on the Generative Principle of
Political Constitutions
and other Human Institutions

M. the Count de Maistre,
Minister Plenipotentiary of H.M. the
King of Sardinia
to H.M. the Emperor of Russia,
author of
Considerations sur la France

(Psalms 4:2)


POLITICS is perhaps the thorniest of the sciences, due to the ever recurring difficulty in discerning what in it is stable and what changeable. It presents a very strange phenomenon, well calculated to make every prudent man called to the administration of states tremble. Whatever common sense first perceives in this science as an evident truth is almost always found, once tested by experience, not only false but disastrous.

Let us begin at the foundation. If we had never heard governments spoken of and men were called upon to deliberate, for example, on hereditary or elective monarchy, we should justly regard one who should decide for the former as a madman. The arguments against it appear so naturally to reason that it is useless to repeat them. History, however, which is experimental politics, demonstrates that an hereditary monarchy is the government most stable, appropriate, and natural to man, while an elective monarchy, on the contrary, is the worst form of government known.

With respect to population, commerce, prohibitory legislation, and a thousand other important subjects, the most plausible theory is almost always found contradicted and brought to nothing by experience. Let us cite a few examples.

What method must be used to make a state strong? "It is necessary first to encourage population by every possible means." On the contrary, every law tending directly to favor population without regard to other considerations is bad. It is even necessary to endeavor to establish in the state a certain moral force which tends to diminish the number of marriages and to make them less hasty. A gain of births over deaths as shown by tables usually shows only the number of the destitute, etc., etc. French economists outlined the demonstration of these truths, and the excellent work of MALTHUS has completed it.

How shall food shortages and famine be prevented? "Nothing is more simple. It is necessary to prohibit the export of grains." On the contrary, a premium must be granted those who export them. The authoritative example of England has forced us to swallow this paradox.

How shall the rate of exchange be maintained in favor of a certain country? "It is unquestionably necessary to curtail the export of specie, and, consequently, to ensure by strong legal prohibitions that the state buy no more than it sells." On the contrary, these means have never been employed without worsening the rate of exchange, or what amounts to the same thing, without increasing the indebtedness of a nation. Nor can the opposite course be taken without improving the rate of exchange, that is, without making it evident that the nation has achieved a favorable balance of payments with its neighbors, etc., etc. But the phenomenon we have observed appears most often in the most fundamental and substantial part of politics: the constitution of empires. It is said that the German philosophers have invented the word metapolitics to be to politics what metaphysics is to physics. This new term seems very aptly invented to express the metaphysics of politics, for there is such a thing, and this science deserves profound attention.

An anonymous writer who was much occupied with such speculations and who has strived to fathom the hidden foundations of the social edifice believed himself in the right when, nearly twenty years ago, he advanced the following propositions as so many incontestable axioms diametrically opposed to the theories of that time.

1. No constitution arises from deliberation. The rights of the people are never written, except as simple restatements of previous, unwritten rights.

2. [In the formation of constitutions] human action is so far circumscribed that the men who act become only circumstances. [It is even very common that in pursuing a certain end they attain another.] 3. The rights of the PEOPLE, properly so called, proceed almost always from the concessions of sovereigns and thus may be definitely fixed in history, but no one can ascertain the date or the authors of the rights of the monarch and the aristocracy.

4. These concessions themselves have always been preceded by a state of things which rendered them necessary and for which the sovereign was not responsible.

5. Although written laws [lois] are merely the declarations of pre-existing laws [droits], it is far from true that all these laws can be written.

6. The more of it one puts into writing, the weaker the institution becomes.

7. No nation can give itself liberty if it is not already free,* for human influence extends only as far as existing rights have developed.

[* Machiavelli is here appealed to as evidence: "A people accustomed to live under a Prince, should they by some eventuality become free, will with difficulty maintain their freedom." Discourses, I, 16.]
8. Legislators, strictly defined, are extraordinary men, belonging perhaps only to the world of antiquity and to the youth of nations.

9. Even these legislators, notwithstanding their marvelous power, have only combined parts of what already existed.

10. In a sense, liberty is the gift of kings, for nearly all free nations were established by kings.

[The great importance of this should be recognized in modern monarchies. Since all legitimate and sacred immunities of this kind must proceed from the sovereign, everything extorted from him by force is smitten with anathema. To write a law, as Demosthenes justly remarked, is nothing. To make it wanted is everything. (Olynthiacs, III) But if this is true of the sovereign's relationship to the people, what shall we say of a nation, that is to say - in the mildest language - of a handful of hot-headed theorists who would propose a constitution to the legitimate sovereign as one would propose a surrender to a besieged general? That would be indecent, absurd, and above all, futile.]
11. There never existed a free nation which did not have seeds of liberty as old as itself in its natural constitution. Nor has any nation ever successfully attempted to develop, by its fundamental written laws, rights other than those which existed in its natural constitution.

12. No assembly of men whatsoever can form a nation. Indeed, such an enterprise should be ranked among the most memorable follies.

[Machiavelli is again cited here: "It is essential that there should be but one person upon whose mind and method depends any similar process of organization." Discourses, I, 9.]
Since 1796, the date of the first edition of the work we quote,* it does not appear that anything has happened in the world which might have induced the author to abandon his theory. On the contrary, we believe it may be worth while to develop fully the theory at this time and to trace out all its implications. One of the most important, no doubt, is announced in Chapter X of the same work in these words: Man cannot create a sovereign. "At most, he may be the instrument in dethroning the sovereign and delivering his kingdom to another ruler already royal .... Moreover, there has never been a royal family which could be assigned a plebeian origin. If such a phenomenon appeared, it would mark the beginning of a new world era."**
[* Considerations sur la France, ch. IV.]

[** Ibid., ch. X, part 3.]

We may recall that divine judgment has only recently sanctioned this proposition in sufficiently solemn fashion. But who knows whether the ignorant levity of our age will not say in all seriousness: If he had wanted it, be would still have his place! just as some persist in repeating, after two centuries, If Richard Cromwell had possessed his father's genius, he would have settled the Protectorate in his family, which is precisely the same as saying that if this family had not ceased to reign, it would reign still.

It is written, BY ME PRINCES RULE.* This is not a church phrase, a metaphor of the preacher. It is a literal truth, simple and palpable. It is a law of the political world. God literally makes kings. He prepares royal races, maturing them under a cloud which conceals their origin. At length they appear, crowned with glory and honor; they take their places; and this is the most certain sign of their legitimacy.

[* Proverbs 8:16.]
Royal families arise of themselves, as it were, unattended either by violence or marked deliberation but with a certain magnificent tranquility which is difficult to express. LEGITIMATE USURPATION would seem the correct phrase (if not too bold) to characterize such origins, which time hastens to consecrate.

Let no one allow the most splendid human appearances to dazzle him. Who has ever concentrated in himself more of them than the extraordinary personage whose fall still resounds throughout Europe? Has there ever been a sovereignty outwardly so well fortified? A greater consolidation of capabilities? A man more powerful, more active, more formidable? For a long time we saw him trample underfoot twenty nations silenced and frozen with terror. Finally, his power had grown firm enough to make hope itself despair. Yet he has fallen, and so low, that Pity, contemplating him, recoils for fear of being touched. Furthermore, we may remark that for a somewhat different reason it has become equally difficult to speak of this man and of the august rival who has rid the world of him. One is beneath insult and the other beyond praise. But I digress.

In a work known only to a few persons at St. Petersburg, the author wrote in 1810: "If when two factions engage in revolutionary conflict we see precious victims fall on one side, we may be sure that it will win at last, despite all appearances to the contrary."

The truth of this assertion also has just been borne out in the most remarkable and startling manner. The moral order has its laws, as does the physical, and their investigation is quite worthy of occupying a true philosopher's meditations. After an entire age of criminal trifling, it is high time to recall what we are and to trace all knowledge back to its source. This consideration has induced the author to release his little work from the timid portfolio which held it these last five years. He allows the original date to stand and presents it word for word as written at that time. Benevolent intent has called forth this publication, which perhaps is so much the worse for the author, since that sentiment is sometimes quite as blind as love. Be this as it may, he enjoys a well-known privilege. He may doubtless be mistaken at times on unimportant points; he may exaggerate, or speak too confidently; the properties of taste or grammar may be offended, and if so, all the better for the malicious, if such there be. But always the well-founded hope remains to him of displeasing no one, since he loves all the world. Moreover, he is certain of interesting a large and estimable class of men without the possibility of injuring a single one, a confidence altogether reassuring.


I. One of the greatest errors of a century which professed them all was to believe that a political constitution could be created and written a priori, whereas reason and experience unite in proving that a constitution is a divine work and that precisely the most fundamental and essentially constitutional of a nation's laws could not possibly be written.

II. Certain people have thought to perpetrate an excellent witticism at the expense of Frenchmen by asking, "In what book eras Salic law written?" But Jerome Bignon answered quite appropriately, very likely without knowing how right he was, "that it is written in the hearts of Frenchmen." Indeed, let us suppose that such an important law existed only because it was written. Surely whatsoever authority had written it would have the right to annul it, and the law would not have that quality of divine immutability which characterizes truly constitutional lawsú The essence of a fundamental law is that no one has the right to abolish it. For how could it stand above all men, if some men had made it? Popular agreement is not possible. And even if it were, an agreement is still not a law at all and obligates no one unless a higher power guarantees its enforcementú Locke sought the nature of law in the expression of aggregate wills [volontes reunies]. He must have been favored by chance thus to hit upon the very quality which excludes all idea of law. Indeed, aggregate wills form ordinances and not law. The latter inevitably presupposes a higher will which enforces obedience.* "In Hobbes' system" (the same which has attracted so much attention in our day through Locke's writings), "the strength of civil law rests only on convention. But what good are these if no natural law exists to decree their enforcement? Promises, contracts, and oaths are mere words. It is as easy to break this trifling bond as to make it. Without the doctrine of a Divine Legislator, all moral obligation becomes illusory. Power on one side, weakness on the other: this constitutes all the bonds of human societies."**

[* "Man in the state of nature had only rights.... Upon entering into society, I renounce my private will [volonte particuliere] in order to conform to law, which is the general Will [volonte general]." Le Spectateur Francais, I, 194, has deservedly mocked this definition. But it might have remarked further that this idea belonged to the period and especially to Locke, who has opened this century in such pernicious fashion.]

[** Bergier, Traite historique et dogmatique de la Religion, III, ch. 4 (after Tertullian, Apologeticus, 45).]

That is what a wise, profound theologian has said of moral obligation. It is equally true of political and civil obligations. Law is only truly sanctioned, and properly law, when assumed to emanate from a higher will, so that its essential quality is to be not the will of all [la volonte de tous]. Otherwise, laws would be mere ordinances. As the author just quoted states, "those who were free to make these conventions have not deprived themselves of the power of revocation, and their descendants, with no share in making these regulations, are bound even less to observe them."[Bergier, op. cit.] This is the reason that primitive common sense, which, fortunately, is anterior to sophism, has always sought the sanction of laws in a superhuman power, whether recognizing that sovereignty comes from God or in worshiping certain unwritten laws as given by Him.

III. The codifiers of Roman law unpretentiously inserted a remarkable fragment of Greek jurisprudence in the first chapter of their collection. Among the laws which govern us, it says, some are written and others are not. Nothing could be more simple and yet more profound. Do we know any Turkish law which explicitly allows the Sultan to condemn a man to death immediately without the intervening decision of a tribunal? Do we know of any written law, even a religious one, which forbids this to the sovereigns of Christian Europe?* However, the Turk is no more surprised to see his master summarily order a man's execution than to see him go to the mosque. Together with all of Asia, in fact with all antiquity, he believes that the direct power of life and death is legitimate and inherent in royalty. Our princes, however, would shudder at the very idea of condemning a man to death, for in our eyes this condemnation would constitute an atrocious murder. Yet I doubt whether it be possible to forbid our kings this power by a fundamental written law without producing greater evils than those one would have wished to forestall.

[* "The Church forbids its children, even more strongly than do the civil laws, from being their own judges; and it is by her spirit that Christian kings abstain from doing this and that they deliver up criminals to the judge, that they may be punished according to law and to the procedures of justice." (Pascal, Lettres Provinciales, XIV.) This passage is extremely important and ought to be more widely known.]
IV. Question Roman history about the exact powers of the Senate. It will reveal nothing, at least of the precise limits of this power. In general, it is clear that the people and the Senate mutually balanced each other in an endless struggle. We know that patriotism or exhaustion, weakness or violence ended these perilous battles, but we know no more.* Observing these great moments in history, it is sometimes tempting to believe that things would have gone much more smoothly had there been precise laws defining these powers. But this would be a great mistake. Such laws, always compromised by unforeseen events and necessary exceptions, either would not have lasted six months or Would have caused the republic to collapse.
[* I have often reflected upon this passage from Cicero: "The Senate repealed the Livian laws in one sentence and in a single moment." (Laws, II, 6) By what right did the Senate take this liberty? And why did the people allow it? It is surely a difficult question, but what affair of this sort can astonish us? After all that has been written on history and Roman antiquities, it has been necessary in our time to write treatises in order to discover how the Senate was recruited.]
V. The English Constitution is an example closer to us, hence more striking. Examine it carefully; you will see that it only moves [i.e., works] while standing still (if this play on words may be allowed). It maintains itself through exceptions. The writ of habeas corpus, for example, has been suspended so often and for such extended periods that one might have suspected the exception had become the rule. Suppose for a moment that the authors of this famous act had undertaken to determine the circumstances in which it could be suspended. They would have obliterated it by so doing.

VI. At the sitting of the House of Commons on June 26, 1807, a Lord cited the authority of a great statesman to prove that the King had no right to dissolve Parliament during its session, but this opinion was contradicted. Where is the law? Try to establish it and to determine entirely in writing the instances where the King has this right - you would cause a revolution. One member said that the King has this right in a critical situation. But what is a critical situation? Again, try to decide this by writing.

VII. Here is an even stranger example. Every-one remembers the great question so fervently debated in England in 1806. It was whether the holding of a judicial appointment together with membership in the Privy Council accorded with the principles of the English Constitution. At the sitting of that same House of Commons on March 3, a member remarked: This country is governed by a body not known by the Legislature. It is only, he added, connived at.

[See the London Chronicle for March 4, 1806. Notice that this word Legislature includes the three powers. It follows from this assertion that the King himself is ignorant of the Privy Council. However, I believe he has an inkling of it.]
In this wise and justly famous England, then, there is a body which governs, and in truth does everything, but which the Constitution does not recognize. Delolme has overlooked this feature, which I could corroborate with several others.

After this, can anyone talk to us about written constitutions and constitutional laws made a priori? It is inconceivable that a sane person could imagine the possibility of such a chimera. If anyone should attempt to make a law in England giving a constitutional existence to the Privy Council, and subsequently to regulate and limit rigorously its privileges and functions, with the precautions necessary to limit its influence and to prevent its misuse, he would overturn the State.

The true English Constitution is that admirable, unique, and infallible public spirit which transcends all praise. It guides everything, conserves everything, and restores everything. What is written is nothing.

["The turbulent government of England," said Hume, "ever fluctuating between privilege or prerogative, would afford a variety of precedents, which might be pleaded on both sides." History of England, James I, 1621. Hume, in speaking the truth, does not at all lack respect for his country. He states what it is and must be.]
VIII. Towards the end of the last century, a great outcry was made against a minister who entertained the project of introducing that same English Constitution (or what was called by that name) into a realm in turmoil which clamored wildly for one of any sort. He was wrong, if you will, at least as much as one who acts in good faith can be wrong. One may fairly assume this, and I believe it with all my heart. But who at that time had the right to condemn him? Vel duo vel nemo. He did not say that he wanted to destroy anything of his own accord. He only wished, he claimed, to substitute one thing which seemed reasonable to him for another which was no longer wanted and which for that very reason no longer existed. Besides, if the principle is granted (and indeed it was) that man can create a constitution, this minister (who was certainly human) had as much right as anyone, and more, to make his own. Were these doctrines doubted? Was it not a common belief everywhere that a constitution was the work of the intellect, like an ode or a tragedy? Had not Thomas Paine declared, with a profundity that charmed the universities, that a constitution does not exist as long as one cannot put it in his pocket? The unsuspecting, overweening self-confidence of the eighteenth century balked at nothing, and I do not believe that it produced a single stripling of any talent who did not make three things when he left school: an educational system, a constitution, and a world. Therefore, if a mature man at the peak of his ability, deeply learned in the science of economics and in the current philosophy, had attempted only the second of these things, I should have considered him exceedingly moderate. But I confess he appears to me a true prodigy of wisdom and modesty when I see him, substituting (at least, in his opinion) experience for foolish theories, respectfully ask a constitution of England instead of making one himself. You say, even this was impossible. But he did not, and how could he have known it? There was no one to tell him so.

IX. The more one examines the role of human agency in forming political constitutions, the more one becomes convinced that it enters only in an infinitely subordinate manner, or as a simple instrument, and I do not believe that the slightest doubt remains as to the unquestionable truth of the following propositions:

1. The fundamental principles of political constitutions exist prior to all written law.

2. Constitutional law [loi] is and can only be the development or sanction of a pre-existing and unwritten law [droit].

3. What is most essential, most inherently constitutional and truly fundamental law is never written, and could not be, without endangering the State.

4. The weakness and fragility of a constitution are actually in direct proportion to the number of written constitutional articles.

[This may serve as a commentary to Tacitus' famous epigram, Corruptissima republica plurimae leges. (Annals III, 27)]
X. On this point, we are often deceived by a sophism so natural that it escapes our notice entirely. Because man acts, he thinks he acts alone. Because he is aware of his freedom, he forgets his dependence. He is more reasonable about the physical world, for although he can, for example, plant an acorn, water it, etc., he is convinced that he does not make oaks, since he has witnessed them growing and perfecting themselves without the aid of human power. Besides, he has not made the acorn. But in the social order, where he is always present and active, he comes to believe that he is the sole author of all that is done through his agency. In a sense, it is as if the trowel thought itself an architect. Doubtless, man is a free, intelligent, and noble creature; nevertheless, he is an instrument of God. As Plutarch says in this fine passage "we must not wonder if the greatest and most beautiful things in the world are done by God's will and providence, seeing that in all the principal parts of the world there is a soul. For the body is the organ and tool of the soul and the soul is the INSTRUMENT OF GOD. And as the body makes many movements by itself, but the more noble are derived from the soul, even so is it with the soul. Some of its operations are self-directed, while in others it is led, disciplined and guided by God, as it pleases Him, being it self the most beautiful and ingenious instrument possible. For it would be strange that the wind, the water, the clouds, and the rains should be instruments of God, with which He nourishes and supports many creatures and also destroys many others, and that He should never make use of living beings to perform His works. For it is far more reasonable that they, depending entirely on God's power, should obey His direction, and accomplish all His will, than that the bow should obey the Scythians, the lyre and flute the Greeks."[From Amyot's translation of Banquet des Sept Sages.]

No one could write better, and I do not believe that these sublime reflections could be more appropriately applied than to the formation of political constitutions where one may say with extra1 truth that man does everything, yet does nothing.

XI. If anything be familiar, it is Cicero's analogy on the subject of the Epicurean system, which claimed that the world had been made from atoms falling randomly in space. I would rather believe, said the great orator, that letters thrown into the air would fall so as to form a poem. Thousands have repeated this thought and praised it. Yet as far as I know, no one has thought to give it the completeness which it lacks. Imagine that handfuls of printed characters thrown from the top of a tower should on landing make Racine's Athalia. What could one infer? That a mind had directed their fall and arrangement. Common sense will never find another answer.

XII. Let us now examine any particular political constitution, England's for example. It certainly was not made a priori. Her statesmen never assembled to say, Let us create three powers, balancing them in such a manner, etc. No one of them ever thought of such a thing. The constitution is the work of circumstances whose number is infinite. Roman laws, ecclesiastical laws, feudal laws, Saxon, Norman, and Danish customs; the privileges, prejudices, and pretentions of every segment of society; wars, rebellions, revolutions, the Conquest, the Crusades, every virtue, every vice, all sorts of knowledge, and all errors and passions; in sum, all these factors acting together and forming by their admixture and interdependent effects countless millions of combinations have at last produced, after several centuries, the most complex unity and the most propitious equilibrium of political powers that the world has ever seen.

[Tacitus believed that this form of government would never be more than an ideal theory or a transient experiment. A mixed constitution is "easier to praise than to create; and if created will not last long." (Annals, IV, 33) English good sense can, however, make it last a much longer time than one could imagine, by continually subordinating, to a greater or lesser extent, theory, or what are called the principles, to the lessons of experience and moderation, which would be impossible if the principles were written.]
XIII. Now since these agencies, thus tossed into the air, so to speak, have arranged themselves so neatly, although no man among the vast multitude which acted in this vast world ever knew what he was doing in relation to the whole or foresaw the outcome, it follows that these agencies were guided in their course by an infallible power. Perhaps the greatest misconception in a century of follies was that fundamental laws could be written a priori, while they are obviously the work of a higher power, and committing them to writing long after is the surest way of proving that they are no longer valid.

XIV. It is quite remarkable that God, having condescended to speak to man, has Himself shown these truths in the two revelations His goodness has given us. There was a clever man who marked a sort of era in our century through the desperate conflict his works exhibit between the worst prejudices of the period, of sect, of habit, etc., and the purest intentions, the most sincere sentiment and the most valuable knowledge. He decided that instruction coming directly from God, or given only according to His commands, should primarily certify to man His existence. Precisely the opposite is true. For the prime characteristic of this teaching is not to reveal God's existence or attributes but to suppose the whole already known without our understanding why or how. Therefore it does not state there is or you shall believe in only one God, omnipotent and everlasting, etc. It begins in purely narrative form: In the beginning, God created, etc., which assumes that the dogma was known before the writing.

XV. Let us pass on to Christianity, the greatest of all imaginable institutions, since wholly divine and made for all men and all ages. It, too, conforms to the general law. Its Author certainly was able to write Himself or to cause His doctrines to be written. Yet He did neither, at least not in a legislative form. The New Testament, posterior to the death of the Lawgiver, and even to the founding of His religion, contains narrative, admonitions, moral precepts, exhortations, commands, threats, etc., but nowhere a collection of dogma expressed imperatively. The Evangelists, describing the Last Supper, when God loved us EVEN UNTO THE END, had a fine opportunity to command our belief in writing, but they carefully refrain from declaring or ordaining anything. Indeed, we read, Go, teach! in their admirable history, but never teach this or that. If doctrine is found in the writings of a sacred historian, he is simply expressing it as something already familiar.* The symbols, which appeared later, are professions of faith, that it may be recognized, or for contradicting the errors of the moment. There, one reads we believe, never you shall believe. We recite them in private; we chant them in the temple with stringed instruments and organs** as true prayers because they are formulas of submission, confidence, and faith directed to God, and not ordinances addressed to man. I should like to see the Confession of Augsburg or the Thirty-Nine Articles set to music. They would certainly be amusing.***

[* It is quite remarkable that the Evangelists themselves did not take the pen till late, and mainly to refute the false tales circulated in their times. The canonical Epistles also originated by accident. The Scripture was never part of the founders' primitive plan. Mill, though a Protestant, has expressly recognized this. (Proleg. in Nov. Test. graec.) And Hobbes had already made the same observation in England. (Tripos, III)]

[** Psalms 150:4.]

[*** Reason can only speak. It is love which sings, and that is why we chant our symbols, for faith is only belief through love. It dwells not only in the understanding, but penetrates further to take root in the will. With much truth and ingenuity, a philosophical theologian has said: "There is a difference between believing, and judging what is necessary to believe." (Leonard Lessius, Opuscula, De Praedestinatione, 556)]

The first symbols are far from containing the announcement of all our doctrines. Indeed, the early Christians would have considered the announcement of them all as a great sin. The same applies to the Holy Scriptures. There never was a more shallow idea than to seek the entirety of Christian dogma in them. Not a line in these writings declares or even hints at the plan of making from them a code or dogmatic statement of all the articles of faith.

XVI. Moreover, if a people possesses one of these codes of belief, we may be sure of three things:

1. Their religion is false.

2. They have written their religious code in a fit of delirium.

3. This people will soon scoff at the code, which can have neither strength nor durability. Such, for example, are the famous ARTICLES, "which are signed by more than read, and read by more than believe them."[Gibbon, Autobiography.] Not only is this catalogue of dogma accounted next to nothing in the country which gave it birth, but it is also obvious, even to a foreigner, that the illustrious proprietors of this sheet of paper are greatly hampered by it. They would like to make it disappear, since it irritates the national good sense, enlightened by the passage of time, and since it recalls an unfortunate beginning. But the constitution is written.

XVII. Surely these same Englishmen would never have sought Magna Charta had not the nation's privileges been violated or unless these privileges had also existed before the Charter. In this respect, what is true of the State is true of the Church as well: if Christianity had never been attacked, it would never have determined dogma in writing. But whenever dogma has been fixed in writing, it is always because it existed previously in its natural state, speech. The real instigators of the Council of Trent were the two arch-innovators* of the sixteenth century.* Their followers, having become more moderate, have since suggested that we expunge this basic law because it contains certain words which are disagreeable to them. And they have tried to tempt us by setting this price on a reunion which would make us accomplices without reconciling us. But this request has no justification in religion or philosophy. They themselves formerly introduced to religious language those words which now harass them. Let us hope that they may today learn to pronounce them. The Faith would be a thousand times more angelic if a sophistical opposition had not forced her to write. She weeps over these decisions which rebellion extorted from her and which always were evils, since they all suppose disbelief or attack and could only arise in the midst of the most dangerous disturbances. A state of war raised these venerable ramparts around the truth. No doubt they protect her, but they conceal her, too. They have made her unassailable, but by that very act, less accessible. Ah! That is not her desire. She wants only to hold all humanity in her embrace.

[* One can make the same observation going back as far as Arius. The Church has never sought to write her dogmas. She has always been forced to do so by opponents.]
XVIII. I have spoken of Christianity as a system of belief. Now I shall consider it from the point of view of its governance [souverainete] in its most extensive manifestation. There it is monarchical as everyone knows, and this is as it should be. By the very nature of things, monarchy becomes more necessary in proportion as an association increases in size. It is not forgotten that an infamous person could nevertheless meet with approval in our time when he affirmed that France was geographically monarchical. Indeed, one could scarcely express this incontrovertible truth better. But as the size of the French nation precludes even the thought of every other form of government, how much more must this sovereignty be exclusively monarchical which by the essential nature of its constitution will always have subjects on every part of the globe? Here, experience supports theory. This being established, who would not believe that such a monarchy would be more strictly defined and limited than any as to the prerogative of its leader? Yet the exact opposite is true. Read the countless volumes brought forth by "foreign war," and even by a species of "civil war," which has its advantages as well as its inconveniences - you will invariably see cited facts alone. It is also remarkable, surely, that the Supreme Tribunal should steadily permit dispute over what appears to everyone to be the most fundamental question of the constitution without ever having wished to settle it by a formal law. This is, unless I am greatly mistaken, because of the very basic importance of the question.* Some misguided fellows, bold only because of weakness, took it upon themselves to decide it in 1682 in spite of a great man, and it was one of the most solemn imprudences ever perpetrated. Its monument, which endures, is doubtless wholly to be condemned, but especially so for one feature hitherto unnoticed, although more vulnerable to enlightened criticism than any other. By writing, and without even apparent necessity (which carried the fault to excess), the famous declaration dared to decide a question which should invariably have been left to practical wisdom, enlightened by the UNIVERSAL conscience.
[* I do not know whether the English have noticed that the most learned and ardent defender of the sovereignty here referred to entitled one of his chapters thus: A mixed monarchy tempered by aristocracy and democracy is better than a pure monarchy. [Quod monarchia, aristocratia et democratia admixta, utilior fit in hac vita, quam simplex monarchia.] Bellarmine, De Summo Pontif., I, 3. Not bad for a fanatic!]
This is the only point of view in harmony with the intent of this work. But it is quite worthy, in any case, of the contemplation of every just mind and upright heart.

XIX. In their general sense, these ideas were known to the ancient philosophers, who clearly perceived the faint - indeed, almost total - insignificance of the written word for great institutions. No one has ever realized or expressed this truth better than Plato, who invariably was first on the way to finding all great truths. According to him, the man who acquires all his education from things written will never have more than the appearance of wisdom.[Plato's Phaedrus, XV.] The spoken word, he adds, is to writing as a man is to his portrait. The products of art appear as living things to us, but if questioned, they maintain a dignified silence. It is the same with writing, which knows not what to say to one man and what to conceal from another. It cannot defend itself if groundlessly attacked or insulted, for its author is never present to support it. Thus he who believes himself able by writing alone to establish a clear and lasting doctrine IS A GREAT FOOL. If he really possessed the seeds of truth, he could never believe that a little black liquid and a pen could germinate them in the world, protect them from harsh weather, and make them sufficiently effective. As for whoever undertakes writing laws or civil constitutions in the belief that he can give them adequate conviction and stability because he has written them, he disgraces himself, whether or no other people say so. He shows an equal ignorance of the nature of inspiration and delirium, right and wrong, good and evil. This ignorance is shameful, even when approved by the whole body of the common people.[Plato, Phaedrus.]

XX. After the wisdom of paganism, it will be instructive to hear Christian philosophy again. How much better it would be, said the most eloquent of the Greek Fathers, if we had never needed writing, but had the divine precepts been imprinted by grace in our hearts as they are with ink in our books. Since we have lost this grace through our own fault, we must follow the second-best course, without, however, forgetting the pre-eminence of our original condition. To the righteous of the Old Testament, God revealed nothing in writing. Seeing the purity of their hearts, he spoke directly to them. But when the Hebrew people sank into wickedness, books and laws became necessary. The same process recurred under the empire of the New Revelation, for Christ left not a single writ to His apostles. He commended them not to books but to the Holy Spirit: "He shall bring all things to your remembrance."[John 14:26.] But because, in time, sinful men rebelled against faith and morality, books were again required.[Chrysostom, Homily on St. Matthew, I, i.]

XXI. The whole truth is assembled in these two authorities. They demonstrate the profound idiocy (it is certainly permissible to speak like Plato, who never loses his temper), I repeat, the profound idiocy, of those unfortunate souls who imagine that legislators are men,* laws are paper, and nations may be constituted with ink. On the contrary, the latter show that writings are invariably a sign of weakness, ignorance, or danger and that the more nearly perfect an institution is, the less it writes. What is certainly divine [that is, the Church] wrote nothing at all in establishing itself, in order to make us feel that all written law is merely a necessary evil, generated by human frailty or malice, and which, moreover, has no authority except that received of a previous, unwritten sanction.

[* Among the multitude of wonderful things with which the Psalms of David sparkles, I single out the following: "Appoint, O Lord, a law-giver over them: that the Gentiles may know themselves to be but men."]
XXII. Here we must deplore the glaring fallacy of a system which has divided Europe with such unfortunate consequences. Its partisans say: "We believe only in the Word of God.... " What a misuse of words! We alone believe in the Word while our dear enemies stubbornly persist in believing only Scripture. As if God could or would alter the nature of His creation and impart to Scripture the life and efficacy it lacks! The Holy Scripture - now then, is it not a writing? Was it not formed with a pen and a little black fluid? Does it understand what to tell one man and what to hide from another? Did not Leibnitz and his maidservant read the same words there? Can this writing be more than the image of the Word? However venerable it thus becomes, when we interrogate it, must it not keep a divine silence?[Plato, Phaedrus.] If it were attacked or slurred, could it defend itself in the Father's absence? Praise be to the truth! If the immortal Word [la Parole] does not give life to Scripture, it will never become speech [parole], that is to say, life. May the others invoke THE SILENT WORD as often as they please. We shall smile peacefully at this false god while ever awaiting with tender patience the time when its disillusioned partisans will throw themselves into our arms, which have for nearly three centuries been ready to embrace them.

XXIII. Each sensible person may become convinced on this point by a little reflection on an axiom as important as it is universal - that NOTHING GREAT HAS GREAT BEGINNINGS. All of history yields no exception to this law. Crescit occulto velut arbor aevo; this is the motto of all great institutions. Therefore, any false institution writes voluminously, for it knows its weaknesses and seeks support. From this fact springs the indubitable result that no real and great institution can be based on written law, since men themselves, instruments, in turn, of the established institution, do not know what it is to become and since imperceptible growth is the true promise of durability in all things. A remarkable example of this sort is the power of the Popes, which I do not intend to discuss dogmatically here. Numerous writers since the sixteenth century have employed a prodigious amount of erudition to prove, by going back to the cradle of Christianity, that at first the Bishops of Rome were not what they later became. They took for granted that everything not found in primitive times is an abuse. Now I say, without the least spirit of contention or desire to offend anyone, that in this they displayed about as much philosophy and genuine learning as one who tries to find the dimensions of a mature man by measuring a babe in arms. This sovereignty I am speaking of here was born like others and grows as they do. It is lamentable to watch fine minds exhausting themselves to prove by infancy that manhood is a deformity. The idea of any institution full grown at birth is a prime absurdity and a true logical contradiction. If the enlightened and open-minded enemies of this power (and surely there are many such) examine the matter from this point of view, as I affectionately urge, I am sure all these objections derived from antiquity will vanish like a thin mist from before their eyes.

As for abuses, I should not concern myself with them here. However, since I have already mentioned them, I will say that there is much to be deflated in the oratory the last century had compelled us to read on this big topic. A time will come when every nation will consider the Popes against whom the greatest outcry was heard - such as Gregory VII - as friends, guardians, and saviors of humanity, as the true Founding Fathers of Europe. No one will doubt it when learned Frenchmen shall be Christians and English savants, Catholics - which must surely come to pass at last.

XXIV. But at this moment, what penetrating words can make us heard by an age infatuated with Scripture and so greatly at variance with the Word as to believe that men can make constitutions, languages, and even sovereignties? By an age for which reality is lies, and lies reality; which cannot even see what happens before its eyes; which feasts on books, seeking the equivocal lessons of Livy or Thucydides, while closing its eyes to the truth which shines forth in the newspapers?

If a humble mortal's prayers could obtain from Providence one of those memorable decrees which form history's great eras, I would ask it to inspire some powerful nation which had gravely offended it with the proud idea of constituting itself politically, starting at the bases. And if the ancient familiarity of a Patriarch were permitted me, despite my unworthiness, I would say: "Grant this people everything! Give them genius, knowledge, wealth, esteem, and, especially, an overweening self-assurance and that spirit, both supple and enterprising, which nothing can hinder, nothing intimidate. Extinguish their former government; obliterate their memories; destroy their affections; spread terror around them; blind or paralyze their enemies; set victory to guard all their frontiers so that none of their neighbors could intervene in their affairs or disturb their progress. Let this nation be illustrious in the sciences, rich in philosophy, intoxicated with human power, free from prejudice, from every tie and all higher influence. Supply all her wants, lest in time she should say, I lacked this or that restrained me. In short, let her act freely with this immensity of means, that at length under Thy relentless protection she may become an eternal warning to the human race."

XXV. It is true we cannot expect such a combination of circumstances, which would literally constitute a miracle. But similar though less startling events reveal themselves here and there in history, even in our times. Although they may not all have that ideal force, for example, which I wished for, they can still teach us valuable lessons.

Less than twenty-five years ago, we witnessed a solemn attempt to regenerate a great nation which was mortally ill. It was the first experiment of the great work and the preface, if I may so express it, of the frightful book which we have since been made to read. Every precaution was taken. The country's sages even believed it was their duty to consult the modern deity in its foreign sanctuary. They wrote to Delphi, and two famous Pontiffs solemnly replied. The prophecies they announced on this occasion were not, as formerly, delicate leaves, the sport of breezes; they are bound.

... Quidque haec Sapientia possit,
Tunc patuit ....
It is only fair to acknowledge that in whatever the nation owed merely to its own good sense, there are elements we can still admire today. Certainly every qualification was united in the head of that wise and august person called upon to take the reins of government. Those chiefly interested in maintaining the old laws voluntarily made a noble sacrifice to the public, and in order to strengthen the supreme authority, they consented to a slightly different description of sovereignty. Alas! All this human wisdom was at fault, and everything ended in death.

XXVI. Someone will say: "But we know what caused the failure of the interprise." How, then? Must God send angels in human form, commissioned to destroy a constitution? Secondary causes will always be necessary. What matter which they are? All instruments are effective in the Great Artificer's hands. But people are so blind that if tomorrow some constitution-monger should come to organize a nation and constitute them with a little black fluid, the crowd would hasten once again to believe in the miracle announced. Again they would say, Nothing is missing, all is foreseen, all written down, while precisely because everything could be seen, written, and discussed, it would be shown that the constitution was empty, offering only an ephemeral appearance.

XXVII. I believe I have read somewhere that very few sovereignties are able to justify the legitimacy of their origin. Let us allow the reasonableness of this assertion. Even so, objectionable acts which a chief may have committed will not tarnish his successors. The mists which would more or less conceal the origin of his authority would only be a disadvantage, the necessary consequence of a law of the moral order. Otherwise, it would follow that the sovereign could only rule legitimately by virtue of a deliberation of all the people - that is to say, by the grace of the people. This will never happen, for there are no truer words than those of the author of the Considerations on France: The people will always accept their masters and never choose them.[Ch. IX.] It is essential that the origin of sovereignty should show itself to be beyond the sphere of human power, so that even those men who appear to influence it directly are only circumstances. As for legitimacy, if its origin seems obscure, it is explained by God's prime minister in the province of this world - Time. It is nevertheless true that certain contemporary signs are unmistakable when we are there to observe them. But an expansion of this idea belongs to another work.

XXVIII. Everything brings us back to the general rule. Man cannot create a constitution, and no legitimate constitution can be written. The collection of fundamental laws which necessarily constitute a civil or religious society never has been or will be written a priori. Only when society discovers itself already constituted, not knowing how, can certain particular articles be made known or explained in writing. But almost invariably, these declarations are the effect or the cause of very great evils, and they always cost the people more than they are worth.

XXIX. To this general rule, that no constitution may be written or made a priori, we know. but one exception: the legislation of Moses. This alone was cast, so to speak, like a statue and written even to the smallest details by an extraordinary man who said, FIAT! without this work ever after needing corrections, additions, or modifications by himself or anyone else. This alone has withstood time, from which it borrowed and expected nothing. It survived fifteen hundred years, and even after eighteen more centuries have passed since the great anathema which struck it on the fated day, we see it enjoying a second life and still binding, with some nameless and mysterious bond, the various scattered families of a people dispersed but not disunited. Like magnetism, and with a similar force, it operates at a distance, making one whole of many widely separated parts. Evidently, to intelligent minds, this legislation surpasses the limits of human capability and is a magnificent exception to a general law which has only yielded once, and then to its Author. And it singlehandedly manifests the divine mission of the great Hebrew law-giver much better than the entire work of that English Prelate, who, with the strongest mental powers and immense erudition, nevertheless had the misfortune to support a great truth by a miserable fallacy.

XXX. Since the principle of every constitution is divine, it follows that a man can do nothing with one unless he seeks the aid of God, Whose instrument he then becomes.* Now this is a truth to which the whole human race has always strikingly witnessed. Examine history, which is experimental politics - there we shall inevitably find the Divinity always called to the aid of human frailty.** Fable, much truer than ancient history for those who are ready to understand it, further corroborates this demonstration. Always, it is an Oracle who founds cities. Always, this Oracle affirms heavenly protection and the heroic founder's success. Kings especially, heads of rising empires, are very often designated, almost branded, by Heaven in some extraordinary manner.*** How many frivolous people have mocked the Saint-Ampoule without ever dreaming that it is a hieroglyphic which one need only read to understand.****

[* One can even generalize the assertion and declare that without exception, no institution whatsoever may endure if it be not founded on religion.]

[** Plato, in an admirable and wholly Mosaic passage, speaks of a primitive age when God had confided the establishment and administration of empires, not to men, but to daemons. Then he adds, speaking of the difficulty of creating durable constitutions: The truth is, that if God bas not presided over the founding of a city, and it bas a merely human beginning, it will inevitably suffer the greatest evils. Thus it is necessary to imitate the primitive procedure in every possible way; and reposing our trust in the immortal part of man, we must dedicate houses as well as States by consecrating as laws the will of the (supreme) intelligence. If a State (whatever its form may be) is founded on vice and ruled by men who trample justice underfoot, no means of safety remains for it. (Plato, Laws, IV, 713-714)]

[*** In controversy, much use has been made of the famous rule of Richard of Saint-Victor: "Quod semper, quod ubique, quod ad omnibus." But this rule is general and may be expressed thus: Every constant, universal belief is true, and whenever certain articles peculiar to different nations are separated from any belie[ and something common to all is left, this remainder is a truth.]

[**** By the very nature of things, each religion puts forth a mythology which resembles it. For this reason, Christian mythology is always pure, always useful, and often sublime, while (by a special exemption) it can never be confused with the religion itself. Consequently, no Christian myth can ever be harmful, and it often deserves full attention.]

XXXI. Consecration of kings springs from the same root. There never was a more meaningful and honorable ceremony, or more exactly, profession of faith. The Pontiff's finger has always touched the forehead of rising sovereignty. The many writers who have seen in these august rites only the workings of ambition, or even a deliberate conspiracy of superstition and tyranny, have spoken against the truth, nearly all even against their own conscience. This question deserves study. Sometimes sovereigns have sought consecration, and sometimes it sought them. Others have been seen to reject it as a sign of dependence. We are acquainted with sufficient facts to judge correctly on this score, but it would be necessary to distinguish carefully the men, the periods of history, the countries, and the forms of worship. Here it is sufficient to emphasize the general and eternal opinion which invokes the Divine Power at the establishment of empires.

XXXII. The most famous nations of antiquity, especially the more serious and wise, such as the Egyptians, Etruscans, Lacedaemonians, and Romans, were precisely those with the most religious forms of government. And the duration of empires has always been proportionate to the degree of influence the religious element gained in the political constitution. The cities and nations most attached to divine worship have always been the wisest and longest lasting, just as the most religious ages have always been the most distinguished by genius.

[Xenophon, Memorabilia, I, iv, 16.]
XXXIII. Religion alone civilizes nations. No other known force can influence the savage. Without referring to antiquity's decisive proofs on this point, we can find tangible evidence in America. For three centuries we have been there with our laws, our arts, our sciences, our civilization, our commerce and luxuries. And what have we gained over the savage state? Nothing. We destroy these unfortunate beings with sword and alcohol. We gradually drive them into the middle of the wilderness until at last they wholly disappear, as much victims of our vices as of our callous superiority.

XXXIV. Has any philosopher ever thought to leave his country and its comforts to seek the savages in the forests of America for the purpose of arousing in them disgust for all the vices of barbarism and of giving them a moral system?* They have done much better. They have concocted fine books to prove that the savage is man in his natural state, whom we should all aspire to resemble. Condorcet has said that the missionaries have carried nothing but shameful superstitions into Asia and Africa.** With an inconceivable multiplication of folly, Rousseau has said that to him, the missionaries seemed scarcely more moderate than the conquerors.*** Indeed, their coryphaeus has had the audacity (but what could he lose?) to cast the crudest ridicule upon these peaceful conquerors, whom the ancients would have deified.****

[* It is true that Condorcet has promised us that the philosophers would assume the unceasing responsibility for the civilizing and welfare of primitive nations (in his Sketch for a Historical Picture of the Progress of the Human Mind). We are waiting to see them begin.]

[** Ibid.]

[*** Letter to the Archbishop of Paris.]

[**** "Well! My friends, why don't you stay at home? You might not have found more devils there, but you would have found just as much foolishness." (Voltaire, Essai sur les Moeurs et l'Esprit, Introd., De la Magie)

Nowhere else could you find more nonsense, indecency, and bad taste. Nevertheless, this book, of which few chapters are exempt from similar passages, this showy geegaw, some modern enthusiasts have unhesitatingly called a monument of the human intelligence. No doubt, like the chapel at Versailles and the pictures of Boucher.]

XXXV. It is the missionaries, however, who have accomplished this marvel so far beyond human strength, or even human will. They alone have traveled the vast American continent from one border to the other to create men there. They alone have done what secular power dared not even imagine. But nothing of the kind rivals the missions of Paraguay. There, the exclusive authority and ability of religion in civilizing men has been most marked. This wonder has been acclaimed, but not sufficiently. The spirit of the eighteenth century and another accomplice spirit have been strong enough to stifle partially the voice of justice and even that of admiration. Perhaps one day (for we do hope these great and generous labors will be resumed), in the heart of a prosperous city founded on some old savanna, the father of these missionaries will have his statue. One might read on its pedestal:

Whose emissaries have covered the globe
to snatch men from misery,
brutishness, and ferocity
by teaching them agriculture
by giving them laws
by teaching them to know God and to serve Him,
thus taming the unfortunate savage,

which they never required,
but by mild persuasion, moral chants,

so that men believed them angels.

Osiris, reigning in Egypt, rapidly elevated the Egyptians from impoverishment, misery, and savagery by teaching them to sow and plant, by giving them laws, by instructing them to honor and worship the gods. Afterwards, going throughout the world, he reclaimed it also without using any force of arms, but attracting and winning over most of the nations by gentle persuasion and remonstrances contained in songs and in every kind of music. The Greeks thought he was Bacchus himself. (Plutarch, D'Isis et d'Osiris, Amyot trans.)

Recently, on an island in the Penobscot River, a colony of savages was found who still sang many pious and instructive hymns in their language to the music of the Church with a precision that one could hardly find in the best choirs. One of the most beautiful airs sung in the church of Boston comes from these Indians (who had learned it from their teachers more than forty years ago), although since that time these unfortunate people have had no benefits of religious instruction. (Mercure de France, July 5, 1806.)

Father Salvaterra (a fine name for a missionary!), rightly called the Apostle of California, went to meet the most intractable savages ever known with no other weapon than a lute, which he played quite skillfully. He began to sing: I believe in thee, O my God! etc. Men and women alike surrounded him to listen quietly. Muratori says, speaking of this extraordinary man: This seems like the fable of Orpheus, but who knows whether he might not have failed in a similar situation? Only the missionaries have understood that fable and demonstrated its truth. Plainly, they had discovered the sort of music worthy of being associated with these famous stories. They wrote to their friends in Europe: "Send us the songs of the great Italian composers, in order to be most harmonious without the complicated accompaniment of violin obbligato," etc. (Muratori, Christianesimo felice XII, 284.)] XXXVI. Consider this legislative order, reigning in Paraguay by the simple superiority of talent and virtue, never deviating from the humblest submission to the legitimate temporal authority, however misguided. At the same time, this order entered our jails, our hospitals, and our quarantine stations to brave the most vile and repulsive forms of poverty, disease, and despair. These very men, who hastened at the first appeal to lie down beside the indigent on their bed of straw, were at ease in the politest circles. They mounted the scaffold to speak the last words to the victims of human justice and from these scenes of horror hurried into the pulpit to speak vehemently before kings.* They held the paint-brush in China, the telescope in our observatories, Orpheus' lyre amidst the savages, and they exalted the entire age of Louis XIV. When now we realize that a despicable alliance of perverse government ministers, raving magistrates, and infamous secretaries has been able, in our day, to demolish this admirable institution and to congratulate themselves for it, we recall the imbecile who exultingly stepped upon a watch, exclaiming "I'll stop your noise!" But what am I saying? An imbecile is no criminal.

[* "I will speak of Thy testimonies before also kings, and will not be ashamed." (Psalms i19:46) This is the inscription which has been put under the portrait of Bourdaloue and which several of his colleagues have also deserved.]
XXXVII. I have had to dwell principally on the formation of empires as being the most important subject. But all human institutions obey the same rule, being meaningless or dangerous unless they rest on the foundation of all existence. This principle being undeniable, what shall we think of a generation which has thrown everything to the winds, including the very foundations of the structure of society, by making education exclusively scientific? It was impossible to err more frightfully. For every educational system which does not have religion as its basis will collapse in an instant, or else diffuse only poisons throughout the State, religion being, as Bacon aptly says, the spice which preserves the sciences from decay.

XXXVIII. The question so often asked, Why a school of theology in every university? is easily answered. The reason is that the universities may exist and that instruction may not become corrupted. Originally, universities were only schools of theology to which other faculties were attached, as are subjects around their queen. Established on such a foundation, the edifice of public instruction had lasted until our day. Those who have overturned it among themselves will long repent in vain. A mere child or a lunatic can burn down a city. But architects, materials, workmen, wealth, and above all, time, are necessary to restore it.

XXXIX. Perhaps equally much harm has been done to mankind by those who, while preserving the exterior forms of ancient institutions, are pleased to corrupt them inwardly. Already the influence of modern universities upon morals and the national character throughout most of Europe is quite familiar.* In this respect, the English universities have preserved a better reputation than the others, perhaps because the English know better how to keep silence or to praise themselves at the right moments, perhaps also because their unusually vigorous public opinion has there, more effectively than elsewhere, protected these venerable schools from the general curse, However, they must succumb at last, and already Gibbon's wicked heart has made us some strange disclosures on this point.** In brief, to continue with generalities, if we do not return to the old maxims, if the guidance of education is not returned to the priests, and if science is not uniformly relegated to a subordinate rank, incalculable evils await us. We shall become brutalized by science, and that is the worst sort of brutality.

[* I shall not allow myself to publish here my own opinions, however valuable their exposition might be elsewhere. But I believe it is legitimate for anyone to reprint what has already been printed and to quote a German speaking about Germany - a man no one could accuse of infatuation with the old-fashioned ideas. He says this of the universities in his country: "All our German universities, even the best, greatly need a reform of morals. Even the best arc abysses in which a horde of young people are irretrievably losing their innocence, health and future happiness, and from which emerge creatures destroyed in body and soul, more a burden than a help to society, etc. May these pages be a protection to the young! Let them read the following inscription on the doors of our universities: 'Young man! It is here that many of your fellows have lost their happiness along with their innocence.'" (Campe, Recueil de Voyages pour l'Instruction de la Jeunesse, II, 129.)]

[** See his Autobiography, in which, after several noble remarks about the universities of his country, he says in particular of Oxford: "She will as cheerfully renounce me for a son, as I am willing to disclaim her for a mother." No doubt this loving mother, sensitive as she should be to such a declaration, has bestowed on him a magnificent epitaph: LUBENS MERITO.

Sir William Jones in his letter to Mr. Anquetil, falls into a contrary excess, but it does him honor.]

XL. Creation is not man's province. Nor does his unassisted power even appear capable of improving on institutions already established. If anything is apparent to man, it is the existence of two opposing forces in the universe in continual conflict. Nothing good is unsullied or unaltered by evil. Every evil is repressed and assailed by good, which continually impels all existence towards, a more perfect state.* These two forces are present everywhere. We observe them equally in the growth of plants, the development of animals, the formation of languages and empires (two inseparable things), etc. Probably, human powers extend only to removing or resisting evil in order to separate from it the good, which may then develop freely according to its nature. The illustrious Zanotti has said: It is difficult to change things for the better.** This thought conceals a great meaning under the guise of extreme simplicity. It agrees perfectly with another thought of Origen which alone is worth a volume. Nothing, says he, can be altered for the better among men WITHOUT GOD.*** All men sense this truth, even without consciously realizing it. From it derives the innate aversion of all intelligent persons to innovations. The word reform, by itself and prior to any scrutiny, will always be suspect to wisdom, and the experience of every generation justifies this instinct. We know all too well the fruit of the most attractive speculations of this kind.****
[* A Greek would have said: pros ipanorthosin. One might say, towards total restitution, an expression which philosophy might quite fittingly borrow from jurisprudence and which in this new context would be wonderfully appropriate. As to the opposition and the balance between the two forces, it is readily apparent. "Good is set against evil, and life against death. So look upon all the works of the Most High; and there are two and two, one against another." (Ecclesiastes 33:14-15.)

We may say in passing: thence arises the idea of ideal beauty. Nothing in nature is as it should be, but the true artist, he who can say GOD IS IN US has the mysterious ability to discern the least disfigured features of beauty and to assemble them so as to form a whole which exists only in his mind.]

[** Difficile est mutare in melius. (Cited in the Transactions of the Royal Academy of Turin, 1788-9, 6.)]

[*** Athee. Or, to express this idea more tersely and free from grammatical license: SANS DIEU, REIN DE MIEUX (Origen Against Celsus, I, 26.)]

[**** Nihil motum ex antiquo probabile est. (Livy, XXXIV, 54.)]

XLI. Apply these general maxims to an individual example, the great question of parliamentary reform which has so powerfully stirred English minds for so long. Without being in a position to have a settled opinion, I am constrained to believe, from the mere consideration of the extreme danger of innovations founded upon purely human theories, that the idea of such reform is pernicious and that if the English yield too hastily to it, they will have occasion to repent. But, say the partisans of reform (for this is the classic argument), the abuses are striking, undeniable; and can a formal abuse, a defect, be constitutional? Yes indeed, for every political constitution has faults in its nature which cannot possibly be extracted from it. Moreover - and all would-be reformers should quail at the thought - these faults may change with circumstances, so that in showing that they are new, we have not yet proved them unnecessary.* What prudent man, then, would not shudder in setting to work? Social harmony, like musical harmony, obeys the law of just proportions in the keyboard of the universe. Tune the fifths rigorously and the octaves will be dissonant, and conversely. Since discord is inevitable, instead of eliminating it, which is impossible, we must moderate it by a general distribution. Thus, in all parts, imperfection is an element of the perfection possible. This proposition is a paradox in form only. But, one may still object, where is the rule for distinguishing the accidental flaw from that which belongs to the nature of things and is impossible to exclude? Men upon whom nature has merely bestowed ears ask such questions, while those who have a good ear shrug their shoulders in reply.
[* "One must return, they say, to the fundamental and original laws of the state, abolished by an unjust custom; and this is a game certain to lose everything. Weighed on such scales, nothing will be just. However, the crowd is easily persuaded by such arguments." (Pascal, Pensees, First part, article vi.)

Nothing could be truer, and yet - such is man! - the author of this remark and his loathsome sect have incessantly played this game, certain to lose all. Indeed, the game has utterly succeeded. Moreover, Voltaire has spoken like Pascal on this point: " It is a vain idea," he says, "a futile labor, to attempt to justify everything by finding corresponding ancient institutions," etc. (Essai sur les Moeurs et l'Esprit, etc., ch. 85.) Listening to him speak about the popes further on, you will see how well he remembers his own maxim.]

XLII. When abuses are concerned, one must be careful only to judge political institutions by their enduring effects and never by their causes, of whatever sort, which signify nothing,* still less by certain collateral difficulties which (if I may express myself thus) may easily preoccupy men of limited vision, preventing them from seeing the whole picture. Indeed, the cause should have no logical connection with the effect, according to the hypothesis, which seems already proved. Since the disadvantages of all inherently good institutions are only, as I just explained, an unavoidable dissonance in the great keyboard, how can institutions be ever judged by their causes and their faults? Voltaire, who spoke for decades on every subject without once penetrating the surface of any,** has argued facetiously about the sale of judicial offices in France, and perhaps no example would better illustrate the accuracy of my theory. The proof that this sale is an abuse, he says, is that it originated in another abuse.*** Voltaire does not err here in the way anyone is apt to. He errs shamefully, in a total eclipse of common sense. Everything which springs from an abuse is an abuse! On the contrary, one of the most general and obvious laws of the power, at once hidden and striking, which acts and makes itself felt on all sides, is that the remedy for an abuse arises from another and that the evil, having reached a certain point, destroys itself, as it should. For evil is only a negative quality having the dimensions and durability of the being to which it is attached and which it devours. It exists like an ulcer, which only terminates in self-destruction. But then a new reality will of necessity rush to fill the place of what has just disappeared, for nature abhors a vacuum, and good.... but I digress too far from Voltaire.
[* At least with respect to the institution's merit, for from other points of view it may be quite necessary to consider causes.]

[** Dante said to Vergil, honoring him a bit too much, one must admit: Maestro di color che sanno. Parini, although he had his head completely turned, has, however, had the courage to say to Voltaire, parodying Dante: Sei Maestro ... di coloro che credon che sanno - an apt remark.]

[*** Precis du siecle de Louis XV, ch. 42.]

XLIII. This great writer's error proceeds from the fact that divided among twenty sciences, as he himself somewhere confesses, and constantly occupied in communicating instruction to the world, he rarely gave himself time to think. "A sensual and dissipated court, reduced to the greatest want by its foolish expenses, devises the sale of judicial offices, thus creating" (what it never could have done freely, and with a knowledge of the cause) "a wealthy, irremovable and independent magistracy. In this fashion the infinite power, rejoicing in the habitable part of this earth,* employs corruption to create incorruptible tribunals" (as nearly as human frailty allows). Certainly nothing is so plausible to a true philosopher. Nothing is more consonant, by analogy, with that indisputable law which determines that the most important institutions are always the result of circumstances, never of deliberation. Here, the problem, once stated correctly, is nearly solved - the usual result with such problems. Could a country like France be better judged than by hereditary magistrates? If, as I suppose, one answers in the affirmative, I must immediately propose this second problem: The magistracy being necessarily hereditary, is there a more advantageous way first of constituting and then of recruiting it than one which fills the sovereign's coiners for the least cost and which simultaneously assures the affluence, independence, and even the nobility (of a certain kind) of the higher judges? If venality be considered only as a means of inheritance, every fair-minded person is struck by this point of view, the true one. This is not the place to discuss the matter at length? but it is already demonstrated that Voltaire was completely unaware of it.
[* Ludens in orbe terrarum. (Proverbs 8:31)]
XLIV. Imagine a man like him at the head of affairs, uniting, by a happy chance, frivolity, incapacity, and rashness. He will not fail to act according to his scatterbrained theories of law and abuses. He will borrow at 7 per cent to pay off debts carrying a charge of 2 per cent. He will subvert the public by a flood of paid writings which will insult the magistracy and destroy public confidence in it. Soon, patronage, a thousand times more foolish than chance, will begin the endless series of its blunders. The distinguished man, no longer enjoying the right of inheritance for oppressive labors, will depart, never to return. And the great tribunals will be delivered into the hands of nameless adventurers, without prestige or fortune, replacing the venerable magistracy, in which virtue and learning had become as hereditary as the dignities of office, a true priesthood which other nations could envy until the moment when false philosophy, having banished wisdom from all her accustomed haunts, climaxed these noble exploits by driving her from the land altogether.

XLV. Such is the portrait of most reforms. For not only is creation beyond man's scope, but even reform is permitted him only in a subordinate capacity and with a multitude of formidable restrictions. Starting from these unquestionable principles, each man can judge his country's institutions with perfect certainty. Above all, he can evaluate all those creators, those legislators and those restorers of nations, so dear to the eighteenth century, which posterity will contemplate with pity, perhaps even with horror. Castles of cards have been built inside and outside Europe. The details would be odious to relate. But surely no lack of respect is shown anyone by a simple plea to look and judge by the event if he persists in refusing all other types of instruction. Man in communication with his Maker is sublime, his activities creative. The instant he separates himself from God to act alone, on the other hand, he does not lose his power, for it is a privilege of his nature, but his activity is negative and leads only to destruction.

XLVI. The history of all ages contains not one fact to contradict these maxims. No human institution can endure unless supported by Him Who supports all - that is to say, unless it is specially consecrated to Him at its origin. The more it is permeated by the Divine essence, the longer it will survive. How strange is the blindness of men in our time! They boast of their understanding, yet they are ignorant of everything, since they do not know themselves what they are and what they can do. Unconquerable pride goads them incessantly to overthrow everything not made by themselves, and to effectuate new creations they abandon the source of all existence. Jean Jacques Rousseau has correctly said: Vain little man, show me your power, and I shall show you your weakness. He might just as truly have said, but to better advantage: Vain little man, confess your weakness to me, and I shall show you your strength. In fact, once a man has recognized his insignificance, he has taken a great forward stride, for he is quite close to seeking a support with which everything is possible. Exactly the opposite of this has characterized the century which just ended. (Alas! It has ended only in our calendars.) Examine all its enterprises, ail its institutions whatsoever; you will find it always intent on separating them from the Divinity. Man has believed himself to be an independent being, and he has embraced what is really the practice of atheism, which is more dangerous perhaps and more reprehensible than that of theory.

XLVII. Beguiled by his vain sciences away from the only one which truly concerns him, man has come to believe that he has the power of creation, although he actually has not even the power of assigning names. He who cannot even produce an insect or a tuft of moss has thought himself the direct author of sovereignty, the most important, holy, and fundamental part of the moral and political world.* He has believed that a certain family, for example, rules because a certain people has wanted it to, while he is surrounded by absolute proof that every sovereign power rules because it is elected by a superior power. If he does not see these proofs, it is because he shuts his eyes or because he looks too closely. He believes that he himself has invented language. Again, he should realize that every human tongue is learned and never invented and that no conceivable hypothesis within the sphere of mortal powers could explain either the formation or the diversity of languages with the slightest plausibility. He has believed that he could constitute nations, in other words, that he could create that national unity by virtue of which one nation is not another. Finally, he has believed that because he was able to form institutions, he could all the more naturally borrow them from other nations, importing them ready made, with their original name, to enjoy of them the same advantages as had their first possessors. The French press has furnished me a curious example.

[* "(The) principle, which is noble in itself, and seems specious ... is belied by all history and experience, that the people are the origin of all just power." (Hume, History of England, Charles I, ch. LIX, a. 1649.)]
XLVIII. Some years ago, the French people took it into their heads to initiate certain athletic contests in Paris which in several contemporary writings were gravely called Olympic Games. The reasoning of those who invented or revived this high-sounding name was not complicated. Men raced, they said to themselves, on foot and on horseback by the banks of the Alpheus. Men will race on foot and on horseback by the banks of the Seine. Therefore it is the same thing. Nothing could be simpler. But without inquiring why they had not called these games Parisian instead of Olympic, I shall proceed to other observations. Before the Olympic Games were begun, Oracles were consulted, gods and heroes took part, nothing started before sacrifices had been offered and other religious ceremonies enacted. The games were considered the Popular Assembly of Greece, and nothing was more majestic, But before the Parisians instituted their contests, revived from the Greeks, did they go to Rome ad limina apostolorum to consult the Pope? Before running their steeplechase for the amusement of shopkeepers, did they celebrate High Mass? With what great political aims were these races associated? What were the names of the High Priests? But enough. The most ordinary common sense instantly feels the emptiness, even ridiculousness, of this limitation.

XLIX. Yet in a journal written by intelligent men, whose only fault - or misfortune - lay in professing the modern doctrines, the following passage about these Games was written a few years ago with the most amusing enthusiasm.

I predict: The French Olympic Games will one day draw all Europe to the Champ-de-Mars. What frigid and insensitive souls are they who see in this only an athletic contest. As for me, I see a spectacle unparalleled since the pageantry of Elis, where all Greece could watch its own splendor. No, the Roman Circus and our own tournaments of chivalry could not hold a candle to it.

[Decade Philosophique, October, 1797, I, 3:. This passage, seen together with its date, has the twofold value of being highly amusing and also thought provoking. In it one may see what ideas these children were toying with at the time and how much they knew about what man should know before all else. Since then a new order of things has sufficiently refuted these fine conceits. And if all Europe today is drawn to Paris, it is certainly not in order to see Olympic Games.
As for me, I believe, indeed, I know, that no human institution is lasting without a religious foundation and moreover (I entreat the most undivided attention to this), without a name taken from the national language, originating itself without any previous and public deliberation.

L. The theory of names is yet of great importance. They are never arbitrary, as so many men who have lost their names affirm. God calls Himself I Am, and every creature calls itself I am that. The name of a spiritual being is necessarily relative to its action, which is its distinctive quality. Hence among the ancients, the highest honor for a divinity was polyonymy, that is to say, having more than one name, which indicates a variety of functions or a greater extent of power. Ancient mythology has Diana, still a child, asking Jupiter for this honor, and in the verses attributed to Orpheus, she is hailed with the title Demon polynyme (spirit of many names).* Essentially, this means that God alone has the right to bestow a name. He has named everything because he has created everything. He has named the stars** and the angels. The Bible mentions only three of the latter by name, but each relates to the purpose of these ministers. It is the same with men whom God has seen fit to name Himself, with whom Holy Scripture has acquainted us in considerable numbers. The names are always relative to the functions of these men.*** Has He not said that in His future kingdom, He would give the conquerors A NEW NAME**** proportionate to their exploits? Have men, formed in God's image, found a more solemn way to reward victors in battle than by giving them a new name, the most honorable of all in human estimation, that of the vanquished nation?***** Each time that a man's life is supposed to change and take on a new character, thus often does he receive a new name. This is true in baptism, confirmation, enlistment of soldiers, entrance into a religious order, liberation of slaves, etc. In a word, the name of every being explains what he is, and there is nothing arbitrary about it. The common expression, he has a name, he doesn't have a name, is quite true and expressive. No man may be ranked among those who in the time of assembly were called by name****** unless his family is marked by a sign which distinguishes it from all others.

[* See the note of Spanheim on the seventh line of Callimachus' Hymn to Diana, VII. Cited by Lanzi, Saggio di Lingua Etrusca, III, part 1. The Homeric Hymns are in reality only a collection of epithets which belong to the same principle of Polyonymy.

[** Isaiah 1:26.]

[*** Let us remember the greatest name divinely and directly given to man. The reason of the name was given in this case with the name, and the name expresses precisely the destination, or what amounts to the same thing, the power.]

[**** Revelation 3:12.]

[***** This observation has been made by the anonymous but well-known author of the German book entitled Die Siegsgeschichte der christlichen Religion, in einer gemeinnutzigen Erklaerung der Offenbarung (Nuernberg, 1799), 89. There is nothing which can be said against this page.]

[****** Numbers 6:12].

LI. This also applies to nations. There are some which have no name. Herodotus remarks that the Thracians would be the most powerful people in the universe if they were united. But, he adds, this union is impossible, for they all have a different name.* It is an acute observation. There are also some modern people who have no name and others who have several. But polyonymy is as unfortunate for nations as antiquity could think it honorable for their deities.
[* Herodotus, Therpsyc., v. 3]
LII. Since names partake of nothing arbitrary and originate, like all things, more or less immediately in God, we must not believe that man has the unrestricted right of naming even those things of which he has some right to consider himself the author and of imposing names on them to suit the ideas he forms of them. In this connection, God has reserved a sort of direct jurisdiction for Himself, which it is impossible to misconstrue.* Oh my dear Hermogenes! Bestowing names is a weighty matter, which cannot be entrusted to a bad man, or even an ordinary man .... This privilege belongs only to a creator of names (onomaturgos), that is to say, to the legislator alone. But of all human creatures, he is the most rare.**
[* Origen Against Celsus I, 18, 24, and Exhortation to Martyrdom, 46.]

[** Plato, Cratylus, 390.]

LIII. Still, man loves nothing as much as giving names. This he does when he applies expressive epithets to things, a talent for which great writers - great poets especially - are distinguished. The just application of an epithet dignifies a noun, which becomes famous in this new guise.* Examples are found in every language....** Man will never forget his primitive privileges; in a certain sense, he will always exercise them. But how greatly has his degradation curtailed them! Here is a law as true as God its Maker:

Man is forbidden to give great names to works of his which he considers mighty. But if be has proceeded legitimately, the common names for the work will be ennobled by it and become great.

[* So that, as Dionysius of Halicarnassus has observed, if the epithet is distinctive and natural, it will weigh as much as a name. (De la poesie d'Homere, ch. VI.) One can even say that in a certain way it is worth more, for it has the merits of creation without having the flaw of neologism.]

[** I recall no famous epithet of Voltaire - perhaps this is merely due to forgetfulness on my part.]

LIV. This rule is the same, whether it concerns political or material creation. For example, nothing is better known in Greek history than the word Ceramicus. Athens had none more magnificent. Long after it had lost its great men and its political significance, Atticus, then in Athens, wrote pretentiously to his illustrious friend: The other day, finding myself in the Ceramicus, etc., and Cicero teased him about it in his reply.* What is the intrinsic meaning of this famous word Tuilerie?** Nothing could be more ordinary. But heroes' remains mixed with this ground have consecrated it, and the soil has consecrated the name in turn. It is curious that at Such a great distance in time and space this same word TUILERIES, formerly famous as the name of a place of burial, should again be dignified under the name of a palace. The personage who arrived to inhabit the Tuileries did not attempt to give the building some imposing name to match its splendor. If he had made this mistake, there was no reason that the following day this place should not have been inhabited by prostitutes and thieves.
[* In reply to your phrase, finding myself in the Ceramicus the other day, etc. (Cicero, ad Atticus, I, 10.)

[** With a certain latitude which still includes the idea of pottery or a pottery.]

LV. There is another reason worth considering which should also induce us to mistrust any pompous name given a priori. Man's conscience almost always warns him of the imperfections of the work he has just produced. Rebellious pride, which cannot deceive itself, tries at least to deceive others by inventing an honorable name which implies precisely the opposite merit. This invention, consequently, instead of really attesting the excellence of the work, is a clear acknowledgement of the flaws which characterize it. The eighteenth century, so rich in every imaginable fallacy and foolishness, has supplied a myriad of intriguing examples of this point in the form of book titles, epigraphs, inscriptions, and other such things. At the beginning of one of the principal works of that age, for instance, one reads:
Tantum series juncturaque pollet:
Tantum de medio sumptis accedit honoris.
Erase the presumptuous epigraph and boldly substitute, without even having opened the book and without the least fear of being unfair:
Rudis indigestaque moles;
Non bene junctarum discordia seroina rerum.
Indeed, this book is the very image of chaos, and the epigraph eminently expresses what is wanting in the work to the highest degree. If you read at the head of another book A Philosophical and Political History, you know without having read the history announced under this title that it is neither philosophical nor political. Besides which you will know after having read it that it is the work of a madman. Does a man have the effrontery to write beneath his own portrait Vitam impendere veto? Do not hesitate to wager it is the portrait of a liar. Perhaps he himself will someday admit it to you when he may take a fancy to speak the truth. Who can see under another portrait Postgenitus hic carus erit, nunc carus amicis without at once recalling that line, borrowed from the original itself, depicting him in somewhat different fashion: I had worshipers but never a friend? Indeed, never perhaps has there lived a man of letters less able to feel friendship and less worthy to inspire it. Works and enterprises of another kind lend themselves to the same observation. For example, if in a famous nation music suddenly becomes an affair of state. If the spirit of the age, blind in every respect, grants this art a false importance and a false patronage, very different from what it needs, if in fact a temple is erected to music under the venerable and high-sounding title of ODEON - it proves infallibly that the art is decaying. No one need be surprised to hear a famous critic in that country declare soon after, rather strongly, that nothing prevents hanging a ROOM TO RENT sign above the entrance?
["Music played in the Odeon fails to inspire the same emotion in me which I felt in the former Theater of Music, where I used to listen to the same pieces with rapture. Our singers have lost the tradition of this masterpiece (Pergolesi's Stabat Mater). It is written in an idiom foreign to them. They emit the notes without being acquainted with their spirit. Their execution is cold, soulless, unfeeling and inexpressive. Even the orchestra plays mechanically and so feebly that the effect is spoiled.... Ancient music rivals the noblest poetry, ours only the chirping of birds. Therefore, let our modern virtuosi desist from profaning sublime compositions ... let them (especially) play Pergolesi no longer. He is too much for them." (Journal de l'empire, 28 March 1812.)]
LVI. But as I have said, all of this is only an observation of secondary importance. Let us return to the general principle, Man has not, or has no longer, the right to name things (at least, in the times referred to). We must realize clearly that the most respectable names have a plebeian origin in all languages. The name is never commensurate with the thing; the thing always glorifies the name. The name must germinate, so to speak, or else it is false. What did the word throne originally signify? Seat, or even stool. What does scepter mean? A staff to lean upon.* However, the staff of kings was soon distinguished from all others, and this name, with its new meaning, has subsisted for three thousand years. What is nobler in literature and more humble in its beginnings than the word tragedy? What has been more favored in our language than the almost repugnant word drapeau, raised and ennobled by the warrior's lance? Many other names might be mentioned in corroboration - Senate, Dictator, Consul, Emperor, Cardinal, Marshal, etc. We shall conclude with the titles Constable and Chancellor, given to two eminent dignitaries of modern times. The first once meant merely master of the stable;** the second, the man who stands behind a railing (to prevent his being trampled by the crowd of suppliants).
[* I In the second book of the Iliad, Ulysses wants to prevent the Greeks from ignobly renouncing their enterprise. If in the middle of a tumult stirred by malcontents he finds a nobleman or king, he speaks gently to persuade him. But if he finds a man of the people in his hands (demsu andra, a noteworthy Gallicism), he beats him with heavy blows of his scepter. (Iliad, II, 186-201.)

Formerly, Socrates was said to have sinned in borrowing the lines Ulysses then used and in quoting them to prove to the people that they knew nothing and were nothing. Xenophon, Memorabalia, Socrates, I, ii, 58.

Pindar may also be cited on the history of the scepter, the passage where he tells an anecdote of that former king of Rhodes who killed his brother-in-law on the spot, in a moment of high-spiritedness and without evil intent, by striking him with a scepter, which unfortunately happened to be made of a bard wood. (Olymp., VII, 49-55.) A fine lesson for making scepters lighter!]

[** Constable is only a Gallic contraction of COMES STABULI, the companion, or the minister of the prince for the department of the stables.]

LVII. Thus there, are two rules for judging all human creations of any kind whatsoever: the foundation and the name. If the former is purely human, the edifice cannot stand. The more men who engage in its construction, the more deliberation, learning, and especially writing, they supply to it; in short, the more human means of every kind, the more frail shall the institution be. Chiefly by this rule must we judge whatever has been attempted by sovereigns or assemblies of men for the civilizing, the founding, or the regeneration of nations.

LVIII. On the other hand, the more an institution's basis is divine, the more durable it is. For greater clarity, we should add that the religious principle is, by its nature, creative and conservative in two different ways. First, since it acts more strongly on the human mind than does any other element, drawing prodigious efforts from it. For example, if a man's religious beliefs convince him that it is greatly advantageous to him to preserve his body after death as nearly intact as possible without allowing, any rash or profane hand to touch it, after exhausting the resources of embalming, this man will at last build the Pyramids of Egypt. Second, though the religious principle is so powerful in what it effects, it is infinitely more so in what it prevents because of the veneration with which it imbues everything under its protection. If a simple pebble is consecrated, there is immediately a reason why it will escape from hands which might misplace or defile it. The earth is covered with proofs of this truth. The Etruscan vases, for example, preserved by the religion of the tombs, have come down to us, despite their fragility, in greater numbers than the bronze and marble monuments of the same epoch.* If you wish, therefore, to conserve everything, dedicate everything.

[* Mercure de France, June 17, 1809.]
LIX. The second rule, that of names, is no less clear or decisive than the first one. If the name is imposed by an assembly, if it is established by prior deliberation so that it precedes the thing, if it is pompous,* if it has a grammatical proportion to the object it is supposed to represent, lastly, if it is taken from a foreign language, especially an ancient language - all the signs of insignificance are found united, and one may rest assured that the name and the thing will quickly disappear. Contrary conditions indicate the legitimacy, hence the permanency, of the institution. We must take care not to pass over this subject lightly. A genuine philosopher must never lose sight of language, a true barometer whose variations infallibly predict good and bad weather. To confine myself to this subject, it is certain that the immoderate borrowing of foreign words, applied particularly to any sort of national institution, is one of the surest signs of a people's moral degeneracy.
[* Thus, for example, if any man but a sovereign calls himself legislator, it is a certain proof that he is not one. And if an assembly dares call itself legislative, not only does it prove itself otherwise, but also, it has lost its wits and in a little while will be abandoned to the scorn of the universe.]
LX. If the formation of every empire, the progress of civilization, and the unanimous agreement of all history and tradition do not suffice to convince us, the death of empires will complete the demonstration begun at their birth. As the religious principle has created everything, so has its absence destroyed everything. The Epicurean sect, which might be called the skepticism of antiquity, at first corrupted and soon after destroyed any government unfortunate enough to accept it. Everywhere, Lucretius was a harbinger of Caesar.

But all past experience fades in the light of the horrifying example supplied by the last century. Still intoxicated with its fumes, men are, at least in general, very far from being sufficiently composed to contemplate its real significance and, especially, to draw from this the necessary consequences. Thus it is crucial to direct the attention of all to this terrible scene.

LXI. There have always been some forms of religion in the world and wicked men who opposed them. Impiety was always a crime, too. Since there can be no false religion without some ingredients of truth, all impiety does attack some divine verity, however disfigured. But only in the bosom of the true religion can there be real impiety. From which it inevitably results that impiety has never produced in times past the evils which it has brought forth in our day, for its guilt is always directly proportional to the enlightenment which surrounds it. By this rule must we judge the eighteenth century, for in this respect it is unlike any other. It is often said that all ages are alike and men have always been the same. But we must beware of these general maxims, which are invented by the lazy and frivolous to spare themselves the trouble of thinking. On the contrary, every age and every nation has a special distinctive nature which must be carefully considered. Undoubtedly, vice has always existed in the world, but it can differ in quantity, essence, dominant characteristics, and intensity.* Although impious men have always existed, there never was before the eighteenth century, and in the heart of Christendom, an insurrection against God. Never before, above all, has there been a sacrilegious conspiracy of every human talent against its Creator. For this is what we have witnessed in our time. Vaudeville has blasphemed, as well as tragedy, and the novel, along with history and the physical sciences. Men of this age have prostituted genius to irreligion and, according to the admirable phrase of Saint Louis on his deathbed, THEY HAVE WAGED WAR AGAINST GOD WITH HIS OWN GIFTS.** Ancient impiety never becomes angry. Sometimes it reasons; usually it jests, but always without bitterness. Even Lucretius seldom descends to invective, and although his brooding melancholy temperament led him to see. the dark side of things, he remains calm, even when he accuses religion of generating great evils. The ancient religions were not considered sufficiently important to enrage contemporary skepticism.

[* One must be aware of the mixture of virtues, whose proportions have infinite variation. When the same sorts of Vice have been discovered in different times and places, some men believe they have the right to conclude judicially that men have always been the same. There is no more common, no grosser sophism.]

[** Joinville, History of Saint Louis, CXLV.]

LXII. When the good tidings were first broadcast throughout the universe, the attack became more violent. Nevertheless, the enemies of Christianity always retained a certain moderation. They appeared in history at great intervals and invariably alone. They never formed a union or a formal society. They never abandoned themselves to such fury as we have witnessed. Bayle himself, the father of modern disbelief, was unlike his successors. Even in his most reprehensible errors he does not show a great desire to proselytize, even less a mood of irritation or a factious spirit. He denies less than he doubts. He speaks on both sides. Indeed, at times he is more eloquent for the good cause than for the bad.
[* For example, see with what powerful logic he attacked materialism in the article LEUCIPPUS in his Dictionary.]
LXIII. Not until the first half of the eighteenth century did impiety really become a force. We see it at first spreading in every direction with amazing energy. From palaces to hovels, it insinuates itself everywhere, infesting everything. It follows invisible paths, acting secretly but infallibly, so that the most acute observer, seeing the effect, cannot always discover the means. By an unimaginable delusion, k even wins the affections of those to whom it is most deadly, and the authority it is preparing to sacrifice embraces it stupidly before receiving the blow. Soon a simple scheme becomes a formal association, which by degrees rapidly transforms itself into a confederacy and at length into a grand conspiracy which covers all Europe.

LXIV. Then that species of impiety which belongs only to the eighteenth century discloses itself for the first time. It is no longer the cold tone of indifference, of, at worst, the malignant irony of skepticism. It is a mortal hatred, the tone of anger and often of fury. The writers of that period, at least the most distinguished among them, no longer treat Christianity as an unimportant human error. They pursue it like a formidable enemy. They oppose it to the last extreme. It is a war to the death. What would seem incredible, if our own eyes had not seen the sad proofs of it, is that several of these men, who call themselves philosophers, advanced from hatred of Christianity to personal hatred of its Divine Author. They truly hated Him, as one would hate a living enemy. Two men especially, who will forever be covered with the anathemas of posterity, have distinguished themselves in this form of villainy, which seemed beyond the powers of human nature, however depraved.

LXV. Since, however, all Europe had been civilized by Christianity and its ministers had obtained high political prestige in every country, the secular and religious institutions had blended and, as it were, amalgamated in a surprising manner, so that one could with more or less accuracy say of every state in Europe what Gibbon has said of France, that this kingdom was founded by bishops. It was inevitable as a result that the philosophy of the age would unhesitatingly detest the social institutions, from which the religious principle was inseparable. This is what actually occurred. Every government and all the institutions of Europe displeased it because they were Christian, and in proportion as they were Christian, an inquietude of belief, a universal discontent, invaded every mind. In France, especially, the philosophic frenzy knew no bounds, and soon a single powerful voice, formed from many voices in chorus, cried out in the midst of guilty Europe:

LXVI. "Depart from us!* Must we then forever tremble before the priests, receiving from them such instruction as they are pleased to give us? Throughout Europe, the truth is hidden by the fumes of burning incense. It is time that she emerge from this poisonous cloud. We shall no longer speak of Thee to our children. It is left to them, once they become men, to know if Thou exist, what Thou art, and what Thou ask of them. All that exists is distasteful to us, for Thy name is written over all. We wish to destroy everything, rebuilding it without Thee. Depart from our councils, our schools, and our homes. We can act alone; reason is all we require. Depart from us!"

[* Job 21:14. Therefore they say unto God, Depart from us; for we desire not the knowledge of Thy ways.]
How has God punished this execrable raving? He punished it as He created the light, by a single word. He said, "SO BE IT!" - and the world of politics crumbled.

See, then, how the two kinds of proof unite to strike the least discerning eyes. On the one hand, the religious principle presides over all political creation. On the other, everything disappears as soon as it is withdrawn.

LXVII. Europe is guilty for having shut her eyes to these great truths, and she suffers on account of her guilt. Yet still she rejects the light and does not acknowledge the Arm which strikes her. Few men, indeed, of this materialistic generation are in a condition to recognize the date,, the nature, and the enormity of certain crimes perpetrated by individuals, by nations, and by sovereignties. Still less are they able to understand the sort of expiation which these sins demand and the worshipful marvel which compels evil to purify with its own hands the place which the eternal Architect has already measured for His marvelous constructions. The men of this age have chosen their lot. They have sworn to fix their eyes upon the earth.* But it would be useless, even dangerous perhaps, to go into further detail. We are exhorted to profess the truth in love.** Moreover, on certain occasions we must speak it only with respect, and despite every conceivable precaution, this step would be slippery for even the calmest and best-intentioned author. Besides, the world still contains a countless horde of men so perverse, so profoundly corrupt, that if they should bring themselves to suspect the truth of certain things, their wickedness might redouble in consequence, making them, so to speak, as guilty as the rebel angels. Oh! May their brutishness become instead even greater, if possible, in order that they cannot become even as guilty as men can be. Surely blindness is a dreadful punishment Sometimes, however, it can still recognize love. That is all that can be usefully said at this time.

[* Oculos suos statuerunt declinare in terram. (Psalms 16:11)]

[** Aletheuontes en agape. (Ephesians 5:15) This expression is untranslatable. The Vulgate, prefering, with reason, to speak rightly than to speak Latin, says: Facientes veritatem in charitate.]

MAY, 1809

[Translated by Elisha Greifer with the assistance of Laurence M. Porter]

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