of the press, _Bates's Account of the Late Troubles_,
        part i. p. 78; _Bulstrode's Memoirs_, p. 4; _Howell's Letters_,
        p. 354; _Hunt's Hist. of Newspapers_, vol. i. p. 45; _Clarendon's
        Hist. of the Rebellion_, p. 81; _Nichols's Lit. Anec._ vol. iv.
        pp. 86, 102.

  [261] Dugald Stewart (_Philos. of the Mind_, vol. i. p. 357) says,
        'Nothing can be more just than the observation of Fontenelle,
        that "the number of those who believe in a system already
        established in the world, does not, in the least, add to its
        credibility; but that the number of those who doubt of it, has a
        tendency to diminish it."' Compare with this _Newman on
        Development_, Lond. 1845, p. 31; and the remark of Hylas in
        _Berkeley's Works_, edit. 1843, vol. i. pp. 151, 152, first

Thus it fell out in France. In that country, as in every other, when
theological convictions diminished, theological animosities subsided.
Formerly religion had been the cause of war, and had also been the
pretext under which it was conducted. Then there came a time when it
ceased to be the cause: but so slow is the progress of society, that it
was still found necessary to set it up as the pretext.[262] Finally,
there came the great days of the Fronde, in which it was neither cause
nor pretext,[263] and in which there was seen, for the first time in
France, an arduous struggle by human beings avowedly for human purposes:
a war waged by men who sought, not to enforce their opinions, but to
increase their liberty. And, as if to make this change still more
striking, the most eminent leader of the insurgents was the Cardinal de
Retz; a man of vast ability, but whose contempt for his profession was
notorious,[264] and of whom a great historian has said, 'he is the first
bishop in France who carried on a civil war without making religion the

  [262] Compare _Capefigue's Richelieu_, vol. i. p. 293, with a remarkable
        passage in _Mém. de Rohan_, vol. i. p. 317; where Rohan contrasts
        the religious wars he was engaged in during the administration of
        Richelieu, with those very different wars which had been waged in
        France a little earlier.

  [263] 'L'esprit religieux ne s'était mêlé en aucune manière aux
        querelles de la Fronde.' _Capefigue_, vol. ii. p. 434. Lenet, who
        had great influence with what was called the party of the
        princes, says that he always avoided any attempt 'à faire aboutir
        notre parti à une guerre de religion.' _Mém. de Lenet_, vol. i.
        p. 619. Even the people said that it was unimportant whether or
        not a man died a Protestant; but that if he were a partizan of
        Mazarin he was sure to be damned: 'Ils disoient qu'étant mazarin,
        il falloit qu'il fût damné.' _Lenet_, vol. i. p. 434.

  [264] Indeed he does not conceal this even in his memoirs. He says
        (_Mém._ vol. i. p. 3), he had 'l'âme peut-être la moins
        ecclésiastique qui fût dans l'univers.' At p. 13, 'le chagrin que
        ma profession ne laissoit pas de nourrir toujours dans le fonds
        de mon âme.' At p. 21, 'je haïssois ma profession plus que
        jamais.' At p. 48, 'le clergé, qui donne toujours l'exemple de la
        servitude, la prêchoit aux autres sous le titre d'obéissance.'
        See also the remark of his great friend Joly (_Mém. de Joly_, p.
        209, edit. Petitot, 1825); and the account given by Tallemant des
        Réaux, who knew De Retz well, and had travelled with him,
        _Historiettes_, vol. vii. pp. 18-30. The same tendency is
        illustrated, though in a much smaller degree, by a conversation
        which Charles II., when in exile, held with De Retz, and which is
        preserved in _Clarendon's Hist. of the Rebellion_, p. 806, and is
        worth consulting merely as an instance of the purely secular view
        that De Retz always took of political affairs.

  [265] 'Cet homme singulier est le premier évêque en France qui ait fait
        une guerre civile sans avoir la religion pour prétexte.' _Siècle
        de Louis XIV_, in _[OE]uvres de Voltaire_, vol. xix. p. 261.

We have thus seen that, during the seventy years which succeeded the
accession of Henry IV., the French intellect developed itself in a
manner remarkably similar to that which took place in England. We have
seen that, in both countries, the mind, according to the natural
conditions of its growth, first doubted what it had long believed, and
then tolerated what it had long hated. That this was by no means an
accidental or capricious combination, is evident, not only from general
arguments, and from the analogy of the two countries, but also from
another circumstance of great interest. This is, that the order of
events, and as it were their relative proportions, were the same, not
only in reference to the increase of toleration, but also in reference
to the increase of literature and science. In both countries, the
progress of knowledge bore the same ratio to the decline of
ecclesiastical influence, although they manifested that ratio at
different periods. We had begun to throw off our superstitions somewhat
earlier than the French were able to do; and thus, being the first in
the field, we anticipated that great people in producing a secular
literature. Whoever will take the pains to compare the growth of the
French and English minds, will see that, in all the most important
departments, we were the first, I do not say in merit, but in the order
of time. In prose, in poetry, and in every branch of intellectual
excellence, it will be found, on comparison, that we were before the
French nearly a whole generation; and that, chronologically, the same
proportion was preserved as that between Bacon and Descartes, Hooker and
Pascal,[266] Shakespeare and Corneille, Massinger and Racine, Ben Jonson
and Molière, Harvey and Pecquet. These eminent men were all justly
celebrated in their respective countries; and it would perhaps be
invidious to institute a comparison between them. But what we have here
to observe is, that among those who cultivated the same department, the
greatest Englishman, in every instance, preceded the greatest Frenchman
by many years. The difference, running as it does, through all the
leading topics, is far too regular to be considered accidental. And as
few Englishmen of the present day will be so presumptuous as to suppose
that we possess any native and inherent superiority over the French, it
is evident that there must be some marked peculiarity in which the two
countries differed, and which has produced this difference, not in their
knowledge, but in the time at which their knowledge appeared. Nor does
the discovery of this peculiarity require much penetration. For,
notwithstanding that the French were more tardy than the English, still,
when the development had fairly begun, the antecedents of its success
were among both people precisely the same. It is, therefore, clear,
according to the commonest principles of inductive reasoning, that the
lateness of the development must be owing to the lateness of the
antecedent. It is clear that the French knew less because they believed
more.[267] It is clear that their progress was checked by the prevalence
of those feelings which are fatal to all knowledge, because, looking on
antiquity as the sole receptacle of wisdom, they degrade the present in
order that they may exaggerate the past: feelings which destroy the
prospects of man, stifle his hopes, damp his curiosity, chill his
energies, impair his judgment, and, under pretence of humbling the pride
of his reason, seek to throw him back into that more than midnight
darkness from which his reason alone has enabled him to emerge.

  [266] Hooker and Pascal may properly be classed together, as the two
        most sublime theological writers either country has produced; for
        Bossuet is as inferior to Pascal as Jeremy Taylor is inferior to

  [267] One of the most remarkable men they have ever possessed notices
        this connexion, which he expresses conversely, but with equal
        truth: 'moins on sait, moins on doute; moins on a découvert,
        moins on voit ce qui reste à découvrir.... Quand les hommes sont
        ignorans, il est aisé de tout savoir.' _Discours en Sorbonne_, in
        _[OE]uvres de Turgot_, vol. ii. pp. 65, 70.

The analogy thus existing between France and England, is, indeed, very
striking, and, so far as we have yet considered it, seems complete in
all its parts. To sum up the similarities in a few words, it may be
said, that both countries followed the same order of development in
their scepticism, in their knowledge, in their literature, and in their
toleration. In both countries, there broke out a civil war at the same
time, for the same object, and, in many respects, under the same
circumstances. In both, the insurgents, at first triumphant, were
afterwards defeated; and the rebellion being put down, the governments
of the two nations were fully restored almost at the same moment: in
1660 by Charles II.; in 1661, by Louis XIV.[268] But there the
similarity stopped. At this point there began a marked divergence
between the two countries;[269] which continued to increase for more
than a century, until it ended in England by the consolidation of the
national prosperity, in France by a revolution more sanguinary, more
complete, and more destructive, than any the world has ever seen. This
difference between the fortunes of such great and civilized nations is
so remarkable, that a knowledge of its causes becomes essential to a
right understanding of European history, and will be found to throw
considerable light on other events not immediately connected with it.
Besides this, such an inquiry, independently of its scientific interest,
will have a high practical value. It will show, what men seem only
recently to have begun to understand, that, in politics, no certain
principles having yet been discovered, the first conditions of success
are compromise, barter, expediency, and concession. It will show the
utter helplessness even of the ablest rulers, when they try to meet new
emergencies by old maxims. It will show the intimate connexion between
knowledge and liberty; between an increasing civilization and an
advancing democracy. It will show that, for a progressive nation, there
is required a progressive polity; that within certain limits, innovation
is the sole ground of security; that no institution can withstand the
flux and movements of society, unless it not only repairs its structure,
but also widens its entrance; and that, even in a material point of
view, no country can long remain either prosperous or safe, in which the
people are not gradually extending their power, enlarging their
privileges, and, so to say, incorporating themselves with the functions
of the state.

  [268] Mazarin, until his death in 1661, exercised complete authority
        over Louis. See _Siècle de Louis XIV_, in _[OE]uvres de
        Voltaire_, vol. xix. pp. 318, 319; and _Lavallée_, _Hist. des
        Français_, vol. iii. p. 195; so that, as Montglat says (_Mém._
        vol. iii. p. 111), 'On doit appeler ce temps-là le commencement
        du règne de Louis XIV.' The pompous manner in which, directly
        after the death of Mazarin, the king assumed the government, is
        related by Brienne, who was present. _Mém. de Brienne_, vol. ii.
        pp. 154-158.

  [269] By this I mean, that the divergence now first became clear to
        every observer; but the origin of the divergence dates from a
        much earlier period, as we shall see in the next chapter.

The tranquillity of England, and her freedom from civil war, are to be
ascribed to the recognition of these great truths;[270] while the
neglect of them has entailed upon other countries the most woful
calamities. On this account, therefore, if on no other, it becomes
interesting to ascertain how it was that the two nations we have been
comparing should, in regard to these truths, have adopted views
diametrically opposite, although, in other matters, their opinions, as
we have already seen, were very similar. Or, to state the question in
other words, we have to inquire how it was that the French, after
pursuing precisely the same course as the English, in their knowledge,
in their scepticism, and in their toleration, should have stopped short
in their politics; how it was that their minds, which had effected such
great things, should, nevertheless, have been so unprepared for liberty,
that, in spite of the heroic efforts of the Fronde, they not only fell
under the despotism of Louis XIV., but never cared to resist it; and, at
length, becoming slaves in their souls as well as in their bodies, they
grew proud of a condition which the meanest Englishman would have
spurned as an intolerable bondage.

  [270] That is to say, their practical recognition; theoretically, they
        are still denied by innumerable politicians, who, nevertheless,
        assist in carrying them into effect, fondly hoping that each
        innovation will be the last, and enticing men into reform under
        the pretext that by each change they are returning to the spirit
        of the ancient British constitution.

The cause of this difference is to be sought in the existence of that
spirit of protection which is so dangerous and yet so plausible, that it
forms the most serious obstacle with which advancing civilization has to
contend. This, which may truly be called an evil spirit, has always been
far stronger in France than in England. Indeed, among the French, it
continues, even to the present day, to produce the most mischievous
results. It is, as I shall hereafter point out, intimately connected
with that love of centralization which appears in the machinery of their
government, and in the spirit of their literature. It is this which
induces them to retain restrictions by which their trade has long been
troubled, and to preserve monopolies which, in our country, a freer
system has effectually destroyed. It is this which causes them to
interfere with the natural relation between producers and consumers; to
force into existence manufactures which otherwise would never arise, and
which, for that very reason, are not required; to disturb the ordinary
march of industry, and, under pretence of protecting their native
labourers, diminish the produce of labour by diverting it from those
profitable channels into which its own instincts always compel it to

When the protective principle is carried into trade, these are its
inevitable results. When it is carried into politics, there is formed
what is called a paternal government, in which supreme power is vested
in the sovereign, or in a few privileged classes. When it is carried
into theology, it produces a powerful church, and a numerous clergy, who
are supposed to be the necessary guardians of religion, and every
opposition to whom is resented as an insult to the public morals. These
are the marks by which protection may be recognized; and from a very
early period they have displayed themselves in France much more clearly
than in England. Without pretending to discover their precise origin, I
will, in the next chapter, endeavour to trace them back to a time
sufficiently remote to explain some of the discrepancies which, in this
respect existed between the two countries.

                    *       *       *       *       *

_Note to p. 93._ Descartes died in Sweden on a visit to Christina; so
that, strictly speaking, there is an error in the text. But this does
not affect the argument; because the works of Descartes, being eagerly
read in France, and not being prohibited, we must suppose that his
person would have been safe, had he remained in his own country. To burn
a heretic is a more decisive step than to suppress a book; and as the
French clergy were not strong enough to effect the latter, it is hardly
likely that they could have accomplished the former.

                               CHAPTER II.


When, towards the end of the fifth century, the Roman empire was broken
up, there followed, as is well known, a long period of ignorance and of
crime, in which even the ablest minds were immersed in the grossest
superstitions. During these, which are rightly called the Dark Ages, the
clergy were supreme: they ruled the consciences of the most despotic
sovereigns, and they were respected as men of vast learning, because
they alone were able to read and write; because they were the sole
depositaries of those idle conceits of which European science then
consisted; and because they preserved the legends of the saints and the
lives of the fathers, from which, as it was believed, the teachings of
divine wisdom might easily be gathered.

Such was the degradation of the European intellect for about five
hundred years, during which the credulity of men reached a height
unparalleled in the annals of ignorance. But at length the human reason,
that divine spark which even the most corrupt society is unable to
extinguish, began to display its power, and disperse the mists by which
it was surrounded. Various circumstances, which it would be tedious here
to discuss, caused this dispersion to take place at different times in
different countries. However, speaking generally, we may say that it
occurred in the tenth and eleventh centuries, and that by the twelfth
century there was no nation now called civilized, upon whom the light
had not begun to dawn.

It is from this point that the first great divergence between the
European nations took its rise. Before this time their superstition was
so great and universal, that it would avail little to measure the degree
of their relative darkness. Indeed, so low had they fallen, that, during
the earlier period, the authority of the clergy was in many respects an
advantage, as forming a barrier between the people and their rulers, and
as supplying the sole instance of a class that even made an approach to
intellectual pursuits. But when the great movement took place, when the
human reason began to rebel, the position of the clergy was suddenly
changed. They had been friendly to reasoning as long as the reasoning
was on their side.[271] While they were the only guardians of knowledge,
they were eager to promote its interests. Now, however, it was falling
from their hands: it was becoming possessed by laymen: it was growing
dangerous: it must be reduced to its proper dimensions. Then it was that
there first became general the inquisitions, the imprisonments, the
torturings, the burnings, and all the other contrivances by which the
church vainly endeavoured to stem the tide that had turned against
her.[272] From that moment there has been an unceasing struggle between
these two great parties,--the advocates of inquiry, and the advocates of
belief: a struggle which, however it may be disguised, and under
whatever forms it may appear, is at bottom always the same, and
represents the opposite interests of reason and faith, of scepticism and
credulity, of progress and reaction, of those who hope for the future,
and of those who cling to the past.

  [271] 'Toute influence qu'on accordait à la science ne pouvait, dans les
        premiers temps, qu'être favorable au clergé.' _Meyer_, _Institut.
        Judic._ vol. i. p. 498.

  [272] Early in the eleventh century the clergy first began
        systematically to repress independent inquiries by punishing men
        who attempted to think for themselves. Compare _Sismondi_, _Hist.
        des Français_, vol. iv. pp. 145, 146; _Neander's Hist. of the
        Church_, vol. vi. pp. 365, 366; _Prescott's Hist. of Ferdinand
        and Isabella_, vol. i. p. 261 note. Before this, such a policy,
        as Sismondi justly observes, was not required: 'Pendant plusieurs
        siècles, l'église n'avoit été troublée par aucune hérésie;
        l'ignorance étoit trop complète la soumission trop servile, la
        foi trop aveugle, pour que les questions qui avoient si long-temps
        exercé la subtilité des Grecs fussent seulement comprises par les
        Latins.' As knowledge advanced, the opposition between inquiry
        and belief became more marked: the church redoubled her efforts,
        and at the end of the twelfth century the popes first formally
        called on the secular power to punish heretics; and the earliest
        constitution addressed 'inquisitoribus hæreticæ pravitatis' is
        one by Alexander IV. _Meyer_, _Inst. Jud._ vol. ii. pp. 554, 556.
        See also on this movement, _Llorente_, _Hist. de l'Inquisition_,
        vol. i. p. 125, vol. iv. p. 284. In 1222 a synod assembled at
        Oxford caused an apostate to be burned; and this, says Lingard
        (_Hist. of England_, vol. ii. p. 148), 'is, I believe, the first
        instance of capital punishment in England on the ground of
        religion.' Compare _Wright's Biog. Brit. Lit._ vol. ii. p. 444.

This, then, is the great starting point of modern civilization. From the
moment that reason began, however faintly, to assert its supremacy, the
improvement of every people has depended upon their obedience to its
dictates, and upon the success with which they have reduced to its
standard the whole of their actions. To understand, therefore, the
original divergence of France and England, we must seek it in the
circumstances that took place when this, which may be called the great
rebellion of the intellect, was first clearly seen.

If now, with a view to such inquiry, we examine the history of Europe,
we shall find that just at this period there sprung up the feudal
system: a vast scheme of polity, which, clumsy and imperfect as it was,
supplied many of the wants of the rude people among whom it arose.[273]
The connexion between it and the decline of the ecclesiastical spirit
is very obvious. For the feudal system was the first great secular plan
that had been seen in Europe since the formation of the civil law: it
was the first comprehensive attempt which had been made, during more
than four hundred years, to organize society according to temporal, not
according to spiritual circumstances, the basis of the whole arrangement
being merely the possession of land, and the performance of certain
military and pecuniary services.[274]

  [273] Sir F. Palgrave (_English Commonwealth_, vol. ii. p. ccvi.) says,
        'it is generally admitted, by the best authorities, that from
        about the eleventh century benefices acquired the name of fiefs
        or feuds;' and Robertson (_State of Europe_, note viii. in
        _Works_, p. 393) supposes that the word _feudum_ does not occur
        before 1008. But according to M. Guizot (_Civilisation en
        France_, vol. iii. p. 238), 'il apparaît, pour la première fois,
        dans une charte de Charles le Gros en 884.' This is a question
        more curious than important; since whatever the origin of the
        word may be, it is certain that the thing did not, and could not,
        exist before the tenth century at the earliest: inasmuch as the
        extreme disorganisation of society rendered so coercive an
        institution impossible. M. Guizot, in another work (_Essais sur
        l'Hist. de France_, p. 239), rightly says, 'Au X^e siècle
        seulement, les rapports et les pouvoirs sociaux acquirent quelque
        fixité.' See also his _Civilisation en Europe_, p. 90.

  [274] 'La terre est tout dans ce système.... Le système féodal est comme
        une religion de la terre.' _Origines du Droit_, in _[OE]uvres de
        Michelet_, vol. ii. p. 302. 'Le caractère de la féodalité,
        c'était la prédominance de la _réalité_ sur la _personnalité_, de
        la terre sur l'homme.' _Eschbach_, _Etude du Droit_, p. 256.

This was, no doubt, a great step in European civilization, because it
set the first example of a large public polity in which the spiritual
classes as such had no recognized place;[275] and hence there followed
that struggle between feudality and the church, which has been observed
by several writers, but the origin of which has been strangely
overlooked. What, however, we have now to notice is, that by the
establishment of the feudal system, the spirit of protection, far from
being destroyed, was probably not even weakened, but only assumed a new
form. Instead of being spiritual, it became temporal. Instead of men
looking up to the church, they looked up to the nobles. For, as a
necessary consequence of this vast movement, or rather as a part of it,
the great possessors of land were now being organized into an hereditary
aristocracy.[276] In the tenth century, we find the first surnames:[277]
by the eleventh century most of the great offices had become hereditary
in the leading families:[278] and in the twelfth century armorial
bearings were invented, as well as other heraldic devices, which long
nourished the conceit of the nobles, and were valued by their
descendants as marks of that superiority of birth to which, during many
ages, all other superiority was considered subordinate.[279]

  [275] According to the social and political arrangements from the fourth
        to the tenth century, the clergy were so eminently a class apart,
        that they were freed from 'burdens of the state,' and were not
        obliged to engage in military services unless they thought proper
        to do so. See _Neander's Hist. of the Church_, vol. iii. p. 195,
        vol. v. pp. 133, 140; and _Petrie's Ecclesiast. Archit._ p. 382.
        But under the feudal system this immunity was lost; and in regard
        to performing services no separation of classes was admitted.
        'After the feudal polity became established, we do not find that
        there was any dispensation for ecclesiastical fiefs.' _Hallam's
        Supplemental Notes_, p. 120; and for further proof of the loss of
        the old privileges, compare _Grose's Military Antiquities_, vol.
        i. pp. 5, 64; _Meyer_, _Instit. Judic._ vol. i. p. 257; _Turner's
        Hist. of England_, vol. iv. p. 462; and _Mably's Observations_,
        vol. i. pp. 434, 435: so that, as this writer says, p. 215,
        'Chaque seigneur laïc avait gagné personnellement à la révolution
        qui forma le gouvernement féodal; mais les évêques et les abbés,
        en devenant souverains dans leurs terres, perdirent au contraire
        beaucoup de leur pouvoir et de leur dignité.'

  [276] The great change of turning life-possessions of land into
        hereditary possessions, began late in the ninth century, being
        initiated in France by a capitulary of Charles the Bald, in 877.
        See _Allen on the Prerogative_, p. 210; _Spence's Origin of the
        Laws of Europe_, pp. 282, 301; _Meyer_, _Instit. Judiciaires_,
        vol. i. p. 206.

  [277] That surnames first arose in the tenth century is stated by the
        most competent authorities. See _Sismondi_, _Hist. de Français_,
        vol. iii. pp. 452-455; _Hallam's Middle Ages_, vol. i. p. 138;
        _Monteil_, _Hist. des divers Etats_, vol. iii. p. 268; _Petrie's
        Ecclesiast. Archit._ pp. 277, 342. Koch (_Tableau des
        Révolutions_, vol. i. p. 138) erroneously says, 'c'est
        pareillement aux croisades que l'Europe doit l'usage des surnoms
        de famille;' a double mistake, both as to the date and the cause,
        since the introduction of surnames being part of a large social
        movement, can under no circumstances be ascribed to a single

  [278] On this process from the end of the ninth to the twelfth century,
        compare _Hallam's Supplemental Notes_, pp. 97, 98; _Dalrymple's
        Hist. of Feudal Property_, p. 21; _Klimrath_, _Hist. du Droit_,
        vol. i. p. 74.

  [279] As to the origin of armorial bearings, which cannot be traced
        higher than the twelfth century, see _Hallam's Middle Ages_, vol.
        i. pp. 138, 139; _Ledwich_, _Antiquities of Ireland_, pp. 231,
        232; _Origines du Droit_, in _[OE]uvres de Michelet_, vol. ii. p.

Such was the beginning of the European aristocracy, in the sense in
which that word is commonly used. With the consolidation of its power,
feudality was made, in reference to the organization of society, the
successor of the church;[280] and the nobles, becoming hereditary,
gradually displaced in government, and in the general functions of
authority, the clergy, among whom the opposite principle of celibacy was
now firmly established.[281] It is, therefore, evident, that an inquiry
into the origin of the modern protective spirit does, in a great
measure, resolve itself into an inquiry into the origin of the
aristocratic power; since that power was the exponent, and, as it were,
the cover under which the spirit displayed itself. This, as we shall
hereafter see, is likewise connected with the great religious rebellion
of the sixteenth century; the success of which mainly depended on the
weakness of the protective principle that opposed it. But, reserving
this for future consideration, I will now endeavour to trace a few of
the circumstances which gave the aristocracy more power in France than
in England, and thus accustomed the French to a closer and more constant
obedience, and infused into them a more reverential spirit than that
which was usual in our country.

  [280] For, as Lerminia says (_Philos. du Droit_, vol. i. p. 17), 'la loi
        féodale n'est autre chose que la terre élevée à la souveraineté.'
        On the decline of the church in consequence of the increased
        feudal and secular spirit, see _Sismondi_, _Hist. des Français_,
        vol. iii. p. 440, vol. iv. p. 88. In our own country, one fact
        may be mentioned illustrative of the earliest encroachments of
        laymen: namely, that, before the twelfth century, we find no
        instance in England of the great seal being entrusted 'to the
        keeping of a layman.' _Campbell's Chancellors_, vol. i. p. 61.

  [281] Celibacy, on account of its supposed ascetic tendency, was
        advocated and in some countries was enforced, at an early period;
        but the first general and decisive movement in its favour was in
        the middle of the eleventh century, before which time it was a
        speculative doctrine, constantly disobeyed. See _Neander's Hist.
        of the Church_, vol. vi. pp. 52, 61, 62, 72, 93, 94 note, vol.
        vii. pp. 127-131; _Mosheim's Eccles. Hist._ vol. i. pp. 248, 249;
        _Eccleston's English Antiq._ p. 95.

Soon after the middle of the eleventh century, and therefore while the
aristocracy was in the process of formation, England was conquered by
the Duke of Normandy, who naturally introduced the polity existing in
his own country.[282] But, in his hands, it underwent a modification
suitable to the new circumstances in which he was placed. He, being in a
foreign country, the general of a successful army composed partly of
mercenaries,[283] was able to dispense with some of those feudal usages
which were customary in France. The great Norman lords, thrown as
strangers into the midst of a hostile population, were glad to accept
estates from the crown on almost any terms that would guarantee their
own security. Of this, William naturally availed himself. For, by
granting baronies on conditions favourable to the crown, he prevented
the barons[284] from possessing that power which they exercised in
France, and which, but for this, they would have exercised in England.
The result was, that the most powerful of our nobles became amenable to
the law, or, at all events, to the authority of the king.[285] Indeed,
to such an extent was this carried, that William, shortly before his
death, obliged all the landowners to render their fealty to him; thus
entirely neglecting that peculiarity of feudalism, according to which
each vassal was separately dependent on his own lord.[286]

  [282] Where it was particularly flourishing: 'la féodalité fut organisée
        en Normandie plus fortement et plus systématiquement que partout
        ailleurs en France.' _Klimrath_, _Travaux sur l'Hist. du Droit_,
        vol. i. p. 130. The 'coutume de Normandie' was, at a much later
        period, only to be found in the old 'grand coutumier.'
        _Klimrath_, vol. ii. p. 160. On the peculiar tenacity with which
        the Normans clung to it, see _Lettres d'Aguesseau_, vol. ii. pp.
        225, 226: 'accoutumés à respecter leur coutume comme l'évangile.'

  [283] _Mills' Hist. of Chivalry_, vol. i. p. 387; _Turner's Hist. of
        England_, vol. ii. p. 390, vol. iv. p. 76. Mercenary troops were
        also employed by his immediate successors. _Grose's Military
        Antiq._ vol. i. p. 55.

  [284] On the different meanings attached to the word 'baron,' compare
        _Klimrath_, _Hist. du Droit_, vol. ii. p. 40, with _Meyer_,
        _Instit. Judiciaires_, vol. i. p. 105. But M. Guizot says, what
        seems most likely, 'il est probable que ce nom fut commun
        originairement à tous les vassaux immédiats de la couronne, liés
        au roi _per servitium militare_, par le service de chevalier.'
        _Essais_, p. 265.

  [285] _Meyer_, _Instit. Judic._ vol. i. p. 242; _Turner's Hist. of
        England_, vol. iii. p. 220. The same policy of reducing the
        nobles was followed up by Henry II., who destroyed the baronial
        castles. _Turner_, vol. iv. p. 223. Compare _Lingard_, vol. i.
        pp. 315, 371.

  [286] 'Deinde c[oe]pit homagia hominum totius Angliæ, et juramentum
        fidelitatis cujuscumque essent feodi vel tenementi.' _Matthæi
        Westmonast. Flores Historiarum_, vol. ii. p. 9.

But in France, the course of affairs was very different. In that country
the great nobles held their lands, not so much by grant, as by
prescription.[287] A character of antiquity was thus thrown over their
rights; which, when added to the weakness of the crown, enabled them to
exercise on their own estates, all the functions of independent
sovereigns.[288] Even when they received their first great check, under
Philip Augustus,[289] they, in his reign, and indeed long after, wielded
a power quite unknown in England. Thus, to give only two instances: the
right of coining money, which has always been regarded as an attribute
of sovereignty, was never allowed in England, even to the greatest
nobles.[290] But in France it was exercised by many persons
independently of the crown, and was not abrogated until the sixteenth
century.[291] A similar remark holds good of what was called the right
of private war; by virtue of which the nobles were allowed to attack
each other, and disturb the peace of the country with the prosecution of
their private feuds. In England the aristocracy were never strong enough
to have this admitted as a right,[292] though they too often exercised
it as a practice. But in France it became a part of the established law;
it was incorporated into the text-books of feudalism, and it is
distinctly recognized by Louis IX. and Philip the Fair,--two kings of
considerable energy, who did every thing in their power to curtail the
enormous authority of the nobles.[293]

  [287] See some good remarks on this difference between the French and
        English nobles, in _Hallam's Middle Ages_, vol. ii. pp. 99, 100.
        Mably (_Observations_, vol. i. p. 60) says: 'en effet, on
        négligea, sur la fin de la première race, de conserver les titres
        primordiaux de ses possessions.' As to the old customary French
        law of prescription, see _Giraud_, _Précis de l'Ancien Droit_,
        pp. 79, 80.

  [288] _Mably_, _Observations sur l'Hist. de France_, vol. i. pp. 70,
        162, 178.

  [289] On the policy of Philip Augustus in regard to the nobles, see
        _Mably_, _Observations_, vol. i. p. 246; _Lerminier_, _Philos. du
        Droit_, vol. i. p. 265; _Boulainvilliers_, _Hist. de l'Ancien
        Gouvernement_, vol. iii. pp. 147-150; _Guizot_, _Civilisation en
        France_, vol. iv. pp. 134, 135; _Courson_, _Hist. des Peuples
        Brétons_, Paris, 1846, vol. ii. p. 350.

  [290] 'No subjects ever enjoyed the right of coining silver in England
        without the royal stamp and superintendence; a remarkable proof
        of the restraint in which the feudal aristocracy was always held
        in this country.' _Hallam's Middle Ages_, vol. i. p. 154.

  [291] _Brougham's Polit. Philos._ 1849, vol. i. p. 446. In addition to
        the evidence there given on the right of coinage, see _Mably's
        Observations_, vol. i. p. 424, vol. ii. pp. 296, 297; and
        _Turner's Normandy_, vol. ii. p. 261.

  [292] _Hallam's Supplemental Notes_, pp. 304, 305.

  [293] 'Saint-Louis consacra le droit de guerre.... Philippe le Bel, qui
        voulut l'abolir, finit par le rétablir.' _Montlosier_, _Monarchie
        Française_, vol. i. pp. 127, 202: see also pp. 434, 435, and vol.
        ii. pp. 435, 436. Mably (_Observations_, vol. ii. p. 338)
        mentions 'lettres-patentes de Philippe-de-Valois du 8 février
        1330, pour permettre dans le duché d'Aquitaine les guerres
        privées,' &c.; and he adds, 'le 9 avril 1353 le roi Jean
        renouvelle l'ordonnance de S. Louis, nommée la quarantaine du
        roi, touchant les guerres privées.'

Out of this difference between the aristocratic power of France and
England, there followed many consequences of great importance. In our
country the nobles, being too feeble to contend with the crown, were
compelled, in self-defence, to ally themselves with the people.[294]
About a hundred years after the Conquest, the Normans and Saxons
amalgamated; and both parties united against the king in order to uphold
their common rights.[295] The Magna Charta, which John was forced to
yield contained concessions to the aristocracy; but its most important
stipulations were those in favour of 'all classes of freemen.'[296]
Within half a century, fresh contests broke out; the barons were again
associated with the people, and again there followed the same
results,--the extension of popular privileges being each time the
condition and the consequence of this singular alliance. In the same
way, when the Earl of Leicester raised a rebellion against Henry III.,
he found his own party too weak to make head against the crown. He,
therefore, applied to the people:[297] and it is to him that our House
of Commons owes its origin; since he, in 1264, set the first example of
issuing writs to cities and boroughs; thus calling upon citizens and
burgesses to take their place in what had hitherto been a parliament
composed entirely of priests and nobles.[298]

  [294] Sir Francis Palgrave (in his _Rise and Progress of the English
        Commonwealth_, vol. i. pp. 51-55) has attempted to estimate the
        results produced by the Norman Conquest; but he omits to notice
        this, which was the most important consequence of all.

  [295] On this political union between Norman barons and Saxon citizens,
        of which the first clear indication is at the end of the twelfth
        century, compare _Campbell's Chancellors_, vol. i. p. 113, with
        _Brougham's Polit. Philos._ vol. i. p. 339, vol. iii. p. 222.

In regard to the general question of the amalgamation of races, we have
three distinct kinds of evidence:

1st. Towards the end of the twelfth century, a new language began to be
formed by blending Norman with Saxon; and English literature, properly
so called, dates from the commencement of the thirteenth century.
Compare _Madden's Preface to Layamon_, 1847, vol. i. pp. xx. xxi., with
_Turner's Hist. of England_, vol. viii. pp. 214, 217, 436, 437.

2nd. We have the specific statement of a writer in the reign of Henry
II., that 'sic permixtæ sunt nationes ut vix discerni possit hodie, de
liberis loquor, quis Anglicus, quis Normannus sit genere.' _Note in
Hallam's Middle Ages_, vol. ii. p. 106.

3rd. Before the thirteenth century had passed away, the difference of
dress, which in that state of society would survive many other
differences, was no longer observed, and the distinctive peculiarities
of Norman and Saxon attire had disappeared. See _Strutt's View of the
Dress and Habits of the People of England_, vol. ii. p. 67, edit.
Planché, 1842, 4to.

  [296] 'An equal distribution of civil rights to all classes of freemen
        forms the peculiar beauty of the charter.' _Hallam's Middle
        Ages_, vol. ii. p. 108. This is very finely noticed in one of
        Lord Chatham's great speeches. _Parl. Hist._ vol. xvi. p. 662.

  [297] Compare _Meyer_, _Instit. Judic._ vol. ii. p. 39, with _Lingard's
        England_, vol. ii. p. 127, and _Somers Tracts_, vol. vi. p. 92.

  [298] 'He is to be honoured as the founder of a representative system of
        government in this country.' _Campbell's Chief-Justices_, vol. i.
        p. 61. Some writers (see, for instance, _Dalrymple's Hist. of
        Feudal Property_, p. 332) suppose that burgesses were summoned
        before the reign of Henry III.: but this assertion is not only
        unsupported by evidence, but is in itself improbable; because at
        an early period the citizens, though rapidly increasing in power,
        were hardly important enough to warrant such a step being taken.
        The best authorities are now agreed to refer the origin of the
        House of Commons to the period mentioned in the text. See
        _Hallam's Supplement_, _Notes_, pp. 335-339; _Spence's Origin of
        the Laws of Europe_, p. 512; _Campbell's Chancellors_, vol. i. p.
        155; _Lingard's England_, vol. ii. p. 138; _Guizot's Essais_, p.
        319. The notion of tracing this to the wittenagemot is as absurd
        as finding the origin of juries in the system of compurgators;
        both of which were favourite errors in the seventeenth, and even
        in the eighteenth century. In regard to the wittenagemot, this
        idea still lingers among antiquaries: but, in regard to
        compurgators, even they have abandoned their old ground, and it
        is now well understood that trial by jury did not exist till long
        after the Conquest. Compare _Palgrave's English Commonwealth_,
        part i. pp. 243 seq., with _Meyer_, _Instit. Judic._ vol. ii. pp.
        152-173. There are few things in our history so irrational as the
        admiration expressed by a certain class of writers for the
        institutions of our barbarous Anglo-Saxon ancestors.

The English aristocracy being thus forced, by their own weakness, to
rely on the people,[299] it naturally followed, that the people imbibed
that tone of independence, and that lofty bearing, of which our civil
and political institutions are the consequence, rather than the cause.
It is to this, and not to any fanciful peculiarity of race, that we owe
the sturdy and enterprising spirit for which the inhabitants of this
island have long been remarkable. It is this which has enabled us to
baffle all the arts of oppression, and to maintain for centuries
liberties which no other nation has ever possessed. And it is this which
has fostered and upheld those great municipal privileges, which,
whatever be their faults, have, at least, the invaluable merit of
accustoming free men to the exercise of power, giving to citizens the
management of their own city, and perpetuating the idea of independence,
by preserving it in a living type, and by enlisting in its support the
interests and affections of individual men.

  [299] Montlosier, with the fine spirit of a French noble, taunts the
        English aristocracy with this: 'En France la noblesse, attaquée
        sans cesse, s'est défendue sans cesse. Elle a subi l'oppression;
        elle ne l'a point acceptée. En Angleterre, elle a couru dès la
        première commotion, se réfugier dans les rangs des bourgeois, et
        sous leur protection. Elle a abdiqué ainsi son existence.'
        _Montlosier_, _Monarchie Française_, vol. iii. p. 162. Compare an
        instructive passage in _De Staël_, _Consid. sur la Révolution_,
        vol. i. p. 421.

But the habits of self-government which, under these circumstances, were
cultivated in England, were, under opposite circumstances, neglected in
France. The great French lords being too powerful to need the people,
were unwilling to seek their alliance.[300] The result was, that, amid a
great variety of forms and names, society was, in reality, only divided
into two classes--the upper and the lower, the protectors and the
protected. And, looking at the ferocity of the prevailing manners, it
is not too much to say, that in France, under the feudal system, every
man was either a tyrant or a slave. Indeed, in most instances, the two
characters were combined in the same person. For, the practice of
subinfeudation, which in our country was actively checked, became in
France almost universal.[301] By this, the great lords having granted
lands on condition of fealty and other services to certain persons,
these last subgranted them; that is, made them over on similar
conditions to other persons, who had likewise the power of bestowing
them on a fourth party, and so on in an endless series;[302] thus
forming a long chain of dependence, and, as it were, organizing
submission into a system.[303] In England, on the other hand, such
arrangements were so unsuited to the general state of affairs, that it
is doubtful if they were ever carried on to any extent; and, at all
events, it is certain that, in the reign of Edward I., they were finally
stopped by the statute known to lawyers as _Quia emptores_.[304]

  [300] See some good remarks in _Mably_, _Observations sur l'Hist. de
        France_, vol. iii. pp. 114, 115.

  [301] _Hallam's Middle Ages_, vol. i. p. 111.

  [302] 'Originally there was no limit to subinfeudation.' _Brougham's
        Polit. Philos._ vol. i. p. 279.

  [303] A living French historian boasts that, in his own country, 'toute
        la société féodale formait ainsi une échelle de clientelle et de
        patronage.' _Cassagnac_, _Révolution Française_, vol. i. p. 459.

  [304] This is 18 Edw. I. c. 1; respecting which, see _Blackstone's
        Comment._ vol. ii. p. 91, vol. iv. p. 425; _Reeve's Hist. of
        English Law_, vol. ii. p. 223; _Dalrymple's Hist. of Feudal
        Property_, pp. 102, 243, 340.

Thus early was there a great social divergence between France and
England. The consequences of this were still more obvious when, in the
fourteenth century, the feudal system rapidly decayed in both countries.
For in England, the principle of protection being feeble, men were in
some degree accustomed to self-government; and they were able to hold
fast by those great institutions which would have been ill adapted to
the more obedient habits of the French people. Our municipal privileges,
the rights of our yeomanry, and the security of our copyholders, were,
from the fourteenth to the seventeenth centuries, the three most
important guarantees for the liberties of England.[305] In France such
guarantees were impossible. The real division being between those who
were noble, and those who were not noble, no room was left for the
establishment of intervening classes; but all were compelled to fall
into one of these two great ranks.[306] The French have never had any
thing answering to our yeomanry; nor were copyholders recognized by
their laws. And, although they attempted to introduce into their
country municipal institutions, all such efforts were futile; for, while
they copied the forms of liberty, they lacked that bold and sturdy
spirit by which alone liberty can be secured. They had, indeed, its
image and superscription; but they wanted the sacred fire that warms the
image into life. Every thing else they possessed. The show and
appliances of freedom were there. Charters were granted to their towns,
and privileges conceded to their magistrates. All, however, was useless.
For it is not by the wax and parchment of lawyers that the independence
of men can be preserved. Such things are the mere externals; they set
off liberty to advantage; they are as its dress and paraphernalia, its
holiday-suit in times of peace and quiet. But, when the evil days set
in, when the invasions of despotism have begun, liberty will be
retained, not by those who can show the oldest deeds and the largest
charters, but by those who have been most inured to habits of
independence, most accustomed to think and act for themselves, and most
regardless of that insidious protection which the upper classes have
always been so ready to bestow, that, in many countries, they have now
left nothing worth the trouble to protect.

  [305] The history of the decay of that once most important class, the
        English yeomanry, is an interesting subject, and one for which I
        have collected considerable materials; at present, I will only
        say, that its decline was first distinctly perceptible in the
        latter half of the seventeenth century, and was consummated by
        the rapidly-increasing power of the commercial and manufacturing
        classes early in the eighteenth century. After losing their
        influence, their numbers naturally diminished, and they made way
        for other bodies of men, whose habits of mind were less
        prejudiced, and therefore better suited to that new state which
        society assumed in the last age. I mention this, because some
        writers regret the almost total destruction of the yeoman
        freeholders; overlooking the fact, that they are disappearing,
        not in consequence of any violent revolution or stretch of
        arbitrary power, but simply by the general march of affairs;
        society doing away with what it no longer requires. Compare
        _Kay's Social Condition of the People_, vol. i. pp. 43, 602, with
        a letter from Wordsworth in _Bunbury's Correspond. of Hanmer_,
        p. 440; a note in _Mill's Polit. Econ._ vol. i. pp. 311, 312;
        another in _Nichols's Lit. Anec._ vol. v. p. 323; and _Sinclair's
        Correspond._ vol. i. p. 229.

  [306] This is stated as an admitted fact by French writers living in
        different periods and holding different opinions; but all agreed
        as to there being only two divisions: 'comme en France on est
        toujours ou noble, ou roturier, et qu'il n'y a pas de milieu.'
        _Mém. de Rivarol_, p. 7. 'La grande distinction des nobles et des
        roturiers.' _Giraud_, _Précis de l'Ancien Droit_, p. 10. Indeed,
        according to the Coutumes, the nobles and roturiers attained
        their majority at different ages. _Klimrath_, _Hist. du Droit_,
        vol. ii. p. 249 (erroneously stated in _Story's Conflict of
        Laws_, pp. 56, 79, 114). See further respecting this capital
        distinction, _Mém. de Duplessis Mornay_, vol. ii. p. 230
        ('agréable à la noblesse et au peuple'); _[OE]uvres de Turgot_,
        vol. viii. pp. 222, 232, 237; _Bunbury's Correspond. of Hanmer_,
        p. 256; _Mably_, _Observations_, vol. iii. p. 263; and _Mercier
        sur Rousseau_, vol. i. p. 38: 'On étoit roturier, vilain, homme
        de néant, canaille, dès qu'on ne s'appelloit plus marquis, baron,
        comte, chevalier, etc.'

And so it was in France. The towns, with few exceptions, fell at the
first shock; and the citizens lost those municipal privileges which, not
being grafted on the national character, it was found impossible to
preserve. In the same way, in our country, power naturally, and by the
mere force of the democratic movement, fell into the hands of the House
of Commons; whose authority has ever since, notwithstanding occasional
checks, continued to increase at the expense of the more aristocratic
parts of the legislature. The only institution answering to this in
France was the States-General; which, however, had so little influence,
that, in the opinion of native historians, it was hardly to be called an
institution at all.[307] Indeed, the French were, by this time, so
accustomed to the idea of protection, and to the subordination which
that idea involves, that they were little inclined to uphold an
establishment which, in their constitution, was the sole representative
of the popular element. The result was, that, by the fourteenth century,
the liberties of Englishmen were secured;[308] and, since then, their
only concern has been to increase what they have already obtained. But
in that same century, in France, the protective spirit assumed a new
form; the power of the aristocracy was, in a great measure, succeeded by
the power of the crown; and there began that tendency to centralization
which, having been pushed still further, first under Louis XIV., and
afterwards under Napoleon, has become the bane of the French
people.[309] For by it the feudal ideas of superiority and submission
have long survived that barbarous age to which alone they were suited.
Indeed, by their transmigration, they seemed to have gained fresh
strength. In France, every thing is referred to one common centre, in
which all civil functions are absorbed. All improvements of any
importance, all schemes for bettering even the material condition of the
people must receive the sanction of government; the local authorities
not being considered equal to such arduous tasks. In order that inferior
magistrates may not abuse their power, no power is conferred upon them.
The exercise of independent jurisdiction is almost unknown. Every thing
that is done must be done at head quarters.[310] The government is
believed to see every thing, know every thing, and provide for every
thing. To enforce this monstrous monopoly there has been contrived a
machinery well worthy of the design. The entire country is covered by an
immense array of officials;[311] who, in the regularity of their
hierarchy, and in the order of their descending series, form an
admirable emblem of that feudal principle, which ceasing to be
territorial, has now become personal. In fact, the whole business of the
state is conducted on the supposition that no man either knows his own
interest, or is fit to take care of himself. So paternal are the
feelings of government, so eager for the welfare of its subjects, that
it has drawn within its jurisdiction the most rare, as well as the most
ordinary, actions of life. In order that the French may not make
imprudent wills, it has limited the right of bequest; and, for fear that
they should bequeath their property wrongly, it prevents them from
bequeathing the greater part of it at all. In order that society may be
protected by its police, it has directed that no one shall travel
without a passport. And when men are actually travelling, they are met
at every turn by the same interfering spirit, which, under pretence of
protecting their persons, shackles their liberty. Into another matter,
far more serious, the French have carried the same principle. Such is
their anxiety to protect society against criminals, that, when an
offender is placed at the bar of one of their courts, there is exhibited
a spectacle which is no idle boast to say we, in England, could not
tolerate for a single hour. There is seen a great public magistrate, by
whom the prisoner is about to be tried, examining him in order to
ascertain his supposed guilt, re-examining him, cross-examining him,
performing the duties, not of a judge, but of a prosecutor, and bringing
to bear against the unhappy man all the authority of his judicial
position, all his professional subtlety, all his experience, all the
dexterity of his practised understanding. This is, perhaps, the most
alarming of the many instances in which the tendencies of the French
intellect are shown; because it supplies a machinery ready for the
purposes of absolute power; because it brings the administration of
justice into disrepute, by associating with it an idea of unfairness;
and because it injures that calm and equable temper, which it is
impossible fully to maintain under a system that makes a magistrate an
advocate, and turns the judge into a partizan. But this, mischievous as
it is, only forms part of a far larger scheme. For, to the method by
which criminals are discovered, there is added an analogous method, by
which crime is prevented. With this view, the people, even in their
ordinary amusements, are watched and carefully superintended. Lest they
should harm each other by some sudden indiscretion, precautions are
taken similar to those with which a father might surround his children.
In their fairs, at their theatres, their concerts, and their other
places of public resort, there are always present soldiers, who are sent
to see that no mischief is done, that there is no unnecessary crowding,
that no one uses harsh language, that no one quarrels with his
neighbour. Nor does the vigilance of the government stop there. Even the
education of children is brought under the control of the state, instead
of being regulated by the judgment of masters or parents.[312] And the
whole plan is executed with such energy, that, as the French while men
are never let alone, just so while children they are never left
alone.[313] At the same time, it being reasonably supposed that the
adults thus kept in pupilage cannot be proper judges of their own food,
the government has provided for this also. Its prying eye follows the
butcher to the shambles, and the baker to the oven. By its paternal
hand, meat is examined lest it should be bad, and bread is weighed lest
it should be light. In short, without multiplying instances, with which
most readers must be familiar, it is enough to say that in France, as in
every country where the protective principle is active, the government
has established a monopoly of the worst kind; a monopoly which comes
home to the business and bosoms of men, follows them in their daily
avocations, troubles them with its petty, meddling spirit, and, what is
worse than all, diminishes their responsibility to themselves; thus
depriving them of what is the only real education that most minds
receive,--the constant necessity of providing for future contingencies,
and the habit of grappling with the difficulties of life.

  [307] 'Les états-généraux sont portés dans la liste de nos institutions.
        Je ne sais cependant s'il est permis de donner ce nom à des
        rassemblemens aussi irréguliers.' _Montlosier_, _Monarchie
        Française_, vol. i. p. 266. 'En France, les états-généraux, au
        moment même de leur plus grand éclat, c'est à dire dans le cours
        du xiv^e siècle, n'ont guère été que des accidents, un pouvoir
        national et souvent invoqué, mais non un établissement
        constitutionnel.' _Guizot_, _Essais_, p. 253. See also _Mably_,
        _Observations_, vol. iii. p. 147; and _Sismondi_, _Hist. des
        Français_, vol. xiv. p. 642.

  [308] This is frankly admitted by one of the most candid and enlightened
        of all the foreign writers on our history, _Guizot_, _Essais_, p.
        297: 'En 1307, les droits qui devaient enfanter en Angleterre un
        gouvernement libre étaient définitivement reconnus.'

  [309] See an account of the policy of Philip the Fair, in _Mably_,
        _Observations_, vol. ii. pp. 25-44; in _Boulainvilliers_, _Ancien
        Gouvernement_, vol. i. pp. 292, 314, vol. ii. pp. 37, 38; and in
        _Guizot_, _Civilisation en France_, vol. iv. pp. 170-192. M.
        Guizot says, perhaps too strongly, that his reign was 'la
        métamorphose de la royauté en despotisme,' On the connexion of
        this with the centralizing movement, see _Tocqueville's
        Démocratie_, vol. i. p. 307: 'Le goût de la centralisation et la
        manie réglementaire remontent, en France, à l'époque où les
        légistes sont entrés dans le gouvernement; ce qui nous reporte au
        temps de Philippe le Bel.' Tennemann also notices, that in his
        reign the 'Rechtstheorie' began to exercise influence; but this
        learned writer takes a purely metaphysical view, and has
        therefore misunderstood the more general social tendency. _Gesch.
        der Philos._ vol. viii. p. 823.

  [310] As several writers on law notice this system with a lenient eye
        _Origines du Droit Français_, in _[OE]uvres de Michelet_, vol. ii.
        p. 321; and _Eschbach_, _Etude du Droit_, p. 129: 'le système
        énergique de la centralisation', it may be well to state how it
        actually works.

        Mr. Bulwer, writing twenty years ago, says: 'Not only cannot a
        commune determine its own expenses without the consent of the
        minister or one of his deputed functionaries, it cannot even
        erect a building, the cost of which shall have been sanctioned,
        without the plan being adopted by a board of public works
        attached to the central authority, and having the supervision and
        direction of every public building throughout the Kingdom.'
        _Bulwer's Monarchy of the Middle Classes_, 1836, vol. ii. p. 262.

        M. Tocqueville, writing in the present year (1856), says, 'Sous
        l'ancien régime, _comme de nos jours_, il n'y avait ville, bourg,
        village, ni si petit hameau en France, hôpital, fabrique, couvent
        ni collège, qui pût avoir une volonté indépendante dans ses
        affaires particulières, ni administrer à sa volonté ses propres
        biens. Alors, _comme aujourd'hui_, l'administration tenait donc
        tous les Français en tutelle, et si l'insolence du mot ne s'était
        pas encore produite, on avait du moins déjà la chose.'
        _Tocqueville_, _l'Ancien Régime_, 1856, pp. 79, 80.

  [311] The number of civil functionaries in France, who are paid by the
        government to trouble the people, passes all belief, being
        estimated, at different periods during the present century, at
        from 138,000 to upwards of 800,000. _Tocqueville_, _de la
        Démocratie_, vol. i. p. 220; _Alison's Europe_, vol. xiv. pp. 127,
        140; _Kay's Condition of the People_, vol. i. p. 272; _Laing's
        Notes_, 2d series, p. 185. Mr. Laing, writing in 1850, says: 'In
        France, at the expulsion of Louis Philippe, the civil
        functionaries were stated to amount to 807,030 individuals.'

  [312] 'The government in France possesses control over all the education
        of the country, with the exception of the colleges for the
        education of the clergy, which are termed seminaries, and their
        subordinate institutions.' _Report on the State of Superior
        Education in France in_ 1843, in _Journal of Statist. Soc._ vol.
        vi. p. 304. On the steps taken during the power of Napoleon, see
        _Alison's Europe_, vol. viii. p. 203: 'Nearly the whole education
        of the empire was brought effectually under the direction and
        appointment of government.'

  [313] Much attention is paid to the _surveillance_ of pupils; it being a
        fundamental principle of French education, that children should
        never be left alone. _Report on General Education in France in_
        1842, in _Journal of Statist. Soc._ vol. v. p. 20.

The consequence of all this has been, that the French, though a great
and splendid people,--a people full of mettle, high-spirited, abounding
in knowledge, and perhaps less oppressed by superstition than any other
in Europe,--have always been found unfit to exercise political power.
Even when they have possessed it, they have never been able to combine
permanence with liberty. One of these two elements has always been
wanting. They have had free governments, which have not been stable.
They have had stable governments, which have not been free. Owing to
their fearless temper, they have rebelled, and no doubt will continue to
rebel, against so evil a condition.[314] But it does not need the tongue
of a prophet to tell that, for at least some generations, all such
efforts must be unsuccessful. For men can never be free, unless they are
educated to freedom. And this is not the education which is to be found
in schools, or gained from books; but it is that which consists in
self-discipline, in self-reliance, and in self-government. These, in
England, are matters of hereditary descent--traditional habits, which we
imbibe in our youth, and which regulate us in the conduct of life. The
old associations of the French all point in another direction. At the
slightest difficulty, they call on the government for support. What with
us is competition, with them is monopoly. That which we effect by
private companies, they effect by public boards. They cannot cut a
canal, or lay down a railroad, without appealing to the government for
aid. With them, the people look to the rulers; with us, the rulers look
to the people. With them, the executive is the centre from which society
radiates;[315] with us, society is the instigator, and the executive the
organ. The difference in the result has corresponded with the difference
in the process. We have been made fit for political power, by the long
exercise of civil rights; they, neglecting the exercise, think they can
at once begin with the power. We have always shown a determination to
uphold our liberties, and, when the times are fitting, to increase them;
and this we have done with a decency and a gravity natural to men to
whom such subjects have long been familiar. But the French, always
treated as children, are, in political matters, children still. And as
they have handled the most weighty concerns in that gay and volatile
spirit which adorns their lighter literature, it is no wonder that they
have failed in matters where the first condition of success is, that men
should have been long accustomed to rely upon their own energies, and
that before they try their skill in a political struggle, their
resources should have been sharpened by that preliminary discipline,
which a contest with the difficulties of civil life can never fail to

  [314] A distinguished French author says: 'La France souffre du mal du
        siècle; elle en est plus malade qu'aucun autre pays; ce mal c'est
        la haine de l'autorité.' _Custine_, _Russie_, vol. ii. p. 136.
        Compare, _Rey_, _Science Sociale_, vol. ii. p. 86 note.

  [315] It is to the activity of this protective and centralizing spirit
        that we must ascribe, what a very great authority noticed thirty
        years ago, as 'le défaut de spontanéité, qui caractérise les
        institutions de la France moderne.' _Meyer_, _Instit. Judic._
        vol. iv. p. 536. It is also this which, in literature and in
        science, makes them favour the establishment of academies; and it
        is probably to the same principle that their jurists owe their
        love of codification. All these are manifestations of an
        unwillingness to rely on the general march of affairs, and show
        an undue contempt for the unaided conclusions of private men.

These are among the considerations by which we must be guided, in
estimating the probable destinies of the great countries of Europe. But
what we are now rather concerned with is, to notice how the opposite
tendencies of France and England long continued to be displayed in the
condition and treatment of their aristocracy; and how from this there
naturally followed some striking differences between the war conducted
by the Fronde, and that waged by the Long Parliament.

When, in the fourteenth century, the authority of the French kings began
rapidly to increase, the political influence of the nobility was, of
course, correspondingly diminished. What, however, proves the extent to
which their power had taken root, is the undoubted fact, that,
notwithstanding this to them unfavourable circumstance, the people were
never able to emancipate themselves from their control.[316] The
relation the nobles bore to the throne became entirely changed; that
which they bore to the people remained almost the same. In England,
slavery, or villenage, as it is mildly termed, quickly diminished, and
was extinct by the end of the sixteenth century.[317] In France, it
lingered on two hundred years later, and was only destroyed in that
great Revolution by which the possessors of ill-gotten power were called
to so sharp an account.[318] Thus, too, until the last seventy years,
the nobles were in France exempt from those onerous taxes which
oppressed the people. The taille and corvée were heavy and grievous
exactions, but they fell solely on men of ignoble birth;[319] for the
French aristocracy, being a high and chivalrous race, would have deemed
it an insult to their illustrious descent, if they had been taxed to the
same amount as those whom they despised as their inferiors.[320]
Indeed, every thing tended to nurture this general contempt. Every
thing was contrived to humble one class, and exalt the other. For the
nobles there were reserved the best appointments in the church, and also
the most important military posts.[321] The privilege of entering the
army as officers was confined to them;[322] and they alone possessed a
prescriptive right to belong to the cavalry.[323] At the same time, and
to avoid the least chance of confusion, an equal vigilance was displayed
in the most trifling matters, and care was taken to prevent any
similarity, even in the amusements of the two classes. To such a pitch
was this brought, that, in many parts of France, the right of having an
aviary or a dovecote depended entirely on a man's rank; and no
Frenchman, whatever his wealth might be, could keep pigeons, unless he
were a noble; it being considered that these recreations were too
elevated for persons of plebeian origin.[324]

  [316] Mably (_Observations_, vol. iii. pp. 154, 155, 352-362) has
        collected some striking evidence of the tyranny of the French
        nobles in the sixteenth century; and as to the wanton cruelty
        with which they exercised their power in the seventeenth century,
        see _Des Réaux_, _Historiettes_, vol. vii. p. 155, vol. viii. p.
        79, vol. ix. pp. 40, 61, 62, vol. x. pp. 255-257. In the
        eighteenth century, matters were somewhat better; but still the
        subordination was excessive, and the people were poor,
        ill-treated, and miserable. Compare _[OE]uvres de Turgot_, vol.
        iv. p. 139; _Letter from the Earl of Cork_, dated Lyons, 1754, in
        _Burton's Diary_, vol. iv. p. 80; the statement of Fox, in _Parl.
        Hist._ vol. xxxi. p. 406; _Jefferson's Correspond._ vol. ii. p.
        45; and _Smith's Tour on the Continent_, edit. 1793, vol. iii.
        pp. 201, 202.

  [317] Mr. Eccleston (_English Antiq._ p. 138) says, that in 1450
        'villenage had almost passed away;' and according to Mr. Thornton
        (_Over-Population_, p. 182), 'Sir Thomas Smith, who wrote about
        the year 1550, declares that he had never met with any personal
        or domestic slaves; and that the villains, or predial slaves,
        still to be found, were so few, as to be scarcely worth
        mentioning.' Mr. Hallam can find no 'unequivocal testimony to the
        existence of villenage' later than 1574. _Middle Ages_, vol. ii.
        p. 312; see, to the same effect, _Barrington on the Statutes_,
        pp. 308, 309. If, however, my memory does not deceive me, I have
        met with evidence of it in the reign of James I., but I cannot
        recall the passage.

  [318] M. Cassagnac (_Causes de la Révolution_, vol. iii. p. 11) says:
        'Chose surprenante, il y avait encore, au 4 août 1789, _un
        million cinq cent mille serfs de corps_;' and M. Giraud (_Précis
        de l'Ancien Droit_, Paris, 1852, p. 3), 'jusqu'à la révolution
        une division fondamentale partageait les personnes en personnes
        libres et personnes sujettes à condition servile.' A few years
        before the Revolution, this shameful distinction was abolished by
        Louis XVI. in his own domains. Compare _Eschbach_, _Etude du
        Droit_, pp. 271, 272, with _Du Mesnil_, _Mém. sur le Prince le
        Brun_, p. 94. I notice this particularly, because M. Monteil, a
        learned and generally accurate writer, supposes that the
        abolition took place earlier than it really did. _Hist. des
        divers Etats_, vol. vi. p. 101.

  [319] _Cassagnac_, _de la Révolution_, vol. i. pp. 122, 173; _Giraud_,
        _Ancien Droit_, p. 11; _Soulavie_, _Mém. de Louis XVI_, vol. vi.
        p. 156; _Mém. au Roi sur les Municipalités_, in _[OE]uvres de
        Turgot_, vol. vii. p. 423; _Mém. de Genlis_, vol. i. p. 200.

        Further information respecting the amount and nature of these
        vexatious impositions will be found in _De Thou_, _Hist. Univ._
        vol. xiii. p. 24, vol. xiv. p. 118; _Sainte-Aulaire_, _Hist. de
        la Fronde_, vol. i. p. 125; _Tocqueville_, _Ancien Régime_, pp.
        135, 191, 420, 440; _Sully_, _[OE]conomies Royales_, vol. ii. p.
        412, vol. iii. p. 226, vol. iv. p. 199, vol. v. pp. 339, 410,
        vol. vi. p. 94; _Relat. des Ambassad. Vénit._ vol. i. p. 96;
        _Mably_, _Observations_, vol. iii. pp. 355, 356;
        _Boulainvilliers_, _Ancien Gouvernement_, vol. iii. p. 109; _Le
        Vassor_, _Hist. de Louis XIII_, vol. ii. p. 29; _Mém. d'Omer
        Talon_, vol. ii. pp. 103, 369; _Mém. de Montglat_, vol. i. p. 82;
        _Tocqueville_, _Règne de Louis XV_, vol. i. pp. 87, 332;
        _[OE]uvres de Turgot_, vol. i. p. 372, vol. iv. pp. 58, 59, 74,
        75, 242, 278, vol. v. pp. 226, 242, vol. vi. p. 144, vol. viii.
        pp. 152, 280.

  [320] So deeply rooted were these feelings, that, even in 1789, the very
        year the Revolution broke out, it was deemed a great concession
        that the nobles 'will consent, indeed, to equal taxation.' See a
        letter from Jefferson to Jay, dated Paris, May 9th, 1789, in
        _Jefferson's Corresp._ vol. ii. pp. 462, 463. Compare _Mercier
        sur Rousseau_, vol. i. p. 136.

  [321] 'Les nobles, qui avaient le privilége exclusif des grandes
        dignités et des gros bénéfices.' _Mém. de Rivarol_, p. 97: see
        also _Mém. de Bouillé_, vol. i. p. 56; _Lemontey_,
        _Etablissement Monarchique_, p. 337; _Daniel_, _Hist. de la
        Milice Françoise_, vol. ii. p. 556; _Campan_, _Mém. sur
        Marie-Antoinette_, vol. i. pp. 238, 239.

  [322] 'L'ancien régime n'avait admis que des nobles pour officiers.'
        _Mém. de Roland_, vol. i. p. 398. Ségur mentions that, early in
        the reign of Louis XVI., 'les nobles seuls avaient le droit
        d'entrer au service comme sous-lieutenans.' _Mém. de Ségur_, vol.
        i. p. 65. Compare pp. 117, 265-271, with _Mém. de Genlis_,
        vol. iii. p. 74, and _De Staël_, _Consid. sur la Rév._ vol. i.
        p. 123.

  [323] Thus, De Thou says of Henry III., 'il remet sous l'ancien pied la
        cavalerie ordinaire, qui n'étoit composée que de la noblesse.'
        _Hist. Univ._ vol. ix. pp. 202, 203; and see vol. x. pp. 504,
        505, vol. xiii. p. 22; and an imperfect statement of the same
        fact in _Boullier_, _Hist. des divers Corps de la Maison
        Militaire des Rois de France_, Paris, 1818, p. 58, a superficial
        work on an uninteresting subject.

  [324] M. Tocqueville (_L'Ancien Régime_, p. 448) mentions, among other
        regulations still in force late in the eighteenth century, that
        'en Dauphiné, en Bretagne, en Normandie, il est prohibé à tout
        roturier d'avoir des colombiers, fuies et volière; il n'y a que
        les nobles qui puissent avoir des pigeons.'

Circumstances like these are valuable, as evidence of the state of
society to which they belong; and their importance will become
peculiarly obvious, when we compare them with the opposite condition of

For in England, neither these nor any similar distinctions have ever
been known. The spirit of which our yeomanry, copyholders, and free
burgesses were the representatives, proved far too strong for those
protective and monopolizing principles of which the aristocracy are the
guardians in politics, and the clergy in religion. And it is to the
successful opposition made by these feelings of individual independence
that we owe our two greatest national acts--our Reformation in the
sixteenth, and our Rebellion in the seventeenth century. Before,
however, tracing the steps taken in these matters, there is one other
point of view to which I wish to call attention, as a further
illustration of the early and radical difference between France and

In the eleventh century there arose the celebrated institution of
chivalry,[325] which was to manners what feudalism was to politics. This
connexion is clear, not only from the testimony of contemporaries, but
also from two general considerations. In the first place, chivalry was
so highly aristocratic, that no one could even receive knighthood unless
he were of noble birth;[326] and the preliminary education which was
held to be necessary was carried on either in schools appointed by the
nobles, or else in their own baronial castles.[327] In the second place,
it was essentially a protective, and not at all a reforming institution.
It was contrived with a view to remedy certain oppressions as they
successively arose; opposed in this respect to the reforming spirit,
which, being remedial rather than palliative, strikes at the root of an
evil by humbling the class from which the evil proceeds, passing over
individual cases in order to direct its attention to general causes. But
chivalry, so far from doing this, was in fact a fusion of the
aristocratic and the ecclesiastical forms of the protective spirit.[328]
For, by introducing among the nobles the principle of knighthood, which,
being personal, could never be bequeathed, it presented a point at which
the ecclesiastical doctrine of celibacy could coalesce with the
aristocratic doctrine of hereditary descent.[329] Out of this coalition
sprung results of great moment. It is to this that Europe owes those
orders, half aristocratic half religious,[330] the Knights Templars,
the Knights of St. James, the Knights of St. John, the Knights of St.
Michael: establishments which inflicted the greatest evils on society;
and whose members, combining analogous vices, enlivened the superstition
of monks with the debauchery of soldiers. As a natural consequence, an
immense number of noble knights were solemnly pledged to 'defend the
church;' an ominous expression, the meaning of which is too well known
to the readers of ecclesiastical history.[331] Thus it was that
chivalry, uniting the hostile principles of celibacy and noble birth,
became the incarnation of the spirit of the two classes to which those
principles belonged. Whatever benefit, therefore, this institution may
have conferred upon manners,[332] there can be no doubt that it actively
contributed to keep men in a state of pupilage, and stopped the march
of society by prolonging the term of its infancy.[333]

  [325] 'Dès la fin du onzième siècle, à l'époque même où commencèrent les
        croisades, on trouve la chevalerie établie.' _Koch_, _Tab. des
        Révolutions_, vol. i. p. 143; see also _Sainte-Palaye_, _Mém. sur
        la Chevalerie_, vol. i. pp. 42, 68. M. Guizot (_Civilis. en
        France_, vol. iii. pp. 349-354) has attempted to trace it back to
        an earlier period; but he appears to have failed, though of
        course its germs may be easily found. According to some writers
        it originated in northern Europe; according to others in Arabia!
        _Mallet's Northern Antiquities_, p. 202; _Journal of Asiat. Soc._
        vol. ii. p. 11.

  [326] 'L'ordre de chevalerie n'étoit accordé qu'aux hommes d'un sang
        noble.' _Sismondi_, _Hist. des Français_, vol. iv. p. 204.
        Compare _Daniel_, _Hist. de la Milice_, vol. i. p. 97, and
        _Mills' Hist. of Chivalry_, vol. i. p. 20.

  [327] 'In some places there were schools appointed by the nobles of the
        country, but most frequently their own castles served.' _Mills'
        Hist. of Chivalry_, vol. i. p. 31; and see _Sainte-Palaye_, _Mém.
        sur l'Anc. Chevalerie_, vol. i. pp. 30, 56, 57, on this

  [328] This combination of knighthood and religious rites is often
        ascribed to the crusades; but there is good evidence that it took
        place a little earlier, and must be referred to the latter half
        of the eleventh century. Compare _Mills' Hist. of Chivalry_, vol.
        i. pp. 10, 11; _Daniel_, _Hist. de la Milice_, vol. i. pp. 101,
        102, 108; _Boulainvilliers_, _Ancien Gouv._ vol. i. p. 326.
        Sainte-Palaye (_Mém. sur la Chevalerie_, vol. i. pp. 119-123),
        who has collected some illustrations of the relation between
        chivalry and the church, says, p. 119, 'enfin la chevalerie étoit
        regardée comme une ordination, un sacerdoce.' The superior clergy
        possessed the right of conferring knighthood, and William Rufus
        was actually knighted by Archbishop Lanfranc: 'Archiepiscopus
        Lanfrancus, eo quòd eum nutrierat, et militem fecerat.' _Will.
        Malmes._ lib. iv., in _Scriptores post Bedam_, p. 67. Compare
        _Fosbroke's British Monachism_, 1843, p. 101, on knighting by

  [329] The influence of this on the nobles is rather exaggerated by Mr.
        Mills; who, on the other hand, has not noticed how the
        unhereditary element was favourable to the ecclesiastical spirit.
        _Mills' Hist. of Chivalry_, vol. i. pp. 15, 389, vol. ii. p. 169;
        a work interesting as an assemblage of facts, but almost useless
        as a philosophic estimate.

  [330] 'In their origin all the military orders, and most of the
        religious ones, were entirely aristocratic.' _Mills' Hist. of
        Chivalry_, vol. i. p. 336.

  [331] _Mills' Hist. of Chivalry_, vol. i. pp. 148, 338. About the year
        1127, St. Bernard wrote a discourse in favour of the Knights
        Templars, in which 'he extols this order as a combination of
        monasticism and knighthood.... He describes the design of it as
        being to give the military order and knighthood a serious
        Christian direction, and to convert war into something that God
        might approve.' _Neander's Hist. of the Church_, vol. vii. p.
        358. To this may be added, that, early in the thirteenth century,
        a chivalric association was formed, and afterwards merged in the
        Dominican order, called the Militia of Christ: 'un nouvel ordre
        de chevalerie destiné à poursuivre les hérétiques, sur le modèle
        de celui des Templiers, et sous le nom de Milice de Christ.'
        _Llorente_, _Hist. de l'Inquisition_, vol. i. pp. 52, 133, 203.

  [332] Several writers ascribe to chivalry the merit of softening
        manners, and of increasing the influence of women.
        _Sainte-Palaye_, _Mém. sur la Chevalerie_, vol. i. pp. 220-223,
        282, 284, vol. iii. pp. vi. vii. 159-161; _Helvétius de
        l'Esprit_, vol. ii. pp. 50, 51; _Schlegel's Lectures_, vol. i. p.
        209. That there was such a tendency is, I think, indisputable;
        but it has been greatly exaggerated; and an author of
        considerable reading on these subjects says, 'The rigid treatment
        shown to prisoners of war in ancient times strongly marks the
        ferocity and uncultivated manners of our ancestors, and that even
        to ladies of high rank; notwithstanding the homage said to have
        been paid to the fair sex in those days of chivalry.' _Grose's
        Military Antiquities_, vol. ii. p. 114. Compare _Manning on the
        Law of Nations_, 1839, pp. 145, 146.

  [333] Mr. Hallam (_Middle Ages_, vol. ii. p. 464) says, 'A third
        reproach may be made to the character of knighthood, that it
        widened the separation between the different classes of society,
        and confirmed that aristocratical spirit of high birth, by which
        the large mass of mankind were kept in unjust degradation.'

On this account, it is evident that, whether we look at the immediate or
at the remote tendency of chivalry, its strength and duration become a
measure of the predominance of the protective spirit. If, with this
view, we compare France and England, we shall find fresh proof of the
early divergence of those countries. Tournaments, the first open
expression of chivalry, are of French origin.[334] The greatest and,
indeed, the only two great describers of chivalry are Joinville and
Froissart, both of whom were Frenchmen. Bayard, that famous chevalier,
who is always considered as the last representative of chivalry, was a
Frenchman, and was killed when fighting for Francis I. Nor was it until
nearly forty years after his death that tournaments were finally
abolished in France, the last one having been held in 1560.[335]

  [334] _Sismondi_, _Hist. des Français_, vol. iv. pp. 370, 371, 377;
        _Turner's Hist. of England_, vol. iv. p. 478; _Foncemagne_, _De
        l'Origine des Armoiries_, in _Mém. de l'Académie des
        Inscriptions_, vol. xx. p. 580. Koch also says (_Tableau des
        Révolutions_, vol. i. p. 139), 'c'est de la France que l'usage
        des tournois se répandit chez les autres nations de l'Europe.'
        They were first introduced into England in the reign of Stephen.
        _Lingard's England_, vol. ii. p. 27.

  [335] Mr. Hallam (_Middle Ages_, vol. ii. p. 470) says they were
        'entirely discontinued in France' in consequence of the death of
        Henry II.; but according to _Mills' Hist. of Chivalry_, vol. ii.
        p. 226, they lasted the next year; when another fatal accident
        occurred, and 'tournaments ceased for ever.' Compare
        _Sainte-Palaye sur la Chevalerie_, vol. ii. pp. 39, 40.

But in England, the protective spirit being much less active than in
France, we should expect to find that chivalry, as its offspring, had
less influence. And such was really the case. The honours that were paid
to knights, and the social distinctions by which they were separated
from the other classes, were never so great in our country as in
France.[336] As men became more free, the little respect they had for
such matters still further diminished. In the thirteenth century, and
indeed in the very reign in which burgesses were first returned to
parliament, the leading symbol of chivalry fell into such disrepute,
that a law was passed obliging certain persons to accept that rank of
knighthood which in other nations was one of the highest objects of
ambition.[337] In the fourteenth century, this was followed by another
blow, which deprived knighthood of its exclusively military character;
the custom having grown up in the reign of Edward III. of conferring it
on the judges in the courts of law, thus turning a warlike title into a
civil honour.[338] Finally, before the end of the fifteenth century, the
spirit of chivalry, in France still at its height, was in our country
extinct, and this mischievous institution had become a subject for
ridicule even among the people themselves.[339] To these circumstances
we may add two others, which seem worthy of observation. The first is,
that the French, notwithstanding their many admirable qualities, have
always been more remarkable for personal vanity than the English;[340] a
peculiarity partly referable to those chivalric traditions which even
their occasional republics have been unable to destroy, and which makes
them attach undue importance to external distinctions, by which I mean,
not only dress and manners, but also medals, ribbons, stars, crosses,
and the like, which we, a prouder people, have never held in such high
estimation. The other circumstance is, that duelling has from the
beginning been more popular in France than in England; and as this is a
custom which we owe to chivalry, the difference in this respect between
the two countries supplies another link in that long chain of evidence
by which we must estimate their national tendencies.[341]

  [336] Mr. Hallam (_Middle Ages_, vol. ii. p. 467) observes, that the
        knight, as compared with other classes, 'was addressed by titles
        of more respect. _There was not, however, so much distinction in
        England as in France._' The great honour paid to knights in
        France is noticed by Daniel (_Milice Française_, vol. i. pp. 128,
        129) and Herder (Ideen zur Geschichte, vol. iv. pp. 226, 267)
        says, that in France chivalry flourished more than in any other
        country. The same remark is made by Sismondi (_Hist. des
        Français_, vol. iv. p. 198).

  [337] The _Statutum de Militibus_, in 1307, was perhaps the first
        recognition of this. Compare _Blackstone's Comment._ vol. ii. p.
        69; _Barrington on the Statutes_, pp. 192, 193. But we have
        positive evidence that compulsory knighthood existed in the reign
        of Henry III.; or at least that those who refused it were obliged
        to pay a fine. See _Hallam's Const. Hist._ vol. i. p. 421, and
        _Lyttleton's Hist. of Henry II._ vol. ii. pp. 238, 239, 2nd edit.
        4to. 1767. Lord Lyttleton, evidently puzzled, says, 'Indeed it
        seems a deviation from the original principle of this
        institution. For one cannot but think it a very great
        inconsistency, that a dignity, which was deemed an accession of
        honour to kings themselves, should be forced upon any.'

  [338] In _Mills' Hist. of Chivalry_, vol. ii. p. 154, it is said, that
        'the judges of the courts of law' were first knighted in the
        reign of Edward III.

  [339] Mr. Mills (_Hist. of Chivalry_, vol. ii. pp. 99, 100) has printed
        a curious extract from a lamentation over the destruction of
        chivalry, written in the reign of Edward IV.; but he has
        overlooked a still more singular instance. This is a popular
        ballad, written in the middle of the fifteenth century, and
        called the Turnament of Tottenham, in which the follies of
        chivalry are admirably ridiculed. See _Warton's Hist. of English
        Poetry_, edit. 1840, vol. iii. pp. 98-101; and _Percy's Reliques
        of Ancient Poetry_, edit. 1845, pp. 92-95. According to Turner
        (_Hist. of England_, vol. vi. p. 363), 'the ancient books of
        chivalry were laid aside' about the reign of Henry VI.

  [340] This is not a mere popular opinion, but rests upon a large amount
        of evidence, supplied by competent and impartial observers.
        Addison, who was a lenient as well as an able judge, and who had
        lived much among the French, calls them 'the vainest nation in
        the world.' _Letter to Bishop Hough_, in _Aikin's Life of
        Addison_, vol. i. p. 90. Napoleon says, 'vanity is the ruling
        principle of the French.' _Alison's Hist. of Europe_, vol. vi. p.
        25. Dumont (_Souvenirs sur Mirabeau_, p. 111) declares, that 'le
        trait le plus dominant dans le caractère français, c'est l'amour
        propre;' and Ségur (_Souvenirs_, vol. i. pp. 73, 74), 'car en
        France l'amour propre, ou, si on le veut, la vanité, est de
        toutes les passions la plus irritable.' It is moreover stated,
        that phrenological observations prove that the French are vainer
        than the English. _Combe's Elements of Phrenology_, 6th edit.
        Edinb. 1845, p. 90; and a partial recognition of the same fact in
        _Broussais_, _Cours de Phrénologie_, p. 297. For other instances
        of writers who have noticed the vanity of the French, see
        _Tocqueville_, _l'Ancien Régime_, p. 148; _Barante_, _Lit. Franç.
        au XVIII^e. Siècle_, p. 80; _Mém. de Brissot_, vol. i. p. 272;
        _Mézéray_, _Hist. de France_, vol. ii. p. 933; _Lemontey_,
        _Etablissement Monarchique_, p. 418; _Voltaire_, _Lettres
        inédites_, vol. ii. p. 282; _Tocqueville_, _Règne de Louis XV_,
        vol. ii. p. 358; _De Staël sur la Révolution_, vol. i. p. 260,
        vol. ii. p. 258.

  [341] The relation between chivalry and duelling has been noticed by
        several writers; and in France, where the chivalric spirit was
        not completely destroyed until the Revolution, we find occasional
        traces of this connexion even in the reign of Louis XVI. See, for
        instance, in _Mém. de Lafayette_, vol. i. p. 86, a curious letter
        in regard to chivalry and duelling in 1778. In England there is,
        I believe, no evidence of even a single private duel being fought
        earlier than the sixteenth century, and there were not many till
        the latter half of Elizabeth's reign; but in France the custom
        arose early in the fifteenth century, and in the sixteenth it
        became usual for the seconds to fight as well as the principals.
        Compare _Montlosier_, _Monarc. Franç._ vol. ii. p. 436, with
        _Monteil_, _Hist. des divers Etats_, vol. vi. p. 48. From that
        time the love of the French for duelling became quite a passion
        until the end of the eighteenth century, when the Revolution, or
        rather the circumstances which led to the Revolution, caused its
        comparative cessation. Some idea may be formed of the enormous
        extent of this practice formerly in France, by comparing the
        following passages, which I have the more pleasure in bringing
        together, as no one has written even a tolerable history of
        duelling, notwithstanding the great part it once played in
        European society. _De Thou_, _Hist. Univ._ vol. ix. pp. 592, 593,
        vol. xv. p. 57; _Daniel_, _Milice Française_, vol. ii. p. 582;
        _Sully_, _[OE]conomies_, vol. i. p. 301, vol. iii. p. 406, vol.
        vi. p. 122, vol. viii. p. 41, vol. ix. p. 408; _Carew's State of
        France under Henry IV._, in _Birch's Historical Negotiations_, p.
        467; _Ben Jonson's Works_, edit. Gifford, vol. vi. p. 69;
        _Dulaure_, _Hist. de Paris_ (1825 3rd edit.), vol. iv. p. 567,
        vol. v. pp. 300, 301; _Le Clerc_, _Bibliothèque Univ._ vol. xx.
        p. 242; _Lettres de Patin_, vol. iii. p. 536; _Capefigue_, _Hist.
        de la Réforme_, vol. viii. p. 98; _Capefigue's Richelieu_, vol.
        i. p. 63; _Des Réaux_, _Historiettes_, vol. x. p. 13; _Mém. de
        Genlis_, vol. ii. p. 191, vol. vii. p. 215, vol. ix. p. 351;
        _Mem. of the Baroness d'Oberkirch_, vol. i. p. 71, edit. Lond.
        1852; _Lettres inédites d'Aguesseau_, vol. i. p. 211; _Lettres de
        Dudeffand à Walpole_, vol. iii. p. 249, vol. iv. pp. 27, 28, 152;
        _Boullier_, _Maison Militaire des Rois de France_, pp. 87, 88;
        _Biog. Univ._ vol. v. pp. 402, 403, vol. xxiii. p. 411, vol.
        xliv. pp. 127, 401, vol. xlviii. p. 522, vol. xlix. p. 130.

The old associations, of which these facts are but the external
expression, now continued to act with increasing vigour. In France, the
protective spirit, carried into religion, was strong enough to resist
the Reformation, and preserve to the clergy the forms, at least, of
their ancient supremacy. In England, the pride of men, and their habits
of self-reliance, enabled them to mature into a system what is called
the right of private judgment, by which some of the most cherished
traditions were eradicated; and this, as we have already seen, being
quickly succeeded, first by scepticism, and then by toleration, prepared
the way for that subordination of the church to the state, for which we
are pre-eminent, and without a rival, among the nations of Europe. The
very same tendency, acting in politics, displayed analogous results. Our
ancestors found no difficulty in humbling the nobles, and reducing them
to comparative insignificance. The wars of the Roses, by breaking up the
leading families into two hostile factions, aided this movement;[342]
and, after the reign of Edward IV., there is no instance of any
Englishman, even of the highest rank, venturing to carry on those
private wars, by which, in other countries, the great lords still
disturbed the peace of society.[343] When the civil contests subsided,
the same spirit displayed itself in the policy of Henry VII. and Henry
VIII. For, those princes, despots as they were, mainly oppressed the
highest classes; and even Henry VIII., notwithstanding his barbarous
cruelties, was loved by the people, to whom his reign was, on the whole,
decidedly beneficial. Then there came the Reformation; which, being an
uprising of the human mind, was essentially a rebellious movement, and
thus increasing the insubordination of men, sowed, in the sixteenth
century, the seeds of those great political revolutions which, in the
seventeenth century, broke out in nearly every part of Europe. The
connexion between these two revolutionary epochs is a subject full of
interest; but, for the purpose of the present chapter, it will be
sufficient to notice such events, during the latter half of the
sixteenth century, as explain the sympathy between the ecclesiastical
and aristocratic classes, and prove how the same circumstances that were
fatal to the one, also prepared the way for the downfall of the other.

  [342] On the effect of the wars of the Roses upon the nobles, compare
        _Hallam's Const. Hist._ vol. i. p. 10; _Lingard's Hist. of
        England_, vol. iii. p. 340; _Eccleston's English Antiq._ pp. 224,
        320: and on their immense pecuniary, or rather territorial,
        losses, _Sinclair's Hist. of the Revenue_, vol. i. p. 155.

  [343] 'The last instance of a pitched battle between two powerful
        noblemen in England occurs in the reign of Edward IV.' _Allen on
        the Prerogative_, p. 123.

When Elizabeth ascended the throne of England, a large majority of the
nobility were opposed to the Protestant religion. This we know from the
most decisive evidence; and, even if we had no such evidence, a general
acquaintance with human nature would induce us to suspect that such was
the case. For, the aristocracy, by the very conditions of their
existence, must, as a body, always be averse to innovation. And this,
not only because by a change they have much to lose and little to gain,
but because some of their most pleasurable emotions are connected with
the past rather than with the present. In the collision of actual life,
their vanity is sometimes offended by the assumptions of inferior men;
it is frequently wounded by the successful competition of able men.
These are mortifications to which, in the progress of society, their
liability is constantly increasing. But the moment they turn to the
past, they see in those good old times which are now gone by, many
sources of consolation. There they find a period in which their glory is
without a rival. When they look at their pedigrees, their quarterings,
their escutcheons; when they think of the purity of their blood, and the
antiquity of their ancestors--they experience a comfort which ought
amply to atone for any present inconvenience. The tendency of this is
very obvious, and has shown itself in the history of every aristocracy
the world has yet seen. Men who have worked themselves to so extravagant
a pitch as to believe that it is an honour to have had one ancestor who
came over with the Normans, and another ancestor who was present at the
first invasion of Ireland--men who have reached this ecstacy of the
fancy are not disposed to stop there, but, by a process with which most
minds are familiar, they generalize their view; and, even on matters not
immediately connected with their fame, they acquire a habit of
associating grandeur with antiquity, and of measuring value by age;
thus transferring to the past an admiration which otherwise they might
reserve for the present.

The connexion between these feelings and those which animate the clergy
is very evident. What the nobles are to politics, that are the priests
to religion. Both classes, constantly appealing to the voice of
antiquity, rely much on tradition, and make great account of upholding
established customs. Both take for granted that what is old is better
than what is new; and that in former times there were means of
discovering truths respecting government and theology which we, in these
degenerate ages, no longer possess. And it may be added, that the
similarity of their functions follows from the similarity of their
principles. Both are eminently protective, stationary, or, as they are
sometimes called, conservative. It is believed that the aristocracy
guard the state against revolution, and that the clergy keep the church
from error. The first are the enemies of reformers; the others are the
scourge of heretics.

It does not enter into the province of this Introduction to examine how
far these principles are reasonable, or to inquire into the propriety of
notions which suppose that, on certain subjects of immense importance,
men are to remain stationary, while on all other subjects they are
constantly advancing. But what I now rather wish to point out, is the
manner in which, in the reign of Elizabeth, the two great conservative
and protective classes were weakened by that vast movement, the
Reformation, which, though completed in the sixteenth century, had been
prepared by a long chain of intellectual antecedents.

Whatever the prejudices of some may suggest, it will be admitted, by all
unbiassed judges, that the Protestant Reformation was neither more nor
less than an open rebellion. Indeed, the mere mention of private
judgment, on which it was avowedly based, is enough to substantiate this
fact. To establish the right of private judgment, was to appeal from the
church to individuals; it was to increase the play of each man's
intellect; it was to test the opinions of the priesthood by the
opinions of laymen; it was, in fact, a rising of the scholars against
their teachers, of the ruled against their rulers. And although the
reformed clergy, as soon as they had organised themselves into a
hierarchy, did undoubtedly abandon the great principle with which they
started, and attempt to impose articles and canons of their own
contrivance, still, this ought not to blind us to the merits of the
Reformation itself. The tyranny of the Church of England, during the
reign of Elizabeth, and still more during the reigns of her two
successors, was but the natural consequence of that corruption which
power always begets in those who wield it, and does not lessen the
importance of the movement by which the power was originally obtained.
For men could not forget that, tried by the old theological theory, the
church of England was a schismatic establishment, and could only defend
itself from the charge of heresy by appealing to that private judgment,
to the exercise of which it owed its existence, but of the rights of
which its own proceedings were a constant infraction. It was evident
that if, in religious matters, private judgment were supreme, it became
a high spiritual crime to issue any articles, or to take any measure, by
which that judgment could be tied up; while, on the other hand, if the
right of private judgment were not supreme, the church of England was
guilty of apostacy, inasmuch as its founders did, by virtue of the
interpretation which their own private judgment made of the Bible,
abandon tenets which they had hitherto held, stigmatize those tenets as
idolatrous, and openly renounce their allegiance to what had for
centuries been venerated as the catholic and apostolic church.

This was a simple alternative; which might, indeed, be kept out of
sight, but could not be refined away, and most assuredly has never been
forgotten. The memory of the great truth it conveys was preserved by the
writings and teachings of the Puritans, and by those habits of thought
natural to an inquisitive age. And when the fulness of time had come, it
did not fail to bear its fruit. It continued slowly to fructify; and
before the middle of the seventeenth century, its seed had quickened
into a life, the energy of which nothing could withstand. That same
right of private judgment which the early Reformers had loudly
proclaimed, was now pushed to an extent fatal to those who opposed it.
This it was which, carried into politics, overturned the government,
and, carried into religion, upset the church.[344] For, rebellion and
heresy are but different forms of the same disregard of tradition, the
same bold and independent spirit. Both are of the nature of a protest
made by modern ideas against old associations. They are as a struggle
between the feelings of the present and the memory of the past. Without
the exercise of private judgment, such a contest could never take place;
the mere conception of it could not enter the minds of men, nor would
they even dream of controlling, by their individual energy, those abuses
to which all great societies are liable. It is, therefore, in the
highest degree natural that the exercise of this judgment should be
opposed by those two powerful classes who, from their position, their
interests, and the habits of their mind, are more prone than any other
to cherish antiquity, cleave to superannuated customs, and uphold
institutions which, to use their favourite language, have been
consecrated by the wisdom of their fathers.

  [344] Clarendon (_Hist. of the Rebellion_, p. 80), in a very angry
        spirit, but with perfect truth, notices (under the year 1640) the
        connexion between 'a proud and venomous dislike against the
        discipline of the church of England, and so by degrees (as the
        progress is very natural) an equal irreverence to the government
        of the state too.' The Spanish government, perhaps more than any
        other in Europe, has understood this relation; and even so late
        as 1789, an edict of Charles IV. declared, 'qu'il y a crime
        d'hérésie dans tout ce qui tend, ou contribue, à propager les
        idées révolutionnaires.' _Llorente_, _Hist. de l'Inquisition_,
        vol. ii. p. 130.

From this point of view we are able to see with great clearness the
intimate connexion which, at the accession of Elizabeth, existed between
the English nobles and the Catholic clergy. Notwithstanding many
exceptions, an immense majority of both classes opposed the Reformation,
because it was based on that right of private judgment of which they,
as the protectors of old opinions, were the natural antagonists. All
this can excite no surprise; it was in the order of things, and strictly
accordant with the spirit of those two great sections of society.
Fortunately, however, for our country, the throne was now occupied by a
sovereign who was equal to the emergency, and who, instead of yielding
to the two classes, availed herself of the temper of the age to humble
them. The manner in which this was effected by Elizabeth, in respect,
first to the Catholic clergy, and afterwards to the Protestant
clergy,[345] forms one of the most interesting parts of our history; and
in an account of the reign of the great queen, I hope to examine it at
considerable length. At present, it will be sufficient to glance at her
policy towards the nobles--that other class with which the priesthood,
by their interests, opinions, and associations, have always much in

  [345] The general character of her policy towards the Protestant English
        bishops is summed up very fairly by Collier; though he, as a
        professional writer, is naturally displeased with her disregard
        for the heads of the church. _Collier's Eccles. Hist. of Great
        Britain_, vol. vii. pp. 257, 258, edit. Barham, 1840.

Elizabeth, at her accession to the throne, finding that the ancient
families adhered to the ancient religion, naturally called to her
councils advisers who were more likely to uphold the novelties on which
the age was bent. She selected men who, being little burdened by past
associations, were more inclined to favour present interests. The two
Bacons, the two Cecils, Knollys, Sadler, Smith, Throgmorton, Walsingham,
were the most eminent statesmen and diplomatists in her reign; but all
of them were commoners; only one did she raise to the peerage; and they
were certainly nowise remarkable, either for the rank of their immediate
connexions, or for the celebrity of their remote ancestors. They,
however, were recommended to Elizabeth by their great abilities, and by
their determination to uphold a religion which the ancient aristocracy
naturally opposed. And it is observable that, among the accusations
which the Catholics brought against the queen, they taunted her, not
only with forsaking the old religion, but also with neglecting the old

  [346] One of the charges which, in 1588, Sixtus V. publicly brought
        against Elizabeth, was, that 'she hath rejected and excluded the
        ancient nobility, and promoted to honour obscure people.'
        _Butler's Mem. of the Catholics_, vol. ii. p. 4. Persons also
        reproaches her with her low-born ministers, and says that she was
        influenced 'by five persons in particular--all of them sprung
        from the earth--Bacon, Cecil, Dudley, Hatton, and Walsingham.'
        _Butler_, vol. ii. p. 31. Cardinal Allen taunted her with
        'disgracing the ancient nobility, erecting base and unworthy
        persons to all the civil and ecclesiastical dignities.' _Dodd's
        Church History_, edit. Tierney, 1840, vol. iii. appendix no. xii.
        p. xlvi. The same influential writer, in his _Admonition_, said
        that she had injured England, 'by great contempt and abasing of
        the ancient nobility, repelling them from due government,
        offices, and places of honour.' _Allen's Admonition to the
        Nobility and People of England and Ireland_, 1588 (reprinted
        London, 1842), p. xv. Compare the account of the Bull of 1588, in
        _De Thou_, _Hist. Univ._ vol. x. p. 175: 'On accusoit Elisabeth
        d'avoir au préjudice de la noblesse angloise élevé aux dignités,
        tant civiles qu'ecclésiastiques, des hommes nouveaux, sans
        naissance, et indignes de les posséder.'

Nor does it require much acquaintance with the history of the time to
see the justice of this charge. Whatever explanation we may choose to
give of the fact, it cannot be denied that, during the reign of
Elizabeth, there was an open and constant opposition between the nobles
and the executive government. The rebellion of 1569 was essentially an
aristocratic movement; it was a rising of the great families of the
north against what they considered the upstart and plebeian
administration of the queen.[347] The bitterest enemy of Elizabeth was
certainly Mary of Scotland; and the interests of Mary were publicly
defended by the Duke of Norfolk, the Earl of Northumberland, the Earl of
Westmoreland, and the Earl of Arundel; while there is reason to believe
that her cause was secretly favoured by the Marquis of Northampton, the
Earl of Pembroke, the Earl of Derby, the Earl of Cumberland, the Earl of
Shrewsbury, and the Earl of Sussex.[348]

  [347] To the philosophic historian this rebellion, though not
        sufficiently appreciated by ordinary writers, is a very important
        study, because it is the last attempt ever made by the great
        English families to establish their authority by force of arms.
        Mr. Wright says, that probably all those who took a leading part
        in it 'were allied by blood or intermarriage with the two
        families of the Percies and Neviles.' _Wright's Elizabeth_, 1838,
        vol. i. p. xxxiv.; a valuable work. See also, in _Parl. Hist._
        vol. i. p. 730, a list of some of those who, in 1571, were
        attainted on account of this rebellion, and who are said to be
        'all of the best families in the north of England.'

        But the most complete evidence we have respecting this struggle,
        consists of the collection of original documents published in
        1840 by Sir C. Sharpe, under the title of _Memorials of the
        Rebellion of 1569_. They show very clearly the real nature of the
        outbreak. On 17th November 1569, Sir George Bowes writes, that
        the complaint of the insurgents was that 'there was certaine
        counsellors cropen' (_i.e._ crept) 'in aboute the prince, which
        had excluded the nobility from the prince,' &c., _Memorials_, p.
        42; and the editor's note says that this is one of the charges
        made in all the proclamations by the earls. Perhaps the most
        curious proof of how notorious the policy of Elizabeth had
        become, is contained in a friendly letter from Sussex to Cecil,
        dated 5th January 1569 (_Memorials_, p. 137), one paragraph of
        which begins, 'Of late years few young noblemen have been
        employed in service.'

  [348] _Hallam_, i. p. 130; _Lingard_, v. pp. 97, 102; _Turner_, xii.
        pp. 245, 247.

The existence of this antagonism of interests could not escape the
sagacity of the English government. Cecil, who was the most powerful of
the ministers of Elizabeth, and who was at the head of affairs for forty
years, made it part of his business to study the genealogies and
material resources of the great families; and this he did, not out of
idle curiosity, but in order to increase his control over them, or, as a
great historian says, to let them know 'that his eye was upon
them.'[349] The queen herself, though too fond of power, was by no means
of a cruel disposition; but she seemed to delight in humbling the
nobles. On them her hand fell heavily; and there is hardly to be found a
single instance of her pardoning their offences, while she punished
several of them for acts which would now be considered no offences at
all. She was always unwilling to admit them to authority; and it is
unquestionably true that, taking them as a class, they were, during her
long and prosperous reign, treated with unusual disrespect. Indeed, so
clearly marked was her policy, that when the ducal order became extinct,
she refused to renew it; and a whole generation passed away to whom the
name of duke was a mere matter of history, a point to be mooted by
antiquaries, but with which the business of practical life had no
concern.[350] Whatever may be her other faults, she was on this subject
always consistent. Although she evinced the greatest anxiety to surround
the throne with men of ability, she cared little for those conventional
distinctions by which the minds of ordinary sovereigns are greatly
moved. She made no account of dignity of rank; she did not even care for
purity of blood. She valued men neither for the splendour of their
ancestry, nor for the length of their pedigrees, nor for the grandeur of
their titles. Such questions she left for her degenerate successors, to
the size of whose understandings they were admirably fitted. Our great
queen regulated her conduct by another standard. Her large and powerful
intellect, cultivated to its highest point by reflection and study,
taught her the true measure of affairs, and enabled her to see, that to
make a government flourish, its councillors must be men of ability and
of virtue; but that if these two conditions are fulfilled, the nobles
may be left to repose in the enjoyment of their leisure, unoppressed by
those cares of the state for which, with a few brilliant exceptions,
they are naturally disqualified by the number of their prejudices and by
the frivolity of their pursuits.

  [349] _Hallam's Const. Hist._ vol. i. p. 241; an interesting passage.
        Turner (_Hist. of England_, vol. xii. p. 237) says, that Cecil
        'knew the tendency of the great lords to combine against the
        crown, that they might reinstate the peerage in the power from
        which the house of Tudor had depressed it.'

  [350] In 1572 the order of dukes became extinct; and was not revived
        till fifty years afterwards, when James I. made the miserable
        Villiers, duke of Buckingham. _Blackstone's Commentaries_, vol.
        i. p. 397. This evidently attracted attention; for Ben Jonson, in
        one of his comedies in 1616, mentions 'the received heresy that
        England bears no dukes.' _Jonson's Works_, edit. Gifford, 1816,
        vol. v. p. 47, where Gifford, not being aware of the extinction
        in 1572, has made an unsatisfactory note.

After the death of Elizabeth, an attempt was made, first by James, and
then by Charles, to revive the power of the two great protective
classes, the nobles and the clergy. But so admirably had the policy of
Elizabeth been supported by the general temper of the age, that it was
found impossible for the Stuarts to execute their mischievous plans. The
exercise of private judgment, both in religion and in politics, had
become so habitual, that these princes were unable to subjugate it to
their will. And as Charles I., with inconceivable blindness, and with an
obstinacy even greater than that of his father, persisted in adopting in
their worst forms the superannuated theories of protection, and
attempted to enforce a scheme of government which men from their
increasing independence were determined to reject, there inevitably
arose that memorable collision which is well termed The Great Rebellion
of England.[351] The analogy between this and the Protestant
Reformation, I have already noticed; but what we have now to consider,
and what, in the next chapter, I will endeavour to trace, is the nature
of the difference between our Rebellion, and those contemporary wars of
the Fronde, to which it was in some respects very similar.

  [351] Clarendon (_Hist. of the Rebellion_, p. 216) truly calls it 'the
        most prodigious and the boldest rebellion, that any age or
        country ever brought forth.' See also some striking remarks in
        _Warwick's Memoirs_, p. 207.

                              CHAPTER III.


The object of the last chapter was to enquire into the origin of the
protective spirit. From the evidence there collected, it appears that
this spirit was first organized into a distinct secular form at the
close of the dark ages; but that, owing to circumstances which then
arose, it was, from the beginning, much less powerful in England than in
France. It has likewise appeared that, in our country, it continued to
lose ground; while in France, it early in the fourteenth century assumed
a new shape, and gave rise to a centralizing movement, manifested not
only in the civil and political institutions, but also in the social and
literary habits of the French nation. Thus far we seem to have cleared
the way for a proper understanding of the history of the two countries;
and I now purpose to follow this up a little further, and point out how
this difference explains the discrepancy between the civil wars of
England, and those which at the same time broke out in France.

Among the obvious circumstances connected with the Great English
Rebellion, the most remarkable is, that it was a war of classes as well
as of factions. From the beginning of the contest, the yeomanry and
traders adhered to the parliament;[352] the nobles and the clergy
rallied round the throne.[353] And the name given to the two parties, of
Roundheads[354] and Cavaliers,[355] proves that the true nature of this
opposition was generally known. It proves that men were aware that a
question was at issue, upon which England was divided, not so much by
the particular interests of individuals, as by the general interests of
the classes to which those individuals belonged.

  [352] 'From the beginning it may be said that the yeomanry and trading
        classes of towns were generally hostile to the king's side, even
        in those counties which were in his military occupation; except
        in a few, such as Cornwall, Worcester, Salop, and most of Wales,
        where the prevailing sentiment was chiefly royalist.' _Hallam's
        Const. Hist._ vol. i. p. 578. See also _Lingard's Hist. of
        England_, vol. vi. p. 304; and _Alison's Hist. of Europe_,
        vol. i. p. 49.

  [353] On this division of classes, which, notwithstanding a few
        exceptions, is undoubtedly true as a general fact, compare
        _Memoirs of Sir P. Warwick_, p. 217; _Carlyle's Cromwell_, vol.
        iii. p. 347; _Clarendon's Hist. of the Rebellion_, pp. 294, 297,
        345, 346, 401, 476; _May's Hist. of the Long Parliament_, book i.
        pp. 22, 64, book ii. p. 63, book iii. p. 78; _Hutchinson's
        Memoirs_, p. 100; _Ludlow's Memoirs_, vol. i. p. 104, vol. iii.
        p. 258; _Bulstrode's Memoirs_, p. 86.

  [354] Lord Clarendon says, in his grand style, 'the rabble contemned and
        despised under the name of roundheads.' _Hist. of the Rebellion_,
        p. 136. This was in 1641, when the title appears to have been
        first bestowed. See _Fairfax Corresp._ vol. ii. pp. 185, 320.

  [355] Just before the battle of Edgehill, in 1642, Charles said to his
        troops, 'You are called cavaliers in a reproachful
        signification.' See the king's speech, in _Somers Tracts_, vol.
        iv. p. 478. Directly after the battle, he accused his opponents
        of 'rendering all persons of honour odious to the common people,
        under the style of cavaliers.' _May's Hist. of the Long
        Parliament_, book iii. p. 25.

But in the history of the French rebellion, there is no trace of so
large a division. The objects of the war were in both countries
precisely the same: the machinery by which those objects were attained
was very different. The Fronde was like our Rebellion, insomuch that it
was a struggle of the parliament against the crown; an attempt to secure
liberty, and raise up a barrier against the despotism of
government.[356] So far, and so long, as we merely take a view of
political objects, the parallel is complete. But the social and
intellectual antecedents of the French being very different from those
of the English, it necessarily followed that the shape which the
rebellion took should likewise be different, even though the motives
were the same. If we examine this divergence a little nearer, we shall
find that it is connected with the circumstance I have already
noticed--namely, that in England a war for liberty was accompanied by a
war of classes, while in France there was no war of classes at all. From
this it resulted, that in France the rebellion, being merely political,
and not, as with us, also social, took less hold of the public mind: it
was unaccompanied by those feelings of insubordination, in the absence
of which freedom has always been impossible; and, striking no root into
the national character, it could not save the country from that servile
state into which, a few years later, it, under the government of Louis
XIV. rapidly fell.

  [356] M. Saint-Aulaire (_Hist. de la Fronde_, vol. i. p. v.) says, that
        the object of the Frondeurs was, 'limiter l'autorité royale,
        consacrer les principes de la liberté civile et en confier la
        garde aux compagnies souveraines;' and at p. vi. he calls the
        declaration of 1648, 'une véritable charte constitutionnelle.'
        See also, at vol. i. p. 128, the concluding paragraph of the
        speech of Omer Talon. Joly, who was much displeased at this
        tendency, complains that in 1648, 'le peuple tomboit
        imperceptiblement dans le sentiment dangereux, qu'il est naturel
        et permis de se défendre et de s'armer contre la violence des
        supérieurs.' _Mém. de Joly_, p. 15. Of the immediate objects
        proposed by the Fronde, one was to diminish the taille, and
        another was to obtain a law that no one should be kept in prison
        more than twenty-four hours, 'sans être remis entre les mains du
        parlement pour lui faire son procès s'il se trouvoit criminel ou
        l'élargir s'il étoit innocent.' _Mém. de Montglat_, vol. ii. p.
        135; _Mém. de Motteville_, vol. ii. p. 398; _Mém. de Retz_, vol.
        i. p. 265; _Mém. d'Omer Talon_, vol. ii. pp. 224, 225, 240, 328.

That our Great Rebellion was, in its external form, a war of classes, is
one of those palpable facts which lie on the surface of history. At
first, the parliament[357] did indeed attempt to draw over to their side
some of the nobles; and in this they for a time succeeded. But as the
struggle advanced, the futility of this policy became evident. In the
natural order of the great movement, the nobles grew more loyal;[358]
the parliament grew more democratic.[359] And when it was clearly seen
that both parties were determined either to conquer or to die, this
antagonism of classes was too clearly marked to be misunderstood; the
perception which each had of its own interests being sharpened by the
magnitude of the stake for which they contended.

  [357] I use the word 'parliament' in the sense given to it by writers of
        that time, and not in the legal sense.

  [358] In May 1642, there remained at Westminster forty-two peers,
        _Hallam's Const. Hist._ vol. i. p. 559; but they gradually
        abandoned the popular cause; and, according to _Parl. Hist._ vol.
        iii. p. 1282, so dwindled, that eventually 'seldom more than five
        or six' were present.

  [359] These increasing democratic tendencies are most clearly indicated
        in Walker's curious work, _The History of Independency_. See
        among other passages, book i. p. 59. And Clarendon, under the
        year 1644, says (_Hist. of the Rebellion_, p. 514): 'That violent
        party, which had at first cozened the rest into the war, and
        afterwards obstructed all the approaches towards peace, found now
        that they had finished as much of their work as the tools which
        they had wrought with could be applied to, and what remained to
        be done must be despatched by new workmen.' What these new
        workmen were, he afterwards explains, p. 641, to be 'the most
        inferior people preferred to all places of trust and profit.'
        Book xi. under the year 1648. Compare some good remarks by Mr.
        Bell, in _Fairfax Correspond._ vol. iii. pp. 115, 116.

For, without burdening this Introduction with what may be read in our
common histories, it will be sufficient to remind the reader of a few of
the conspicuous events of that time. Just before the war began, the Earl
of Essex was appointed general of the parliamentary forces, with the
Earl of Bedford as his lieutenant. A commission to raise troops was
likewise given to the Earl of Manchester,[360] the only man of high rank
against whom Charles had displayed open enmity.[361] Notwithstanding
these marks of confidence, the nobles, in whom parliament was at first
disposed to trust, could not avoid showing the old leaven of their
order.[362] The Earl of Essex so conducted himself, as to inspire the
popular party with the greatest apprehensions of his treachery;[363] and
when the defence of London was intrusted to Waller, he so obstinately
refused to enter the name of that able officer in the commission, that
the Commons were obliged to insert it by virtue of their own authority,
and in spite of their own general.[364] The Earl of Bedford, though he
had received a military command, did not hesitate to abandon those who
conferred it. This apostate noble fled from Westminster to Oxford: but
finding that the king, who never forgave his enemies, did not receive
him with the favour he expected, he returned to London; where, though he
was allowed to remain in safety, it could not be supposed that he should
again experience the confidence of parliament.[365]

  [360] This was after the appointments of Essex and Bedford, and was in
        1643. _Ludlow's Mem._ vol. i. p. 58; _Carlyle's Cromwell_,
        vol. i. p. 189.

  [361] 'When the king attempted to arrest the five members, Manchester,
        at that time Lord Kymbolton, was the only peer whom he impeached.
        This circumstance endeared Kymbolton to the party; his own safety
        bound him more closely to its interests.' _Lingard's England_,
        vol. vi. p. 337. Compare _Clarendon_, p. 375; _Ludlow_, vol. i.
        p. 20. It is also said that Lord Essex joined the popular party
        from personal pique against the king. _Fairfax Corresp._
        vol. iii. p. 37.

  [362] Mr. Carlyle has made some very characteristic, but very just,
        observations on the 'high Essexes and Manchesters of limited
        notions and large estates.' _Carlyle's Cromwell_, vol. i. p. 215.

  [363] _Ludlow's Memoirs_, vol. iii. p. 110; _Hutchinson's Memoirs_,
        pp. 230, 231; _Harris's Lives of the Stuarts_, vol. iii. p. 106;
        _Bulstrode's Memoirs_, pp. 112, 113, 119; _Clarendon's
        Rebellion_, pp. 486, 514; or, as Lord North puts it, 'for General
        Essex began now to appear to the private cabalists somewhat
        wresty.' _North's Narrative of Passages relating to the Long
        Parliament_, published in 1670, in _Somers Tracts_, vol. vi. p.
        578. At p. 584, the same elegant writer says of Essex, 'being the
        first person and last of the nobility employed by the parliament
        in military affairs, which soon brought him to the period of his
        life. And may he be an example to all future ages, to deter all
        persons of like dignity from being instrumental in setting up a
        democratical power, whose interest it is to keep down all persons
        of his condition.' The 'Letter of Admonition' addressed to him by
        parliament in 1644, is printed in _Parl. Hist._ vol. iii. p. 274.

  [364] _Lingard's Hist. of England_, vol. vi. p. 318. See also, on the
        hostility between Essex and Waller, _Walker's Hist. of
        Independency_, part i. pp. 28, 29; and _Parl. Hist._ vol. iii. p.
        177. Sir Philip Warwick (_Memoirs_, p. 254) contemptuously calls
        Waller 'favourite-general of the city of London.'

  [365] Compare _Hallam's Const. Hist._ vol. i. pp. 569, 570, with
        _Bulstrode's Memoirs_, p. 96, and Lord Bedford's letter, in
        _Parl. Hist._ vol. iii. pp. 189, 190. This shuffling letter
        confirms the unfavourable account of the writer, which is given
        in _Clarendon's Rebellion_, p. 422.

Such examples as these were not likely to lessen the distrust which both
parties felt for each other. It soon became evident that a war of
classes was unavoidable, and that the rebellion of the parliament
against the king must be reinforced by a rebellion of the people against
the nobles.[366] To this the popular party, whatever may have been their
first intention, now willingly agreed. In 1645 they enacted a law, by
which not only the Earl of Essex and the Earl of Manchester lost their
command, but all members of either house were made incapable of military
service.[367] And, only a week after the execution of the king, they
formally took away the legislative power of the peers; putting at the
same time on record their memorable opinion, that the House of Lords is
'useless, dangerous, and ought to be abolished.'[368]

  [366] Dr. Bates, who had been physician to Cromwell, intimates that this
        was foreseen from the beginning. He says, that the popular party
        offered command to some of the nobles, 'not that they had any
        respect for the lords, whom shortly they intended to turn out and
        to level with the commoners, but that they might poison them with
        their own venom, and rise to greater authority by drawing more
        over to their side.' _Bates's Account of the late Troubles in
        England_, part i. p. 76. Lord North too supposes, that almost
        immediately after the war began, it was determined to dissolve
        the House of Lords. See _Somers Tracts_, vol. vi. p. 582. Beyond
        this, I am not aware of any direct early evidence; except that,
        in 1644, Cromwell is alleged to have stated that 'there would
        never be a good time in England till we had done with lords.'
        _Carlyle's Cromwell_, vol. i. p. 217; and, what is evidently the
        same circumstance, in _Holles's Memoirs_, p. 18.

  [367] This was the 'Self-denying Ordinance,' which was introduced in
        December, 1644; but, owing to the resistance of the peers, was
        not carried until the subsequent April. _Parl. Hist._ vol. iii.
        pp. 326-337, 340-343, 354, 355. See also _Mem. of Lord Holles_,
        p. 30; _Mem. of Sir P. Warwick_, p. 283.

  [368] On this great Epoch in the history of England, see _Parl. Hist._
        vol. iii. p. 1284; _Hallam's Const. Hist._ vol. i. p. 643;
        _Campbell's Chief-Justices_, vol. i. p. 424; _Ludlow's Mem._ vol.
        i. p. 246; _Warwick's Mem._ pp. 182, 336, 352.

But we may find proofs still more convincing of the true character of
the English rebellion, if we consider who those were by whom it was
accomplished. This will show us the democratic nature of a movement
which lawyers and antiquaries have vainly attempted to shelter under the
form of constitutional precedent. Our great rebellion was the work, not
of men who looked behind, but of men who looked before. To attempt to
trace it to personal and temporary causes; to ascribe this unparalleled
outbreak to a dispute respecting ship-money, or to a quarrel about the
privileges of parliament, can only suit the habits of those historians
who see no further than the preamble of a statute, or the decision of a
judge. Such writers forget that the trial of Hampden, and the
impeachment of the five members, could have produced no effect on the
country, unless the people had already been prepared, and unless the
spirit of inquiry and insubordination had so increased the discontents
of men, as to put them in a state, where, the train being laid, the
slightest spark sufficed to kindle a conflagration.

The truth is, that the rebellion was an outbreak of the democratic
spirit. It was the political form of a movement, of which the
Reformation was the religious form. As the Reformation was aided, not by
men in high ecclesiastical offices, not by great cardinals or wealthy
bishops, but by men filling the lowest and most subordinate posts, just
so was the English rebellion a movement from below, an uprising from the
foundations, or as some will have it, the dregs of society. The few
persons of high rank who adhered to the popular cause were quickly
discarded, and the ease and rapidity with which they fell off was a
clear indication of the turn that things were taking. Directly the army
was freed from its noble leaders, and supplied with officers drawn from
the lower classes, the fortune of war changed, the royalists were every
where defeated, and the king made prisoner by his own subjects. Between
his capture and execution, the two most important political events were
his abduction by Joyce, and the forcible expulsion from the House of
Commons of those members who were thought likely to interfere in his
favour. Both these decisive steps were taken, and indeed only could have
been taken, by men of great personal influence, and of a bold and
resolute spirit. Joyce, who carried off the king, and who was highly
respected in the army, had, however, been recently a common working
tailor;[369] while Colonel Pride, whose name is preserved in history as
having purged the House of Commons of the malignants, was about on a
level with Joyce, since his original occupation was that of a
drayman.[370] The tailor and the drayman were, in that age, strong
enough to direct the course of public affairs, and to win for themselves
a conspicuous position in the state. After the execution of Charles, the
same tendency was displayed, the old monarchy being destroyed, that
small but active party known as the fifth-monarchy men increased in
importance, and for a time exercised considerable influence. Their three
principal and most distinguished members were Venner, Tuffnel, and Okey.
Venner, who was the leader, was a wine-cooper;[371] Tuffnel, who was
second in command, was a carpenter;[372] and Okey, though he became a
colonel, had filled the menial office of stoker in an Islington

  [369] 'Cornet Joyce, who was one of the agitators in the army, a tailor,
        a fellow who had two or three years before served in a very
        inferior employment in Mr. Hollis's house.' _Clarendon's
        Rebellion_, p. 612. 'A shrewd tailor-man.' _D'Israeli's
        Commentaries on the Reign of Charles I._, 1851, vol. ii. p. 466.

  [370] Ludlow (_Memoirs_, vol. ii. p. 139); Noble (_Memoirs of the House
        of Cromwell_, vol. ii. p. 470); and Winstanley (_Loyal
        Martyrology_, edit. 1665, p. 108), mention that Pride had been a
        drayman. It is said that Cromwell, in ridicule of the old
        distinctions, conferred knighthood on him 'with a faggot.'
        _Orme's Life of Owen_, p. 164; _Harris's Lives of the Stuarts_,
        vol. iii. p. 478.

  [371] 'The fifth-monarchy, headed mainly by one Venner, a wine-cooper.'
        _Carlyle's Cromwell_, vol. iii. p. 282. 'Venner, a wine-cooper.'
        _Lister's Life and Corresp. of Clarendon_, vol. ii. p. 62.

  [372] 'The second to Venner was one Tuffnel a carpenter living in Gray's
        Inn Lane.' _Winstanley's Martyrology_, p. 163.

  [373] 'He was stoaker in a brewhouse at Islington, and next a most poor
        chandler near Lion-Key, in Thames Street.' _Parl. Hist._ vol.
        iii. p. 1605. See also _Winstanley's Martyrology_, p. 122.

Nor are these to be regarded as exceptional cases. In that period,
promotion depended solely on merit; and if a man had ability he was sure
to rise, no matter what his birth or former avocations might have been.
Cromwell himself was a brewer;[374] and Colonel Jones, his
brother-in-law, had been servant to a private gentleman.[375] Deane was
the servant of a tradesman; but he became an admiral, and was made one
of the commissioners of the navy.[376] Colonel Goffe had been apprentice
to a drysalter;[377] Major-general Whalley had been apprentice to a
draper.[378] Skippon, a common soldier who had received no
education,[379] was appointed commander of the London militia; he was
raised to the office of sergeant-major-general of the army; he was
declared commander-in-chief in Ireland; and he became one of the
fourteen members of Cromwell's council.[380] Two of the lieutenants of
the Tower were Berkstead and Tichborne. Berkstead was a pedlar, or at
all events a hawker of small wares;[381] and Tichborne, who was a
linendraper, not only received the lieutenancy of the Tower, but became
a colonel, and a member of the committee of state in 1655, and of the
council of state in 1659.[382] Other trades were equally successful; the
highest prizes being open to all men, provided they displayed the
requisite capacity. Colonel Harvey was a silk-mercer;[383] so was
Colonel Rowe;[384] so also was Colonel Venn.[385] Salway had been
apprentice to a grocer, but, being an able man, he rose to the rank of
major in the army; he received the king's remembrancer's office; and in
1659 he was appointed by parliament a member of the council of
state.[386] Around that council-board were also gathered Bond the
draper,[387] and Cawley the brewer;[388] while by their side we find
John Berners, who is said to have been a private servant,[389] and
Cornelius Holland, who is known to have been a servant, and who was,
indeed, formerly a link-boy.[390] Among others who were now favoured and
promoted to offices of trust, were Packe the woollen-draper,[391] Pury
the weaver,[392] and Pemble the tailor.[393] The parliament which was
summoned in 1653 is still remembered as Barebone's parliament, being so
called after one of its most active members, whose name was Barebone,
and who was a leather-seller in Fleet Street.[394] Thus too, Downing,
though a poor charity-boy,[395] became teller of the exchequer, and
representative of England at the Hague.[396] To these we may add, that
Colonel Horton had been a gentleman's servant;[397] Colonel Berry had
been a woodmonger;[398] Colonel Cooper a haberdasher;[399] Major Rolfe
a shoemaker;[400] Colonel Fox a tinker;[401] and Colonel Hewson a

  [374] Some of the clumsy eulogists of Cromwell wish to suppress the fact
        of his being a brewer; but that he really practised that useful
        trade is attested by a variety of evidence, and is distinctly
        stated by his own physician, Dr. Bates. _Bates's Troubles in
        England_, vol. ii. p. 238. See also _Walker's History of
        Independency_, part i. p. 32, part ii. p. 25, part iii. p. 37;
        _Noble's House of Cromwell_, vol. i. pp. 328-331. Other passages,
        which I cannot now call to mind, will occur to those who have
        studied the literature of the time.

  [375] 'John Jones, at first a serving-man, then a colonel of the Long
        Parliament, ... married the Protector's sister.' _Parl. Hist._
        vol. iii. p. 1600. 'A serving-man; ... in process of time married
        one of Cromwell's sisters.' _Winstanley's Martyrology_, p. 125.

  [376] 'Richard Deane, Esq., is said to have been a servant to one
        Button, a toyman in Ipswich, and to have himself been the son of
        a person in the same employment; ... was appointed one of the
        commissioners of the navy with Popham and Blake, and in April
        (1649) he became an admiral and general at sea.' _Noble's Lives
        of the Regicides_, vol. i. pp. 172, 173. Winstanley (_Martyrol._
        p. 121) also says that Deane was 'servant in Ipswich.'

  [377] 'Apprentice to one Vaughan a dry-salter.' _Noble's House of
        Cromwell_, vol. ii. p. 507: and see his _Regicides_, vol. i.
        p. 255.

  [378] 'Bound apprentice to a woollen-draper.' _Winstanley's Martyr._
        p. 108. He afterwards set up in the same trade for himself; but
        with little success, for Dr. Bates (_Troubles in England_, vol.
        ii. p. 222) calls him 'a broken clothier.'

  [379] 'Altogether illiterate.' _Clarendon's Rebellion_, p. 152. Two
        extraordinary speeches by him are preserved in _Burton's Diary_,
        vol. i. pp. 24, 25, 48-50.

  [380] _Holles's Mem._ p. 82; _Ludlow's Mem._ vol. ii. p. 39; and a
        letter from Fairfax in _Cary's Memorials of the Civil War_, 1842,
        vol. i. p. 413.

  [381] 'Berkstead, who heretofore sold needles, bodkins, and thimbles,
        and would have run on an errand any where for a little money; but
        who now by Cromwell was preferred to the honourable charge of
        lieutenant of the Tower of London.' _Bates's Account of the
        Troubles_, part ii. p. 222.

  [382] _Noble's Regicides_, vol. ii. pp. 272, 273. Lord Holles
        (_Memoirs_, p. 174) also mentions that he was 'a linen-draper.'

  [383] 'Edward Harvy, late a poor silk-man, now colonel, and hath got the
        Bishop of London's house and manor of Fulham.' _Walker's
        Independency_, part i. p. 170. 'One Harvey, a decayed silk-man,'
        _Clarendon's Rebellion_, p. 418.

  [384] Owen Rowe, 'put to the trade of a silk-mercer, ... went into the
        parliament army, and became a colonel.' _Noble's Regicides_,
        vol. ii. p. 150.

  [385] 'A silkman in London; ... went into the army, and rose to the rank
        of colonel.' _Noble's Regicides_, vol. ii. p. 283. 'A broken
        silk-man in Cheapside.' _Winstanley's Martyrol._ p. 130.

  [386] _Walker's Independency_, part i. p. 143; _Parl. Hist._ vol. iii.
        p. 1608; _Ludlow's Mem._ vol. ii. pp. 241, 259; _Noble's
        Regicides_, vol. ii. pp. 158, 162.

  [387] He was 'a woollen-draper at Dorchester,' and was 'one of the
        council of state in 1649 and 1651.' _Noble's Regicides_, vol. i.
        p. 99: see also _Parl. Hist._ vol. iii. p. 1594.

  [388] 'A brewer in Chichester; ... in 1650-1 he was appointed one of the
        council of state.' _Noble's Regicides_, vol. i. p. 136. 'William
        Cawley, a brewer of Chichester.' _Winstanley's Martyrol._ p. 138.

  [389] John Berners, 'supposed to have been originally a serving-man,'
        was 'one of the council of state in 1659,' _Noble's Regicides_,
        vol. i. p. 90.

  [390] 'Holland the link-boy,' _Walker's Independency_, part iii. p. 37.
        'He was originally nothing more than a servant to Sir Henry Vane;
        ... upon the establishment of the Commonwealth, he was made one
        of the council of state in 1649, and again in 1650.' _Noble's
        Regicides_, vol. i. pp. 357, 358.

  [391] _Noble's Mem. of Cromwell_, vol. ii. p. 502.

  [392] _Walker's Hist. of Independency_, part i. p. 167.

  [393] _Ellis's Original Letters illustrative of English History_, third
        series, vol. iv. p. 219, Lond. 1846.

  [394] _Parl. Hist._ vol. iii. p. 1407; _Rose's Biog. Dict._ vol. iii.
        p. 172; _Clarendon's Rebellion_, p. 794.

  [395] 'A poor child bred upon charity.' _Harris's Stuarts_, vol. v. p.
        281. 'A man of an obscure birth, and more obscure education.'
        _Clarendon's Life of Himself_, p. 1116.

  [396] See _Vaughan's Cromwell_, vol. i. pp. 227, 228, vol. ii. pp. 299,
        302, 433; _Lister's Life and Corresp. of Clarendon_, vol. ii. p.
        231, vol. iii. p. 134. The common opinion is, that he was the son
        of a clergyman at Hackney; but if so, he was probably
        illegitimate, considering the way he was brought up. However, his
        Hackney origin is very doubtful, and no one appears to know who
        his father was. See _Notes and Queries_, vol. iii. pp. 69, 213.

  [397] _Noble's Regicides_, vol. i. p. 362. Cromwell had a great regard
        for this remarkable man, who not only distinguished himself as a
        soldier, but, judging from a letter of his recently published,
        appears to have repaired the deficiencies of his early education.
        See _Fairfax Correspond._ vol. iv. pp. 22-25, 108. There never
        has been a period in the history of England in which so many men
        of natural ability were employed in the public service as during
        the Commonwealth.

  [398] _Noble's House of Cromwell_, vol. ii. p. 507.

  [399] _Noble's Cromwell_, vol. ii. p. 518; _Bates's Troubles_, vol. ii.
        p. 222.

  [400] _Bates's Late Troubles_, vol. i. p. 87; _Ludlow's Mem._ vol. i.
        p. 220.

  [401] _Walker's Hist. of Independency_, part ii. p. 87.

  [402] Ludlow who was well acquainted with Colonel Hewson, says that he
        'had been a shoemaker.' _Ludlow's Memoirs_, vol. ii. p. 139. But
        this is the amiable partiality of a friend; and there is no doubt
        that the gallant colonel was neither more nor less than a
        cobbler. See _Walker's Independency_, part ii. p. 39;
        _Winstanley's Martyrol._ p. 123; _Bates's Late Troubles_, vol.
        ii. p. 222; _Noble's Cromwell_, vol. ii. pp. 251, 345, 470.

Such were the leaders of the English rebellion, or to speak more
properly, such were the instruments by which the rebellion was
consummated.[403] If we now turn to France, we shall clearly see the
difference between the feelings and temper of the two nations. In that
country, the old protective spirit still retained its activity; and the
people, being kept in a state of pupilage, had not acquired those habits
of self-command and self-reliance, by which alone great things can be
effected. They had been so long accustomed to look with timid reverence
to the upper classes, that, even when they rose in arms, they could not
throw off the ideas of submission which were quickly discarded by our
ancestors. The influence of the higher ranks was, in England,
constantly diminishing; in France, it was scarcely impaired. Hence it
happened that, although the English and French rebellions were
contemporary, and, in their origin, aimed at precisely the same objects,
they were distinguished by one most important difference. This was, that
the English rebels were headed by popular leaders; the French rebels by
noble leaders. The bold and sturdy habits which had long been cultivated
in England, enabled the middle and lower classes to supply their own
chiefs out of their own ranks. In France such chiefs were not to be
found; simply because, owing to the protective spirit, such habits had
not been cultivated. While, therefore, in our island, the functions of
civil government, and of war, were conducted with conspicuous ability,
and complete success, by butchers, by bakers, by brewers, by cobblers,
and by tinkers, the struggle which, at the same moment, was going on in
France, presented an appearance totally different. In that country, the
rebellion was headed by men of a far higher standing; men, indeed, of
the longest and most illustrious lineage. There, to be sure, was a
display of unexampled splendour; a galaxy of rank, a noble assemblage of
aristocratic insurgents and titled demagogues. There was the Prince de
Condé, the Prince de Conti, the Prince de Marsillac, the Duke de
Bouillon, the Duke de Beaufort, the Duke de Longueville, the Duke de
Chevreuse, the Duke de Nemours, the Duke de Luynes, the Duke de Brissac,
the Duke d'Elb[oe]uf, the Duke de Candale, the Duke de la Tremouille,
the Marquis de la Boulaye, the Marquis de Laigues, the Marquis de
Noirmoutier, the Marquis de Vitry, the Marquis de Fosseuse, the Marquis
de Sillery, the Marquis d'Estissac, the Marquis d'Hocquincourt, the
Count de Rantzau, the Count de Montresor.

  [403] Walker, who relates what he himself witnessed, says, that, about
        1649, the army was commanded by 'colonels and superior officers,
        who lord it in their gilt coaches, rich apparel, costly
        feastings; though some of them led dray-horses, wore
        leather-pelts, and were never able to name their own fathers or
        mothers.' _Hist. of Independ._ part ii. p. 244. The _Mercurius
        Rusticus_, 1647, says, 'Chelmsford was governed by a tinker, two
        cobblers, two tailors, two pedlars.' _Southey's Commonplace
        Book_, third series, 1850, p. 430. And, at p. 434, another work,
        in 1647, makes a similar statement in regard to Cambridge; while
        Lord Holles assures us, that 'most of the colonels and officers
        (were) mean tradesmen, brewers, taylors, goldsmiths, shoe-makers,
        and the like.' _Holles's Memoirs_, p. 149. When Whitelocke was in
        Sweden in 1653, the prætor of one of the towns abused the
        parliament, saying, 'that they killed their king, and were a
        company of taylors and cobblers.' _Whitelocke's Swedish Embassy_,
        vol. i. p. 205. See also note in _Carwithen's Hist. of the Church
        of England_, vol. ii. p. 156.

These were the leaders of the Fronde;[404] and the mere announcement of
their names indicate the difference between the French and English
rebellions. And, in consequence of this difference, there followed some
results, which are well worth the attention of those writers who, in
their ignorance of the progress of human affairs, seek to uphold that
aristocratic power, which, fortunately for the interests of mankind, has
long been waning; and which, during the last seventy years has, in the
most civilized countries, received such severe and repeated shocks, that
its ultimate fate is hardly a matter respecting which much doubt can now
be entertained.

  [404] Even De Retz, who vainly attempted to organise a popular party,
        found that it was impossible to take any step without the nobles;
        and, notwithstanding his democratic tendencies, he, in 1648,
        thought it advisable 'tâcher d'engager dans les intérêts publics
        les personnes de qualité.' _Mém. de Joly_, p. 31.

The English rebellion was headed by men, whose tastes, habits, and
associations, being altogether popular, formed a bond of sympathy
between them and the people, and preserved the union of the whole party.
In France the sympathy was very weak, and therefore, the union was very
precarious. What sort of sympathy could there be between the mechanic
and the peasant, toiling for their daily bread, and the rich and
dissolute noble, whose life was passed in those idle and frivolous
pursuits which debased his mind, and made his order a byword and a
reproach among the nations? To talk of sympathy existing between the two
classes is a manifest absurdity, and most assuredly would have been
deemed an insult by those high-born men, who treated their inferiors
with habitual and insolent contempt. It is true, that, from causes which
have been already stated, the people did, unhappily for themselves, look
up to those above them with the greatest veneration;[405] but every page
of French history proves how unworthily this feeling was reciprocated,
and in how complete a thraldom the lower classes were kept. While,
therefore, the French, from their long-established habits of dependence,
were become incapable of conducting their own rebellion, and, on that
account, were obliged to place themselves under the command of their
nobles, this very necessity confirmed the servility which caused it; and
thus stunting the growth of freedom, prevented the nation from
effecting, by their civil wars, those great things which we, in England,
were able to bring about by ours.

  [405] Mably (_Observations sur l'Hist. de France_, vol. i. p. 357)
        frankly says, 'L'exemple d'un grand a toujours été plus
        contagieux chez les Français que partout ailleurs.' See also vol.
        ii. p. 267: 'Jamais l'exemple des grands n'a été aussi contagieux
        ailleurs qu'en France; on dirait qu'ils ont le malheureux
        privilège de tout justifier.' Rivarol, though his opinions on
        other points were entirely opposed to those of Mably, says, that,
        in France, 'la noblesse est aux yeux du peuple une espèce de
        religion, dont les gentilshommes sont les prêtres.' _Mém. de
        Rivarol_, p. 94. Happily, the French Revolution, or rather the
        circumstances which caused the French Revolution, have utterly
        destroyed this ignominious homage.

Indeed, it is only necessary to read the French literature of the
seventeenth century, to see the incompatibility of the two classes, and
the utter hopelessness of fusing into one party the popular and
aristocratic spirit. While the object of the people was to free
themselves from the yoke, the object of the nobles was merely to find
new sources of excitement,[406] and minister to that personal vanity for
which, as a body, they have always been notorious. As this is a
department of history that has been little studied, it will be
interesting to collect a few instances, which will illustrate the temper
of the French aristocracy, and will show what sort of honours, and what
manner of distinctions, those were which this powerful class was most
anxious to obtain.

  [406] The Duke de la Rochefoucauld candidly admits that, in 1649, the
        nobles raised a civil war, 'avec d'autant plus de haleur que
        c'était une nouveauté.' _Mém. de Rochefoucauld_, vol. i. p. 406.
        Thus too Lemontey (_Etablissement de Louis XIV_, p. 368): 'La
        vieille noblesse, qui ne savait que combattre, faisait la guerre
        par goût, par besoin, par vanité, par ennui.' Compare, in _Mém.
        d'Omer Talon_, vol. ii. pp. 467, 468, a summary of the reasons
        which, in 1649, induced the nobles to go to war; and on the way
        in which their frivolity debased the Fronde, see _Lavallée_,
        _Hist. des Français_, vol. iii. pp. 169, 170.

That the objects chiefly coveted were of a very trifling description,
will be anticipated by whoever has studied the effect which, in an
immense majority of minds, hereditary distinctions produce upon personal
character. How pernicious such distinctions are, may be clearly seen in
the history of all the European aristocracies; and in the notorious
fact, that none of them have preserved even a mediocrity of talent,
except in countries where they are frequently invigorated by the
infusion of plebeian blood, and their order strengthened by the
accession of those masculine energies which are natural to men who make
their own position, but cannot be looked for in men whose position is
made for them. For, when the notion is once firmly implanted in the
mind, that the source of honour is from without, rather than from
within, it must invariably happen that the possession of external
distinction will be preferred to the sense of internal power. In such
cases, the majesty of the human intellect, and the dignity of human
knowledge, are considered subordinate to those mock and spurious
gradations by which weak men measure the degrees of their own
littleness. Hence it is, that the real precedence of things becomes
altogether reversed; that which is trifling is valued more than that
which is great; and the mind is enervated by conforming to a false
standard of merit, which its own prejudices have raised. On this
account, they are evidently in the wrong who reproach the nobles with
their pride, as if it were a characteristic of their order. The truth
is, that if pride were once established among them, their extinction
would rapidly follow. To talk of the pride of hereditary rank, is a
contradiction in terms. Pride depends on the consciousness of
self-applause; vanity is fed by the applause of others. Pride is a
reserved and lofty passion, which disdains those external distinctions
that vanity eagerly grasps. The proud man sees in his own mind, the
source of his own dignity; which, as he well knows, can be neither
increased or diminished by any acts except those which proceed solely
from himself. The vain man, restless, insatiable, and always craving
after the admiration of his contemporaries, must naturally make great
account of those external marks, those visible tokens, which, whether
they be decorations or titles, strike directly on the senses, and thus
captivate the vulgar, to whose understandings they are immediately
obvious. This, therefore, being the great distinction, that pride looks
within, while vanity looks without, it is clear that when a man values
himself for a rank which he inherited by chance, without exertion, and
without merit, it is a proof, not of pride, but of vanity, and of vanity
of the most despicable kind. It is a proof that such a man has no sense
of real dignity, no idea of what that is in which alone all greatness
consists. What marvel if, to minds of this sort, the most insignificant
trifles should swell into matters of the highest importance? What marvel
if such empty understandings should be busied with ribbons, and stars,
and crosses; if this noble should yearn after the Garter, and that noble
pine for the Golden Fleece; if one man should long to carry a wand in
the precincts of the court, and another man to fill an office in the
royal household; while the ambition of a third is to make his daughter a
maid-of-honour, or to raise his wife to be mistress of the robes?

We, seeing these things, ought not to be surprised that the French
nobles, in the seventeenth century, displayed, in their intrigues and
disputes, a frivolity, which, though redeemed by occasional exceptions,
is the natural characteristic of every hereditary aristocracy. A few
examples of this will suffice to give the reader some idea of the tastes
and temper of that powerful class which, during several centuries,
retarded the progress of French civilization.

Of all the questions on which the French nobles were divided, the most
important was that touching the right of sitting in the royal presence.
This was considered to be a matter of such gravity, that, in comparison
with it, a mere struggle for liberty faded into insignificance. And what
made it still more exciting to the minds of the nobles was, the extreme
difficulty with which this great social problem was beset. According to
the ancient etiquette of the French court, if a man were a duke, his
wife might sit in the presence of the queen; but if his rank were
inferior, even if he were a marquis, no such liberty could be
allowed.[407] So far, the rule was very simple, and, to the duchesses
themselves, highly agreeable. But the marquises, the counts, and the
other illustrious nobles, were uneasy at this invidious distinction, and
exerted all their energies to procure for their own wives the same
honour. This the dukes strenuously resisted; but, owing to circumstances
which unfortunately are not fully understood, an innovation was made in
the reign of Louis XIII., and the privilege of sitting in the same room
with the queen was conceded to the female members of the Bouillon
family.[408] In consequence of this evil precedent, the question became
seriously complicated, since other members of the aristocracy considered
that the purity of their descent gave them claims nowise inferior to
those of the house of Bouillon, whose antiquity, they said, had been
grossly exaggerated. The contest which ensued, had the effect of
breaking up the nobles into two hostile parties, one of which sought to
preserve that exclusive privilege in which the other wished to
participate. To reconcile these rival pretensions, various expedients
were suggested; but all were in vain, and the court, during the
administration of Mazarin, being pressed by the fear of a rebellion,
showed symptoms of giving way, and of yielding to the inferior nobles
the point they so ardently desired. In 1648 and 1649, the queen-regent,
acting under the advice of her council, formally conceded the right of
sitting in the royal presence to the three most distinguished members of
the lower aristocracy, namely, the Countess de Fleix, Madame de Pons,
and the Princess de Marsillac.[409] Scarcely had this decision been
promulgated, when the princes of the blood and the peers of the realm
were thrown into the greatest agitation.[410] They immediately summoned
to the capital those members of their own order who were interested in
repelling this daring aggression, and, forming themselves into an
assembly, they at once adopted measures to vindicate their ancient
rights.[411] On the other hand, the inferior nobles, flushed by their
recent success, insisted that the concession just made should be raised
into a precedent; and that, as the honour of being seated in the
presence of majesty had been conceded to the house of Foix, in the
person of the Countess de Fleix, it should likewise be granted to all
those who could prove that their ancestry was equally illustrious.[412]
The greatest confusion now arose; and both sides urgently insisting on
their own claims, there was, for many months, imminent danger lest the
question should be decided by an appeal to the sword.[413] But as the
higher nobles, though less numerous than their opponents, were more
powerful, the dispute was finally settled in their favour. The queen
sent to their assembly a formal message, which was conveyed by four of
the marshals of France, and in which she promised to revoke those
privileges, the concession of which had given such offence to the most
illustrious members of the French aristocracy. At the same time, the
marshals not only pledged themselves as responsible for the promise of
the queen, but undertook to sign an agreement that they would personally
superintend its execution.[414] The nobles, however, who felt that they
had been aggrieved in their most tender point, were not yet satisfied,
and, to appease them, it was necessary that the atonement should be as
public as the injury. It was found necessary, before they would
peaceably disperse, that government should issue a document, signed by
the queen-regent, and by the four secretaries of state,[415] in which
the favours granted to the unprivileged nobility were withdrawn, and the
much-cherished honour of sitting in the royal presence was taken away
from the Princess de Marsillac, from Madame de Pons, and from the
Countess de Fleix.[416]

  [407] Hence the duchesses were called 'femmes assises;' those of lower
        rank 'non assises.' _Mém. de Fontenay Mareuil_, vol. i. p. 111.
        The Count de Ségur tells us that 'les duchesses jouissaient de la
        prérogative d'être assises sur un tabouret chez la reine.' _Mém.
        de Ségur_, vol. i. p. 79. The importance attached to this is
        amusingly illustrated in _Mém. de Saint-Simon_, vol. iii. pp.
        215-218, Paris, 1842; which should be compared with _De
        Tocqueville_, _Règne de Louis XV_, vol. ii. p. 116, and _Mém. de
        Genlis_, vol. x. p. 383.

  [408] 'Survint incontinent une autre difficulté à la cour sur le sujet
        des tabourets, que doivent avoir les dames dans la chambre de la
        reine; car encore que cela ne s'accorde régulièrement qu'aux
        duchesses, néanmoins le feu roi Louis XIII l'avoit accordé aux
        filles de la maison de Bouillon,' &c. _Mém. d'Omer Talon_, vol.
        iii. p. 5. See also, on this encroachment on the rights of the
        duchesses under Louis XIII., the case of Séguier, in _Duclos_,
        _Mémoires Secrets_, vol. i. pp. 360, 361. The consequences of the
        innovation were very serious; and Tallemant des Réaux
        (_Historiettes_, vol. iii. pp. 223, 224) mentions a distinguished
        lady, of whom he says, 'Pour satisfaire son ambition, il lui
        falloit un tabouret: elle cabale pour épouser le vieux Bouillon
        La Marck veuf pour la seconde fois.' In this she failed; but,
        determined not to be baffled, 'elle ne se rebute point, et
        voulant à toute force avoir un tabouret, elle épouse le fils aîné
        du duc de Villars: c'est un ridicule de corps et d'esprit, car il
        est bossu et quasi imbécile, et gueux par-dessus cela.' This
        melancholy event happened in 1649.

  [409] As to the Countess de Fleix and Madame de Pons, see _Mém. de
        Motteville_, vol. iii. pp. 116, 369. According to the same high
        authority (vol. iii. p. 367), the inferiority of the Princess de
        Marsillac consisted in the painful fact, that her husband was
        merely the son of a duke, and the duke himself was still alive
        'il n'étoit que gentilhomme, et son père le duc de la
        Rochefoucauld n'étoit pas mort.'

  [410] The long account of these proceedings in _Mém. de Motteville_,
        vol. iii. pp. 367-393, shows the importance attached to them by
        contemporary opinion.

  [411] In October 1649, 'la noblesse s'assembla à Paris sur le fait des
        tabourets,' _Mém. de Lenet_, vol. i. p. 184.

  [412] 'Tous ceux donc qui par leurs aïeux avoient dans leurs maisons de
        la grandeur, par des alliances des femmes descendues de ceux qui
        étoient autrefois maîtres et souverains des provinces de France,
        demandèrent la même prérogative que celle qui venoit d'être
        accordée au sang de Foix.' _Mém. de Motteville_, vol. iii. p.
        117. Another contemporary says: 'Cette prétention émut toutes les
        maisons de la cour sur cette différence et inégalité.' _Mém.
        d'Omer Talon_, vol. iii. p. 6; and vol. ii. p. 437: 'le marquis
        de Noirmoutier et celui de Vitry demandoient le tabouret pour
        leurs femmes.'

  [413] Indeed, at one moment, it was determined that a
        counter-demonstration should be made on the part of the inferior
        nobles; a proceeding which, if adopted, must have caused civil
        war: 'Nous résolûmes une contre-assemblée de noblesse pour
        soutenir le tabouret de la maison de Rohan.' _De Retz_,
        _Mémoires_, vol. i. p. 284.

  [414] _Mém. de Motteville_, vol. iii. p. 389.

  [415] 'Signé d'elle et des quatre secrétaires d'état.' _Ibid._ vol. iii.
        p. 391.

  [416] The best accounts of this great struggle will be found in the
        _Memoirs of Madame de Motteville_, and in those of Omer Talon;
        two writers of very different minds, but both of them deeply
        impressed with the magnitude of the contest.

These were the subjects which occupied the minds and wasted the
energies, of the French nobles, while their country was distracted by
civil war, and while questions were at issue of the greatest
importance--questions concerning the liberty of the nation, and the
reconstruction of the government.[417] It is hardly necessary to point
out how unfit such men must have been to head the people in their
arduous struggle, and how immense was the difference between them and
the leaders of the great English Rebellion. The causes of the failure of
the Fronde are, indeed, obvious, when we consider that its chiefs were
drawn from that very class respecting whose tastes and feelings some
evidence has just been given.[418] How that evidence might be almost
indefinitely extended, is well known to readers of the French memoirs of
the seventeenth century--a class of works which, being mostly written
either by the nobles or their adherents, supplies the best materials
from which an opinion may be formed. In looking into these authorities,
where such matters are related with a becoming sense of their
importance, we find the greatest difficulties and disputes arising as to
who was to have an arm-chair at court;[419] who was to be invited to
the royal dinners, and who was to be excluded from them;[420] who was to
be kissed by the queen, and who was not to be kissed by her;[421] who
should have the first seat in church;[422] what the proper proportion
was between the rank of different persons, and the length of the cloth
on which they were allowed to stand;[423] what was the dignity a noble
must have attained, in order to justify his entering the Louvre in a
coach;[424] who was to have precedence at coronations;[425] whether all
dukes were equal, or whether, as some thought, the Duke de Bouillon,
having once possessed the sovereignty of Sedan, was superior to the Duke
de la Rochefoucauld, who had never possessed any sovereignty at
all;[426] whether the Duke de Beaufort ought or ought not to enter the
council-chamber before the Duke de Nemours, and whether, being there, he
ought to sit above him.[427] These were the great questions of the day:
while, as if to exhaust every form of absurdity, the most serious
misunderstandings arose as to who should have the honour of giving the
king his napkin as he ate his meals[428] and who was to enjoy the
inestimable privilege of helping on the queen with her shift.[429]

  [417] Saint-Aulaire (_Hist. de la Fronde_, vol. i. p. 317) says, that in
        this same year (1649), 'l'esprit de discussion fermentait dans
        toutes les têtes, et chacun à cette époque soumettait les actes
        de l'autorité à un examen raisonné.' Thus, too, in _Mém. de
        Montglat_, under 1649, 'on ne parlait publiquement dans Paris que
        de république et de liberté,' vol. ii. p. 186. In 1648, 'effusa
        est contemptio super principes.' _Mém. d'Omer Talon_, vol. ii.
        p. 271.

  [418] That the failure of the Fronde is not to be ascribed to the
        inconstancy of the people, is admitted by De Retz, by far the
        ablest observer of his time: 'Vous vous étonnerez peut-être de ce
        que je dis plus sûr, à cause de l'instabilité du peuple: mais il
        faut avouer que celui de Paris se fixe plus aisément qu'aucun
        autre; et M. de Villeroi, qui a été le plus habile homme de son
        siècle, et qui en a parfaitement connu le naturel dans tout le
        cours de la ligue, où il le gouverna sous M. du Maine, a été de
        ce sentiment. Ce que j'en éprouvois moi-même me le persuadoit.'
        _Mém. de Retz_, vol. i. p. 348; a remarkable passage, and forming
        a striking contrast to the declamation of those ignorant writers
        who are always reproaching the people with their fickleness.

  [419] This knotty point was decided in favour of the Duke of York, to
        whom, in 1649, 'la reine fit de grands honneurs, et lui donna une
        chaise à bras.' _Mém. de Motteville_, vol. iii. p. 275. In the
        chamber of the king, the matter seems to have been differently
        arranged; for Omer Talon (_Mém._ vol. ii. p. 332) tells us that
        'le duc d'Orléans n'avoit point de fauteuil, mais un simple siège
        pliant, à cause que nous étions dans la chambre du roi.' In the
        subsequent year, the scene not being in the king's room, the same
        writer describes 'M. le duc d'Orléans assis dans un fauteuil.'
        _Ibid._ vol. iii. p. 95. Compare _Le Vassor_, _Hist. de Louis
        XIII_, vol. viii. p. 310. Voltaire (_Dict. Philos._ art.
        _Cérémonies_) says: 'Le fauteuil à bras, la chaise à dos, le
        tabouret, la main droite et la main gauche, ont été pendant
        plusieurs siècles d'importants objets de politique, et
        d'illustres sujets de querelles.' _[OE]uvres de Voltaire_, vol.
        xxxvii. p. 486. The etiquette of the 'fauteuil' and 'chaise' is
        explained in _Mém. de Genlis_, vol. x. p. 287.

  [420] See _Mém. de Motteville_, vol. iii. pp. 309, 310.

  [421] See a list of those it was proper for the queen to kiss, in _Mém.
        de Motteville_, vol. iii. p. 318.

  [422] _Mém. de Omer Talon_, vol. i. pp. 217-219. The Prince de Condé
        hotly asserted, that at a _Te Deum_ 'il ne pouvait être assis en
        autre place que dans la première chaire.' This was in 1642.

  [423] For a quarrel respecting the 'drap de pied,' see _Mém. de
        Motteville_, vol. ii. p. 249.

  [424] A very serious dispute was caused by the claim of the Prince de
        Marsillac, for 'permission d'entrer dans le Louvre en carrosse.'
        _Mém. de Motteville_, vol. iii. pp. 367-389.

  [425] _Mém. de Pontchartrain_, vol. i. pp. 422, 423, at the coronation
        of Louis XIII. Other instances of difficulties caused by
        questions of precedence, will be found in _Mém. d'Omer Talon_,
        vol. iii. pp. 23, 24, 437; and even in the grave work of Sully,
        _[OE]conomies Royales_, vol. vii. p. 126, vol. viii. p. 395;
        which should be compared with _De Thou_, _Hist. Univ._ vol. ix.
        pp. 86, 87.

  [426] _Mém. de Lenet_, vol. i. pp. 378, 379. Lenet, who was a great
        admirer of the nobles, relates all this without the faintest
        perception of its absurdity. I ought not to omit a terrible
        dispute, in 1652, respecting the recognition of the claims of the
        Duke de Rohan (_Mém. de Conrart_, pp. 151, 152); nor another
        dispute, in the reign of Henry IV., as to whether a duke ought to
        sign his name before a marshal, or whether a marshal should sign
        first. _De Thou_, _Hist. Univ._ vol. xi. p. 11.

  [427] This difficulty, in 1652, caused a violent quarrel between the two
        dukes, and ended in a duel in which the Duke de Nemours was
        killed, as is mentioned by most of the contemporary writers. See
        _Mém. de Montglat_, vol. ii. p. 357; _Mém. de la Rochefoucauld_,
        vol. ii. p. 172; _Mém. de Conrart_, pp. 172-175; _Mém. de Retz_,
        vol. ii. p. 203; _Mém. d'Omer Talon_, vol. iii. p. 437.

  [428] Pontchartrain, one of the ministers of state, writes, under the
        year 1620: 'En ce même temps s'étoit mû un très-grand différend
        entre M. le prince de Condé et M. le comte de Soissons, sur le
        sujet de la serviette que chacun d'eux prétendoit devoir
        présenter au roi quand ils se rencontreroient tous deux près sa
        majesté.' _Mém. de Pontchartrain_, vol. ii. p. 295. Le Vassor,
        who gives a fuller account (_Règne de Louis XIII_, vol. iii. pp.
        536, 537), says, 'Chacun des deux princes du sang, fort échauffez
        à qui feroit une fonction de maître d'hôtel, tiroit la serviette
        de son côté, et la contestation augmentoit d'une manière dont les
        suites pouvoient devenir fâcheuses.' But the king interposing,
        'ils furent donc obligez de céder: mais ce ne fut pas sans se
        dire l'un à l'autre des paroles hautes et menaçantes.'

  [429] According to some authorities, a man ought to be a duke before his
        wife could be allowed to meddle with the queen's shift; according
        to other authorities, the lady-in-waiting, whoever she might be,
        had the right, unless a princess happened to be present. On these
        alternatives, and on the difficulties caused by them, compare
        _Mém. de Saint-Simon_, 1842, vol. vii. p. 125, with _Mém. de
        Motteville_, vol. ii. pp. 28, 276, 277.

It may, perhaps, be thought that I owe some apology to the reader for
obtruding upon his notice these miserable disputes respecting matters
which, however despicable they now appear, were once valued by men not
wholly devoid of understanding. But, it should be remembered that their
occurrence, and above all, the importance formerly attached to them, is
part of the history of the French mind; and they are therefore to be
estimated, not according to their intrinsic dignity, but according to
the information they supply respecting a state of things which has now
passed away. Events of this sort, though neglected by ordinary
historians, are among the staff and staple of history. Not only do they
assist in bringing before our minds the age to which they refer, but in
a philosophic point of view they are highly important. They are part of
the materials from which we may generalize the laws of that great
protective spirit, which in different periods assumes different shapes;
but which, whatever its form may be, always owes its power to the
feeling of veneration as opposed to the feeling of independence. How
natural this power is, in certain stages of society, becomes evident if
we examine the basis on which veneration is itself supported. The origin
of veneration is wonder and fear. These two passions, either alone or
combined, are the ordinary source of veneration; and the way in which
they arise is obvious. We wonder because we are ignorant, and we fear
because we are weak. It is therefore natural, that in former times, when
men were more ignorant and more weak than they now are, they should
likewise have been more given to veneration, more inclined to those
habits of reverence, which if carried into religion, cause superstition,
and if carried into politics, cause despotism. In the ordinary march of
society, those evils are remedied by that progress of knowledge, which
at once lessens our ignorance and increases our resources: in other
words, which diminishes our proneness to wonder and to fear, and thus
weakening our feelings of veneration, strengthens, in the same
proportion, our feelings of independence. But in France, this natural
tendency was, as we have already seen, counteracted by an opposite
tendency; so that while, on the one hand, the protective spirit was
enfeebled by the advance of knowledge, it was, on the other hand,
invigorated by those social and political circumstances which I have
attempted to trace; and by virtue of which, each class exercising great
power over the one below it, the subordination and subserviency of the
whole were completely maintained. Hence the mind became accustomed to
look upwards, and to rely, not on its own resources, but on the
resources of others. Hence that pliant and submissive disposition, for
which the French, until the eighteenth century, were always remarkable.
Hence, too, that inordinate respect for the opinions of others, on which
vanity, as one of their national characteristics, is founded.[430] For,
the feelings of vanity and of veneration have evidently this in common,
that they induce each man to measure his actions by a standard external
to himself; while the opposite feelings of pride and of independence
would make him prefer that internal standard which his own mind alone
can supply. The result of all this was, that when, in the middle of the
seventeenth century, the intellectual movement stimulated the French to
rebellion, its effect was neutralized by that social tendency which,
even in the midst of the struggle, kept alive the habits of their old
subservience. Thus it was that, while the war went on, there still
remained a constant inclination on the part of the people to look up to
the nobles, on the part of the nobles to look up to the crown. Both
classes relied upon what they saw immediately above them. The people
believed that without the nobles there was no safety; the nobles
believed that without the crown there was no honour. In the case of the
nobles, this opinion can hardly be blamed; for as their distinctions
proceed from the crown, they have a direct interest in upholding the
ancient notion that the sovereign is the fountain of honour. They have a
direct interest in that preposterous doctrine, according to which, the
true source of honour being overlooked, our attention is directed to an
imaginary source, by whose operation it is believed, that in a moment,
and at the mere will of a prince, the highest honours may be conferred
upon the meanest men. This, indeed, is but part of the old scheme to
create distinctions for which nature has given no warrant; to substitute
a superiority which is conventional for that which is real; and thus try
to raise little minds above the level of great ones. The utter failure,
and, as society advances, the eventual cessation of all such attempts,
is certain; but it is evident, that as long as the attempts are made,
they who profit by them must be inclined to value those from whom they
proceed. Unless counteracting circumstances interpose, there must be
between the two parties that sympathy which is caused by the memory of
past favours, and the hope of future ones. In France, this natural
feeling being strengthened by that protective spirit which induced men
to cling to those above them, it is not strange that the nobles, even in
the midst of their turbulence, should seek the slightest favours of the
crown with an eagerness of which some examples have just been given.
They had been so long accustomed to look up to the sovereign as the
source of their own dignity, that they believed there was some hidden
dignity even in his commonest actions; so that, to their minds, it was a
matter of the greatest importance which of them should hand him his
napkin, which of them should hold his basin, and which of them should
put on his shirt.[431] It is not, however, for the sake of casting
ridicule upon these idle and frivolous men, that I have collected
evidence respecting the disputes with which they were engrossed. So far
from this, they are rather to be pitied than blamed: they acted
according to their instincts; they even exerted such slender abilities
as nature had given to them. But we may well feel for that great country
whose interests depended on their care. And it is solely in reference to
the fate of the French people that the historian need trouble himself
with the history of the French nobles. At the same time, evidence of
this sort, by disclosing the tendencies of the old nobility, displays in
one of its most active forms that protective and aristocratic spirit, of
which they know little who only know it in its present reduced and
waning condition. Such facts are to be regarded as the symptoms of a
cruel disease, by which Europe is indeed still afflicted, but which we
now see only in a very mitigated form, and of whose native virulence no
one can have an idea, unless he has studied it in those early stages,
when, raging uncontrolled, it obtained such a mastery as to check the
growth of liberty, stop the progress of nations, and dwarf the energies
of the human mind.

  [430] Also connected with the institution of chivalry, both being
        cognate symptoms of the same spirit.

  [431] Even just before the French Revolution, these feelings still
        existed. See, for instance the extraordinary details in _Campan_,
        _Mém. sur Marie-Antoinette_, vol. i. pp. 98, 99; which should be
        compared with an extract from _Prudhomme's Mirror de Paris_, in
        _Southey's Commonplace Book_, third series, 1850, p. 251,
        no. 165.

It is hardly necessary to trace at greater length the way in which
France and England diverged from each other, or to point out what I hope
will henceforth be considered the obvious difference between the civil
wars in the two countries. It is evident that the low-born and plebeian
leaders of our rebellion could have no sympathy with those matters which
perplexed the understanding of the great French nobles. Men like
Cromwell and his co-adjutors were not much versed in the mysteries of
genealogy, or in the subtleties of heraldic lore. They had paid small
attention to the etiquette of courts; they had not even studied the
rules of precedence. All this was foreign to their design. On the other
hand, what they did was done thoroughly. They knew that they had a great
work to perform; and they performed it well.[432] They had risen in arms
against a corrupt and despotic government, and they would not stay
their hands until they had pulled down those who were in high places;
until they had not only removed the evil, but had likewise chastised
those bad men by whom the evil was committed. And although in this,
their glorious undertaking, they did undoubtedly display some of the
infirmities to which even the highest minds are subject; we, at least,
ought never to speak of them but with that unfeigned respect which is
due to those who taught the first great lesson to the kings of Europe,
and who, in language not to be mistaken, proclaimed to them that the
impunity which they had long enjoyed was now come to an end, and that
against their transgressions the people possessed a remedy, sharper, and
more decisive, than any they had hitherto ventured to use.

  [432] Ludlow thus expresses the sentiments which induced him to make war
        upon the crown: 'The question in dispute between the king's party
        and us being, as I apprehend, whether the king should govern as a
        god by his will, and the nation be governed by force like beasts?
        or whether the people should be governed by laws made by
        themselves, and live under a government derived from their own
        consent? being fully persuaded, that an accommodation with the
        king was unsafe to the people of England, and unjust and wicked
        in the nature of it.' _Ludlow's Memoirs_, vol. i. p. 230. Compare
        Whitelocke's spirited speech to Christina, in _Journal of the
        Swedish Embassy_, vol. i. p. 238; and see pp. 390, 391.

                               CHAPTER IV.

                       AND THE GOVERNING CLASSES.

The reader will now be able to understand how it was that the protective
system, and the notions of subordination connected with it, gained in
France a strength unknown in England, and caused an essential divergence
between the two countries. To complete the comparison, it seems
necessary to examine how this same spirit influenced the purely
intellectual history of France as well as its social and political
history. For the ideas of dependence upon which the protective scheme is
based, encouraged a belief that the subordination which existed in
politics and in society ought also to exist in literature; and that the
paternal, inquisitive, and centralizing system which regulated the
material interests of the country, should likewise regulate the
interests of its knowledge. When, therefore, the Fronde was finally
overthrown, everything was prepared for that singular intellectual
polity which, during fifty years characterised the reign of Louis XIV.,
and which was to French literature what feudalism was to French
politics. In both cases, homage was paid by one party, and protection
and favour accorded by the other. Every man of letters became a vassal
of the French crown. Every book was written with a view to the royal
favour; and to obtain the patronage of the king was considered the most
decisive proof of intellectual eminence. The effects produced by this
system will be examined in the present chapter. The apparent cause of
the system was the personal character of Louis XIV.; but the real and
overruling causes were those circumstances which I have already pointed
out, and which established in the French mind associations that remained
undisturbed until the eighteenth century. To invigorate those
associations, and to carry them into every department of life, was the
great aim of Louis XIV.; and in that he was completely successful. It is
on this account that the history of his reign becomes highly
instructive, because we see in it the most remarkable instance of
despotism which has ever occurred; a despotism of the largest and most
comprehensive kind; a despotism of fifty years over one of the most
civilized people in Europe, who not only bore the yoke without repining,
but submitted with cheerfulness, and even with gratitude, to him by whom
it was imposed.[433]

  [433] On the disgraceful subserviency of the most eminent men of
        letters, see _Capefigue's Louis XIV._, vol. i. pp. 41, 42, 116;
        and on the feeling of the people, Le Vassor, who wrote late in
        the reign of Louis XIV., bitterly says, 'mais les Français,
        accoutumés à l'esclavage, ne sentent plus la pesanteur de leurs
        chaînes.' _Le Vassor_, _Hist. de Louis XIII_, vol. vi. p. 670.
        Foreigners were equally amazed at the general, and still more, at
        the willing servility. Lord Shaftesbury, in a letter dated
        February 1704-5, passes a glowing eulogy upon liberty; but he
        adds, that in France 'you will hardly find this argument
        understood; for whatever flashes may now and then appear, I never
        yet knew one single Frenchman a free man.' _Forster's Original
        Letters of Locke, Sidney, and Shaftesbury_, 1830, p. 205. In the
        same year, De Foe makes a similar remark in regard to the French
        nobles, _Wilson's Life of De Foe_, vol. ii. p. 209; and, in 1699,
        Addison writes from Blois a letter which strikingly illustrates
        the degradation of the French. _Aikin's Life of Addison_, vol. i.
        p. 80. Compare _Burnet's Own Time_, vol. iv. p. 365, on 'the
        gross excess of flattery to which the French have run, beyond the
        examples of former ages, in honour of their king.'

What makes this the more strange is, that the reign of Louis XIV. must
be utterly condemned if it is tried even by the lowest standard of
morals, of honour, or of interest. A coarse and unbridled profligacy,
followed by the meanest and most grovelling superstition, characterized
his private life, while in his public career he displayed an arrogance
and a systematic perfidy which eventually roused the anger of all
Europe, and brought upon France sharp and signal retribution. As to his
domestic policy, he formed a strict alliance with the church; and
although he resisted the authority of the Pope, he willingly left his
subjects to be oppressed by the tyranny of the clergy.[434] To them he
abandoned everything except the exercise of his own prerogative.[435]
Led on by them, he, from the moment he assumed the Government, began to
encroach upon those religious liberties of which Henry IV. had laid the
foundation, and which down to this period had been preserved
intact.[436] It was at the instigation of the clergy that he revoked the
Edict of Nantes, by which the principle of toleration had for nearly a
century been incorporated with the law of the land.[437] It was at their
instigation that, just before this outrage upon the most sacred rights
of his subjects, he, in order to terrify the Protestants into
conversion, suddenly let loose upon them whole troops of dissolute
soldiers, who were allowed to practise the most revolting cruelties. The
frightful barbarities which followed are related by authentic
writers;[438] and of the effect produced on the material interests of
the nation, some idea may be formed from the fact, that these religious
persecutions cost France half a million of her most industrious
inhabitants, who fled to different parts, taking with them those habits
of labour, and that knowledge and experience in their respective trades,
which had hitherto been employed in enriching their own country.[439]
These things are notorious, they are incontestable, and they lie on the
surface of history. Yet, in the face of them there are still found men
who hold up for admiration the age of Louis XIV. Although it is well
known that in his reign every vestige of liberty was destroyed; that the
people were weighed down by an insufferable taxation; that their
children were torn from them by tens of thousands to swell the royal
armies; that the resources of the country were squandered to an
unprecedented extent; that a despotism of the worst kind was firmly
established;--although all this is universally admitted, yet there are
writers, even in our own day, who are so infatuated with the glories of
literature, as to balance them against the most enormous crimes, and who
will forgive every injury inflicted by a prince during whose life there
were produced the Letters of Pascal, the orations of Bossuet, the
Comedies of Molière, and the Tragedies of Racine.

  [434] The terms of this compact between the crown and the church are
        fairly stated by M. Ranke: 'Wir sehen, die beiden Gewalten
        unterstützten einander. Der König ward von den Einwirkungen der
        weltlichen, der Clerus von der unbedingten Autorität der
        geistlichen Gewalt des Papstthums freigesprochen.' _Die Päpste_,
        vol. iii. p. 168.

  [435] This part of his character is skilfully drawn by Sismondi, _Hist.
        des Français_, vol. xxv. p. 43.

  [436] Flasson supposes that the first persecuting laws were in 1679:
        'Des l'année 1679 les concessions faites aux protestans avaient
        été graduellement restreintes.' _Diplomatie Française_, vol. iv.
        p. 92. But the fact is, that these laws began in 1662, the year
        after the death of Mazarin. See _Sismondi_, _Hist. des Français_,
        vol. xxv. p. 167; _Benoist_, _Edit. de Nantes_, vol. iii. pp.
        460-462, 481. In 1667, a letter from Thynne to Lord Clarendon
        (_Lister's Life of Clarendon_, vol. iii. p. 446) mentions 'the
        horrid persecutions the reformed religion undergoes in France;'
        and Locke, who travelled in France in 1675 and 1676, states in
        his Journal (_King's Life of Locke_, vol. i. p. 110) that the
        Protestants were losing 'every day some privilege or other.'

  [437] An account of the revocation will be found in all the French
        historians; but I do not remember that any of them have noticed
        that there was a rumour of it in Paris twenty years before it
        occurred. In March 1665 Patin writes, 'On dit que, pour miner les
        huguenots, le roi veut supprimer les chambres de l'édit, et
        abolir l'édit de Nantes.' _Lettres de Patin_, vol. iii. p. 516.

  [438] Compare _Burnet's Own Time_, vol. iii. pp. 73-76, with _Siècle de
        Louis XIV_, in _[OE]uvres de Voltaire_, vol. xx. pp. 377, 378.
        Voltaire says that the Protestants who persisted in their
        religion 'étaient livrés aux soldats, qui eurent toute licence,
        excepté celle de tuer. Il y eut pourtant plusieurs personnes si
        cruellement maltraitées qu'elles en moururent.' And Burnet, who
        was in France in 1685, says, 'all men set their thoughts on work
        to invent new methods of cruelty.' What some of those methods
        were, I shall now relate; because the evidence, however painful
        it may be, is necessary to enable us to understand the reign of
        Louis XIV. It is necessary that the veil should be rent; and that
        the squeamish delicacy which would hide such facts, should give
        way before the obligation which the historian is under of holding
        up to public opprobrium, and branding with public infamy, the
        church by which the measures were instigated, the sovereign by
        whom they were enforced, and the age in which they were

        The two original sources for our knowledge of these events are,
        _Quick's Synodicon in Gallia_, 1692, folio; and _Benoist_,
        _Histoire de l'Edit de Nantes_, 1695, 4to. From these works I
        extract the following accounts of what happened in France in
        1685. 'Afterwards they fall upon the persons of the Protestants;
        and there was no wickedness, though never so horrid, which they
        did not put in practice, that they might enforce them to change
        their religion.... They bound them as criminals are when they be
        put to the rack; and in that posture, putting a funnel into their
        mouths, they poured wine down their throats till its fumes had
        deprived them of their reason, and they had in that condition
        made them consent to become Catholics. Some they stripped stark
        naked, and after they had offered them a thousand indignities,
        they stuck them with pins from head to foot; they cut them with
        pen-knives, tear them by the noses with red-hot pincers, and
        dragged them about the rooms till they promised to become Roman
        Catholics, or that the doleful outcries of these poor tormented
        creatures, calling upon God for mercy, constrained them to let
        them go.... In some places they tied fathers and husbands to the
        bed-posts, and ravished their wives and daughters before their
        eyes.... From others they pluck off the nails of their hands and
        toes, which must needs cause an intolerable pain. They burnt the
        feet of others. They blew up men and women with bellows, till
        they were ready to burst in pieces. If these horrid usages could
        not prevail upon them to violate their consciences, and abandon
        their religion, they did then imprison them in close and noisome
        dungeons, in which they exercised all kinds of inhumanities upon
        them.' _Quick's Synodicon_, vol. i. pp. cxxx. cxxxi. 'Cependant
        les troupes exerçoient partout de cruautez inouies. Tout leur
        étoit permis, pourveu qu'ils ne fissent pas mourir. Ils faisoient
        danser quelquefois leurs hôtes, jusqu'à ce qu'ils tombassent en
        défaillance. Ils bernoient les autres jusqu'à ce qu'ils n'en
        pouvoient plus.... Il y en eut quelques-uns à qui on versa de
        l'eau bouillante dans la bouche.... Il y en eut plusieurs à qui
        on donna des coups de bâton sous les pieds, pour éprouver si ce
        supplice est aussi cruel que les relations le publient. On
        arrachoit à d'autres le poil de la barbe.... D'autres brûloient à
        la chandelle le poil des bras et des jambes de leurs hôtes.
        D'autres faisoient brûler de la poudre, si près du visage de ceux
        qui leur resistoient, qu'elle leur grilloit toute la peau. Ils
        mettoient à d'autres des charbons allumez dans les mains, et les
        contraignoient de les tenir fermées, jusqu'à ce que les charbons
        fussent éteints.... On brûla les pieds à plusieurs, tenant les
        uns long-tems devant un grand feu; appliquant aux autres une
        pelle ardente sous les pieds; liant les pieds des autres dans des
        bottines pleines de graisse, qu'on faisoit fondre et chauffer peu
        à peu devant un brasier ardent.' _Benoist_, _Hist. de l'Edit de
        Nantes_, vol. v. pp. 887-889. One of the Protestants, named Ryau,
        they 'lièrent fort étroitement; lui sevrèrent les doigts des
        mains; lui fichèrent des épingles sous les ongles; lui firent
        brûler de la poudre dans les oreilles; lui percèrent les cuisses
        en plusieurs lieux, et versèrent du vinaigre et du sel dans ses
        blessures. _Par ce tourment ils épuisèrent sa patience en deux
        jours; et le forcèrent à changer de religion_,' p. 890. 'Ses
        dragons étoient les mêmes en tous lieux. Ils battoient, ils
        étourdissoient, ils brûloient en Bourgogne comme en Poitou, en
        Champagne comme en Guyenne, en Normandie comme en Languedoc. Mais
        ils n'avoient pour les femmes ni plus de respect, ni plus de
        pitié que pour les hommes. Au contraire, ils abusoient de la
        tendre pudeur qui est une des propriétez de leur sexe; et ils
        s'en prevaloient pour leur faire de plus sensibles outrages. On
        leur levoit quelquefois leurs juppes par dessus la tête, et on
        leur jetoit des seaux d'eau sur le corps. Il y en eut plusieurs
        que les soldats mirent en chemise, et qu'ils forcèrent de danser
        avec eux dans cet état.... Deux filles de Calais, nommées le
        Noble, furent mises toutes nuës sur le pavé, et furent ainsi
        exposées à la mocquerie et aux outrages des passans.... Des
        dragons ayant lié la dame de Vezençai à la quenouille de son lit,
        lui crachoient dans la bouche quand elle l'ouvroit pour parler ou
        pour soupirer.' pp. 891, 892. At p. 917 are other details, far
        more horrible, respecting the treatment of women, and which
        indignation rather than shame prevents me from transcribing.
        Indeed, the shame can only light on the church and the government
        under whose united authority such scandalous outrages could be
        openly perpetrated, merely for the sake of compelling men to
        change their religious opinions.

  [439] M. Blanqui (_Hist. de l'Economie Politique_, vol. ii. p. 10) says,
        that the revocation of the Edict of Nantes cost France 'cinq cent
        mille de ses enfants les plus industrieux,' who carried into
        other countries 'les habitudes d'ordre et de travail dont ils
        étaient imbus.' See also _Siècle de Louis XIV_, chap. xxxvi., in
        _[OE]uvres de Voltaire_, vol. xx. pp. 380, 381. Several of them
        emigrated to North America. Compare _Godwin on Population_, pp.
        388, 389, with _Benoist_, _l'Edit de Nantes_, vol. v. pp. 973,
        974, and _Lyell's Second Visit to the United States_, edit. 1849,
        vol. ii. p. 159. See also, on the effects of the Revocation,
        _Lettres inédites de Voltaire_, vol. ii. p. 473.

This method of estimating the merits of a sovereign is, indeed, so
rapidly dying away, that I shall not spend any words in refuting it.
But it is connected with a more widely diffused error respecting the
influence of royal patronage upon national literature. This is a
delusion which men of letters have themselves been the first to
propagate. From the language too many of them are in the habit of
employing, we might be led to believe that there is some magical power
in the smiles of a king which stimulates the intellect of the fortunate
individual whose heart they are permitted to gladden. Nor must this be
despised as one of those harmless prejudices that still linger round the
person of the sovereign. It is not only founded on a misconception of
the nature of things, but it is in its practical consequences very
injurious. It is injurious to the independent spirit which literature
should always possess; and it is injurious to princes themselves,
because it strengthens that vanity of which they generally have too
large a share. Indeed, if we consider the position they now occupy in
the most civilized countries, we shall at once see the absurdity of an
opinion which, in the present state of knowledge, is unfit to be held by
educated men.

From the moment that there was finally abandoned the theological fiction
of the divine right of kings, it necessarily followed that the respect
felt for them should suffer a corresponding diminution.[440] The
superstitious reverence with which they were formerly regarded is
extinct, and at the present day we are no longer awed by that divinity
with which their persons were once supposed to be hedged.[441] The
standard, therefore, by which we should measure them is obvious. We
should applaud their conduct in proportion as they contribute towards
the happiness of the nation over which they are intrusted with power;
but we ought to remember that, from the manner in which they are
educated, and from the childish homage always paid to them, their
information must be very inaccurate, and their prejudices very
numerous.[442] On this account, so far from expecting that they should
be judicious patrons of literature, or should in any way head their age,
we ought to be satisfied if they do not obstinately oppose the spirit of
their time, and if they do not attempt to stop the march of society.
For, unless the sovereign, in spite of the intellectual disadvantages of
his position, is a man of very enlarged mind, it must usually happen
that he will reward, not those who are most able, but those who are most
compliant; and that while he refuses his patronage to a profound and
independent thinker, he will grant it to an author who cherishes ancient
prejudices and defends ancient abuses. In this way, the practice of
conferring on men of letters either honorary or pecuniary rewards, is
agreeable, no doubt, to those who receive them; but has a manifest
tendency to weaken the boldness and energy of their sentiments, and
therefore to impair the value of their works. This might be made evident
by publishing a list of those literary pensions which have been granted
by European princes. If this were done, the mischief produced by these
and similar rewards would be clearly seen. After a careful study of the
history of literature, I think myself authorised to say, that for one
instance in which a sovereign has recompensed a man who is before his
age, there are at least twenty instances of his recompensing one who is
behind his age. The result is, that in every country where royal
patronage has been long and generally bestowed, the spirit of
literature, instead of being progressive, has become reactionary. An
alliance has been struck up between those who give and those who
receive. By a system of bounties, there has been artificially engendered
a greedy and necessitous class; who, eager for pensions, and offices,
and titles, have made the pursuit of truth subordinate to the desire of
gain, and have infused into their writings the prejudices of the court
to which they cling. Hence it is, that the marks of favour have become
the badge of servitude. Hence it is, that the acquisition of knowledge,
by far the noblest of all occupations, an occupation which of all others
raises the dignity of man, has been debased to the level of a common
profession, where the chances of success are measured by the number of
rewards, and where the highest honours are in the gift of whoever
happens to be the minister or sovereign of the day.

  [440] On the diminished respect for kings, caused by the abandonment of
        divine right, see _Spencer's Social Statics_, pp. 423, 424; and
        on the influence of the clergy in propagating the old doctrine,
        see Allen's learned work on the _Royal Prerogative_, edit. 1849,
        p. 156. See also some striking remarks by Locke, in _King's Life
        of Locke_, vol ii. p. 90.

  [441] 'Qu'est devenu, en effet, le droit divin, cette pensée, autrefois
        acceptée par les masses, que les rois étaient les représentants
        de Dieu sur la terre, que la racine de leur pouvoir était dans le
        ciel? Elle s'est évanouie devant cette autre pensée, qu'aucun
        nuage, aucun mysticisme n'obscurcit; devant cette pensée si
        naturelle et brillant d'une clarté si nette et si vive, que la
        souveraine puissance, sur la terre, appartient au peuple entier,
        et non à une fraction, et moins encore à un seul homme.' _Rey_,
        _Science Sociale_, vol. iii. p. 308. Compare _Manning on the Law
        of Nations_, p. 101; _Laing's Sweden_, p. 408; _Laing's Denmark_,
        p. 196; _Burke's Works_, vol. i. p. 391.

  [442] In this, as in all instances, the language of respect long
        survives the feeling to which the language owed its origin. Lord
        Brougham (_Political Philosophy_, vol. i. p. 42, Lond. 1849)
        observes, that 'all their titles are derived from a divine
        original--all refer to them as representing the Deity on earth.
        They are called "_Grace_," "_Majesty_." They are termed "_The
        Lord's anointed_," "_The Vicegerent of God upon earth_;" with
        many other names which are either nonsensical or blasphemous, but
        which are outdone in absurdity by the kings of the East.' True
        enough: but if Lord Brougham had written thus three centuries
        ago, he would have had his ears cut off for his pains.

This tendency forms of itself a decisive objection to the views of those
who wish to entrust the executive government with the means of rewarding
literary men. But there is also another objection, in some respects
still more serious. Every nation which is allowed to pursue its course
uncontrolled, will easily satisfy the wants of its own intellect, and
will produce such a literature as is best suited to its actual
condition. And it is evidently for the interest of all classes that the
production shall not be greater than the want; that the supply shall not
exceed the demand. It is, moreover, necessary to the well-being of
society that a healthy proportion should be kept up between the
intellectual classes and the practical classes. It is necessary that
there should be a certain ratio between those who are most inclined to
think, and those who are most inclined to act. If we were all authors,
our material interests would suffer; if we were all men of business, our
mental pleasures would be abridged. In the first case, we should be
famished philosophers; in the other case, we should be wealthy fools.
Now, it is obvious that, according to the commonest principles of human
action the relative numbers of these two classes will be adjusted,
without effort, by the natural, or, as we call it, the spontaneous
movement of society. But if a government takes upon itself to pension
literary men, it disturbs this movement; it troubles the harmony of
things. This is the unavoidable result of that spirit of interference,
or, as it is termed, protection, by which every country has been greatly
injured. If, for instance, a fund were set apart by the state for
rewarding butchers and tailors, it is certain that the number of those
useful men would be needlessly augmented. If another fund is
appropriated for the literary classes, it is as certain that men of
letters will increase more rapidly than the exigencies of the country
require. In both cases, an artificial stimulus will produce an unhealthy
action. Surely, food and clothes are as necessary for the body as
literature is for the mind. Why, then, should we call upon government to
encourage those who write our books, any more than to encourage those
who kill our mutton and mend our garments? The truth is, that the
intellectual march of society is, in this respect, exactly analogous to
its physical march. In some instances a forced supply may, indeed,
create an unnatural want. But this is an artificial state of things,
which indicates a diseased action. In a healthy condition, it is not the
supply which causes the want, but it is the want which gives rise to the
supply. To suppose, therefore, that an increase of authors would
necessarily be followed by a diffusion of knowledge, is as if we were to
suppose that an increase of butchers must be followed by a diffusion of
food. This is not the way in which things are ordered. Men must have
appetite before they will eat; they must have money before they can buy;
they must be inquisitive before they will read. The two great principles
which move the world are, the love of wealth and the love of knowledge.
These two principles respectively represent and govern the two most
important classes into which every civilized country is divided. What a
government gives to one of these classes, it must take from the other.
What it gives to literature, it must take from wealth. This can never be
done to any great extent, without entailing the most ruinous
consequences. For, the natural proportions of society being destroyed,
society itself will be thrown into confusion. While men of letters are
protected, men of industry will be depressed. The lower classes can
count for little in the eyes of those to whom literature is the first
consideration. The idea of the liberty of the people will be
discouraged; their persons will be oppressed; their labour will be
taxed. The arts necessary to life will be despised, in order that those
which embellish life may be favoured. The many will be ruined, that the
few may be pleased. While every thing is splendid above, all will be
rotten below. Fine pictures, noble palaces, touching dramas--these may
for a time be produced in profusion, but it will be at the cost of the
heart and strength of the nation. Even the class for whom the sacrifice
has been made, will soon decay. Poets may continue to sing the praises
of the prince who has bought them with his gold. It is, however, certain
that men who begin by losing their independence, will end by losing
their energy. Their intellect must be robust indeed, if it does not
wither in the sickly atmosphere of a court. Their attention being
concentrated on their master, they insensibly contract those habits of
servility which are suited to their position; and, as the range of their
sympathies is diminished, the use and action of their genius become
impaired. To them submission is a custom, and servitude a pleasure. In
their hands, literature soon loses its boldness, tradition is appealed
to as the ground of truth, and the spirit of inquiry is extinguished.
Then it is, that there comes one of those sad moments in which, no
outlet being left for public opinion, the minds of men are unable to
find a vent; their discontents, having no voice, slowly rankle into a
deadly hatred; their passions accumulate in silence, until at length,
losing all patience, they are goaded into one of those terrible
revolutions, by which they humble the pride of their rulers, and carry
retribution even into the heart of the palace.

The truth of this picture is well known to those who have studied the
history of Louis XIV., and the connection between it and the French
Revolution. That prince adopted, during his long reign, the mischievous
practice of rewarding literary men with large sums of money, and of
conferring on them numerous marks of personal favour. As this was done
for more than half a century; and as the wealth which he thus
unscrupulously employed was of course taken from his other subjects, we
can find no better illustration of the results which such patronage is
likely to produce. He, indeed, has the merit of organizing into a system
that protection of literature which some are so anxious to restore. What
the effect of this was upon the general interests of knowledge, we shall
presently see. But its effect upon authors themselves should be
particularly attended to by those men of letters who, with little regard
to their own dignity, are constantly reproaching the English government
for neglecting the profession of which they themselves are members. In
no age have literary men been awarded with such profuseness as in the
reign of Louis XIV.; and in no age have they been so mean-spirited, so
servile, so utterly unfit to fulfil their great vocation as the apostles
of knowledge and the missionaries of truth. The history of the most
celebrated authors of that time proves that, notwithstanding their
acquirements, and the power of their minds, they were unable to resist
the surrounding corruption. To gain the favour of the king, they
sacrificed that independent spirit which should have been dearer to them
than life. They gave away the inheritance of genius; they sold their
birthright for a mess of pottage. What happened then, would under the
same circumstances happen now. A few eminent thinkers may be able for a
certain time to resist the pressure of their age. But, looking at
mankind generally, society can have no hold on any class except through
the medium of their interests. It behoves, therefore, every people to
take heed, that the interests of literary men are on their side rather
than on the side of their rulers. For, literature is the representative
of intellect, which is progressive; government is the representative of
order, which is stationary. As long as these two great powers are
separate, they will correct and react upon each other, and the people
may hold the balance. If, however, these powers coalesce, if the
government can corrupt the intellect, and if the intellect will yield to
the government, the inevitable result must be, despotism in politics,
and servility in literature. This was the history of France under Louis
XIV.: and this, we may rest assured, will be the history of every
country that shall be tempted to follow so attractive but so fatal an

The reputation of Louis XIV. originated in the gratitude of men of
letters; but it is now supported by a popular notion that the celebrated
literature of his age is mainly to be ascribed to his fostering care.
If, however, we examine this opinion, we shall find that, like many of
the traditions of which history is full, it is entirely devoid of truth.
We shall find two leading circumstances, which will prove that the
literary splendour of his reign was not the result of his efforts, but
was the work of that great generation which preceded him; and that the
intellect of France, so far from being benefited by his munificence, was
hampered by his protection.

I. The first circumstance is, that the immense impulse which, during the
administrations of Richelieu and of Mazarin, had been given to the
highest branches of knowledge, was suddenly stopped. In 1661 Louis XIV.
assumed the government;[443] and from that moment until his death, in
1715, the history of France, so far as great discoveries are concerned,
is a blank in the annals of Europe. If, putting aside all preconceived
notions respecting the supposed glory of that age, we examine the matter
fairly, it will be seen that in every department there was a manifest
dearth of original thinkers. There was much that was elegant, much that
was attractive. The senses of men were soothed and flattered by the
creations of art, by paintings, by palaces, by poems; but scarcely any
thing of moment was added to the sum of human knowledge. If we take the
mathematics, and those mixed sciences to which they are applicable, it
will be universally admitted that their most successful cultivators in
France during the seventeenth century were Descartes, Pascal, Fermat,
Gassendi, and Mersenne. But, so far from Louis XIV. having any share in
the honour due to them, these eminent men were engaged in their
investigations while the king was still in his cradle, and completed
them before he assumed the government, and therefore before his system
of protection came into play. Descartes died in 1650,[444] when the king
was twelve years old. Pascal, whose name, like that of Descartes, is
commonly associated with the age of Louis XIV., had gained an European
reputation while Louis, occupied in the nursery with his toys, was not
aware that any such man existed. His treatise on conic sections was
written in 1639;[445] his decisive experiments on the weight of air were
made in 1648;[446] and his researches on the cycloid, the last great
inquiry he ever undertook, were in 1658,[447] when Louis, still under
the tutelage of Mazarin, had no sort of authority. Fermat was one of the
most profound thinkers of the seventeenth century, particularly as a
geometrician, in which respect he was second only to Descartes.[448] The
most important steps he took are those concerning the geometry of
infinites, applied to the ordinates and tangents of curves; which,
however, he completed in or before 1636.[449] As to Gassendi and
Mersenne, it is enough to say that Gassendi died in 1655,[450] six years
before Louis was at the head of affairs; while Mersenne died in
1648,[451] when the great king was ten years old.

  [443] 'La première période du gouvernement de Louis XIV commence donc en
        1661.' _Capefigue's Louis XIV._, vol. i. p. 4.

  [444] _Biog. Univ._ vol. xi. p. 157.

  [445] In _Biog. Univ._ vol. xxxiii. p. 50, he is said to have composed
        it 'à l'âge de seize ans;' and at p. 46, to have been born
        in 1623.

  [446] _Leslie's Natural Philosophy_, p. 201; _Bordas Demoulin_, _Le
        Cartésianisme_, vol. i. p. 310. Sir John Herschel (_Disc. on Nat.
        Philos._ pp. 229, 230) calls this 'one of the first, if not the
        very first,' crucial instance recorded in physics; and he thinks
        that it 'tended, more powerfully than any thing which had
        previously been done in science, to confirm in the minds of men
        that disposition to experimental verification which had scarcely
        yet taken full and secure root.' In this point of view, the
        addition it actually made to knowledge is the smallest part of
        its merit.

  [447] Montucla (_Hist. des Mathématiques_, vol. ii. p. 61) says, 'vers
        1658;' and at p. 65, 'il se mit, vers le commencement de 1658, à
        considérer plus profondément les propriétés de cette courbe.'

  [448] Montucla (_Hist. des Mathémat._ vol. ii. p. 136) enthusiastically
        declares that 'si Descartes eût manqué à l'esprit humain, Fermat
        l'eût remplacé en géométrie.' Simson, the celebrated restorer of
        Greek geometry, said that Fermat was the only modern who
        understood porisms. See _Trail's Account of Simson_, 1812, 4to.
        pp. 18, 41. On the connexion between his views and the subsequent
        discovery of the differential calculus, see _Brewster's Life of
        Newton_, vol. ii. pp. 7, 8; and compare _Comte_, _Philosophie
        Positive_, vol. i. pp. 228, 229, 726, 727.

  [449] See extracts from two letters written by Fermat to Roberval, in
        1636, in _Montucla_, _Hist. des Mathématiques_, vol. ii. pp. 136,
        137; respecting which there is no notice in the meagre article on
        Fermat, in _Hutton's Mathematical Dictionary_, vol. i. p. 510,
        4to. 1815. It is a disgrace to English mathematicians that this
        unsatisfactory work of Hutton's should still remain the best they
        have produced on the history of their own science. The same
        disregard of dates is shown in the hasty remarks on Fermat by
        Playfair. See _Playfair's Dissertation on the Progress of
        Mathematical Science_, _Encyclop. Brit._ vol. i. p. 440, 7th

  [450] _Hutton's Mathemat. Dict._ vol. i. p. 572.

  [451] _Ibid._ vol. ii. p. 46.

These were the men who flourished in France just before the system of
Louis XIV. came into operation. Shortly after their death the patronage
of the king began to tell upon the national intellect; and during the
next fifty years no addition of importance was made to either branch of
the mathematics, or, with the single exception of acoustics,[452] to any
of the sciences to which the mathematics are applied.[453] The further
the seventeenth century advanced, the more evident did the decline
become, and the more clearly can we trace the connexion between the
waning powers of the French, and that protective spirit which enfeebled
the energies it wished to strengthen. Louis had heard that astronomy is
a noble study; he was therefore anxious, by encouraging its cultivation
in France, to add to the glories of his own name.[454] With this view,
he rewarded its professors with unexampled profusion; he built the
splendid Observatory of Paris; he invited to his court the most eminent
foreign astronomers, Cassini from Italy, Römer from Denmark, Huygens
from Holland. But, as to native ability, France did not produce a single
man who made even one of those various discoveries which mark the epochs
of astronomical science. In other countries vast progress was made; and
Newton in particular, by his immense generalizations, reformed nearly
every branch of physics, and remodelled astronomy by carrying the laws
of gravitation to the extremity of the solar system. On the other hand,
France had fallen into such a torpor, that these wonderful discoveries,
which changed the face of knowledge, were entirely neglected, there
being no instance of any French astronomer adopting them until 1732,
that is, forty-five years after they had been published by their
immortal author.[455] Even in matters of detail, the most valuable
improvement made by French astronomers during the power of Louis XIV.
was not original. They laid claim to the invention of the micrometer; an
admirable resource, which, as they supposed, was first contrived by
Picard and Auzout.[456] The truth, however, is, that here again they
were anticipated by the activity of a freer and less protected people;
since the micrometer was invented by Gascoigne in or just before 1639,
when the English monarch, so far from having leisure to patronize
science, was about to embark in that struggle which, ten years later,
cost him his crown and his life.[457]

  [452] Of which Sauveur may be considered the creator. Compare _Eloge de
        Sauveur_, in _[OE]uvres de Fontenelle_, Paris, 1766, vol. v. p.
        435, with _Whewell's Hist. of the Induc. Sciences_, vol. ii. p.
        334; _Comte_, _Philos. Pos._ vol. ii. pp. 627, 628.

  [453] In the report presented to Napoleon by the French Institute, it is
        said of the reign of Louis XIV., 'les sciences exactes et les
        sciences physiques peu cultivées en France dans un siècle qui
        paroissoit ne trouver de charmes que dans la littérature.'
        _Dacier_, _Rapport Historique_, p. 24. Or, as Lacretelle
        expresses it (_Dix-huitième Siècle_, vol. ii. p. 10), 'La France,
        après avoir fourni Descartes et Pascal, eut pendant quelque temps
        à envier aux nations étrangères la gloire de produire des génies
        créateurs dans les sciences.'

  [454] A writer late in the seventeenth century says, with some
        simplicity, 'the present king of France is reputed an encourager
        of choice and able men, in all faculties, who can attribute to
        his greatness.' _Aubrey's Letters_, vol. ii. p. 624.

  [455] The _Principia_ of Newton appeared in 1687; and Maupertuis, in
        1732, 'was the first astronomer of France who undertook a
        critical defence of the theory of gravitation.' _Grant's Hist. of
        Physical Astronomy_, pp. 31, 43. In 1738, Voltaire writes, 'La
        France est jusqu'à présent le seul pays où les théories de Newton
        en physique, et de Boerhaave en médecine, soient combattues. Nous
        n'avons pas encore de bons éléments de physique; nous avons pour
        toute astronomie le livre de Bion, qui n'est qu'un ramas informe
        de quelques mémoires de l'académie.' _Correspond._ in _[OE]uvres
        de Voltaire_, vol. xlvii. p. 340. On the tardy reception of
        Newton's discoveries in France, compare _Eloge de Lacaille_, in
        _[OE]uvres de Bailly_, Paris, 1790, vol. i. pp. 175, 176. All
        this is the more remarkable, because several of the conclusions
        at which Newton had arrived were divulged before they were
        embodied in the _Principia_; and it appears from _Brewster's Life
        of Newton_ (vol. i. pp. 25, 26, 290), that his speculations
        concerning gravity began in 1666, or perhaps in the autumn of

  [456] 'L'abbé Picard fut en société avec Auzout, l'inventeur du
        micromètre.' _Biog. Univ._ vol. xxxiv. p. 253. See also _Préface
        de l'Hist. de l'Acad. des Sciences_, in _[OE]uvres de
        Fontenelle_, Paris, 1766, vol. x. p. 20.

  [457] The best account I have seen of the invention of the micrometer,
        is in Mr. Grant's recent work, _History of Physical Astronomy_,
        pp. 428, 450-453, where it is proved that Gascoigne invented it
        in 1639, or possibly a year or two earlier. Compare _Humboldt's
        Cosmos_, vol. iii. p. 52; who also ascribes it to Gascoigne, but
        erroneously dates it in 1640. Montucla (_Hist. des Mathémat._
        vol. ii. pp. 570, 571) admits the priority of Gascoigne; but
        underrates his merit, being apparently unacquainted with the
        evidence which Mr. Grant subsequently adduced.

The absence in France, during this period, not only of great
discoveries, but also of mere practical ingenuity, is certainly very
striking. In investigations requiring minute accuracy, the necessary
tools, if at all complicated, were made by foreigners, the native
workmen being too unskilled to construct them; and Dr. Lister, who was a
very competent judge,[458] and who was in Paris at the end of the
seventeenth century, supplies evidence that the best mathematical
instruments sold in that city were made, not by a Frenchman, but by
Butterfield, an Englishman residing there.[459] Nor did they succeed
better in matters of immediate and obvious utility. The improvements
effected in manufactures were few and insignificant, and were
calculated, not for the comfort of the people, but for the luxury of the
idle classes.[460] What was really valuable was neglected; no great
invention was made; and by the end of the reign of Louis XIV. scarcely
anything had been done in machinery, or in those other contrivances
which, by economising national labour, increase national wealth.[461]

  [458] For a short account of this able man, see _Lankester's Mem. of
        Ray_, p. 17.

  [459] Notwithstanding the strong prejudice then existing against
        Englishmen, Butterfield was employed by 'the king and all the
        princes.' _Lister's Account of Paris at the close of the
        Seventeenth Century, edited by Dr. Henning_, p. 85. Fontenelle
        mentions 'M. Hubin,' as one of the most celebrated makers in
        Paris in 1687 (_Eloge d'Amoltons_, in _[OE]uvres de Fontenelle_,
        Paris, 1766, vol. v. p. 113); but has forgotten to state that he
        too was an Englishman. 'Lutetiæ sedem posuerat ante aliquod
        tempus _Anglus quidam nomine Hubinus_, vir ingeniosus, atque
        hujusmodi machinationum peritus opifex et industrius. Hominem
        adii,' &c. _Huetii Commentarius de Rebus ad eum pertinentibus_,
        p. 346. Thus, again, in regard to time-keepers, the vast
        superiority of the English makers, late in the reign of Louis
        XIV., was equally incontestable. Compare _Biog. Univ._ vol. xxiv.
        pp. 242, 243, with _Brewster's Life of Newton_, vol. ii. p. 262;
        and as to the middle of the reign of Louis XIV., see _Eloge de
        Sebastien_, in _[OE]uvres de Fontenelle_, vol. vi. pp. 332, 333.

  [460] 'Les manufactures étaient plutôt dirigées vers le brillant que
        vers l'utile. On s'efforça, par un arrêt du mois de mars 1700,
        d'extirper, ou du moins de réduire beaucoup les fabriques de bas
        au métier. Malgré cette fausse direction, les objets d'un luxe
        très-recherché faisaient des progrès bien lents. En 1687, après
        la mort de Colbert, la cour soldait encore l'industrie des
        barbares, et faisait fabriquer et broder ses plus beaux habits à
        Constantinople.' _Lemontey_, _Etablissement de Louis XIV_, p.
        364. Lacretelle (_Dix-huitième Siècle_, vol. ii. p. 5) says, that
        during the last thirty years of the reign of Louis XIV. 'les
        manufactures tombaient.'

  [461] Cuvier (_Biog. Univ._ vol. xxxvii. p. 199) thus describes the
        condition of France only seven years after the death of Louis
        XIV.: 'Nos forges étaient alors presque dans l'enfance; et nous
        ne faisions point d'acier: tout celui qu'exigeaient les
        différents métiers nous venait de l'étranger.... Nous ne
        faisions point non plus alors de fer-blanc, et il ne nous venait
        que de l'Allemagne.'

While such was the state, not only of mathematical and astronomical
science, but also of mechanical and inventive arts, corresponding
symptoms of declining power were seen in other departments. In
physiology, in anatomy and in medicine, we look in vain for any men
equal to those by whom France had once been honoured. The greatest
discovery of this kind ever made by a Frenchman, was that of the
receptacle of the chyle; a discovery which, in the opinion of a high
authority, is not inferior to that of the circulation of the blood by
Harvey.[462] This important step in our knowledge is constantly assigned
to the age of Louis XIV., as if it were one of the results of his
gracious bounty; but it would be difficult to tell what Louis had to do
with it, since the discovery was made by Pecquet in 1647,[463] when the
great king was nine years old. After Pecquet, the most eminent of the
French anatomists in the seventeenth century was Riolan; and his name we
also find among the illustrious men who adorned the reign of Louis XIV.
But the principal works of Riolan were written before Louis XIV. was
born; his last work was published in 1652; and he himself died in
1657.[464] Then there came a pause, and, during three generations, the
French did nothing for these great subjects: they wrote no work upon
them which is now read, they made no discoveries, and they seemed to
have lost all heart, until that revival of knowledge, which, as we shall
presently see, took place in France about the middle of the eighteenth
century. In the practical parts of medicine, in its speculative parts,
and in the arts connected with surgery, the same law prevails. The
French, in these, as in other matters, had formerly produced men of
great eminence, who had won for themselves an European reputation, and
whose works are still remembered. Thus, only to mention two or three
instances, they had a long line of illustrious physicians, among whom
Fernel and Joubert were the earliest;[465] they had, in surgery,
Ambroise Paré, who not only introduced important practical
improvements,[466] but who has the still rarer merit of being one of the
founders of comparative osteology;[467] and they had Baillou, who late
in the sixteenth and early in the seventeenth century, advanced
pathology, by connecting it with the study of morbid anatomy.[468] Under
Louis XIV. all this was changed. Under him, surgery was neglected,
though in other countries its progress was rapid.[469] The English, by
the middle of the seventeenth century, had taken considerable steps in
medicine: its therapeutical branch being reformed chiefly by Sydenham,
its physiological branch by Glisson.[470] But the age of Louis XIV.
cannot boast of a single medical writer who can be compared to these;
not even one whose name is now known as having made any specific
addition to our knowledge. In Paris, the practice of medicine was
notoriously inferior to that in the capitals of Germany, Italy, and
England; while in the French provinces, the ignorance, even of the best
physicians, was scandalous.[471] Indeed, it is no exaggeration to say
that, during the whole of this long period, the French in these matters
effected comparatively nothing; they made no contributions to clinical
literature,[472] and scarcely any to therapeutics, to pathology, to
physiology, or to anatomy.[473]

  [462] 'Certainement la découverte de Pecquet ne brille pas moins dans
        l'histoire de notre art que la vérité démontrée pour la première
        fois par Harvey.' _Sprengel_, _Hist. de la Médecine_, vol. iv. p.

  [463] Henle (_Anatomie Générale_, vol. ii. p. 106) says, that the
        discovery was made in 1649; but the historians of medicine assign
        it to 1647. _Sprengel_, _Hist. de la Médecine_, vol. iv. pp. 207,
        405; _Renouard_, _Hist. de la Médecine_, vol. ii. p. 173.

  [464] _Biog. Univ._ vol. xxxviii. pp. 123, 124.

  [465] Some of the great steps taken by Joubert are concisely stated in
        _Broussais_, _Examen des Doctrines Médicales_, vol. i. pp. 293,
        294, vol. iii. p. 361. Compare _Sprengel_, _Hist. de la
        Médecine_, vol. iii. p. 210. Fernel, though enthusiastically
        praised by Patin, was probably hardly equal to Joubert. _Lettres
        de Patin_, vol. iii. pp. 59, 199, 648. At p. 106, Patin calls
        Fernel 'le premier médecin de son temps, et peut-être le plus
        grand qui sera jamais.'

  [466] See a summary of them in _Sprengel_, _Hist. de la Médecine_, vol.
        iii. pp. 405, 406, vol. vii. pp. 14, 15. Sir Benjamin Brodie
        (_Lectures on Surgery_, p. 21) says, 'Few greater benefits have
        been conferred on mankind than that for which we are indebted to
        Ambrose Parey--the application of a ligature to a bleeding

  [467] 'C'était là une vue très-ingénieuse et très-juste qu'Ambroise Paré
        donnait pour la première fois. C'était un commencement
        d'ostéologie comparée.' _Cuvier_, _Hist. des Sciences_, part. ii.
        p. 42. To this I may add, that he is the first French writer on
        medical jurisprudence. See _Paris and Fonblanque's Medical
        Jurisprudence_, 1823, vol. i. p. xviii.

  [468] 'L'un des premiers auteurs à qui l'on doit des observations
        cadavériques sur les maladies, est le fameux Baillou.'
        _Broussais_, _Examen des Doctrines Médicales_, vol. ii. p. 218.
        See also vol. iii. p. 362; and _Renouard_, _Hist. de la
        Médecine_, vol. ii. p. 89. The value of his services is
        recognized in a recent able work, _Phillips on Scrofula_, 1846,
        p. 16.

  [469] 'The most celebrated surgeon of the sixteenth century was Ambroise
        Paré.... From the time of Paré until the commencement of the
        eighteenth century, surgery was but little cultivated in France.
        Mauriceau, Saviard, and Belloste, were the only French surgeons
        of note who could be contrasted with so many eminent men of other
        nations. During the eighteenth century, France produced two
        surgeons of extraordinary genius; these are Petit and Desault.'
        _Bowman's Surgery_, in _Encyclop. of Medical Sciences_, 1847,
        4to. pp. 829, 830.

  [470] It is unnecessary to adduce evidence respecting the services
        rendered by Sydenham, as they are universally admitted; but what,
        perhaps, is less generally known, is, that Glisson anticipated
        those important views concerning irritability, which were
        afterwards developed by Haller and Gorter. Compare _Renouard_,
        _Hist. de le Médecine_, vol. ii. p. 192; _Elliotson's Human
        Physiol_. p. 471; _Bordas Demoulin_, _Cartésianisme_, vol. i. p.
        170; In _Wagner's Physiol._ 1841, p. 655, the theory is too
        exclusively ascribed to Haller.

  [471] Of this we have numerous complaints from foreigners who visited
        France. I will quote the testimony of one celebrated man. In
        1699, Addison writes from Blois: 'I made use of one of the
        physicians of this place, who are as cheap as our English
        farriers, and generally as ignorant.' _Aikin's Life of Addison_,
        vol. i. p. 74.

  [472] Indeed, France was the last great country in Europe in which a
        chair of clinical medicine was established. See _Renouard_,
        _Hist. de la Médecine_, vol. ii. p. 312; and _Bouillaud_,
        _Philos. Médicale_, p. 114.

  [473] M. Bouillaud, in his account of the state of medicine in the
        seventeenth century, does not mention a single Frenchman during
        this period. See _Bouillaud_, _Philosophie Médicale_, pp. 13 seq.
        During many years of the power of Louis XIV., the French Academy
        only possessed one anatomist; and of him, few students of
        physiology have ever heard: 'M. du Verney fut assez long-temps le
        seul anatomiste de l'académie, et ce ne fut qu'en 1684 qu'on lui
        joignit M. Mery.' _Eloge de Du Verney_, in _[OE]uvres de
        Fontenelle_, vol. vi. p. 392.

In what are called the natural sciences, we also find the French now
brought to a stand. In zoology, they had formerly possessed remarkable
men, among whom Belon and Rondelet were the most conspicuous:[474] but,
under Louis XIV., they did not produce one original observer in this
great field of inquiry.[475] In chemistry, again, Rey had, in the reign
of Louis XIII., struck out views of such vast importance, that he
anticipated some of those generalizations which formed the glory of the
French intellect in the eighteenth century.[476] During the corrupt and
frivolous age of Louis XIV., all this was forgotten; the labours of Rey
were neglected; and so complete was the indifference, that even the
celebrated experiments of Boyle remained unknown in France for more than
forty years after they were published.[477]

  [474] _Cuvier_, _Hist. des Sciences_, part ii. pp. 64-73, 76-80.

  [475] After Belon, nothing was done in France for the natural history of
        animals until 1734, when there appeared the first volume of
        Reaumur's great work. See _Swainson on the Study of Nat. Hist._
        pp. 24, 43.

  [476] On this remarkable man, who was the first philosophic chemist
        Europe produced, and who, so early as 1630, anticipated some of
        the generalizations made a hundred and fifty years later by
        Lavoisier, see _Liebig's Letters on Chemistry_, pp. 46, 47;
        _Thomson's Hist. of Chemistry_, vol. ii. pp. 95, 96; _Humboldt's
        Cosmos_, vol. ii. p. 729; _Cuvier_, _Progrès des Sciences_,
        vol. i. p. 30.

  [477] Cuvier (_Progrès des Sciences_, vol. i. p. 30) says of Rey, 'son
        écrit était tombé dans l'oubli le plus profond;' and, in another
        work, the same great authority writes (_Hist. des Sciences_, part
        ii. p. 333): 'Il y avait plus de quarante ans que Becker avait
        présenté sa nouvelle théorie, développée par Stahl; il y avait
        encore plus long-temps que les expériences de Boyle sur la chimie
        pneumatique avaient été publiées, et cependant, rien de tout cela
        n'entrait encore dans l'enseignement général de la chimie, du
        moins en France.'

Connected with zoology, and, to a philosophic mind, inseparable from it,
is botany: which, occupying a middle place between the animal and
mineral world, indicates their relation to each other, and at different
points touches the confines of both. It also throws great light on the
functions of nutrition,[478] and on the laws of development; while, from
the marked analogy between animals and vegetables, we have every reason
to hope that its further progress, assisted by that of electricity, will
prepare the way for a comprehensive theory of life, to which the
resources of our knowledge are still unequal, but towards which the
movements of modern science are manifestly tending. On these grounds,
far more than for the sake of practical advantages, botany will always
attract the attention of thinking men; who, neglecting views of
immediate utility, look to large and ultimate results, and only value
particular facts in so far as they facilitate the discovery of general
truths. The first step in this noble study was taken towards the middle
of the sixteenth century, when authors, instead of copying what previous
writers had said, began to observe nature for themselves.[479] The next
step was, to add experiment to observation: but it required another
hundred years before this could be done with accuracy; because the
microscope, which is essential to such inquiries, was only invented
about 1620, and the labour of a whole generation was needed to make it
available for minute investigations.[480] So soon, however, as this
resource was sufficiently matured to be applied to plants, the march of
botany became rapid, at least as far as details are concerned; for it
was not until the eighteenth century that the facts were actually
generalized. But, in the preliminary work of accumulating the facts,
great energy was shown; and, for reasons stated in an earlier part of
the Introduction, this, like other studies relating to the external
world, advanced with peculiar speed during the reign of Charles II. The
tracheæ of plants were discovered by Henshaw in 1661;[481] and their
cellular tissue by Hooke in 1667.[482] These were considerable
approaches towards establishing the analogy between plants and animals;
and, within a few years, Grew effected still more of the same kind. He
made such minute and extensive dissections, as to raise the anatomy of
vegetables to a separate study, and prove that their organization is
scarcely less complicated than that possessed by animals.[483] His first
work was written in 1670;[484] and, in 1676, another Englishman,
Millington, ascertained the existence of a distinction of sexes;[485]
thus supplying further evidence of the harmony between the animal and
vegetable kingdoms, and of the unity of idea which regulates their

  [478] The highest present generalizations of the laws of nutrition are
        those by M. Chevreul; which are thus summed up by MM. Robin et
        Verdeil, in their admirable work, _Chimie Anatomique_, vol. i. p.
        203, Paris, 1853: 'En passant des plantes aux animaux, nous
        voyons que plus l'organisation de ces derniers est compliquée,
        plus les aliments dont ils se nourrissent sont complexes et
        analogues par leurs principes immédiats aux principes des organes
        qu'ils doivent entretenir.

        'En définitive, on voit que les végétaux se nourrissent d'eau,
        d'acide carbonique, d'autres gaz et de matières organiques à
        l'état d'engrais, ou en d'autres termes altérées, c'est-à-dire
        ramenées à l'état de principes plus simples, plus solubles. Au
        contraire, les animaux plus élevés dans l'échelle organique ont
        besoin de matières bien plus complexes quant aux principes
        immédiats qui les composent, et plus variées dans leurs

  [479] Brunfels in 1530, and Fuchs in 1542, were the two first writers
        who observed the vegetable kingdom for themselves, instead of
        copying what the ancients had said. Compare _Whewell's Hist. of
        the Sciences_, vol. iii. pp. 305, 306, with _Pulteney's Hist. of
        Botany_, vol. i. p. 38.

  [480] The microscope was exhibited in London, by Drebbel, about 1620;
        and this appears to be the earliest unquestionable notice of its
        use, though some writers assert that it was invented at the
        beginning of the seventeenth century, or even in 1590. Compare
        the different statements, in _Pouillet_, _Elémens de Physique_,
        vol. ii. p. 357; _Humboldt's Cosmos_, vol. ii. pp. 699, 700;
        _Sprengel_, _Hist. de la Médecine_, vol. iv. p. 337; _Winckler_,
        _Gesch. der Botanik_, p. 136; _Quekett's Treatise on the
        Microscope_, 1848, p. 2; _Cuvier_, _Hist. des Sciences_, part ii.
        p. 470; _Hallam's Lit. of Europe_, vol. iii. p. 202; _Leslie's
        Nat. Philos._ p. 52. On the subsequent improvement of the
        microscope during the seventeenth century, see _Brewster's Life
        of Newton_, vol. i. pp. 29, 242, 243.

  [481] See _Balfour's Botany_, p. 15. In Pulteney's _Progress of Botany
        in England_, this beautiful discovery is, if I rightly remember,
        not even alluded to; but it appears, from a letter written in
        1672, that it was then becoming generally known, and had been
        confirmed by Grew and Malpighi. _Ray's Correspond._ edit. 1848,
        p. 98. Compare _Richard_, _Eléments de Botanique_, p. 46; where,
        however, M. Richard erroneously supposes that Grew did not know
        of the tracheæ till 1682.

  [482] Compare _Cuvier_, _Hist. des Sciences_, part ii. p. 471, with
        _Thomson's Vegetable Chemistry_, p. 950.

  [483] Dr. Thomson (_Vegetable Chemistry_, p. 950) says: 'But the person
        to whom we are indebted for the first attempt to ascertain the
        structure of plants by dissection and microscopical observations,
        was Dr. Nathaniel Grew.' The character of Grew's inquiries, as
        'viewing the internal, as well as external parts of plants,' is
        also noticed in _Ray's Correspond._ p. 188; and M. Winckler
        (_Gesch. der Botanik_, p. 382) ascribes to him and Malpighi the
        'neuen Aufschwung' taken by vegetable physiology late in the
        seventeenth century. See also, on Grew, _Lindley's Botany_, vol.
        i. p. 93; and _Third Report of Brit. Assoc._ p. 27.

  [484] The first book of his Anatomy of Plants was laid before the Royal
        Society in 1670, and printed in 1671. _Hallam's Lit. of Europe_,
        vol. iii. p. 580; and _Thomson's Hist. of the Royal Society_, p.

  [485] 'The presence of sexual organs in plants was first shown in 1676,
        by Sir Thomas Millington; and it was afterwards confirmed by
        Grew, Malpighi, and Ray.' _Balfour's Botany_, p. 236. See also
        _Pulteney's Progress of Botany_, vol. i. pp. 336, 337; and
        _Lindley's Botany_, vol. ii. p. 217: and, as to Ray, who was
        rather slow in admitting the discovery, see _Lankester's Mem. of
        Ray_, p. 100. Before this, the sexual system of vegetables had
        been empirically known to several of the ancients, but never
        raised to a scientific truth. Compare _Richard_, _Eléments de
        Botanique_, pp. 353, 427, 428, with _Matter_, _Hist. de l'Ecole
        d'Alexandrie_, vol. ii. p. 9.

This is what was effected in England during the reign of Charles II.;
and we now ask what was done in France, during the same period, under
the munificent patronage of Louis XIV. The answer is, nothing; no
discovery, no idea, which forms an epoch in this important department of
natural science. The son of the celebrated Sir Thomas Brown visited
Paris in the hope of making some additions to his knowledge of botany,
which he thought he could not fail to do in a country where science was
held in such honour, its professors so caressed by the court, and its
researches so bountifully encouraged. To his surprise, he, in 1665,
found in that great city no one capable of teaching his favourite
pursuit, and even the public lectures on it miserably meagre and
unsatisfactory.[486] Neither then, nor at a much later period, did the
French possess a good popular treatise on botany: still less did they
make any improvement in it. Indeed, so completely was the philosophy of
the subject misunderstood, that Tournefort, the only French botanist of
repute in the reign of Louis, actually rejected that discovery of the
sexes of plants, which had been made before he began to write, and which
afterwards became the corner-stone of the Linnæan system.[487] This
showed his incapacity for those large views respecting the unity of the
organic world, which alone give to botany a scientific value; and we
find, accordingly, that he did nothing for the physiology of plants, and
that his only merit was as a collector and classifier of them.[488] And
even in his classification he was guided, not by a comprehensive
comparison of their various parts, but by considerations drawn from the
mere appearance of the flower:[489] thus depriving botany of its real
grandeur, degrading it into an arrangement of beautiful objects, and
supplying another instance of the way in which the Frenchmen of that
generation impoverished what they sought to enrich, and dwarfed every
topic, until they suited the intellect and pleased the eye of that
ignorant and luxurious court, to whose favour they looked for reward,
and whose applause it was the business of their life to gain.

  [486] In July 1665 he writes from Paris to his father, 'The lecture of
        plants here is only the naming of them, their degrees in heat and
        cold, and sometimes their use in physick; scarce a word more than
        may be seen in every herball.' _Browne's Works_, vol. i. p. 108.

  [487] Cuvier mentioning the inferiority of Tournefort's views to those
        of his predecessors, gives as an instance, 'puisqu'il a rejeté
        les sexes des plantes.' _Hist. des Sciences_, part ii. p. 496.
        Hence he held that the farina was ex-crementitious. _Pulteney's
        Progress of Botany_, vol. i. p. 340.

  [488] This is admitted even by his eulogist Duvau. _Biog. Univ._
        vol. xlvi. p. 363.

  [489] On the method of Tournefort, which was that of a corrollist,
        compare _Richard_, _Eléments de Botanique_, p. 547; _Jussieu's
        Botany_, edit. Wilson, 1849, p. 516; _Ray's Correspond._ pp. 381,
        382; _Lankester's Mem. of Ray_, p. 49; _Winckler_, _Gesch. der
        Botanik_, p. 142. Cuvier (_Hist. des Sciences_, part ii. p. 496),
        with quiet irony, says of it, 'vous voyez, messieurs, que cette
        méthode a le mérite d'une grande clarté; qu'elle est fondée sur
        la forme de la fleur, et par conséquent sur des considérations
        agréables à saisir.... Ce qui en fit le succès, c'est que
        Tournefort joignit à son ouvrage une figure de fleur et de fruit
        appartenant à chacun de ses genres.' Even in this, he appears to
        have been careless, and is said to have described 'a great many
        plants he never examined nor saw.' _Letter from Dr. Sherard_, in
        _Nichols's Illustrations of the Eighteenth Century_, vol. i.
        p. 356.

The truth is, that in these, as in all matters of real importance, in
questions requiring independent thought, and in questions of practical
utility, the age of Louis XIV. was an age of decay: it was an age of
misery, of intolerance, and oppression; it was an age of bondage, of
ignominy, of incompetence. This would long since have been universally
admitted, if those who have written the history of that period had taken
the trouble to study subjects without which no history can be
understood; or, I should rather say, without which no history can exist.
If this had been done, the reputation of Louis XIV. would at once have
shrunk to its natural size. Even at the risk of exposing myself to the
charge of unduly estimating my own labours, I cannot avoid saying, that
the facts which I have just pointed out have never before been
collected, but have remained isolated in the text-books and repertories
of the sciences to which they belong. Yet without them it is impossible
to study the age of Louis XIV. It is impossible to estimate the
character of any period except by tracing its development; in other
words, by measuring the extent of its knowledge. Therefore it is, that
to write the history of a country without regard to its intellectual
progress, is as if an astronomer should compose a planetary system
without regard to the sun, by whose light alone the planets can be seen,
and by whose attraction they are held in their course, and compelled to
run in the path of their appointed orbits. For the great luminary, even
as it shines in the heaven, is not a more noble or a more powerful
object than is the intellect of man in this nether world. It is to the
human intellect, and to that alone, that every country owes its
knowledge. And what is it but the progress and diffusion of knowledge
which has given us our arts, our sciences, our manufactures, our laws,
our opinions, our manners, our comforts, our luxuries, our civilization;
in short, everything that raises us above the savages, who by their
ignorance are degraded to the level of the brutes with which they herd?
Surely, then, the time has now arrived when they who undertake to write
the history of a great nation should occupy themselves with those
matters by which alone the destiny of men is regulated, and should
abandon the petty and insignificant details by which we have too long
been wearied; details respecting the lives of kings, the intrigues of
ministers, the vices and the gossip of courts.

It is precisely these higher considerations which furnish the key to the
history of the reign of Louis XIV. In that time, as in all others, the
misery of the people and the degradation of the country followed the
decline of the national intellect; while this last was, in its turn, the
result of the protective spirit--that mischievous spirit which weakens
whatever it touches. If in the long course and compass of history there
is one thing more clear than another, it is, that whenever a government
undertakes to protect intellectual pursuits, it will almost always
protect them in the wrong place, and reward the wrong men. Nor is it
surprising that this should be the case. What can kings and ministers
know about those immense branches of knowledge, to cultivate which with
success is often the business of an entire life? How can they,
constantly occupied with their lofty pursuits, have leisure for such
inferior matters? Is it to be supposed that such acquirements will be
found among statesmen, who are always engaged in the most weighty
concerns; sometimes writing despatches, sometimes making speeches,
sometimes organising a party in the parliament, sometimes baffling an
intrigue in the privy-chamber? Or if the sovereign should graciously
bestow his patronage according to his own judgment, are we to expect
that mere philosophy and science should be familiar to high and mighty
princes, who have their own peculiar and arduous studies, and who have
to learn the mysteries of heraldry, the nature and dignities of rank,
the comparative value of the different orders, decorations, and titles,
the laws of precedence, the prerogatives of noble birth, the names and
powers of ribbons, stars, and garters, the various modes of conferring
an honour or installing into an office, the adjustment of ceremonies,
the subtleties of etiquette, and all those other courtly accomplishments
necessary to the exalted functions which they perform?

The mere statement of such questions proves the absurdity of the
principle which they involve. For, unless we believe that kings are
omniscient as well as immaculate, it is evident that in the bestowal of
rewards they must be guided either by personal caprice or by the
testimony of competent judges. And since no one is a competent judge of
scientific excellence unless he is himself scientific, we are driven to
this monstrous alternative, that the rewards of intellectual labour must
be conferred injudiciously, or else that they must be given according to
the verdict of that very class by whom they are received. In the first
case, the reward will be ridiculous; in the latter case, it will be
disgraceful. In the former case, weak men will be benefited by wealth
which is taken from industry to be lavished on idleness. But in the
latter case, those men of real genius, those great and illustrious
thinkers, who are the masters and teachers of the human race, are to be
tricked out with trumpery titles; and after scrambling in miserable
rivalry for the sordid favours of a court, they are then to be turned
into beggars of the state, who not only clamour for their share of the
spoil, but even regulate the proportions into which the shares are to be

Under such a system, the natural results are, first, the impoverishment
and servility of genius: then the decay of knowledge; then the decline
of the country. Three times in the history of the world has this
experiment been tried. In the ages of Augustus, of Leo X., and of Louis
XIV., the same method was adopted, and the same result ensued. In each
of these ages, there was much apparent splendour, immediately succeeded
by sudden ruin. In each instance, the brilliancy survived the
independence; and in each instance, the national spirit sank under that
pernicious alliance between government and literature, by virtue of
which the political classes become very powerful, and the intellectual
classes very weak, simply because they who dispense the patronage will,
of course, receive the homage; and if, on the one hand, government is
always ready to reward literature, so on the other hand, will literature
be always ready to succumb to government.

Of these three ages, that of Louis XIV. was incomparably the worst; and
nothing but the amazing energy of the French people could have enabled
them to rally, as they afterwards did, from the effects of so enfeebling
a system. But though they rallied, the effort cost them dear. The
struggle, as we shall presently see, lasted two generations, and was
only ended by that frightful Revolution which formed its natural climax.
What the real history of that struggle was, I shall endeavour to
ascertain towards the conclusion of this volume. Without, however,
anticipating the course of affairs, we will now proceed to what I have
already mentioned as the second great characteristic of the reign of
Louis XIV.

II. The second intellectual characteristic of the reign of Louis XIV.
is, in importance, hardly inferior to the first. We have already seen
that the national intellect, stunted by the protection of the court, was
so diverted from the noblest branches of knowledge, that in none of them
did it produce anything worthy of being recorded. As a natural
consequence, the minds of men, driven from the higher departments, took
refuge in the lower, and concentrated themselves upon those inferior
subjects, where the discovery of truth is not the main object, but where
beauty of form and expression are the things chiefly pursued. Thus, the
first consequence of the patronage of Louis XIV. was, to diminish the
field for genius, and to sacrifice science to art. The second
consequence was, that, even in art itself, there was soon seen a marked
decay. For a short time, the stimulus produced its effect; but was
followed by that collapse which is its natural result. So essentially
vicious is the whole system of patronage and reward, that after the
death of those writers and artists, whose works form the only redeeming
point in the reign of Louis, there was found no one capable of even
imitating their excellences. The poets, dramatists, painters, musicians,
sculptors, architects, were, with hardly an exception, not only born,
but educated under that freer policy, which existed before his time.
When they began their labours, they benefited by a munificence which
encouraged the activity of their genius. But in a few years, that
generation having died off, the hollowness of the whole system was
clearly exposed. More than a quarter of a century before the death of
Louis XIV., most of these eminent men had ceased to live; and then it
was seen to how miserable a plight the country was reduced under the
boasted patronage of the great king. At the moment when Louis XIV. died,
there was scarcely a writer or an artist in France who enjoyed an
European reputation. This is a circumstance well worth our notice. If we
compare the different classes of literature, we shall find that sacred
oratory, being the least influenced by the king, was able the longest to
bear up against his system. Massillon belongs partly to the subsequent
reign; but even of the other great divines, Bossuet and Bourdaloue both
lived to 1704,[490] Mascaron to 1703,[491] and Flechier to 1710.[492]
As, however, the king, particularly in his latter years, was very
fearful of meddling with the church, it is in profane matters that we
can best trace the workings of his policy, because it is there that his
interference was most active. With a view to this, the simplest plan
will be, to look, in the first place, into the history of the fine arts;
and after ascertaining who the greatest artists were, observe the year
in which they died, remembering that the government of Louis XIV. began
in 1661, and ended in 1715.

  [490] _Biog. Univ._ vol. v. pp. 236, 358.

  [491] _Ibid._ xxvii. p. 351.

  [492] _Ibid._ xv. p. 35.

If, now, we examine this period of fifty-four years, we shall be struck
by the remarkable fact, that everything which is celebrated was effected
in the first half of it; while more than twenty years before its close,
the most eminent masters all died without leaving any successors. The
six greatest painters in the reign of Louis XIV. were Poussin, Lesueur,
Claude Lorraine, Le Brun, and the two Mignards. Of these, Le Brun died
in 1690;[493] the elder Mignard in 1668;[494] the younger in 1695;[495]
Claude Lorraine in 1682;[496] Lesueur in 1655;[497] and Poussin, perhaps
the most distinguished of all the French school, died in 1665.[498] The
two greatest architects were, Claude Perrault and Francis Mansart; but
Perrault died in 1688;[499] Mansart in 1666;[500] and Blondel, the next
in fame, died in 1686.[501] The greatest of all the sculptors was Puget,
who died in 1694.[502] Lulli, the founder of French music, died in
1687.[503] Quinault, the greatest poet of French music, died in
1688.[504] Under these eminent men, the fine arts, in the reign of
Louis XIV., reached their zenith; and during the last thirty years of
his life, their decline was portentously rapid. This was the case, not
only in architecture and music, but even in painting, which, being more
subservient than they are to personal vanity, is more likely to flourish
under a rich and despotic government. The genius, however, of painters
fell so low, that long before the death of Louis XIV., France ceased to
possess one of any merit; and when his successor came to the throne,
this beautiful art was, in that great country, almost extinct.[505]

  [493] _Ibid._ xxiii. p. 496.

  [494] _Ibid._ xxix. p. 17.

  [495] _Ibid._ xxix. p. 19.

  [496] 'His best pictures were painted from about 1640 to 1660; he died
        in 1682.' _Wornum's Epochs of Painting_, Lond. 1847. p. 399.
        Voltaire (_Siècle de Louis XIV_, in _[OE]uvres_, vol. xix. p.
        205) says that he died in 1678.

  [497] _Biog. Univ._ vol. xxiv. p. 327; _Works of Sir Joshua Reynolds_,
        vol. ii. pp. 454, 455.

  [498] _Biog. Univ._ vol. xxxv. p. 579. Poussin was Barry's 'favourite'
        painter. _Letter from Barry_, in _Burke's Correspond._ vol. i. p.
        88. Compare _Otter's Life of Clarke_, vol. ii. p. 55. Sir Joshua
        Reynolds (_Works_, vol. i. pp. 97, 351, 376) appears to have
        preferred him to any of the French school; and in the report
        presented to Napoleon by the Institute, he is the only French
        painter mentioned by the side of the Greek and Italian artists.
        _Dacier_, _Rapport Historique_, p. 23.

  [499] _Biog. Univ._ vol. xxxiii. p. 411; _Siècle de Louis XIV_, in
        _[OE]uvres de Voltaire_, vol. xix. p. 158.

  [500] _Biog. Univ._ vol. xxvi. p. 503.

  [501] _Ibid._ vol. iv. p. 593.

  [502] _Ibid._ vol. xxxvi. p. 300. Respecting him, see _Lady Morgan's
        France_, vol. ii. pp. 30, 31.

  [503] M. Capefigue (_Louis XIV_, vol. ii. p. 79) says, 'Lulli mourut en
        1689;' but 1687 is the date assigned in _Biog. Univ._ vol. xxv.
        p. 425; in _Chalmer's Biog. Dict._ vol. xx. p. 483; in _Rose's
        Biog. Dict._ vol. ix. p. 350; and in _Monteil_, _Divers Etats_,
        vol. vii p. 63. In _[OE]uvres de Voltaire_, vol. xix. p. 200, he
        is called 'le père de la vraie musique en France.' He was admired
        by Louis XIV. _Lettres de Sévigné_, vol. ii. pp. 162, 163.

  [504] _Biog. Univ._ vol. xxxvi. p. 42. Voltaire (_[OE]uvres_, vol. xix.
        p. 162) says, 'personne n'a jamais égalé Quinault;' and Mr.
        Hallam (_Lit. of Europe_, vol. iii. p. 507), 'the unrivalled poet
        of French music.' See also _Lettres de Dudeffand à Walpole_, vol.
        ii. p. 432.

  [505] When Louis XV. ascended the throne, painting in France was in the
        lowest state of degradation. _Lady Morgan's France_, vol. ii. p.
        31. Lacretelle (_Dix-huitième Siècle_, vol. ii. p. 11) says 'Les
        beaux arts dégénérèrent plus sensiblement que les lettres pendant
        la seconde partie du siècle de Louis XIV.... Il est certain que
        les vingt-cinq dernières années du règne de Louis XIV n'offrirent
        que des productions très-inférieures,' &c. Thus too Barrington
        (_Observations on the Statutes_, p. 377), 'It is very remarkable
        that the French school hath not produced any very capital
        painters since the expensive establishment by Louis XIV. of the
        academies at Rome and Paris.'

These are startling facts; not matters of opinion, which may be
disputed, but stubborn dates, supported by irrefragable testimony. And
if we examine in the same manner the literature of the age of Louis
XIV., we shall arrive at similar conclusions. If we ascertain the dates
of those masterpieces which adorn his reign, we shall find that during
the last five-and-twenty years of his life, when his patronage had been
the longest in operation, it was entirely barren of results; in other
words, that when the French had been most habituated to his protection,
they were least able to effect great things. Louis XIV. died in 1715.
Racine produced _Phedre_ in 1677; _Andromaque_ in 1667; _Athelie_ in
1691.[506] Molière published the _Misanthrope_ in 1666; _Tartuffe_ in
1667; the _Avare_ in 1668.[507] The _Lutrin_ of Boileau was written in
1674; his best Satires in 1666.[508] The last Fables of La Fontaine
appeared in 1678, and his last Tales in 1671.[509] The _Inquiry
respecting Truth_, by Malebranche, was published in 1674;[510] the
_Caractères_ of La Bruyère in 1687;[511] the Maximes of Rochefoucauld in
1665.[512] The _Provincial Letters_ of Pascal were written 1656, and he
himself died in 1662.[513] As to Corneille, his great Tragedies were
composed, some while Louis was still a boy, and the others before the
king was born.[514] Such were the dates of the masterpieces of the age
of Louis XIV. The authors of these immortal works all ceased to write,
and nearly all ceased to live, before the close of the seventeenth
century; and we may fairly ask the admirers of Louis XIV. who those men
were that succeeded them. Where have their names been registered? Where
are their works to be found? Who is there that now reads the books of
those obscure hirelings, who for so many years thronged the court of the
great king? Who has heard anything of Campistron, La Chapelle, Genest,
Ducerceau, Dancourt, Danchet, Vergier, Catrou, Chaulieu, Legendre,
Valincour, Lamotte, and the other ignoble compilers, who long remained
the brightest ornaments of France? Was this, then, the consequence of
the royal bounty? Was this the fruit of the royal patronage? If the
system of reward and protection is really advantageous to literature and
to art, how is it that it should have produced the meanest results when
it had been the longest in operation? If the favour of kings is, as
their flatterers tell us, of such importance, how comes it that the more
the favour was displayed, the more the effects were contemptible?

  [506] _Biog. Univ._ vol. xxxvi. pp. 499, 502; _Hallam's Lit._ vol. iii.
        p. 493.

  [507] _Biog. Univ._ vol. xxix. pp. 306, 308.

  [508] _Rose's Biog. Dict._ vol. iv. p. 376; and _Biog. Univ._ vol. v.
        pp. 7, 8, where it is said that 'ses meilleures satires' were
        those published in 1666.

  [509] _Ibid._ vol. xxiii. p. 127.

  [510] _Tennemann_, _Gesch. der Philos._ vol. x. p. 322.

  [511] _Biog. Univ._ vol. vi. p. 175.

  [512] _Brunet_, _Manuel du Libraire_, vol. iv. p. 105, Paris 1843; and
        note in _Lettres de Patin_, vol. i. p. 421.

  [513] _Biog. Univ._ vol. xxxiii. pp. 64, 71; _Palissot_, _Mém. pour
        l'Hist. de Lit._ vol. ii. pp. 239, 241.

  [514] _Polyeucte_, which is probably his greatest work, appeared in
        1640; _Médée_ in 1635; _The Cid_ in 1636; _Horace and Cinna_ both
        in 1639. _Biog. Univ._ vol. ix. pp. 609-613.

Nor was this almost inconceivable penury compensated by superiority in
any other department. The simple fact is that Louis XIV. survived the
entire intellect of the French nation, except that small part of it
which grew up in opposition to his principles, and afterwards shook the
throne of his successor.[515] Several years before his death, and when
his protective system had been in full force for nearly half a century,
there was not to be found in the whole of France a statesman who could
develop the resources of the country, or a general who could defend it
against its enemies. Both in the civil service and in the military
service, every thing had fallen into disorder. At home there was nothing
but confusion; abroad there was nothing but disaster. The spirit of
France succumbed, and was laid prostrate. The men of letters, pensioned
and decorated by the court, had degenerated into a fawning and
hypocritical race, who, to meet the wishes of their masters, opposed all
improvement, and exerted themselves in support of every old abuse. The
end of all this was, a corruption, a servility, and a loss of power more
complete than has ever been witnessed in any of the great countries of
Europe. There was no popular liberty; there were no great men; there was
no science; there was no literature; there were no arts. Within, there
was a discontented people, a rapacious government, and a beggared
exchequer. Without, there were foreign armies, which pressed upon all
the frontiers, and which nothing but their mutual jealousies, and a
change in the English cabinet, prevented from dismembering the monarchy
of France.[516]

  [515] Voltaire (_Siècle de Louis XIV_, in _[OE]uvres_, vol. xx. pp.
        319-322) reluctantly confesses the decline of the French
        intellect in the latter part of the reign of Louis; and Flassan
        (_Diplomat. Franç._ vol. iv. p. 400) calls it 'remarquable.' See
        also _Barante_, _Littérature Française_, p. 28; _Sismondi_,
        _Hist. des Français_, vol. xxvi. p. 217.

  [516] Oppressed by defeats abroad, and by famine and misery at home,
        Louis was laid at the mercy of his enemies; and 'was only saved by
        a party revolution in the English ministry.' _Arnold's Lectures
        on Modern History_, p. 137. Compare _Fragments sur l'Histoire_,
        article xxiii. in _[OE]uvres de Voltaire_, vol. xxvii. p. 345,
        with _De Tocqueville_, _Règne de Louis XV_, vol. i. p. 86.

Such was the forlorn position of that noble country towards the close of
the reign of Louis XIV.[517] The misfortunes which embittered the
declining years of the king were, indeed, so serious, that they could
not fail to excite our sympathy, if we did not know that they were the
result of his own turbulent ambition, of his insufferable arrogance,
but, above all, of a grasping and restless vanity, which, making him
eager to concentrate on his single person all the glory of France, gave
rise to that insidious policy, which, with gifts, with honours, and with
honied words, began by gaining the admiration of the intellectual
classes, then made them courtly and time-serving, and ended by
destroying all their boldness, stifling every effort of original
thought, and thus postponing for an indefinite period the progress of
national civilization.

  [517] For evidence of the depression and, indeed, utter exhaustion of
        France during the latter years of Louis XIV., compare _Duclos_,
        _Mémoires_, vol. i. pp. 11-18, with _Marmontel_, _Hist. de la
        Régence_, Paris, 1826, pp. 79-97. The _Lettres inédites de Madame
        de Maintenon_ (vol. i. pp. 263, 284, 358, 389, 393, 408, 414,
        422, 426, 447, 457, 463, vol. ii. pp. 19, 23, 33, 46, 56, and
        numerous other passages) fully confirm this, and, moreover, prove
        that in Paris, early in the eighteenth century, the resources,
        even of the wealthy classes, were beginning to fail; while both
        public and private credit were so shaken, that it was hardly
        possible to obtain money on any terms. In 1710, she, the wife of
        Louis XIV., complains of her inability to borrow 500 livres:
        'Tout mon crédit échoue souvent auprès de M. Desmaretz pour une
        somme de cinq cents livres.' _Ibid._ vol. ii. p. 33. In 1709, she
        writes (vol. i. p. 447): 'Le jeu devient insipide, parce qu'il
        n'y a presque plus d'argent.' See also vol. ii. p. 112; and in
        February 1711 (p. 151): 'Ce n'est pas l'abondance mais l'avarice
        qui fait jouer nos courtisans; on met le tout pour le tout pour
        avoir quelque argent, et les tables de lansquenet ont plus l'air
        d'un triste commerce que d'un divertissement.'

        In regard to the people generally, the French writers supply us
        with little information, because in that age they were too much
        occupied with their great king and their showy literature, to pay
        attention to mere popular interests. But I have collected from
        other sources some information which I will now put together, and
        which I recommend to the notice of the next French author who
        undertakes to compose a history of Louis XIV.

        Locke, who was travelling in France in 1676 and 1677, writes in
        his journal, 'The rent of land in France fallen one-half in these
        few years, by reason of the poverty of the people.' _King's Life
        of Locke_, vol. i. p. 139. About the same time, Sir William
        Temple says (_Works_, vol. ii. p. 268), 'The French peasantry are
        wholly dispirited by labour and want.' In 1691, another observer,
        proceeding from Calais, writes, 'From hence, travelling to Paris,
        there was opportunity enough to observe what a prodigious state
        of poverty the ambition and absoluteness of a tyrant can reduce
        an opulent and fertile country to. There were visible all the
        marks and signs of a growing misfortune; all the dismal
        indications of an overwhelming calamity. The fields were
        uncultivated, the villages unpeopled, the houses dropping to
        decay.' _Burton's Diary_, note by Rutt, vol. iv. p. 79. In a
        tract published in 1689, the author says (_Somers Tracts_, vol.
        x. p. 264), 'I have known in France poor people sell their beds,
        and lie upon straw; sell their pots, kettles, and all their
        necessary household goods, to content the unmerciful collectors
        of the king's taxes.' Dr. Lister, who visited Paris in 1698,
        says, 'Such is the vast multitude of poor wretches in all parts
        of this city, that whether a person is in a carriage or on foot,
        in the street, or even in a shop, he is alike unable to transact
        business, on account of the importunities of mendicants.'
        _Lister's Account of Paris_, p. 46. Compare a _Letter from
        Prior_, in _Ellis's Letters of Literary Men_, p. 213. In 1708,
        Addison, who, from personal observation, was well acquainted with
        France, writes: 'We think here as you do in the country, that
        France is on her last legs.' _Aikin's Life of Addison_, vol. i.
        p. 233. Finally, in 1718--that is, three years after the death of
        Louis--Lady Mary Montagu gives the following account of the
        result of his reign, in a letter to Lady Rich, dated Paris, 10th
        October, 1718: 'I think nothing so terrible as objects of misery,
        except one had the god-like attribute of being able to redress
        them; and all the country villages of France show nothing else.
        While the post-horses are changed, the whole town comes out to
        beg, with such miserable starved faces, and thin, tattered
        clothes, they need no other eloquence to persuade one of the
        wretchedness of their condition.' _Works of Lady Mary Wortley
        Montague_, vol. iii. p. 74, edit. 1803.

                               CHAPTER V.


At length Louis XIV. died. When it was positively known that the old
king had ceased to breathe, the people went almost mad with joy.[518]
The tyranny which had weighed them down was removed; and there at once
followed a reaction which, for sudden violence, has no parallel in
modern history.[519] The great majority indemnified themselves for their
forced hypocrisy by indulging in the grossest licentiousness. But among
the generation then forming, there were some high-spirited youths, who
had far higher views, and whose notions of liberty were not confined to
the license of the gaming-house and the brothel. Devoted to the great
idea of restoring to France that freedom of utterance which it had lost,
they naturally turned their eyes towards the only country where the
freedom was practised. Their determination to search for liberty in the
place where alone it could be found, gave rise to that junction of the
French and English intellects, which, looking at the immense chain of
its effects, is by far the most important fact in the history of the
eighteenth century.

  [518] 'L'annonce de la mort du grand roi ne produisit chez le peuple
        français qu'une explosion de joie.' _Sismondi_, _Hist. des
        Français_, vol. xxvii. p. 220. 'Le jour des obsèques de Louis
        XIV, on établit des guinguettes sur le chemin de Saint-Denis.
        Voltaire, que la curiosité avoit mené aux funérailles du
        souverain, vit dans ces guinguettes le peuple ivre de vin et de
        joie de la mort de Louis XIV.' _Duvernet_, _Vie de Voltaire_, p.
        29: see also _Condorcet_, _Vie de Voltaire_, p. 118; _De
        Tocqueville_, _Règne de Louis XV_, vol. i. p. 18; _Duclos_,
        _Mémoires_, vol. i. p. 221; _Lemontey_, _Etablissement de Louis
        XIV_, pp. 311, 388.

  [519] 'Kaum hatte er aber die Augen geschlossen, als alles umschlug. Der
        reprimirte Geist warf sich in eine zügellose Bewegung.' _Ranke_,
        _die Päpste_, vol. iii. p. 192.

During the reign of Louis XIV., the French, puffed up by national
vanity, despised the barbarism of a people who were so uncivilized as to
be always turning on their rulers, and who, within the space of forty
years, had executed one king, and deposed another.[520] They could not
believe that such a restless horde possessed anything worthy the
attention of enlightened men. Our laws, our literature, and our manners,
were perfectly unknown to them; and I doubt if at the end of the
seventeenth century there were, either in literature or in science, five
persons in France acquainted with the English language.[521] But a long
experience of the reign of Louis XIV. induced the French to reconsider
many of their opinions. It induced them to suspect that despotism may
have its disadvantages, and that a government composed of princes and
bishops is not necessarily the best for a civilized country. They began
to look, first with complacency, and then with respect, upon that
strange and outlandish people, who, though only separated from
themselves by a narrow sea, appeared to be of an altogether different
kind; and who, having punished their oppressors, had carried their
liberties and their prosperity to a height of which the world had seen
no example. These feelings, which before the Revolution broke out, were
entertained by the whole of the educated classes in France, were in the
beginning, confined to those men whose intellects placed them at the
head of their age. During the two generations which elapsed between the
death of Louis XIV. and the outbreak of the Revolution, there was hardly
a Frenchman of eminence who did not either visit England or learn
English; while many of them did both. Buffon, Brissot, Broussonnet,
Condamine, Delisle, Elie de Beaumont, Gournay, Helvétius, Jussieu,
Lalande, Lafayette, Larcher, L'Héritier, Montesquieu, Maupertuis,
Morellet, Mirabeau, Nollet, Raynal, the celebrated Roland, and his still
more celebrated wife, Rousseau, Ségur, Suard, Voltaire--all these
remarkable persons flocked to London, as also did others of inferior
ability, but of considerable influence, such as Brequiny, Bordes,
Calonne, Coyer, Cormatin, Dufay, Dumarest, Dezallier, Favier, Girod,
Grosley, Godin, D'Hancarville, Hunauld, Jars, Le Blanc, Ledru,
Lescallier, Linguet, Lesuire, Lemonnier, Levesque de Pouilly,
Montgolfier, Morand, Patu, Poissonier, Reveillon, Septchènes,
Silhouette, Siret, Soulavie, Soulès, and Valmont de Brienne.

  [520] The shock which these events gave to the delicacy of the French
        mind was very serious. The learned Saumaise declared that the
        English are 'more savage than their own mastiffs.' _Carlyle's
        Cromwell_, vol. i. p. 444. Another writer said that we were
        'barbares révoltés;' and 'les barbares sujets du roi.' _Mém. de
        Motteville_, vol. ii. pp. 105, 362. Patin likened us to the
        Turks; and said, that having executed one king, we should
        probably hang the next. _Lettres de Patin_, vol. i. p. 261, vol.
        ii. p. 518, vol. iii. p. 148. Compare _Mém. de Campion_, p. 213.
        After we had sent away James II., the indignation of the French
        rose still higher, and even the amiable Madame Sévigné, having
        occasion to mention Mary the wife of William III., could find no
        better name for her than Tullia: 'la joie est universelle de la
        déroute de ce prince, dont la femme est une Tullie.' _Lettres de
        Sévigné_, vol. v. p. 179. Another influential French lady
        mentions 'la férocité des anglais.' _Lettres inédites de
        Maintenon_, vol. i. p. 303; and elsewhere (p. 109), 'je hais les
        anglais comme le peuple.... Véritablement je ne les puis

        I will only give two more illustrations of the wide diffusion of
        such feelings. In 1679, an attempt was made to bring bark into
        discredit as a 'remède anglais' (_Sprengel_, _Hist. de la
        Médecine_, vol. v. p. 430): and at the end of the seventeenth
        century, one of the arguments in Paris against coffee was that
        the English liked it. _Monteil_, _Divers Etats_, vol. vii.
        p. 216.

  [521] 'Au temps de Boileau, personne en France n'apprenait l'anglais.'
        _[OE]uvres de Voltaire_, vol. xxxviii. p. 337, and see vol. xix.
        p. 159. 'Parmi nos grands écrivains du xvii^e siècle, il n'en est
        aucun, je crois, ou l'on puisse reconnaître un souvenir, une
        impression de l'esprit anglais.' _Villemain_, _Lit. au XVIII^e
        Siècle_, vol. iii. p. 324. Compare _Barante_, _XVIII^e Siècle_,
        p. 47, _Grimm_, and _Correspond._ vol. v. p. 135, vol. xvii.
        p. 2.

        The French, during the reign of Louis XIV., principally knew us
        from the accounts given by two of their countrymen, Monconys and
        Sorbière; both of whom published their travels in England, but
        neither of whom were acquainted with the English language. For
        proof of this, see _Monconys_, _Voyages_, vol. iii. pp. 34, 69,
        70, 96; and _Sorbière_, _Voyage_, pp. 45, 70.

        When Prior arrived at the court of Louis XIV. as plenipotentiary,
        no one in Paris was aware that he had written poetry (_Lettres
        sur les Anglais_, in _[OE]uvres de Voltaire_, vol. xxvi. p. 130);
        and when Addison, being in Paris, presented Boileau with a copy
        of the _Musæ Anglicanæ_, the Frenchman learnt for the first time
        that we had any good poets: 'first conceived an opinion of the
        English genius for poetry.' Tickell's statement, in _Aikin's Life
        of Addison_, vol. i. p. 65. Finally, it is said that Milton's
        _Paradise Lost_ was not even by report in France until after the
        death of Louis XIV., though the poem was published in 1667, and
        the king died in 1715; 'Nous n'avions jamais entendu parler de ce
        poëme en France, avant que l'auteur de la Henriade nous en eût
        donné une idée dans le neuvième chapitre de son Essai sur la
        poésie épique. _Dict. Philos._ article _Epopée_, in _[OE]uvres de
        Voltaire_, vol. xxxix. p. 175; see also vol. lxvi. p. 249.

Nearly all of these carefully studied our language, and most of them
seized the spirit of our literature. Voltaire, in particular, devoted
himself with his usual ardour to the new pursuit, and acquired in
England a knowledge of those doctrines, the promulgation of which,
afterwards won for him so great a reputation.[522] He was the first who
popularized in France the philosophy of Newton, where it rapidly
superseded that of Descartes.[523] He recommended to his countrymen the
writings of Locke;[524] which soon gained immense popularity, and which
supplied materials to Condillac for his system of metaphysics,[525] and
to Rousseau for his theory of education.[526] Besides this, Voltaire was
the first Frenchman who studied Shakespeare; to whose works he was
greatly indebted, though he afterwards wished to lessen what he
considered the exorbitant respect paid to them in France.[527] Indeed,
so intimate was his knowledge of the English language,[528] that we can
trace his obligations to Butler,[529] one of the most difficult of our
poets, and to Tillotson,[530] one of the dullest of our theologians. He
was acquainted with the speculations of Berkeley,[531] the most subtle
metaphysician who has ever written in English; and he had read the
works, not only of Shaftesbury,[532] but even of Chubb,[533]
Garth,[534] Mandeville,[535] and Woolston.[536] Montesquieu imbibed in
our country many of his principles; he studied our language; and he
always expressed admiration for England, not only in his writings, but
also in his private conversation.[537] Buffon learnt English, and his
first appearance as an author was as the translator of Newton and of
Hales.[538] Diderot, following in the same course, was an enthusiastic
admirer of the novels of Richardson;[539] he took the idea of several of
his plays from the English dramatists, particularly from Lillo; he
borrowed many of his arguments from Shaftesbury and Collins, and his
earliest publication was a translation of Stanyan's _History of
Greece_.[540] Helvétius, who visited London, was never weary of praising
the people; many of the views in his great work on the Mind are drawn
from Mandeville; and he constantly refers to the authority of Locke,
whose principles hardly any Frenchman would at an earlier period have
dared to recommend.[541] The works of Bacon, previously little known,
were now translated into French; and his classification of the human
faculties was made the basis of that celebrated Encyclopædia, which is
justly regarded as one of the greatest productions of the eighteenth
century.[542] The _Theory of Moral Sentiments_, by Adam Smith, was
during thirty-four years translated three different times, by three
different French authors.[543] And such was the general eagerness, that
directly the _Wealth of Nations_, by the same great writer, appeared,
Morellet, who was then high in reputation, began to turn it into French;
and was only prevented from printing his translation by the
circumstance, that before it could be completed, another version of it
was published in a French periodical.[544] Coyer, who is still
remembered for his _Life of Sobieski_, visited England; and after
returning to his own country, showed the direction of his studies by
rendering into French the Commentaries of Blackstone.[545] Le Blanc
travelled in England, wrote a work expressly upon the English, and
translated into French the Political Discourses of Hume.[546] Holbach
was certainly one of the most active leaders of the liberal party in
Paris; but a large part of his very numerous writings consists solely in
translations of English authors.[547] Indeed, it may be broadly stated,
that while, at the end of the seventeenth century, it would have been
difficult to find, even among the most educated Frenchmen, a single
person acquainted with English, it would, in the eighteenth century,
have been nearly as difficult to find in the same class one who was
ignorant of it. Men of all tastes, and of the most opposite pursuits,
were on this point united as by a common bond. Poets, geometricians,
historians, naturalists, all seemed to agree as to the necessity of
studying a literature on which no one before had wasted a thought. In
the course of general reading, I have met with proofs that the English
language was known, not only to those eminent Frenchmen whom I have
already mentioned, but also to mathematicians, as D'Alembert,[548]
Darquier,[549] Du Val le Roy,[550] Jurain,[551] Lachapelle,[552]
Lalande,[553] Le Cozic,[554] Montucla,[555] Pezenas,[556] Prony,[557]
Romme,[558] and Roger Martin;[559] to anatomists, physiologists, and
writers on medicine, as Barthèz,[560] Bichat,[561] Bordeu,[562] Barbeu
Dubourg,[563] Bosquillon,[564] Bourru,[565] Begue de Presle,[566]
Cabanis,[567] Demours,[568] Duplanil,[569] Fouquet,[570] Goulin,[571]
Lavirotte,[572] Lassus,[573] Petit Radel,[574] Pinel,[575] Roux,[576]
Sauvages,[577] and Sue;[578] to naturalists, as Alyon,[579]
Brémond,[580] Brisson,[581] Broussonnet,[582] Dalibard,[583] Haüy,[584]
Latapie,[585] Richard,[586] Rigaud,[587] and Romé de Lisle;[588] to
historians, philologists, and antiquaries, as Barthélemy,[589] Butel
Dumont,[590] De Brosses,[591] Foucher,[592] Freret,[593] Larcher,[594]
Le Coc de Villeray,[595] Millot,[596] Targe,[597] Velly,[598]
Volney,[599] and Wailly;[600] to poets and dramatists, as Chéron,[601]
Colardeau,[602] Delille,[603] Desforges,[604] Ducis,[605] Florian,[606]
Laborde,[607] Lefèvre de Beauvray,[608] Mercier,[609] Patu,[610]
Pompignan,[611] Quétant,[612] Roucher,[613] and Saint Ange;[614] to
miscellaneous writers, as Bassinet,[615] Baudeau,[616] Beaulaton,[617]
Benoist,[618] Bergier,[619] Blavet,[620] Bouchaud,[621]
Bougainville,[622] Bruté,[623] Castera,[624] Chantreau,[625]
Charpentier,[626] Chastellux,[627] Contant d'Orville,[628] De
Bissy,[629] Demeunier,[630] Desfontaines,[631] Devienne,[632]
Dubocage,[633] Dupré,[634] Duresnel,[635] Eidous,[636] Estienne,[637]
Favier,[638] Flavigny,[639] Fontanelle,[640] Fontenay,[641]
Framery,[642] Fresnais,[643] Fréville,[644] Frossard,[645] Galtier,[646]
Garsault,[647] Goddard,[648] Goudar,[649] Guénée,[650] Guillemard,[651]
Guyard,[652] Jault,[653] Imbert,[654] Joncourt,[655] Kéralio,[656]
Laboreau,[657] Lacombe,[658] Lafargue,[659] La Montagne,[660]
Lanjuinais,[661] Lasalle,[662] Lasteyrie,[663] Le Breton,[664]
Lécuy,[665] Léonard des Malpeines,[666] Letourneur,[667] Linguet,[668]
Lottin,[669] Luneau,[670] Maillet Duclairon,[671] Mandrillon,[672]
Marsy,[673] Moet,[674] Monod,[675] Mosneron,[676] Nagot,[677]
Peyron,[678] Prévost,[679] Puisieux,[680] Rivoire,[681] Robinet,[682]
Roger,[683] Roubaud,[684] Salaville,[685] Sauseuil,[686] Secondat,[687]
Septchènes,[688] Simon,[689] Soulès,[690] Suard,[691] Tannevot,[692]
Thurot,[693] Toussaint,[694] Tressan,[695] Trochereau,[696] Turpin,[697]
Ussieux,[698] Vaugeois,[699] Verlac,[700] and Virloys.[701] Indeed, Le
Blanc, who wrote shortly before the middle of the eighteenth century,
says: 'We have placed English in the rank of the learned languages; our
women study it, and have abandoned Italian in order to study the
language of this philosophic people; nor is there to be found among us
any one who does not desire to learn it.'[702]

  [522] 'Le vrai roi du xviii^e siècle, c'est Voltaire; mais Voltaire à
        son tour est un écolier de l'Angleterre. Avant que Voltaire eût
        connu l'Angleterre, soit par ses voyages, soit part ses amitiés,
        il n'était pas Voltaire, et le xviii^e siècle se cherchait
        encore.' _Cousin_, _Hist. de la Philos._ I^{re} série, vol. iii.
        pp. 38, 39. Compare _Damiron_, _Hist. de la Philos. en France_,
        Paris, 1828, vol. i. p. 34.

  [523] 'J'avais été le premier qui eût osé développer à ma nation les
        découvertes de Newton, en langage intelligible.' _[OE]uvres de
        Voltaire_, vol. i. p. 315; see also vol. xix. p. 87, vol. xxvi.
        p. 71; _Whewell's Hist. of Induc. Sciences_, vol. ii. p. 206;
        _Weld's Hist. of the Royal Society_, vol. i. p. 441. After this,
        the Cartesian physics lost ground every day; and in _Grimm's
        Correspondence_, vol. ii. p. 148, there is a letter, dated Paris,
        1757, which says, 'Il n'y a guère plus ici de partisans de
        Descartes que M. de Mairan.' Compare _Observations et Pensées_,
        in _[OE]uvres de Turgot_, vol. iii. p. 298.

  [524] Which he was never weary of praising; so that, as M. Cousin says
        (_Hist. de la Philos._ II. série, vol. ii. pp. 311, 312), 'Locke
        est le vrai maître de Voltaire.' Locke was one of the authors he
        put into the hands of Madame du Châtelet. _Condorcet_, _Vie de
        Voltaire_, p. 296.

  [525] _Morell's Hist. of Philos._ 1846, vol. i. p. 134; _Hamilton's
        Discuss._ p. 3.

  [526] 'Rousseau tira des ouvrages de Locke une grande partie de ses
        idées sur la politique et l'éducation; Condillac toute sa
        philosophie.' _Villemain_, _Lit. au XVIII^e Siècle_, vol. i. p.
        83. See also, on the obligations of Rousseau to Locke, _Grimm_,
        _Correspond._ vol. v. p. 97; _Musset Pathay_, _Vie de Rousseau_,
        vol. i. p. 38, vol. ii. p. 394; _Mém. de Morellet_, vol. i. p.
        113; _Romilly's Memoirs_, vol. i. pp. 211, 212.

  [527] In 1768, Voltaire (_[OE]uvres_, vol. lxvi. p. 249) writes to
        Horace Walpole, 'Je suie le premier qui ait fait connaître
        Shakespeare aux français.' See also his _Lettres inédites_, vol.
        ii. p. 500; _Villemain_, _Lit. au XVIII^e Siècle_, vol. iii. p.
        325; and _Grimm_, _Correspond._ vol. xii. pp. 124, 125, 133.

  [528] There are extant many English letters written by Voltaire, which,
        though of course containing several errors, also contain abundant
        evidence of the spirit with which he seized our idiomatic
        expressions. In addition to his _Lettres inédites_, published at
        Paris in the present year (1856), see _Chatham Correspond._ vol.
        ii. pp. 131-133; and _Phillimore's Mém. of Lyttelton_, vol. i.
        pp. 323-325, vol. ii. pp. 555, 556, 558.

  [529] _Grimm_, _Correspond._ vol. i. p. 332; _Voltaire_, _Lettres
        inédites_, vol. ii. p. 258; and the account of Hudibras, with
        translations from it, in _[OE]uvres_, vol. xxvi. pp. 132-137;
        also a conversation between Voltaire and Townley, in _Nichols's
        Illustrations of the Eighteenth Century_, vol. iii. p. 722.

  [530] Compare _Mackintosh's Memoirs_, vol. i. p. 341, with _[OE]uvres de
        Voltaire_, vol. xxxix. p. 259, vol. xlvii. p. 85.

  [531] _[OE]uvres de Voltaire_, vol. xxxviii. pp. 216-218, vol. xlvi.
        p. 282, vol. xlvii. p. 439, vol. lvii. p. 178.

  [532] _Ibid._ vol. xxxvii. p. 353, vol. lvii. p. 66; _Correspond.
        inédite de Dudeffand_, vol. ii. p. 230.

  [533] _[OE]uvres_, vol. xxxiv. p. 294, vol. lvii. p. 121.

  [534] _Ibid._ vol. xxxvii. pp. 407, 441.

  [535] _Ibid._ vol. xxxvi. p. 46.

  [536] _Ibid._ vol. xxxiv. p. 288, vol. xli. pp. 212-217; _Biog. Univ._
        vol. li. pp. 199, 200.

  [537] _Lerminier_, _Philos. du Droit_, vol. i. p. 221; _Klimrath_,
        _Hist. du Droit_, vol. ii. p. 502; _Harris's Life of Hardwicke_,
        vol. ii. p. 398, vol. iii. pp. 432-434; _Mém. de Diderot_, vol.
        ii. pp. 193, 194; _Lacretelle_, _XVIII^e Siècle_, vol. ii. p. 24.

  [538] _Villemain_, _Lit. au XVIII^e Siècle_, vol. ii. p. 182; _Biog.
        Univ._ vol. vi. p. 235; _Le Blanc_, _Lettres_, vol. i. p. 93,
        vol. ii. pp. 159, 160.

  [539] 'Admirateur passionné du romancier anglais.' _Biog. Univ._
        vol. xxxvii. p. 581. Compare _Diderot_, _Corresp._ vol. i. p.
        352, vol. ii. pp. 44, 52, 53; _Mercier sur Rousseau_, vol. i.
        p. 44.

  [540] _Villemain_, _Lit._ vol. ii. p. 115; _Schlosser's Eighteenth
        Century_, vol. i. pp. 34, 42; _Tennemann_, _Gesch. der Philos._
        vol. xi. p. 314; _Biog. Univ._ vol. xi. p. 314; _Grimm_,
        _Correspond._ vol. xv. p. 81. Stanyan's _History of Greece_ was
        once famous, and even so late as 1804, I find Dr. Parr
        recommending it. Parr's _Works_, vol. viii. p. 422. Diderot told
        Sir Samuel Romilly that he had collected materials for a history
        of the trial of Charles I. _Life of Romilly_, vol. i. p. 46.

  [541] _Diderot_, _Mém._ vol. ii. p. 286; _Cousin_, _Hist. de la Philos._
        II^e série, vol. ii. p. 331; _Helvétius de l'Esprit_, vol. i. pp.
        31, 38, 46, 65, 114, 169, 193, 266, 268, vol. ii. pp. 144, 163,
        165, 195, 212; _Letters addressed to Hume_, Edinb. 1849, pp. 9,

  [542] This is the arrangement of our knowledge under the heads of
        Memory, Reason, and Imagination, which D'Alembert took from
        Bacon. Compare _Whewell's Philos. of the Sciences_, vol. ii. p.
        306; _Cuvier_, _Hist. des Sciences_, part ii. p. 276; _Georgel_,
        _Mém._ vol. ii. p. 241; _Bordas Demoulin_, _Cartésianisme_,
        vol. i. p. 18.

  [543] _Quérard_, _France Lit._ ix. 193.

  [544] _Mém de. Morellet_, i. 236, 237.

  [545] _[OE]uvres de Voltaire_, lxv. 161, 190, 212; _Biog. Univ._ x. 158,

  [546] _Burton's Life of Hume_, vol. i. pp. 365, 366, 406.

  [547] See the list, in _Biog. Univ._ vol. xx. pp. 463-466; and compare
        _Mém. de Diderot_, vol. iii. p. 49, from which it seems that
        Holbach was indebted to Toland, though Diderot speaks rather
        doubtingly. In _Almon's Mem. of Wilkes_ 1805, vol. iv. pp. 176,
        177, there is an English letter, tolerably well written, from
        Holbach to Wilkes.

  [548] _Musset Pathay_, _Vie de Rousseau_, ii. 10, 175; _[OE]uvres de
        Voltaire_, liv. 207.

  [549] _Biog. Univ._ x. 556.

  [550] _Ibid._ xii. 418.

  [551] _Quérard_, _France Lit._ iv. 34, 272.

  [552] _Ibid._ iv. 361.

  [553] _Biog. Univ._ xxiii. 226.

  [554] _Montucla_, _Hist. des Mathém._ ii. 170.

  [555] _Montucla_, ii. 120, iv. 662, 665, 670.

  [556] _Biog. Univ._ iii. 253, xxxiii. 564.

  [557] _Quérard_, _France Lit._ vii. 353.

  [558] _Biog. Univ._ xxxviii. 530.

  [559] _Ibid._ xxxviii. 411.

  [560] _Ibid._ iii. 450.

  [561] _Bichat sur la Vie_, 244.

  [562] _Quérard_, i. 416.

  [563] _Biog. Univ._ iii. 345.

  [564] _Quérard_, i. 260, 425, ii. 354.

  [565] _Ibid._ i. 476.

  [566] _Biog. Univ._ iv. 55, 56.

  [567] _Notice sur Cabanis_, p. viii. in his _Physique et Moral._

  [568] _Biog. Univ._ xi. 65, 66.

  [569] _Ibid._ xii. 276.

  [570] _Ibid._ xv. 359.

  [571] _Ibid._ xviii. 187.

  [572] _Quérard_, iv. 641, vi. 9, 398.

  [573] _Cuvier_, _Eloges_, i. 354.

  [574] _Quérard_, vii. 95.

  [575] _Cuvier_, _Eloges_, iii. 382.

  [576] _Biog. Univ._ xxxix. 174.

  [577] _Le Blanc_, _Lettres_, i. 93.

  [578] _Quérard_, ix. 286.

  [579] _Robin et Verdeil_, _Chim. Anat._ ii. 416.

  [580] _Biog. Univ._ v. 530, 531.

  [581] _Cuvier_, _Eloges_, i. 196.

  [582] _Biog. Univ._ vi. 47.

  [583] _Quérard_, ii. 372.

  [584] _Haüy_, _Minéralogie_, ii. 247, 267, 295, 327, 529, 609, iii. 75,
        293, 307, 447, 575, iv. 45, 280, 292, 362.

  [585] _Quérard_, iv. 598.

  [586] _Ibid._ viii. 22.

  [587] _Swainson_, _Disc. on Nat. Hist._ 52; _Cuvier_, _Règne Animal_,
        iii. 415.

  [588] _De Lisle_, _Cristallographie_, 1772, xviii. xx. xxiii. xxv.
        xxvii. 78, 206, 254.

  [589] _Albemarle's Rockingham_, ii. 156; _Campbell's Chancellors_,
        v. 365.

  [590] _Biog. Univ._ vi. 386.

  [591] _Letters to Hume_, Edin. 1849, 276, 278.

  [592] _Biog. Univ._ xv. 332.

  [593] _Brewster's Life of Newton_, ii. 302.

  [594] _Palissot_, _Mém._ ii. 56.

  [595] _Biog. Univ._ ix. 549.

  [596] _Ibid._ xxix. 51, 53.

  [597] _Ibid._ xliv. 534.

  [598] _Ibid._ xlviii. 93.

  [599] _Volney_, _Syrie et Egypte_, ii. 100, 157; _Quérard_, x. 271, 273.

  [600] _Biog. Univ._ i. 42.

  [601] _Ibid._ viii. 340, 341.

  [602] _Mém. de Genlis_, i. 276.

  [603] _Palissot_, _Mém._ i. 243.

  [604] _Biog. Univ._ xi. 281, xi. 172, 173.

  [605] _Quérard_, ii. 626, 627.

  [606] _Ibid._ iii. 141.

  [607] _Quérard_, iv. 342.

  [608] _Ibid._ v. 83.

  [609] _Ibid._ vi. 62.

  [610] _Garrick Correspond._ 4to, 1832, ii. 385, 395, 416.

  [611] _Biog. Univ._ xxxv. 314.

  [612] _Quérard_, vii. 399.

  [613] _Biog. Univ._ xxxix. 93.

  [614] _Ibid._ xxxix. 530.

  [615] _Quérard_, i. 209.

  [616] _Biog. Univ._ iii. 533.

  [617] _Ibid._ iii. 631.

  [618] _Cuvier_, _Règne Animal_, iii. 334.

  [619] _Quérard_, i. 284, vii. 287.

  [620] _Mém. de Morellet_, i. 237.

  [621] _Biog. Univ._ v. 264.

  [622] _Dutens_, _Mém._ iii. 32.

  [623] _Biog. Univ._ vi. 165.

  [624] _Murray's Life of Bruce_, 121; _Biog. Univ._ vi. 79.

  [625] _Ibid._ viii. 46.

  [626] _Ibid._ viii. 246.

  [627] _Ibid._ viii. 266.

  [628] _Ibid._ ix. 497.

  [629] _Ibid._ xlv. 394.

  [630] _Lettres de Dudeffand à Walpole_, iii. 184.

  [631] _[OE]uvres de Voltaire._ lvi. 527.

  [632] _Biog. Univ._ xi. 264.

  [633] _Quérard_, ii. 598.

  [634] _Biog. Univ._ xii. 313, 314.

  [635] _Nichols's Lit. Anec._ ii. 154; _Palissot_, _Mém._ ii. 311.

  [636] _Biog. Univ._ iv. 547, xii. 595.

  [637] _Ibid._ xiii. 399.

  [638] _Quérard_, iii. 79.

  [639] _Biog. Univ._ xv. 29.

  [640] _Ibid._ xv. 203.

  [641] _Ibid._ 218.

  [642] _Quérard_, i. 525.

  [643] _Biog. Univ._ xvi. 48.

  [644] _Ibid._ li. 508.

  [645] _Smith's Tour on the Continent in 1786_, i. 143.

  [646] _Biog. Univ._ xvi. 388.

  [647] _Ibid._ xvi. 502.

  [648] _Sinclair's Correspond._ i. 157.

  [649] _Quérard_, iii. 418.

  [650] _Biog. Univ._ xix. 13.

  [651] _Quérard_, i. 10, iii. 536.

  [652] _Ibid._ iii. 469.

  [653] _Biog. Univ._ xxi. 419.

  [654] _Ibid._ xxi. 200.

  [655] _[OE]uvres de Voltaire_, xxxviii. 244.

  [656] _Palissot_, _Mém._ i. 425.

  [657] _Biog. Univ._ xxiii. 34.

  [658] _Ibid._ xxiii. 56.

  [659] _Ibid._ xxiii. 111.

  [660] _Quérard_, iv. 503.

  [661] _Biog. Univ._ xxiii. 373.

  [662] _Quérard_, iv. 579.

  [663] _Sinclair's Correspond._ ii. 139.

  [664] _Mem. and Correspond. of Sir. J. E. Smith_, i. 163.

  [665] _Biog. des Hommes Vivants_, iv. 164.

  [666] _Quérard_, v. 177.

  [667] _Nichols's Lit. Anec._ iv. 583; _Longchamp et Wagnière_, _Mém._
        i. 395.

  [668] _Quérard_, v. 316.

  [669] _Biog. Univ._ xxv. 87.

  [670] _Ibid._ xxv. 432.

  [671] _Ibid._ xxvi. 244.

  [672] _Ibid._ xxvi. 468.

  [673] _Ibid._ xxvii. 269.

  [674] _Ibid._ xxix. 208.

  [675] _Lettres de Dudeffand à Walpole_, i. 222.

  [676] _Quérard_, vi. 330.

  [677] _Biog. Univ._ xxx. 539.

  [678] _Ibid._ xxxiii. 553.

  [679] _Lettres de Dudeffand à Walpole_, i. 22, iii. 307, iv. 207.

  [680] _Biog. Univ._ xxxvi. 305, 306.

  [681] _Ibid._ xxxviii. 174.

  [682] _Peignot_, _Dict. des Livres_, ii. 233.

  [683] _Quérard_, viii. 111.

  [684] _Biog. Univ._ xxxix. 84.

  [685] _Biog. des Hommes Vivants_, v. 294.

  [686] _Quérard_, viii. 474.

  [687] _Biog. Univ._ xli. 426.

  [688] _Ibid._ xlii. 45, 46.

  [689] _Ibid._ xlii. 389.

  [690] _Ibid._ xliii. 181.

  [691] _Garrick Correspond._ ii. 604; _Mém. de Genlis_, vi. 205.

  [692] _Biog. Univ._ xliv. 512.

  [693] _Life of Roscoe_, _by his Son_, i. 200.

  [694] _Biog. Univ._ xlvi. 398, 399.

  [695] _Ibid._ xlvi. 497.

  [696] _Quérard_, iv. 45, ix. 558.

  [697] _Biog. Univ._ xlvii. 98.

  [698] _Ibid._ xlvii. 232.

  [699] _Mém. de Brissot_, i. 78.

  [700] _Biog. Univ._ xlviii. 217, 218.

  [701] _Ibid._ xlix. 223.

  [702] 'Nous avons mis depuis peu leur langue au rang des langues
        savantes; les femmes même l'apprennent, et ont renoncé à
        l'italien pour étudier celle de ce peuple philosophe. Il n'est
        point dans la province d'Armande et de Belise qui ne veuille
        savoir l'anglois.' _Le Blanc_, _Lettres_, vol. ii. p. 465.
        Compare _Grimm_, _Corresp._ vol. xiv. p. 484; and _Nichols's Lit.
        Anec._ vol. iii. pp. 460, 461.

Such was the eagerness with which the French imbibed the literature of a
people whom but a few years before they had heartily despised. The truth
is, that in this new state of things they had no alternative. For where
but in England was a literature to be found that could satisfy those
bold and inquisitive thinkers who arose in France after the death of
Louis XIV.? In their own country there had no doubt been great displays
of eloquence, of fine dramas, and of poetry, which, though never
reaching the highest point of excellence, is of finished and admirable
beauty. But it is an unquestionable fact, and one melancholy to
contemplate, that during the sixty years which succeeded the death of
Descartes, France had not possessed a single man who dared to think for
himself. Metaphysicians, moralists, historians, all had become tainted
by the servility of that bad age. During two generations, no Frenchman
had been allowed to discuss with freedom any question, either of
politics or of religion. The consequence was, that the largest
intellects, excluded from their legitimate field, lost their energy; the
national spirit died away; the very materials and nutriment of thought
seemed to be wanting. No wonder then, if the great Frenchmen of the
eighteenth century sought that aliment abroad which they were unable to
find at home. No wonder if they turned from their own land, and gazed
with admiration at the only people who, pushing their inquiries into the
highest departments, had shown the same fearlessness in politics as in
religion; a people who, having punished their kings and controlled their
clergy, were storing the treasures of their experience in that noble
literature which never can perish, and of which it may be said in sober
truth, that it has stimulated the intellect of the most distant races,
and that, planted in America and in India, it has already fertilized the
two extremities of the world.

There are, in fact, few things in history so instructive as the extent
to which France was influenced by this new pursuit. Even those who took
part in actually consummating the Revolution, were moved by the
prevailing spirit. The English language was familiar to Carra,[703]
Dumouriez,[704] Lafayette,[705] and Lanthénas.[706] Camille Desmoulins
had cultivated his mind from the same source.[707] Marat travelled in
Scotland as well as in England, and was so profoundly versed in our
language that he wrote two works in it; one of which, called _The Chains
of Slavery_, was afterwards translated into French.[708] Mirabeau is
declared by a high authority to have owed part of his power to a careful
study of the English constitution;[709] he translated not only Watson's
_History of Philip II._, but also some parts of Milton;[710] and it is
said that when he was in the National Assembly, he delivered, as his
own, passages from the speeches of Burke.[711] Mounier was well
acquainted with our language, and with our political institutions both
in theory and in practice;[712] and in a work, which exercised
considerable influence, he proposed for his own country the
establishment of two chambers, to form that balance of power of which
England supplied the example.[713] The same idea, derived from the same
source, was advocated by Le Brun, who was a friend of Mounier's, and
who, like him, had paid attention to the literature and government of
the English people.[714] Brissot knew English; he had studied in London
the working of the English institutions, and he himself mentions that,
in his treatise on criminal law, he was mainly guided by the course of
English legislation.[715] Condorcet also proposed as a model our system
of criminal jurisprudence,[716] which, bad as it was, certainly
surpassed that possessed by France. Madame Roland, whose position, as
well as ability, made her one of the leaders of the democratic party,
was an ardent student of the language and literature of the English
people.[717] She too, moved by the universal curiosity, came to our
country; and, as if to show that persons of every shade and of every
rank were actuated by the same spirit, the Duke of Orleans likewise
visited England; nor did his visit fail to produce its natural results.
'It was,' says a celebrated writer, 'in the society of London that he
acquired a taste for liberty; and it was on his return from there that
he brought into France a love of popular agitation, a contempt for his
own rank, and a familiarity with those beneath him.'[718]

  [703] _Williams's Letters from France_, vol. iii. p. 68, 2nd edit. 1796;
        _Biog. Univ._ vol. vii. p. 192.

  [704] _Adolphus's Biog. Mem._ 1799, vol. i. p. 352.

  [705] _Lady Morgan's France_, vol. ii. p. 304; _Mém. de Lafayette_,
        vol. i. pp. 41, 49, 70, vol. ii. pp. 26, 74, 83, 89.

  [706] _Quérard_, _France Littéraire_, vol. iv. p. 540.

  [707] The last authors he read, shortly before his execution, were Young
        and Hervey. _Lamartine_, _Hist. des Girondins_, vol. viii. p. 45.
        In 1769 Madame Riccoboni writes from Paris, that Young's _Night
        Thoughts_ had become very popular there; and she justly adds,
        'c'est une preuve sans réplique du changement de l'esprit
        français.' _Garrick Correspondence_, vol. ii. p. 566, 4to. 1832.

  [708] _Lamartine_, _Hist. des Girondins_, vol. iv. p. 119; _Mém. de
        Brissot_, vol. i. pp. 336, 337, vol. ii. p. 3.

  [709] 'Une des supériorités secondaires, une des supériorités d'étude
        qui appartenaient à Mirabeau, c'était la profonde connaissance,
        la vive intelligence de la constitution anglaise, de ses ressorts
        publics et de ses ressorts cachés.' _Villemain_, _Lit. au XVIII^e
        Siècle_, vol. iv. p. 153.

  [710] Particularly the democratic passages, 'un corps de doctrine de
        tous ses écrits républicains.' _Dumont_, _Souvenirs sur
        Mirabeau_, p. 119. As to his translation of Watson, see _Alison's
        Europe_, vol. i. p. 452. He also intended to translate Sinclair's
        History of the Revenue. _Correspond. of Sir J. Sinclair_,
        vol. ii. p. 119.

  [711] _Prior's Life of Burke_, p. 546, 3rd edit. 1839.

  [712] 'Il étudiait leur langue, la théorie et plus encore la pratique de
        leurs institutions.' _Biog. Univ._ vol. xxx. p. 310.

  [713] _Continuation de Sismondi_, _Hist. des Français_, vol. xxx.
        p. 434. Montlosier (_Monarchie Française_, vol. ii. p. 340) says
        that this idea was borrowed from England; but he does not mention
        who suggested it.

  [714] _Du Mesnil_, _Mém. sur Le Brun_, pp. 10, 14, 29, 82, 180, 182.

  [715] _Mém. de Brissot_, vol. i. pp. 63, 64, vol. ii. pp. 25, 40, 188,
        206, 260, 313.

  [716] Dupont de Nemours (_Mém. sur Turgot_, p. 117) says of criminal
        jurisprudence, 'M. de Condorcet proposait en modèle celle des

  [717] _Mém. de Roland_, vol. i. pp. 27, 55, 89, 136, vol. ii. pp. 99,
        135, 253.

  [718] 'Le duc d'Orléans puisa ainsi le goût de la liberté dans la vie de
        Londres. Il en rapporta en France les habitudes d'insolence
        contre la cour, l'appétit des agitations populaires, le mépris
        pour son propre rang, la familiarité avec la foule,' &c.
        _Lamartine_, _Hist. des Girondins_, vol. ii. p. 102.

This language, strong as it is, will not appear exaggerated to any one
who has carefully studied the history of the eighteenth century. It is
no doubt certain, that the French Revolution was essentially a reaction
against that protective and interfering spirit which reached its zenith
under Louis XIV., but which, centuries before his reign, had exercised a
most injurious influence over the national prosperity. While, however,
this must be fully conceded, it is equally certain that the impetus to
which the reaction owed its strength, proceeded from England; and that
it was English literature which taught the lessons of political liberty,
first to France, and through France to the rest of Europe.[719] On this
account, and not at all from mere literary curiosity, I have traced with
some minuteness that union between the French and English minds, which,
though often noticed, has never been examined with the care its
importance deserves. The circumstances which reinforced this vast
movement will be related towards the end of the volume; at present I
will confine myself to its first great consequence, namely, the
establishment of a complete schism between the literary men of France,
and the classes who exclusively governed the country.

  [719] M. Lerminier (_Philos. du Droit_, vol. i. p. 19) says of England,
        'cette île célèbre donne à l'Europe l'enseignement de la liberté
        politique; elle en fut l'école au dix-huitième siècle pour tout
        ce que l'Europe eut de penseurs.' See also _Soulavie_, _Règne de
        Louis XVI_, vol. iii. p. 161; _Mém. de Marmontel_, vol. iv. pp.
        38, 39; _Stäudlin_, _Gesch. der theolog. Wissenschaften_,
        vol. ii. p. 291.

Those eminent Frenchmen who now turned their attention to England, found
in its literature, in the structure of its society, and in its
government, many peculiarities of which their own country furnished no
example. They heard political and religious questions of the greatest
moment debated with a boldness unknown in any other part of Europe. They
heard dissenters and churchmen, whigs and tories, handling the most
dangerous topics, and treating them with unlimited freedom. They heard
public disputes respecting matters which no one in France dared to
discuss; mysteries of state and mysteries of creed unfolded and rudely
exposed to the popular gaze. And, what to Frenchmen of that age must
have been equally amazing, they not only found a public press possessing
some degree of freedom, but they found that within the very walls of
parliament the administration of the crown was assailed with complete
impunity, the character of its chosen servants constantly aspersed, and,
strange to say, even the management of its revenues effectually

  [720] Hume, who was acquainted with several eminent Frenchmen who
        visited England, says (_Philosophical Works_, vol. iii. p. 8),
        'nothing is more apt to surprise a foreigner than the extreme
        liberty which we enjoy in this country, of communicating whatever
        we please to the public, and of openly censuring every measure
        entered into by the king or his ministers.'

The successors of the age of Louis XIV., seeing these things, and
seeing, moreover, that the civilization of the country increased as the
authority of the upper classes and of the crown diminished, were unable
to restrain their wonder at so novel and exciting a spectacle. 'The
English nation,' says Voltaire, 'is the only one on the earth, which, by
resisting its kings, has succeeded in lessening their power.[721] How I
love the boldness of the English! how I love men who say what they
think!'[722] The English, says Le Blanc, are willing to have a king,
provided they are not obliged to obey him.[723] The immediate object of
their government, says Montesquieu, is political liberty;[724] they
possess more freedom than any republic;[725] and their system is in fact
a republic disguised as a monarchy.[726] Grosley, struck with amazement,
exclaims, 'Property is in England a thing sacred, which the laws protect
from all encroachment, not only from engineers, inspectors, and other
people of that stamp, but even from the king himself.'[727] Mably, in the
most celebrated of all his works, says, 'The Hanoverians are only able
to reign in England because the people are free, and believe they have a
right to dispose of the crown. But if the kings were to claim the same
powers as the Stuarts, if they were to believe that the crown belonged
to them by divine right, they would be condemning themselves and
confessing that they were occupying a place which is not their
own.'[728] In England, says Helvétius, the people are respected; every
citizen can take some part in the management of affairs; and authors are
allowed to enlighten the public respecting its own interests.[729] And
Brissot, who had made these matters his especial study, cries out,
'Admirable constitution! which can only be disparaged either by men who
know it not, or else by those whose tongues are bridled by

  [721] 'La nation anglaise est la seule de la terre qui soit parvenue à
        régler le pouvoir des rois en leur résistant.' _Lettre VIII sur
        les Anglais_, in _[OE]uvres de Voltaire_, vol. xxvi. p. 37.

  [722] 'Que j'aime la hardiesse anglaise! que j'aime les gens qui disent
        ce qu'ils pensent!' _Letter from Voltaire_, in _Correspond. de
        Dudeffand_, vol. ii. p. 263. For other instances of his
        admiration of England, see _[OE]uvres de Voltaire_, vol. xl. pp.
        105-109; vol. li. pp. 137, 390; vol. liv. pp. 298, 392; vol. lvi.
        pp. 162, 163, 195, 196, 270; vol. lvii. p. 500; vol. lviii. pp.
        128, 267; vol. lix. pp. 265, 361; vol. lx. p. 501; vol. lxi. pp.
        43, 73, 129, 140, 474, 475; vol. lxii. pp. 343, 379, 392; vol.
        lxiii. pp. 128, 146, 190, 196, 226, 237, 415; vol. lxiv. pp. 36,
        96, 269; vol. lxvi. pp. 93, 159; vol. lxvii. pp. 353, 484.

  [723] 'Ils veulent un roi, aux conditions, pour ainsi dire, de ne lui
        point obéir.' _Le Blanc_, _Lettres d'un François_, vol. i.
        p. 210.

  [724] 'Il y a aussi une nation dans le monde qui a pour objet direct de
        sa constitution la liberté politique.' _Esprit des Lois_, livre
        xi. chap. v. in _[OE]uvres de Montesquieu_, p. 264. Conversely De
        Staël (_Consid. sur la Rév._ vol. iii. p. 261), 'la liberté
        politique est le moyen suprême.'

  [725] 'L'Angleterre est à présent le plus libre pays qui soit au monde,
        je n'en excepte aucune république.' _Notes sur l'Angleterre_, in
        _[OE]uvres de Montesquieu_, p. 632.

  [726] 'Une nation où la république se cache sous la forme de la
        monarchie.' _Esprit des Lois_, livre v. chap. xix. in _[OE]uvres
        de Montesquieu_, page 225; also quoted in _Bancroft's American
        Revolution_, vol. ii. p. 36.

  [727] _Grosley's Tour to London_, vol. i. pp. 16, 17.

  [728] _Mably_, _Observ. sur l'Hist. de France_, vol. ii. p. 185.

  [729] _Helvétius de l'Esprit._ vol. i. pp. 102, 199: 'un pays où le
        peuple est respecté comme en Angleterre; ... un pays où chaque
        citoyen a part au maniement des affaires générales, où tout homme
        d'esprit peut éclairer le public sur ses véritables intérêts.'

  [730] _Mém. de Brissot_, vol. ii. p. 25.

Such were the opinions of some of the most celebrated Frenchmen of that
time; and it would be easy to fill a volume with similar extracts. But,
what I now rather wish to do, is, to point out the first great
consequence of this new and sudden admiration for a country which, in
the preceding age, had been held in profound contempt. The events which
followed are, indeed, of an importance impossible to exaggerate; since
they brought about that rupture between the intellectual and governing
classes, of which the revolution itself was but a temporary episode.

The great Frenchmen of the eighteenth century being stimulated by the
example of England into a love of progress, naturally came into
collision with the governing classes, among whom the old stationary
spirit still prevailed. This opposition was a wholesome reaction against
that disgraceful servility for which, in the reign of Louis XIV.,
literary men had been remarkable; and if the contest which ensued had
been conducted with anything approaching to moderation, the ultimate
result would have been highly beneficial; since it would have secured
that divergence between the speculative and practical classes which, as
we have already seen, is essential to maintain the balance of
civilization, and to prevent either side from acquiring a dangerous
predominance. But, unfortunately, the nobles and clergy had been so long
accustomed to power, that they could not brook the slightest
contradiction from those great writers, whom they ignorantly despised as
their inferiors. Hence it was, that when the most illustrious Frenchmen
of the eighteenth century attempted to infuse into the literature of
their country a spirit of inquiry similar to that which existed in
England, the ruling classes became roused into a hatred and jealousy
which broke all bounds, and gave rise to that crusade against knowledge
which forms the second principal precursor of the French Revolution.

The extent of that cruel persecution to which literature was now
exposed, can only be fully appreciated by those who have minutely
studied the history of France in the eighteenth century. For it was not
a stray case of oppression, which occurred here and there; but it was a
prolonged and systematic attempt to stifle all inquiry, and punish all
inquirers. If a list were drawn up of all the literary men who wrote
during the seventy years succeeding the death of Louis XIV., it would be
found, that at least nine out of every ten had suffered from the
government some grievous injury; and that a majority of them had been
actually thrown into prison. Indeed, in saying thus much, I am
understating the real facts of the case; for I question if one literary
man out of fifty escaped with entire impunity. Certainly, my own
knowledge of those times, though carefully collected, is not so complete
as I could have wished; but, among those authors who were punished, I
find the name of nearly every Frenchman whose writings have survived the
age in which they were produced. Among those who suffered either
confiscation, or imprisonment, or exile, or fines, or the suppression of
their works, or the ignominy of being forced to recant what they had
written, I find, besides a host of inferior writers, the names of
Beaumarchais, Berruyer, Bougeant, Buffon, D'Alembert, Diderot, Duclos,
Freret, Helvétius, La Harpe, Linguet, Mably, Marmontel, Montesquieu,
Mercier, Morellet, Raynal, Rousseau, Suard, Thomas, and Voltaire.

The mere recital of this list is pregnant with instruction. To suppose
that all these eminent men deserved the treatment they received, would,
even in the absence of direct evidence, be a manifest absurdity; since
it would involve the supposition, that a schism having taken place
between two classes, the weaker class was altogether wrong, and the
stronger altogether right. Fortunately, however, there is no necessity
for resorting to any merely speculative argument respecting the probable
merits of the two parties. The accusations brought against these great
men are before the world; the penalties inflicted are equally well
known; and, by putting these together, we may form some idea of the
state of society, in which such things could be openly practised.

Voltaire, almost immediately after the death of Louis XIV., was falsely
charged with having composed a libel on that prince; and, for this
imaginary offence, he, without the pretence of a trial, and without even
the shadow of a proof, was thrown into the Bastille, where he was
confined more than twelve months.[731] Shortly after he was released,
there was put upon him a still more grievous insult; the occurrence,
and, above all, the impunity of which, supply striking evidence as to
the state of society in which such things were permitted. Voltaire, at
the table of the Duke de Sully, was deliberately insulted by the
Chevalier de Rohan Chabot, one of those impudent and dissolute nobles
who then abounded in Paris. The duke, though the outrage was committed
in his own house, in his own presence, and upon his own guest, would not
interfere; but seemed to consider that a poor poet was honoured by being
in any way noticed by a man of rank. But, as Voltaire, in the heat of
the moment, let fall one of those stinging retorts which were the terror
of his enemies, the chevalier determined to visit him with further
punishment. The course he adopted was characteristic of the man, and of
the class to which he belonged. He caused Voltaire to be seized in the
streets of Paris, and in his presence ignominiously beaten, he himself
regulating the number of blows of which the chastisement was to consist.
Voltaire, smarting under the insult, demanded that satisfaction which it
was customary to give. This, however, did not enter into the plan of his
noble assailer, who not only refused to meet him in the field, but
actually obtained an order, by which he was confined in the Bastille for
six months, and at the end of that time was directed to quit the

  [731] _Condorcet_, _Vie de Voltaire_, pp. 118, 119; _Duvernet_, _Vie de
        Voltaire_, pp. 30, 32; _Longchamp et Wagnière_, _Mém. sur
        Voltaire_, vol. i. p. 22.

  [732] _Duvernet_, _Vie de Voltaire_, pp. 46-48; _Condorcet_, _Vie de
        Voltaire_, pp. 125, 126. Compare vol. lvi. p. 162; _Lepan_, _Vie
        de Voltaire_, 1837, pp. 70, 71; and _Biog. Univ._ vol. xlix. p.
        468. Duvernet, who, writing from materials supplied by Voltaire,
        had the best means of information, gives a specimen of the fine
        feeling of a French duke in the eighteenth century. He says,
        that, directly after Rohan had inflicted this public
        chastisement, 'Voltaire rentre dans l'hôtel, demande au duc de
        Sully de regarder cet outrage fait à l'un de ses convives, comme
        fait à lui-même: il le sollicite de se joindre à lui pour en
        poursuivre la vengeance, et de venir chez un commissaire en
        certifier la déposition. _Le duc de Sully se refuse à tout._'

Thus it was that Voltaire, having first been imprisoned for a libel
which he never wrote, and having then been publicly beaten because he
retorted an insult wantonly put upon him, was now sentenced to another
imprisonment, through the influence of the very man by whom he had been
attacked. The exile which followed the imprisonment seems to have been
soon remitted; as, shortly after these events, we find Voltaire again in
France, preparing for publication his first historical work, a life of
Charles XII. In this, there are none of those attacks on Christianity
which gave offence in his subsequent writings; nor does it contain the
least reflection upon the arbitrary government under which he had
suffered. The French authorities at first granted that permission,
without which no book could then be published; but as soon as it was
actually printed, the license was withdrawn, and the history forbidden
to be circulated.[733] The next attempt of Voltaire was one of much
greater value: it was therefore repulsed still more sharply. During his
residence in England, his inquisitive mind had been deeply interested by
a state of things so different from any he had hitherto seen; and he now
published an account of that remarkable people, from whose literature he
had learned many important truths. His work, which he called
_Philosophic Letters_, was received with general applause; but,
unfortunately for himself, he adopted in it the arguments of Locke
against innate ideas. The rulers of France, though not likely to know
much about innate ideas, had a suspicion that the doctrine of Locke was
in some way dangerous; and, as they were told that it was a novelty,
they felt themselves bound to prevent its promulgation. Their remedy was
very simple. They ordered that Voltaire should be again arrested and
that his work should be burned by the common hangman.[734]

  [733] 'L'Histoire de Charles XII, dont on avait arrêté une première
        édition après l'avoir autorisée.' _Biog. Univ._ vol. xlix. p.
        470. Comp. _Nichols's Lit. Anec._ vol. i. p. 388.

  [734] _Duvernet_, _Vie de Voltaire_, pp. 63-65; _Condorcet_, _Vie de
        Voltaire_, pp. 138-140; _Lepan_,_ Vie de Voltaire_, pp. 93, 381.

These repeated injuries might well have moved a more patient spirit than
that of Voltaire.[735] Certainly, those who reproach this illustrious
man, as if he were the instigator of unprovoked attacks upon the
existing state of things, must know very little of the age in which it
was his misfortune to live. Even on what has been always considered the
neutral ground of physical science, there was displayed the same
despotic and persecuting spirit. Voltaire, among other schemes for
benefiting France, wished to make known to his countrymen the wonderful
discoveries of Newton, of which they were completely ignorant. With this
view, he drew up an account of the labours of that extraordinary
thinker; but here again the authorities interposed, and forbade the work
to be printed.[736] Indeed, the rulers of France, as if sensible that
their only security was the ignorance of the people, obstinately set
their face against every description of knowledge. Several eminent
authors had undertaken to execute, on a magnificent scale, an
Encyclopædia, which should contain a summary of all the branches of
science and of art. This, undoubtedly the most splendid enterprise ever
started by a body of literary men, was at first discouraged by the
government, and afterwards entirely prohibited.[737] On other occasions,
the same tendency was shown in matters so trifling that nothing but the
gravity of their ultimate results prevents them from being ridiculous.
In 1770, Imbert translated Clarke's _Letters on Spain_: one of the best
works then existing on that country. This book, however, was suppressed
as soon as it appeared; and the only reason assigned for such a stretch
of power is, that it contained some remarks respecting the passion of
Charles III. for hunting, which were considered disrespectful to the
French crown, because Louis XV. was himself a great hunter.[738] Several
years before this, La Bletterie, who was favourably known in France by
his works, was elected a member of the French Academy. But he, it seems,
was a Jansenist, and had, moreover, ventured to assert that the Emperor
Julian, notwithstanding his apostacy, was not entirely devoid of good
qualities. Such offences could not be overlooked in so pure an age; and
the king obliged the Academy to exclude La Bletterie from their
society.[739] That the punishment extended no further, was an instance
of remarkable leniency; for Fréret, an eminent critic and scholar,[740]
was confined in the Bastille, because he stated in one of his memoirs,
that the earliest Frankish chiefs had received their titles from the
Romans.[741] The same penalty was inflicted four different times upon
Lenglet du Fresnoy.[742] In the case of this amiable and accomplished
man, there seems to have been hardly the shadow of a pretext for the
cruelty with which he was treated; though, on one occasion, the alleged
offence was, that he had published a supplement to the History of De

  [735] The indignation of Voltaire appears in many of his letters; and he
        often announced to his friends his intention of quitting for ever
        a country where he was liable to such treatment. See _[OE]uvres
        de Voltaire_, vol. liv. pp. 58, 335, 336, vol. lv. p. 229, vol.
        lvi. pp. 162, 163, 358, 447, 464, 465, vol. lvii. pp. 144, 145,
        155, 156, vol. lviii. pp. 36, 222, 223, 516, 517, 519, 520, 525,
        526, 563, vol. lix. pp. 107, 116, 188, 208.

  [736] _[OE]uvres de Voltaire_, vol. i. pp. 147, 315, vol. lvii. pp. 211,
        215, 219, 247, 295; _Villemain_, _Lit. au XVIII^e Siècle_,
        vol. i. p. 14; _Brougham's Men of Letters_, vol. i. pp. 53, 60.

  [737] _Grimm_, _Correspond._ vol. i. pp. 90-95, vol. ii. p. 399; _Biog.
        Univ._ vol. xi. p. 316; _Brougham's Men of Letters_, vol. ii.
        p. 439.

  [738] _Boucher de la Richarderie_, _Bibliothèque des Voyages_, vol. iii.
        pp. 390-393, Paris, 1808: 'La distribution en France de la
        traduction de ce voyage fut arrêtée pendant quelque temps par des
        ordres supérieurs du gouvernement.... Il y a tout lieu de croire
        que les ministres de France crurent, ou feignirent de croire, que
        le passage en question pouvoit donner lieu à des applications sur
        le goût effréné de Louis XV pour la chasse, et inspirèrent
        aisément cette prévention à un prince très-sensible, comme on
        sait, aux censures les plus indirectes de sa passion pour ce
        genre d'amusement.' See also the account of Imbert, the
        translator, in _Biog. Univ._ vol. xxi. p. 200.

  [739] _Grimm_, _Correspond._ vol. vi. pp. 161, 162; the crime being,
        'qu'un janséniste avait osé imprimer que Julien, apostat
        exécrable aux yeux d'un bon chrétien, n'était pourtant pas un
        homme sans quelques bonnes qualités à en juger mondainement.'

  [740] M. Bunsen (_Egypt_, vol. i. p. 14) refers to Fréret's 'acute
        treatise on the Babylonian year;' and Turgot, in his
        _Etymologie_, says (_[OE]uvres de Turgot_, vol. iii. p. 83),
        'l'illustre Fréret, un des savans qui ont su le mieux appliquer
        la philosophie à l'érudition.'

  [741] This was at the very outset of his career: 'En 1715, l'homme qui
        devait illustrer l'érudition française au xviii^e siècle, Fréret,
        était mis à la Bastille pour avoir avancé, dans un mémoire sur
        l'origine des Français, que les Francs ne formaient pas une
        nation à part, et que leurs premiers chefs avaient reçu de
        l'empire romain le titre de _patrices_.' _Villemain_, _Lit. au
        XVIII^e Siècle_, vol. ii. p. 30: see also _Nichols's Lit. Anec._
        vol. ii. p. 510.

  [742] He was imprisoned in the Bastille, for the first time, in 1725;
        then in 1743, in 1750, and finally in 1751. _Biographie
        Universelle_, vol. xxiv. p. 85.

  [743] In 1743, Voltaire writes: 'On vient de mettre à la Bastille l'abbé
        Lenglet, pour avoir publié des mémoires déjà très-connus, qui
        servent de supplément à l'histoire de notre célèbre De Thou.
        L'infatigable et malheureux Lenglet rendait un signalé service
        aux bons citoyens, et aux amateurs des recherches historiques. Il
        méritait des récompenses; on l'emprisonne cruellement à l'âge de
        soixante-huit ans.' _[OE]uvres de Voltaire_, vol. i. pp. 400,
        401, vol. lviii. pp. 207, 208.

Indeed, we have only to open the biographies and correspondence of that
time, to find instances crowding upon us from all quarters. Rousseau was
threatened with imprisonment, was driven from France, and his works were
publicly burned.[744] The celebrated treatise of Helvétius on the mind
was suppressed by an order from the royal council: it was burned by the
common hangman, and the author was compelled to write two letters,
retracting his opinions.[745] Some of the geological views of Buffon
having offended the clergy, that illustrious naturalist was obliged to
publish a formal recantation of doctrines which are now known to be
perfectly accurate.[746] The learned Observations on the History of
France, by Mably, were suppressed as soon as they appeared;[747] for
what reason it would be hard to say, since M. Guizot, certainly no
friend either to anarchy or to irreligion, has thought it worth while to
republish them, and thus stamp them with the authority of his own great
name. The History of the Indies, by Raynal, was condemned to the flames,
and the author ordered to be arrested.[748] Lanjuinais, in his
well-known work on Joseph II., advocated not only religious toleration,
but even the abolition of slavery; his book, therefore, was declared to
be 'seditious;' it was pronounced 'destructive of all subordination,'
and was sentenced to be burned.[749] The Analysis of Bayle, by Marsy,
was suppressed, and the author was imprisoned.[750] The History of the
Jesuits, by Linguet, was delivered to the flames; eight years later his
_Journal_ was suppressed; and, three years after that, as he still
persisted in writing, his Political Annals were suppressed, and he
himself was thrown into the Bastille.[751] Delisle de Sales was
sentenced to perpetual exile, and confiscation of all his property, on
account of his work on the Philosophy of Nature.[752] The treatise by
Mey, on French Law, was suppressed;[753] that by Boncerf, on Feudal Law,
was burned.[754] The Memoirs of Beaumarchais were likewise burned;[755]
the Eloge on Fénelon by La Harpe was merely suppressed.[756] Duvernet
having written a History of the Sorbonne, which was still unpublished,
was seized and thrown into the Bastille, while the manuscript was yet in
his own possession.[757] The celebrated work of De Lolme on the English
constitution was suppressed by edict directly it appeared.[758] The fate
of being suppressed, or prohibited, also awaited the Letters of
Gervaise, in 1724;[759] the Dissertations of Courayer, in 1727;[760] the
Letters of Montgon, in 1732;[761] the History of Tamerlane, by Margat,
also in 1732;[762] the Essay on Taste, by Cartaud, in 1736;[763] the
Life of Domat, by Prévost de la Jannès, in 1742;[764] the History of
Louis XI., by Duclos, in 1745;[765] the Letters of Bargeton, in
1750;[766] the Memoirs on Troyes, by Grosley, in the same year;[767] the
History of Clement XI., by Reboulet, in 1752;[768] the School of Man, by
Génard, also in 1752;[769] the Therapeutics of Garlon, in 1756;[770] the
celebrated thesis of Louis, on Generation, in 1754;[771] the Treatise on
Presidial Jurisdiction, by Jousse, in 1755;[772] the Ericie of
Fontanelle, in 1768;[773] the Thoughts of Jamin, in 1769;[774] the
History of Siam, by Turpin, and the Eloge of Marcus Aurelius, by Thomas,
both in 1770;[775] the works on Finance by Darigrand in 1764; and by Le
Trosne, in 1779;[776] the Essay on Military Tactics, by Guibert, in
1772; the Letters of Boucquet, in the same year;[777] and the Memoirs of
Terrai, by Coquereau, in 1776.[778] Such wanton destruction of property
was, however, mercy itself, compared to the treatment experienced by
other literary men in France. Desforges, for example, having written
against the arrest of the Pretender to the English throne, was, solely
on that account, buried in a dungeon eight feet square, and confined
there for three years.[779] This happened in 1749; and in 1770, Audra,
professor at the college of Toulouse, and a man of some reputation,
published the first volume of his Abridgment of General History. Beyond
this, the work never proceeded; it was at once condemned by the
archbishop of the diocese, and the author was deprived of his office.
Audra, held up to public opprobrium, the whole of his labours rendered
useless, and the prospects of his life suddenly blighted, was unable to
survive the shock. He was struck with apoplexy, and within twenty-four
hours was lying a corpse in his own house.[780]

  [744] _Musset Pathay_, _Vie de Rousseau_, vol. i. pp. 68, 99, 296, 377,
        vol. ii. pp. 111, 385, 390; _Mercier sur Rousseau_, vol. i. p.
        14, vol. ii. pp. 179, 314.

  [745] _Grimm_, _Corresp._ vol. ii. p. 349; _Walpole's Letters_, 1840,
        vol. iii. p. 418.

  [746] _Lyell's Principles of Geology_, pp. 39, 40; _Mém. of Mallet du
        Pan_, vol. i. p. 125.

  [747] _Soulavie_, _Règne de Louis XVI_, vol. ii. p. 214; _Williams's
        Letters from France_, vol. ii. p. 86, 3rd edit. 1796.

  [748] _Mém. de Ségur_, vol. i. p. 253; _Mém. de Lafayette_, vol. ii.
        p. 34 note; _Lettres de Dudeffand à Walpole_, vol. ii. p. 365. On
        Raynal's flight, compare a letter from Marseilles, written in
        1786, and printed in _Mem. and Correspond. of Sir J. E. Smith_,
        vol. i. p. 194.

  [749] See the proceedings of the avocat-général, in _Peignot_, _Livres
        condamnés_, vol. i. pp. 230, 231; and in _Soulavie_, _Règne de
        Louis XVI_, vol. iii. pp. 93-97.

  [750] _Quérard_, _France Lit._ vol. v. p. 565.

  [751] _Peignot_, _Livres condamnés_, vol. i. pp. 241, 242.

  [752] _Biog. Univ._ vol. xxiv. p. 561; _[OE]uvres de Voltaire_,
        vol. lxix. pp. 374, 375; _Lettres inédites de Voltaire_, vol. ii.
        p. 528; _Duvernet_, _Vie de Voltaire_, pp. 202, 203. According to
        some of these authorities, parliament afterwards revoked this
        sentence; but there is no doubt that the sentence was passed, and
        De Sales imprisoned, if not banished.

  [753] _Peignot_, _Livres condamnés_, vol. i. pp. 314, 316.

  [754] _[OE]uvres de Voltaire_, vol. lxix. p. 204;_ Lettres de Dudeffand
        à Walpole_, vol. iii. p. 260.

  [755] 'Quatre mémoires ... condamnés à être lacérés et brûlés par la
        main du bourreau.' _Peignot_, vol. i. p. 24.

  [756] _Biog. Univ._ vol. xxiii. p. 187.

  [757] _Duvernet_, _Hist. de la Sorbonne_, vol. i. p. vi.

  [758] 'Supprimée par arrêt du conseil' in 1771, which was the year of
        its publication. Compare _Cassagnac's Révolution_, vol. i. p. 33;
        _Biog. Univ._ vol. xxiv. p. 634.

  [759] _Quérard_, _France Lit._ vol. iii. p. 337.

  [760] _Biog. Univ._ vol. x. p. 97.

  [761] _Peignot_, vol. i. p. 328.

  [762] _ibid._ vol. i. p. 289.

  [763] _Biog. Univ._ vol. vii. p. 227.

  [764] _Lettres d'Aguesseau_, vol. ii. pp. 320, 321.

  [765] _Cassagnac_, _Causes de la Rév._ vol. i. p. 32.

  [766] _Biog. Univ._ vol. iii. p. 375.

  [767] _Quérard_, vol. iii. p. 489.

  [768] _Ibid._ vol. vii. pp. 483, 484.

  [769] _Ibid._ vol. iii. p. 302.

  [770] _Ibid._ vol. iii. p. 261.

  [771] On the importance of this remarkable thesis, and on its
        prohibition, see _Saint-Hilaire_, _Anomalies de l'Organisation_,
        vol. i. p. 355.

  [772] _Quérard_, vol. iv. p. 255.

  [773] _Biog. Univ._ vol. xv. p. 203.

  [774] _Ibid._ vol. xxi. p. 391.

  [775] _Ibid._ vol. xlv. p. 462, vol. xlvii. p. 98.

  [776] _Peignot_, vol. i. pp. 90, 91, vol. ii. p. 164.

  [777] _Ibid._ vol. i. p. 170, vol. ii. p. 57.

  [778] _Ibid._ vol. ii. p. 214.

  [779] 'Il resta trois ans dans la cage; c'est un caveau creusé dans le
        roc, de huit pieds en carré, où le prisonnier ne reçoit le jour
        que par les crevasses des marches de l'église.' _Biog. Univ._
        vol. xi. p. 171.

  [780] _Peignot_, _Livres condamnés_, vol. i. pp. 14, 15.

It will probably be allowed that I have collected sufficient evidence to
substantiate my assertion respecting the persecutions directed against
every description of literature; but the carelessness with which the
antecedents of the French Revolution have been studied, has given rise
to such erroneous opinions on this subject, that I am anxious to add a
few more instances, so as to put beyond the possibility of doubt the
nature of the provocations habitually received by the most eminent
Frenchmen of the eighteenth century.

Among the many celebrated authors who, though, inferior to Voltaire,
Montesquieu, Buffon, and Rousseau, were second only to them, three of
the most remarkable were Diderot, Marmontel, and Morellet. The first two
are known to every reader; while Morellet, though comparatively
forgotten, had in his own time considerable influence, and had,
moreover, the distinguished merit of being the first who popularized in
France those great truths which had been recently discovered in
political economy by Adam Smith, and in jurisprudence by Beccaria.

A certain M. Cury wrote a satire upon the Duke d'Aumont, which he showed
to his friend Marmontel, who, struck by its power, repeated it to a
small circle of his acquaintance. The duke, hearing of this, was full of
indignation, and insisted upon the name of the author being given up.
This, of course, was impossible without a gross breach of confidence;
but Marmontel, to do everything in his power, wrote to the duke,
stating, what was really the fact, that the lines in question had not
been printed, that there was no intention of making them public, and
that they had only been communicated to a few of his own particular
friends. It might have been supposed that this would have satisfied even
a French noble; but Marmontel, still doubting the result, sought an
audience of the minister, in the hope of procuring the protection of the
crown. All, however, was in vain. It will hardly be believed, that
Marmontel, who was then at the height of his reputation, was seized in
the middle of Paris, and because he refused to betray his friend, was
thrown into the Bastille. Nay, so implacable were his persecutors, that
after his liberation from prison they, in the hope of reducing him to
beggary, deprived him of the right of publishing the _Mercure_, upon
which nearly the whole of his income depended.[781]

  [781] _Mémoires de Marmontel_, vol. ii. pp. 143-176; and see vol. iii.
        pp. 30-46, 95, for the treatment he afterwards received from the
        Sorbonne, because he advocated religious toleration. See also
        _[OE]uvres de Voltaire_, vol. liv. p. 258; and _Letters of
        Eminent Persons addressed to Hume_, pp. 207, 212, 213.

To the Abbé Morellet a somewhat similar circumstance occurred. A
miserable scribbler, named Palissot, had written a comedy ridiculing
some of the ablest Frenchmen then living. To this Morellet replied by a
pleasant little satire, in which he made a very harmless allusion to the
Princess de Robeck, one of Palissot's patrons. She, amazed at such
presumption, complained to the minister, who immediately ordered the
abbé to be confined in the Bastille, where he remained for some months,
although he had not only been guilty of no scandal, but had not even
mentioned the name of the princess.[782]

  [782] _Mém. de Morellet_, vol. i. pp. 86-89; _Mélanges par Morellet_,
        vol. ii. pp. 3-12; _[OE]uvres de Voltaire_, vol. liv. pp. 106,
        111, 114, 122, 183.

The treatment of Diderot was still more severe. This remarkable man owed
his influence chiefly to his immense correspondence, and to the
brilliancy of a conversation for which, even in Paris, he was
unrivalled, and which he used to display with considerable effect at
those celebrated dinners where, during a quarter of a century, Holbach
assembled the most illustrious thinkers in France.[783] Besides this, he
is the author of several works of interest, most of which are well
known to the students of French literature.[784] His independent spirit,
and the reputation he obtained, earned for him a share in the general
persecution. The first work he wrote was ordered to be publicly burned
by the common hangman.[785] This, indeed, was the fate of nearly all the
best literary productions of that time; and Diderot might esteem himself
fortunate in merely losing his property, provided he saved himself from
imprisonment. But, a few years later, he wrote another work, in which he
said that people who are born blind have some ideas different from those
who are possessed of their eyesight. This assertion is by no means
improbable,[786] and it contains nothing by which any one need be
startled. The men, however, who then governed France discovered in it
some hidden danger. Whether they suspected that the mention of blindness
was an allusion to themselves, or whether they were merely instigated by
the perversity of their temper, is uncertain; at all events, the
unfortunate Diderot, for having hazarded this opinion, was arrested, and
without even the form of a trial, was confined in the dungeon of
Vincennes.[787] The natural results followed. The works of Diderot rose
in popularity;[788] and he, burning with hatred against his persecutors,
redoubled his efforts to overthrow those institutions, under shelter of
which such monstrous tyranny could be safely practised.

  [783] Marmontel (_Mém._ vol. ii. p. 313) says, 'qui n'a connu Diderot
        que dans ses écrits ne l'a point connu:' meaning that his works
        were inferior to his talk. His conversational powers are noticed
        by Ségur, who disliked him, and by Georgel, who hated him.
        _Ségur_, _Souvenirs_, vol. iii. p. 34; _Georgel_, _Mém._ vol. ii.
        p. 246. Compare _Forster's Life of Goldsmith_, vol. i. p. 69;
        _Musset Pathay_, _Vie de Rousseau_, vol. i. p. 95, vol. ii. p.
        227; _Mémoires d'Epinay_, vol. ii. pp. 73, 74, 88; _Grimm_,
        _Corresp._ vol. xv. pp. 79-90; _Morellet_, _Mém._ vol. i. p. 28;
        _Villemain_, _Lit. au XVIII^e Siècle_, vol. i. p. 82.

        As to Holbach's dinners, on which Madame de Genlis wrote a
        well-known libel, see _Schlosser's Eighteenth Century_, vol. i.
        p. 166; _Biog. Univ._ vol. xx. p. 462; _Jesse's Selwyn_, vol. ii.
        p. 9; _Walpole's Letters to Mann_, vol. iv. p. 283; _Gibbon's
        Miscellaneous Works_, p. 73.

  [784] It is also stated by the editor of his correspondence, that he
        wrote a great deal for authors, which they published under their
        name. _Mém. et Corresp. de Diderot_, vol. iii. p. 102.

  [785] This was the _Pensées Philosophiques_, in 1746, his first original
        work; the previous ones being translations from English. _Biog.
        Univ._ xi. p. 314. Duvernet (_Vie de Voltaire_, p. 240) says,
        that he was imprisoned for writing it, but this I believe is a
        mistake; at least I do not remember to have met with the
        statement elsewhere, and Duvernet is frequently careless.

  [786] Dugald Stewart, who has collected some important evidence on this
        subject, has confirmed several of the views put forward by
        Diderot. _Philos. of the Mind_, vol. iii. pp. 401 seq.; comp. pp.
        57, 407, 435. Since then still greater attention has been paid to
        the education of the blind, and it has been remarked that 'it is
        an exceedingly difficult task to teach them to think accurately.'
        _M. Alister's Essay on the Blind_, in _Jour. of Stat. Soc._ vol.
        i. p. 378: see also Dr. Fowler, in _Report of Brit. Assoc._ for
        1847; _Transac. of Sec._ pp. 92, 93, and for 1848, p. 88. These
        passages unconsciously testify to the sagacity of Diderot; and
        they also testify to the stupid ignorance of a government, which
        sought to put an end to such inquiries by punishing their author.

  [787] _Mém. et Corresp. de Diderot_, vol. i. pp. 26-29; _Musset Pathay_,
        _Vie de Rousseu_, vol. i. p. 47, vol. ii. p. 276; _Letter to
        d'Argental_ in _[OE]uvres de Voltaire_, vol. lviii. p. 454;
        _Lacretelle_, _Dix-huitième Siècle_, vol. ii. p. 54.

  [788] A happy arrangement, by which curiosity baffles despotism. In
        1767, an acute observer wrote, 'Il n'y a plus de livres qu'on
        imprime plusieurs fois, que les livres condamnés. Il faut
        aujourd'hui qu'un libraire prie les magistrate de brûler son
        livre pour le faire vendre.' _Grimm_, _Corresp._ vol. v. p. 498.
        To the same effect, _Mém. de Ségur_, vol. i. pp. 15, 16; _Mém. de
        Georgel_, vol. ii. p. 256.

It seems hardly necessary to say more respecting the incredible folly
with which the rulers of France, by turning every able man into a
personal enemy,[789] at length arrayed against the government all the
intellect of the country, and made the Revolution a matter not of choice
but of necessity. I will, however, as a fitting sequel to the preceding
facts, give one instance of the way in which, to gratify the caprice of
the higher classes, even the most private affections of domestic life,
could be publicly outraged. In the middle of the eighteenth century,
there was an actress on the French stage of the name of Chantilly. She,
though beloved by Maurice de Saxe, preferred a more honourable
attachment, and married Favart, the well-known writer of songs and of
comic operas. Maurice, amazed at her boldness, applied for aid to the
French crown. That he should have made such an application is
sufficiently strange; but the result of it is hardly to be paralleled
except in some Eastern despotism. The government of France, on hearing
the circumstance, had the inconceivable baseness to issue an order
directing Favart to abandon his wife, and intrust her to the charge of
Maurice, to whose embraces she was compelled to submit.[790]

  [789] 'Quel est aujourd'hui parmi nous l'homme de lettres de quelque
        mérite qui n'ait éprouvé plus ou moins les fureurs de la calomnie
        et de la persécution?' etc. _Grimm_, _Corresp._ vol. v. p. 451.
        This was written in 1767, and during more than forty years
        previously we find similar expressions; the earliest I have met
        with being in a letter to Thiriot, in 1723, in which Voltaire
        says _([OE]uvres_, vol. lvi. p. 94), 'la sévérité devient plus
        grande de jour en jour dans l'inquisition de la librairie.' For
        other instances, see his letter to De Formont, pp. 423-425, also
        vol. lvii. pp. 144, 351, vol. lviii. p. 222; his _Lettres
        inédites_, vol. i. p. 547; _Mém. de Diderot_, vol. ii. p. 215;
        _Letters of Eminent Persons to Hume_, pp. 14, 15.

  [790] Part of this is related, rather inaccurately, in _Schlosser's
        Eighteenth Century_, vol. iii. p. 483. The fullest account is in
        _Grimm_, _Corresp. Lit._ vol. viii. pp. 231-233: 'Le grand
        Maurice, irrité d'une résistance qu'il n'avait jamais éprouvée
        nulle part, eut la faiblesse de demander une lettre de cachet
        pour enlever à un mari sa femme, et pour la contraindre d'être sa
        concubine; et, chose remarquable, cette lettre de cachet fut
        accordée et exécutée. Les deux époux plièrent sous le joug de la
        nécessité, et la petite Chantilly fut à la fois femme de Favart
        et maîtresse de Maurice de Saxe.'

These are among the insufferable provocations, by which the blood of men
is made to boil in their veins. Who can wonder that the greatest and
noblest minds in France were filled with loathing at the government by
whom such things were done? If we, notwithstanding the distance of time
and country, are moved to indignation by the mere mention of them, what
must have been felt by those before whose eyes they actually occurred?
And when, to the horror they naturally inspired, there was added that
apprehension of being the next victim which every one might personally
feel; when, moreover, we remember that the authors of these persecutions
had none of the abilities by which even vice itself is sometimes
ennobled;--when we thus contrast the poverty of their understandings
with the greatness of their crimes, we, instead of being astonished that
there was a revolution, by which all the machinery of the state was
swept away, should rather be amazed at that unexampled patience by which
alone the revolution was so long deferred.

To me, indeed, it has always appeared, that the delay of the Revolution
is one of the most striking proofs history affords of the force of
established habits, and of the tenacity with which the human mind clings
to old associations. For, if ever there existed a government inherently
and radically bad, it was the government of France in the eighteenth
century. If ever there existed a state of society likely, by its crying
and accumulated evils, to madden men to desperation, France was in that
state. The people, despised and enslaved, were sunk in abject poverty,
and were curbed by laws of stringent cruelty, enforced with merciless
barbarism. A supreme and irresponsible control was exercised over the
whole country by the clergy, the nobles, and the crown. The intellect of
France was placed under the ban of a ruthless proscription, its
literature prohibited and burned, its authors plundered and imprisoned.
Nor was there the least symptom that these evils were likely to be
remedied. The upper classes, whose arrogance was increased by the long
tenure of their power, only thought of present enjoyment: they took no
heed of the future: they saw not that day of reckoning, the bitterness
of which they were soon to experience. The people remained in slavery
until the Revolution actually occurred; while as to the literature,
nearly every year witnessed some new effort to deprive it of that share
of liberty which it still retained. Having, in 1764, issued a decree
forbidding any work to be published in which questions of government
were discussed;[791] having, in 1767, made it a capital offence to
write a book likely to excite the public mind;[792] and having,
moreover, denounced the same penalty of death against any one who
attacked religion,[793] as also against any one who spoke of matters of
finance;[794]--having taken these steps, the rulers of France, very
shortly before their final fall, contemplated another measure still more
comprehensive. It is, indeed, a singular fact, that only nine years
before the Revolution, and when no power on earth could have saved the
institutions of the country, the government was so ignorant of the real
state of affairs, and so confident that it could quell the spirit which
its own despotism had raised, that a proposal was made by an officer of
the crown to do away with all the publishers, and not allow any books to
be printed except those which were issued from a press paid, appointed,
and controlled by the executive magistrate.[795] This monstrous
proposition, if carried into effect, would of course have invested the
king with all the influence which literature can command; it would have
been as fatal to the national intellect as the other measures were to
national liberty; and it would have consummated the ruin of France,
either by reducing its greatest men to complete silence, or else by
degrading them into mere advocates of those opinions which the
government might wish to propagate.

  [791] 'L'Averdy was no sooner named controller of finance than he
        published a decree, in 1764 (_arrêt du conseil_),--which,
        according to the state of the then existing constitution, had the
        force of a law,--by which every man was forbidden to print, or
        cause to be printed, anything whatever upon administrative
        affairs, or government regulations in general, under the penalty
        of a breach of the police laws; by which the man was liable to be
        punished without defence, and not as was the case before the law
        courts, where he might defend himself, and could only be judged
        according to law.' _Schlosser's Eighteenth Century_, vol. ii. p.
        166: see also _Mém. de Morellet_, vol. i. p. 141, vol. ii. p. 75,
        'un arrêt du conseil, qui défendait d'imprimer sur les matières

  [792] 'L'ordonnance de 1767, rendue sous le ministère du chancelier
        Maupeou, portait la peine de mort contre tout auteur d'écrits
        tendant à émouvoir les esprits.' _Cassagnac_, _Causes de la
        Révolution_, vol. i. p. 313.

  [793] In April 1757, D'Alembert writes from Paris, 'on vient de publier
        une déclaration qui inflige la peine de mort à tous ceux qui
        auront publié des écrits tendants à attaquer la religion.'
        _[OE]uvres de Voltaire_, vol. liv. p. 34. This, I suppose, is the
        same edict as that mentioned by M. Amédée Renée, in his
        continuation of _Sismondi_, _Histoire des Français_, vol. xxx. p.

  [794] 'Il avait été défendu, sous peine de mort, aux écrivains de parler
        de finances.' _Lavallée_, _Hist. des Français_, vol. iii. p. 490.

  [795] This was the suggestion of the avocat-général in 1780. See the
        proposal, in his own words, in _Grimm_, _Correspond._ vol. xi.
        pp. 143, 144. On the important functions of the avocats-généraux
        in the eighteenth century, see a note in _Lettres d'Aguesseau_,
        vol. i. p. 264.

For these are by no means to be considered as trifling matters, merely
interesting to men of letters. In France, in the eighteenth century,
literature was the last resource of liberty. In England, if our great
authors should prostitute their abilities by inculcating servile
opinions, the danger would no doubt be considerable, because other parts
of society might find it difficult to escape the contagion. Still,
before the corruption had spread, there would be time to stop its
course, so long as we possessed those free political institutions, by
the mere mention of which the generous imagination of a bold people is
easily fired. And although such institutions are the consequence, not
the cause, of liberty, they do unquestionably react upon it, and from
the force of habit they could for a while survive that from which they
originally sprung. So long as a country retains its political freedom,
there will always remain associations by which, even in the midst of
mental degradation, and out of the depths of the lowest superstition,
the minds of men may be recalled to better things. But in France such
associations had no existence. In France everything was for the
governors and nothing for the governed. There was neither free press,
nor free parliament, nor free debates. There were no public meetings;
there was no popular suffrage; there was no discussion on the hustings;
there was no habeas-corpus act; there was no trial by jury. The voice of
liberty, thus silenced in every department of the state, could only be
heard in the appeals of those great men, who, by their writings,
inspirited the people to resistance. This is the point of view from
which we ought to estimate the character of those who are often accused
of having wantonly disturbed the ancient fabric.[796] They, as well as
the people at large, were cruelly oppressed by the crown, the nobles,
and the church; and they used their abilities to retaliate the injury.
There can be no doubt that this was the best course open to them. There
can be no doubt that rebellion is the last remedy against tyranny, and
that a despotic system should be encountered by a revolutionary
literature. The upper classes were to blame, because they struck the
first blow; but we must by no means censure those great men, who, having
defended themselves from aggression, eventually succeeded in smiting the
government by whom the aggression was originally made.

  [796] And we should also remember what the circumstances were under
        which the accusation was first heard in France. 'Les reproches
        d'avoir tout détruit, adressés aux philosophes du dix-huitième
        siècle, ont commencé le jour où il s'est trouvé en France un
        gouvernement qui a voulu rétablir les abus dont les écrivains de
        cette époque avaient accéléré la destruction.' _Comte_, _Traité
        de Législation_, vol. i. p. 72.

Without, however, stopping to vindicate their conduct, we have now to
consider what is much more important, namely, the origin of that crusade
against Christianity, in which, unhappily for France, they were
compelled to embark, and the occurrence of which forms the third great
antecedent of the French Revolution. A knowledge of the causes of this
hostility against Christianity is essential to a right understanding of
the philosophy of the eighteenth century, and it will throw some light
on the general theory of ecclesiastical power.

It is a circumstance well worthy of remark, that the revolutionary
literature which eventually overturned all the institutions of France,
was at first directed against those which were religious, rather than
against those which were political. The great writers who rose into
notice soon after the death of Louis XIV., exerted themselves against
spiritual despotism; while the overthrow of secular despotism was left
to their immediate successors.[797] This is not the course which would
be pursued in a healthy state of society; and there is no doubt, that
to this peculiarity the crimes and the lawless violence of the French
Revolution are in no small degree to be ascribed. It is evident, that in
the legitimate progress of a nation, political innovations should keep
pace with religious innovations, so that the people may increase their
liberty while they diminish their superstition. In France, on the
contrary, during nearly forty years, the church was attacked, and the
government was spared. The consequence was, that the order and balance
of the country were destroyed; the minds of men became habituated to the
most daring speculations, while their acts were controlled by the most
oppressive despotism; and they felt themselves possessed of capacities
which their rulers would not allow them to employ. When, therefore, the
French Revolution broke out, it was not a mere rising of ignorant slaves
against educated masters, but it was a rising of men in whom the despair
caused by slavery was quickened by the resources of advancing knowledge;
men who were in that frightful condition when the progress of intellect
outstrips the progress of liberty, and when a desire is felt, not only
to remove a tyranny, but also to avenge an insult.

  [797] The nature of this change, and the circumstances under which it
        happened, will be examined in the last chapter of the present
        volume; but that the revolutionary movement, while headed by
        Voltaire and his coadjutors, was directed against the church, and
        not against the state, is noticed by many writers; some of whom
        have also observed, that soon after the middle of the reign of
        Louis XV. the ground began to be shifted, and a disposition was
        first shown to attack political abuses. On this remarkable fact,
        indicated by several authors, but explained by none, compare
        _Lacretelle_, _XVIII^e Siècle_, vol. ii. p. 305; _Barruel_, _Mém.
        pour l'Hist. du Jacobinisme_, vol. i. p. xviii., vol. ii. p. 113;
        _Tocqueville_, _L'Ancien Régime_, p. 241; _Alison's Europe_, vol.
        i. p. 165, vol. xiv. p. 286; _Mém. de Rivarol_, p. 35;
        _Soulavie_, _Règne de Louis XVI_, vol. iv. p. 397; _Lamartine_,
        _Hist. des Girondins_, vol. i. p. 183; _[OE]uvres de Voltaire_,
        vol. lx. p. 307, vol. lxvi. p. 34.

There can be no doubt that to this we must ascribe some of the most
hideous peculiarities of the French Revolution. It, therefore, becomes a
matter of great interest to inquire how it was, that while in England
political freedom and religious sceptism have accompanied and aided each
other, there should, on the other hand, have taken place in France a
vast movement, in which, during nearly forty years, the ablest men
neglected the freedom, while they encouraged the scepticism, and
diminished the power of the church, without increasing the liberties of
the people.

The first reason of this appears to be, the nature of those ideas out
of which the French had long constructed the traditions of their glory.
A train of circumstances which, when treating of the protective spirit,
I attempted to indicate, had secured to the French kings an authority
which, by making all classes subordinate to the crown, flattered the
popular vanity.[798] Hence it was, that in France the feelings of
loyalty worked into the national mind deeper than in any other country
of Europe, Spain alone excepted.[799] The difference between this spirit
and that observable in England has been already noticed, and may be
still further illustrated by the different ways in which the two nations
have dealt with the posthumous reputation of their sovereigns. With the
exception of Alfred, who is sometimes called the Great,[800] we in
England have not sufficiently loved any of our princes to bestow upon
them titles expressive of personal admiration. But the French have
decorated their kings with every variety of panegyric. Thus, to take
only a single name, one king is Louis the Mild, another is Louis the
Saint, another is Louis the Just, another is Louis the Great, and the
most hopelessly vicious of all was called Louis the Beloved.

  [798] See some striking remarks in M. Tocqueville's great work, _De la
        Démocratie_, vol. i. p. 5; which should be compared with the
        observation of Horace Walpole, who was well acquainted with
        French society, and who says, happily enough, that the French
        'love themselves in their kings.' _Walpole's Mem. of George III_,
        vol. ii. p. 240.

  [799] Not only the political history of Spain, but also its literature,
        contains melancholy evidence of the extraordinary loyalty of the
        Spaniards, and of the injurious results produced by it. See, on
        this, some useful reflections in _Ticknor's Hist. of Spanish
        Literature_, vol. i. pp. 95, 96, 133, vol. iii. pp. 191-193.

  [800] Our admiration of Alfred is greatly increased by the fact, that we
        know very little about him. The principal authority referred to
        for his reign is Asser, whose work, there is reason to believe,
        is not genuine. See the arguments in _Wright's Biog. Brit. Lit._
        vol. i. pp. 408-412. It moreover appears, that some of the
        institutions popularly ascribed to him, existed before his time.
        _Kemble's Saxons in England_, vol. i. pp. 247, 248.

These are facts which, insignificant as they seem, form most important
materials for real history, since they are unequivocal symptoms of the
state of the country in which they exist.[801] Their relation to the
subject before us is obvious. For, by them, and by the circumstances
from which they sprung, an intimate and hereditary association was
engendered in the minds of Frenchmen, between the glory of their nation
and the personal reputation of their sovereign. The consequence was,
that the political conduct of the rulers of France was protected against
censure by a fence far more impassable than any that could be erected by
the most stringent laws. It was protected by those prejudices which each
generation bequeathed to its successor. It was protected by that halo
which time had thrown round the oldest monarchy in Europe.[802] And
above all, it was protected by that miserable national vanity, which
made men submit to taxation and to slavery, in order that foreign
princes might be dazzled by the splendour of their sovereign, and
foreign countries intimidated by the greatness of his victories.

  [801] The French writers, under the old régime, constantly boast that
        loyalty was the characteristic of their nation, and taunt the
        English with their opposite and insubordinate spirit. 'Il n'est
        pas ici question des François, qui se sont toujours distingués
        des autres nations par leur amour pour leurs rois.' _Le Blanc_,
        _Lettres d'un François_, vol. iii. p. 523. 'The English do not
        love their sovereigns as much as could be desired.' _Sorbière's
        Voyage to England_, p. 58. 'Le respect de la majesté royale,
        caractère distinctif des Français.' _Mém. de Montbarey_, vol. ii.
        p. 54. 'L'amour et la fidélité que les Français ont naturellement
        pour leurs princes.' _Mém. de Motteville_, vol. ii. p. 3. 'Les
        Français, qui aiment leurs princes.' _De Thou_, _Hist. Univ._
        vol. iii. p. 381; and see vol. xi. p. 729. For further evidence,
        see _Sully_, _[OE]conomies_, vol. iv. p. 346; _Monteil_, _Divers
        Etats_, vol. vii. p. 105; _Ségur_, _Mémoires_, vol. i. p. 32;
        _Lamartine_, _Hist. des Girondins_, vol. iv. p. 58.

        Now, contrast with all this the sentiments contained in one of
        the most celebrated histories in the English language: 'There is
        not any one thing more certain and more evident, than that
        princes are made for the people, and not the people for them; and
        perhaps there is no nation under heaven that is more entirely
        possessed with this notion of princes than the English nation is
        in this age; so that they will soon be uneasy to a prince who
        does not govern himself by this maxim, and in time grow very
        unkind to him.' _Burnet's History of his Own Time_, vol. vi. p.
        223. This manly and wholesome passage was written while the
        French were licking the dust from the feet of Louis XIV.

  [802] 'La race des rois la plus ancienne.' _Mém. de Genlis_, vol. ix.
        p. 281. 'Nos rois, issus de la plus grande race du monde, et
        devant qui les Césars, et la plus grande partie des princes qui
        jadis ont commandé tant de nations, ne sont que des roturiers.'
        _Mém. de Motteville_, vol. ii. p. 417. And a Venetian ambassador,
        in the sixteenth century, says, that France is 'il regno più
        antico d'ogn' altro che sia in essere al presente.' _Relat. des
        Ambassad._ vol. i. p. 470. Compare _Boullier_, _Maison Militaire
        des Rois de France_, p. 360.

The upshot of all this was, that when, early in the eighteenth century,
the intellect of France began to be roused into action, the idea of
attacking the abuses of the monarchy never occurred even to the boldest
thinker. But, under the protection of the crown, there had grown up
another institution, about which less delicacy was felt. The clergy, who
for so long a period had been allowed to oppress the consciences of men,
were not sheltered by those national associations which surrounded the
person of the sovereign; nor had any of them, with the single exception
of Bossuet, done much to increase the general reputation of France.
Indeed, the French church, though during the reign of Louis XIV. it
possessed immense authority, had always exercised it in subordination to
the crown, at whose bidding it had not feared to oppose even the pope
himself.[803] It was, therefore, natural, that in France the
ecclesiastical power should be attacked before the temporal power;
because, while it was as despotic, it was less influential, and because
it was unprotected by those popular traditions which form the principal
support of every ancient institution.

  [803] _Capefigue's Louis XIV_, vol. i. pp. 204, 301; _Koch_, _Tableau
        des Révolutions_, vol. ii. p. 16. M. Ranke (_Die Päpste_, vol.
        ii. p. 257) ascribes this to the circumstances attending the
        apostasy of Henry IV.; but the cause lies much deeper, being
        connected with that triumph of the secular interests over the
        spiritual, of which the policy of Henry IV. was itself a

These considerations are sufficient to explain why it was that, in this
respect, the French and English intellects adopted courses so entirely
different. In England, the minds of men, being less hampered with the
prejudices of an indiscriminate loyalty, have been able at each
successive step in the great progress to direct their doubts and
inquiries on politics as well as on religion; and thus establishing
their freedom as they diminished their superstition, they have
maintained the balance of the national intellect, without allowing to
either of its divisions an excessive preponderance. But in France the
admiration for royalty had become so great, that this balance was
disturbed; the inquiries of men not daring to settle on politics, were
fixed on religion, and gave rise to the singular phenomenon of a rich
and powerful literature, in which unanimous hostility to the church was
unaccompanied by a single voice against the enormous abuses of the

There was likewise another circumstance which increased this peculiar
tendency. During the reign of Louis XIV. the personal character of the
hierarchy had done much to secure their dominion. All the leaders of the
church were men of virtue, and many were men of ability. Their conduct,
tyrannical as it was, seems to have been conscientious; and the evils
which it produced are merely to be ascribed to the gross impolicy of
entrusting ecclesiastics with power. But after the death of Louis XIV. a
great change took place. The Clergy, from causes which it would be
tedious to investigate, became extremely dissolute, and often very
ignorant. This made their tyranny more oppressive, because to submit to
it was more disgraceful. The great abilities and unblemished morals of
men like Bossuet, Fénélon, Bourdaloue, Fléchier, and Mascaron,
diminished in some degree the ignominy which is always connected with
blind obedience. But when they were succeeded by such bishops and
cardinals as Dubois, Lafiteau, Tencin, and others who flourished under
the regency, it became difficult to respect the heads of the church,
tainted as they were with open and notorious depravity.[804] At the same
time that there occurred this unfavourable change among the
ecclesiastical rulers, there also occurred that immense reaction of
which I have endeavoured to trace the early workings. It was therefore,
at the very moment when the spirit of inquiry became stronger that the
character of the Clergy became more contemptible.[805] The great writers
who were now rising in France, were moved to indignation when they saw
that those who usurped unlimited power over consciences had themselves
no consciences at all. It is evident, that every argument which they
borrowed from England against ecclesiastical power, would gain
additional force when directed against men whose personal unfitness was
universally acknowledged.[806]

  [804] _Lavallée_, _Hist. des Français_, vol. iii. p. 408; _Flassan_,
        _Hist. de la Diplomatie_, vol. v. p. 3; _Tocqueville_, _Règne de
        Louis XV_, vol. i. pp. 35, 347; _Duclos_, _Mémoires_, vol. ii.
        pp. 42, 43, 154, 155, 223, 224. What was, if possible, still more
        scandalous, was, that in 1723 the assembly of the clergy elected
        as their president, unanimously ('d'une voix unanime'), the
        infamous Dubois, the most notoriously immoral man of his time.
        _Duclos_, _Mém._ vol. ii. p. 262.

  [805] On this decline of the French clergy, see _Villemain_, _XVIII^e
        Siècle_, vol. iii. pp. 178, 179; _Cousin_, _Hist. de la Philos._
        II^e série, vol. i. p. 301. _Tocqueville_ (_Règne de Louis XV_,
        vol. i. pp. 35-38, 365) says, 'le clergé prêchait une morale
        qu'il compromettait par sa conduite;' a noticeable remark, when
        made by an opponent of the sceptical philosophy, like the elder
        M. Tocqueville. Among this profligate crew, Massillon stood
        alone; he being the last French bishop who was remarkable for
        virtue as well as for ability.

  [806] Voltaire says of the English, 'quand ils apprennent qu'en France
        de jeunes gens connus par leurs débauches, et élevés à la
        prélature par des intrigues de femmes, font publiquement l'amour,
        s'égaient à composer des chansons tendres, donnent tous les jours
        des soupers délicats et longs, et de là vont implorer les
        lumières du Saint-Esprit, et se nomment hardiment les
        successeures des apôtres ils remercient Dieu d'être protestants.'
        _Lettres sur les Anglais_, in _[OE]uvres_, vol. xxvi. p. 29.

Such was the position of the rival parties, when, almost immediately
after the death of Louis XIV., there began that great struggle between
authority and reason, which is still unfinished, although in the present
state of knowledge its result is no longer doubtful. On the one side
there was a compact and numerous priesthood, supported by the
prescription of centuries and by the authority of the crown. On the
other side there was a small body of men, without rank, without wealth,
and as yet without reputation, but animated by a love of liberty, and by
a just confidence in their own abilities. Unfortunately, they at the
very outset committed a serious error. In attacking the clergy, they
lost their respect for religion. In their determination to weaken
ecclesiastical power, they attempted to undermine the foundations of
Christianity. This is deeply to be regretted for their own sake, as well
as for its ultimate effects in France; but it must not be imputed to
them as a crime, since it was forced on them by the exigencies of their
position. They saw the frightful evils which their country was suffering
from the institution of priesthood as it then existed; and yet they were
told that the preservation of that institution in its actual form was
essential to the very being of Christianity. They had always been taught
that the interests of the clergy were identical with the interests of
religion; how then could they avoid including both clergy and religion
in the same hostility? The alternative was cruel; but it was one from
which, in common honesty, they had no escape. We, judging these things
by another standard, possess a measure which they could not possibly
have. We should not now commit such an error, because we know that there
is no connexion between any one particular form of priesthood and the
interests of Christianity. We know that the clergy are made for the
people, and not the people for the clergy. We know that all questions of
church government are matters, not of religion, but of policy, and
should be settled, not according to traditional dogmas, but according to
large views of general expediency. It is because these propositions are
now admitted by all enlightened men, that in our country the truths of
religion are rarely attacked except by superficial thinkers. If, for
instance, we were to find that the existence of our bishops, with their
privileges and their wealth, is unfavourable to the progress of society,
we should not on that account feel enmity against Christianity; because
we should remember that episcopacy is its accident, and not its
essential, and that we could do away with the institution and yet retain
the religion. In the same way, if we should ever find, what was formerly
found in France, that the clergy were tyrannical, this would excite in
us an opposition, not to Christianity, but merely to the external form
which Christianity assumed. So long as our clergy confine themselves to
the beneficent duties of their calling, to the alleviation of pain and
distress, either bodily or mental, so long will we respect them as the
ministers of peace and of charity. But if they should ever again
entrench on the rights of the laity,--if they should ever again
interfere with an authoritative voice in the government of the
state,--it will then be for the people to inquire, whether the time has
not come to effect a revision of the ecclesiastical constitution of the
country. This, therefore, is the manner in which we now view these
things. What we think of the clergy will depend upon themselves; but
will have no connection with what we think of Christianity. We look on
the clergy as a body of men who, notwithstanding their disposition to
intolerance, and notwithstanding a certain narrowness incidental to
their profession, do undoubtedly form part of a vast and noble
institution, by which the manners of men have been softened, their
sufferings assuaged, their distresses relieved. As long as this
institution performs its functions, we are well content to let it stand.
If, however, it should be out of repair, or if it should be found
inadequate to the shifting circumstances of an advancing society, we
retain both the power and the right of remedying its faults; we may, if
need be, remove some of its parts; but we would not, we dare not, tamper
with those great religious truths which are altogether independent of
it; truths which comfort the mind of man, raise him above the instincts
of the hour, and infuse into him those lofty aspirations which,
revealing to him his own immortality, are the measure and the symptom of
a future life.

Unfortunately, this was not the way in which these matters were
considered in France. The government of that country, by investing the
clergy with great immunities, by treating them as if there were
something sacred about their persons, and by punishing as heresy the
attacks which were made on them, had established in the national mind an
indissoluble connexion between their interests and the interests of
Christianity. The consequence was, that when the struggle began, the
ministers of religion, and religion itself, were both assailed with
equal zeal. The ridicule, and even the abuse, heaped on the clergy, will
surprise no one who is acquainted with the provocation that had been
received. And although, in the indiscriminate onslaught which soon
followed, Christianity was, for a time, subjected to a fate which ought
to have been reserved for those who called themselves her ministers;
this, while it moves us to regret, ought by no means to excite our
astonishment. The destruction of Christianity in France was the
necessary result of those opinions which bound up the destiny of the
national priesthood with the destiny of the national religion. If both
were connected by the same origin, both should fall in the same ruin. If
that which is the tree of life, were, in reality, so corrupt that it
could only bear poisonous fruits, then it availed little to lop off the
boughs and cut down the branches; but it were better, by one mighty
effort, to root it up from the ground, and secure the health of society
by stopping the very source of the contagion.

These are reflections which must make us pause before we censure the
deistical writers of the eighteenth century. So perverted, however, are
the reasonings to which some minds are accustomed, that those who judge
them most uncharitably are precisely those whose conduct forms their
best excuse. Such are the men who, by putting forth the most extravagant
claims in favour of the clergy, are seeking to establish the principle,
by the operation of which the clergy were destroyed. Their scheme for
restoring the old system of ecclesiastical authority depends on the
supposition of its divine origin: a supposition which, if inseparable
from Christianity, will at once justify the infidelity which they hotly
attack. The increase of the power of the clergy is incompatible with the
interests of civilization. If, therefore, any religion adopts as its
creed the necessity of such an increase, it becomes the bounden duty of
every friend to humanity to do his utmost, either to destroy the creed,
or failing in that, to overturn the religion. If pretensions of this
sort are an essential part of Christianity, it behoves us at once to
make our choice; since the only option can be, between abjuring our
faith or sacrificing our liberty. Fortunately, we are not driven to so
hard a strait; and we know that these claims are as false in theory, as
they would be pernicious in practice. It is, indeed, certain, that if
they were put into execution, the clergy, though they might enjoy a
momentary triumph, would have consummated their own ruin, by preparing
the way among us for scenes as disastrous as those which occurred in

The truth is, that what is most blamed in the great French writers, was
the natural consequence of the development of their age. Never was there
a more striking illustration of the social law already noticed, that, if
government will allow religious scepticism to run its course, it will
issue in great things, and will hasten the march of civilization; but
that, if an attempt is made to put it down with a strong hand, it may,
no doubt, be repressed for a time, but eventually will rise with such
force as to endanger the foundation of society. In England, we adopted
the first of these courses; in France, they adopted the second. In
England, men were allowed to exercise their own judgment on the most
sacred subjects; and, as soon as the diminution of their credulity had
made them set bounds to the power of the clergy, toleration immediately
followed, and the national prosperity has never been disturbed. In
France, the authority of the clergy was increased by a superstitious
king; faith usurped the place of reason, not a whisper of doubt was
allowed to be heard, and the spirit of inquiry was stifled, until the
country fell to the brink of ruin. If Louis XIV. had not interfered with
the natural progress, France, like England, would have continued to
advance. After his death, it was, indeed, too late to save the clergy,
against whom all the intellect of the nation was soon arrayed. But the
force of the storm might still have been broken, if the government of
Louis XV. had conciliated what it was impossible to resist; and,
instead of madly attempting to restrain opinions by laws, had altered
the laws to suit the opinions. If the rulers of France, instead of
exerting themselves to silence the national literature, had yielded to
its suggestions, and had receded before the pressure of advancing
knowledge, the fatal collision would have been avoided; because the
passions which caused the collision would have been appeased. In such
case, the church would have fallen somewhat earlier; but the state
itself would have been saved. In such case, France would, in all
probability, have secured her liberties, without increasing her crimes;
and that great country, which, from her position and resources, ought to
be the pattern of European civilization, might have escaped the ordeal
of those terrible atrocities, through which she was compelled to pass,
and from the effects of which she has not yet recovered.

It must, I think, be admitted that, during, at all events, the first
half of the reign of Louis XV., it was possible, by timely concessions,
still to preserve the political institutions of France. Reforms there
must have been; and reforms too of a large and uncompromising character.
So far, however, as I am able to understand the real history of that
period, I make no doubt that, if these had been granted in a frank and
ungrudging spirit, everything could have been retained necessary for the
only two objects at which government ought to aim, namely, the
preservation of order, and the prevention of crime. But, by the middle
of the reign of Louis XV., or, at all events, immediately afterwards,
the state of affairs began to alter; and, in the course of a few years,
the spirit of France became so democratic, that it was impossible even
to delay a revolution, which, in the preceding generation, might have
been altogether averted. This remarkable change is connected with that
other change already noticed, by virtue of which, the French intellect
began, about the same period, to direct its hostility against the state,
rather than, as heretofore, against the church. As soon as this, which
may be called the second epoch of the eighteenth century, had been
fairly entered, the movement became irresistible. Event after event
followed each other in rapid succession; each one linked to its
antecedent, and the whole forming a tendency impossible to withstand. It
was in vain that the government, yielding some points of real
importance, adopted measures by which the church was controlled, the
power of the clergy diminished, and even the order of the jesuits
suppressed. It was in vain that the crown now called to its councils,
for the first time, men imbued with the spirit of reform; men, like
Turgot and Necker, whose wise and liberal proposals would, in calmer
days, have stilled the agitation of the popular mind. It was in vain
that promises were made to equalize the taxes, to redress some of the
most crying grievances, to repeal some of the most obnoxious laws. It
was even in vain that the states-general were summoned; and that thus,
after the lapse of a hundred and seventy years, the people were again
admitted to take part in the management of their own affairs. All these
things were in vain; because the time for treaty had gone by, and the
time for battle had come. The most liberal concessions that could
possibly have been devised would have failed to avert that deadly
struggle, which the course of preceding events made inevitable. For the
measure of that age was now full. The upper classes, intoxicated by the
long possession of power, had provoked the crisis; and it was needful
that they should abide the issue. There was no time for mercy; there was
no pause, no compassion, no sympathy. The only question that remained
was, to see whether they who had raised the storm could ride the
whirlwind; or, whether it was not rather likely that they should be the
first victims of that frightful hurricane, in which, for a moment, laws,
religion, morals, all perished, the lowest vestiges of humanity were
effaced, and the civilization of France not only submerged, but, as it
then appeared, irretrievably ruined.

To ascertain the successive changes of this, the second epoch of the
eighteenth century, is an undertaking full of difficulty; not only on
account of the rapidity with which the events occurred, but also on
account of their extreme complication, and of the way in which they
acted and reacted upon each other. The materials, however, for such an
inquiry are very numerous; and, as they consist of evidence supplied by
all classes and all interests, it has appeared to me possible to
reconstruct the history of that time, according to the only manner in
which history deserves to be studied; that is to say, according to the
order of its social and intellectual development. In the seventh chapter
of the present volume, I shall, therefore, attempt to trace the
antecedents of the French Revolution during that remarkable period, in
which the hostility of men, slackening in regard to the abuses of the
church, was, for the first time, turned against the abuses of the state.
But, before entering into this, which may be distinguished as the
political epoch of the eighteenth century, it will be necessary,
according to the plan which I have sketched, to examine the changes that
occurred in the method of writing history, and to indicate the way in
which those changes were affected by the tendencies of the earlier, or,
as it may be termed, the ecclesiastical epoch. In this manner, we shall
the more easily understand the activity of that prodigious movement
which led to the French Revolution; because we shall see that it not
only affected the opinions of men in regard to what was passing under
their eyes, but that it also biased their speculative views in regard to
the events of preceding ages; and thus gave rise to that new school of
historical literature, the formation of which is by no means the least
of the many benefits which we owe to the great thinkers of the
eighteenth century.

                               CHAPTER VI.


It may be easily supposed, that those vast movements in the intellect of
France, which I have just traced, could not fail to produce a great
change in the method of writing history. That bold spirit with which men
were beginning to estimate the transactions of their own time, was sure
to influence their opinions respecting those of a former age. In this,
as in every branch of knowledge, the first innovation consisted in
recognizing the necessity of doubting what had hitherto been believed;
and this feeling, when once established, went on increasing, destroying
at each step some of those monstrous absurdities by which, as we have
seen, even the best histories were disfigured. The germs of the reform
may be discerned in the fourteenth century, though the reform itself did
not begin until late in the sixteenth century. During the seventeenth
century, it advanced somewhat slowly; but in the eighteenth century it
received a sudden accession of strength, and, in France in particular,
it was hastened by that fearless and inquisitive spirit which
characterized the age, and which, purging history of innumerable
follies, raised its standard, and conferred on it a dignity hitherto
unknown. The rise of historical scepticism, and the extent to which it
spread, do indeed form such curious features in the annals of the
European intellect, as to make it surprising that no one should have
attempted to examine a movement to which a great department of modern
literature owes its most valuable peculiarities. In the present chapter,
I hope to supply this deficiency so far as France is concerned; and I
shall endeavour to mark the different steps by which the progress was
effected, in order that, by knowing the circumstances most favourable to
the study of history, we may with the greater ease inquire into the
probability of its future improvement.

There is, in reference to this subject, a preliminary consideration well
worthy of notice. This is, that men seem always to have begun to doubt
in matters of religion, before they ventured to do so in matters of
history. It might have been expected that the reproaches, and, in a
superstitious age, the dangers, to which heresy is exposed, would have
intimidated inquirers, and would have induced them to prefer the safer
path of directing their scepticism upon questions of literary
speculation. Such, however, is by no means the course which the human
mind has adopted. In an early stage of society, when the clergy had
universal influence, a belief in the unpardonable criminality of
religious error is so deeply rooted, that it engrosses the attention of
all; it forces every one who thinks, to concentrate upon theology his
reflections and his doubts, and it leaves no leisure for topics which
are conceived to be of inferior importance.[807] Hence, during many
centuries, the subtlest intellects of Europe exhausted their strength on
the rights and dogmas of Christianity; and while upon these matters they
often showed the greatest ability, they, upon other subjects, and
especially upon history, displayed that infantine credulity, of which I
have already given several examples.

  [807] See some very just remarks in _Whewell's Philos. of the Induc.
        Sciences_, vol. ii. p. 143. In _Neander's Hist. of the Church_,
        vol. iv. pp. 41, 128, there are two curious illustrations of the
        universal interest which theological discussions once inspired in
        Europe; and on the former subservience of philosophy to theology,
        compare _Hamilton's Discussions on Philosophy_, p. 197. But no
        one has treated this subject so ably as M. Auguste Comte, in his
        great work, _Philosophie Positive_. The service which the
        metaphysicians rendered to the church by their development of the
        doctrine of transubstantiation (_Blánco White's Evidence against
        Catholicism_, pp. 256-258) is a striking instance of this
        subordination of the intellect to ecclesiastical dogmas.

But when, in the progress of society, its theological element begins to
decay, the ardour with which religious disputes were once conducted
becomes sensibly weakened. The most advanced intellects are the first to
feel the growing indifference, and, therefore, they are also the first
to scrutinize real events with that inquisitive eye which their
predecessors had reserved for religious speculations. This is a great
turning-point in the history of every civilized nation. From this moment
theological heresies become less frequent,[808] and literary heresies
become more common. From this moment the spirit of inquiry and of doubt
fastens itself upon every department of knowledge, and begins that great
career of conquest, in which by every succeeding discovery the power and
dignity of man are increased, while at the same time most of his
opinions are disturbed, and many of them are destroyed: until, in the
march of this vast but noiseless revolution, the stream of tradition is,
as it were, interrupted, the influence of ancient authority is
subverted, and the human mind, waxing in strength, learns to rely upon
its own resources, and to throw off incumbrances by which the freedom of
its movements had long been impaired.

  [808] M. Tocqueville says, what I am inclined to think is true, that an
        increasing spirit of equality lessens the disposition to form new
        religious creeds. _Démocratie en Amérique_, vol. iv. pp. 16, 17.
        At all events, it is certain that increasing knowledge has this
        effect; for those great men whose turn of mind would formerly
        have made them heretics, are now content to confine their
        innovations to other fields of thought. If St. Augustin had lived
        in the seventeenth century, he would have reformed or created the
        physical sciences. If Sir Isaac Newton had lived in the fourth
        century, he would have organized a new sect, and have troubled
        the church with his originality.

The application of these remarks to the history of France, will enable
us to explain some interesting phenomena in the literature of that
country. During the whole of the Middle Ages, and I may say till the end
of the sixteenth century, France, though fertile in annalists and
chroniclers, had not produced a single historian, because she had not
produced a single man who presumed to doubt what was generally believed.
Indeed, until the publication of Du Haillan's history of the kings of
France, no one had even attempted a critical digest of the materials
which were known to be extant. This work appeared in 1576;[809] and the
author, at the conclusion of his labours, could not disguise the pride
which he felt at having accomplished so great an undertaking. In his
dedication to the king he says, 'I am, sire, the first of all the French
who have written the history of France, and, in a polite language, shown
the grandeur and dignity of our kings; for before there was nothing but
the old rubbish of chronicles which spoke of them.' He adds in the
preface: 'Only I will say, without presumption and boasting, that I have
done a thing which had not been done before, or seen by any of our
nation, and have given to the history of France a dress it never
appeared in before.'[810] Nor were these the idle boasts of an obscure
man. His work went through numerous editions; was translated into Latin,
and was reprinted in foreign countries. He himself was looked upon as
one of the glories of the French nation, and was rewarded by the favour
of the king, who conferred on him the office of secretary of
finance.[811] From his work, we may, therefore, gain some notion of what
was then the received standard of historical literature; and with this
view, it is natural to inquire what the materials were which he chiefly
employed. About sixty years earlier, an Italian named Paulus Emilius had
published a gossiping compilation on the 'Actions of the French.'[812]
This book, which is full of extravagant fables, was taken by Du Haillan
as the basis of his famous history of the kings of France; and from it
he unhesitatingly copies those idle stories which Emilius loved to
relate. This will give us some idea of the credulity of a writer, who
was reckoned by his contemporaries to be, beyond all comparison, the
greatest historian France had produced. But this is not all. Du Haillan,
not content with borrowing from his predecessor everything that was most
incredible, gratifies his passion for the marvellous by some
circumstances of his own invention. He begins his history with a long
account of a council which, he says, was held by the celebrated
Pharamond, in order to determine whether the French should be governed
by a monarchy or by an aristocracy. It is, indeed, doubtful if any such
person as Pharamond ever existed; and it is certain that, if he did
exist, all the materials had long perished from which an opinion could
be formed respecting him.[813] But Du Haillan, regardless of these
little difficulties, gives us the fullest information touching the great
chieftain; and, as if determined to tax to the utmost the credulity of
his readers, mentions, as members of the council of Pharamond, two
persons, Charamond and Quadrek, whose very names are invented by the

  [809] _Biog. Univ._ vol. xix. pp. 315, 316; where it is said, 'l'ouvrage
        de Du Haillan est remarquable en ce que c'est le premier corps
        d'histoire de France qui ait paru dans notre langue.' See also
        _Dacier_, _Rapport sur les Progrès de l'Histoire_, p. 170; and
        _Des Réaux_, _Historiettes_, vol. x. p. 185.

  [810] _Bayle_, article _Haillan_, note L.

  [811] _Mercure François_, in _Bayle_, article _Haillan_, note D.

  [812] _De Rebus gestis Francorum_, which appeared about 1516. _Biog.
        Univ._ vol. xiii. p. 119. Compare, respecting the author,
        _Mézéray_, _Hist. de France_, vol. ii. p. 363, with _Audigier_,
        _l'Origine des François_, vol. ii. p. 118, who complains of his
        opinion about Clovis, 'quoy qu'il fasse profession de relever la
        gloire des François.' Even the superficial Boulainvilliers
        (_Hist. de l'Ancien Gouvernement_, vol. ii. p. 166)
        contemptuously notices 'les rétoriciens postérieurs, tels que
        Paul Emile.'

  [813] Compare _Sismondi_, _Hist. des Français_, vol. i. pp. 176, 177,
        with _Montlosier_, _Monarchie Française_, vol. i. pp. 43, 44.
        Philippe de Comines, though superior to Sismondi and Montlosier
        in point of ability, lived in the middle ages, and therefore had
        no idea of doubting, but simply says, 'Pharamond fut esleu roy,
        l'an 420, et régna dix ans,' _Mém. de Comines_, livre viii. chap.
        xxvii. vol. iii. p. 232. But De Thou, coming a hundred years
        after Comines, evidently suspected that it was not all quite
        right, and therefore puts it on the authority of others.
        'Pharamond, qui _selon nos historiens_ a porté le premier la
        couronne des François.' _De Thou_, _Hist. Univ._ vol. x. p. 530.
        See a singular passage on Pharamond in _Mém. de Duplessis
        Mornay_, vol. ii. p. 405.

  [814] Sorel (_La Bibliothèque Françoise_, Paris, 1667, p. 373) says of
        Du Haillan, 'On lui peut reprocher d'avoir donné un commencement
        fabuleux à son histoire, qui est entièrement de son invention,
        ayant fait tenir un conseil entre Pharamond et ses plus fidelles
        conseillers, pour sçavoir si ayant la puissance en main il deuoit
        réduire les François au gouvernement aristocratique ou
        monarchique, et faisant faire une harangue à chacun d'eux pour
        soustenir son opinion. On y voit les noms de Charamond et de
        Quadrek, personnages imaginaires.' Sorel, who had a glimmering
        notion that this was not exactly the way to write history, adds,
        'C'est une chose fort surprenante. On est fort peu asseuré si
        Pharamond fut jamais au monde, et quoy qu'on sçache qu'il y ait
        esté, c'est une terrible hardiesse d'en raconter des choses qui
        n'ont aucun appuy.'

Such was the state of historical literature in France early in the reign
of Henry III. A great change was, however, at hand. The remarkable
intellectual progress made by the French towards the close of the
sixteenth century was, as I have shown, preceded by that scepticism
which appears to be its necessary precursor. The spirit of doubt, which
had begun with religion, was communicated to literature. The impulse was
immediately felt in every department of knowledge, and now it was that
history first emerged from a debasement in which it had for centuries
been sunk. On this subject a mere statement of dates may be of service
to those persons who, from a dislike to general reasoning, would
otherwise deny the connexion which I wish to establish. In 1588 was
published the first sceptical book ever written in the French
language.[815] In 1598, the French government, for the first time,
ventured upon a great public act of religious toleration. In 1604, De
Thou published that celebrated work, which is allowed by all critics to
be the first great history composed by a Frenchman.[816] And at the very
moment when these things were passing, another eminent Frenchman, the
illustrious Sully,[817] was collecting the materials for his historical
work, which, though hardly equal to that of De Thou, comes immediately
after it in ability, in importance, and in reputation. Nor can we fail
to remark, that both these great historians, who left all their
predecessors immeasurably behind them, were the confidential ministers
and intimate friends of Henry IV., the first king of France whose memory
is stained by the imputation of heresy, and the first who dared to
change his religion, not in consequence of any theological arguments,
but on the broad and notorious ground of political expediency.[818]

  [815] 'Die erste Regung des skeptischen Geistes finden wir in den
        Versuchen des Michael von Montaigne.' _Tennemann_, _Gesch. der
        Philos._ vol. ix. p. 443.

  [816] The first volume appeared in 1604. See _Le Long_, _Bibliothèque
        Historique de la France_, vol. ii. p. 375; and preface to _De
        Thou_, _Hist. Univ._ vol. i. p. iv.

  [817] Sismondi has scarcely done justice to Sully; but the reader will
        find a fuller account of him in _Capefigue_, _Hist. de la
        Réforme_, vol. viii. pp. 101-117; and a still better one in
        _Blanqui_, _Histoire de l'Economie Politique_, vol. i. pp.

  [818] According to D'Aubigné, the king, on his conversion, said, 'Je
        ferai voir à tout le monde que je n'ai esté persuadé par autre
        théologie que la nécessité de l'estat.' _Smedley's Reformed
        Religion in France_, vol. ii. p. 362. That Henry felt this is
        certain; and that he expressed it to his friends is probable; but
        he had a difficult game to play with the Catholic church; and in
        one of his edicts we find 'une grande joye de son retour à
        l'église, dont il attribuoit la cause à la grâce du
        Tout-Puissant, et aux prières de ses fidèles sujets.' _De Thou_,
        _Hist. Univ._ vol. xii. pp. 105, 106. Compare, at pp. 468, 469,
        the message he sent to the pope.

But it was not merely over such eminent historians as these that the
sceptical spirit displayed its influence. The movement was now becoming
sufficiently active to leave its marks in the writings of far inferior
men. There were two particulars in which the credulity of the earlier
historians was very striking. These consisted in the uncritical manner
in which, by blindly copying their predecessors, they confused the dates
of different events; and in the readiness with which they believed the
most improbable statements, upon imperfect evidence, and often upon no
evidence at all. It is surely a singular proof of that intellectual
progress which I am endeavouring to trace, that, within a very few
years, both these sources of error were removed. In 1597, Serres was
appointed historiographer of France; and, in the same year, he published
his history of that country.[819] In this work, he insists upon the
necessity of carefully recording the date of each event; and the
example, which he first set, has, since his time, been generally
followed.[820] The importance of this change will be willingly
acknowledged by those who are aware of the confusion into which history
has been thrown by the earlier writers having neglected, what now seems,
so obvious a precaution. Scarcely had this innovation been established,
when it was followed, in the same country, by another of still greater
moment. This was the appearance, in 1621, of a history of France, by
Scipio Dupleix; in which, for the first time, the evidence for
historical facts was published with the facts themselves.[821] It is
needless to insist upon the utility of a step which, more than any
other, has taught historians to be industrious in collecting their
authorities, and careful in scrutinizing them.[822] To this may be
added, that Dupleix was also the first Frenchman who ventured to
publish a system of philosophy in his own language.[823] It is true,
that the system itself is intrinsically of little value;[824] but, at
the time it appeared, it was an unprecedented, and, on that account, a
profane attempt, to unfold the mysteries of philosophy in the vulgar
speech; and, in this point of view, supplies evidence of the increasing
diffusion of a spirit bolder and more inquisitive than any formerly
known. It is not, therefore, surprising, that, almost at the same
moment, there should be made, in the same country, the first systematic
attempt at historical scepticism. The system of philosophy by Dupleix
appeared in 1602; and in 1599, La Popelinière published at Paris what he
calls the _History of Histories_, in which he criticizes historians
themselves, and examines their works with that sceptical spirit, to
which his own age was deeply indebted.[825] This able man was also the
author of a _Sketch of the New History of the French_; containing a
formal refutation of that fable, so dear to the early historians,
according to which the monarchy of France was founded by Francus, who
arrived in Gaul after the conclusion of the siege of Troy.[826]

  [819] _Marchand_, _Dictionnaire Historique_, vol. ii. pp. 205, 209, La
        Haye, 1758, folio. This curious and learned work, which is much
        less read than it deserves, contains the only good account of
        Serres I have been able to meet with; vol. ii. pp. 197-213.

  [820] 'On ne prenoit presque aucun soin de marquer les dates des
        événemens dans les ouvrages historiques.... De Serres reconnut ce
        défaut; et pour y remédier, il rechercha avec beaucoup de soin
        les dates des événemens qu'il avoit à employer, et les marqua
        dans son histoire le plus exactement qu'il lui fut possible. Cet
        exemple a été imité depuis par la plupart de ceux qui l'ont
        suivi; et c'est à lui qu'on est redevable de l'avantage qu'on
        tire d'une pratique si nécessaire et si utile.' _Marchand_,
        _Dict. Historique_, vol. ii. p. 206.

  [821] 'Il est le premier historien qui ait cité en marge ses autorités;
        précaution absolument nécessaire quand on n'écrit pas l'histoire
        de son temps, à moins qu'on ne s'en tienne aux faits connus.'
        _[OE]uvres de Voltaire_, vol. xix. p. 95. And the _Biog. Univ._
        vol. xii. p. 277, says, 'On doit lui faire honneur d'avoir cité
        en marge les auteurs dont il s'est servi; précaution
        indispensable, que l'on connaissait peu avant lui, et que les
        historiens modernes négligent trop aujourd'hui.' Bassompierre,
        who had a quarrel with Dupleix, has given some curious details
        respecting him and his History; but they are, of course, not to
        be relied on. _Mém. de Bassompierre_, vol. iii. pp. 356, 357.
        Patin speaks favourably of his history of Henry IV. _Lettres de
        Patin_, vol. i. p. 17: but compare _Sully_, _[OE]conomies
        Royales_, vol. ix. pp. 121, 249.

  [822] The ancients, as is well known, rarely took this trouble. _Mure's
        Hist. of Greek Literature_, vol. iv. pp. 197, 306, 307. But what
        is much more curious is, that, even in scientific works, there
        was an equal looseness; and Cuvier says, that, in the sixteenth
        century, 'on se bornait à dire, d'une manière générale, Aristote
        a dit telle chose, sans indiquer ni le passage ni le livre dans
        lequel la citation se trouvait.' _Cuvier_, _Hist. des Sciences_,
        part ii. p. 63; and at p. 88, 'suivant l'usage de son temps,
        Gessner n'indique pas avec précision les endroits d'où il a tiré
        ses citations:' see also p. 214.

  [823] 'Le premier ouvrage de philosophie publié dans cette langue.'
        _Biog. Univ._ vol. xii. p. 277.

  [824] So it seemed to me, when I turned over its leaves a few years ago.
        However, Patin says, 'sa philosophie françoise n'est pas
        mauvaise.' _Lettres de Patin_, vol. iii. p. 357. On the dialectic
        powers of Dupleix, see a favourable judgment in _Hamilton's
        Discuss. on Philos._ p. 119.

  [825] _Biog. Univ._ vol. xxxv. p. 402. Sorel (_Bibliothèque Françoise_,
        p. 165), who is evidently displeased at the unprecedented
        boldness of La Popelinière, says, 'il dit ses sentimens en bref
        des historiens de toutes les nations, et de plusieurs langues, et
        particulièrement des historiens françois, dont il parle avec
        beaucoup d'asseurance.'

  [826] 'Il réfute l'opinion, alors fort accréditée, de l'arrivée dans les
        Gaules de Francus et des Troyens.' _Biog. Univ._ vol. xxxv. p.
        402. Compare _Le Long_, _Bibliothèque Historique de la France_,
        vol. ii. p. 39. Patin says that De Thou was much indebted to him:
        'M. de Thou a pris hardiment de la Popelinière.' _Lettres de
        Patin_, vol. i. p. 222. There is a notice of Popelinière, in
        connexion with Richer, in _Mém. de Richelieu_, vol. v. p. 349.

It would be useless to collect all the instances in which this advancing
spirit of scepticism now began to purge history of its falsehoods. I
will only mention two or three more of those which have occurred in my
reading. In 1614, De Rubis published at Lyons a work on the European
monarchies; in which he not only attacks the long-established belief
respecting the descent from Francus, but boldly asserts, that the Franks
owe their name to their ancient liberties.[827] In 1620, Gomberville, in
a dissertation on history, refutes many of those idle stories respecting
the antiquity of the French, which had been universally received until
his time.[828] And, in 1630, Berthault published at Paris the 'French
Floras,' in which he completely upsets the old method; since he lays it
down as a fundamental principle, that the origin of the French must only
be sought for in those countries where they were found by the

  [827] 'Il réfute les fables qu'on avançoit sur l'origine des François,
        appuyées sur le témoignage au faux Bérose. Il dit que leur nom
        vient de leur ancienne franchise.' _Le Long_, _Bibliothèque
        Historique_, vol. ii. p. 750.

  [828] Compare _Sorel_, _Bibliothèque Françoise_, p. 298, with _Du
        Fresnoy_, _Méthode pour étudier l'Histoire_, vol. x. p. 4, Parie,
        1772. There is an account of Gomberville in _Les Historiettes de
        Tallemant des Réaux_, vol. viii. pp. 15-19; a singularly curious
        book, which is, for the seventeenth century, what Brantome is for
        the sixteenth. I ought to have mentioned earlier the inimitable
        ridicule with which Rabelais treats the habit historians had of
        tracing the genealogies of their heroes back to Noah. _[OE]uvres
        de Rabelais_, vol. i. pp. 1-3, and vol. ii. pp. 10-17: see also,
        at vol. v. pp. 171, 172, his defence of the antiquity of Chinon.

  [829] 'L'auteur croit qu'il ne faut pas la chercher ailleurs que dans le
        pays où ils out été connus des Romains, c'est-à-dire entre l'Elbe
        et le Rhin,' _Le Long_, _Bibliothèque Historique_, vol. ii. p.
        56. This work of Berthault's was, for many years, a text-book in
        the French colleges. _Biog. Univ._ vol. iv. p. 347.

All these, and similar productions, were, however, entirely eclipsed by
Mezeray's History of France; the first volume of which was published in
1643, and the last in 1651.[830] It is, perhaps, hardly fair to his
predecessors, to call him the first general historian of France;[831]
but there can be no doubt that his work is greatly superior to any that
had yet been seen. The style of Mezeray is admirably clear and vigorous,
rising, at times, to considerable eloquence. Besides this, he has two
other merits much more important. These are, an indisposition to believe
strange things, merely because they have hitherto been believed; and an
inclination to take the side of the people, rather than that of their
rulers.[832] Of these principles, the first was too common among the
ablest Frenchmen of that time to excite much attention.[833] But the
other principle enabled Mezeray to advance an important step before all
his contemporaries. He was the first Frenchman who, in a great
historical work, threw off that superstitious reverence for royalty
which had long troubled the minds of his countrymen, and which, indeed,
continued to haunt them for another century. As a necessary consequence,
he was also the first who saw that a history, to be of real value, must
be a history, not only of kings, but of nations. A steady perception of
this principle led him to incorporate into his book matters which,
before his time, no one cared to study. He communicates all the
information he could collect respecting the taxes which the people had
paid; the sufferings they had undergone from the gripping hands of their
governors; their manners, their comforts, even the state of the towns
which they inhabited; in a word, what affected the interests of the
French people, as well as what affected the interests of the French
monarchy.[834] These were the subjects which Mezeray preferred to
insignificant details respecting the pomp of courts and the lives of
kings. These were the large and comprehensive matters on which he loved
to dwell, and on which he expatiated; not, indeed, with so much fulness
as we could desire, but still with a spirit and an accuracy which
entitles him to the honour of being the greatest historian France
produced before the eighteenth century.

  [830] The first volume in 1643; the second in 1646; and the last in
        1651. _Biog. Univ._ vol. xxviii. p. 510.

  [831] 'The French have now their first general historian, Mezeray.'
        _Hallam's Literature of Europe_, vol. iii. p. 228; and see
        _Stephen's Lectures on the History of France_, 1851, vol. i. p.

  [832] Bayle says, that Mezeray is, 'de tous les historiens celui qui
        favorise le plus les peuples contre la cour.' _Le Long_,
        _Bibliothèque Historique_, vol. iii. p. lxxxvi.

  [833] Though it did not prevent him from believing that sudden tempests,
        and unusual appearances in the heavens, were aberrations, due to
        supernatural interference, and, as such, were the prognosticators
        of political change. _Mézéray_, _Hist. de France_, vol. i. pp.
        202, 228, 238, 241, 317, 792, vol. ii. pp. 485, 573, 1120, vol.
        iii. pp. 31, 167, 894; instructive passages, as proving that,
        even in powerful minds, the scientific and secular method was
        still feeble.

  [834] What he did on these subjects is most remarkable, considering that
        some of the best materials were unknown, and in manuscript, and
        that even De Thou gives scarcely any information respecting them;
        so that Mezeray had no model. See, among other passages which
        have struck me in the first volume, pp. 145-147, 204, 353, 356,
        362-365, 530, 531, 581, 812, 946, 1039. Compare his indignant
        expressions at vol. ii. p. 721.

This was, in many respects, the most important change which had yet been
effected in the manner of writing history. If the plan begun by Mezeray
had been completed by his successors, we should possess materials, the
absence of which no modern researches can possibly compensate. Some
things, indeed, we should, in that case, have lost. We should know less
than we now know of courts and of camps. We should have heard less of
the peerless beauty of French queens, and of the dignified presence of
French kings. We might even have missed some of the links of that
evidence by which the genealogies of princes and nobles are ascertained,
and the study of which delights the curiosity of antiquaries and
heralds. But, on the other hand, we should have been able to examine the
state of the French people during the latter half of the seventeenth
century; while, as things now stand, our knowledge of them, in that most
important period, is inferior in accuracy and in extent to the knowledge
we possess of some of the most barbarous tribes of the earth.[835] If
the example of Mezeray had been followed, with such additional resources
as the progress of affairs would have supplied, we should not only have
the means of minutely tracing the growth of a great and civilised
nation, but we should have materials that would suggest or verify those
original principles, the discovery of which constitutes the real use of

  [835] Those who have studied the French memoirs of the seventeenth
        century, know how little can be found in them respecting the
        condition of the people; while the fullest private
        correspondence, such as the letters of Sévigné and De Maintenon,
        are equally unsatisfactory. The greater part of the evidence now
        extant has been collected by M. Monteil, in his valuable work,
        _Histoire des divers Etats_: but whoever will put all this
        together must admit, that we are better informed as to the
        condition of many savage tribes than we are concerning the lower
        classes of France during the reign of Louis XIV.

But this was not to be. Unhappily for the interests of knowledge, the
march of French civilization was, at this period, suddenly checked. Soon
after the middle of the seventeenth century, that lamentable change took
place in France, which gave a new turn to the destinies of the nation.
The reaction which the spirit of inquiry underwent, and the social and
intellectual circumstances which, by bringing the Fronde to a premature
close, prepared the way for Louis XIV., have been described in a former
part of this volume, where I have attempted to indicate the general
effects of the disastrous movement. It now remains for me to point out
how this retrogressive tendency opposed obstacles to the improvement of
historical literature, and prevented authors, not only from relating
with honesty what was passing around them, but also from understanding
events which had occurred before their time.

The most superficial students of French literature must be struck by the
dearth of historians during that long period in which Louis XIV. held
the reins of government.[836] To this, the personal peculiarities of the
king greatly contributed. His education had been shamefully neglected;
and as he never had the energy to repair its deficiencies, he all his
life remained ignorant of many things with which even princes are
usually familiar.[837] Of the course of past events he knew literally
nothing, and he took no interest in any history except the history of
his own exploits. Among a free people, this indifference on the part of
the sovereign could never have produced injurious results; indeed, as we
have already seen, the absence of royal patronage is, in a highly
civilized country, the most favourable condition of literature. But at
the accession of Louis XIV. the liberties of the French were still too
young, and the habits of independent thought too recent, to enable them
to bear up against that combination of the crown and the church, which
was directed against them. The French, becoming every day more servile,
at length sunk so low, that, by the end of the seventeenth century, they
seemed to have lost even the wish of resistance. The king, meeting no
opposition, endeavoured to exercise over the intellect of the country an
authority equal to that with which he conducted its government.[838] In
all the great questions of religion and of politics, the spirit of
inquiry was stifled, and no man was allowed to express an opinion
unfavourable to the existing state of things. As the king was willing to
endow literature, he naturally thought that he had a right to its
services. Authors, who were fed by his hand, were not to raise their
voices against his policy. They received his wages, and they were bound
to do the bidding of him who paid them. When Louis assumed the
government, Mezeray was still living; though I need hardly say that his
great work was published before this system of protection and patronage
came into play. The treatment to which he, the great historian of
France, was now subjected, was a specimen of the new arrangement. He
received from the crown a pension of four thousand francs; but when he,
in 1668, published an abridgment of his History,[839] it was intimated
to him that some remarks upon the tendency of taxation were likely to
cause offence in high quarters. As, however, it was soon found that
Mezeray was too honest and too fearless to retract what he had written,
it was determined to have recourse to intimidation, and half of his
pension was taken from him.[840] But as this did not produce a proper
effect, another order was issued, which deprived him of the remaining
half; and thus early, in this bad reign, there was set an example of
punishing a man for writing with honesty upon a subject in which, of all
others, honesty is the first essential.[841]

  [836] This is noticed in _Sismondi_, _Hist. des Français_, vol. xxvii.
        pp. 181, 182; also in _Villemain_, _Littérature Française_, vol.
        ii. pp. 29, 30. Compare _D'Argenson_, _Réflexions sur les
        Historiens François_, in _Mémoires de l'Académie des
        Inscriptions_, vol. xxviii. p. 627, with _Boulainvilliers_,
        _Ancien Gouvernement de la France_, vol. i. p. 174.

  [837] 'Le jeune Louis XIV n'avait reçu aucune éducation intellectuelle.'
        _Capefigue's Richelieu, Mazarin et la Fronde_, vol. ii. p. 245.
        On the education of Louis XIV., which was as shamefully neglected
        as that of our George III., see _Lettres inédites de Maintenon_,
        vol. ii. p. 369; _Duclos_, _Mém. Secrets_, vol. i. pp. 167, 168;
        _Mém. de Brienne_, vol. i. pp. 391-393.

  [838] On his political maxims, see _Lemontey_, _Etablissement de
        Louis XIV_, pp. 325-327, 407, 408. The eloquent remarks made by
        M. Ranke upon an Italian despotism, are admirably applicable to
        his whole system: 'Sonderbare Gestalt menschlichen Dinge! Die
        Kräfte des Landes bringen den Hof hervor, der Mittelpunkt des
        Hofes ist der Fürst, das letzte Product des gesammten Lebens ist
        zuletzt das Selbstgefühl des Fürsten.' _Die Päpste_, vol. ii. p.

  [839] His _Abrégé Chronologique_ was published in 1668, in three volumes
        quarto. _Biog. Univ._ vol. xxviii. p. 510. Le Long (_Bibliothèque
        Historique_, vol. iii. p. lxxxv.) says, that it was only allowed
        to be published in consequence of a 'privilège' which Mezeray had
        formerly obtained. But there seems to have been some difficulty,
        of which these writers are not aware: for Patin, in a letter
        dated Paris, 23 December 1664, speaks of it as being then in the
        press: 'on imprime ici en _grand-in-quarto_ un Abrégé de
        l'Histoire de France, par M. Mezeray.' _Lettres de Patin_, vol.
        iii. p. 503: compare p. 665. It long remained an established
        school-book: see D'Argenson's Essay, in _Mém. de l'Académie_,
        vol. xxviii. p. 635; and _Works of Sir William Temple_, vol. iii.
        p. 70.

  [840] _Barrière_, _Essai sur les M[oe]urs du Dix-septième Siècle_,
        prefixed to _Mém. de Brienne_, vol. i. pp. 129, 130, where
        reference is made to his original correspondence with Colbert.
        This treatment of Mezeray is noticed, but imperfectly, in
        _Boulainvilliers_, _Hist. de l'Ancien Gouvernement_, vol. i. p.
        196; in _Lemontey_, _Etablissement de Louis XIV_, p. 331; and in
        _Palissot_, _Mém. pour l'Hist. de Lit._ vol. ii. p. 161.

  [841] In 1685 was published at Paris what was called an improved edition
        of Mezeray's History; that is, an edition from which the honest
        remarks were expunged. See _Le Long_, _Bibliothèque Historique_,
        vol. ii. p. 53, vol. iv. p. 381; and _Brunet_, _Manuel du
        Libraire_, vol. iii. p. 383, Paris, 1843. Hampden, who knew
        Mezeray, has recorded an interesting interview he had with him in
        Paris, when the great historian lamented the loss of the
        liberties of France. See _Calamy's Life of Himself_, vol. i. pp.
        392, 393.

Such conduct as this showed what historians were to expect from the
government of Louis XIV. Several years later, the king took another
opportunity of displaying the same spirit. Fénelon had been appointed
preceptor to the grandson of Louis, whose early vices his firmness and
judgment did much to repress.[842] But a single circumstance was thought
sufficient to outweigh the immense service which Fénelon thus rendered
to the royal family, and, if his pupil had come to the throne, would
have rendered prospectively to the whole of France. His celebrated
romance, _Telemachus_, was published in 1699, as it appears, without his
consent.[843] The king suspected that, under the guise of a fiction,
Fénelon intended to reflect on the conduct of government. It was in vain
that the author denied so dangerous an imputation. The indignation of
the king was not to be appeased. He banished Fénelon from the court; and
would never again admit to his presence a man whom he suspected of even
insinuating a criticism upon the measures adopted by the administration
of the country.[844]

  [842] _Sismondi_, _Hist. des Français_, vol. xxvi. pp. 240, 241.

  [843] 'Par l'infidélité d'un domestique chargé de transcrire le
        manuscrit.' _Biog. Univ._ vol. xiv. p. 289; and see _Peignot_,
        _Dict. des Livres condamnés_, vol. i. pp. 134, 135. It was
        suppressed in France, and appeared in Holland in the same year,
        1699. _Lettres de Sévigné_, vol. vi. pp. 434, 435 note.

  [844] 'Louis XIV prit le Télémaque pour une personnalité.... Comme il
        (Fénelon) avait déplu au roi, il mourut dans l'exil.'
        _Lerminier_, _Philos. du Droit_, vol. ii. pp. 219, 220; and see
        _Siècle de Louis XIV_, chap. xxxii., in _[OE]uvres de Voltaire_,
        vol. xx. p. 307.

If the king could, on mere suspicion, thus treat a great writer, who had
the rank of an archbishop and the reputation of a saint, it was not
likely that he would deal more tenderly with inferior men. In 1681, the
Abbé Primi, an Italian, then residing at Paris, was induced to write a
history of Louis XIV. The king, delighted with the idea of perpetuating
his own fame, conferred several rewards upon the author: and
arrangements were made that the work should be composed in Italian, and
immediately translated into French. But when the history appeared, there
were found in it some circumstances which it was thought ought not to
have been disclosed. On this account, Louis caused the book to be
suppressed, the papers of the author to be seized, and the author
himself to be thrown into the Bastille.[845]

  [845] These circumstances are related in a letter from Lord Preston,
        dated Paris, 22 July 1682, and printed in _Dalrymple's Memoirs_,
        pp. 141, 142, appendix to vol. i. The account given by M. Peignot
        (_Livres condamnés_, vol. ii. pp. 52, 53) is incomplete, he being
        evidently ignorant of the existence of Lord Preston's letter.

Those, indeed, were dangerous times for independent men; times when no
writer on politics or religion was safe, unless he followed the fashion
of the day, and defended the opinions of the court and the church. The
king, who had an insatiable thirst for what he called glory,[846]
laboured to degrade contemporary historians into mere chroniclers of his
own achievements. He ordered Racine and Boileau to write an account of
his reign; he settled a pension upon them, and he promised to supply
them with the necessary materials.[847] But even Racine and Boileau,
poets though they were, knew that they would fail in satisfying his
morbid vanity; they, therefore, received the pension, but omitted to
compose the work for which the pension was conferred. So notorious was
the unwillingness of able men to meddle with history, that it was
thought advisable to beat up literary recruits from foreign countries.
The case of the Abbé Primi has just been mentioned; he was an Italian,
and only one year later a similar offer was made to an Englishman. In
1683, Burnet visited France, and was given to understand that he might
receive a pension, and that he might even enjoy the honour of conversing
with Louis himself, provided he would write a history of the royal
affairs; such history, it was carefully added, being on the 'side' of
the French king.[848]

  [846] An able writer has well called him 'glorieux plutôt
        qu'appréciateur de la vraie gloire.' _Flassan_, _Histoire de la
        Diplomatie Française_, vol. iv. p. 399.

  [847] In 1677, Madame de Sévigné writes from Paris respecting the king:
        'Vous savez bien qu'il a donné deux mille écus de pension à
        Racine et à Despréaux, en leur commandant de travailler à son
        histoire, dont il aura soin de donner des Mémoires.' _Lettres de
        Sévigné_, vol. iii. p. 362. Compare _Eloge de Valincourt_, in
        _[OE]uvres de Fontenelle_, vol. vi. p. 383; and _Hughes's
        Letters_, edit. 1773, vol. ii. pp. 74, 75.

  [848] Burnet relates this with delightful simplicity: 'Others more
        probably thought that the king, hearing I was a writer of
        history, had a mind to engage me to write on his side. I was told
        a pension would be offered me. But I made no steps towards it;
        for though I was offered an audience of the king, I excused it,
        since I could not have the honour to be presented to that king by
        the minister of England.' _Burnet's Own Time_, vol. ii. p. 385.

Under such circumstances as these, it is no wonder that history, so far
as its great essentials are concerned, should have rapidly declined
during the power of Louis XIV. It became, as some think, more elegant;
but it certainly became more feeble. The language in which it was
composed was worked with great care, the periods neatly arranged, the
epithets soft and harmonious. For that was a polite and obsequious age,
full of reverence, of duty, and of admiration. In history, as it was
then written, every king was a hero, and every bishop was a saint. All
unpleasant truths were suppressed; nothing harsh or unkind was to be
told. These docile and submissive sentiments being expressed in an easy
and flowing style, gave to history that air of refinement, that gentle,
unobtrusive gait, which made it popular with the classes that it
flattered. But even so, while its form was polished, its life was
extinct. All its independence was gone, all its honesty, all its
boldness. The noblest and the most difficult department of knowledge,
the study of the movements of the human race, was abandoned to every
timid and creeping intellect that cared to cultivate it. There was
Boulainvilliers, and Daniel, and Maimburg, and Varillas, and Vertot, and
numerous others, who in the reign of Louis XIV. were believed to be
historians; but whose histories have scarcely any merit, except that of
enabling us to appreciate the period in which such productions were
admired, and the system of which they were the representatives.

To give a complete view of the decline of historical literature in
France, from the time of Mezeray until early in the eighteenth century,
would require a summary of every history which was written; for all of
them were pervaded by the same spirit. But, as this would occupy much
too large a space, it will probably be thought sufficient if I confine
myself to such illustrations as will bring the tendency of the age most
clearly before the reader; and for this purpose, I will notice the works
of two historians I have not yet mentioned; one of whom was celebrated
as an antiquary, the other as a theologian. Both possessed considerable
learning, and one was a man of undoubted genius; their works are,
therefore, worth attention, as symptoms of the state of the French
intellect late in the seventeenth century. The name of the antiquary was
Audigier; the name of the theologian was Bossuet: and from them we may
learn something respecting the way in which, during the reign of Louis
XIV., it was usual to contemplate the transactions of past ages.

The celebrated work of Audigier, on the Origin of the French, was
published at Paris in 1676.[849] It would be unjust to deny that the
author was a man of great and careful reading. But his credulity, his
prejudices, his reverence for antiquity, and his dutiful admiration for
everything established by the church and the court, warped his judgment
to an extent which, in our time, seems incredible; and, as there are
probably few persons in England who have read his once famous book, I
will give an outline of its leading views.

  [849] During many years it enjoyed great reputation; and there is no
        history written in that period respecting which Le Long gives so
        many details. See his _Bibliothèque Historique de la France_,
        vol. ii. pp. 13, 14. Compare _La Bibliothèque de Leber_, vol. ii.
        p. 110, Paris, 1839.

In this great history we are told, that 3464 years after the creation of
the world, and 590 years before the birth of Christ, was the exact
period at which Sigovese, nephew to the king of the Celts, was first
sent into Germany.[850] Those who accompanied him were necessarily
travellers; and as, in the German language, _wandeln_ means _to go_, we
have here the origin of the Vandals.[851] But the antiquity of the
Vandals is far surpassed by that of the French. Jupiter, Pluto, and
Neptune, who are sometimes supposed to be gods, were in reality kings of
Gaul.[852] And, if we look back a little further, it becomes certain
that Gallus, the founder of Gaul, was no other than Noah himself; for in
those days the same man frequently had two names.[853] As to the
subsequent history of the French, it was fully equal to the dignity of
their origin. Alexander the Great, even in all the pride of his
victories, never dared to attack the Scythians, who were a colony sent
from France.[854] It is from these great occupiers of France that there
have proceeded all the gods of Europe, all the fine arts, and all the
sciences.[855] The English themselves are merely a colony of the French,
as must be evident to whoever considers the similarity of the words
Angles and Anjou;[856] and to this fortunate descent the natives of the
British islands are indebted for such bravery and politeness as they
still possess.[857] Several other points are cleared up by this great
critic with equal faculty. The Salian Franks were so called from the
rapidity of their flight;[858] the Bretons were evidently Saxons;[859]
and even the Scotch, about whose independence so much has been said,
were vassals to the kings of France.[860] Indeed, it is impossible to
exaggerate the dignity of the crown of France; it is difficult even to
conceive its splendour. Some have supposed that the emperors are
superior to the kings of France, but this is the mistake of ignorant
men; for an emperor means a mere military ruler, while the title of king
includes all the functions of supreme power.[861] To put the question,
therefore, on its real footing, the great king Louis XIV. is an emperor,
as have been all his predecessors, the illustrious rulers of France, for
fifteen centuries.[862] And it is an undoubted fact, that Antichrist,
about whom so much anxiety is felt, will never be allowed to appear in
the world until the French empire has been destroyed. This, says
Audigier, it would be idle to deny; for it is asserted by many of the
saints, and it is distinctly foreshadowed by St. Paul, in his second
epistle to the Thessalonians.[863]

  [850] _Audigier_, _L'Origine des François_, Paris, 1676, vol. i. p. 5.
        See also p. 45, where he congratulates himself on being the first
        to clear up the history of Sigovese.

  [851] _Audigier_, vol. i. p. 7. Other antiquaries have adopted the same
        preposterous etymology. See a note in _Kemble's Saxons in
        England_, vol. i. p. 41.

  [852] 'Or le plus ancien Jupiter, le plus ancien Neptune, et le plus
        ancien Pluton, sont ceux de Gaule; ils la divisèrent les premiers
        en Celtique, Aquitaine et Belgique, et obtinrent chacun une de
        ces parties en partage. Jupiter, qu'on fait régner au ciel, eut
        la Celtique.... Neptune, qu'on fait régner sur les eaux, et sur
        les mers, eut l'Aquitaine, qui n'est appelée de la sorte qu'à
        cause de l'abondance de ses eaux, et de la situation sur
        l'océan.' _Audigier_, _L'Origine des François_, vol. i. pp. 223,

  [853] See his argument, vol. i. pp. 216, 217, beginning, 'le nom de Noé,
        que portèrent les Galates, est Gallus;' and compare vol. ii. p.
        109, where he expresses surprise that so little should have been
        done by previous writers towards establishing this obvious origin
        of the French.

  [854] _Audigier_, vol. i. pp. 196, 197, 255, 256.

  [855] 'Voilà donc les anciennes divinitez d'Europe, originaires de
        Gaule, aussi bien que les beaux arts et les hautes sciences.'
        _Audigier_, vol. i. p. 234.

  [856] _Ibid._ vol. i. pp. 73, 74. He sums up, 'c'en est assez pour
        relever l'Anjou, à qui cette gloire appartient légitimement.'

  [857] Vol. i. pp. 265, 266.

  [858] Vol. i. p. 149.

  [859] Vol. ii. pp. 179, 180.

  [860] Vol. ii. p. 269.

  [861] Vol. ii. p. 124.

  [862] Vol. ii. pp. 451-454.

  [863] 'A quoy nous pourrions joindre un autre monument fort authentique,
        c'est le résultat de certains pères, et de certains docteurs de
        l'église, qui tiennent que l'Ante-christ ne viendra point au
        monde qu'après la dissection, c'est-à-dire après la dissipation
        de nostre empire. Leur fondement est dans la seconde épistre de
        saint Paul aux Thessaloniciens.' _Audigier_, vol. ii. p. 462.

Strange as all this appears, there was nothing in it to revolt the
enlightened age of Louis XIV. Indeed, the French, dazzled by the
brilliancy of their prince, must have felt great interest in learning
how superior he was to all other potentates, and how he had not only
been preceded by a long line of emperors, but was in fact an emperor
himself. They must have been struck with awe at the information
communicated by Audigier respecting the arrival of Antichrist, and the
connexion between that important event and the fate of the French
monarchy. They must have listened with pious wonder to the illustration
of these matters from the writings of the fathers, and from the epistle
to the Thessalonians. All this they would easily receive; because to
worship the king, and venerate the church, were the two cardinal maxims
of that age. To obey, and to believe, were the fundamental ideas of a
period, in which the fine arts did for a time flourish,--in which the
perception of beauty, though too fastidious, was undoubtedly keen,--in
which taste and the imagination, in its lower departments, were
zealously cultivated,--but in which, on the other hand, originality and
independence of thought were extinguished, the greatest and the largest
topics were forbidden to be discussed, the sciences were almost
deserted, reforms and innovations were hated, new opinions were
despised, and their authors punished, until at length, the exuberance of
genius being tamed into sterility, the national intellect was reduced to
that dull and monotonous level which characterizes the last twenty years
of the reign of Louis XIV.

In no instance can we find a better example of this reactionary
movement, than in the case of Bossuet, bishop of Meaux. The success, and
indeed the mere existence, of his work on Universal History, becomes,
from this point of view, highly instructive. Considered by itself, the
book is a painful exhibition of a great genius cramped by a
superstitious age. But considered in reference to the time in which it
appeared, it is invaluable as a symptom of the French intellect; since
it proves, that towards the end of the seventeenth century, one of the
most eminent men, in one of the first countries of Europe, could
willingly submit to a prostration of judgment, and could display a blind
credulity, of which, in our day, even the feeblest minds would be
ashamed; and that this, so far from causing scandal, or bringing a
rebuke on the head of the author, was received with universal and
unqualified applause. Bossuet was a great orator, a consummate
dialectician, and an accomplished master of those vague sublimities by
which most men are easily affected. All these qualities he, a few years
later, employed in the production of what is probably the most
formidable work ever directed against Protestantism.[864] But when he,
leaving these matters, entered the vast field of history, he could
think of no better way of treating his new subject, than by following
the arbitrary rules peculiar to his own profession.[865] His work is an
audacious attempt to degrade history to a mere handmaid of
theology.[866] As if, on such matters, doubt were synonymous with crime,
he, without the slightest hesitation, takes everything for granted which
the church had been accustomed to believe. This enables him to speak
with perfect confidence respecting events which are lost in the remotest
antiquity. He knows the exact number of years which have elapsed since
the moment when Cain murdered his brother; when the deluge overwhelmed
the world; and when Abraham was summoned to his mission.[867] The dates
of these, and similar occurrences, he fixes with a precision, which
might almost make us believe that they had taken place in his own time,
if not under his own eyes.[868] It is true, that the Hebrew books on
which he willingly relied, supply no evidence of the slightest value
concerning the chronology even of their own people; while the
information they contain respecting other countries is notoriously
meagre and unsatisfactory.[869] But so narrow were the views of Bossuet
upon history, that with all this he, in his own opinion, had no concern.
The text of the Vulgate declared, that these things had happened at a
particular time; and a number of holy men, calling themselves the
council of the church, had, in the middle of the sixteenth century,
pronounced the Vulgate to be authentic, and had taken upon themselves to
place it above all other versions.[870] This theological opinion was
accepted by Bossuet as an historical law; and thus the decision of a
handful of cardinals and bishops, in a superstitious and uncritical age,
is the sole authority for that early chronology, the precision of which
is, to an uninformed reader, a matter of great admiration.[871]

  [864] This is the opinion of Mr. Hallam respecting Bossuet's History of
        the Variations of Protestant Churches. _Const. Hist._ vol. i. p.
        486: compare _Lerminier_, _Philos. du Droit_, vol. ii. p. 86.
        Attempts have been made by Protestant theologians to retort
        against the Catholics the arguments of Bossuet, on the ground
        that religious variations are a necessary consequence of the
        honest pursuit of religious truth. See _Blanco White's Evidence
        against Catholicism_, pp. 109-112; and his _Letters from Spain_,
        _by Doblado_, p. 127. With this I fully agree; but it would be
        easy to show that the argument is fatal to all ecclesiastical
        systems with strictly defined creeds, and, therefore, strikes as
        heavily against the Protestant churches as against the Catholic.
        Beausobre, in his acute and learned work on Manichæism, seems to
        have felt this; and he makes the dangerous admission, 'que si
        l'argument de M. de Meaux vaut quelque chose contre la
        Réformation, il a la même force contre le Christianisme.' _Hist.
        de Manichée_, vol. i. p. 526. On Bossuet as a controversialist,
        see _Stäudlin_, _Geschichte der theologischen Wissenschaften_,
        vol. ii. pp. 43-45; and for a contemporary opinion of his great
        work, see a characteristic passage in _Lettres de Sévigné_,
        vol. v. p. 409.

  [865] His method is fairly stated by _Sismondi_, _Hist. des Français_,
        vol. xxv. p. 427.

  [866] See, on this attempt of Bossuet's, some good remarks in
        _Stäudlin_, _Geschichte der theologischen Wissenschaften_, vol.
        ii. p. 198: 'Kirche und Christenthum sind für diesen Bischoff der
        Mittelpunct der ganzen Geschichte. Aus diesem Gesichtspuncte
        betrachtet er nicht nur die Patriarchen und Propheten, das
        Judenthum und die alten Weissagungen, sondern auch die Reiche der

  [867] _Bossuet_, _Discours sur l'Histoire Universelle_, pp. 10, 11, 16,
        17; see also, at p. 90, a curious specimen of his chronological

  [868] He says, that if the ordinarily received dates of the Pentateuch
        and the Prophets are not true, then the miracles must fall, and
        the writings themselves are not inspired. _Hist. Univ._ p. 360.
        It would be hard to find, even in the works of Bossuet a more
        rash assertion than this.

        [869] Indeed the Jews have no consecutive chronology before
        Solomon. See _Bunsen's Egypt_, vol. i. pp. viii. xxv. 170, 178,
        185, vol. ii. p. 399.

  [870] Doing this, as they did everything else, on account, not of
        reason, but of dogma; for, as a learned writer says, 'l'Église a
        bien distingué certains livres en apocryphes et en orthodoxes;
        elle s'est prononcée d'une manière formelle sur le choix des
        ouvrages canoniques; néanmoins sa critique n'a jamais été fondée
        sur un examen raisonné, mais seulement sur la question de savoir
        si tel ou tel écrit était d'accord avec les dogmes qu'elle
        enseignait.' _Maury_, _Légendes Pieuses_, p. 224.

  [871] Theologians have always been remarkable for the exactness of their
        knowledge on subjects respecting which nothing is known; but none
        of them have surpassed the learned Dr. Stukeley. In 1730, this
        eminent divine writes: 'But according to the calculations I have
        made of this matter, I find God Almighty ordered Noah to get the
        creatures into the ark on Sunday the 12th of October, the very
        day of the autumnal equinox that year; and on this present day,
        on the Sunday se'nnight following (the 19th of October), that
        terrible catastrophe began, the moon being past her third
        quarter.' _Nichols's Illustrations of the Eighteenth Century_,
        vol. ii. p. 792.

In the same way, because Bossuet had been taught that the Jews are the
chosen people of God, he, under the title of Universal History, almost
confines his attention to them, and treats this obstinate and ignorant
race as if they formed the pivot upon which the affairs of the universe
had been made to turn.[872] His idea of an universal history excludes
those nations who were the first to reach civilization, and to some of
whom the Hebrews owed the scanty knowledge which they subsequently
acquired.[873] He says little of the Persians, and less of the
Egyptians; nor does he even mention that far greater people between the
Indus and the Ganges, whose philosophy formed one of the elements of the
school of Alexandria, whose subtle speculations anticipated all the
efforts of European metaphysics, and whose sublime inquiries, conducted
in their own exquisite language, date from a period when the Jews,
stained with every variety of crime, were a plundering and vagabond
tribe, wandering on the face of the earth, raising their hand against
every man and every man raising his hand against them.

  [872] 'Premièrement, ces empires ont pour la plupart une liaison
        nécessaire avec l'histoire du peuple de Dieu. Dieu s'est servi
        des Assyriens et des Babyloniens pour châtier ce peuple; des
        Perses pour le rétablir; d'Alexandre et de ses premiers
        successeurs pour le protéger; d'Antiochus l'Illustre et de ses
        successeurs pour l'exercer; des Romains pour soutenir sa liberté
        contre les rois de Syrie, que ne songeaient qu'à le détruire.'
        _Bossuet_, _Hist. Univ._ p. 382. Well may M. Lerminier say
        (_Philos. du Droit_, vol. ii. p. 87), that Bossuet 'a sacrifié
        toutes les nations au peuple juif.'

  [873] On the extraordinary and prolonged ignorance of the Jews, even to
        the time of the Apostles, see _Mackay's Progress of the
        Intellect_, vol. i. pp. 13 seq.; a work of profound learning.

When he enters the more modern period, he allows himself to be governed
by the same theological prejudices. So contracted is his view, that he
considers the whole history of the church as the history of providential
interference; and he takes no notice of the manner in which, contrary to
the original scheme, it has been affected by foreign events.[874] Thus,
for example, the most important fact relating to the early changes in
Christianity, is the extent to which its doctrines have been influenced
by the African form of the Platonic philosophy.[875] But this, Bossuet
never mentions; nor does he even hint that any such thing had occurred.
It suited his views to look upon the church as a perpetual miracle, and
he therefore omits the most important event in its early history.[876]
To descend a little later: every one acquainted with the progress of
civilization will allow, that no small share of it is due to those
gleams of light, which, in the midst of surrounding darkness, shot from
the great centres of Cordova and Bagdad. These, however, were the work
of Mohammedanism; and as Bossuet had been taught that Mohammedanism is a
pestilential heresy, he could not bring himself to believe that
Christian nations had derived anything from so corrupt a source. The
consequence is, that he says nothing of that great religion, the noise
of which has filled the world;[877] and having occasion to mention its
founder, he treats him with scorn, as an impudent impostor, whose
pretensions it is hardly fitting to notice.[878] The great apostle, who
diffused among millions of idolaters the sublime verity of one God, is
spoken of by Bossuet with supreme contempt; because Bossuet, with the
true spirit of his profession, could see nothing to admire in those
whose opinions differed from his own.[879] But when he has occasion to
mention some obscure member of that class to which he himself belonged,
then it is that he scatters his praises with boundless profusion. In his
scheme of universal history, Mohammed is not worthy to play a part. He
is passed by; but the truly great man, the man to whom the human race is
really indebted, is--Martin, bishop of Tours. He it is, says Bossuet,
whose unrivalled actions filled the universe with his fame, both during
his lifetime and after his death.[880] It is true, that not one educated
man in fifty has ever heard the name of Martin, bishop of Tours. But
Martin performed miracles, and the church had made him a saint; his
claims, therefore, to the attention of historians must be far superior
to the claims of one who, like Mohammed, was without these advantages.
Thus it is that, in the opinion of the only eminent writer on history
during the power of Louis XIV., the greatest man Asia has ever produced,
and one of the greatest the world has ever seen, is considered in every
way inferior to a mean and ignorant monk, whose most important
achievement was the erection of a monastery, and who spent the best part
of his life in useless solitude, trembling before the superstitious
fancies of his weak and ignoble nature.[881]

  [874] The original scheme of Christianity, as stated by its Great Author
        (_Matthew_ x. 6, and xv. 24), was merely to convert the Jews; and
        if the doctrines of Christ had never extended beyond that
        ignorant people, they could not have received those modifications
        which philosophy imposed upon them. The whole of this subject is
        admirably discussed in _Mackay's Progress of the Intellect in
        Religious Development_, vol. ii. pp. 382 seq.; and on the
        'universalism,' first clearly announced 'by the Hellenist
        Stephen,' see p. 484. Neander makes a noticeable attempt to evade
        the difficulty caused by the changes in Christianity from
        'various outward causes:' see his _History of the Church_,
        vol. iii. p. 125.

  [875] Neander (_Hist. of the Church_, vol. ii. p. 42) even thinks that
        Cerinthus whose views are remarkable as being the point where
        Gnosticism and Judaism touch each other, borrowed his system from
        Alexandria. But this, though not unlikely, seems only to rest on
        the authority of Theodoret. On the influence of the Platonism of
        Alexandria in developing the idea of the Logos, see _Neander_,
        vol. ii. pp. 304, 306-314. Compare _Sharpe's Hist. of Egypt_,
        vol. ii. pp. 152 seq.

  [876] And having to mention Clemens Alexandrinus, who was more deeply
        versed in the philosophy of Alexandria than were any of the other
        fathers, Bossuet merely says, p. 98, 'à peu près dans le même
        temps, le saint prêtre Clément Alexandrin déterra les antiquités
        du paganisme pour le confondre.'

  [877] About the time that Bossuet wrote, a very learned writer
        calculated that the area of the countries which professed
        Mohammedanism, exceeded, by one fifth, those where Christianity
        was believed. See _Brerewood's Inquiries touching the Diversity
        of Languages and Religions_, Lond. 1674, pp. 144, 145. The
        estimate of Southey (_Vindiciæ Ecclesiæ Anglicanæ_, London, 1826,
        p. 48), is very vague; but it is much easier to judge of the
        extent of Mohammedan countries than of the extent of their
        population. On this latter point we have the most conflicting
        statements. In the nineteenth century, there are, according to
        Sharon Turner (_Hist. of England_, vol. iii. p. 485, edit. 1839),
        eighty million Mohammedans; according to Dr. Elliotson (_Human
        Physiology_, p. 1055, edit. 1840), more than a hundred and
        twenty-two million; while, according to Mr. Wilkin (note in _Sir
        Thomas Browne's Works_, vol. ii. p. 37, edit. 1835), there are a
        hundred and eighty-eight million.

  [878] 'Le faux prophète donna ses victoires pour toute marque de sa
        mission.' _Bossuet_, p. 125.

  [879] The greatest Mohammedan writers have always expressed ideas
        regarding the Deity more lofty than those possessed by the
        majority of Christians. The Koran contains noble passages on the
        oneness of God; and for the views of their ordinary theologians,
        I may refer to an interesting Mohammedan sermon, in _Transactions
        of the Bombay Society_, vol. i. pp. 146-158. See also, in vol.
        iii. pp. 398-448, an Essay by Vans Kennedy; and compare a
        remarkable passage, considering the quarter from which it comes,
        in _Autobiography of the Emperor Jehangueir_, p. 44. Those who
        are so thoughtless as to believe that Mohammed was a hypocrite,
        had better study the admirable remarks of M. Comte (_Philos.
        Pos._ vol. v. pp. 76, 77), who truly says, 'qu'un homme vraiment
        supérieur n'a jamais pu exercer aucune grande action sur ses
        semblables sans être d'abord lui-même intimement convaincu.'

  [880] 'Saint Martin fut fait évêque de Tours, et remplit tout l'univers
        du bruit de sa sainteté et de ses miracles, durant sa vie, et
        après sa mort.' _Bossuet_, _Hist. Univ._ p. 111.

  [881] The Benedictines have written the life of Martin in their _Hist.
        Lit. de la France_, vol. i. part ii. pp. 413-417, Paris, 1733,
        4to. They say that he erected the first monastery in Gaul:
        'Martin, toujours passionné pour la solitude, érigea un monastère
        qui fut le premier que l'on eût encore vû dans les Gaules,' p.
        414. At p. 415, they make the unnecessary admission, that the
        saint 'n'avoit point étudié les sciences profanes.' I may add,
        that the miracles of Martin are related by Fleury, who evidently
        believes that they were really performed. _Fleury_, _Hist.
        Ecclésiastique_, livre xvi. no. 31, vol. iv. pp. 215-217, Paris,
        1758, 12mo. Neander, having the advantage of living a hundred
        years later than Fleury, is content to say, 'the veneration of
        his period denominated him a worker of miracles.' _Hist. of the
        Church_, vol. iv. p. 494. There is a characteristic anecdote of
        him, from Sulpitius Severus, in _Mosheim's Eccles. Hist._ vol. i.
        p. 123.

Such was the narrow spirit with which the great facts of history were
contemplated by a writer, who, when he was confined to his own
department, displayed the most towering genius. This contracted view was
the inevitable consequence of his attempt to explain the complicated
movements of the human race by principles which he had generalized from
his own inferior studies.[882] Nor need any one be offended, that, from
a scientific point of view, I assign to the pursuits of Bossuet a rank
lower than that in which they are sometimes placed. It is certain that
religious dogmas do, in many cases, influence the affairs of men. But it
is equally certain, that as civilization advances, such influence
decreases, and that even when the power of those dogmas was at its
height, there were many other motives by which the actions of mankind
were also governed. And since the study of history is the study of the
aggregate of these motives, it is evident that history must be superior
to theology; just as the whole is superior to a part. A neglect of this
simple consideration has, with a few eminent exceptions, led all
ecclesiastical authors into serious errors. It has induced in them a
disposition to disregard the immense variety of external events, and to
suppose that the course of affairs is regulated by some principles which
theology alone can detect. This, indeed, is only the result of a general
law of the mind, by which those who have any favourite profession, are
apt to exaggerate its capacity; to explain events by its maxims, and as
it were, to refract through its medium the occurrences of life.[883]
Among theologians, however, such prejudices are more dangerous than in
any other profession, because among them alone are they fortified by
that bold assumption of supernatural authority on which many of the
clergy willingly rely.

  [882] At pp. 479, 480, Bossuet gives a sort of summary of his historical
        principles; and if they are true, history is evidently impossible
        to be written. On this account, though fully recognizing the
        genius of Bossuet, I cannot agree with the remarks made upon him
        by M. Comte, _Philos. Pos._ vol. iv. p. 280, vol. vi. pp. 316,

  [883] And then, as M. Charles Comte well says, they call this prejudice
        their moral sense, or their moral instinct. _Comte_, _Traité de
        Législation_, vol. i. p. 116.

These professional prejudices, when supported by theological dogmas, in
a reign like that of Louis XIV.,[884] are sufficient to account for the
peculiarities which mark the historical work of Bossuet. Besides this,
in his case, the general tendency was aggravated by personal
characteristics. His mind was remarkable for a haughtiness, which we
find constantly breaking out into a general contempt for mankind.[885]
At the same time his amazing eloquence, and the effects which it never
failed to produce, seemed to justify the overweening confidence that he
felt in his own powers. There is, indeed, in some of his greatest
efforts, so much of the fire and majesty of genius, that we are reminded
of those lofty and burning words with which the prophets of antiquity
thrilled their hearers. Bossuet, thus standing, as he supposed, on an
eminence which raised him above the ordinary weaknesses of men, loved to
taunt them with their follies, and to deride every aspiration of their
genius. Every thing like intellectual boldness seemed to gall his own
superiority.[886] It was this boundless arrogance with which he was
filled, which gives to his works some of their most marked
peculiarities. It was this, that made him strain every nerve to abase
and vilify those prodigious resources of the human understanding, which
are often despised by men who are ignorant of them; but which in reality
are so great, that no one has yet arisen able to scan them in the whole
of their gigantic dimensions. It was this same contempt for the human
intellect, that made him deny its capacity to work out for itself the
epochs through which it has passed; and, consequently, made him recur to
the dogma of supernatural interference. It was this, again, that, in
those magnificent orations which are among the greatest wonders of
modern art, caused him to exhaust the language of eulogy, not upon
intellectual eminence, but upon mere military achievements, upon great
conquerors, those pests and destroyers of men, who pass their lives in
discovering new ways of slaying their enemies, and in devising new means
of aggravating the miseries of the world. And, to descend still lower,
it was this same contempt for the dearest interests of mankind, which
made him look with reverence upon a king, who considered all those
interests as nothing; but who had the merit of enslaving the mind of
France, and of increasing the power of that body of men, among whom
Bossuet himself was the most distinguished.

  [884] The connection between the opinions of Bossuet and the despotism
        of Louis XIV. is touched on by Montlosier, who, however, has
        probably laid too much stress on the influence which the civil
        law exercised over both. _Montlosier_, _Monarchie Française_,
        vol. ii. p. 90.

  [885] He belonged to a class of historians, described by a celebrated
        writer in a single sentence: 'dans leurs écrits l'auteur paraît
        souvent grand, mais l'humanité est toujours petite.'
        _Tocqueville_, _Démocratie_, vol. iv. p. 139.

  [886] Hardly any one acquainted with the writings and the history of
        Bossuet will require evidence of his singular arrogance. But the
        reader may consult _Sismondi_, _Hist. des Franç._ vol. xxvi. p.
        247; and on his treatment of Fénelon, which was the most shameful
        transaction of his life, compare _Burnet's Own Time_, vol. iv. p.
        384, with _Capefigue's Louis XIV_, vol. ii. p. 58; where there is
        printed one of the many epigrams to which the conduct of Bossuet
        gave rise.

In the absence of sufficient evidence respecting the general state of
the French at the end of the seventeenth century, it is impossible to
ascertain to what extent such notions as these had penetrated the
popular mind. But, looking at the manner in which government had broken
the spirit of the country, I should be inclined to suppose that the
opinions of Bossuet were very acceptable to his own generation. This,
however, is a question rather of curiosity than of importance; for only
a few years later there appeared the first symptoms of that
unprecedented movement, which not merely destroyed the political
institutions of France, but effected a greater and more permanent
revolution in every department of the national intellect. At the death
of Louis XIV., in literature, as well as in politics, in religion, and
in morals, everything was ripe for reaction. The materials still
existing are so ample, that it would be possible to trace with
considerable minuteness the steps of this great process; but it will, I
think, be more agreeable to the general scheme of this Introduction, if
I pass over some of the intermediate links, and confine myself to those
salient instances in which the spirit of the age is most strikingly

There is, indeed, something extraordinary in the change which, in
France, one generation was able to effect in the method of writing
history. The best way, perhaps, to form an idea of this, will be to
compare the works of Voltaire with those of Bossuet; because these
great authors were probably the most able, and were certainly the most
influential, Frenchmen during the period they respectively represented.
The first great improvement which we find in Voltaire, as compared with
Bossuet, is an increased perception of the dignity of the human
intellect. In addition to the circumstances already noticed, we must
remember that the reading of Bossuet lay in a direction which prevented
him from feeling this. He had not studied those branches of knowledge
where great things have been achieved; but he was very conversant with
the writings of the saints and fathers, whose speculations are by no
means calculated to give us a high opinion of the resources of their own
understanding. Thus accustomed to contemplate the workings of the mind
in what is, on the whole, the most puerile literature Europe has ever
produced, the contempt which Bossuet felt for mankind went on
increasing; until it reached that inordinate degree which, in his later
works, is painfully conspicuous. But Voltaire, who paid no attention to
such things as these, passed his long life in the constant accumulation
of real and available knowledge. His mind was essentially modern.
Despising unsupported authority, and heedless of tradition, he devoted
himself to subjects in which the triumph of the human reason is too
apparent to be mistaken. The more his knowledge advanced, the more he
admired those vast powers by which the knowledge had been created. Hence
his admiration for the intellect of man, so far from diminishing, grew
with his growth; and, just in the same proportion, there was
strengthened his love of humanity, and his dislike to the prejudices
which had long obscured its history. That this, in the march of his
mind, was the course it actually followed, will be evident to any one
who considers the different spirit of his works, in reference to the
different periods of life in which they were produced.

The first historical work of Voltaire was a life of Charles XII., in
1728.[887] At this time his knowledge was still scanty, and he was
still influenced by the servile traditions of the preceding generation.
It is not, therefore, wonderful, that he should express the greatest
respect for Charles, who, among the admirers of military fame, will
always preserve a certain reputation; though his only merits are, that
he ravaged many countries and killed many men. But we find little
sympathy with his unfortunate subjects, the accumulations of whose
industry supported the royal armies;[888] nor is there much pity for
those nations who were oppressed by this great robber in the immense
line of his conquests from Sweden to Turkey. Indeed, the admiration of
Voltaire for Charles is unbounded. He calls him the most extraordinary
man the world had ever seen;[889] he declares him to be a prince full of
honour;[890] and while he scarcely blames his infamous murder of
Patkul,[891] he relates with evident emotion how the royal lunatic, at
the head of forty servants, resisted an entire army.[892] In the same
way, he says, that after the battle of Narva, all the attempts of
Charles were unable to prevent medals from being struck at Stockholm in
celebration of that event;[893] although Voltaire well knew that a man
of such extravagant vanity must have been pleased by so durable a
homage, and although it is quite certain that if he had not been
pleased, the medals would never have been struck: for who would venture,
without an object, to offend, in his own capital, one of the most
arbitrary and revengeful of princes?

  [887] He says that he wrote it in 1728. _[OE]uvres de Voltaire_,
        vol. xxii. p. 5, but, according to M. Lepan (_Vie de Voltaire_,
        p. 382), 'il parut en 1731.' Both statements may be accurate, as
        Voltaire frequently kept his works for some time in manuscript.

  [888] Sir A. Alison, who certainly cannot be accused of want of respect
        for military conquerors, says of Sweden, 'the attempt which
        Charles XII. made to engage her in long and arduous wars, so
        completely drained the resources of the country, that they did
        not recover the loss for half a century.' _Hist. of Europe_, vol.
        x. p. 504. See also, on the effects produced by the conscriptions
        of Charles XII., _Laing's Sweden_, p. 59; _Koch_, _Tableau des
        Révolutions_, vol. ii. p. 63; and above all, a curious passage in
        _Duclos_, _Mém. Secrets_, vol. i. p. 448. Several of the soldiers
        of Charles XII. who were taken prisoners, were sent into Siberia,
        where Bell fell in with them early in the eighteenth century.
        _Bell's Travels in Asia_, edit. Edinb. 1788, vol. i. pp. 223-224.

  [889] 'Charles XII, l'homme le plus extraordinaire peut-être qui ait
        jamais été sur la terre, qui a réuni en lui toutes les grandes
        qualités de ses aïeux, et qui n'a eu d'autre défaut ni d'autre
        malheur que de les avoir toutes outrées.' _Hist. de Charles XII_,
        livre i., in _[OE]uvres de Voltaire_, vol. xxii. p. 30.

  [890] 'Plein d'honneur.' _Ibid._ in _[OE]uvres_, vol. xxii. p. 63.

  [891] Which Burke, not without justice, compares to the murder of
        Monaldeschi by Christina. _Burke's Works_, vol. i. p. 412. See
        some remarks on the murder of Patkul, in _Vattel_, _Droit des
        Gens_, vol. i. p. 230; and an account of it, from Swedish
        authorities, in _Somers Tracts_, vol. xiii. pp. 879-881. For
        Voltaire's version see his _[OE]uvres_, vol. xxii. pp. 136, 137;
        which may be contrasted with _Crichton and Wheaton's History of
        Scandinavia_, Edinb. 1838, vol. ii. p. 127.

  [892] _[OE]uvres de Voltaire_, vol. xxii. pp. 250-260. It may interest
        some persons to hear, that the litter in which this madman 'was
        borne from the battle of Pultava' is still preserved at Moscow.
        _Kohl's Russia_, p. 220. It was also seen by M. Custine.
        _Custine's Russia_, vol. iii. p. 263.

  [893] 'Sa modestie ne put empêcher qu'on ne frappât à Stockholm
        plusieurs médailles pour perpétuer la mémoire de ces événements.'
        _Charles XII_, livre ii., in _[OE]uvres_, vol. xxii. p. 70.

So far, it might appear that little had been gained in the method of
writing history.[894] But, even thus early, we find one vast
improvement. In Voltaire's Life of Charles XII., faulty as it is, there
are none of those assumptions of supernatural interference in which
Bossuet delighted, and which were natural to the reign of Louis XIV. The
absence of this marks the first great stage in the French school of
history in the eighteenth century; and we find the same peculiarity in
all the subsequent historians, none of whom recurred to a method, which,
though suitable for the purposes of theologians, is fatal to all
independent inquiries, since it not only prescribes the course the
inquirer is bound to take, but actually sets up a limit beyond which he
is forbidden to proceed.

  [894] Even some of its geographical details are said to be inaccurate.
        Compare _Villemain_, _Littérature au XVIII^e Siècle_, vol. ii. p.
        33, with _Kohl's Russia_, p. 505. However, as M. Villemain says,
        this must always be the case, when writers, who only know a
        country from maps, attempt to enter into details respecting
        military geography. In regard to style, it cannot be too highly
        praised; and a well-known critic, Lacratelle, calls it 'le modèle
        le plus accompli de narration qui existe dans notre langue.'
        _Lacretelle_, _Dix-huitième Siècle_, vol. ii. p. 42. In 1843 it
        was still used as a text book in the French royal colleges. See
        _Report on Education in France_, in _Journal of Stat. Soc._ vol.
        vi. p. 308. Further information respecting this work may be found
        in _Longchamp et Wagnière_, _Mém. sur Voltaire_, vol. ii. p. 494;
        and in _Mém. de Genlis_, vol. viii. p. 224, vol. x. p. 304.

That Voltaire should have infringed upon this ancient method only
thirteen years after the death of Louis XIV., and that he should have
done this in a popular work, abounding with such dangerous adventures as
are always found to tempt the mind to an opposite course, is a step of
no common merit, and becomes still more worthy of remark, if taken in
connexion with another fact of considerable interest. This is, that the
life of Charles XII. represents the first epoch, not only in the
eighteenth century, but also in the intellect of Voltaire himself.[895]
After it was published, this great man turned awhile from history, and
directed his attention to some of the noblest subjects: to mathematics,
to physics, to jurisprudence, to the discoveries of Newton, and to the
speculations of Locke. In these things he perceived those capabilities
of the human mind, which his own country had formerly witnessed, but of
which during the authority of Louis XIV. the memory had been almost
lost. Then it was that, with extended knowledge and sharpened intellect,
he returned to the great field of history.[896] The manner in which he
now treated his old subject, showed the change that had come over him.
In 1752, appeared his celebrated work on Louis XIV.,[897] the very title
of which is suggestive of the process through which his mind had passed.
His former history was an account of a king; this is an account of an
age. To the production of his youth he gave the title of a _History of
Charles XII._; this he called the _Age of Louis XIV._ Before, he had
detailed the peculiarities of a prince; now, he considered the movements
of a people. Indeed, in the introduction to the work, he announces his
intention to describe, 'not the actions of a single man, but the
character of men.'[898] Nor, in this point of view, is the execution
inferior to the design. While he is contented with giving a summary of
military achievements, on which Bossuet hung with delight, he enters at
great length into those really important matters which, before his time,
found no place in the history of France. He has one chapter on commerce
and internal government;[899] another chapter on finances;[900] another
on the history of science;[901] and three chapters on the progress of
the fine arts.[902] And though Voltaire did not attach much value to
theological disputes, still he knew that they have often played a great
part in the affairs of men; he therefore gives several distinct
chapters to a relation of ecclesiastical matters during the reign of
Louis.[903] It is hardly necessary to observe the immense superiority
which a scheme like this possessed, not only over the narrow views of
Bossuet, but even over his own earlier history. Still it cannot be
denied, that we find in it prejudices from which it was difficult for a
Frenchman, educated in the reign of Louis XIV., to be entirely free. Not
only does Voltaire dwell at needless length upon those amusements and
debaucheries of Louis, with which history can have little concern, but
he displays an evident disposition to favour the king himself, and to
protect his name from the infamy with which it ought to be covered.[904]

  [895] It is evident, from Voltaire's correspondence, that he afterwards
        became somewhat ashamed of the praises he had bestowed on Charles
        XII. In 1735, he writes to De Formont, 'si Charles XII n'avait
        pas été excessivement grand, malheureux, et fou, je me serais
        bien donné de garde de parler de lui.' _[OE]uvres de Voltaire_,
        vol. lvi. p. 462. In 1758, advancing still further, he says of
        Charles, 'voilà, monsieur, ce que les hommes de tous les temps et
        de tous les pays appellent un héros; mais c'est le vulgaire de
        tous les temps et de tous les pays qui donne ce nom à la soif du
        carnage.' _Ibid._ vol. lx. p. 411. In 1759, he writes, that he
        was then engaged on the history of Peter the Great: 'mais je
        doute que cela soit aussi amusant que la vie de Charles XII; car
        ce Pierre n'était qu'un sage extraordinaire, et Charles un fou
        extraordinaire, qui se battait, comme Don Quichotte, contre des
        moulins à vent.' Vol. lxi. p. 23: see also p. 350. These passages
        prove the constant progress Voltaire was making in his conception
        of what history ought to be, and what its uses were.

  [896] In 1741, he mentions his increasing love of history. _Corresp._ in
        _[OE]uvres de Voltaire_, vol. li. p. 96.

  [897] Lord Brougham, in his life of Voltaire, says that it appeared in
        1751. _Lives of Men of Letters_, vol. i p. 106. But 1752 is the
        date given in _Biog. Univ._ xlix. 478; in _Quérard_, _France
        Lit._ vol. x. p. 355; and in _Lepan_, _Vie de Voltaire_, p. 382.

  [898] 'On veut essayer de peindre à la postérité, non les actions d'un
        seul homme, mais l'esprit des hommes dans le siècle le plus
        éclairé qui fut jamais.' _Siècle de Louis XIV_, in _[OE]uvres de
        Voltaire_, vol. xix. p. 213. And in his correspondence respecting
        his work on Louis XIV., he carefully makes the same distinction.
        See vol. lvi. pp. 453, 488, 489, 500, vol. lvii. pp. 337,
        342-344, vol. lix. p. 103.

  [899] Chap. xxix., in _[OE]uvres de Voltaire_, vol. xx. pp. 234-267.

  [900] Chap. xxx., in _[OE]uvres_, vol. xx. pp. 267-291. This chapter is
        praised in _Sinclair's History of the Public Revenue_, vol. iii.
        appendix, p. 77; an indifferent work, but the best we have on the
        important subject to which it refers.

  [901] Chap. xxxi., in _[OE]uvres_, vol. xx. pp. 291-299; necessarily a
        very short chapter, because of the paucity of materials.

  [902] Chapters xxxii. to xxxiv., in _[OE]uvres_, vol. xx. pp. 299-338.

  [903] _[OE]uvres_, vol. xx. pp. 338-464.

  [904] This disposition to favour Louis XIV. is noticed by Condorcet, who
        says it was the only early prejudice which Voltaire was unable to
        shake off: 'c'est le seul préjugé de sa jeunesse qu'il ait
        conservé.' _Condorcet_, _Vie de Voltaire_, in _[OE]uvres de
        Voltaire_, vol. i. p. 286. See also, on this defect, _Grimm et
        Diderot_, _Corresp. Lit._ vol. ii. p. 182; _Lemontey_,
        _Etablissement Monarchique_, pp. 451, 452; _Mém. de Brissot_,
        vol. ii. pp. 88, 89. It is interesting to observe, that
        Voltaire's earlier opinions were still more favourable to Louis
        XIV. than those which he afterwards expressed in his history. See
        a letter which he wrote in 1740 to Lord Harvey, printed in
        _[OE]uvres de Voltaire_, vol. lviii. pp. 57-63.

But the next work of Voltaire showed that this was a mere personal
feeling, and did not affect his general views as to the part which the
acts of princes ought to occupy in history. Four years after the
appearance of the _Age of Louis XIV._, he published his important
treatise on the _Morals, Manners, and Character of Nations_.[905] This
is not only one of the greatest books which appeared during the
eighteenth century, but it still remains the best on the subject to
which it refers. The mere reading it displays is immense;[906] what,
however, is far more admirable, is the skill with which the author
connects the various facts, and makes them illustrate each other,
sometimes by a single remark, sometimes only by the order and position
in which they are placed. Indeed, considered solely as a work of art, it
would be difficult to praise it too highly; while, as a symptom of the
times, it is important to observe, that it contains no traces of that
adulation of royalty which characterized Voltaire in the period of his
youth, and which is found in all the best writers during the power of
Louis XIV. In the whole of this long and important work, the great
historian takes little notice of the intrigues of courts, or of the
changes of ministers, or of the fate of kings; but he endeavours to
discover and develop the different epochs through which Man has
successively passed. 'I wish,' he says, 'to write a history, not of
wars, but of society; and to ascertain how men lived in the interior of
their families, and what were the arts which they commonly
cultivated.'[907] For, he adds, 'my object is the history of the human
mind, and not a mere detail of petty facts; nor am I concerned with the
history of great lords, who made war upon French kings; but I want to
know what were the steps by which men passed from barbarism to

  [905] Mr. Burton, in his interesting work, _Life and Correspondence of
        Hume_, vol. ii. p. 129, says it was 'first published in 1756;'
        and the same date is given by Quérard (_France Littéraire_, vol.
        x. p. 359), who is a very accurate bibliographer; so that
        Condorcet (_Vie de Voltaire_, p. 199) and Lord Brougham (_Men of
        Letters_, vol. i. p. 98) are probably in error in assigning it to
        1757. In regard to its title, I translate 'M[oe]urs' as 'morals
        and manners;' for M. Tocqueville uses 'm[oe]urs' as equivalent to
        the Latin word 'mores.' _Tocqueville_, _Démocratie en Amérique_,
        vol. iii. pp. 50, 84.

  [906] Superficial writers are so much in the habit of calling Voltaire
        superficial, that it may be well to observe, that his accuracy
        has been praised, not only by his own countrymen, but by several
        English authors of admitted learning. For three remarkable
        instances of this, from men whom no one will accuse of leaning
        towards his other opinions, see _notes to Charles V._, in
        _Robertson's Works_, pp. 431, 432; _Barrington's Observations on
        the Statutes_, p. 293; and _Warton's History of English Poetry_,
        vol. i. p. xvi. Even Sir W. Jones, in his preface to the _Life of
        Nader Shah_, says, that Voltaire is 'the best historian' the
        French have produced. _Works of Sir William Jones_, vol. v. p.
        542; and compare the preface to his _Persian Grammar_, in
        _Works_, vol. ii. p. 123.

  [907] 'Je voudrais découvrir quelle était alors la société des hommes,
        comment on vivait dans l'intérieur des familles, quels arts
        étaient cultivés, plutôt que de répéter tant de malheurs et tant
        de combats, funestes objets de l'histoire, et lieux communs de la
        méchanceté humaine.' _Essai sur les M[oe]urs_, chap. lxxxi., in
        _[OE]uvres_, vol. xvi. p. 381.

  [908] 'L'objet était l'histoire de l'esprit humain, et non pas le détail
        des faits presque toujours défigurés; il ne s'agissait pas de
        rechercher, par exemple, de quelle famille était le seigneur de
        Puiset, ou le seigneur de Montlheri, qui firent la guerre à des
        rois de France; mais de voir par quels degrés on est parvenu de
        la rusticité barbare de ces temps à la politesse du nôtre.'
        Supplement to _Essai sur les M[oe]urs_, in _[OE]uvres_, vol.
        xviii. p. 435. Compare _Fragments sur l'Histoire_, vol. xxvii. p.
        214, with two letters in vol. lx. pp. 153, 154, vol. lxv. p. 370.

It was in this way that Voltaire taught historians to concentrate their
attention on matters of real importance, and to neglect those idle
details with which history had formerly been filled. But what proves
this to be a movement arising as much from the spirit of the age as from
the individual author, is, that we find precisely the same tendency in
the works of Montesquieu and Turgot, who were certainly the two most
eminent of the contemporaries of Voltaire; and both of whom followed a
method similar to his, in so far as, omitting descriptions of kings,
courts, and battles, they confined themselves to points which illustrate
the character of mankind, and the general march of civilization. And
such was the popularity of this change in the old routine, that its
influence was felt by other historians of inferior, but still of
considerable, ability. In 1755, Mallet[909] published his interesting,
and, at the time it was written, most valuable work, on the history of
Denmark;[910] in which he professes himself a pupil of the new school.
'For why,' he says, 'should history be only a recital of battles,
sieges, intrigues, and negotiations? And why should it contain merely a
heap of petty facts and dates, rather than a great picture of the
opinions, customs, and even inclinations of a people?'[911] Thus too, in
1765, Mably published the first part of his celebrated work on the
history of France;[912] in the preface to which, he complains that
historians 'have neglected the origin of laws and customs, in favour of
sieges and battles.'[913] In the same spirit, Velly and Villaret, in
their voluminous history of France, express regret that historians
should usually relate what happens to the sovereign, in preference to
what happens to the people, and should omit the manners and
characteristics of a nation, in order to study the acts of a single
man.[914] Duclos, again, announces that his history is not of war, nor
of politics, but of men and manners:[915] while, strange to say, even
the courtly Hénault declares that his object was to describe laws and
manners, which he calls the soul of history, or rather history

  [909] Mallet, though born in Geneva, was a Frenchman in the habits of
        his mind: he wrote in French, and is classed among French
        historians, in the report presented to Napoleon by the Institut.
        _Dacier_, _Rapport sur les Progrès de l'Histoire_, p. 173.

  [910] Göthe, in his Autobiography, mentions his obligations to this
        work, which, I suspect, exercised considerable influence over the
        early associations of his mind: 'Ich hatte die Fabeln der Edda
        schon längst aus der Vorrede zu Mallet's Dänischer Geschichte
        kennen gelernt, und mich derselben sogleich bemächtigt; sie
        gehörten unter diejenigen Mährchen, die ich, von einer
        Gesellschaft aufgefordert, am liebsten erzählte.' _Wahrheit u.
        Dichtung_, in _Goethe's Werke_, vol. ii. part ii. p. 169. Percy,
        a very fair judge, thought highly of Mallet's history, part of
        which, indeed, he translated. See a letter from him, in
        _Nichols's Illustrations of the Eighteenth Century_, vol. vii.
        p. 719.

  [911] _Mallet's Northern Antiquities_, edit. Blackell, 1847, p. 78.

  [912] The first two volumes were published in 1765; the other two in
        1790. _Biog. Univ._ vol. xxvi. pp. 9, 12.

  [913] _Mably_, _Observ. sur l'Hist. de France_, vol. i. p. ii.; and
        compare vol. iii. p. 289: but this latter passage was written
        several years later.

  [914] 'Bornés à nous apprendre les victoires ou les défaites du
        souverain, ils ne nous disent rien ou presque rien des peuples
        qu'il a rendus heureux ou malheureux. On ne trouve dans leurs
        écrits que longues descriptions de sièges et de batailles; nulle
        mention des m[oe]urs et de l'esprit de la nation. Elle y est
        presque toujours sacrifiée à un seul homme.' _Histoire de France
        par Velly_, Paris, 1770, 4to, vol. i. p. 6; and see, to the same
        effect, the _Continuation by Villaret_, vol. v. p. vi.

 [915] 'Si l'histoire que j'écris n'est ni militaire, ni politique, ni
        économique, du moins dans le sens que je conçois pour ces
        différentes parties, on me demandera quelle est donc celle que je
        me propose d'écrire. C'est l'histoire des hommes et des
        m[oe]urs.' _Duclos_, _Louis XIV et Louis XV_, vol. i. p. xxv.

  [916] 'Je voulois connoître nos loix, nos m[oe]urs, et tout ce qui est
        l'âme de l'histoire, ou plutôt l'histoire même.' _Hénault_,
        _Nouvel Abrégé chronologique de l'Histoire de France_, edit.
        Paris, 1775, vol. i. p. i.

Thus it was, that historians began to shift, as it were, the scene of
their labours, and to study subjects connected with those popular
interests, on which the great writers under Louis XIV. disdained to
waste a thought. I need hardly observe, how agreeable such views were
to the general spirit of the eighteenth century, and how well they
harmonized with the temper of men who were striving to lay aside their
former prejudices, and despise what had once been universally admired.
All this was but part of that vast movement, which prepared the way for
the Revolution, by unsettling ancient opinions, by encouraging a certain
mobility and restlessness of mind, and, above all, by the disrespect it
showed for those powerful individuals, hitherto regarded as gods rather
than as men, but who now, for the first time, were neglected by the
greatest and most popular historians, who passed over even their
prominent actions, in order to dwell upon the welfare of nations, and
the interests of the people at large.

To return, however, to what was actually effected by Voltaire, there is
no doubt that, in his case, this tendency of the time was strengthened
by a natural comprehensiveness of mind, which predisposed him to large
views, and made him dissatisfied with that narrow range to which history
had been hitherto confined.[917] Whatever may be thought of the other
qualities of Voltaire, it must be allowed that, in his intellect,
everything was on a great scale.[918] Always prepared for thought, and
always ready to generalize, he was averse to the study of individual
actions, unless they could be made available for the establishment of
some broad and permanent principle. Hence his habit of looking at
history with a view to the stages through which the country had passed,
rather than with a view to the character of the men by whom the country
had been governed. The same tendency appears in his lighter works; and
it has been well observed,[919] that, even in his dramas, he endeavours
to portray, not so much the passions of individuals, as the spirit of
epochs. In _Mahomet_, his subject is a great religion; in _Alzire_, the
conquest of America; in _Brutus_, the formation of the Roman power; in
the _Death of Cæsar_, the rise of the empire upon the ruins of that

  [917] In 1763, he writes to D'Argental: 'il y a environ douze batailles
        dont je n'ai point parlé, Dieu merci, parceque j'écris l'histoire
        de l'esprit humain, et non une gazette.' _[OE]uvres de Voltaire_,
        vol. lxiii. p. 51. See also his letter to Tabareau (_Lettres
        inédites de Voltaire_, vol. ii. p. 585): 'Personne ne lit les
        détails des combats et des sièges; rien n'est plus ennuyeux que
        la droite et la gauche, les bastions et la contrescarpe.'

  [918] M. Lamartine characterizes him as 'ce génie non pas le plus haut,
        mais le plus vaste de la France.' _Hist. des Girondins_, vol. i.
        p. 180.

  [919] _Biog. Univ._ vol. xlix. p. 493. His _Orphelin de la Chine_ is
        taken from Chinese sources: see _Davis's China_, vol. ii. p. 258.

  [920] The surprising versatility of Voltaire's mind is shown by the
        fact, unparalleled in literature, that he was equally great as a
        dramatic writer and as an historian. Mr. Forster, in his
        admirable _Life of Goldsmith_, 1854, says (vol. i. p. 119),
        'Gray's high opinion of Voltaire's tragedies is shared by one of
        our greatest authorities on such a matter now living, Sir Edward
        Bulwer Lytton, whom I have often heard maintain the marked
        superiority of Voltaire over all his countrymen in the knowledge
        of dramatic art, and the power of producing theatrical effects.'
        Compare _Correspondence of Gray and Mason_, edit. Mitford, 1855,
        p. 44.

By this determination to look upon the course of events as a great and
connected whole, Voltaire was led to several results, which have been
complacently adopted by many authors, who, even while using them, revile
him from whom they were taken. He was the first historian who, rejecting
the ordinary method of investigation, endeavoured, by large general
views, to explain the origin of feudality; and, by indicating some of
the causes of its decline in the fourteenth century,[921] he laid the
foundation for a philosophic estimate of that important
institution.[922] He was the author of a profound remark, afterwards
adopted by Constant, to the effect, that licentious religious
ceremonies have no connexion with licentious national morals.[923]
Another observation of his, which has been only partly used by writers
on ecclesiastical history, is pregnant with instruction. He says, that
one of the reasons why the bishops of Rome acquired an authority so
superior to that of the eastern patriarchs, was the greater subtlety of
the Greek mind. Nearly all the heresies proceeded from the east; and,
with the exception of Honorius I., not a single pope adopted a system
condemned by the church. This gave to the papal power an unity and
consolidation, which the patriarchal power was unable to reach; and thus
the Holy See owes part of its authority to the early dulness of the
European fancy.[924]

  [921] _Essai sur les M[oe]urs_, chap. lxxxv., in _[OE]uvres_, vol. xvi.
        p. 412, and elsewhere.

  [922] During the eighteenth century, and, I may say, until the
        publication in 1818 of Hallam's Middle Ages, there was in the
        English language no comprehensive account of the feudal system;
        unless, perhaps, we except that given by Robertson, who in this,
        as in many other matters of history, was a pupil of Voltaire. Not
        only Dalrymple, and writers of his kind, but even Blackstone,
        took so narrow a view of this great institution, that they were
        unable to connect it with the general state of society to which
        it belonged. Some of our historians gravely traced it back to
        Moses, in whose laws they found the origin of allodial lands. See
        a charming passage in _Barry's History of the Orkney Islands_, p.
        219. On the spirit of feudality, there are some remarks well
        worth reading in _Comtés Philos. Posit._ vol. v. pp. 393-413.

  [923] Constant, in his work on Roman polytheism, says, 'des rites
        indécens peuvent être pratiqués par un peuple religieux avec une
        grande pureté de c[oe]ur. Mais quand l'incrédulité atteint ces
        peuples, ces rites sont pour lui la cause et le prétexte de la
        plus révoltante corruption.' This passage is quoted by Mr.
        Milman, who calls it 'extremely profound and just.' _Milman's
        History of Christianity_, 1840, vol. i. p. 28. And so it
        is--extremely profound and just. But it happens that precisely
        the same remark was made by Voltaire, just about the time that
        Constant was born. Speaking of the worship of Priapus, he says
        (_Essai sur les M[oe]urs_, chap. cxliii. in _[OE]uvres de
        Voltaire_, vol. xvii. p. 341), 'nos idées de bienséance nous
        portent à croire qu'un cérémonie qui nous paraît si infâme n'a
        été inventée que par la débauche; mais il n'est guère croyable
        que la dépravation des m[oe]urs ait jamais chez aucun peuple
        établi des cérémonies religieuses. Il est probable, au contraire,
        que cette coutume fut d'abord introduite dans les temps de
        simplicité, et qu'on ne pensa d'abord qu'à honorer la Divinité
        dans le symbole de la vie qu'elle nous a donnée. Une telle
        cérémonie a dû inspirer la licence à la jeunesse, et paraître
        ridicule aux esprits sages, dans les temps plus raffinés, plus
        corrompus, et plus éclairés.' Compare the remarks on the
        indecency of the Spartan customs, in _Thirlwall's Hist. of
        Greece_, vol. i. pp. 326, 327.

 [924] _Essai sur les M[oe]urs_, chaps. xiv. and xxxi., in _[OE]uvres_,
        vol. xv. pp. 391, 514. Neander observes, that in the Greek church
        there were more heresies than in the Latin church, because the
        Greeks thought more; but he has failed to perceive how this
        favoured the authority of the popes. _Neander's History of the
        Church_, vol. ii. pp. 198, 199, vol. iii. pp. 191, 492, vol. iv.
        p. 90, vol. vi. p. 293, vol. viii. p. 257.

It would be impossible to relate all the original remarks of Voltaire,
which, when he made them, were attacked as dangerous paradoxes, and are
now valued as sober truths. He was the first historian who recommended
universal freedom of trade; and, although he expresses himself with
great caution,[925] still the mere announcement of the idea in a popular
history forms an epoch in the progress of the French mind. He is the
originator of that important distinction between the increase of
population and the increase of food, to which political economy has been
greatly indebted;[926] a principle adopted several years later by
Townsend, and then used by Malthus as the basis of his celebrated
work.[927] He has, moreover, the merit of being the first who dispelled
the childish admiration with which the Middle Ages had been hitherto
regarded, and which they owed to those dull and learned writers, who, in
the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, were the principal
investigators of the early history of Europe. These industrious
compilers had collected extensive materials, which Voltaire turned to
good account, and by their aid overthrew the conclusions at which the
authors had themselves arrived. In his works, the Middle Ages are, for
the first time, represented as what they really were,--a period of
ignorance, ferocity, and licentiousness; a period when injuries were
unredressed, crime unpunished, and superstition unrebuked. It may be
said, with some show of justice, that Voltaire, in the picture he drew,
fell into the opposite extreme, and did not sufficiently recognize the
merit of those truly great men, who, at long intervals, stood here and
there, like solitary beacons, whose light only made the surrounding
darkness more visible. Still, after every allowance for that
exaggeration which a reaction of opinions always causes, it is certain
that his view of the Middle Ages is not only far more accurate than that
of any preceding writer, but conveys a much juster idea of the time than
can be found in those subsequent compilations which we owe to the
industry of modern antiquaries; a simple and plodding race, who admire
the past because they are ignorant of the present, and who, spending
their lives amid the dust of forgotten manuscripts, think themselves
able, with the resources of their little learning, to speculate on the
affairs of men, to trace the history of different periods, and even to
assign to each the praise it ought to receive.

  [925] In his account of the trade of Archangel, he says, 'les Anglais
        obtinrent le privilége d'y commercer sans payer aucun droit; et
        c'est ainsi que toutes les nations devraient peut-être négocier
        ensemble.' _Hist. de Russie_, part i. chap. i., in _[OE]uvres_,
        vol. xxiii. p. 35. Remarkable words to have been written by a
        Frenchman, born at the end of the seventeenth century; and yet
        they have, so far as I am aware, escaped the attention of all the
        historians of political economy. Indeed, on this, as on most
        matters, sufficient justice has not been done to Voltaire, whose
        opinions were more accurate than those of Quesnay and his
        followers. However, Mr. M'Culloch, in noticing one of the
        economical errors of Voltaire, honestly admits that his 'opinions
        on such subjects are, for the most part, very correct.'
        _M'Culloch's Principles of Political Economy_, p. 530. For proof
        of his sympathy with Turgot's efforts to establish free trade,
        compare _Lettres inédites de Voltaire_, vol. ii. pp. 367, 403,
        423, with _Longchamp_, _Mém. sur Voltaire_, vol. i. pp. 376, 378.

  [926] 'The idea of the different ratios by which population and food
        increase, was originally thrown out by Voltaire; and was picked
        up and expanded into many a goodly volume by our English
        political economists in the present century.' _Laing's Notes_,
        second series, p. 42.

  [927] It is often said that Malthus was indebted to Townsend's writings
        for his views on population; but this obligation has been too
        strongly stated, as, indeed, is always the case when charges of
        plagiarism are brought against great works. Still, Townsend is to
        be considered as the precursor of Malthus; and if the reader is
        interested in tracing the paternity of ideas, he will find some
        interesting economical remarks in _Townsend's Journey through
        Spain_, vol. i. pp. 379, 383, vol. ii. pp. 85, 337, 387-393;
        which must be compared with _M'Culloch's Literature of Political
        Economy_, pp. 259, 281-3. Voltaire having preceded these authors,
        has, of course, fallen into errors which they avoided; but
        nothing can be better than the way in which he opposes the
        ignorant belief of his own time, that every thing should be done
        to increase population. 'Le point principal n'est pas d'avoir du
        superflu en hommes, mais de rendre ce que nous en avons le moins
        malheureux qu'il est possible,' is the summing-up of his able
        remarks, in _Dict. Philos._, article _Population_, sect. 2, in
        _[OE]uvres_, vol. xli. p. 466. Godwin, in his notice of the
        history of these opinions, is evidently ignorant of what was done
        by Voltaire. _Sinclair's Corresp._ vol. i. p. 396.

With such writers as these, Voltaire was always at war; and no one has
done so much to lessen the influence they once exercised over even the
highest branches of knowledge. There was also another class of
dictators, whose authority this great man was equally successful in
reducing, namely, the old class of classical scholars and commentators,
who, from the middle of the fourteenth till early in the eighteenth
century, were the chief dispensers of fame, and were respected as being
by far the most distinguished men Europe had ever produced. The first
great assaults made upon them were late in the seventeenth century, when
two controversies sprung up, of which I shall hereafter give an
account,--one in France, and one in England,--by both of which their
power was considerably damaged. But their two most formidable opponents
were, undoubtedly, Locke and Voltaire. The immense services rendered by
Locke in lessening the reputation of the old classical school, will be
examined in another part of this work; at present we are only concerned
with the steps taken by Voltaire.

The authority wielded by the great classical scholars rested not only on
their abilities, which are undeniable, but also on the supposed dignity
of their pursuits. It was generally believed that ancient history
possessed some inherent superiority over modern history; and this being
taken for granted, the inference naturally followed, that the
cultivators of the one were more praiseworthy than the cultivators of
the other; and that a Frenchman, for instance, who should write the
history of some Greek republic, displayed a nobler turn of mind than if
he had written the history of his own country. This singular prejudice
had for centuries been a traditional notion; which men accepted, because
they had received it from their fathers, and which it would have been
almost an impiety to dispute. The result was, that the few really able
writers on history devoted themselves chiefly to that of the ancients;
or, if they published an account of modern times, they handled their
theme, not according to modern ideas, but according to ideas gathered
from their more favourite pursuit. This confusion of the standard of
one age with the standard of another, caused a double evil. Historians,
by adopting this plan, injured the originality of their own minds; and,
what was far worse, they set a bad example to the literature of their
country. For every great nation has a mode of expression, and of
thought, peculiar to itself, and with which its sympathies are
intimately connected. To introduce any foreign model, however admirable
it may be, is to violate this connexion, and to impair the value of
literature by limiting the scope of its action. By such a course, the
taste may possibly be refined, but the vigour will certainly be
weakened. Indeed, the refinement of the taste may well be doubted, when
we see what has taken place in our country, where our great scholars
have corrupted the English language by a jargon so uncouth, that a plain
man can hardly discern the real lack of ideas which their barbarous and
mottled dialect strives to hide.[928] At all events, it is certain, that
every people worthy of being called a nation, possess in their own
language ample resources for expressing the highest ideas they are able
to form; and although, in matters of science, it may be convenient to
coin such words as are more easily understood in foreign countries, it
is a grave offence to depart on other subjects from the vernacular
speech; and it is a still graver one, to introduce notions and
standards for action, suited perhaps to former times, but which the
march of society has left far behind, and with which we have no real
sympathy, though they may excite that sickly and artificial interest
which the classical prejudices of early education still contrive to

  [928] With the single exception of Porson, not one of the great English
        scholars has shown an appreciation of the beauties of his native
        language; and many of them, such as Parr (in all his works) and
        Bentley (in his mad edition of Milton), have done every thing in
        their power to corrupt it. And there can be little doubt, that
        the principal reason why well-educated women write and converse
        in a purer style than well-educated men, is because they have not
        formed their taste according to those ancient classical
        standards, which, admirable as they are in themselves, should
        never be introduced into a state of society unfitted for them. To
        this may be added, that Cobbett, the most racy and idiomatic of
        all our writers, and Erskine, by far the greatest of our forensic
        orators, knew little or nothing of any ancient language; and the
        same observation applies to Shakespeare. On the supposed
        connexion between the improvement of taste and the study of
        classical models, there are some remarks worth attending to in
        _Rey's Théorie et Pratique de la Science Sociale_, vol. i.
        pp. 98-101.

It was against these evils that Voltaire entered the field. The wit and
the ridicule with which he attacked the dreaming scholars of his own
time, can only be appreciated by those who have studied his works. Not,
as some have supposed, that he used these weapons as a substitute for
argument, still less that he fell into the error of making ridicule a
test for truth. No one could reason more closely than Voltaire, when
reasoning suited his purpose. But he had to deal with men impervious to
argument; men whose inordinate reverence for antiquity had only left
them two ideas, namely, that every thing old is right, and that every
thing new is wrong. To argue against these opinions would be idle
indeed; the only other resource was, to make them ridiculous, and weaken
their influence, by holding up their authors to contempt. This was one
of the tasks Voltaire set himself to perform; and he did it well.[929]
He, therefore, used ridicule, not as the test of truth, but as the
scourge of folly. And with such effect was the punishment administered,
that not only did the pedants and theologians of his own time wince
under the lash, but even their successors feel their ears tingle when
they read his biting words; and they revenge themselves by reviling the
memory of that great writer, whose works are as a thorn in their side,
and whose very name they hold in undisguised abhorrence.

  [929] 'We can best judge, from the Jesuitical rage with which he was
        persecuted, how admirably he had delineated the weaknesses and
        presumption of the interpreters of the ancients, who shone in the
        schools and academies, and had acquired great reputation by their
        various and copiously exhibited learning.' _Schlosser's
        Eighteenth Century_, vol. i. p. 120. At p. 270, M. Schlosser
        says, 'And it was only a man of Voltaire's wit and talents, who
        could throw the light of an entirely new criticism upon the
        darkness of those grabbing and collecting pedants.'

These two classes have, indeed, reasons enough for the hatred with
which they still regard the greatest Frenchman of the eighteenth
century. For, Voltaire did more than any other man to sap the foundation
of ecclesiastical power, and to destroy the supremacy of classical
studies. This is not the place for discussing the theological opinions
which he attacked; but of the state of classical opinions an idea may be
formed, by considering some of those circumstances which were recorded
by the ancients respecting their history, and which, until the
appearance of Voltaire, were implicitly believed by modern scholars, and
through them by the people at large.

It was believed that, in ancient times, Mars ravished a virgin, and that
the offspring of the intrigue were no other than Romulus and Remus, both
of whom it was intended to put to death; but they were fortunately saved
by the attentions of a she-wolf and a woodpecker; the wolf giving them
suck, and the woodpecker protecting them from insects. It was, moreover,
believed that Romulus and Remus, when grown up to man's estate,
determined to build a city, and that, being joined by the descendants of
the Trojan warriors, they succeeded in erecting Rome. It was believed
that both brothers came to an untimely end; Remus being murdered, and
Romulus being taken up to heaven by his father, who descended for that
purpose in the midst of a tempest. The great scholars then proceeded to
relate the succession of several other kings; the most remarkable of
whom was Numa, whose only communications with his wife were carried on
in a sacred grove. Another of the sovereigns of Rome was Tullus
Hostilius, who, having offended the clergy, perished from the effects of
their anger; his death being caused by lightning, and preceded by
pestilence. Then again, there was one Servius Tullius, who was also a
king, and whose greatness was prognosticated by the appearance of flames
round his head as he was sleeping in his cradle. After this, it was but
a slight matter that the ordinary laws of mortality should be suspended;
we were, therefore, assured that those ignorant barbarians, the early
Romans, passed two hundred and forty-five years under the government of
only seven kings, all of whom were elected in the prime of life, one of
whom was expelled the city, and three of whom were put to death.

These are a few of the idle stories in which the great scholars took
intense delight, and which, during many centuries, were supposed to form
a necessary part of the annals of the Latin empire. Indeed, so universal
was the credulity, that, until they were destroyed by Voltaire, there
were only four writers who had ventured openly to attack them.
Cluverius, Perizonius, Pouilly, and Beaufort were the names of these
bold innovators; but by none of them was any impression made on the
public mind. The works of Cluverius and Perizonius, being composed in
Latin, were addressed entirely to a class of readers who, infatuated
with a love of antiquity, would listen to nothing that diminished the
reputation of its history. Pouilly and Beaufort wrote in French; both of
them, and especially Beaufort, were men of considerable ability; but
their powers were not versatile enough to enable them to extirpate
prejudices which were so strongly protected, and which had been fostered
by the education of many successive generations.

The service, therefore, rendered by Voltaire in purging history of these
foolish conceits, is, not that he was the first by whom they were
attacked, but that he was the first to attack them with success; and
this because he was also the first who mingled ridicule with argument,
thus not only assailing the system, but also weakening the authority of
those by whom the system was supported. His irony, his wit, his pungent
and telling sarcasms, produced more effect than the gravest arguments
could have done; and there can be no doubt that he was fully justified
in using those great resources with which nature had endowed him, since
by their aid he advanced the interests of truth, and relieved men from
some of their most inveterate prejudices.

It is not, however, to be supposed that ridicule was the only means
employed by Voltaire in effecting this important object. So far from
that, I can say with confidence, after a careful comparison of both
writers, that the most decisive arguments advanced by Niebuhr against
the early history of Rome, had all been anticipated by Voltaire; in
whose works they may be found, by whoever will take the trouble of
reading what this great man has written, instead of ignorantly railing
against him. Without entering into needless detail, it is enough to
mention that, amidst a great variety of very ingenious and very learned
discussion, Niebuhr has put forward several views with which later
critics have been dissatisfied; but that there are three, and only
three, principles which are fundamental to his history, and which it is
impossible to refute. These are:--I. That, on account of the inevitable
intermixture of fable essential to a rude people, no nation can possess
trustworthy details respecting its own origin. II. That even such early
documents as the Romans might have possessed, had been destroyed before
they were incorporated into a regular history. III. That ceremonies
established in honour of certain events alleged to have taken place in
former times, were a proof, not that the events had happened, but that
they were believed to have happened. The whole fabric of the early
history of Rome at once fell to pieces, as soon as these three
principles were applied to it. What, however, is most remarkable, is,
that not only are all three laid down by Voltaire, but their bearing
upon Roman history is distinctly shown. He says that no nation is
acquainted with its own origin; so that all primitive history is
necessarily an invention.[930] He remarks, that since even such
historical works as the Romans once possessed, were all destroyed when
their city was burned, no confidence can be placed in the accounts
which, at a much later period, are given by Livy and other
compilers.[931] And, as innumerable scholars busied themselves in
collecting evidence respecting ceremonies instituted in celebration of
certain events, and then appealed to the evidence in order to prove the
events, Voltaire makes a reflection which now seems very obvious, but
which these learned men had entirely overlooked. He notices, that their
labour is bootless, because the date of the evidence is, with extremely
few exceptions, much later than the date of the event to which it
refers. In such cases, the existence of a festival, or of a monument,
proves, indeed, the belief which men entertain, but by no means proves
the reality of the occurrence concerning which the belief is held.[932]
This simple, but important maxim, is, even in our own days, constantly
lost sight of, while before the eighteenth century it was universally
neglected. Hence it was that historians were able to accumulate fables
which were believed without examination;[933] it being altogether
forgotten, that fables, as Voltaire says, begin to be current in one
generation, are established in the second, become respectable in the
third, while in the fourth generation temples are raised in honour of

  [930] 'C'est l'imagination seule qui a écrit les premières histoires.
        Non seulement chaque peuple inventa son origine, mais il inventa
        aussi l'origine du monde entier.' _Dict. Philos._ article
        _Histoire_, sec. 2, in _[OE]uvres_, vol. xl. p. 195. See also his
        article on Chronology, vol. xxxviii. p. 77, for the application
        of this to the history of Rome, where he says, 'Tite Live n'a
        garde de dire en quelle année Romulus commença son prétendu
        règne.' And at vol. xxxvi. p. 86, 'tous les peuples se sont
        attribués des origines imaginaires; et aucun n'a touché à la

  [931] 'Qu'on fasse attention que la république romaine a été cinq cents
        ans sans historiens; que Tite Live lui-même déplore la perte des
        autres monuments qui périrent presque tous dans l'incendie de
        Rome,' &c. _Dict. Philos._ in _[OE]uvres_, vol. xl. p. 202. At p.
        188, 'ce peuple, si récent en comparaison des nations asiatiques,
        a été cinq cents années sans historiens. Ainsi, il n'est pas
        surprenant que Romulus ait été le fils de Mars, qu'une louve ait
        été sa nourrice, qu'il ait marché avec mille hommes de son
        village de Rome contre vingt-cinq mille combattants du village
        des Sabins.'

  [932] 'Par quel excès de démence, par quel opiniâtreté absurde, tant de
        compilateurs ont-ils voulu prouver dans tant de volumes énormes,
        qu'une fête publique établie en mémoire d'un événement était une
        démonstration de la vérité de cet événement?' _Essai sur les
        M[oe]urs_, in _[OE]uvres_, vol. xv. p. 109. See also the same
        remark applied to monuments, in chap. cxcvii., _[OE]uvres_, vol.
        xviii. pp. 412-414; and again, in vol. xl. pp. 203, 204.

  [933] 'La plupart des histoires out été crues sans examen, et cette
        créance est un préjugé. Fabius Pictor raconte que, plusieurs
        siècles avant lui, une vestale de la ville d'Albe, allant puiser
        de l'eau dans sa cruche, fut violée, qu'elle accoucha de Romulus
        et de Rémus, qu'ils furent nourris par une louve, etc. Le peuple
        romain crut cette fable; il n'examina point si dans ce temps-là
        il y avait des vestales dans le Latium, s'il était vraisemblable
        que la fille d'un roi sortît de son couvent avec sa cruche, s'il
        était probable qu'une louve allaitât deux enfants au lieu de les
        manger; le préjugé s'établit.' _Dict. Philos._ article
        _Préjugés_, in _[OE]uvres_, vol. xli. pp. 488, 489.

  [934] 'Les amateurs du merveilleux disaient: Il faut bien que ces faits
        soient vrais, puisque tant de monuments en sont la preuve. Et
        nous disions: Il faut bien qu'ils soient faux, puisque le
        vulgaire les a crus. Une fable a quelque cours dans une
        génération; elle s'établit dans la seconde; elle devient
        respectable dans la troisième; la quatrième lui élève des
        temples.' _Fragments sur l'Histoire_, article i. in _[OE]uvres_,
        vol. xxvii. pp. 158, 159.

I have been the more particular in stating the immense obligations
history is under to Voltaire, because in England there exists against
him a prejudice, which nothing but ignorance, or something worse than
ignorance, can excuse;[935] and because, taking him on the whole, he is
probably the greatest historian Europe has yet produced. In reference,
however, to the mental habits of the eighteenth century, it is important
to show, that in the same period similar comprehensiveness was being
displayed by other French historians; so that in this case, as in all
others, we shall find that a large share of what is effected, even by
the most eminent men, is due to the character of the age in which they

  [935] In this case, as in many others, ignorance has been fortified by
        bigotry; for, as Lord Campbell truly says of Voltaire, 'since the
        French Revolution, an indiscriminate abuse of this author has
        been in England the test of orthodoxy and loyalty.' _Campbell's
        Chief Justices_, vol. ii. p. 335. Indeed, so extensively has the
        public mind been prejudiced against this great man, that, until a
        very few years ago, when Lord Brougham published a life of him,
        there was no book in the English language containing even a
        tolerable account of one of the most influential writers France
        has produced. This work of Lord Brougham's, though a middling
        performance, is at least an honest one, and, as it harmonizes
        with the general spirit of our time, it has probably had
        considerable weight. In it he says of Voltaire, 'nor can any one
        since the days of Luther be named, to whom the spirit of free
        inquiry, nay, the emancipation of the human mind from spiritual
        tyranny, owes a more lasting debt of gratitude.' _Brougham's Life
        of Voltaire_, p. 132. It is certain, that the better the history
        of the eighteenth century is understood, the more the reputation
        of Voltaire will increase; as was clearly foreseen by a
        celebrated writer nearly a generation ago. In 1831, Lerminier
        wrote these remarkable, and, as the result has proved, prophetic
        words: 'Il est temps de revenir à des sentimens plus respectueux
        pour la mémoire de Voltaire.... Voltaire a fait pour la France ce
        que Leibnitz a fait pour l'Allemagne; pendant trois-quarts de
        siècle il a représenté son pays, puissant à la manière de Luther
        et de Napoléon; il est destiné à survivre à bien des gloires, et
        je plains ceux qui se sont oubliés jusqu'à laisser tomber des
        paroles dédaigneuses sur le génie de cet homme.' _Lerminier_,
        _Philosophie du Droit_, vol. i. p. 199. Compare the glowing
        eulogy in _Longchamp et Wagnière_, _Mémoires sur Voltaire_, vol.
        ii. pp. 388, 389, with the remarks of Saint-Lambert, in _Mém.
        d'Epinay_, vol. i. p. 263.

The vast labours of Voltaire towards reforming the old method of writing
history, were greatly aided by those important works which Montesquieu
put forward during the same period. In 1734,[936] this remarkable man
published what may be truly called the first book in which there can be
found any information concerning the real history of Rome; because it is
also the first in which the affairs of the ancient world are treated in
a large and comprehensive spirit.[937] Fourteen years later, there
appeared, by the same author, the _Spirit of Laws_; a more famous
production, but, as it seems to me, not a greater one. The immense merit
of the _Spirit of Laws_ is, indeed, incontestable, and cannot be
affected by the captious attempts made to diminish it by those minute
critics, who seem to think that when they detect the occasional errors
of a great man, they in some degree reduce him to their own level. It is
not such petty cavilling which can destroy an European reputation; and
the noble work of Montesquieu will long survive all attacks of this
kind, because its large and suggestive generalizations would retain
their value even if the particular facts of which the illustrations
consist were all unfounded.[938] Still, I am inclined to believe, that
in point of original thought it is barely equal to his earlier work,
though it is unquestionably the fruit of much greater reading. Without,
however, instituting a comparison between them, our present object is
merely to consider the contributions they jointly contain towards a
right understanding of history, and the way in which those contributions
are connected with the general spirit of the eighteenth century.

  [936] _Vie de Montesquieu_, p. xiv., prefixed to his works.

  [937] Before Montesquieu, the only two great thinkers who had really
        studied Roman history were Macchiavelli and Vico: but
        Macchiavelli did not attempt any thing approaching the
        generalizations of Montesquieu, and he suffered, moreover, from
        the serious deficiency of being too much occupied with the
        practical utility of his subject. Vico, whose genius was perhaps
        even more vast than that of Montesquieu, can hardly be considered
        his rival; for, though his _Scienza Nova_ contains the most
        profound views on ancient history, they are rather glimpses of
        truth, than a systematic investigation of any one period.

  [938] Which M. Guizot (_Civilisation en France_, vol. iv. p. 36), in
        his remarks on the _Esprit des Lois_, does not take sufficiently
        into consideration. A juster appreciation of Montesquieu will be
        found in _Cousin_, _Hist. de la Philosophie_, part ii. vol. i. p.
        182; and in _Comte_, _Philosophie Positive_, vol. iv. pp.
        243-252, 261. Compare _Charles Comte_, _Traité de Législation_,
        vol. i. p. 125, with _Meyer_, _Esprit des Institutions
        Judiciaires_, vol. i. p. lxi., respecting the vast innovations he

In this point of view, there are, in the works of Montesquieu, two
leading peculiarities. The first is, the complete rejection of those
personal anecdotes, and those trivial details respecting individuals,
which belong to biography, but with which, as Montesquieu clearly saw,
history has no concern. The other peculiarity is, the very remarkable
attempt which he first made to effect an union between the history of
man and those sciences which deal with the external world. As these are
the two great characteristics of the method adopted by Montesquieu, it
will be necessary to give some account of them, before we can understand
the place he really occupies, as one of the founders of the philosophy
of history.

We have already seen that Voltaire had strongly insisted on the
necessity of reforming history, by paying more attention to the history
of the people, and less attention to that of their political and
military rulers. We have also seen, that this great improvement was so
agreeable to the spirit of the time, that it was generally and quickly
adopted, and thus became an indication of those democratic tendencies,
of which it was in reality a result. It is not, therefore, surprising
that Montesquieu should have taken the same course, even before the
movement had been clearly declared; since he, like most great thinkers,
was a representative of the intellectual condition, and a satisfier of
the intellectual wants, of the age in which he lived.

But, what constitutes the peculiarity of Montesquieu in this matter, is,
that with him a contempt for those details respecting courts, ministers,
and princes, in which ordinary compilers take great delight, was
accompanied by an equal contempt for other details which are really
interesting, because they concern the mental habits of the few truly
eminent men who, from time to time, have appeared on the stage of public
life. This was because Montesquieu perceived that, though these things
are very interesting, they are also very unimportant. He knew, what no
historian before him had even suspected, that in the great march of
human affairs, individual peculiarities count for nothing; and that,
therefore, the historian has no business with them, but should leave
them to the biographer, to whose province they properly belong. The
consequence is, that not only does he treat the most powerful princes
with such disregard as to relate the reigns of six emperors in two
lines,[939] but he constantly enforces the necessity, even in the case
of eminent men, of subordinating their special influence to the more
general influence of the surrounding society. Thus, many writers had
ascribed the ruin of the Roman Republic to the ambition of Cæsar and
Pompey, and particularly to the deep schemes of Cæsar. This, Montesquieu
totally denies. According to his view of history, no great alteration
can be effected, except by virtue of a long train of antecedents, where
alone we are to seek the cause of what to a superficial eye is the work
of individuals. The republic, therefore, was overthrown, not by Cæsar
and Pompey, but by that state of things which made the success of Cæsar
and Pompey possible.[940] It is thus that the events which ordinary
historians relate are utterly valueless. Such events, instead of being
causes, are merely the occasions on which the real causes act.[941] They
may be called the accidents of history; and they must be treated as
subservient to those vast and comprehensive conditions, by which alone
the rise and fall of nations are ultimately governed.[942]

  [939] He says of the emperor Maximin, 'il fut tué avec son fils par ses
        soldats. Les deux premiers Gordiens périrent en Afrique. Maxime,
        Balbin, et le troisième Gordien furent massacrés.' _Grandeur et
        Décadence des Romains_, chap. xvi., in _[OE]uvres de
        Montesquieu_, p. 167.

  [940] _Ibid._ chap. xi., in _[OE]uvres de Montesquieu_, pp. 149-153.
        Compare a similar remark, respecting Charles XII., in _Esprit des
        Lois_, livre x. chap. xiii. _[OE]uvres_, p. 260.

  [941] On the difference between cause and occasion, see _Grandeur et
        Décad._ chap. i. p. 126.

  [942] 'Il y a des causes générales, soit morales, soit physiques, qui
        agissent dans chaque monarchie, l'élèvent, la maintiennent, ou la
        précipitent; tous les accidents sont soumis à ces causes; et si
        le hasard d'une bataille, c'est-à-dire une cause particulière, a
        ruiné un état, il y avoit une cause générale qui faisoit que cet
        état devoit périr par une seule bataille. En un mot, l'allure
        principale entraîne avec elle tous les accidente particuliers.'
        _Grand. et Décad. des Romains_, chap. xviii. p. 172.

This, then, was the first great merit of Montesquieu, that he effected a
complete separation between biography and history, and taught historians
to study, not the pecularities of individual character, but the general
aspect of the society in which the peculiarities appeared. If this
remarkable man had accomplished nothing further, he would have rendered
an incalculable service to history, by pointing out how one of its most
fertile sources of error might be safely removed. And although,
unhappily, we have not yet reaped the full benefit of his example, this
is because his successors have really had the capacity of rising to so
high a generalization: it is, however, certain, that since his time, an
approximation towards such elevated views may be noticed, even among
those inferior writers who, for want of sufficient grasp, are unable to
adopt them to their full extent.

In addition to this, Montesquieu made another great advance in the
method of treating history. He was the first who, in an inquiry into the
relations between the social conditions of a country and its
jurisprudence, called in the aid of physical knowledge, in order to
ascertain how the character of any given civilization is modified by the
action of the external world. In his work on the _Spirit of Laws_, he
studies the way in which both the civil and political legislation of a
people are naturally connected with their climate, soil, and food.[943]
It is true, that in this vast enterprise he almost entirely failed; but
this was because meteorology, chemistry, and physiology, were still too
backward to admit of such an undertaking. This, however, affects the
value only of his conclusions, not of his method; and here, as
elsewhere, we see the great thinker tracing the outline of a plan,
which, in the then state of knowledge, it was impossible to fill up, and
the completion of which he was obliged to leave to the riper experience
and more powerful resources of a later age. Thus to anticipate the march
of the human intellect, and, as it were, forestal its subsequent
acquisitions, is the peculiar prerogative of minds of the highest order;
and it is this which gives to the writings of Montesquieu a certain
fragmentary and provisional appearance, which was the necessary
consequence of a profoundly speculative genius dealing with materials
that were intractable, simply because science had not yet reduced them
to order by generalizing the laws of their phenomena. Hence it is, that
many of the inferences drawn by Montesquieu are untenable; such, for
instance, as those regarding the effect of diet in stimulating
population by increasing the fecundity of women,[944] and the effect of
climate in altering the proportion between the births of the sexes.[945]
In other cases, an increased acquaintance with barbarous nations has
sufficed to correct his conclusions, particularly those concerning the
effect which he supposed climate to produce on individual character; for
we have now the most decisive evidence, that he was wrong in
asserting[946] that hot climates make people unchaste and cowardly,
while cold climates make them virtuous and brave.

  [943] _De l'Esprit des Lois_, books xiv. to xviii. inclusive; in
        _[OE]uvres_, pp. 300-336.

  [944] _Ibid._ livre xxiii. chap. xiii. p. 395. Compare _Burdach_,
        _Traité de Physiologie_, vol. ii. p. 116.

  [945] _Ibid._ livre xvi. chap. iv., and livre xxiii. chap. xii.
        pp. 317, 395.

  [946] _Ibid._ livre xiv. chap. ii., livre xvii. chap. ii., and

These, indeed, are comparatively trifling objections, because, in all
the highest branches of knowledge, the main difficulty is, not to
discover facts, but to discover the true method according to which the
laws of the facts may be ascertained.[947] In this, Montesquieu
performed a double service, since he not only enriched history, but also
strengthened its foundation. He enriched history by incorporating with
it physical inquiries; and he strengthened history by separating it from
biography, and thus freeing it from details which are always
unimportant, and often unauthentic. And although he committed the error
of studying the influence of nature over men considered as
individuals,[948] rather than over men considered as an aggregate
society, this arose principally from the fact that, in his time, the
resources necessary for the more complicated study had not yet been
created. Those resources, as I have shown, are political economy and
statistics; political economy supplying the means of connecting the laws
of physical agents with the laws of the inequality of wealth, and,
therefore, with a great variety of social disturbances; while statistics
enable us to verify those laws in their widest extent, and to prove how
completely the volition of individual men is controlled by their
antecedents, and by the circumstances in which they are placed. It was,
therefore, not only natural, but inevitable, that Montesquieu should
fail in his magnificent attempt to unite the laws of the human mind with
the laws of external nature. He failed, partly because the sciences of
external nature were too backward, and partly because those other
branches of knowledge which connect nature with men were still unformed.
For, as to political economy, it had no existence as a science until the
publication of the _Wealth of Nations_ in 1776, twenty-one years after
the death of Montesquieu. As to statistics, their philosophy is a still
more recent creation, since it is only during the last thirty years
that they have been systematically applied to social phenomena; the
earlier statisticians being merely a body of industrious collectors,
groping in the dark, bringing together facts of every kind without
selection or method, and whose labours were consequently unavailable for
those important purposes to which they have been successfully applied
during the present generation.

  [947] On the supreme importance of method, see my defence of Bichat in
        the next chapter.

  [948] How completely futile this was, as regards results, is evident
        from the fact, that a hundred years after he wrote, we, with all
        our increased knowledge, can affirm nothing positively respecting
        the direct action of climate, food, and soil, in modifying
        individual character; though it has, I trust, appeared in the
        second chapter of this Introduction, that something can be
        ascertained respecting their indirect action, that is, their
        action on individual minds through the medium of social and
        economical organisation.

Only two years after the publication of the _Spirit of Laws_, Turgot
delivered those celebrated lectures, of which it has been said, that in
them he created the philosophy of history.[949] This praise is somewhat
exaggerated; for in the most important matters relating to the
philosophy of his subject, he takes the same view as Montesquieu; and
Montesquieu, besides preceding him in point of time, was his superior
certainly in learning, perhaps in genius. Still, the merit of Turgot is
immense; and he belongs to that extremely small class of men who have
looked at history comprehensively, and have recognized the almost
boundless knowledge needed for its investigation. In this respect, his
method is identical with that of Montesquieu, since both of these great
men excluded from their scheme the personal details which ordinary
historians accumulate, and concentrated their attention upon those large
general causes, by the operation of which the destinies of nations are
permanently affected. Turgot clearly perceived, that, notwithstanding
the variety of events produced by the play of human passions, there is
amid this apparent confusion a principle of order, and a regularity of
march, not to be mistaken by those whose grasp is firm enough to seize
the history of man as a complete and single whole.[950] It is true that
Turgot, subsequently engaged in political life, never possessed
sufficient leisure to fill up the splendid outline of what he so
successfully sketched: but though in the execution of his plan he fell
short of Montesquieu, still the analogy between the two men is obvious,
as also is their relation to the age in which they lived. They, as well
as Voltaire, were the unconscious advocates of the democratic movement,
inasmuch as they discountenanced the homage which historians had
formerly paid to individuals, and rescued history from being a mere
recital of the deeds of political and ecclesiastical rulers. At the same
time, Turgot, by the captivating prospects which he held out of future
progress,[951] and by the picture which he drew of the capacity of
society to improve itself, increased the impatience which his countrymen
were beginning to feel against that despotic government, in whose
presence amelioration seemed to be hopeless. These, and similar
speculations, which now for the first time appeared in French
literature, stimulated the activity of the intellectual classes, cheered
them under the persecutions to which they were exposed, and emboldened
them to the arduous enterprise of leading on the people to attack the
institutions of their native land. Thus it was, that in France every
thing tended to the same result. Every thing indicated the approach of
some sharp and terrible struggle, in which the spirit of the present
should war with the spirit of the past; and in which it should be
finally settled, whether the people of France could free themselves from
the chains in which they had long been held, or whether, missing their
aim, they were doomed to sink still lower in that ignominious vassalage,
which makes even the most splendid periods of their political history a
warning and a lesson to the civilized world.

  [949] 'Il a créé en 1750 la philosophie de l'histoire dans ses deux
        discours prononcés en Sorbonne.' _Cousin_, _Hist. de la
        Philosophie_, I. série, vol. i. p. 147. There is a short notice
        of these striking productions in _Condorcet_, _Vie de Turgot_,
        pp. 11-16.

  [950] Nothing can be better than his summary of this vast conception:
        'Tous les ages sont enchaînés par une suite de causes et d'effets
        qui lient l'état du monde à tous ceux qui l'ont précédé.' _Second
        Discours en Sorbonne_, in _[OE]uvres de Turgot_, vol. ii. p. 52.
        Every thing Turgot wrote on history is a development of this
        pregnant sentence. That he understood the necessity of an
        historian being acquainted with physical science, and with the
        laws of the configuration of the earth, climate, soil, and the
        like, is evident in his fragment, _La Géographie Politique_, in
        _[OE]uvres_, vol. ii. pp. 166-208. It is no slight proof of his
        political sagacity, that in 1750 he distinctly foretold the
        freedom of the American colonies. Compare _[OE]uvres de Turgot_,
        vol. ii. p. 66, with _Mém. sur Turgot_, vol. i. p. 139.

  [951] A confidence which is apparent in his economical as well as in his
        historical works. In 1811, Sir James Mackintosh writes, that
        Turgot 'had more comprehensive views of the progress of society
        than any man since Bacon:' _Mem. of Mackintosh_, vol. ii. p. 133;
        and see a similar remark by Dugald Stewart, in his _Philos. of
        the Mind_, vol. i. p. 246.

                              CHAPTER VII.

                           EIGHTEENTH CENTURY.

In the last chapter but one, I have attempted to ascertain what those
circumstances were which, almost immediately after the death of Louis
XIV., prepared the way for the French Revolution. The result of the
inquiry has been, that the French intellect was stimulated into activity
by the examples and teachings of England; and that this stimulus caused,
or at all events encouraged, a great breach between the government of
France and its literature;--a breach the more remarkable, because during
the reign of Louis XIV. the literature, notwithstanding its temporary
brilliancy, had been invariably submissive, and had intimately allied
itself with the government, which was always ready to reward its
services. We have also seen that, this rupture having arisen between the
governing classes and the intellectual classes, it followed, that the
former, true to their ancient instincts, began to chastise that spirit
of inquiry to which they were unaccustomed: hence those persecutions
which, with hardly a single exception, were directed against every man
of letters, and hence too those systematic attempts to reduce literature
to a subserviency similar to that in which it had been held under Louis
XIV. It has, moreover, appeared, that the great Frenchmen of the
eighteenth century, though smarting from the injuries constantly
inflicted on them by the government and the church, abstained from
attacking the government, but directed all their hostility against the
church. This apparent anomaly, of the religious institutions being
assailed, and the political institutions being spared, has been shown to
be a perfectly natural circumstance, arising out of the antecedents of
the French nation; and an attempt has been made to explain what those
antecedents were, and how they acted. In the present chapter, I purpose
to complete this inquiry by examining the next great stage in the
history of the French mind. It was needful that, before both church and
state could fall, men should change the ground of their hostility, and
should attack political abuses with the zeal they had hitherto reserved
for religious ones. The question, therefore, now arises, as to the
circumstances under which this change took place, and the period when it
actually occurred.

The circumstances which accompanied this great change are, as we shall
presently see, very complicated; and, as they have never yet been
studied in connexion with each other, I shall, in the remaining part of
this volume, examine them at considerable length. On this point it will,
I think, be practicable to arrive at some precise and well-defined
results respecting the history of the French Revolution. But the other
point, namely, the time at which the change took place, is not only much
more obscure, but by its nature will never admit of complete precision.
This, however, is a deficiency it possesses in common with every other
change in the history of man. The circumstances of each change may
always be known, provided the evidence is ample and authentic. But no
amount of evidence can enable us to fix the date of the change itself.
That to which attention is usually drawn by the compilers of history is,
not the change, but is merely the external result which follows the
change. The real history of the human race is the history of tendencies
which are perceived by the mind, and not of events which are discerned
by the senses. It is on this account that no historical epoch will ever
admit of that chronological precision familiar to antiquaries and
genealogists. The death of a prince, the loss of a battle, and the
change of a dynasty, are matters which fall entirely within the province
of the senses; and the moment in which they happen can be recorded by
the most ordinary observers. But those great intellectual revolutions
upon which all other revolutions are based, cannot be measured by so
simple a standard. To trace the movements of the human mind, it is
necessary to contemplate it under several aspects, and then coördinate
the results of what we have separately studied. By this means we arrive
at certain general conclusions, which, like the ordinary estimate of
averages, increase in value in proportion as we increase the number of
instances from which they are collected. That this is a safe and
available method, appears not only from the history of physical
knowledge,[952] but also from the fact, that it is the basis of the
empirical maxims by which all men of sound understanding are guided in
those ordinary transactions of life to which the generalizations of
science have not yet been applied. Indeed such maxims, which are highly
valuable, and which in their aggregate form what is called common sense,
are never collected with any thing like the precautions that the
philosophic historian ought to feel himself bound to employ.

  [952] For a popular but able view of the value of averages in scientific
        inquiries, see _Herschel's Disc. on Nat. Philos._ pp. 215-219.

The real objection, therefore, to generalizations respecting the
development of the intellect of a nation is, not that they want
certainty, but that they lack precision. This is just the point at which
the historian diverges from the annalist. That the English intellect,
for example, is gradually becoming more democratic, or, as it is termed,
more liberal, is as certain as that the crown of this country is worn by
Queen Victoria. But though both these statements are equally certain,
the latter statement is more precise. We can tell the very day on which
the Queen ascended the throne; the moment of her death will be known
with equal precision; and there can be no doubt that many other
particulars respecting her will be minutely and accurately preserved. In
tracing, however, the growth of English liberalism, all such exactness
deserts us. We can point out the year in which the Reform Bill was
passed; but who can point out the year in which the Reform Bill first
became necessary? In the same way, that the Jews will be admitted into
parliament, is as certain as that the Catholics have been admitted. Both
these measures are the inevitable result of that increasing indifference
to theological disputes, which must now be obvious to every man who does
not wilfully shut his eyes. But while we know the hour in which the bill
for Catholic emancipation received the assent of the crown, there is no
one now living who can tell even the year in which similar justice will
be granted to the Jews. Both events are equally certain, but both events
are not equally precise.

This distinction between certainty and precision I have stated at some
length, because it seems to be little understood,[953] and because it is
intimately connected with the subject now before us. The fact of the
French intellect having, during the eighteenth century, passed through
two totally distinct epochs, can be proved by every description of
evidence; but it is impossible to ascertain the precise time when one
epoch succeeded the other. All that we can do is, to compare the
different indications which the history of that age presents, and arrive
at an approximation which may guide future inquirers. It would perhaps
be more prudent to avoid making any particular statement; but as the
employment of dates seems necessary to bring such matters clearly before
the mind, I will, by way of provisional hypothesis, fix on the year
1750, as the period when those agitations of society which caused the
French Revolution entered into their second and political stage.

  [953] As we see in the pretensions set forth by mathematicians, who
        often suppose that an amount of certainty can be attained in
        their own pursuits not to be found in any other. This error has
        probably arisen, as Locke suggests, from confusing clearness with
        certainty. _Essay on Human Understanding_, book iv. chap. ii.
        secs. 9 and 10, in _Works_, vol. ii. pp. 73, 74. See also
        _Comte_, _Philos. Pos._ vol. i. p. 103, where it is justly
        observed, that all branches of knowledge capable of being
        generalized into sciences admit of equal certainty, but not of
        equal precision: 'si d'après l'explication précédente, les
        diverses sciences doivent nécessairement présenter une précision
        très-inégale, il n'en est nullement ainsi de leur certitude.'
        This is handled unsatisfactorily by Montucla (_Hist. des
        Mathémat._ vol. i. p. 33), who says, that the principal cause of
        the peculiar certainty reached by the mathematician is, that
        'd'une idée claire il ne déduit que des conséquences claires et
        incontestables.' Similarly, Cudworth (_Intellect. System_, vol.
        iii. p. 377): 'nay the very essence of truth here is this clear
        perceptibility, or intelligibility.' On the other hand, Kant, a
        far deeper thinker, avoided this confusion, by making
        mathematical clearness the mark of a _kind_ of certainty rather
        than of a _degree_ of it: 'Die mathematische Gewissheit heisst
        auch Evidenz, weil ein intuitives Erkenntniss klarer ist, als ein
        discursives. Obgleich also beides, das mathematische und das
        philosophische Vernunfterkenntniss an sich gleich gewiss ist, so
        ist doch die Art der Gewissheit in beiden verschieden.' _Logik_,
        _Einleitung_, sec. 9, in _Kant's Werke_, vol. i. p. 399. On the
        opinions of the ancients respecting certainty, compare _Matter_,
        _Hist. de l'Ecole d'Alexandrie_, vol. i. p. 195, with _Ritter's
        Hist. of Ancient Philos._ vol. ii. p. 46, vol. iii. pp. 74, 426,
        427, 484, 614.

That this was about the period when the great movement, hitherto
directed against the church, began to be turned against the state, is an
inference which many circumstances seem to warrant. We know on the best
authority, that towards the year 1750, the French began their celebrated
inquiries respecting political economy,[954] and that, in their attempt
to raise it to a science, they were led to perceive the immense injury
which the interference of government had produced on the material
interests of the country.[955] Hence a conviction arose that, even in
regard to the accumulation of wealth, the authority possessed by the
rulers of France was mischievous, since it enabled them, under the
notion of protecting commerce, to trouble the freedom of individual
action, and to prevent trade from running into those profitable channels
which traders are best able to select for themselves. Scarcely had a
knowledge of this important truth been diffused, when its consequences
were quickly seen in the national literature, and in the habits of
national thought. The sudden increase in France of works relating to
finance and to other questions of government, is, indeed, one of the
most remarkable features of that age. With such rapidity did the
movement spread, that we are told that, soon after 1755, the economists
effected a schism between the nation and the government;[956] and
Voltaire, writing in 1759, complains that the charms of lighter
literature were entirely neglected amidst the general zeal for these new
studies.[957] It is not necessary to follow the subsequent history of
this great change; nor need I trace the influence exercised shortly
before the Revolution by the later economists, and particularly by
Turgot, the most eminent of their leaders.[958] It is enough to say,
that within about twenty years after the movement was first clearly
seen, the taste for economical and financial inquiries became so common,
that it penetrated those parts of society where habits of thought are
not very frequent; since we find that, even in fashionable life, the
conversation no longer turned upon new poems and new plays, but upon
political questions, and subjects immediately connected with them.[959]
Indeed, when Necker, in 1781, published his celebrated Report on the
Finances of France, the eagerness to obtain it was beyond all bounds;
six thousand copies were sold the first day; and the demand still
increasing, two presses were kept constantly at work in order to satisfy
the universal curiosity.[960] And what makes the democratic tendency of
all this the more obvious is, that Necker was at that time one of the
servants of the crown; so that his work, looking at its general spirit,
has been truly called an appeal to the people against the king by one of
the ministers of the king himself.[961]

  [954] 'Vers 1750, deux hommes de génie, observateurs judicieux et
        profonds, conduits par une force d'attention très-soutenue à une
        logique rigoureuse, animés d'un noble amour pour la patrie et
        pour l'humanité, M. Quesnay et M. de Gournay, s'occupèrent avec
        suite de savoir si la nature des choses n'indiquerait pas une
        science de l'économie politique, et quels seraient les principes
        de cette science.' _Additions aux [OE]uvres de Turgot_, vol. iii.
        p. 310. M. Blanqui (_Hist. de l'Economie Politique_, vol. ii. p.
        78) also says, 'vers l'année 1750;' and Voltaire (_Dict. Philos._
        article _Blé_, in _[OE]uvres_, vol. xxxvii. p. 384) says, 'vers
        l'an 1750, la nation, rassasiée de vers, de tragédies, de
        comédies, d'opéra, de romans, d'histoires romanesques, de
        réflexions morales plus romanesques encore, et de disputes
        théologiques sur la grâce et sur les convulsions, se mit enfin a
        raisonner sur les blés.'

  [955] The revolutionary tendency of this economical movement is noticed
        in _Alison's Europe_, vol. i. pp. 184, 185; where, however, its
        commencement is erroneously assigned to 'about the year 1761.'
        See also, on the hostility this caused against government, _Mém.
        de Campan_, vol. i. pp. 7, 8; _Mem. of Mallet du Pan_, vol. i. p.
        32; and _Barruel_, _Hist. du Jacobinisme_, vol. i. p. 193,
        vol. ii. p. 152.

  [956] 'D'ailleurs la nation s'étoit accoutumée à se séparer toujours de
        plus en plus de son gouvernement, en raison même de ce que ses
        écrivains avoient commencé à aborder les études politiques.
        C'étoit l'époque où la secte des économistes se donnoit le plus
        de mouvement, depuis que le marquis de Mirabeau avoit publié, en
        1755, son _Ami des Hommes_.' _Sismondi_, _Hist. des Franç._ vol.
        xxix. p. 269. Compare _Tocqueville_, _Règne de Louis XV_, vol.
        ii. p. 58. In this same year, 1755, Goldsmith was in Paris, and
        was so struck by the progress of insubordination, that he
        foretold the freedom of the people; though I need hardly say that
        he was not a man to understand the movement of the economists.
        _Prior's Life of Goldsmith_, vol. i. pp. 198, 199; _Forster's
        Life of Goldsmith_, vol. i. p. 66.

  [957] In February 1759, he writes to Madame du Boccage: 'Il me paraît
        que les grâces et le bon goût sont bannis de France, et ont cédé
        la place à la métaphysique embrouillée, à la politique des
        cerveaux creux, à des discussions énormes sur les finances, sur
        le commerce, sur la population, qui ne mettront jamais dans
        l'état ni un écu, ni un homme de plus.' _[OE]uvres de Voltaire_,
        vol. lx. p. 485. In 1763 (vol. lxiii. p. 204): 'Adieu, nos beaux
        arts, si les choses continuent comme elles sont. La rage des
        remontrances et des projets sur les finances a saisi la nation.'
        Many of the ablest men being thus drawn off from mere literary
        pursuits, there began, about twenty years before the Revolution,
        a marked deterioration in style, particularly among prose
        writers. Compare _Lettres de Dudeffand à Walpole_, vol. ii. p.
        358, vol. iii. pp. 163, 299; _Mém. de Genlis_, vol. ii. p. 374,
        vol. v. p. 123, vol. viii. pp. 180, 275; _Mercier sur Rousseau_,
        vol. ii. p. 151.

  [958] Georgel, who hated Turgot, says of him: 'son cabinet et ses
        bureaux se transformèrent en ateliers où les économistes
        forgeoient leur système et leurs spéculations.' _Mém. de
        Georgel_, vol. i. p. 406: see also _Blanqui_, _Hist. de l'Écon.
        Politique_, vol. ii. pp. 96-112; _Condorcet_, _Vie de Turgot_,
        pp. 32-35; _Twiss_, _Progress of Political Econ._ pp. 142 seq.

  [959] Sismondi, under the year 1774, notices 'les écrits innombrables
        que chaque jour voyoit éclore sur la politique, et qui avoient
        désormais remplacé dans l'intérêt des salons ces nouveautés
        littéraires, ces vers, ces anecdotes galantes, dont peu d'années
        auparavant le public étoit uniquement occupé.' _Hist. des
        Français_, vol. xxix. p. 495; and a similar remark in
        _Schlosser's Eighteenth Century_, vol. ii. p. 126.

  [960] See the account, written in Feb. 1781, in _Grimm_, _Corr. Lit._
        vol. xi. 260, where it is said of Necker's _Compte Rendu_, 'La
        sensation qu'a faite cet ouvrage est, je crois, sans exemple; il
        s'en est débité plus de six mille exemplaires le jour même qu'il
        a paru, et depuis, le travail continuel de deux imprimeries n'a
        pu suffire encore aux demandes multipliées de la capitale, des
        provinces, et des pays étrangers.' Ségur (_Souvenirs_, vol. i. p.
        138) mentions, that Necker's work was 'dans la poche de tous les
        abbés, et sur la toilette de toutes les dames.' The daughter of
        Necker, Madame de Staël, says of her father's work,
        _Administration des Finances_, 'on en vendit quatre-vingt mille
        exemplaires.' _De Staël sur la Révolution_, vol. i. p. 111.

  [961] The expression of the Baron de Montyon: see _Adolphus's History of
        George III._ vol. iv. p. 290; and on the revolutionary tendency
        of Necker's financial works, _Soulavie_, _Règne de Louis XVI_,
        vol. ii. pp. xxxvii. xxxviii., vol. iv. pp. 18, 143. Necker
        published a justification of his book, 'malgré la défense du
        roi.' _Du Mesnil_, _Mém. sur Le Brun_, p. 108.

This evidence of the remarkable change which, in or about 1750, the
French mind underwent, and which formed what I term the second epoch of
the eighteenth century, might be easily strengthened by a wider survey
of the literature of that time. Immediately after the middle of the
century, Rousseau published those eloquent works, which exercised
immense influence, and in which the rise of the new epoch is very
observable; for this most powerful writer abstained from those attacks
on Christianity,[962] which unhappily had been too frequent, and exerted
himself almost exclusively against the civil and political abuses of the
existing society.[963] To trace the effects which this wonderful, but in
some instances misguided, man produced on the mind of his own and of the
succeeding generation, would occupy too large a share of this
Introduction; though the inquiry is full of interest, and is one which
it were to be wished some competent historian would undertake.[964]
Inasmuch, however, as the philosophy of Rousseau was itself only a
single phase of a far larger movement, I shall at present pass over the
individual, in order to consider the general spirit of an age in which
he played a vast, but still a subsidiary part.

  [962] So far as I remember, there is not a single instance in any of
        his works; and those who assail him on this ground should adduce
        the passages on which they rely, instead of bringing vague
        general charges. Compare _Life of Rousseau_, in _Brougham's Men
        of Letters_, vol. i. p. 189; _Stäudlin_, _Gesch. der theolog.
        Wissenschaften_, vol. ii. p. 442; _Mercier sur Rousseau_, 1791,
        vol. i. pp. 27-32, vol. ii. pp. 279, 280.

  [963] 'Rousseau, qui déjà en 1753 avoit touché aux bases mêmes de la
        société humaine, dans son _Discours sur l'origine de l'inégalité
        parmi les hommes_.' _Sismondi_, vol. xxix. p. 270. Schlosser
        (_Hist. of the Eighteenth Century_, vol. i. p. 138) notices 'the
        entirely new system of absolute democracy which was brought
        forward by J. J. Rousseau;' see also p. 289, and _Soulavie_,
        _Règne de Louis XVI_, vol. v. p. 208.

  [964] Napoleon said to Stanislas Girardin respecting Rousseau, 'sans lui
        la France n'auroit pas eu de révolution.' _Holland's Foreign
        Reminiscences_, Lond. 1850, p. 261. This is certainly an
        exaggeration; but the influence of Rousseau was, during the
        latter half of the eighteenth century, most extraordinary. In
        1765, Hume writes from Paris: 'It is impossible to express or
        imagine the enthusiasm of this nation in his favour; ... no
        person ever so much engaged their attention as Rousseau. Voltaire
        and every body else are quite eclipsed by him.' _Burton's Life of
        Hume_, vol. ii. p. 299. A letter written in 1754 (in _Grimm_,
        _Correspond._ vol. i. p. 122) says that his Dijon Discourse 'fit
        une espèce de révolution à Paris.' The circulation of his works
        was unprecedented; and when _La Nouvelle Héloïse_ appeared, 'les
        libraires ne pouvaient suffire aux demandes de toutes les
        classes. On louait l'ouvrage à tant par jour, ou par heure. Quand
        il parut, on exigeait douze sous par volume, en n'accordant que
        soixante minutes pour le lire.' _Musset Pathay_, _Vie de
        Rousseau_, vol. ii. p. 361. For further evidence of the effect
        produced by his works, see _Lerminier_, _Philos. du Droit_, vol.
        ii. p. 251; _Mém. de Roland_, vol. i. p. 196, vol. ii. pp. 337,
        359; _Mém. de Genlis_, vol. v. p. 193, vol. vi. p. 14; _Alison's
        Europe_, vol. i. p. 170, vol. iii. p. 369, vol. iv. p. 376; _Mém.
        de Morellet_, vol. i. p. 116; _Longchamp_, _Mém. sur Voltaire_,
        vol. ii. p. 50; _Life of Romilly_, vol. i. p. 267; _Mem. of
        Mallet du Pan_, vol. i. p. 127; _Burke's Works_, vol. i. p. 482;
        _Cassagnac_, _Causes de la Rév._ vol. iii. p. 549; _Lamartine_,
        _Hist. des Girondins_, vol. ii. p. 38, vol. iv. p. 93, vol. viii.
        p. 125; _Wahrheit und Dichtung_, in _Göthe's Werke_, Stuttgart,
        1837, vol. ii. part ii. pp. 83, 104; _Grimm_, _Correspond. Lit._
        vol. xii. p. 222; _De Staël_, _Consid. sur la Rév._ vol. ii. p.

The formation of a new epoch in France, about the year 1750, may be
further illustrated by three circumstances of considerable interest, all
pointing in the same direction. The first circumstance is, that not a
single great French writer attacked the political institutions of the
country before the middle of the century; while, after that period, the
attacks of the ablest men were incessant. The second circumstance is,
that the only eminent Frenchmen who continued to assail the clergy, and
yet refused to interfere in politics, were those who, like Voltaire,
had already reached an advanced age, and had, therefore, drawn their
ideas from the preceding generation, in which the church had been the
sole object of hostility. The third circumstance, which is even more
striking than the other two, is, that almost at the same moment there
was seen a change in the policy of the government; since, singularly
enough, the ministers of the crown displayed for the first time an open
enmity against the church, just as the intellect of the country was
preparing for its decisive onslaught on the government itself. Of these
three propositions, the first two will probably be admitted by every
student of French literature: at all events, if they are false, they are
so exact and peremptory, that it will be easy to refute them by giving
examples to the contrary. But the third proposition, being more general,
is less susceptible of a negative, and will therefore require the
support of that special evidence which I will now adduce.

The great French writers having by the middle of the eighteenth century
succeeded in sapping the foundations of the church, it was natural that
the government should step in and plunder an establishment which the
course of events had weakened. This, which took place in France under
Louis XV., was similar to what occurred in England under Henry VIII.;
for in both cases a remarkable intellectual movement, directed against
the clergy, preceded and facilitated the attacks made on them by the
crown. It was in 1749 that the French government took the first decisive
step against the church. And what proves the hitherto backward state of
the country in such matters is, that this consisted of an edict against
mortmain, a simple contrivance for weakening the ecclesiastical power,
which we in England had adopted long before. Machault, who had recently
been raised to the office of controller-general, has the glory of being
the originator of this new policy. In August 1749,[965] he issued that
celebrated edict which forbade the formation of any religious
establishment without the consent of the crown, duly expressed in
letters-patent, and registered in parliament; effective precautions,
which, says the great historian of France, show that Machault
'considered not only the increase, but even the existence of these
ecclesiastical properties, as a mischief to the kingdom.'[966]

  [965] Sismondi (xxix. p. 20), Lacretelle (_XVIII^e Siècle_, vol. ii. p.
        110), and Tocqueville (_Règne de Louis XV_, vol. ii. p. 103),
        give the date 1749; so that 1747, in _Biog. Univ._ vol. xxvi.
        p. 46, is apparently a misprint.

  [966] 'Laissant voir dans toute cette loi, qui est assez longue, qu'il
        regardoit non-seulement l'accroissement, mais l'existence de ces
        propriétés ecclésiastiques, comme un mal pour le royaume.'
        _Sismondi_, _Hist. des Franç._ vol. xxix. p. 21. This, I suppose,
        is the edict mentioned by Turgot, who wished to push the
        principle still further. _[OE]uvres de Turgot_, vol. iii. pp.
        254, 255; a bold and striking passage.

This was an extraordinary step on the part of the French government; but
what followed showed that it was only the beginning of a much larger
design.[967] Machault, so far from being discountenanced, was, the year
after he had issued this edict, intrusted with the seals in addition to
the controllership;[968] for, as Lacretelle observes, the court 'thought
the time had now come to tax the property of the clergy.'[969] During
the forty years which elapsed between this period and the beginning of
the Revolution, the same anti-ecclesiastical policy prevailed. Among the
successors of Machault, the only three of much ability were Choiseul,
Necker, and Turgot, all of whom were strenuous opponents of that
spiritual body, which no minister would have assailed in the preceding
generation. Not only these eminent statesmen, but even such inferior men
as Calonne, Malesherbes, and Terray, looked on it as a stroke of policy
to attack privileges which superstition had consecrated, and which the
clergy had hitherto reserved, partly to extend their own influence, and
partly to minister to those luxurious and profligate habits, which in
the eighteenth century were a scandal to the ecclesiastical order.

  [967] Mably mentions the excitement caused by this proceeding of
        Machault, _Observations sur l'Histoire de France_, vol. ii. p.
        415: 'On attaqua alors, dans plusieurs écrits, les immunités du
        clergé.' On the dislike felt by the clergy against the minister,
        see _Ségur_, _Souvenirs_, vol. i. p. 35; _Soulavie_, _Règne de
        Louis XVI_, vol. i. pp. 283, 310, vol. ii. p. 146.

  [968] In 1750, 'Machault obtint les sceaux en conservant le
        contrôle-général.' _Biog. Univ._ vol. xxvi. p. 46.

  [969] 'Croyait surtout que le temps était venu d'imposer les biens du
        clergé.' _Lacretelle_, _XVIII^e Siècle_, vol. ii. p. 107. Nearly
        the same words are used in _Biog. Univ._ vol. xxvi. p. 46.

While these measures were being adopted against the clergy, another
important step was taken in precisely the same direction. Now it was
that the government began to favour that great doctrine of religious
liberty, the mere defence of which it had hitherto punished as a
dangerous speculation. The connexion between the attacks on the clergy
and the subsequent progress of toleration, may be illustrated, not only
by the rapidity with which one event succeeded the other, but also by
the fact, that both of them emanated from the same quarter. Machault,
who was the author of the edict of mortmain, was also the first minister
who showed a wish to protect the Protestants against the persecutions of
the Catholic priesthood.[970] In this he only partly succeeded; but the
impetus thus given soon became irresistible. In 1760, that is only nine
years later, there was seen a marked change in the administration of the
laws; and the edicts against heresy, though not yet repealed, were
enforced with unprecedented mildness.[971] The movement quickly spread
from the capital to the remoter parts of the kingdom; and we are assured
that, after the year 1762, the reaction was felt even in those
provinces, which, from their backward condition, had always been most
remarkable for religious bigotry.[972] At the same time, as we shall
presently see, a great schism arose in the church itself, which
lessened the power of the clergy, by dividing them into two hostile
parties. Of these factions, one made common cause with the state, still
further aiding the overthrow of the ecclesiastical hierarchy. Indeed,
the dissensions became so violent, that the last great blow dealt to
spiritual ascendency by the government of Louis XVI. proceeded not from
the hands of a layman, but from one of the leaders of the church; a man
who, from his standing, would, under ordinary circumstances, have
protected the interests which he now eagerly attacked. In 1787, only two
years before the Revolution, Brienne, archbishop of Toulouse,[973] who
was then minister, laid before the parliament of Paris a royal edict, by
which the discouragement hitherto thrown upon heresy was suddenly
removed. By this law, the Protestants were invested with all those civil
rights which the Catholic clergy had long held out as the reward of
adherence to their own opinions.[974] It was, therefore, natural that
the more orthodox party should condemn, as an impious innovation,[975] a
measure which, by placing the two sects, in some degree, on the same
footing, seemed to sanction the progress of error; and which certainly
deprived the French church of one of the chief attractions by which men
had hitherto been induced to join her communion. Now, however, all these
considerations were set at nought. Such was the prevailing temper, that
the parliament, though then in a mood very refractory to the royal
authority, did not hesitate to register the edict of the king; and this
great measure became law; the dominant party being astonished, we are
told, how any doubt could be entertained as to the wisdom of the
principles on which it was based.[976]

  [970] On which account, he still further provoked the indignation of the
        Catholic clergy. See _Felice_, _Hist. of the Protest. of France_,
        pp. 401, 402; a letter written in 1751.

  [971] 'The approach of the year 1760 witnessed a sensible relaxation of
        persecution.... The clergy perceived this with dismay; and, in
        their general assembly of 1760, they addressed urgent
        remonstrances to the king against this remission of the laws.'
        _Felice_, _Protest. of France_, p. 422. Comp. an interesting
        letter from Nismes in 1776, in _Thicknesse's Journey through
        France_, London, 1777, vol. i. p. 66.

  [972] Sismondi says of 1762, 'Dès lors, la réaction de l'opinion
        publique contre l'intolérance pénétra jusque dans les provinces
        les plus fanatiques.' _Hist. des Franç._ vol. xxix. p. 296. See
        also a letter to Damilaville, dated 6th of May, 1765, in _Lettres
        inédites de Voltaire_, vol. i. p. 412; and two other letters in
        _[OE]uvres de Voltaire_, vol. lxiv. p. 225, vol. lxvi. p. 417.

  [973] Of whom Hume, several years before, had formed a very high
        opinion. See _Burton's Life of Hume_, vol. ii. p. 497; a too
        favourable judgment, which should be contrasted with the opposite
        exaggerations, in _Mém. de Genlis_, vol. ix. pp. 360-363, and
        _Barruel_, _Hist. du Jacobinisme_, vol. i. pp. 87, 199.

  [974] _Lavallée_, _Hist. des Franç._ iii. 516; _Biog. Univ._ xxiv.
        p. 656.

  [975] _Georgel_, _Mémoires_, vol. ii. pp. 293, 294; a violent outbreak
        against 'l'irréligieux édit ... qui autorise tous les cultes.'

  [976] 'Le parlement de Paris discutait l'édit sur les protestans. Vingt
        ans plus tôt, combien une telle résolution n'eût-elle pas agité
        et divisé les esprits? En 1787, on ne s'étonnait que d'une chose:
        c'était qu'il pût y avoir une discussion sur des principes
        évidens.' _Lacretelle_, _XVIII^e Siècle_, vol. iii. pp. 342, 343.
        In 1776, Malesherbes, who was then minister, wished to secure
        nearly the same privileges for the Protestants, but was prevented
        from doing so. _Dutens_, _Mémoires_, vol. ii. pp. 56-58. Dutens
        was himself concerned in the negotiation.

These were omens of the coming storm; signs of the time, which those who
run may read. Nor are there wanting other marks, by which the true
complexion of that age may be clearly seen. In addition to what has been
just related, the government, soon after the middle of the eighteenth
century, inflicted a direct and fatal injury upon the spiritual
authority. This consisted in the expulsion of the Jesuits; which is an
event, important not only for its ultimate effects, but also as an
evidence of the feelings of men, and of what could be peaceably
accomplished by the government of him who was called 'the most Christian

  [977] Henry II. used to refer to this title, by way of justifying his
        persecution of the Protestants (_Ranke's Civil Wars in France_,
        vol. i. p. 241); and great account was made of it by that
        exemplary prince, Louis XV. _Soulavie_, _Règne de Louis XVI_,
        vol. i. p. 155. The French antiquaries trace it back to Pepin,
        the father of Charlemagne. _Barrington's Observations on the
        Statutes_, p. 168.

The Jesuits, for at least fifty years after their institution, rendered
immense services to civilization, partly by tempering with a secular
element the more superstitious views of their great predecessors, the
Dominicans and Franciscans, and partly by organizing a system of
education far superior to any yet seen in Europe. In no university could
there be found a scheme of instruction so comprehensive as theirs; and
certainly no where was displayed such skill in the management of youth,
or such insight into the general operations of the human mind. It must,
in justice, be added, that this illustrious society, notwithstanding
its eager, and often unprincipled, ambition, was, during a considerable
period, the steady friend of science, as well as of literature; and that
it allowed to its members a freedom and a boldness of speculation which
had never been permitted by any other monastic order.

As, however, civilization advanced, the Jesuits, like every spiritual
hierarchy the world has yet seen, began to lose ground; and this not so
much from their own decay, as from a change in the spirit of those who
surrounded them. An institution admirably adapted to an early form of
society, was ill suited to the same society in its maturer state. In the
sixteenth century, the Jesuits were before their age; in the eighteenth
century, they were behind it. In the sixteenth century, they were the
great missionaries of knowledge; because they believed that, by its aid,
they could subjugate the consciences of men. But, in the eighteenth
century, their materials were more refractory; they had to deal with a
perverse and stiff-necked generation; they saw in every country the
ecclesiastical authority rapidly declining; and they clearly perceived
that their only chance of retaining their old dominion was, by checking
that knowledge, the progress of which they had formerly done much to

  [978] The Prince de Montbarey, who was educated by the Jesuits about
        1740, says, that, in their schools, the greatest attention was
        paid to pupils intended for the church; while the abilities of
        those destined for secular professions were neglected. See this
        statement, which, coming from such a quarter, is very remarkable,
        in _Mémoires de Montbarey_, vol. i. pp. 12, 13. Montbarey, so far
        from being prejudiced against the Jesuits, ascribes the
        Revolution to their overthrow. _Ibid._ vol. iii. p. 94. For other
        evidence of the exclusive and unsecular character of their
        education in the eighteenth century, see _Schlosser's Eighteenth
        Century_, vol. iv. pp. 29, 30, 245.

Under these circumstances, the statesmen of France, almost immediately
after the middle of the eighteenth century, determined to ruin an order
which had long ruled the world, and which was still the greatest bulwark
of the church. In this design they were aided by a curious movement
which had taken place in the church itself, and which, being connected
with views of much wider import, deserves the attention even of those
for whom theological controversies have no interest.

Among the many points on which metaphysicians have wasted their
strength, that of free-will has provoked the hottest disputes. And what
has increased the acerbity of their language, is, that this, which is
eminently a metaphysical question, has been taken up by theologians, who
have treated it with that warmth for which they are remarkable.[979]
From the time of Pelagius, if not earlier,[980] Christianity has been
divided into two great sects, which, though in some respects uniting by
insensible shades, have always preserved the broad features of their
original difference. By one sect, the freedom of the will is virtually,
and often expressly, denied; for it is asserted, not only that we cannot
of our own will effect anything meritorious, but that whatever good we
may do will be useless, since the Deity has predestined some men to
perdition, others to salvation. By the other sect, the freedom of the
will is as strongly upheld; good works are declared essential to
salvation; and the opposite party is accused of exaggerating that state
of grace of which faith is a necessary accompaniment.[981]

  [979] See some singular observations in Parr's first sermon on faith and
        morals (_Parr's Works_, vol. vi. p. 598), where we are told that,
        in the management of the feud between Calvinists and Arminians,
        'the steadiness of defence should be proportionate to the
        impetuosity of assault;' unnecessary advice, so far as his own
        profession is concerned. However, the Mohammedan theologians are
        said to have been even keener than the Christians on the subject.
        See _Troyer's Discourse on the Dabistan_, vol. i. p. cxxxv.; an
        important work on the Asiatic religions.

  [980] Neander (_Hist. of the Church_, vol. iv. p. 105) finds the germ of
        the Pelagian controversy in the dispute between Athanasius and
        Apollinaris. Compare, respecting its origin, a note in _Milman's
        Hist. of Christianity_, 1840, vol. iii. pp. 270, 271.

  [981] No writer I have met with, has stated so fairly and clearly the
        theological boundaries of these doctrines, as Göthe. _Wahrheit
        und Dichtung_, in _Werke_, vol. ii. part ii. p. 200, Stuttgart,

These opposite principles, when pushed to their logical consequences,
must lead the first sect into antinomianism,[982] and the second sect
into the doctrine of supererogatory works.[983] But since on such
subjects, men feel far more than they reason, it usually happens that
they prefer following some common and accredited standard, or appealing
to some ancient name:[984] and they, therefore, generally class
themselves on the one side under Augustin, Calvin, and Jansenius; on the
other side under Pelagius, Arminius, and Molina.

  [982] Compare _Butler's Mem. of the Catholics_, vol. iii. p. 224;
        _Copleston on Necessity and Predestination_, pp. 25, 26;
        _Mosheim's Eccles. History_, vol. ii. p. 254.

  [983] Hence the theory of indulgences, constructed by the Church of Rome
        with perfect consistency, and against which most of the
        Protestant arguments are illogical.

  [984] This seems to be the natural tendency, and has been observed by
        Neander in his instructive account of the Gnostics, _History of
        the Church_, vol. ii. p. 121: 'The custom with such sects to
        attach themselves to some celebrated name or other of antiquity.'

Now, it is an interesting fact, that the doctrines which in England are
called Calvinistic, have been always connected with a democratic spirit;
while those of Arminianism have found most favour among the aristocratic
or protective party. In the republics of Switzerland, of North America,
and of Holland, Calvinism was always the popular creed.[985] On the
other hand, in those evil days, immediately after the death of
Elizabeth, when our liberties were in imminent peril; when the Church of
England, aided by the crown, attempted to subjugate the consciences of
men; and when the monstrous claim of the divine right of episcopacy was
first put forward;[986]--then it was that Arminianism became the
cherished doctrine of the ablest and most ambitious of the
ecclesiastical party.[987] And in that sharp retribution which followed,
the Puritans and Independents, by whom the punishment was inflicted,
were, with scarcely an exception, Calvinists:[988] nor should we forget,
that the first open movement against Charles proceeded from Scotland,
where the principles of Calvin had long been in the ascendant.

  [985] The Dutch church was the first which adopted, as an article of
        faith, the doctrine of election held at Geneva. _Mosheim's
        Eccles. History_, vol. ii. p. 112. See also, on this doctrine in
        the Netherlands, _Sinclair's Corresp._ vol. ii. p. 199;
        _Coventry's Speech in_ 1672, in _Parl. Hist._ vol. iv. p. 537;
        and _Stäudlin_, _Gesch. der theolog. Wissenschaften_, vol. i. p.
        262: 'In den Niederlanden wurde der Calvinische Lehrbegriff
        zuerst in eine scholastische Form gebracht.'

        As to the Calvinism of North America, compare _Bancroft's
        American Revolution_, vol. i. pp. 165, 173, 174, vol. ii. pp.
        329, 363, vol. iii. p. 213; _Lyell's Second Visit to the United
        States_, 1849, vol. i. p. 51; and _Combe's Notes on the United
        States_, vol. i. pp. 35, 99, 223, vol. iii. pp. 88, 118, 210,

  [986] It is sometimes said that this was advocated by Bancroft as early
        as 1588; but this assertion appears to be erroneous, and Mr.
        Hallam can find no instance before the reign of James I. _Const.
        Hist._ vol. i. p. 390. The dogma, though new in the Church of
        England, was of great antiquity. See, on its origin among the
        early Christians, _Klimrath_, _Hist. du Droit_, vol. i. p. 253.

  [987] The spread of Arminianism was frequently noticed in Parliament
        during the reign of Charles I. _Parl. Hist._ vol. ii. pp. 444,
        452, 455, 470, 484, 487, 491, 660, 947, 1368. On the decline of
        Calvinism at the Universities of Oxford and Cambridge early in
        the seventeenth century, see a curious letter from Beale, in
        _Boyle's Works_, vol. v. p. 483; and on this movement in the
        church after Elizabeth, compare _Yonge's Diary_, p. 93, edit.
        Camden Soc. 1848; _Orme's Life of Owen_, p. 32; _Harris's Lives
        of the Stuarts_, vol. i. pp. 154-156, vol. ii. pp. 208, 213, 214;
        _Hutchinson's Mem._ pp. 66, 77; _Hallam's Const. Hist._ vol. i.
        p. 466; _Des Maizeaux's Life of Chillingworth_, p. 112.

  [988] Respecting the Calvinism of the opponents of the king, see
        _Clarendon's Rebellion_, pp. 36, 37; _Bulstrode's Memoirs_, pp.
        8, 9; _Burton's Diary_, vol. iii. p. 206; _Carlyle's Cromwell_,
        vol. i. p. 68; and on its influence in the House of Commons in
        1628, _Carwithen's Hist. of the Church of England_, vol. ii.
        p. 64.

This different tendency of these two creeds is so clearly marked, that
an inquiry into its causes becomes a necessary part of general history,
and as we shall presently see, is intimately connected with the history
of the French Revolution.

The first circumstance by which we must be struck is, that Calvinism is
a doctrine for the poor, and Arminianism for the rich. A creed which
insists upon the necessity of faith, must be less costly than one which
insists upon the necessity of works. In the former case, the sinner
seeks salvation by the strength of his belief; in the latter case, he
seeks it by the fullness of his contributions. And as those
contributions, wherever the clergy have much power, always flow in the
same direction, we find that in countries which favour the Arminian
doctrine of works, the priests are better paid, and the churches more
richly ornamented, than they are where Calvinism has the upper hand.
Indeed it is evident to the most vulgar calculation, that a religion
which concentrates our charity upon ourselves, is less expensive than
one which directs our charity to others.

This is the first great practical divergence of the two creeds: a
divergence which may be verified by any one who is acquainted with the
histories of different Christian nations, or who has even travelled in
countries where the different tenets are professed. It is also
observable, that the Church of Rome, whose worship is addressed mainly
to the senses, and who delights in splendid cathedrals and pompous
ceremonies, has always displayed against the Calvinists an animosity far
greater than she has done against any other Protestant sect.[989]

  [989] M Heber (_Life of Jeremy Taylor_, p. cxx.) says, that Calvinism is
        'a system of all others the least attractive to the feelings of a
        Roman Catholic.' Philip II., the great Catholic champion,
        especially hated the Calvinists, and in one of his edicts called
        their sect 'détestable,' _De Thou_, _Hist._ vol. x. p. 705:
        compare vol. xi. p. 458. To give an earlier instance; when the
        Roman inquisition was revived in 1542, it was ordered that
        heretics, and in particular Calvinists, should not be tolerated:
        'besonders Calvinisten.' _Ranke_, _Die Päpste_, vol. i. p. 211.

Out of these circumstances, inevitably arose the aristocratic tendency
of Arminianism, and the democratic tendency of Calvinism. The people
love pomp and pageantry as much as the nobles do, but they do not love
to pay for them. Their untutored minds are easily captivated by the
array of a numerous priesthood, and by the gorgeousness of a
well-appointed temple. Still, they know full well that these things
absorb a large part of that wealth which would otherwise flow into their
own cottages. On the other hand, the aristocracy, by their standing,
their habits, and the traditions of their education, naturally contract
a taste for expense, which makes them unite splendour with religion, and
connect pomp with piety. Besides this, they have an intuitive and
well-founded belief that their own interests are associated with the
interests of the priesthood, and that whatever weakens the one will
hasten the downfall of the other. Hence it is, that every Christian
democracy has simplified its external worship; every Christian
aristocracy has embellished it. By a parity of reasoning, the more any
society tends to equality, the more likely it is that its theological
opinions will be Calvinistic; while the more a society tends towards
inequality, the greater the probability of those opinions being

It would be easy to push this contrast still further, and to show that
Calvinism is more favourable to the sciences, Arminianism to the
arts;[990] and that, on the same principle, the first is better suited
to thinkers, the other to scholars.[991] But without pretending to trace
the whole of this divergence, it is very important to observe, that the
professors of the former religion are more likely to acquire habits of
independent thinking than those of the latter. And this on two distinct
grounds. In the first place, even the most ordinary of the Calvinistic
party are, by the very terms of their creed, led, in religious matters,
to fix their attention on their own minds rather than on the minds of
others. They, therefore, as a body, are intellectually more narrow than
their opponents, but less servile; their views, though generalized from
a smaller field, are more independent; they are less attached to
antiquity, and more heedless of those traditions to which the Arminian
scholars attach great importance. In the second place, those who
associate metaphysics with their religion are led by Calvinism into the
doctrine of necessity;[992] a theory which, though often misunderstood,
is pregnant with great truths, and is better calculated than any other
system to develop the intellect, because it involves that clear
conception of law, the attainment of which is the highest point the
human understanding can reach.

  [990] By way of illustrating this, I may mention, that an intelligent
        observer, who travelled all through Germany, remarked, in 1780,
        that the Calvinists, though richer than their opponents, had less
        taste for the arts. _Riesbeck's Travels through Germany_, London,
        1787, vol. ii. p. 240. An interesting passage; in which, however,
        the author has shown himself unable to generalize the facts which
        he indicates.

  [991] The Arminians have had among them many men of great learning,
        particularly of patristic learning; but the most profound
        thinkers have been on the other side, as in the instances of
        Augustin, Pascal, and Jonathan Edwards. To these Calvinistic
        metaphysicians the Arminian party can oppose no one of equal
        ability; and it is remarkable, that the Jesuits, by far the most
        zealous Arminians in the Romish Church, have always been
        celebrated for their erudition, but have paid so little attention
        to the study of the mind, that, as Sir James Mackintosh says
        (_Dissert. on Ethical Philos._ p. 185), Buffier is 'the only
        Jesuit whose name has a place in the history of abstract
        philosophy.' And it is interesting to observe, that this
        superiority of thought on the part of the Calvinists, accompanied
        by an inferiority of learning, existed from the beginning; for
        Neander (_History of the Church_, vol. iv. p. 299) remarks, that
        Pelagius 'was not possessed of the profound speculative spirit
        which we find in Augustin,' but that 'in learning he was
        Augustin's superior.'

  [992] 'A philosophical necessity, grounded on the idea of God's
        foreknowledge, has been supported by theologians of the
        Calvinistic school, more or less rigidly, throughout the whole of
        the present century.' _Morell's Speculative Philosophy of
        Europe_, 1846, vol. i. p. 366. Indeed, this tendency is so
        natural, that we find the doctrine of necessity, or something
        extremely like it, laid down by Augustin. See the interesting
        extracts in _Neander's History of the Church_, vol. vi. pp. 424,
        425; where, however, a loophole is left to let in the idea of
        interference, or at all events of superintendence.

These considerations will enable the reader to see the immense
importance of that revival of Jansenism, which took place in the French
church during the eighteenth century. For, Jansenism being essentially
Calvinistic,[993] those tendencies appeared in France by which Calvinism
is marked. There appeared the inquisitive, democratic, and insubordinate
spirit, which has always accompanied that creed. A further confirmation
of the truth of the principles just laid down is, that Jansenism
originated with a native of the Dutch Republic;[994] that it was
introduced into France during the glimpse of freedom which preceded the
power of Louis XIV.;[995] that it was forcibly repressed in his
arbitrary reign;[996] and that before the middle of the eighteenth
century, it again arose, as the natural product of a state of society by
which the French Revolution was brought about.

  [993] 'The five principal tenets of Jansenism, which amount in fact to
        the doctrine of Calvin.' _Palmer on the Church_, vol. i. p. 320;
        and see the remarks of Mackintosh in his _Memoirs_, vol. i. p.
        411. According to the Jesuits, 'Paulus genuit Augustinum,
        Augustinus Calvinum, Calvinus Jansenium, Jansenius Sancryanum,
        Sancryanus Arnaldum et fratres ejus.' _Des Réaux_,
        _Historiettes_, vol. iv. pp. 71, 72. Compare _Huetius de Rebus ad
        eum pertinentibus_, p. 64: 'Jansenium dogmata sua ex Calvinianis
        fontibus derivasse.'

  [994] Jansenius was born in a village near Leerdam, and was educated, if
        I mistake not, in Utrecht.

  [995] The introduction of Jansenism into France is superficially related
        by Duvernet (_Hist. de la Sorbonne_, vol. ii. pp. 170-175); but
        the reader will find a contemporary and highly characteristic
        account in _Mém. de Motteville_, vol. ii. pp. 224-227. The
        connexion between it and the spirit of insubordination was
        remarked at the time; and Des Réaux, who wrote in the middle of
        the seventeenth century, mentions an opinion that the Fronde
        'étoit venue du Jansénisme.' _Historiettes_, vol. iv. p. 72. Omer
        Talon too says that, in 1648, 'il se trouvoit que tous ceux qui
        étoient de cette opinion n'aimoient pas le gouvernement présent
        de l'état,' _Mém. d'Omer Talon_, vol. ii. pp. 280, 281.

  [996] Brienne, who knew Louis XIV. personally, says, 'Jansénisme,
        l'horreur du roi.' _Mém. de Brienne_, vol. ii. p. 240. Compare
        _Duclos_, _Mém. Secrets_, vol. i. p. 112. At the end of his reign
        he promoted a bishop on the avowed ground of his opposition to
        the Jansenists; this was in 1713. _Lettres inédites de
        Maintenon_, vol. ii. pp. 396, 406; and see further vol. i. pp.
        220, 222.

The connexion between the revival of Jansenism and the destruction of
the Jesuits, is obvious. After the death of Louis XIV., the Jansenists
rapidly gained ground, even in the Sorbonne;[997] and by the middle of
the eighteenth century, they had organized a powerful party in the
French parliament.[998] About the same period, their influence began to
show itself in the executive government, and among the officers of the
crown. Machault, who held the important post of controller-general, was
known to favour their opinions;[999] and a few years after his
retirement, Choiseul was called to the head of affairs; a man of
considerable ability, by whom they were openly protected.[1000] Their
views were likewise supported by Laverdy, controller-general in 1764,
and by Terray, controller of finances in 1769.[1001] The
procureur-general, Gilbert des Voisins, was a Jansenist;[1002] so also
was one of his successors, Chauvelin;[1003] and so was the
advocate-general Pelletier de Saint-Fargeau;[1004] and so too was Camus,
the well-known advocate of the clergy.[1005] Turgot, the greatest
statesman of the age, is said to have embraced the same opinions;[1006]
while Necker, who on two different occasions possessed almost supreme
power, was notoriously a rigid Calvinist. To this may be added, that not
only Necker, but also Rousseau, to whom a large share in causing the
Revolution is justly ascribed, were born in Geneva, and drew their
earliest ideas from that great nursery of the Calvinistic theology.

  [997] 'La Sorbonne, moliniste sous Louis XIV, fut janséniste sous le
        régent, et toujours divisée.' _Duvernet_, _Hist. de la Sorbonne_,
        vol. ii. p. 225.

  [998] On the strength of the Jansenists in the parliament of Paris, see
        _Tocqueville_, _Règne de Louis XV_, vol. i. p. 352, vol. ii. p.
        176; _Flassan_, _Diplomatie_, vol. vi. p. 486; _Mém. de Georgel_,
        vol. ii. p. 262; _Mém. de Bouillé_, vol. i. p. 67; _Palmer's
        Treatise on the Church_, vol. i. pp. 327, 328.

  [999] _Lavallée_, _Hist. des Français_, vol. iii. p. 439.

  [1000] _Soulavie_, _Règne de Louis XVI_, vol. i. pp. 31, 145.

  [1001] _Tocqueville_, _Règne de Louis XV_, vol. ii. p. 385; _[OE]uvres
         de Voltaire_, vol. liv. p. 275; _Mém. de Georgel_, vol. i.
         pp. 49-51.

  [1002] _Duvernet_, _Vie de Voltaire_, p. 90.

  [1003] _Lacretelle_, _XVIII^e Siècle_, vol. ii. p. 119; _Lavallée_,
         vol. iii. p. 477.

  [1004] _Mém. de Georgel_, vol. i. p. 57.

  [1005] _La Fayette_, _Mém._ vol. ii. p. 53; _Dumont_, _Souvenirs_,
         p. 154; _Georgel_, vol. ii. p. 353, vol. iii. p. 10.

  [1006] _Soulavie_, _Règne de Louis XVI_, vol. iii. p. 137.

In such a state of things as this, it was impossible that a body like
the Jesuits should hold their ground. They were the last defenders of
authority and tradition, and it was natural that they should fall in an
age when statesmen were sceptics, and theologians were Calvinists. Even
the people had already marked them for destruction; and when Damiens, in
1757, attempted to assassinate the king, it was generally believed that
they were the instigators of the act.[1007] This we now know to be
false; but the existence of such a rumour is evidence of the state of
the popular mind. At all events, the doom of the Jesuits was fixed. In
April 1761, parliament ordered their constitutions to be laid before
them.[1008] In August, they were forbidden to receive novices, their
colleges were closed, and a number of their most celebrated works were
publicly burned by the common hangman.[1009] Finally, in 1762, another
edict appeared, by which the Jesuits were condemned without even being
heard in their own defence;[1010] their property was directed to be
sold, and their order secularized; they were declared 'unfit to be
admitted into a well-governed country,' and their institute and society
were formally abolished.[1011]

  [1007] 'The Jesuits are charged by the vulgar as promoters of that
         attempt.' Letter from Stanley, written in 1761, in _Chatham
         Correspond._ vol. ii. p. 127. Compare _Campan_, _Mém. de Marie
         Antoinette_, vol. iii. pp. 19, 21; _Sismondi_, _Hist. des
         Franç._ vol. xxix. pp. 111, 227.

  [1008] _Lavallée_, _Hist. des Français_, vol. iii. p. 476.

  [1009] _Flassan_, _Diplomatie Franç._ vol. vi. p. 491.

  [1010] 'Sans que les accusés eussent été entendus.' _Lavallée_, vol.
         iii. p. 477. 'Pas un seul n'a été entendu dans leur cause.'
         _Barruel sur l'Hist. du Jacobinisme_, vol. ii. p. 264.

  [1011] _Lavallée_, iii. p. 477; _Flassan_, vi. pp. 504, 505; _Sismondi_,
         xxix. p. 234; and the letters written by Diderot, who, though he
         was in Paris at the time, gives rather an incomplete account,
         _Mém. de Diderot_, vol. ii. pp. 127, 130-132.

Such was the way in which this great society, long the terror of the
world, fell before the pressure of public opinion. What makes its fall
the more remarkable, is, that the pretext which was alleged to justify
the examination of its constitutions, was one so slight, that no former
government would have listened to it for a single moment. This immense
spiritual corporation was actually tried by a temporal court for ill
faith in a mercantile transaction, and for refusing to pay a sum of
money said to be due![1012] The most important body in the Catholic
church, the spiritual leaders of France, the educators of her youth, and
the confessors of her kings, were brought to the bar, and sued in their
collective capacity, for the fraudulent repudiation of a common
debt![1013] So marked was the predisposition of affairs, that it was
not found necessary to employ for the destruction of the Jesuits any of
those arts by which the popular mind is commonly inflamed. The charge
upon which they were sentenced, was not that they had plotted against
the state; nor that they had corrupted the public morals; nor that they
wished to subvert religion. These were the accusations which were
brought in the seventeenth century, and which suited the genius of that
age. But in the eighteenth century, all that was required was some
trifling accident, that might serve as a pretence to justify what the
nation had already determined. To ascribe, therefore, this great event
to the bankruptcy of a trader, or the intrigues of a mistress,[1014] is
to confuse the cause of an act with the pretext under which the act is
committed. In the eyes of the men of the eighteenth century, the real
crime of the Jesuits was, that they belonged to the past rather than to
the present, and that by defending the abuses of ancient establishments,
they obstructed the progress of mankind. They stood in the way of the
age, and the age swept them from its path. This was the real cause of
their abolition: a cause not likely to be perceived by those writers,
who, under the guise of historians, are only collectors of the prattle
and gossip of courts; and who believe that the destinies of great
nations can be settled in the ante-chambers of ministers, and in the
councils of kings.

  [1012] _Flassan_, _Hist. de la Diplomatie_, vol. vi. pp. 486-488.

  [1013] 'Enfin ils furent mis en cause, et le parlement de Paris eut
         l'étonnement et la joie de voir les jésuites amenés devant lui
         comme de vils banqueroutiers.' _Lacretelle_, _XVIII^e Siècle_,
         vol. ii. p. 252. 'Condemned in France as fraudulent traders.'
         _Schlosser's Eighteenth Century_, vol. iv. p. 451.

  [1014] Several writers attribute the destruction of the Jesuits to the
         exertions of Madame de Pompadour!

After the fall of the Jesuits, there seemed to be nothing remaining
which could save the French church from immediate destruction.[1015] The
old theological spirit had been for some time declining, and the clergy
were suffering from their own decay even more than from the attacks made
upon them. The advance of knowledge was producing in France the same
results as those which I have pointed out in England; and the
increasing attractions of science drew off many illustrious men, who in
a preceding age would have been active members of the spiritual
profession. That splendid eloquence, for which the French clergy had
been remarkable, was now dying away, and there were no longer heard the
voices of those great orators, at whose bidding the temples had formerly
been filled.[1016] Massillon was the last of that celebrated race who
had so enthralled the mind, and the magic of whose fascination it is
even now hard to withstand. He died in 1742; and after him the French
clergy possessed no eminent men of any kind, neither thinkers, nor
orators, nor writers.[1017] Nor did there seem the least possibility of
their recovering their lost position. While society was advancing they
were receding. All the sources of their power were dried up. They had no
active leaders; they had lost the confidence of government; they had
forfeited the respect of the people; they had become a mark for the
gibes of the age.[1018]

  [1015] Choiseul is reported to have said of the Jesuits: 'leur éducation
         détruite, tous les autres corps religieux tomberont
         d'eux-mêmes.' _Barruel_, _Hist. du Jacobinisme_, vol. i. p. 63.

  [1016] In 1771, Horace Walpole writes from Paris that the churches and
         convents were become so empty, as to 'appear like abandoned
         theatres destined to destruction;' and this he contrasts with
         his former experience of a different state of things. _Walpole's
         Letters_, vol. v. p. 310, edit. 1840.

  [1017] 'So low had the talents of the once illustrious church of France
         fallen, that in the latter part of the eighteenth century, when
         Christianity itself was assailed, not one champion of note
         appeared in its ranks; and when the convocation of the clergy,
         in 1770, published their famous anathema against the dangers of
         unbelief, and offered rewards for the best essays in defence of
         the Christian faith, the productions called forth were so
         despicable that they sensibly injured the cause of religion.'
         _Alison's Hist. of Europe_, vol. i. pp. 180, 181.

  [1018] In 1766, the Rev. William Cole writes to Alban Butler: 'I
         travelled to Paris through Lille and Cambray in their public
         voitures, and was greatly scandalized and amazed at the open and
         unreserved disrespect, both of the trading and military people,
         for their clergy and religious establishment. When I got to
         Paris, it was much worse.' _Ellis's Original Letters_, second
         series, vol. iv. p. 485. See also _Walpole's Letters to Lady
         Ossory_, vol. ii. p. 513, edit. 1848; and the complaint made at
         Besançon in 1761, in _Lepan_, _Vie de Voltaire_, p. 113.

It does, at first sight, seem strange that, under these circumstances,
the French clergy should have been able, for nearly thirty years after
the abolition of the Jesuits, to maintain their standing, so as to
interfere with impunity in public affairs.[1019] The truth, however, is,
that this temporary reprieve of the ecclesiastical order was owing to
that movement which I have already noticed, and by virtue of which the
French intellect, during the latter half of the eighteenth century,
changed the ground of its attack, and, directing its energies against
political abuses, neglected in some degree those spiritual abuses to
which its attention had been hitherto confined. The result was, that in
France the government enforced a policy which the great thinkers had
indeed originated, but respecting which they were becoming less eager.
The most eminent Frenchmen were beginning their attacks upon the state,
and in the heat of their new warfare they slackened their opposition to
the church. But in the mean time, the seeds they had sown germinated in
the state itself. So rapid was the march of affairs, that those
anti-ecclesiastical opinions which, a few years earlier, were punished
as the paradoxes of designing men, were now taken up and put into
execution by senators and ministers. The rulers of France carried into
effect principles which had hitherto been simply a matter of theory; and
thus it happened, as is always the case, that practical statesmen only
apply and work out ideas which have long before been suggested by more
advanced thinkers.

  [1019] And also to retain their immense property, which, when the
         Revolution occurred, was estimated at 80,000,000_l._ English
         money, bringing in a yearly revenue of 'somewhat under
         75,000,000 francs.' _Alison's Europe_, vol. i. p. 183, vol. ii.
         p. 20, vol. xiv. pp. 122, 123.

Hence it followed, that at no period during the eighteenth century did
the speculative classes and practical classes thoroughly combine against
the church: since, in the first half of the century, the clergy were
principally assailed by the literature, and not by the government; in
the latter half of the century, by the government, and not by the
literature. Some of the circumstances of this singular transition have
been already stated, and I hope clearly brought before the mind of the
reader. I now purpose to complete the generalization, by proving that a
corresponding change was taking place in all other branches of inquiry;
and that, while in the first period attention was chiefly directed
towards mental phenomena, it was in the second period more directed
towards physical phenomena. From this, the political movement received a
vast accession of strength. For the French intellect, shifting the scene
of its labours, diverted the thoughts of men from the internal to the
external, and concentrating attention upon their material rather than
upon their spiritual wants, turned against the encroachments of the
state an hostility formerly reserved for the encroachments of the
church. Whenever a tendency arises to prefer what comes from without to
what comes from within, and thus to aggrandize matter at the expense of
mind, there will also be a tendency to believe that an institution which
hampers our opinions is less hurtful than one which controls our acts.
Precisely in the same way, men who reject the fundamental truths of
religion, will care little for the extent to which those truths are
perverted. Men who deny the existence of the Deity and the immortality
of the soul, will take no heed of the way in which a gross and formal
worship obscures those sublime doctrines. All the idolatry, all the
ceremonials, all the pomp, all the dogmas, and all the traditions by
which religion is retarded, will give them no disquietude, because they
consider the opinions that are checked to be equally false with those
that are favoured. Why should they, to whom transcendental truths are
unknown, labour to remove the superstitions which darken the truths?
Such a generation, so far from attacking ecclesiastical usurpations,
would rather look on the clergy as convenient tools to ensnare the
ignorant and control the vulgar. Therefore it is that we rarely hear of
a sincere atheist being a zealous polemic. But if that should occur,
which a century ago occurred in France; if it should happen that men of
great energy, and actuated by the feelings I have described, were to
find themselves in the presence of a political despotism,--they would
direct against it the whole of their powers; and they would act with the
more determined vigour, because, believing that their all was at stake,
temporal happiness would be to them not only the first, but also the
sole consideration.

It is from this point of view that the progress of those atheistical
opinions, which now rose in France, becomes a matter of great though
painful interest. And the date at which they appeared, fully
corroborates what I have just said respecting the change that took place
in the middle of the eighteenth century. The first great work in which
they were openly promulgated, was the celebrated Encyclopædia, published
in 1751.[1020] Before that time such degrading opinions, though
occasionally broached, were not held by any men of ability; nor could
they in the preceding state of society have made much impression upon
the age. But during the latter half of the eighteenth century, they
affected every department of French literature. Between 1758 and 1770,
atheistical tenets rapidly gained ground;[1021] and in 1770 was
published the famous work, called the _System of Nature_; the success,
and, unhappily, the ability of which, makes its appearance an important
epoch in the history of France. Its popularity was immense;[1022] and
the views it contains are so clearly and methodically arranged, as to
have earned for it the name of the code of atheism.[1023] Five years
later, the Archbishop of Toulouse, in a formal address to the king on
behalf of the clergy, declared that atheism had now become the
prevailing opinion.[1024] This, like all similar assertions, must have
been an exaggeration; but that there was a large amount of truth in it,
is known to whoever has studied the mental habits of the generation
immediately preceding the Revolution. Among the inferior class of
writers, Damilaville, Deleyre, Maréchal, Naigeon, Toussaint, were active
supporters of that cold and gloomy dogma, which, in order to extinguish
the hope of a future life, blots out from the mind of man the glorious
instincts of his own immortality.[1025] And, strange to say, several
even of the higher intellects were unable to escape the contagion.
Atheism was openly advocated by Condorcet, by D'Alembert, by Diderot, by
Helvétius, by Lalande, by Laplace, by Mirabeau, and by Saint
Lambert.[1026] Indeed, so thoroughly did all this harmonize with the
general temper, that in society men boasted of what, in other countries,
and in other days, has been a rare and singular error, an eccentric
taint, which those affected by it were willing to conceal. In 1764 Hume
met, at the house of Baron d'Holbach, a party of the most celebrated
Frenchmen then residing in Paris. The great Scotchman, who was no doubt
aware of the prevailing opinion, took occasion to raise an argument as
to the existence of an atheist, properly so called; for his own part, he
said, he had never chanced to meet with one. 'You have been somewhat
unfortunate,' replied Holbach; 'but at the present moment you are
sitting at table with seventeen of them.'[1027]

  [1020] M. Barante (_Littérature Française au XVIII^e Siècle_, p. 94)
         says, 'On arriva bientôt à tout nier; déjà l'incrédulité avait
         rejeté les preuves divines de la révélation, et avait abjuré les
         devoirs et les souvenirs chrétiens; on vit alors l'athéisme
         lever un front plus hardi, et proclamer que tout sentiment
         religieux était une rêverie et un désordre de l'esprit humain.
         C'est de l'époque de l'Encyclopédie que datent les écrits où
         cette opinion est le plus expressément professée. Ils furent peu
         imités.' This last sentence is erroneous, I am sorry to say.

  [1021] 'Dans un intervalle de douze années, de 1758 à 1770, la
         littérature française fut souillée par un grand nombre
         d'ouvrages où l'athéisme étoit ouvertement professé.'
         _Lacretelle_, _XVIII^e Siècle_, vol. ii. p. 310.

  [1022] Voltaire, who wrote against it, mentions its diffusion among all
         classes, and says it was read by 'des savants, des ignorants,
         des femmes.' _Dict. Philos._ article _Dieu_, section iv., in
         _[OE]uvres de Voltaire_, vol. xxxviii. p. 366: see also vol.
         lxvii. p. 260; _Longchamp et Wagnière_, _Mém. sur Voltaire_,
         vol. i. pp. 13, 334; _Lettres inédites de Voltaire_, vol. ii.
         pp. 210, 216; and a letter from him in _Correspond. de
         Dudeffand_, vol. ii. p. 329. Compare _Tennemann_, _Gesch. der
         Philos._ vol. xi. p. 320: 'mit ungetheiltem Beifalle aufgenommen
         worden und grossen Einfluss gehabt hat.'

  [1023] 'Le code monstrueux d'athéisme.' _Biog. Univ._ vol. xxix. p. 88.
         Morellet, who in such matters was by no means a harsh judge,
         says, '_Le Système de la Nature_, surtout, est un catéchisme
         d'athéisme complet.' _Mém. de Morellet_, vol. i. p. 133.
         Stäudlin (_Gesch. der theolog. Wissenschaften_, vol. ii. p. 440)
         calls it 'ein System des entschiedenen Atheismus:' while
         Tennemann, who has given by far the best account of it I have
         met with, says, 'Es machte bei seinem Erscheinen gewaltiges
         Aufsehen, und ist fast immer als das Handbuch des Atheismus
         betrachtet worden.' _Gesch. der Philos._ vol. xi. p. 349.

  [1024] 'Le monstrueux athéisme est devenu l'opinion dominante.'
         _Soulavie_, _Règne de Louis XVI_, vol. iii. p. 16: the address
         of the archbishop with a deputation, 'muni des pouvoirs de
         l'assemblée générale du clergé,' in September 1775.

  [1025] _Biog. Univ._ vol. x. pp. 471, 669, vol. xxvii. p. 8, vol. xxx.
         p. 542; _Mém. de Brissot_, vol. i. p. 305; _Tocqueville_, _Règne
         de Louis XV_, vol. ii. p. 77.

  [1026] _Mem. of Mallet du Pan_, vol. i. p. 50; _Soulavie_, _Règne de
         Louis XVI_, vol. v. p. 127; _Barruel_, _Hist. du Jacobin._, vol.
         i. pp. 104, 135, 225, vol. ii. p. 23, vol. iii. p. 200; _Life of
         Romilly_, vol. i. pp. 46, 145; _Stäudlin_, _Theolog.
         Wissenschaften_, vol. ii. p. 440; _Georgel_, _Mém._ vol. ii. pp.
         250, 350; _Grimm_, _Correspond._ vol. xv. p. 87; _Mém. de
         Morellet_, vol. i. p. 130; _Lepan_, _Vie de Voltaire_, p. 369;
         _Tennemann_, _Gesch. der Philos._ vol. xi. p. 350; _Musset
         Pathay_, _Vie de Rousseau_, vol. ii. pp. 177, 297; _Mém. de
         Genlis_, vol. v. p. 180; _Hitchcock's Geol._ p. 263; _Mém.
         d'Epinay_, vol. ii. pp. 63, 66, 76.

  [1027] This was related to Romilly by Diderot. _Life of Romilly_,
         vol. i. pp. 131, 132: see also _Burton's Life of Hume_, vol. ii.
         pp. 220. Priestley, who visited France in 1774, says, that 'all
         the philosophical persons to whom I was introduced at Paris
         (were) unbelievers in Christianity, and even professed
         atheists.' _Priestley's Memoirs_, vol. i. p. 74. See also a
         letter by Horace Walpole, written from Paris in 1765 (_Walpole's
         Letters_, edit. 1840, vol. v. p. 96): 'their avowed doctrine is

This, sad as it is, only forms a single aspect of that immense movement,
by which, during the latter half of the eighteenth century, the French
intellect was withdrawn from the study of the internal, and concentrated
upon that of the external world. Of this tendency, we find an
interesting instance in the celebrated work of Helvétius, unquestionably
the ablest and most influential treatise on morals which France produced
at this period. It was published in 1758;[1028] and, although it bears
the title of an essay on 'the Mind,' it does not contain a single
passage from which we could infer that the mind, in the sense in which
the word is commonly used, has any existence. In this work, which,
during fifty years, was the code of French morals, principles are laid
down which bear exactly the same relation to ethics that atheism bears
to theology. Helvétius, at the beginning of his inquiry, assumes, as an
incontestable fact, that the difference between man and other animals is
the result of a difference in their external form; and that if, for
example, our wrists, instead of ending with hands and flexible fingers,
had merely ended like a horse's foot, we should have always remained
wanderers on the face of the earth, ignorant of every art, entirely
defenceless, and having no other concern but to avoid the attacks of
wild beasts, and find the needful supply of our daily food.[1029] That
the structure of our bodies is the sole cause of our boasted
superiority, becomes evident, when we consider that our thoughts are
simply the product of two faculties, which we have in common with all
other animals; namely, the faculty of receiving impressions from
external objects, and the faculty of remembering those impressions after
they are received.[1030] From this, says Helvétius, it follows, that the
internal powers of man being the same as those of all other animals, our
sensibility and our memory would be useless, if it were not for those
external peculiarities by which we are eminently distinguished, and to
which we owe every thing that is most valuable.[1031] These positions
being laid down, it is easy to deduce all the essential principles of
moral actions. For, memory being merely one of the organs of physical
sensibility,[1032] and judgment being only a sensation,[1033] all
notions of duty and of virtue must be tested by their relation to the
senses; in other words, by the gross amount of physical enjoyment to
which they give rise. This is the true basis of moral philosophy. To
take any other view, is to allow ourselves to be deceived by
conventional expressions, which have no foundation except in the
prejudices of ignorant men. Our vices and our virtues are solely the
result of our passions; and our passions are caused by our physical
sensibility to pain and to pleasure.[1034] It was in this way that the
sense of justice first arose. To physical sensibility men owe pleasure
and pain; hence the feeling of their own interests, and hence the desire
of living together in societies. Being assembled in society, there grew
up the notion of a general interest, since, without it, society could
not hold together; and, as actions are only just or unjust in proportion
as they minister to this general interest, a measure was established, by
which justice is discriminated from injustice.[1035] With the same
inflexible spirit, and with great fullness of illustration, Helvétius
examines the origin of those other feelings which regulate human
actions. Thus, he says that both ambition and friendship are entirely
the work of physical sensibility. Men yearn after fame, on account
either of the pleasure which they expect the mere possession of it will
give, or else as the means of subsequently procuring other
pleasures.[1036] As to friendship, the only use of it is to increase our
pleasures or mitigate our pains; and it is with this object that a man
longs to hold communion with his friend.[1037] Beyond this, life has
nothing to offer. To love what is good for the sake of the goodness, is
as impossible as to love what is bad for the sake of the evil.[1038] The
mother who weeps for the loss of her child, is solely actuated by
selfishness; she mourns because a pleasure is taken from her, and
because she sees a void difficult to fill up.[1039] So it is, that the
loftiest virtues, as well as the meanest vices, are equally caused by
the pleasure we find in the exercise of them.[1040] This is the great
mover and originator of all. Every thing that we have, and every thing
that we are, we owe to the external world; nor is Man himself aught else
except what he is made by the objects which surround him.[1041]

  [1028] _Biog. Univ._ vol. xx. p. 29.

  [1029] 'Si la nature, au lieu de mains et de doigts flexibles, eût
         terminé nos poignets par un pied de cheval; qui doute que les
         hommes, sans art, sans habitations, sans défense contre les
         animaux, tout occupés du soin de pourvoir à leur nourriture et
         d'éviter les bêtes féroces, ne fussent encore errants dans les
         forêts comme des troupeaux fugitifs?' _Helvétius_, _De
         l'Esprit_, vol. i. p. 2. Had Helvétius ever read the attack of
         Aristotle against Anaxagoras for asserting that [Greek: dia to
         cheiroas echein, phronimôtaton einai tôn zôôn ton anthrôpon]?
         _Cudworth_, _Intellect. Syst._ vol. iii. p. 311.

  [1030] _De l'Esprit_, vol. i. p. 2.

  [1031] _Ibid._ vol. i. p. 4.

  [1032] 'En effet la mémoire ne peut être qu'un des organes de la
         sensibilité physique.' vol. i. p. 6. Compare what M. Lepelletier
         says on this, in his _Physiologie Médicale_, vol. iii. p. 272.

  [1033] 'D'où je conclus que tout jugement n'est qu'une sensation.' _De
         l'Esprit_, vol. i. p. 10; '_juger_, comme je l'ai déjà prouvé,
         n'est proprement que _sentir_.' p. 41.

  [1034] 'Né sensible à la douleur et au plaisir, c'est à la sensibilité
         physique que l'homme doit ses passions; et à ses passions, qu'il
         doit tous ses vices et toutes ses vertus.' _Ibid._ vol. ii. p.
         53; and see vol. i. p. 239.

  [1035] 'Une fois parvenu à cette vérité, je découvre facilement la
         source des vertus humaines; je voie que sans la sensibilité à la
         douleur et au plaisir physique, les hommes, sans désirs, sans
         passions, également indifférents à tout, n'eussent point connu
         d'intérêt personnel; que sans intérêt personnel ils ne se
         fussent point rassemblés en société, n'eussent point fait
         entr'eux de conventions, qu'il n'y eût point eu d'intérêt
         général, par conséquent point d'actions justes ou injustes; et
         qu'ainsi la sensibilité physique et l'intérêt personnel ont été
         les auteurs de toute justice.' _Ibid._ vol. i. p. 278.

  [1036] _De l'Esprit_, vol. ii. pp. 19, 20, 30, 34, 293, 294, 318.
         Compare Epicurus, in _Diog. Laert. de Vit. Philos._ lib. x. seg.
         120, vol. i. p. 654.

  [1037] _De l'Esprit_, vol. ii. p. 45. He sums up: 'il s'ensuit que
         l'amitié, ainsi que l'avarice, l'orgueil, l'ambition et les
         autres passions, est l'effet immédiat de la sensibilité

  [1038] 'Il lui est aussi impossible d'aimer le bien pour le bien, que
         d'aimer le mal pour le mal.' _Ibid._ vol. i. p. 73.

  [1039] _Ibid._ vol. ii. p. 249.

  [1040] _Ibid._ vol. ii. p. 58.

  [1041] 'Nous sommes uniquement ce que nous font les objets qui nous
         environnent.' _Ibid._ vol. ii. p. 306.

The views put forward in this celebrated work I have stated at some
length; not so much on account of the ability with which they are
advocated, as on account of the clue they furnish to the movements of a
most remarkable age. Indeed, so completely did they harmonize with the
prevailing tendencies, that they not only quickly obtained for their
author a vast European reputation,[1042] but, during many years, they
continued to increase in influence, and, in France in particular, they
exercised great sway.[1043] As that was the country in which they
arose, so also was it the country to which they were best adapted.
Madame Dudeffand, who passed her long life in the midst of French
society, and was one of the keenest observers of her time, has expressed
this with great happiness. The work of Helvétius, she says, is popular,
since he is the man who has told to all their own secret.[1044]

  [1042] Saint Surin, a zealous opponent of Helvétius, admits that 'les
         étrangers les plus éminents par leurs dignités ou par leurs
         lumières, désiraient d'être introduits chez un philosophe dont
         le nom retentissait dans toute l'Europe.' _Biog. Univ._ vol. xx.
         p. 33.

  [1043] Brissot (_Mémoires_, vol. i. p. 339) says, that in 1775, 'le
         système d'Helvétius avait alors la plus grande vogue.' Turgot,
         who wrote against it, complains that it was praised 'avec une
         sorte de fureur' (_[OE]uvres de Turgot_, vol. ix. p. 297); and
         Georgel (_Mémoires_, vol. ii. p. 256) says, 'ce livre, écrit
         avec un style plein de chaleur et d'images, se trouvoit sur
         toutes les toilettes.'

  [1044] 'D'ailleurs le siècle de Louis XV se reconnut dans l'ouvrage
         d'Helvétius, et on prête à Mme. Dudeffand ce mot fin et profond:
         "C'est un homme qui a dit le secret de tout le monde."'
         _Cousin_, _Hist. de la Philos._ I. série, vol. iii. p. 201.
         Compare _Corresp. de Dudeffand_, vol. i. p. xxii.; and a similar
         sentiment in _Mém. de Roland_, vol. i. p. 104. The relation of
         Helvétius's work to the prevailing philosophy is noticed in
         _Comte's Philos. Pos._ vol. iii. pp. 791, 792. vol. v.
         pp. 744, 745.

True it was, that, to the contemporaries of Helvétius, his views,
notwithstanding their immense popularity, bore the appearance of a
secret; because the connexion between them and the general march of
events was, as yet, but dimly perceived. To us, however, who, after this
interval of time, can examine the question with the resources of a
larger experience, it is obvious how such a system met the wants of an
age of which it was the exponent and the mouthpiece. That Helvétius must
have carried with him the sympathies of his countrymen, is clear, not
only from the evidence we have of his success, but also from a more
comprehensive view of the general complexion of those times. Even while
he was still pursuing his labours, and only four years before he
published them, a work appeared in France, which, though displaying
greater ability, and possessing a higher influence than that of
Helvétius, did, nevertheless, point in exactly the same direction. I
allude to the great metaphysical treatise by Condillac, in many respects
one of the most remarkable productions of the eighteenth century; and
the authority of which, during two generations, was so irresistible,
that, without some acquaintance with it, we cannot possibly understand
the nature of those complicated movements by which the French Revolution
was brought about.

In 1754,[1045] Condillac put forth his celebrated work on the mind; the
very title of which was a proof of the bias with which it was written.
Although this profound thinker aimed at nothing less than an exhaustive
analysis of the human faculties, and although he is pronounced by a very
able, but hostile critic, to be the only metaphysician France produced
during the eighteenth century,[1046] still he found it utterly
impossible to escape from those tendencies towards the external which
governed his own age. The consequence was, that he called his work a
'Treatise on Sensations;'[1047] and in it he peremptorily asserts, that
every thing we know is the result of sensation; by which he means the
effect produced on us by the action of the external world. Whatever may
be thought of the accuracy of this opinion, there can be no doubt that
it is enforced with a closeness and severity of reasoning which deserves
the highest praise. To examine, however, the arguments by which his view
is supported, would lead to a discussion foreign to my present object,
which is, merely to point out the relation between his philosophy and
the general temper of his contemporaries. Without, therefore, pretending
to anything like a critical examination of this celebrated book, I will
simply bring together the essential positions on which it is based, in
order to illustrate the harmony between it and the intellectual habits
of the age in which it appeared.[1048]

  [1045] _Biog. Univ._ vol. ix. p. 399.

  [1046] 'Condillac est le métaphysicien français du XVIII^e siècle.'
         _Cousin_, _Hist. de la Philos._ I. série, vol. iii. p. 83.

  [1047] 'Traité des Sensations,' which, as M. Cousin says, is, 'sans
         comparaison, le chef-d'[oe]uvre de Condillac.' _Hist. de la
         Philos._ II. série, vol. ii. p. 77.

  [1048] On the immense influence of Condillac, compare _Renouard_, _Hist.
         de la Médecine_, vol. ii. p. 355; _Cuvier_, _Eloges_, vol. iii.
         p. 387; _Broussais_, _Cours de Phrénologie_, pp. 45, 68-71, 829;
         _Pinel_, _Alién. Mentale_, p. 94; _Brown's Philos. of the Mind_,
         p. 212.

The materials from which the philosophy of Condillac was originally
drawn, were contained in the great work published by Locke about sixty
years before this time. But though much of what was most essential was
borrowed from the English philosopher, there was one very important
point in which the disciple differed from his master. And this
difference is strikingly characteristic of the direction which the
French intellect was now taking. Locke, with some looseness of
expression, and possibly with some looseness of thought, had asserted
the separate existence of a power of reflection, and had maintained that
by means of that power the products of sensation became available.[1049]
Condillac, moved by the prevailing temper of his own time, would not
hear of such a distinction. He, like most of his contemporaries, was
jealous of any claim which increased the authority of the internal, and
weakened that of the external. He, therefore, altogether rejects the
faculty of reflection as a source of our ideas; and this partly because
it is but the channel through which ideas run from the senses, and
partly because in its origin it is itself a sensation.[1050] Therefore,
according to him, the only question is as to the way in which our
contact with nature supplies us with ideas. For in this scheme, the
faculties of man are solely caused by the operation of his senses. The
judgments which we form are, says Condillac, often ascribed to the hand
of the Deity; a convenient mode of reasoning, which has only arisen from
the difficulty of analyzing them.[1051] By considering how our judgments
actually arise, we can alone remove these obscurities. The fact is, that
the attention we give to an object is nothing but the sensation which
that object excites;[1052] and what we call abstract ideas are merely
different ways of being attentive.[1053] Ideas being thus generated, the
subsequent process is very simple. To attend to two ideas at the same
time, is to compare them; so that comparison is not a result of
attention, but is rather the attention itself.[1054] This at once gives
us the faculty of judging, because directly we institute a comparison,
we do of necessity form a judgment.[1055] Thus, too, memory is a
transformed sensation;[1056] while the imagination is nothing but
memory, which, being carried to its highest possible vivacity, makes
what is absent appear to be present.[1057] The impressions we receive
from the external world being, therefore, not the cause of our
faculties, but being the faculties themselves, the conclusion to which
we are driven is inevitable. It follows, says Condillac, that in man
nature is the beginning of all; that to nature we owe the whole of our
knowledge; that we only instruct ourselves according to her lessons; and
that the entire art of reasoning consists in continuing the work which
she has appointed us to perform.[1058]

  [1049] Whether or not Locke held that reflection is an independent as
         well as a separate faculty, is uncertain; because passages could
         be quoted from his writings to prove either the affirmative or
         the negative. Dr. Whewell justly remarks, that Locke uses the
         word so vaguely as to 'allow his disciples to make of his
         doctrines what they please.' _History of Moral Philosophy_,
         1852, p. 71.

  [1050] 'Locke distingue deux sources de nos idées, les sens et la
         réflexion. Il seroit plus exact de n'en reconnoître qu'une, soit
         parceque la réflexion n'est dans son principe que la sensation
         même, soit parce qu'elle est moins la source des idées que le
         canal par lequel elles découlent des sens.' _Condillac_, _Traité
         des Sensations_, p. 13: see also, at pp. 19, 216, the way in
         which sensation becomes reflection; and the summing up, at p.
         416, 'que toutes nos connoissances viennent des sens, et
         particulièrement du toucher.'

  [1051] He says of Mallebranche (_Traité des Sensations_, p. 312), 'ne
         pouvant comprendre comment nous formerions nous-mêmes ces
         jugemens, il les attribue à Dieu; manière de raisonner fort
         commode, et presque toujours la ressource des philosophes.'

  [1052] 'Mais à peine j'arrête la vue sur un objet, que les sensations
         particulières que j'en reçois sont l'attention même que je lui
         donne.' _Traité des Sensations_, p. 16.

  [1053] 'Ne sont que différentes manières d'être attentif.' p. 122.

  [1054] 'Dès qu'il y a double attention, il y a comparaison; car être
         attentif à deux idées ou les comparer, c'est la même chose.'
         p. 17.

  [1055] 'Dès qu'il y a comparaison, il y a jugement.' p. 65.

  [1056] 'La mémoire n'est donc que la sensation transformée.' p. 17.
         Compare p. 61.

  [1057] 'L'imagination est la mémoire même, parvenue à toute la vivacité
         dont elle est susceptible.' p. 78. 'Or j'ai appelé imagination
         cette mémoire vive qui fait paroître présent ce qui est absent.'
         p. 245.

  [1058] 'Il résulte de cette vérité, que la nature commence tout en nous:
         aussi ai-je démontré que, dans le principe ou dans le
         commencement, nos connoissances sont uniquement son ouvrage, que
         nous ne nous instruisons que d'après ses leçons, et que tout
         l'art de raisonner consisté à continuer comme elle nous a fait
         commencer.' p. 178.

It is so impossible to mistake the tendency of these views, that I need
not attempt to estimate their result otherwise than by measuring the
extent to which they were adopted. Indeed, the zeal with which they were
now carried into every department of knowledge, can only surprise those
who, being led by their habits of mind to study history in its separate
fragments, have not accustomed themselves to consider it as an united
whole, and who, therefore, do not perceive that in every great epoch
there is some one idea at work, which is more powerful than any other,
and which shapes the events of the time and determines their ultimate
issue. In France, during the latter half of the eighteenth century, this
idea was, the inferiority of the internal to the external. It was this
dangerous but plausible principle which drew the attention of men from
the church to the state; which was seen in Helvétius the most celebrated
of the French moralists, and in Condillac the most celebrated of the
French metaphysicians. It was this same principle which, by increasing,
if I may so say, the reputation of Nature, induced the ablest thinkers
to devote themselves to a study of her laws, and to abandon those other
pursuits which had been popular in the preceding age. In consequence of
this movement, such wonderful additions were made to every branch of
physical science, that more new truths concerning the external world
were discovered in France during the latter half of the eighteenth
century than during all the previous periods put together. The details
of these discoveries, so far as they have been subservient to the
general purposes of civilization, will be related in another place; at
present I will indicate only the most prominent, in order that the
reader may understand the course of the subsequent argument, and may see
the connexion between them and the French Revolution.

Taking a general view of the external world, we may say, that the three
most important forces by which the operations of nature are effected,
are heat, light, and electricity; including under this last magnetic and
galvanic phenomena. On all these subjects, the French, for the first
time, now exerted themselves with signal success. In regard to heat, not
only were the materials for subsequent induction collected with
indefatigable industry, but before that generation passed away, the
induction was actually made; for while the laws of its radiation were
worked out by Prevost,[1059] those of its conduction were established by
Fourier, who, just before the Revolution, employed himself in raising
thermotics to a science by the deductive application of that celebrated
mathematical theory which he contrived, and which still bears his
name.[1060] In regard to electricity, it is enough to notice, during the
same period, the important experiments of D'Alibard, followed by those
vast labours of Coulomb, which brought electrical phenomena under the
jurisdiction of the mathematics, and thus completed what [OE]pinus had
already prepared.[1061] As to the laws of light, those ideas were now
accumulating which rendered possible the great steps that, at the close
of the century, were taken by Malus, and still later by Fresnel.[1062]
Both of these eminent Frenchmen not only made important additions to
our knowledge of double refraction, but Malus discovered the
polarization of light, undoubtedly the most splendid contribution
received by optical science since the analysis of the solar rays.[1063]
It was also in consequence of this, that Fresnel began those profound
researches which placed on a solid basis that great undulatory theory of
which Hooke, Huygens, and above all Young, are to be deemed the
founders, and by which the corpuscular theory of Newton was finally

  [1059] Compare _Powell on Radiant Heat_, p. 261, in _Second Rep. of
         Brit. Assoc._; _Whewell's History of Sciences_, vol. ii. p. 526;
         and his _Philosophy_, vol. i. pp. 339, 340. Prevost was
         professor at Geneva; but his great views were followed up in
         France by Dulong and Petit; and the celebrated theory of dew by
         Dr. Wells is merely an application of them. _Herschel's Nat.
         Philosophy_, pp. 163, 315, 316. Respecting the further
         prosecution of these inquiries, and our present knowledge of
         radiant heat, see _Liebig and Kopp's Reports_, vol. i. p. 79,
         vol. iii. p. 30, vol. iv. p. 45.

  [1060] On Fourier's mathematical theory of conduction, see _Comte_,
         _Philos. Positive_, vol. i. pp. 142, 175, 345, 346, 351, vol.
         ii. pp. 453, 551; _Prout's Bridgewater Treatise_, pp. 203, 204;
         _Kelland on Heat_, p. 6, in _Brit. Assoc. for_ 1841; _Erman's
         Siberia_, vol. i. p. 243; _Humboldt's Cosmos_, vol. i. p. 169;
         _Hitchcock's Geology_, p. 198; _Pouillet_, _Elémens de
         Physique_, ii. 696, 697.

  [1061] Coulomb's memoirs on electricity and magnetism were published
         from 1782 to 1789. _Fifth Report of Brit. Assoc._ p. 4. Compare
         _Liebig and Kopp's Reports_, vol. iii. p. 128; and on his
         relation to [OE]pinus, who wrote in 1759, see _Whewell's Induc.
         Sciences_, vol. iii. pp. 24-26, 35, 36, and _Haüy_, _Traité de
         Minéralogie_, vol. iii. p. 44, vol. iv. p. 14. There is a still
         fuller account of what was effected by Coulomb in M. Pouillet's
         able work, _Elémens de Physique_, vol. i. part ii. pp. 63-79,

  [1062] Fresnel belongs to the present century; but M. Biot says that the
         researches of Malus began before the passage of the Rhine in
         1797. _Biot's Life of Malus_, in _Biog. Univ._ vol. xxvi. p.

  [1063] _Pouillet_, _Elémens de Physique_, vol. ii. part ii. pp. 484,
         514; _Report of Brit. Assoc. for 1832_, p. 314; _Leslie's Nat.
         Philos._ p. 83; _Whewell's Hist. of Sciences_, vol. ii. pp.
         408-410; _Philos. of Sciences_, vol. i. p. 350, vol. ii. p. 25;
         _Herschel's Nat. Philos._ p. 258.

  [1064] The struggle between these rival theories, and the ease with
         which a man of such immense powers as Young was put down, and,
         as it were, suppressed, by those ignorant pretenders who
         presumed to criticize him, will be related in another part of
         this work, as a valuable illustration of the history and habits
         of the English mind. At present the controversy is finished, so
         far as the advocates of emission are concerned; but there are
         still difficulties on the other side, which should have
         prevented Dr. Whewell from expressing himself with such extreme
         positiveness on an unexhausted subject. This able writer says:
         'The undulatory theory of light; the only discovery which can
         stand by the side of the theory of universal gravitation, as a
         doctrine belonging to the same order, for its generality, its
         fertility, and its certainty.' _Whewell's Hist. of the Induc.
         Sciences_, vol. ii. p. 425; see also p. 508.

Thus much as to the progress of French knowledge respecting those parts
of nature which are in themselves invisible, and of which we cannot tell
whether they have a material existence, or whether they are mere
conditions and properties of other bodies.[1065] The immense value of
these discoveries, as increasing the number of known truths, is
incontestable: but, at the same time, another class of discoveries was
made, which, dealing more palpably with the visible world, and being
also more easily understood, produced more immediate results, and, as I
shall presently show, exercised a remarkable influence in strengthening
that democratic tendency which accompanied the French Revolution. It is
impossible, within the limits I have assigned to myself, to give
anything like an adequate notion of the marvellous activity with which
the French now pushed their researches into every department of the
organic and inorganic world; still it is, I think, practicable to
compress into a few pages such a summary of the more salient points as
will afford the reader some idea of what was done by that generation of
great thinkers which flourished in France during the latter half of the
eighteenth century.

  [1065] As to the supposed impossibility of conceiving the existence of
         matter without properties which give rise to forces (note in
         _Paget's Lectures on Pathology_, 1853, vol. i. p. 61), there are
         two reasons which prevent me from attaching much weight to it.
         First, a conception which, in one stage of knowledge, is called
         impossible, becomes, in a later stage, perfectly easy, and so
         natural as to be often termed necessary. Secondly, however
         indissoluble the connexion may appear between force and matter,
         it was not found fatal to the dynamical theory of Leibnitz; it
         has not prevented other eminent thinkers from holding similar
         views; and the arguments of Berkeley, though constantly
         attacked, have never been refuted.

If we confine our view to the globe we inhabit, it must be allowed that
chemistry and geology are the two sciences which not only offer the
fairest promise, but already contain the largest generalizations. The
reason of this will become clear, if we attend to the ideas on which
these two great subjects are based. The idea of chemistry, is the study
of composition;[1066] the idea of geology, is the study of position. The
object of the first is, to learn the laws which govern the properties of
matter; the object of the second is, to learn the laws which govern its
locality. In chemistry, we experiment; in geology, we observe. In
chemistry, we deal with the molecular arrangement of the smallest
atoms;[1067] in geology, with the cosmological arrangement of the
largest masses. Hence it is that the chemist by his minuteness, and the
geologist by his grandeur, touch the two extremes of the material
universe; and, starting from these opposite points, have, as I could
easily prove, a constantly increasing tendency to bring under their own
authority sciences which have at present an independent existence, and
which, for the sake of a division of labour, it is still convenient to
study separately; though it must be the business of philosophy, properly
so called, to integrate them into a complete and effective whole. Indeed
it is obvious, that if we knew all the laws of the composition of
matter, and likewise all the laws of its position, we should likewise
know all the changes of which matter is capable spontaneously, that is,
when uninterrupted by the mind of man. Every phenomenon which any given
substance presents must be caused either by something taking place in
the substance, or else by something taking place out of it, but acting
upon it; while what occurs within must be explicable by its own
composition, and what occurs without must be due to its position in
relation to the objects by which it is affected. This is an exhaustive
statement of every possible contingency, and to one of these two classes
of laws every thing must be referrible; even those mysterious forces
which, whether they be emanations from matter, or whether they be merely
properties of matter, must in an ultimate analysis depend either on the
internal arrangement, or else on the external locality of their physical
antecedents. However convenient, therefore, it may be, in the present
state of our knowledge, to speak of vital principles, imponderable
fluids, and elastic æthers, such terms can only be provisional, and are
to be considered as mere names for that residue of unexplained facts,
which it will be the business of future ages to bring under
generalizations wide enough to cover and include the whole.

  [1066] Every chemical decomposition being only a new form of
         composition. _Robin et Verdeil_, _Chimie Anatomique_, vol. i.
         pp. 455, 456, 498: 'de tout cela il résulte, que la dissolution
         est un cas particulier des combinaisons.'

  [1067] What is erroneously called the atomic theory, is, properly
         speaking, an hypothesis, and not a theory: but hypothesis though
         it be, it is by its aid that we wield the doctrine of definite
         proportions, the corner stone of chemistry.

These ideas of composition and of position being thus the basis of all
natural science, it is not surprising that chemistry and geology, which
are their best, but still their insufficient representatives, should in
modern times have made more progress than any other of the great
branches of human knowledge. Although the chemists and geologists have
not yet risen to the full height of their respective subjects,[1068]
there are few things more curious than to note the way in which, during
the last two generations, they have been rapidly expanding their
views--encroaching on topics with which, at first sight, they appeared
to have no concern--making other branches of inquiry tributary to their
own--and collecting from every quarter that intellectual wealth which,
long hidden in obscure corners, had been wasted in the cultivation of
special and inferior pursuits. This, as being one of the great
intellectual characteristics of the present age, I shall hereafter
examine at considerable length; but what I have now to show is, that in
these two vast sciences, which, though still very imperfect, must
eventually be superior to all others, the first important steps were
made by Frenchmen during the latter half of the eighteenth century.

  [1068] Many of them being still fettered, in geology, by the hypothesis
         of catastrophes; in chemistry, by the hypothesis of vital

That we owe to France the existence of chemistry as a science, will be
admitted by everyone who uses the word science in the sense in which
alone it ought to be understood, namely, as a body of generalizations so
irrefragably true, that, though they may be subsequently covered by
higher generalizations, they cannot be overthrown by them; in other
words, generalizations which may be absorbed, but not refuted. In this
point of view, there are in the history of chemistry only three great
stages. The first stage was the destruction of the phlogistic theory,
and the establishment, upon its ruins, of the doctrines of oxidation,
combustion, and respiration. The second stage was the establishment of
the principle of definite proportions, and the application to it of the
atomic hypothesis. The third stage, above which we have not yet risen,
consists in the union of chemical and electrical laws, and in the
progress we are making towards fusing into one generalization their
separate phenomena. Which of these three stages was in its own age the
most valuable, is not now the question; but it is certain that the first
of them was the work of Lavoisier, by far the greatest of the French
chemists. Before him several important points had been cleared up by the
English chemists, whose experiments ascertained the existence of bodies
formerly unknown. The links, however, to connect the facts, were still
wanting; and until Lavoisier entered the field, there were no
generalizations wide enough to entitle chemistry to be called a science;
or, to speak more properly, the only large generalization commonly
received was that by Stahl, which the great Frenchman proved to be not
only imperfect, but altogether inaccurate. A notice of the vast
discoveries of Lavoisier will be found in many well-known books:[1069]
it is enough to say, that he not only worked out the laws of the
oxidation of bodies and of their combustion, but that he is the author
of the true theory of respiration, the purely chemical character of
which he first demonstrated; thus laying the foundation of those views
respecting the functions of food, which the German chemists subsequently
developed, and which, as I have proved in the second chapter of this
Introduction, may be applied to solve some great problems in the history
of Man. The merit of this was so obviously due to France, that though
the system now established was quickly adopted in other countries,[1070]
it received the name of the French chemistry.[1071] At the same time,
the old nomenclature being full of old errors, a new one was required,
and here again France took the initiative; since this great reformation
was begun by four of her most eminent chemists, who flourished only a
few years before the Revolution.[1072]

  [1069] See, for instance, _Cuvier_, _Progrès des Sciences_, vol. i.
         pp. 32-34, 40; _Liebig's Letters on Chemistry_, p. 282;
         _Turner's Chemistry_, vol. i. pp. 184, 185; _Brande's
         Chemistry_, vol. i. pp. lxxxv.-lxxxix. 302; _Thomson's Animal
         Chemistry_, pp. 520, 634, and a great part of the second volume
         of his _History of Chemistry_; also _Müller's Physiol._ vol. i.
         pp. 90, 323.

  [1070] According to Mr. Harcourt (_Brit. Assoc. Report for 1839_,
         p. 10), Cavendish has this merit, so far as England is
         concerned: 'He, first of all his contemporaries, did justice to
         the rival theory recently proposed by Lavoisier.'

  [1071] La chimie française. _Thomson's Hist. of Chemistry_, vol. ii.
         pp. 101, 130. On the excitement caused by Lavoisier's views, see
         a letter which Jefferson wrote in Paris, in 1789, printed partly
         in _Tucker's Life of Jefferson_, vol. i. pp. 314, 315; and at
         length in _Jefferson's Correspond._ vol. ii. pp. 453-455.

  [1072] 'The first attempt to form a systematic chemical nomenclature was
         made by Lavoisier, Berthollet, G. de Morveau, and Fourcroy, soon
         after the discovery of oxygen gas.' _Turner's Chemistry_, vol.
         i. p. 127. Cuvier (_Progrès des Sciences_, vol. i. p. 39) and
         Robin et Verdeil (_Chimie Anatomique_, vol. i. pp. 602, 603)
         ascribe the chief merit to De Morveau. Thomson says (_Hist. of
         Chemistry_, vol. ii. p. 133): 'This new nomenclature very soon
         made its way into every part of Europe, and became the common
         language of chemists, in spite of the prejudices entertained
         against it, and the opposition which it every where met with.'

While one division of the French thinkers was reducing to order the
apparent irregularities of chemical phenomena, another division of them
was performing precisely the same service for geology. The first step
towards popularizing this noble study was taken by Buffon, who, in the
middle of the eighteenth century, broached a geological theory, which,
though not quite original, excited attention by its eloquence, and by
the lofty speculations with which he connected it.[1073] This was
followed by the more special but still important labours of Rouelle,
Desmarest, Dolomieu, and Montlosier, who, in less than forty years,
effected a complete revolution in the ideas of Frenchmen, by
familiarizing them with the strange conception, that the surface of our
planet, even where it appears perfectly stable, is constantly undergoing
most extensive changes. It began to be understood, that this perpetual
flux takes place not only in those parts of nature which are obviously
feeble and evanescent, but also in those which seem to possess every
element of strength and permanence, such as the mountains of granite
which wall the globe, and are the shell and encasement in which it is
held. As soon as the mind became habituated to this notion of universal
change, the time was ripe for the appearance of some great thinker, who
should generalize the scattered observations, and form them into a
science, by connecting them with some other department of knowledge, of
which the laws, or, at all events, the empirical uniformities, had been
already ascertained.

  [1073] The famous central heat of Buffon is often supposed to have been
         taken from Leibnitz; but, though vaguely taught by the ancients,
         the real founder of the doctrine appears to have been Descartes.
         See _Bordas Demoulin_, _Cartésianisme_, Paris, 1843, vol. i. p.
         312. There is an unsatisfactory note on this in _Prichard's
         Physical Hist._ vol. i. p. 100. Compare _Experimental Hist. of
         Cold_, tit. 17, in _Boyle's Works_, vol. ii. p. 308; _Brewster's
         Life of Newton_, vol. ii. p. 100. On the central heat of the
         Pythagoreans, see _Tennemann_, _Gesch. der Philos._ vol. i. p.
         149; and as to the central fire mentioned in the so-called
         Oracles of Zoroaster, see _Beausobre_, _Hist. de Manichée_, vol.
         ii. p. 152. But the complete ignorance of the ancients
         respecting geology made these views nothing but guesses. Compare
         some sensible remarks in _Matter's Hist. de l'Ecole
         d'Alexandrie_, vol. ii. p. 282.

It was at this point, and while the inquiries of geologists,
notwithstanding their value, were still crude and unsettled, that the
subject was taken up by Cuvier, one of the greatest naturalists Europe
has ever produced. A few others there are who have surpassed him in
depth; but in comprehensiveness it would be hard to find his superior;
and the immense range of his studies gave him a peculiar advantage in
surveying the operations and dependencies of the external world.[1074]
This remarkable man is unquestionably the founder of geology as a
science, since he is not only the first who saw the necessity of
bringing to bear upon it the generalizations of comparative anatomy, but
he is also the first who actually, executing this great idea, succeeded
in coördinating the study of the strata of the earth with the study of
the fossil animals found in them.[1075] Shortly before his researches
were published, many valuable facts had indeed been collected respecting
the separate strata; the primary formations being investigated by the
Germans, the secondary ones by the English.[1076] But these
observations, notwithstanding their merit, were isolated; and they
lacked that vast conception which gave unity and grandeur to the whole,
by connecting inquiries concerning the inorganic changes of the surface
of the globe with other inquiries concerning the organic changes of the
animals the surface contained.

  [1074] This comprehensiveness of Cuvier is justly remarked by M.
         Flourens as the leading characteristic of his mind. _Flourens_,
         _Hist. des Travaux de Cuvier_, pp. 76, 142, 306: 'ce qui
         caractérise partout M. Cuvier, c'est l'esprit vaste.'

  [1075] Hence he is called by Mr. Owen, 'the founder of palæontological
         science.' _Owen on Fossil Mammalia_, in _Report of Brit. Assoc.
         for 1843_, p. 208. It was in 1796 that there were thus 'opened
         to him entirely new views of the theory of the earth.' p. 209.
         See also _Bakewell's Geology_, p. 368; and _Milne Edwards_,
         _Zoologie_, part ii. p. 279. The importance of this step is
         becoming more evident every year; and it has been justly
         remarked, that without palæontology there would be, properly
         speaking, no geology. _Balfour's Botany_, 1849, p. 591. Sir R.
         Murchison (_Siluria_, 1854, p. 366) says, 'it is essentially the
         study of organic remains which has led to the clear subdivision
         of the vast mass of older rocks, which were there formerly
         merged under the unmeaning term "Grauwacke."' In the same able
         work, p. 465, we are told that, 'in surveying the whole series
         of formations, the practical geologist is fully impressed with
         the conviction that there has, at all periods, subsisted a very
         intimate connexion between the existence, or, at all events, the
         preservation of animals, and the media in which they have been
         fossilized.' For an instance of this in the old red sandstone,
         see p. 329.

  [1076] _Whewell's Hist. of Sciences_, vol. iii. p. 679; _Lyell's Geol._
         p. 59. Indeed gneiss received its name from the Germans.
         _Bakewell's Geol._ p. 108.

How completely this immense step is due to France, is evident not only
from the part played by Cuvier, but also from the admitted fact, that to
the French we owe our knowledge respecting tertiary strata,[1077] in
which the organic remains are most numerous, and the general analogy to
our present state is most intimate.[1078] Another circumstance may
likewise be added, as pointing to the same conclusion. This is, that
the first application of the principles of comparative anatomy to the
study of fossil bones was also the work of a Frenchman, the celebrated
Daubenton. Hitherto these bones had been the object of stupid wonder;
some saying that they were rained from heaven, others saying that they
were the gigantic limbs of the ancient patriarchs, men who were believed
to be tall because they were known to be old.[1079] Such idle conceits
were for ever destroyed by Daubenton, in a Memoir he published in
1762;[1080] with which, however, we are not now concerned, except that
it is evidence of the state of the French mind, and is worth noting as a
precursor of the discoveries of Cuvier.

  [1077] Compare _Conybeare's Report on Geology_, p. 371 (_Brit. Assoc.
         for_ 1832), with _Bakewell's Geol._ pp. 367, 368, 419, and
         _Lyell's Geol._ p. 59.

  [1078] In the older half of the secondary rocks, mammals are hardly to
         be found, and they do not become common until the tertiary.
         _Murchison's Siluria_, pp. 466, 467; and _Strickland on
         Ornithology_, p. 210 (_Brit. Assoc. for_ 1844). So, too, in the
         vegetable kingdom, many of the plants in the tertiary strata
         belong to genera still existing; but this is rarely the case
         with the secondary strata; while in the primary strata, even the
         families are different to those now found on the earth.
         _Balfour's Botany_, pp. 592, 593. Compare Wilson's additions to
         _Jussieu's Botany_, 1849, p. 746; and for further illustration
         of this remarkable law of the relation between advancing time
         and diminished similarity, a law suggesting the most curious
         speculations, see _Hitchcock's Geology_, p. 21; _Lyell's
         Geology_, p. 183; and _Owen's Lectures on the Invertebrata_,
         1855, pp. 38, 576.

  [1079] Mr. Geoffroy Saint Hilaire (_Anomalies de l'Organisation_,
         vol. i. pp. 121-127) has collected some evidence respecting the
         opinions formerly held on these subjects. Among other instances,
         he mentions a learned man named Henrion, an academician, and, I
         suppose, a theologian, who in 1718 published a work, in which
         'il assignait à Adam cent vingt-trois pieds neuf pouces;' Noah
         being twenty feet shorter, and so on. The bones of elephants
         were sometimes taken for giants: see a pleasant circumstance in
         _Cuvier_, _Hist. des Sciences_, part ii. p. 43.

  [1080] 'Daubenton a le premier détruit toutes ces idées; il a le premier
         appliqué l'anatomie comparée à la détermination de ces os.... Le
         mémoire où Daubenton a tenté, pour la première fois, la solution
         de ce problème important est de 1762.' _Flourens_, _Travaux de
         Cuvier_, pp. 36, 37. Agassiz (_Report on Fossil Fishes_, p. 82,
         _Brit. Assoc. for_ 1842) claims this merit too exclusively for
         Cuvier, overlooking the earlier researches of Daubenton; and the
         same mistake is made in _Hitchcock's Geol._ p. 249, and in
         _Bakewell's Geol._ p. 384.

By this union of geology and anatomy, there was first introduced into
the study of nature a clear conception of the magnificent doctrine of
universal change; while at the same time there grew up by its side a
conception equally steady of the regularity with which the changes are
accomplished, and of the undeviating laws by which they are governed.
Similar ideas had no doubt been occasionally held in preceding ages; but
the great Frenchmen of the eighteenth century were the first who applied
them to the entire structure of the globe, and who thus prepared the way
for that still higher view for which their minds were not yet
ripe,[1081] but to which in our own time the most advanced thinkers are
rapidly rising. For it is now beginning to be understood, that since
every addition to knowledge affords fresh proof of the regularity with
which all the changes of nature are conducted, we are bound to believe
that the same regularity existed long before our little planet assumed
its present form, and long before man trod the surface of the earth. We
have the most abundant evidence that the movements incessantly occurring
in the material world have a character of uniformity; and this
uniformity is so clearly marked, that in astronomy, the most perfect of
all the sciences, we are able to predict events many years before they
actually happen; nor can any one doubt, that if on other subjects our
science were equally advanced, our predictions would be equally
accurate. It is, therefore, clear, that the burden of proof lies not on
those who assert the eternal regularity of nature, but rather on those
who deny it; and who set up an imaginary period, to which they assign an
imaginary catastrophe, during which they say new laws were introduced
and a new order established. Such gratuitous assumptions, even if they
eventually turn out to be true, are in the present state of knowledge
unwarrantable, and ought to be rejected, as the last remains of those
theological prejudices by which the march of every science has in its
turn been hindered. These and all analagous notions work a double
mischief. They are mischievous, because they cripple the human mind by
imposing limits to its inquiries; and above all they are mischievous,
because they weaken that vast conception of continuous and uninterrupted
law, which few indeed are able firmly to seize, but on which the highest
generalizations of future science must ultimately depend.

  [1081] Even Cuvier held the doctrine of catastrophes; but, as Sir
         Charles Lyell says (_Principles of Geology_, p. 60), his own
         discoveries supplied the means of overthrowing it, and of
         familiarizing us with the idea of continuity. Indeed it was one
         of the fossil observations of Cuvier which first supplied the
         link between reptiles, fishes, and cetaceous mammals. See _Owen
         on Fossil Reptiles_, pp. 60, 198, _Brit. Assoc. for_ 1841; and
         compare _Carus's Comparative Anatomy_, vol. i. p. 155. To this I
         may add, that Cuvier unconsciously prepared the way for
         disturbing the old dogma of fixity of species, though he himself
         clung to it to the last. See some observations, which are very
         remarkable, considering the period when they were written, in
         _Cabanis_, _Rapports du Physique et du Moral_, pp. 427, 428:
         conclusions drawn from Cuvier, which Cuvier would have himself

It is this deep conviction, that changing phenomena have unchanging
laws, and that there are principles of order to which all apparent
disorder may be referred,--it is this, which, in the seventeenth
century, guided in a limited field Bacon, Descartes, and Newton; which
in the eighteenth century was applied to every part of the material
universe; and which it is the business of the nineteenth century to
extend to the history of the human intellect. This last department of
inquiry we owe chiefly to Germany; for, with the single exception of
Vico, no one even suspected the possibility of arriving at complete
generalizations respecting the progress of man, until shortly before the
French Revolution, when the great German thinkers began to cultivate
this, the highest and most difficult of all studies. But the French
themselves were too much occupied with physical science to pay attention
to such matters;[1082] and speaking generally, we may say that, in the
eighteenth century, each of the three leading nations of Europe had a
separate part to play. England diffused a love of freedom; France, a
knowledge of physical science; while Germany, aided in some degree by
Scotland, revived the study of metaphysics, and created the study of
philosophic history. To this classification some exceptions may of
course be made; but that these were the marked characteristics of the
three countries, is certain. After the death of Locke in 1704, and that
of Newton in 1727, there was in England a singular dearth of great
speculative thinkers; and this not because the ability was wanting, but
because it was turned partly into practical pursuits, partly into
political contests. I shall hereafter examine the causes of this
peculiarity, and endeavour to ascertain the extent to which it has
influenced the fortunes of the country. That the results were, on the
whole, beneficial, I entertain no doubt; but they were unquestionably
injurious to the progress of science, because they tended to divert it
from all new truths, except those likely to produce obvious and
practical benefit. The consequence was, that though the English made
several great discoveries, they did not possess, during seventy years, a
single man who took a really comprehensive view of the phenomena of
nature; not one who could be compared with those illustrious thinkers
who in France reformed every branch of physical knowledge. Nor was it
until more than two generations after the death of Newton, that the
first symptoms appeared of a remarkable reaction, which quickly
displayed itself in nearly every department of the national intellect.
In physics, it is enough to mention Dalton, Davy, and Young, each of
whom was in his own field the founder of a new epoch; while on other
subjects I can only just refer, first, to the influence of the Scotch
school; and, secondly, to that sudden and well-deserved admiration for
the German literature of which Coleridge was the principal exponent, and
which infused into the English mind a taste for generalizations higher
and more fearless than any hitherto known. The history of this vast
movement, which began early in the nineteenth century, will be traced
in the future volumes of this work: at present I merely notice it, as
illustrating the fact, that until the movement began, the English,
though superior to the French in several matters of extreme importance,
were for many years inferior to them in those large and philosophic
views, without which not only is the most patient industry of no avail,
but even real discoveries lose their proper value, for want of such
habits of generalization as would trace their connexion with each other,
and consolidate their severed fragments into one vast system of complete
and harmonious truth.

  [1082] Neither Montesquieu nor Turgot appear to have believed in the
         possibility of generalizing the past, so as to predict the
         future; while as to Voltaire, the weakest point in his otherwise
         profound view of history was his love of the old saying, that
         great events spring from little causes; a singular error for so
         comprehensive a mind, because it depended on confusing causes
         with conditions. That a man like Voltaire should have committed
         what now seems so gross a blunder, is a mortifying reflection
         for those who are able to appreciate his vast and penetrating
         genius, and it may teach the best of us a wholesome lesson. This
         fallacy was avoided by Montesquieu and Turgot; and the former
         writer, in particular, displayed such extraordinary ability,
         that there can be little doubt, that had he lived at a later
         period, and thus had the means of employing in their full extent
         the resources of political economy and physical science, he
         would have had the honour not only of laying the basis, but also
         of rearing the structure of the philosophy of the history of
         Man. As it was, he failed in conceiving what is the final object
         of every scientific inquiry, namely, the power of foretelling
         the future: and after his death, in 1755, all the finest
         intellects in France, Voltaire alone excepted, concentrated
         their attention upon the study of natural phenomena.

The interest attached to these inquiries has induced me to treat them at
greater length than I had intended; perhaps at greater length than is
suitable to the suggestive and preparatory character of this
Introduction. But the extraordinary success with which the French now
cultivated physical knowledge is so curious, on account of its connexion
with the Revolution, that I must mention a few more of its most
prominent instances: though, for the sake of brevity, I will confine
myself to those three great divisions which, when put together, form
what is called Natural History, and in all of which we shall see that
the most important steps were taken in France during the latter half of
the eighteenth century.

In the first of these divisions, namely, the department of zoology, we
owe to the Frenchmen of the eighteenth century those generalizations
which are still the highest this branch of knowledge has reached. Taking
zoology in the proper sense of the term, it consists only of two parts,
the anatomical part, which is its statics, and the physiological part,
which is its dynamics: the first referring to the structure of animals;
the other, to their functions.[1083] Both of these were worked out,
nearly at the same time, by Cuvier and Bichat; and the leading
conclusions at which they arrived, remain, after the lapse of sixty
years, undisturbed in their essential points. In 1795, Cuvier laid down
the great principle, that the study and classification of animals was to
be, not as heretofore, with a view to external peculiarities, but with a
view to internal organization; and that, therefore, no real advance
could be made in our knowledge except by extending the boundaries of
comparative anatomy.[1084] This step, simple as it now appears, was of
immense importance, since by it zoology was at once rescued from the
hands of the observer, and thrown into those of the experimenter: the
consequence of which has been the attainment of that precision and
accuracy of detail, which experiment alone can give, and which is every
way superior to such popular facts as observation supplies. By thus
indicating to naturalists the true path of inquiry, by accustoming them
to a close and severe method, and by teaching them to despise those
vague descriptions in which they had formerly delighted, Cuvier laid the
foundation of a progress which, during the last sixty years, has
surpassed the most sanguine expectations. This, then, is the real
service rendered by Cuvier, that he overthrew the artificial system
which the genius of Linnæus had raised up,[1085] and substituted in its
place that far superior scheme which gave the freest scope to future
inquiry; since, according to it, all systems are to be deemed imperfect
and provisional so long as any thing remains to be learned respecting
the comparative anatomy of the animal kingdom. The influence exercised
by this great view was increased by the extraordinary skill and industry
with which its proposer followed it out, and proved the practicability
of his own precepts. His additions to our knowledge of comparative
anatomy are probably more numerous than those made by any other man; but
what has gained him most celebrity is, the comprehensive spirit with
which he used what he acquired. Independently of other generalizations,
he is the author of that vast classification of the whole animal kingdom
into vertebrata, mollusca, articulata, and radiata;[1086] a
classification which keeps its ground, and is one of the most remarkable
instances of that large and philosophic spirit which France brought to
bear upon the phenomena of the material world.[1087]

  [1083] The line of demarcation between anatomy as statical, and
         physiology as dynamical, is clearly drawn by M. Comte (_Philos.
         Positive_, vol. iii. p. 303) and by MM. Robin et Verdeil
         (_Chimie Anatomique_, vol. i. pp. 11, 12, 40, 102, 188, 434).
         What is said by Carus (_Comparative Anatomy_, vol. ii. p. 356)
         and by Sir Benjamin Brodie (_Lectures on Pathology and Surgery_,
         p. 6) comes nearly to the same thing, though expressed with less
         precision. On the other hand, M. Milne Edwards (_Zoologie_, part
         i. p. 9) calls physiology 'la science de la vie;' which, if
         true, would simply prove that there is no physiology at all, for
         there certainly is at present no science of life.

  [1084] In his _Règne Animal_, vol. i. pp. vi. vii., he says that
         preceding naturalists 'n'avaient guère considéré que les
         rapports extérieurs de ces espèces, et personne ne s'était
         occupé de coördonner les classes et les ordres d'après
         l'ensemble de la structure.... Je dus donc, et cette obligation
         me prit un temps considérable, je dus faire marcher de front
         l'anatomie et la zoologie, les dissections et le classement....
         Les premiers résultats de ce double travail parurent en 1795,
         dans un mémoire spécial sur une nouvelle division des animaux à
         sang blanc.'

  [1085] On the opposition between the methods of Linnæus and of Cuvier,
         see _Jenyns' Report on Zoology_, pp. 144, 145, in _Brit. Assoc.
         for_ 1834.

  [1086] The foundations of this celebrated arrangement was laid by
         Cuvier, in a paper read in 1795. _Whewell's History of the
         Induc. Sciences_, vol. iii. p. 494. It appears, however
         (_Flourens_, _Travaux de Cuvier_, pp. 69, 70), that it was in,
         or just after, 1791, that the dissection of some mollusca
         suggested to him the idea of reforming the classification of the
         whole animal kingdom. Compare _Cuvier_, _Règne Animal_, vol. i.
         pp. 51, 52 note.

  [1087] The only formidable opposition made to Cuvier's arrangement has
         proceeded from the advocates of the doctrine of circular
         progression: a remarkable theory, of which Lamarck and Macleay
         are the real originators, and which is certainly supported by a
         considerable amount of evidence. Still, among the great majority
         of competent zoologists, the fourfold division holds its ground,
         although the constantly-increasing accuracy of microscopical
         observations has detected a nervous system much lower in the
         scale than was formerly suspected, and has thereby induced some
         anatomists to divide the radiata into acrita and nematoneura.
         _Owen's Invertebrata_, 1855, pp. 14, 15; and _Rymer Jones's
         Animal Kingdom_, 1855, p. 4. As, however, it seems probable that
         all animals have a distinct nervous system, this subdivision is
         only provisional; and it is very likely that when our
         microscopes are more improved, we shall have to return to
         Cuvier's arrangement. Some of Cuvier's successors have removed
         the apodous echinoderms from the radiata; but in this Mr. Rymer
         Jones (_Animal Kingdom_, p. 211) vindicates the Cuverian

Great, however, as is the name of Cuvier, a greater still remains
behind. I allude, of course, to Bichat, whose reputation is steadily
increasing as our knowledge advances, and who, if we compare the
shortness of his life with the reach and depth of his views, must be
pronounced the most profound thinker and the most consummate observer by
whom the organization of the animal frame has yet been studied.[1088] He
wanted, indeed, that comprehensive knowledge for which Cuvier was
remarkable; but though, on this account, his generalizations were drawn
from a smaller surface, they were, on the other hand, less provisional:
they were, I think, more complete, and certainly they dealt with more
momentous topics. For the attention of Bichat was preëminently directed
to the human frame[1089] in the largest sense of the word; his object
being so to investigate the organization of man, as to rise, if
possible, to some knowledge concerning the causes and nature of life. In
this magnificent enterprise, considered as a whole, he failed; but what
he effected in certain parts of it is so extraordinary, and has given
such an impetus to some of the highest branches of inquiry, that I will
briefly indicate his method, in order to compare it with that other
method which, at the same moment, Cuvier adopted with immense success.

  [1088] We may except Aristotle; but between Aristotle and Bichat I can
         find no middle man.

  [1089] But not exclusively. Mr. Blainville (_Physiol. comparée_, vol.
         ii. p. 304) says, 'celui qui, comme Bichat, bornait ses études à
         l'anatomie humaine;' and at p. 350, 'quand on ne considère que
         ce qui se passe chez l'homme, ainsi que l'a fait Bichat.' This,
         however, is much too positively stated. Bichat mentions 'les
         expériences nombreuses que j'ai faites sur les animaux vivans.'
         _Bichat_, _Anatomie Générale_, vol. i. p. 332; and for other
         instances of his experiments on animals below man, see the same
         work, vol. i. pp. 164, 284, 311, 312, 326, vol. ii. pp. 13, 25,
         69, 73, 107, 133, 135, 225, 264, 423, vol. iii. pp. 151, 218,
         242, 262, 363, 364, 400, 478, 501, vol. iv. pp. 27, 28, 34, 46,
         229, 247, 471: see also _Bichat_, _Recherches sur la Vie_, pp.
         262, 265, 277, 312, 336, 356, 358, 360, 368, 384, 400, 411, 439,
         455, 476, 482, 494, 512: and his _Traité des Membranes_, pp. 48,
         64, 67, 130, 158, 196, 201, 224. These are all experiments on
         inferior animals, which aided this great physiologist in
         establishing those vast generalizations, which, though applied
         to man, were by no means collected merely from human anatomy.
         The impossibility of understanding physiology without studying
         comparative anatomy, is well pointed out in Mr. Rymer Jones's
         work, _Organization of the Animal Kingdom_, 1855, pp. 601, 791.

The important step taken by Cuvier was, that he insisted on the
necessity of a comprehensive study of the organs of animals, instead of
following the old plan of merely describing their habits and external
peculiarities. This was a vast improvement, since, in the place of loose
and popular observations, he substituted direct experiment, and hence
introduced into zoology a precision formerly unknown.[1090] But Bichat,
with a still keener insight, saw that even this was not enough. He saw
that, each organ being composed of different tissues, it was requisite
to study the tissues themselves, before we could learn the way in which,
by their combinations, the organs are produced. This, like all really
great ideas, was not entirely struck out by a single man; for the
physiological value of the tissues had been recognized by three or four
of the immediate predecessors of Bichat, such as Carmichael, Smyth,
Bonn, Bordeu, and Fallopius. These inquirers, however, notwithstanding
their industry, had effected nothing of much moment, since, though they
collected several special facts, there was in their observations that
want of harmony and that general incompleteness always characteristic of
the labours of men who do not rise to a commanding view of the subject
with which they deal.[1091]

  [1090] Mr. Swainson (_Geography and Classification of Animals_, p. 170)
         complains, strangely enough, that Cuvier 'rejects the more plain
         and obvious characters which every one can see, and which had
         been so happily employed by Linnæus, and makes the differences
         between these groups to depend upon circumstances which no one
         but an anatomist can understand.' See also p. 173: 'characters
         which, however good, are not always comprehensible, except to
         the anatomist.' (Compare _Hodgson on the Ornithology of Nepal_,
         in _Asiatic Researches_, vol. xix. p. 179, Calcutta, 1836.) In
         other words, this is a complaint that Cuvier attempted to raise
         zoology to a science, and, therefore, of course, deprived it of
         some of its popular attractions, in order to invest it with
         other attractions of a far higher character. The errors
         introduced into the natural sciences by relying upon observation
         instead of experiment, have been noticed by many writers; and by
         none more judiciously than M. Saint Hilaire in his _Anomalies de
         l'Organisation_, vol. i. p. 98.

  [1091] It is very doubtful if Bichat was acquainted with the works of
         Smyth, Bonn, or Fallopius, and I do not remember that he any
         where even mentions their names. He had, however, certainly
         studied Bordeu; but I suspect that the author by whom he was
         most influenced was Pinel, whose pathological generalizations
         were put forward just about the time when Bichat began to write.
         Compare _Bichat_, _Traité des Membranes_, pp. 3, 4, 107, 191;
         _Béclard_, _Anat. Gén._ pp. 65, 66; _Bouillaud_, _Philos.
         Médicale_, p. 26; _Blainville_, _Physiol. comparée_, vol. i. p.
         284, vol. ii. pp. 19, 252; _Henle_, _Anat. Gén._ vol. i.
         pp. 119, 120.

It was under these circumstances that Bichat began those researches,
which, looking at their actual and still more at their prospective
results, are probably the most valuable contribution ever made to
physiology by a single mind. In 1801, only a year before his
death,[1092] he published his great work on anatomy, in which the study
of the organs is made altogether subservient to the study of the tissues
composing them. He lays it down, that the body of man consists of
twenty-one distinct tissues, all of which, though essentially different,
have in common the two great properties of extensibility and
contractility.[1093] These tissues he, with indefatigable
industry,[1094] subjected to every sort of examination; he examined
them in different ages and diseases, with a view to ascertain the laws
of their normal and pathological development.[1095] He studied the way
each tissue is affected by moisture, air, and temperature; also the way
in which their properties are altered by various chemical
substances,[1096] and even their effect on the taste.[1097] By these
means, and by many other experiments tending in the same direction, he
took so great and sudden a step, that he is to be regarded not merely as
an innovator on an old science, but rather as the creator of a new
one.[1098] And although subsequent observers have corrected some of his
conclusions, this has only been done by following his method; the value
of which is now so generally recognized, that it is adopted by nearly
all the best anatomists, who, differing in other points, are agreed as
to the necessity of basing the future progress of anatomy on a knowledge
of the tissues, the supreme importance of which Bichat was the first to

  [1092] _Biog. Univ._ vol. iv. pp. 468, 469.

  [1093] For a list of the tissues, see _Bichat_, _Anat. Gén._ vol. i.
         p. 49. At p. 50 he says, 'en effet, quel que soit le point de
         vue sous lequel on considère ces tissus, ils ne se ressemblent
         nullement: c'est la nature, et non la science, qui a tiré une
         ligne de démarcation entre eux.' There is, however, now reason
         to think, that both animal and vegetable tissues are, in all
         their varieties, referrible to a cellular origin. This great
         view, which M. Schwann principally worked out, will, if fully
         established, be the largest generalization we possess respecting
         the organic world, and it would be difficult to overrate its
         value. Still there is danger lest, in prematurely reaching at so
         vast a law, we should neglect the subordinate, but
         strongly-marked differences between the tissues as they actually
         exist. Burdach (_Traité de Physiologie_, vol. vi. pp. 195, 196)
         has made some good remarks on the confusion introduced into the
         study of tissues, by neglecting those salient characteristics
         which were indicated by Bichat.

  [1094] Pinel says, 'dans on seul hiver il ouvrit plus de six cents
         cadavres.' _Notice sur Bichat_, p. xiii., in vol. i of _Anat.
         Gén._ By such enormous labour, and by working day and night in a
         necessarily polluted atmosphere, he laid the foundation for that
         diseased habit which caused a slight accident to prove fatal,
         and carried him off at the age of thirty-one. 'L'esprit a peine
         à concevoir que la vie d'un seul homme puisse suffire à tant de
         travaux, à tant de découvertes, faites ou indiquées: Bichat est
         mort avant d'avoir accompli sa trente-deuxième année!' _Pinel_,
         p. xvi.

  [1095] To this sort of comparative anatomy (if it may be so called),
         which before his time scarcely existed, Bichat attached great
         importance, and clearly saw that it would eventually become of
         the utmost value for pathology. _Anat. Gén._ vol. i. pp. 331,
         332, vol. ii. pp. 234-241, vol. iv. p. 417, &c. Unfortunately
         these investigations were not properly followed up by his
         immediate successors; and Müller, writing long after his death,
         was obliged to refer chiefly to Bichat for 'the true principles
         of general pathology.' _Müller's Physiology_, 1840, vol. i. p.
         808. M. Vogel too, in his _Pathological Anatomy_, 1847, pp. 398,
         413, notices the error committed by the earlier pathologists, in
         looking at changes in the organs, and neglecting those in the
         tissues; and the same remark is made in _Robin et Verdeil_,
         _Chimie Anatomique_, 1853, vol. i. p. 45; and in _Henle_,
         _Traité d'Anatomie_, vol. i. p. vii., Paris, 1843. That
         'structural anatomy,' and 'structural development,' are to be
         made the foundations of pathology, is, moreover, observed in
         _Simon's Pathology_, 1850, p. 115 (compare _Williams's
         Principles of Medicine_, 1848, p. 67), who ascribes the chief
         merit of this 'rational pathology' to Henle and Schwann:
         omitting to mention that they only executed Bichat's scheme and
         (be it said with every respect for these eminent men) executed
         it with a comprehensiveness much inferior to that displayed by
         their great predecessor. In _Broussais_, _Examen des Doctrines
         Médicales_, vol. iv. pp. 106, 107, there are some just and
         liberal observations on the immense service which Bichat
         rendered to pathology. See also _Béclard_, _Anatomie_, Paris,
         1852, p. 184.

  [1096] _Bichat_, _Anat. Gén._ vol. i. pp. 51, 160, 161, 259, 372, vol.
         ii. pp. 47, 448, 449, vol. iii. pp. 33, 168, 208, 309, 406, 435,
         vol. iv. pp. 21, 52, 455-461, 517.

  [1097] According to M. Comte (_Philos. Pos._ vol. iii. p. 319), no one
         had thought of this before Bichat. MM. Robin et Verdeil, in
         their recent great work, fully admit the necessity of employing
         this singular resource. _Chimie Anatomique_, 1853, vol. i.
         pp. 18, 125, 182, 357, 531.

  [1098] 'Dès-lors il créa une science nouvelle, l'anatomie générale.'
         _Pinel sur Bichat_, p. xii. 'A Bichat appartient véritablement
         la gloire d'avoir conçu et surtout exécuté, le premier, le plan
         d'une anatomie nouvelle.' _Bouillaud_, _Philos. Médicale_, p.
         27. 'Bichat fut le créateur de l'histologie en assignant des
         caractères précis à chaque classe de tissus.' _Burdach_,
         _Physiologie_, vol. vii. p. 111. 'Le créateur de l'anatomie
         générale fut Bichat.' _Henle_, _Anatomie_, vol. i. p. 120.
         Similar remarks will be found in _Saint-Hilaire_, _Anomalies de
         l'Organisation_, vol. i. p. 10; and in _Robin et Verdeil_,
         _Chimie Anat._ vol. i. p. xviii., vol. iii. p. 405.

  [1099] In _Béclard_, _Anat. Gén. 1852_, p. 61, it is said that 'la
         recherche de ces tissus élémentaires, ou éléments organiques,
         est devenue la préoccupation presque exclusive des anatomistes
         de nos jours.' Compare _Blainville_, _Physiol. Gén. et Comp._
         vol. i. p. 93: 'Aujourd'hui nous allons plus avant, nous
         pénétrons dans la structure intime, non seulement de ces
         organes, mais encore des tissus qui concourent à leur
         composition; nous faisons en un mot de la véritable anatomie, de
         l'anatomie proprement dite.' And at p. 105: 'c'est un genre de
         recherches qui a été cultivé avec beaucoup d'activité, et qui a
         reçu une grande extension depuis la publication du bel ouvrage
         de Bichat.' See also vol. ii. p. 303.

         In consequence of this movement, there has sprung up, under the
         name of _Degenerations of Tissues_, an entirely new branch of
         morbid anatomy, of which, I believe, no instance will be found
         before the time of Bichat, but the value of which is now
         recognized by most pathologists. Compare _Paget's Surgical
         Pathology_, vol. i. pp. 98-112; _Williams's Principles of
         Medicine_, pp. 369-376; _Burdach's Physiologie_, vol. viii. p.
         367; _Reports of Brit. Assoc._ vol. vi. p. 147; _Jones's and
         Sieveking's Pathological Anatomy_, 1854, pp. 154-156, 302-304,
         555-558. 'They are,' say these last writers, 'of extremely
         frequent occurrence; but their nature has scarcely been
         recognized until of late.'

The methods of Bichat and of Cuvier, when put together, exhaust the
actual resources of zoological science; so that all subsequent
naturalists have been compelled to follow one of these two schemes; that
is, either to follow Cuvier in comparing the organs of animals, or else
to follow Bichat in comparing the tissues which compose the
organs.[1100] And inasmuch as one comparison is chiefly suggestive of
function, and the other comparison of structure, it is evident, that to
raise the study of the animal world to the highest point of which it is
capable, both these great plans are necessary; but if we ask which of
the two plans, unaided by the other, is more likely to produce important
results, the palm must, I think, be yielded to that proposed by Bichat.
Certainly, if we look at the question as one to be decided by authority,
a majority of the most eminent anatomists and physiologists now incline
to the side of Bichat, rather than to that of Cuvier; while, as a matter
of history, it may be proved that the reputation of Bichat has, with the
advance of knowledge, increased more rapidly than that of his great
rival. What, however, appears to me still more decisive, is, that the
two most important discoveries made in our time respecting the
classification of animals, are entirely the result of the method which
Bichat suggested. The first discovery is that made by Agassiz, who, in
the course of his ichthyological researches, was led to perceive that
the arrangement by Cuvier according to organs, did not fulfil its
purpose in regard to fossil fishes, because in the lapse of ages the
characteristics of their structure were destroyed.[1101] He, therefore,
adopted the only other remaining plan, and studied the tissues, which,
being less complex than the organs, are oftener found intact. The result
was the very remarkable discovery, that the tegumentary membrane of
fishes is so intimately connected with their organization, that if the
whole of a fish has perished except this membrane, it is practicable, by
noting its characteristics, to reconstruct the animal in its most
essential parts. Of the value of this principle of harmony, some idea
may be formed from the circumstance, that on it Agassiz has based the
whole of that celebrated classification, of which he is the sole author,
and by which fossil ichthyology has for the first time assumed a precise
and definite shape.[1102]

  [1100] Cuvier completely neglected the study of tissues; and in the very
         few instances in which he mentions them, his language is
         extremely vague. Thus, in his _Règne Animal_, vol. i. p. 12, he
         says of living bodies, 'leur tissu est donc composé de réseaux
         et de mailles, ou de fibres et de lames solides, qui renferment
         des liquides dans leurs intervalles.'

  [1101] A well-known ornithologist makes the same complaint respecting
         the classification of birds. _Strickland on Ornithology_, _Brit.
         Assoc. for_ 1844, pp. 209, 210. Even in regard to living
         species, Cuvier (_Règne Animal_, vol. ii. p. 126) says: 'La
         classe des poissons est de toutes celle qui offre le plus de
         difficultés quand on veut la subdiviser en ordres d'après des
         caractères fixes et sensibles.'

  [1102] The discoveries of M. Agassiz are embodied in his great work,
         _Recherches sur les Poissons fossiles_: but the reader who may
         not have an opportunity of consulting that costly publication,
         will find two essays by this eminent naturalist, which will give
         an idea of his treatment of the subject, in _Reports of Brit.
         Assoc. for 1842_, pp. 80-88, and for 1844, pp. 279-310. How
         essential this study is to the geologist, appears from the
         remark of Sir R. Murchison (_Siluria_, 1854, p. 417), that
         'fossil fishes have everywhere proved the most exact
         chronometers of the age of rocks.'

The other discovery, of which the application is much more extensive,
was made in exactly the same way. It consists of the striking fact, that
the teeth of each animal have a necessary connexion with the entire
organization of its frame; so that, within certain limits, we can
predict the organization by examining the tooth. This beautiful instance
of the regularity of the operations of nature was not known until more
than thirty years after the death of Bichat, and it is evidently due to
the prosecution of that method which he sedulously inculcated. For the
teeth never having been properly examined in regard to their separate
tissues, it was believed that they were essentially devoid of structure,
or, as some thought, were simply a fibrous texture.[1103] But by minute
microscopic investigations, it has been recently ascertained that the
tissues of the teeth are strictly analogous to those of other parts of
the body;[1104] and that the ivory, or dentine, as it is now
called,[1105] is highly organized; that it, as well as the enamel, is
cellular, and is, in fact, a development of the living pulp. This
discovery, which, to the philosophic anatomist, is pregnant with
meaning, was made about 1838; and though the preliminary steps were
taken by Purkinjé, Retzius, and Schwann, the principal merit is due to
Nasmyth and Owen,[1106] between whom it is disputed, but whose rival
claims we are not here called upon to adjust.[1107] What I wish to
observe is, that the discovery is similar to that which we owe to
Agassiz; similar in the method by which it was worked out, and also in
the results which have followed from it. Both are due to a recognition
of the fundamental maxim of Bichat, that the study of organs must be
subordinate to the study of tissues, and both have supplied the most
valuable aid to zoological classification. On this point, the service
rendered by Owen is incontestable, whatever may be thought of his
original claims. This eminent naturalist has, with immense industry,
applied the discovery to all vertebrate animals; and in an elaborate
work, specially devoted to the subject, he has placed beyond dispute the
astonishing fact, that the structure of a single tooth is a criterion of
the nature and organization of the species to which it belongs.[1108]

  [1103] That they were composed of fibres, was the prevailing doctrine,
         until the discovery of their tubes, in 1835, by Purkinjé. Before
         Purkinjé, only one observer, Leeuwenh[oe]k, had announced their
         tubular structure; but no one believed what he said, and
         Purkinjé was unacquainted with his researches. Compare
         _Nasmyth's Researches on the Teeth_, 1839, p. 159; _Owen's
         Odontography_, 1840-1845, vol. i. pp. ix. x.; _Henle_, _Anat.
         Gén._ vol. ii. p. 457; _Reports of Brit. Assoc._ vol. vii. pp.
         135, 136 (_Transac. of Sections_).

  [1104] Mr. Nasmyth, in his valuable, but, I regret to add, posthumous
         work, notices, as the result of these discoveries, 'the close
         affinity subsisting between the dental and other organized
         tissues of the animal frame.' _Researches on the Development,
         &c. of the Teeth_, 1849, p. 198. This is, properly speaking, a
         continuation of Mr. Nasmyth's former book, which bore the same
         title, and was published in 1839.

  [1105] This name, which Mr. Owen appears to have first suggested, has
         been objected to, though, as it seems to me, on insufficient
         grounds. Compare _Owen's Odontography_, vol. i. p. iii., with
         _Nasmyth's Researches_, 1849, pp. 3, 4. It is adopted in
         _Carpenter's Human Physiol._ 1846, p. 154; and in _Jones and
         Sieveking's Patholog. Anat._ 1854, pp. 483, 486.

  [1106] See the correspondence in _Brit. Assoc. for_ 1841, Sec.,
         pp. 2-23.

  [1107] In the notice of it in _Whewell's Hist. of Sciences_, vol. iii.
         p. 678, nothing is said about Mr. Nasmyth; while in that in
         _Wilson's Human Anatomy_, p. 65, edit. 1851, nothing is said
         about Mr. Owen. A specimen of the justice with which men treat
         their contemporaries. Dr. Grant (_Supplement to Hooper's Medical
         Dict._ 1848, p. 1390) says, 'the researches of Mr. Owen tend to
         confirm those of Mr. Nasmyth.' Nasmyth, in his last work
         (_Researches on the Teeth_, 1849, p. 81), only refers to Owen to
         point out an error; while Owen (_Odontography_, vol. i.
         pp. xlvi.-lvi.) treats Nasmyth as an impudent plagiarist.

  [1108] Dr. Whewell (_Hist. of Induc. Sciences_, vol. iii. p. 678) says,
         that 'he has carried into every part of the animal kingdom an
         examination, founded upon this discovery, and has published the
         results of this in his _Odontography_.' If this able, but rather
         hasty writer, had read the _Odontography_, he would have found
         that Mr. Owen, so far from carrying the examination 'into every
         part of the animal kingdom,' distinctly confines himself to 'one
         of the primary divisions of the animal kingdom' (I quote his own
         words from _Odontography_, vol. i. p. lxvii.), and appears to
         think, that below the vertebrata, the inquiry would furnish
         little or no aid for the purposes of classification.

Whoever has reflected much on the different stages through which our
knowledge has successively passed, must, I think, be led to the
conclusion, that while fully recognizing the great merit of these
investigators of the animal frame, our highest admiration ought to be
reserved not for those who make the discoveries, but rather for those
who point out how the discoveries are to be made.[1109] When the true
path of inquiry has once been indicated, the rest is comparatively easy.
The beaten highway is always open; and the difficulty is, not to find
those who will travel the old road, but those who will make a fresh one.
Every age produces in abundance men of sagacity and of considerable
industry, who, while perfectly competent to increase the details of a
science, are unable to extend its distant boundaries. This is because
such extension must be accompanied by a new method,[1110] which, to be
valuable as well as new, supposes on the part of its suggester, not only
a complete mastery over the resources of his subject, but also the
possession of originality and comprehensiveness,--the two rarest forms
of human genius. In this consists the real difficulty of every great
pursuit. As soon as any department of knowledge has been generalized
into laws, it contains, either in itself or in its applications, three
distinct branches; namely, inventions, discoveries, and method. Of
these, the first corresponds to art; the second to science; and the
third to philosophy. In this scale, inventions have by far the lowest
place, and minds of the highest order are rarely occupied by them. Next
in the series come discoveries; and here the province of intellect
really begins, since here the first attempt is made to search after
truth on its own account, and to discard those practical considerations
to which inventions are of necessity referred. This is science properly
so called; and how difficult it is to reach this stage, is evident from
the fact, that all half-civilized nations have made many great
inventions, but no great discoveries. The highest, however, of all the
three stages, is the philosophy of method, which bears the same relation
to science that science bears to art. Of its immense, and indeed supreme
importance, the annals of knowledge supply abundant evidence; and for
want of it, some very great men have effected absolutely nothing,
consuming their lives in fruitless industry, not because their labour
was slack, but because their method was sterile. The progress of every
science is affected more by the scheme according to which it is
cultivated, than by the actual ability of the cultivators themselves. If
they who travel in an unknown country, spend their force in running on
the wrong road, they will miss the point at which they aim, and
perchance may faint and fall by the way. In that long and difficult
journey after truth, which the human mind has yet to perform, and of
which we in our generation can only see the distant prospect, it is
certain that success will depend not on the speed with which men hasten
in the path of inquiry, but rather on the skill with which that path is
selected for them by those great and comprehensive thinkers, who are as
the lawgivers and founders of knowledge; because they supply its
deficiencies, not by investigating particular difficulties, but by
establishing some large and sweeping innovation, which opens up a new
vein of thought, and creates fresh resources, which it is left for their
posterity to work out and apply.

  [1109] But in comparing the merits of discoverers themselves, we must
         praise him who proves rather than him who suggests. See some
         sensible remarks in _Owen's Odontography_, vol. i. p. xlix.;
         which, however, do not affect my observations on the superiority
         of method.

  [1110] By a new method of inquiring into a subject, I mean an
         application to it of generalizations from some other subject, so
         as to widen the field of thought. To call this a new method, is
         rather vague; but there is no other word to express the process.
         Properly speaking, there are only two methods, the inductive and
         the deductive; which, though essentially different, are so mixed
         together, as to make it impossible wholly to separate them. The
         discussion of the real nature of this difference I reserve for
         my comparison, in the next volume, of the German and American

It is from this point of view that we are to rate the value of Bichat,
whose works, like those of all men of the highest eminence,--like those
of Aristotle, Bacon, and Descartes,--mark an epoch in the history of the
human mind; and as such, can only be fairly estimated by connecting them
with the social and intellectual condition of the age in which they
appeared. This gives an importance and a meaning to the writings of
Bichat, of which few indeed are fully aware. The two greatest recent
discoveries respecting the classification of animals are, as we have
just seen, the result of his teaching; but his influence has produced
other effects still more momentous. He, aided by Cabanis, rendered to
physiology the incalculable service, of preventing it from participating
in that melancholy reaction to which France was exposed early in the
nineteenth century. This is too large a subject to discuss at present;
but I may mention, that when Napoleon, not from feelings of conviction,
but for selfish purposes of his own, attempted to restore the power of
ecclesiastical principles, the men of letters, with disgraceful
subserviency, fell into his view; and there began a marked decline in
that independent and innovating spirit, with which during fifty years
the French had cultivated the highest departments of knowledge. Hence
that metaphysical school arose, which, though professing to hold aloof
from theology, was intimately allied with it; and whose showy conceits
form, in their ephemeral splendour, a striking contrast to the severer
methods followed in the preceding generation.[1111] Against this
movement, the French physiologists have, as a body, always protested;
and it may be clearly proved that their opposition, which even the great
abilities of Cuvier were unable to win over, is partly due to the
impetus given by Bichat, in enforcing in his own pursuit the necessity
of rejecting those assumptions by which metaphysicians and theologians
seek to control every science. As an illustration of this I may mention
two facts worthy of note. The first is, that in England, where during a
considerable period the influence of Bichat was scarcely felt, many,
even of our eminent physiologists, have shown a marked disposition to
ally themselves with the reactionary party; and have not only opposed
such novelties as they could not immediately explain, but have degraded
their own noble science by making it a handmaid to serve the purposes of
natural theology. The other fact is, that in France the disciples of
Bichat have, with scarcely an exception, rejected the study of final
causes, to which the school of Cuvier still adheres: while as a natural
consequence, the followers of Bichat are associated in geology with the
doctrine of uniformity; in zoology, with that of the transmutation of
species; and in astronomy, with the nebular hypothesis: vast and
magnificent schemes, under whose shelter the human mind seeks an escape
from that dogma of interference, which the march of knowledge every
where reduces, and the existence of which is incompatible with those
conceptions of eternal order, towards which, during the last two
centuries, we have been constantly tending.

  [1111] In literature and in theology, Chateaubriand and De Maistre were
         certainly the most eloquent, and were probably the most
         influential leaders of this reaction. Neither of them liked
         induction, but preferred reasoning deductively from premises
         which they assumed, and which they called first principles. De
         Maistre, however, was a powerful dialectician, and on that
         account his works are read by many who care nothing for the
         gorgeous declamation of Chateaubriand. In metaphysics, a
         precisely similar movement occurred; and Laromiguière, Royer
         Collard, and Maine de Biran, founded that celebrated school
         which culminated in M. Cousin, and which is equally
         characterized by an ignorance of the philosophy of induction,
         and by a want of sympathy with physical science.

These great phenomena, which the French intellect presents, and of which
I have only sketched a rapid outline, will be related with suitable
detail in the latter part of this work, when I shall examine the present
condition of the European mind, and endeavour to estimate its future
prospects. To complete, however, our appreciation of Bichat, it will be
necessary to take notice of what some consider the most valuable of all
his productions, in which he aimed at nothing less than an exhaustive
generalization of the functions of life. It appears, indeed, to me, that
in many important points Bichat here fell short; but the work itself
still stands alone, and is so striking an instance of the genius of the
author, that I will give a short account of its fundamental views.

Life considered as a whole has two distinct branches;[1112] one branch
being characteristic of animals, the other of vegetables. That which is
confined to animals is called animal life; that which is common both to
animals and vegetables is called organic life. While, therefore, plants
have only one life, man has two distinct lives, which are governed by
entirely different laws, and which, though intimately connected,
constantly oppose each other. In the organic life, man exists solely for
himself; in the animal life he comes in contact with others. The
functions of the first are purely internal, those of the second are
external. His organic life is limited to the double process of creation
and destruction: the creative process being that of assimilation, as
digestion, circulation, and nutrition; the destructive process being
that of excretion, such as exhalation and the like. This is what man has
in common with plants; and of this life he, when in a natural state, is
unconscious. But the characteristic of his animal life is consciousness,
since by it he is made capable of moving, of feeling, of judging. By
virtue of the first life he is merely a vegetable; by the addition of
the second he becomes an animal.

  [1112] _Bichat_, _Recherches sur la Vie et la Mort_, pp. 5-9, 226; and
         his _Anat. Gén._ vol. i. p. 72.

If now we look at the organs by which in man the functions of these two
lives are carried on, we shall be struck by the remarkable fact, that
the organs of his vegetable life are very irregular, those of his animal
life very symmetrical. His vegetative, or organic, life is conducted by
the stomach, the intestines, and the glandular system in general, such
as the liver and the pancreas; all of which are irregular, and admit of
the greatest variety of form and development, without their functions
being seriously disturbed. But in his animal life the organs are so
essentially symmetrical, that a very slight departure from the ordinary
type impairs their action.[1113] Not only the brain, but also the
organs of sense, as the eyes, the nose, the ears, are perfectly
symmetrical; and they as well as the other organs of animal life, as the
feet and hands, are double, presenting on each side of the body two
separate parts which correspond with each other, and produce a symmetry
unknown to our vegetative life, the organs of which are, for the most
part, merely single, as in the stomach, liver, pancreas, and

  [1113] 'C'est de là, sans doute, que naît cette autre différence entre
         les organes des deux vies, savoir, que la nature se livre bien
         plus rarement à des écarts de conformation dans la vie animale
         que dans la vie organique.... C'est une remarque qui n'a pu
         échapper à celui dont les dissections ont été un peu
         multipliées, que les fréquentes variations de formes, de
         grandeur, de position, de direction des organes internes, comme
         la rate, le foie, l'estomac, les reins, les organes salivaires,
         etc.... Jetons maintenant les yeux sur les organes de la vie
         animale, sur les sens, les nerfs, le cerveau, les muscles
         volontaires, le larynx; tout y est exact, précis, rigoureusement
         déterminé dans la forme, la grandeur et la position. On n'y voit
         presque jamais de variétés, de conformation; s'il en existe, les
         fonctions sont troublées, anéanties; tandis qu'elles restent les
         mêmes dans la vie organique, au milieu des altérations diverses
         des parties.' _Bichat sur la Vie_, pp. 23-25. Part of this view
         is corroborated by the evidence collected by Saint Hilaire
         (_Anomalies de l'Organisation_, vol. i. pp. 248 seq.) of the
         extraordinary aberrations to which the vegetative organs are
         liable; and he mentions (vol. ii. p. 8) the case of a man, in
         whose body, on dissection, 'on reconnut que tous les viscères
         étaient transposés.' Comparative anatomy supplies another
         illustration. The bodies of mollusca are less symmetrical than
         those of articulata; and in the former, the 'vegetal series of
         organs,' says Mr. Owen, are more developed than the animal
         series; while in the articulata, 'the advance is most
         conspicuous in the organs peculiar to animal life.' _Owen's
         Invertebrata_, p. 470. Compare _Burdach's Physiologie_, vol. i.
         pp. 153, 189; and a confirmation of the 'unsymmetrical' organs
         of the gasterpoda, in _Grant's Comparative Anatomy_, p. 461.
         This curious antagonism is still further seen in the
         circumstance, that idiots, whose functions of nutrition and of
         excretion are often very active, are at the same time remarkable
         for a want of symmetry in the organs of sensation. _Esquirol_,
         _Maladies Mentales_, vol. ii. pp. 331, 332.

         A result, though perhaps an unconscious one, of the application
         and extension of these ideas, is, that within the last few years
         there has arisen a pathological theory of what are called
         'symmetrical diseases,' the leading facts of which have been
         long known, but are now only beginning to be generalized. See
         _Paget's Pathology_, vol. i. pp. 18-22, vol. ii. pp. 244, 245;
         _Simon's Pathology_, pp. 210, 211; _Carpenter's Human Physiol._
         pp. 607, 608.

  [1114] _Bichat sur la Vie_, pp. 15-21.

From this fundamental difference between the organs of the two lives,
there have arisen several other differences of great interest. Our
animal life being double, while our organic life is single, it becomes
possible for the former life to take rest, that is, stop part of its
functions for a time, and afterwards renew them. But in organic life, to
stop is to die. The life, which we have in common with vegetables, never
sleeps; and if its movements entirely cease only for a single instant,
they cease for ever. That process by which our bodies receive some
substances and give out others, admits of no interruption; it is, by its
nature, incessant, because, being single, it can never receive
supplementary aid. The other life we may refresh, not only in sleep, but
even when we are awake. Thus we can exercise the organs of movement
while we rest the organs of thought; and it is even possible to relieve
a function while we continue to employ it, because, our animal life
being double, we are able for a short time, in case of one of its parts
being fatigued, to avail ourselves of the corresponding part; using, for
instance, a single eye or a single arm, in order to rest the one which
circumstances may have exhausted; an expedient which the single nature
of organic life entirely prevents.[1115]

  [1115] _Ibid._ pp. 21-50.

Our animal life being thus essentially intermittent, and our organic
life being essentially continuous,[1116] it has necessarily followed
that the first is capable of an improvement of which the second is
incapable. There can be no improvement without comparison, since it is
only by comparing one state with another that we can rectify previous
errors, and avoid future ones. Now, our organic life does not admit of
such comparison, because, being uninterrupted, it is not broken into
stages, but when unchequered by disease, runs on in dull monotony. On
the other hand, the functions of our animal life, such as thought,
speech, sight, and motion, cannot be long exercised without rest; and as
they are constantly suspended, it becomes practicable to compare them,
and, therefore, to improve them. It is by possessing this resource that
the first cry of the infant gradually rises into the perfect speech of
the man, and the unformed habits of early thought are ripened into that
maturity which nothing can give but a long series of successive
efforts.[1117] But our organic life, which we have in common with
vegetables, admits of no interruption, and consequently of no
improvement. It obeys its own laws; but it derives no benefit from that
repetition to which animal life is exclusively indebted. Its functions,
such as nutrition and the like, exist in man several months before he is
born, and while, his animal life not having yet begun, the faculty of
comparison, which is the basis of improvement, is impossible.[1118] And
although, as the human frame increases in size, its vegetative organs
become larger, it cannot be supposed that their functions really
improve, since, in ordinary cases, their duties are performed as
regularly and as completely in childhood as in middle age.[1119]

  [1116] On intermittence as a quality of animal life, see _Holland's
         Medical Notes_, pp. 313, 314, where Bichat is mentioned as its
         great expounder. As to the essential continuity of organic life,
         see _Burdach's Physiologie_, vol. vii. p. 420. M. Comte has made
         some interesting remarks on Bichat's law of intermittence.
         _Philos. Positive_, vol. iii. pp. 300, 395, 744, 745, 750, 751.

  [1117] On the development arising from practice, see _Bichat sur la
         Vie_, pp. 207-225.

  [1118] _Ibid._ pp. 189-203, 225-230. M. Broussais also (in his able
         work, _Cours de Phrénologie_, p. 487) says, that comparison only
         begins after birth; but surely this must be very doubtful. Few
         physiologists will deny that embryological phenomena, though
         neglected by metaphysicians, play a great part in shaping the
         future character; and I do not see how any system of psychology
         can be complete which ignores considerations, probable in
         themselves, and not refuted by special evidence. So carelessly,
         however, has this subject been investigated, that we have the
         most conflicting statements respecting even the _vagitus
         uterinus_, which, if it exists to the extent alleged by some
         physiologists, would be a decisive proof that animal life (in
         the sense of Bichat) does begin during the f[oe]tal period.
         Compare _Burdach_, _Physiol._ vol. iv. pp. 113, 114, with
         _Wagner's Physiol._ p. 182.

  [1119] 'Les organes internes qui entrent alors en exercice, ou qui
         accroissent beaucoup leur action, n'ont besoin d'aucune
         éducation; ils atteignent tout à coup une perfection à laquelle
         ceux de la vie animale ne parviennent que par habitude d'agir
         souvent.' _Bichat sur la Vie_, p. 231.

Thus it is, that although other causes conspire, it may be said that the
progressiveness of animal life is due to its intermittence; the
unprogressiveness of organic life to its continuity. It may, moreover,
be said, that the intermittence of the first life results from the
symmetry of its organs, while the continuity of the second life results
from their irregularity. To this wide and striking generalization, many
objections may be made, some of them apparently insuperable; but that it
contains the germs of great truths I entertain