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Michel de Montaigne, Of Cannibals

from Essays of Montaigne, vol. 2 [1580], trans. Charles Cotton, revised by William Carew Hazlett (New York: Edwin C. Hill, 1910).

Used with the permission of the Online Library of Liberty




WHEN KING PYRRHUS invaded Italy, having viewed and considered the order of the army the Romans sent out to meet him; “I know not,” said he, “what kind of barbarians” (for so the Greeks called all other nations) “these may be; but the disposition of this army that I see has nothing of barbarism in it.” As much said the Greeks of that which Flaminius brought into their country; and Philip, beholding from an eminence the order and distribution of the Roman camp formed in his kingdom by Publius Sulpicius Galba, spake to the same effect. By which it appears how cautious men ought to be of taking things upon trust from vulgar opinion, and that we are to judge by the eye of reason, and not from common report.

I long had a man in my house that lived ten or twelve years in the New World, discovered in these latter days, and in that part of it where Villegaignon landed, which he called Antarctic France. This discovery of so vast a country seems to be of very great consideration. I cannot be sure, that hereafter there may not be another, so many wiser men than we having been deceived in this. I am afraid our eyes are bigger than our bellies, and that we have more curiosity than capacity; for we grasp at all, but catch nothing but wind.

Plato brings in Solon, telling a story that he had heard from the priests of Sais in Egypt, that of old, and before the Deluge, there was a great island called Atlantis, situate directly at the mouth of the straits of Gibraltar, which contained more countries than both Africa and Asia put together; and that the kings of that country, who not only possessed that Isle, but extended their dominion so far into the continent that they had a country of Africa as far as Egypt, and extending in Europe to Tuscany, attempted to encroach even upon Asia, and to subjugate all the nations that border upon the Mediterranean Sea, as far as the Black Sea; and to that effect overran all Spain, the Gauls, and Italy, so far as to penetrate into Greece, where the Athenians stopped them: but that some time after, both the Athenians, and they and their island, were swallowed by the Flood.

It is very likely that this extreme irruption and inundation of water made wonderful changes and alterations in the habitations of the earth, as ’tis said that the sea then divided Sicily from Italy:—

“These lands, they say, formerly with violence and vast desolation convulsed, burst asunder, where before both were one country.”

—Cyprus from Syria, the isle of Negropont from the continent of Boeotia, and elsewhere united lands that were separate before, by filling up the channel betwixt them with sand and mud:—

“The long-time sterile marsh, adapted for ships, feeds neighboring cities, and feels the heavy plough.”

But there is no great appearance that this isle was this New World so lately discovered: for that almost touched upon Spain, and it were an incredible effect of an inundation, to have tumbled back so prodigious a mass, above twelve hundred leagues: besides that our modern navigators have already almost discovered it to be no island, but terra firma, and continent with the East Indies on the one side, and with the lands under the two poles on the other side; or, if it be separate from them, it is by so narrow a strait and channel, that it none the more deserves the name of an island for that.

It should seem, that in this great body, there are two sorts of motions, the one natural and the other febrific, as there are in ours. When I consider the impression that our river of Dordogne has made in my time on the right bank of its descent, and that in twenty years it has gained so much, and undermined the foundations of so many houses, I perceive it to be an extraordinary agitation: for had it always followed this course, or were hereafter to do it, the aspect of the world would be totally changed. But rivers alter their course, sometimes beating against the one side, and sometimes the other, and sometimes quietly keeping the channel. I do not speak of sudden inundations, the causes of which everybody understands. In Medoc, by the seashore, the Sieur d’Arsac, my brother, sees an estate he had there, buried under the sands which the sea vomits before it: where the tops of some houses are yet to be seen, and where his rents and domains are coverted into pitiful barren pasturage. The inhabitants of this place affirm, that of late years the sea has driven so vehemently upon them, that they have lost above four leagues of land. These sands are her harbingers: and we now see great heaps of moving sand, that march half a league before her, and occupy the land.

The other testimony from antiquity, to which some would apply this discovery of the New World, is in Aristotle; at least, if that little book of Unheard-of Miracles be his. He there tells us, that certain Carthaginians, having crossed the Atlantic Sea without the Straits of Gibraltar, and sailed a very long time, discovered at last a great and fruitful island, all covered over with wood, and watered with several broad and deep rivers, far remote from all terra firma; and that they, and others after them, allured by the goodness and fertility of the soil, went thither with their wives and children, and began to plant a colony. But the senate of Cathage perceiving their people by little and little to diminish, issued out an express prohibition, that none, upon pain of death, should transport themselves thither; and also drove out these new inhabitants; fearing, ’tis said, lest in process of time they should so multiply as to supplant themselves and ruin their state. But this relation of Aristotle no more agrees with our new-found lands than the other.

This man that I had was a plain ignorant fellow, and therefore the more likely to tell truth: for your better-bred sort of men are much more curious in their observation, ’tis true, and discover a great deal more; but then they gloss upon it, and to give the greater weight to what they deliver, and allure your belief, they cannot forbear a little to alter the story; they never represent things to you simply as they are, but rather as they appeared to them, or as they would have them appear to you, and to gain the reputation of men of judgment, and the better to induce your faith, are willing to help out the business with something more than is really true, of their own invention. Now in this case, we should either have a man of irreproachable veracity, or so simple that he has not wherewithal to contrive, and to give a color of truth to false relations, and who can have no ends in forging an untruth. Such a one was mine; and besides, he has at divers times brought to me several seamen and merchants who at the same time went the same voyage. I shall therefore content myself with his information, without inquiring what the cosmographers say to the business. We should have topographers to trace out to us the particular places where they have been; but for having had this advantage over us, to have seen the Holy Land, they would have the privilege, forsooth, to tell us stories of all the other parts of the world beside. I would have every one write what he knows, and as much as he knows, but no more; and that not in this only but in all other subjects; for such a person may have some particular knowledge and experience of the nature of such a river, or such a fountain, who, as to other things, knows no more than what everybody does, and yet to give a currency to his little pittance of learning, will undertake to write the whole body of physics: a vice from which great inconveniences derive their original.

Now, to return to my subject, I find that there is nothing barbarous and savage in this nation, by anything that I can gather, excepting, that every one gives the title of barbarism to everything that is not in use in his own country. As, indeed, we have no other level of truth and reason than the example and idea of the opinions and customs of the place wherein we live: there is always the perfect religion, there the perfect government, there the most exact and accomplished usage of all things. They are savages at the same rate that we say fruits are wild, which nature produces of herself and by her own ordinary progress; whereas, in truth, we ought rather to call those wild whose natures we have changed by our artifice and diverted from the common order. In those, the genuine, most useful, and natural virtues and properties are vigorous and sprightly, which we have helped to degenerate in these, by accommodating them to the pleasure of our own corrupted palate. And yet for all this, our taste confesses a flavor and delicacy excellent even to emulation of the best of ours, in several fruits wherein those countries abound without art or culture. Neither is it reasonable that art should gain the pre-eminence of our great and powerful mother nature. We have so surcharged her with the additional ornaments and graces we have added to the beauty and riches of her own works by our inventions, that we have almost smothered her; yet in other places, where she shines in her own purity and proper lustre, she marvellously baffles and disgraces all our vain and frivolous attempts:—

“And the ivy grows best spontaneously, the arbutus best in solitary caves; and the birds sing more sweetly without art.”

Our utmost endeavors cannot arrive at so much as to imitate the nest of the least of birds, its contexture, beauty, and convenience: not so much as the web of a poor spider.

All things, says Plato, are produced either by nature, by fortune, or by art; the greatest and most beautiful by the one or the other of the former, the least and the most imperfect by the last.

These nations then seem to me to be so far barbarous, as having received but very little form and fashion from art and human invention, and consequently to be not much remote from their original simplicity. The laws of nature, however, govern them still, not as yet much vitiated with any mixture of ours: but ’tis in such purity, that I am sometimes troubled we were not sooner acquainted with these people, and that they were not discovered in those better times, where there were men much more able to judge of them than we are. I am sorry that Lycurgus and Plato had no knowledge of them; for to my apprehension, what we now see in those nations, does not only surpass all the pictures with which the poets have adorned the golden age, and all their inventions in feigning a happy state of man, but, moreover, the fancy and even the wish and desire of philosophy itself; so native and so pure a simplicity, as we by experience see to be in them, could never enter into their imagination, nor could they ever believe that human society could have been maintained with so little artifice and human patchwork. I should tell Plato that it is a nation wherein there is no manner of traffic, no knowledge of letters, no science of numbers, no name of magistrate or political superiority; no use of service, riches or poverty, no contracts, no successions, no dividends, no properties, no employments, but those of leisure, no respect of kindred, but common, no clothing, no agriculture, no metal, no use of corn or wine; the very words that signify lying, treachery, dissimulation, avarice, envy, detraction, pardon, never heard of. How much would he find his imaginary Republic short of his perfection?—

“Men not far removed from the gods.”

“These manners nature first inculcated.”

As to the rest, they live in a country very pleasant and temperate, so that, as my witness informed me, ’tis rare to hear of a sick person, and they moreover assure me, that they never saw any of the natives, either paralytic, blear-eyed, toothless, or crooked with age. The situation of their country is along the sea-shore, enclosed on the other side towards the land, with great and high mountains, having about a hundred leagues in breadth between. They have great store of fish and flesh, that have no resemblance to those of ours; which they eat without any other cookery, than plain boiling, roasting, and broiling. The first that rode a horse thither, though in several other voyages he had contracted an acquaintance and familiarity with them, put them into so terrible a fright, with his centaur appearance, that they killed him with their arrows before they could come to discover who he was. Their buildings are very long, and of capacity to hold two or three hundred people, made of the barks of tall trees, reared with one end upon the ground, and leaning to and supporting one another at the top, like some of our barns, of which the covering hangs down to the very ground, and serves for the side walls. They have wood so hard, that they cut with it, and make their swords of it, and their grills of it to broil their meat. Their beds are of cotton, hung swinging from the roof, like our seamen’s hammocks, every man his own, for the wives lie apart from their husbands. They rise with the sun, and so soon as they are up, eat for all day, for they have no more meals but that; they do not then drink, as Suidas reports of some other people of the East that never drank at their meals; but drink very often all day after, and sometimes to a rousing pitch. Their drink is made of a certain root, and is of the color of our claret, and they never drink it but luke warm. It will not keep above two or three days; it has a somewhat sharp, brisk taste, is nothing heady, but very comfortable to the stomach; laxative to strangers, but a very pleasant beverage to such as are accustomed to it. They make use, instead of bread, of a certain white compound, like coriander seeds; I have tasted of it; the taste is sweet and a little flat. The whole day is spent in dancing. Their young men go a-hunting after wild beasts with bows and arrows; one part of their women are employed in preparing their drink the while, which is their chief employment. One of their old men, in the morning before they fall to eating, preaches to the whole family, walking from the one end of the house to the other, and several times repeating the same sentence, till he has finished the round, for their houses are at least a hundred yards long. Valor towards their enemies and love towards their wives, are the two heads of his discourse, never failing in the close, to put them in mind, that ’tis their wives who provide them their drink warm and well seasoned. The fashion of their beds, ropes, swords, and of the wooden bracelets they tie about their wrists, when they go to fight, and of the great canes, bored hollow at one end, by the sound of which they keep the cadence of their dances, are to be seen in several places, and amongst others, at my house. They shave all over, and much more neatly than we, without other razor than one of wood or stone. They believe in the immortality of the soul, and that those who have merited well of the gods are lodged in that part of heaven where the sun rises, and the accursed in the west.

They have I know not what kind of priests and prophets, who very rarely present themselves to the people, having their abode in the mountains. At their arrival, there is a great feast, and solemn assembly of many villages: each house, as I have described, makes a village, and they are about a French league distant from one another. This prophet declaims to them in public, exhorting them to virtue and their duty: but all their ethics are comprised in these two articles, resolution in war, and affection to their wives. He also prophesies to them events to come, and the issues they are to expect from their enterprises, and prompts them to or diverts them from war: but let him look to’t; for if he fail in his divination, and anything happen otherwise than he has foretold, he is cut into a thousand pieces, if he be caught, and condemned for a false prophet: for that reason, if any of them has been mistaken, he is no more heard of.

Divination is a gift of God, and therefore to abuse it, ought to be a punishable imposture. Amongst the Scythians, where their diviners failed in the promised effect, they were laid, bound hand and foot, upon carts loaded with firs and bavins, and drawn by oxen, on which they were burned to death. Such as only meddle with things subject to the conduct of human capacity, are excusable in doing the best they can: but those other fellows that come to delude us with assurances of an extraordinary faculty, beyond our understanding, ought they not to be punished, when they do not make good the effect of their promise, and for the temerity of their imposture?

They have continual war with the nations that live further within the mainland, beyond their mountains, to which they go naked, and without other arms than their bows and wooden swords, fashioned at one end like the head of our javelins. The obstinacy of their battles is wonderful, and they never end without great effusion of blood: for as to running away, they know not what it is. Every one for a trophy brings home the head of an enemy he has killed, which he fixes over the door of his house. After having a long time treated their prisoners very well, and given them all the regales they can think of, he to whom the prisoner belongs, invites a great assembly of his friends. They being come, he ties a rope to one of the arms of the prisoner, of which, at a distance, out of his reach, he holds the one end himself, and gives to the friend he loves best the other arm to hold after the same manner; which being done, they two, in the presence of all the assembly, despatch him with their swords. After that, they roast him, eat him amongst them, and send some chops to their absent friends. They do not do this, as some think, for nourishment, as the Scythians anciently did, but as a representation of an extreme revenge; as will appear by this: that having observed the Portuguese, who were in league with their enemies, to inflict another sort of death upon any of them they took prisoners, which was to set them up to the girdle in the earth, to shoot at the remaining part till it was stuck full of arrows, and then to hang them, they thought those people of the other world (as being men who had sown the knowledge of a great many vices amongst their neighbors, and who were much greater masters in all sorts of mischief than they) did not exercise this sort of revenge without a meaning, and that it must needs be more painful than theirs, they began to leave their old way, and to follow this. I am not sorry that we should here take notice of the barbarous horror of so cruel an action, but that, seeing so clearly into their faults, we should be so blind to our own. I conceive there is more barbarity in eating a man alive, than when he is dead; in tearing a body limb from limb by racks and torments, that is yet in perfect sense; in roasting it by degrees; in causing it to be bitten and worried by dogs and swine (as we have not only read, but lately seen, not amongst inveterate and mortal enemies, but among neighbors and fellow-citizens, and, which is worse, under color of piety and religion), than to roast and eat him after he is dead.

Chrysippus and Zeno, the two heads of the Stoic sect, were of opinion that there was no hurt in making use of our dead carcasses, in what way soever for our necessity, and in feeding upon them too; as our own ancestors, who being besieged by Caesar in the city Alexia, resolved to sustain the famine of the siege with the bodies of their old men, women, and other persons who were incapable of bearing arms:—

“Vascones, ut fama est, alimentis talibus usi Produxere animas.”

And the physicians make no bones of employing it to all sorts of use, either to apply it outwardly; or to give it inwardly for the health of the patient. But there never was any opinion so irregular, as to excuse treachery, disloyalty, tyranny, and cruelty, which are our familiar vices. We may then call these people barbarous, in respect to the rules of reason: but not in respect to ourselves, who in all sorts of barbarity exceed them. Their wars are throughout noble and generous, and carry as much excuse and fair pretence, as that human malady is capable of; having with them no other foundation than the sole jealousy of valor. Their disputes are not for the conquest of new lands, for these they already possess are so fruitful by nature, as to supply them without labor or concern, with all things necessary, in such abundance that they have no need to enlarge their borders. And they are, moreover, happy in this, that they only covet so much as their natural necessities require: all beyond that is superfluous to them: men of the same age call one another generally brothers, those who are younger, children; and the old men are fathers to all. These leave to their heirs in common the full possession of goods, without any manner of division, or other title than what nature bestows upon her creatures, in bringing them into the world. If their neighbors pass over the mountains to assault them, and obtain a victory, all the victors gain by it is glory only, and the advantage of having proved themselves the better in valor and virtue: for they never meddle with the goods of the conquered, but presently return into their own country, where they have no want of anything necessary, nor of this greatest of all goods, to know happily how to enjoy their condition and to be content. And those in turn do the same; they demand of their prisoners no other ransom, than acknowledgment that they are overcome: but there is not one found in an age, who will not rather choose to die than make such a confession, or either by word or look recede from the entire grandeur of an invincible courage. There is not a man amongst them who had not rather be killed and eaten, than so much as to open his mouth to entreat he may not. They use them with all liberality and freedom, to the end their lives may be so much the dearer to them; but frequently entertain them with menaces of their approaching death, of the torments they are to suffer, of the preparations making in order to it, of the mangling their limbs, and of the feast that is to be made, where their carcass is to be the only dish. All which they do, to no other end, but only to extort some gentle or submissive word from them, or to frighten them so as to make them run away, to obtain this advantage that they were terrified, and that their constancy was shaken; and indeed, if rightly taken, it is in this point only that a true victory consists:—

“No victory is complete, which the conquered do not admit to be so.”

The Hungarians, a very warlike people, never pretend further than to reduce the enemy to their discretion; for having forced this confession from them, they let them go without injury or ransom, excepting, at the most, to make them engage their word never to bear arms against them again. We have sufficient advantages over our enemies that are borrowed and not truly our own; it is the quality of a porter, and no effect of virtue, to have stronger arms and legs; it is a dead and corporeal quality to set in array; ’tis a turn of fortune to make our enemy stumble, or to dazzle him with the light of the sun; ’tis a trick of science and art, and that may happen in a mean base fellow, to be a good fencer. The estimate and value of a man consist in the heart and in the will: there his true honor lies. Valor is stability, not of legs and arms, but of the courage and the soul; it does not lie in the goodness of our horse or our arms: but in our own. He that falls obstinate in his courage—

“If he falls, he fights from his knee;”

—he who, for any danger of imminent death, abates nothing of his assurance; who, dying, yet darts at his enemy a fierce and disdainful look, is overcome not by us, but by fortune; he is killed, not conquered; the most valiant are sometimes the most unfortunate. There are defeats more triumphant than victories. Never could those four sister victories, the fairest the sun ever beheld, of Salamis, Plataea, Mycale, and Sicily, venture to oppose all their united glories, to the single glory of the discomfiture of King Leonidas and his men, at the pass of Thermopylae. Whoever ran with a more glorious desire and greater ambition, to the winning, than Captain Iscolas to the certain loss of a battle? Who could have found out a more subtle invention to secure his safety, than he did to assure his destruction? He was set to defend a certain pass of Peloponnesus against the Arcadians, which, considering the nature of the place and the inequality of forces, finding it utterly impossible for him to do, and seeing that all who were presented to the enemy, must certainly be left upon the place; and on the other side, reputing it unworthy of his own virtue and magnanimity and of the Lacedaemonian name to fail in any part of his duty, he chose a mean betwixt these two extremes after this manner; the youngest and most active of his men, he preserved for the service and defence of their country, and sent them back; and with the rest, whose loss would be of less consideration, he resolved to make good the pass, and with the death of them, to make the enemy buy their entry as dear as possibly he could; as it fell out, for being presently environed on all sides by the Arcadians, after having made a great slaughter of the enemy, he and his were all cut in pieces. Is there any trophy dedicated to the conquerors which was not much more due to these who were overcome? The part that true conquering is to play, lies in the encounter, not in the coming off; and the honor of valor consists in fighting, not in subduing.

But to return to my story: these prisoners are so far from discovering the least weakness, for all the terrors that can be represented to them, that, on the contrary, during the two or three months they are kept, they always appear with a cheerful countenance; importune their masters to make haste to bring them to the test, defy, rail at them, and reproach them with cowardice, and the number of battles they have lost against those of their country. I have a song made by one of these prisoners, wherein he bids them “come all, and dine upon him, and welcome, for they shall withal eat their own fathers and grandfathers, whose flesh has served to feed and nourish him. Those muscles,” says he, “this flesh and these veins, are your own; poor silly souls as you are, you little think that the substance of your ancestors’ limbs is here yet; notice what you eat, and you will find in it the taste of your own flesh:” in which song there is to be observed an invention that nothing relishes of the barbarian. Those that paint these people dying after this manner, represent the prisoner spitting in the faces of his executioners and making wry mouths at them. And ’tis most certain, that to the very last gasp, they never cease to brave and defy them both in word and gesture. In plain truth, these men are very savage in comparison of us; of necessity, they must either be absolutely so or else we are savages; for there is a vast difference betwixt their manners and ours.

The men there have several wives, and so much the greater number, by how much they have the greater reputation for valor. And it is one very remarkable feature in their marriages, that the same jealousy our wives have to hinder and divert us from the friendship and familiarity of other women, those employ to promote their husbands’ desires, and to procure them many spouses; for being above all things solicitous of their husbands’ honor, ’tis their chiefest care to seek out, and to bring in the most companions they can, forasmuch as it is a testimony of the husband’s virtue. Most of our ladies will cry out, that ’tis monstrous; whereas in truth it is not so, but a truly matrimonial virtue, and of the highest form. In the Bible, Sarah, with Leah and Rachel, the two wives of Jacob, gave the most beautiful of their handmaids to their husbands; Livia preferred the passions of Augustus to her own interest; and the wife of King Deiotarus, Stratonice, did not only give up a fair young maid that served her to her husband’s embraces, but moreover carefully brought up the children he had by her, and assisted them in the succession to their father’s crown.

And that it may not be supposed, that all this is done by a simple and servile obligation to their common practice, or by any authoritative impression of their ancient custom, without judgment or reasoning, and from having a soul so stupid that it cannot contrive what else to do, I must here give you some touches of their sufficiency in point of understanding. Besides what I repeated to you before, which was one of their songs of war, I have another, a love-song, that begins thus: “Stay, adder, stay, that by thy pattern my sister may draw the fashion and work of a rich ribbon, that I may present to my beloved, by which means thy beauty and the excellent order of thy scales shall for ever be preferred before all other serpents.” Wherein the first couplet, “Stay, adder,” &c., makes the burden of the song. Now I have conversed enough with poetry to judge thus much: that not only there is nothing barbarous in this invention, but, moreover, that it is perfectly Anacreontic. To which may be added, that their language is soft, of a pleasing accent, and something bordering upon the Greek termination.

Three of these people, not foreseeing how dear their knowledge of the corruptions of this part of the world will one day cost their happiness and repose, and that the effect of this commerce will be their ruin, as I presuppose it is in a very fair way (miserable men to suffer themselves to be deluded with desire of novelty and to have left the serenity of their own heaven to come so far to gaze at ours!), were at Rouen at the time that the late King Charles IX. was there. The king himself talked to them a good while, and they were made to see our fashions, our pomp, and the form of a great city. After which, some one asked their opinion, and would know of them, what of all the things they had seen they found most to be admired? To which they made answer, three things, of which I have forgotten the third, and am troubled at it, but two I yet remember. They said, that in the first place they thought it very strange that so many tall men, wearing beards, strong, and well armed, who were about the king (’tis like they meant the Swiss of the guard), should submit to obey a child, and that they did not rather choose out one amongst themselves to command. Secondly (they have a way of speaking in their language to call men the half of one another), that they had observed that there were amongst us men full and crammed with all manner of commodities, whilst, in the meantime, their halves were begging at their doors, lean and half-starved with hunger and poverty; and they thought it strange that these necessitous halves were able to suffer so great an inequality and injustice, and that they did not take the others by the throats, or set fire to their houses.

I talked to one of them a great while together, but I had so ill an interpreter, and one who was so perplexed by his own ignorance to apprehend my meaning, that I could get nothing out of him of any moment. Asking him what advantage he reaped from the superiority he had amongst his own people (for he was a captain, and our mariners called him king), he told me, to march at the head of them to war. Demanding of him further how many men he had to follow him, he showed me a space of ground, to signify as many as could march in such a compass, which might be four or five thousand men; and putting the question to him whether or no his authority expired with the war, he told me this remained: that when he went to visit the villages of his dependence, they planed him paths through the thick of their woods, by which he might pass at his ease. All this does not sound very ill, and the last was not at all amiss, for they wear no breeches.

Bernard Mandeville, "The Grumbling Hive: or, Knaves turn'd Honest"

From "The Fable of the Bees or Private Vices, Publick Benefits," Vol. 1 [1732]

Reprinted with the permission of the Online Library of Liberty.

From: The Fable of the Bees or Private Vices, Publick Benefits, 2 vols. With a Commentary Critical, Historical, and Explanatory by F.B. Kaye (Indianapolis: Liberty Fund, 1988). Vol. 1.


A Spacious Hive well stockt with Bees,
That liv’d in Luxury and Ease;
And yet as fam’d for Laws and Arms,
As yielding large and early Swarms;
Was counted the great Nursery
Of Sciences and Industry.
No Bees had better Government,
More Fickleness, or less Content:
They were not Slaves to Tyranny,
Nor rul’d by wild Democracy;
[2]But Kings, that could not wrong, because
Their Power was circumscrib’d by Laws.
T h e s e Insects liv’d like Men, and all
Our Actions they perform’d in small:
They did whatever’s done in Town,
And what belongs to Sword or Gown:
Tho’ th’ Artful Works, by nimble Slight
Of minute Limbs, ’scap’d Human Sight;
Yet we’ve no Engines, Labourers,
Ships, Castles, Arms, Artificers,
Craft, Science, Shop, or Instrument,
But they had an Equivalent:
Which, since their Language is unknown,
Must be call’d, as we do our own.
As grant, that among other Things,
They wanted Dice, yet they had Kings;
And those had Guards; from whence we may
Justly conclude, they had some Play;
Unless a Regiment be shewn
Of Soldiers, that make use of none.
[3]Va s t Numbers throng’d the fruitful Hive;
Yet those vast Numbers made ’em thrive;
Millions endeavouring to supply
Each other’s Lust and Vanity;
While other Millions were employ’d,
To see their Handy-works destroy’d;
They furnish’d half the Universe;
Yet had more Work than Labourers.
Some with vast Stocks, and little Pains,
Jump’d into Business of great Gains;
And some were damn’d to Sythes and Spades,
And all those hard laborious Trades;
Where willing Wretches daily sweat,
And wear out Strength and Limbs to eat:
(A.)While others follow’d Mysteries,
To which few Folks bind ’Prentices;
That want no Stock, but that of Brass,
And may set up without a Cross;As Sharpers, Parasites, Pimps, Players,
Pick-pockets, Coiners, Quacks, South-sayers,[4]And all those, that in Enmity,
With downright Working, cunningly
Convert to their own Use the Labour
Of their good-natur’d heedless Neighbour.
(B.) These were call’d Knaves, but bar the Name,
The grave Industrious were the same:
All Trades and Places knew some Cheat,
No Calling was without Deceit.
T h e Lawyers, of whose Art the Basis
Was raising Feuds and splitting Cases,
Oppos’d all Registers, that Cheats
Might make more Work with dipt Estates;As wer’t unlawful, that one’s own,
Without a Law-Suit, should be known.
They kept off Hearings wilfully,
To finger the refreshing Fee;
And to defend a wicked Cause,
Examin’d and survey’d the Laws,
As Burglars Shops and Houses do,
To find out where they’d best break through.
[5]P h y s i c i a n s valu’d Fame and Wealth
Above the drooping Patient’s Health,
Or their own Skill: The greatest Part
Study’d, instead of Rules of Art,
Grave pensive Looks and dull Behaviour,
To gain th’ Apothecary’s Favour;
The Praise of Midwives, Priests, and all
That serv’d at Birth or Funeral.
To bear with th’ ever-talking Tribe,
And hear my Lady’s Aunt prescribe;
With formal Smile, and kind How d’ye,
To fawn on all the Family;
And, which of all the greatest Curse is,
T’ endure th’ Impertinence of Nurses.
A m o n g the many Priests of Jove,
Hir’d to draw Blessings from Above,
Some few were Learn’d and Eloquent,
But thousands Hot and Ignorant:
Yet all pass’d Muster that could hide
Their Sloth, Lust, Avarice and Pride;
[6]For which they were as fam’d as Tailors
For Cabbage, or for Brandy Sailors:Some, meagre-look’d, and meanly clad,
Would mystically pray for Bread,
Meaning by that an ample Store,
Yet lit’rally received no more;
And, while these holy Drudges starv’d,
The lazy Ones, for which they serv’d,
Indulg’d their Ease, with all the Graces
Of Health and Plenty in their Faces.
(C.) T h e Soldiers, that were forc’d to fight,
If they surviv’d, got Honour by’t;
Tho’ some, that shunn’d the bloody Fray,
Had Limbs shot off, that ran away:
Some valiant Gen’rals fought the Foe;
Others took Bribes to let them go:
Some ventur’d always where ’twas warm,
Lost now a Leg, and then an Arm;
Till quite disabled, and put by,
They liv’d on half their Salary;
[7]While others never came in Play,
And staid at Home for double Pay.
T h e i r Kings were serv’d, but Knavishly,
Cheated by their own Ministry;
Many, that for their Welfare slaved,
Robbing the very Crown they saved:
Pensions were small, and they liv’d high,
Yet boasted of their Honesty.
Calling, whene’er they strain’d their Right,
The slipp’ry Trick a Perquisite;
And when Folks understood their Cant,
They chang’d that for Emolument;
Unwilling to be short or plain,
In any thing concerning Gain;
(D.) For there was not a Bee but would
Get more, I won’t say, than he should;
But than he dar’d to let them know,
(E.) That pay’d for’t; as your Gamesters do,
That, tho’ at fair Play, ne’er will own
Before the Losers what they’ve won.
[8]B u t who can all their Frauds repeat?
The very Stuff, which in the Street
They sold for Dirt t’enrich the Ground,
Was often by the Buyers found
Sophisticated with a quarter
Of good-for-nothing Stones and Mortar;
Tho’ Flail had little Cause to mutter,
Who sold the other Salt for Butter.
J u s t i c e her self, fam’d for fair Dealing,
By Blindness had not lost her Feeling;
Her Left Hand, which the Scales should hold,
Had often dropt ’em, brib’d with Gold;
And, tho’ she seem’d Impartial,
Where Punishment was corporal,
Pretended to a reg’lar Course,
In Murther, and all Crimes of Force;
Tho’ some, first pillory’d for Cheating,
Were hang’d in Hemp of their own beating;
Yet, it was thought, the Sword she bore
Check’d but the Desp’rate and the Poor;
[9]That, urg’d by meer Necessity,
Were ty’d up to the wretched TreeFor Crimes, which not deserv’d that Fate,
But to secure the Rich and Great.
T h u s every Part was full of Vice,
Yet the whole Mass a Paradise;
Flatter’d in Peace, and fear’d in Wars,
They were th’ Esteem of Foreigners,
And lavish of their Wealth and Lives,
The Balance of all other Hives.
Such were the Blessings of that State;
Their Crimes conspir’d to make them Great:
(F.) And Virtue, who from Politicks
Had learn’d a Thousand Cunning Tricks,
Was, by their happy Influence,
Made Friends with Vice: And ever since,
(G.) The worst of all the Multitude
Did something for the Common Good.
[10]T h i s was the States Craft, that maintain’d
The Whole of which each Part complain’d:
This, as in Musick Harmony,Made Jarrings in the main agree;(H.) Parties directly opposite,
Assist each other , as ’twere for Spight;
And Temp’rance with Sobriety,
Serve Drunkenness and Gluttony.
( I.) T h e Root of Evil, Avarice,
That damn’d ill-natur’d baneful Vice,
Was Slave to Prodigality,
(K.) That noble Sin; (L.) whilst Luxury
Employ’d a Million of the Poor,
(M.) And odious Pride a Million more:
(N.) Envy it self, and Vanity,
Were Ministers of Industry;
Their darling Folly, Fickleness,
In Diet, Furniture and Dress,
That strange ridic’lous Vice, was made
The very Wheel that turn’d the Trade.
[11]Their Laws and Clothes were equally
Objects of Mutability;
For, what was well done for a time,
In half a Year became a Crime;
Yet while they alter’d thus their Laws,
Still finding and correcting Flaws,
They mended by Inconstancy
Faults, which no Prudence could foresee.
T h u s Vice nurs’d Ingenuity,
Which join’d with Time and Industry,
Had carry’d Life’s Conveniencies,
(O.) It’s real Pleasures, Comforts, Ease,
(P.) To such a Height, the very Poor
Liv’d better than the Rich before,And nothing could be added more.
H o w Vain is Mortal Happiness!
Had they but known the Bounds of Bliss;
And that Perfection here below
Is more than Gods can well bestow;
[12]The Grumbling Brutes had been content
With Ministers and Government.
But they, at every ill Success,
Like Creatures lost without Redress,
Curs’d Politicians, Armies, Fleets;
While every one cry’d, Damn the Cheats,
And would, tho’ conscious of his own,
In others barb’rously bear none.
O n e, that had got a Princely Store,
By cheating Master, King and Poor,
Dar’d cry aloud, The Land must sink
For all its Fraud; And whom d’ye think
The Sermonizing Rascal chid?
A Glover that sold Lamb for Kid.
The least thing was not done amiss,
Or cross’d the Publick Business;
But all the Rogues cry’d brazenly,
Good Gods, Had we but Honesty!
[13]Merc’ry smil’d at th’ Impudence,
And others call’d it want of Sense,
Always to rail at what they lov’d:
But Jove with Indignation mov’d,
At last in Anger swore, He’d rid
The bawling Hive of Fraud; and did.
The very Moment it departs,
And Honesty fills all their Hearts;
There shews ’em, like th’ Instructive Tree,
Those Crimes which they’re asham’d to see;
Which now in Silence they confess,
By blushing at their Ugliness:
Like Children, that would hide their Faults,
And by their Colour own their Thoughts:
Imag’ning, when they’re look’d upon,
That others see what they have done.
B u t, Oh ye Gods! What Consternation,
How vast and sudden was th’ Alteration!
In half an Hour, the Nation round,
Meat fell a Peny in the Pound.
[14]The Mask Hypocrisy’s flung down,
From the great Statesman to the Clown:
And some in borrow’d Looks well known,
Appear’d like Strangers in their own.
The Bar was silent from that Day;
For now the willing Debtors pay,
Ev’n what’s by Creditors forgot;
Who quitted them that had it not.
Those, that were in the Wrong, stood mute,
And dropt the patch’d vexatious Suit:
On which since nothing less can thrive,
Than Lawyers in an honest Hive,
All, except those that got enough,
With Inkhorns by their sides troop’d off.
J u s t i c e hang’d some, set others free;
And after Goal delivery,
Her Presence being no more requir’d,
With all her Train and Pomp retir’d.
First march’d some Smiths with Locks and Grates,
Fetters, and Doors with Iron Plates:
[15]Next Goalers, Turnkeys and Assistants:
Before the Goddess, at some distance,
Her chief and faithful Minister,
’Squire Ca t c h, the Law’s great Finisher,
Bore not th’ imaginary Sword,But his own Tools, an Ax and Cord:
Then on a Cloud the Hood-wink’d Fair,
J u s t i c e her self was push’d by Air:
About her Chariot, and behind,
Were Serjeants, Bums of every kind,
Tip-staffs, and all those Officers,
That squeeze a Living out of Tears.
T h o’ Physick liv’d, while Folks were ill,
None would prescribe, but Bees of skill,
Which through the Hive dispers’d so wide,
That none of them had need to ride;
Wav’d vain Disputes, and strove to free
The Patients of their Misery;
Left Drugs in cheating Countries grown,
And us’d the Product of their own;
[16]Knowing the Gods sent no Disease
To Nations without Remedies.
T h e i r Clergy rous’d from Laziness,
Laid not their Charge on Journey-Bees;But serv’d themselves, exempt from Vice,
The Gods with Pray’r and Sacrifice;
All those, that were unfit, or knew
Their Service might be spar’d, withdrew:
Nor was there Business for so many,
(If th’ Honest stand in need of any,)
Few only with the High-Priest staid,
To whom the rest Obedience paid:
Himself employ’d in Holy Cares,Resign’d to others State-Affairs.
He chas’d no Starv’ling from his Door,
Nor pinch’d the Wages of the Poor;
But at his House the Hungry’s fed,
The Hireling finds unmeasur’d Bread,
The needy Trav’ler Board and Bed.
[17]A m o n g the King’s great Ministers,
And all th’ inferior Officers
The Change was great; (Q) for frugally
They now liv’d on their Salary:
That a poor Bee should ten times come
To ask his Due, a trifling Sum,
And by some well-hir’d Clerk be made
To give a Crown, or ne’er be paid,
Would now be call’d a downright Cheat,
Tho’ formerly a Perquisite.
All Places manag’d first by Three,
Who watch’d each other’s Knavery,
And often for a Fellow-feeling,
Promoted one another’s stealing,
Are happily supply’d by One,
By which some thousands more are gone.
(R.) No Honour now could be content,
To live and owe for what was spent;
Liv’ries in Brokers Shops are hung,
They part with Coaches for a Song;
[18]Sell stately Horses by whole Sets;
And Country-Houses, to pay Debts.
V a i n Cost is shunn’d as much as Fraud;
They have no Forces kept Abroad;
Laugh at th’ Esteem of Foreigners,
And empty Glory got by Wars;
They fight, but for their Country’s sake,
When Right or Liberty’s at Stake.
N o w mind the glorious Hive, and see
How Honesty and Trade agree.
The Shew is gone, it thins apace;
And looks with quite another Face.
For ’twas not only that They went,
By whom vast Sums were Yearly spent;
But Multitudes that liv’d on them,
Were daily forc’d to do the same.
In vain to other Trades they’d fly;
All were o’er-stock’d accordingly.
[19]T h e Price of Land and Houses falls;
Mirac’lous Palaces, whose Walls,
Like those of Thebes, were rais’d by Play,Are to be let; while the once gay,
Well-seated Houshold Gods would be
More pleas’d to expire in Flames, than see
The mean Inscription on the Door
Smile at the lofty ones they bore.
The building Trade is quite destroy’d,
Artificers are not employ’d;
(S.) No Limner for his Art is fam’d,
Stone-cutters, Carvers are not nam’d.
T h o s e, that remain’d, grown temp’rate, strive,
Not how to spend, but how to live,
And, when they paid their Tavern Score,
Resolv’d to enter it no more:
No Vintner’s Jilt in all the Hive
Could wear now Cloth of Gold, and thrive;
Nor Torcol such vast Sums advance,
For Burgundy and Ortelans;
[20]The Courtier’s gone, that with his Miss
Supp’d at his House on Christmas Peas;
Spending as much in two Hours stay,
As keeps a Troop of Horse a Day.
T h e haughty Chloe, to live Great,
Had made her (T.) Husband rob the State:
But now she sells her Furniture,
Which th’ Indies had been ransack’d for;
Contracts th’ expensive Bill of Fare,
And wears her strong Suit a whole Year:
The slight and fickle Age is past;
And Clothes, as well as Fashions, last.
Weavers, that join’d rich Silk with Plate,
And all the Trades subordinate,
Are gone. Still Peace and Plenty reign,
And every Thing is cheap, tho’ plain:
Kind Nature, free from Gard’ners Force,
Allows all Fruits in her own Course;
But Rarities cannot be had,
Where Pains to get them are not paid.
[21]A s Pride and Luxury decrease,
So by degrees they leave the Seas.
Not Merchants now, but Companies
Remove whole Manufactories.
All Arts and Crafts neglected lie;
(V.) Content, the Bane of Industry,Makes ’em admire their homely Store,
And neither seek nor covet more.
S o few in the vast Hive remain,
The hundredth Part they can’t maintain
Against th’ Insults of numerous Foes;
Whom yet they valiantly oppose:
’Till some well-fenc’d Retreat is found,
And here they die or stand their Ground.
No Hireling in their Army’s known;
But bravely fighting for their own,
Their Courage and Integrity
At last were crown’d with Victory.
They triumph’d not without their Cost,
For many Thousand Bees were lost.
[22]Hard’ned with Toils and Exercise,
They counted Ease it self a Vice;
Which so improv’d their Temperance;
That, to avoid Extravagance,
They flew into a hollow Tree,
Blest with Content and Honesty.



THENleave Complaints: Fools only strive
(X.) To make a Great an Honest Hive
(Y.) T’ enjoy the World’s Conveniencies,Be fam’d in War, yet live in Ease,
Without great Vices, is a vain
Eutopiaseated in the Brain.
Fraud, Luxury and Pride must live,
While we the Benefits receive:
Hunger’s a dreadful Plague, no doubt,
Yet who digests or thrives without?
Do we not owe the Growth of Wine
To the dry shabby crooked Vine?
Which, while its Shoots neglected stood,
Chok’d other Plants, and ran to Wood;
But blest us with its noble Fruit,
As soon as it was ty’d and cut:
[24]So Vice is beneficial found,
When it’s by Justice lopt and bound;
Nay, where the People would be great,
As necessary to the State,
As Hunger is to make ’em eat.
Bare Virtue can’t make Nations live
In Splendor; they, that would revive
A Golden Age, must be as free,
For Acorns, as for Honesty.

Voltaire, The Huron; or, Pupil of Nature




the huron arrives in france.

One day St. Dunstan, an Irishman by birth, and a saint by trade, left Ireland on a small mountain, which took its route toward the coast of France, and set his saintship down in the bay of St Malo. When he had dismounted he gave his blessing to the mountain, which, after some profound bows, took its leave, and returned to its former place.

Here St. Dunstan laid the foundation of a small priory, and gave it the name of the Priory Moun­tain, which it still keeps, as everybody knows.

On July 15, 1689, in the evening, the Abbot Kerkabon, prior of our Lady of the Mountain, hap­pened to take the air along the shore with Miss Kerkabon, his sister. The prior, who was becom­ing aged, was a very good clergyman, beloved by his neighbors. What added most to the respect that was paid him was that, among all his clerical neighbors, he was the only one that could walk to his bed after supper. He was tolerably read in, theology, and when he was tired of reading St. Augustine he refreshed himself with Rabelais. All the world spoke well of him.

Miss Kerkabon, who had never been married, notwithstanding her hearty wishes so to be, had pre­served a freshness of complexion in her forty-fifth year. Her character was that of a good and sen­sible woman. She was fond of pleasure, and was a devotee.

As they were walking, the prior, looking on the sea, said to his sister:

"It was here, alas! that our poor brother em­barked with our dear sister-in-law, Madam Ker­kabon, his wife, on board the frigate Swallow, in 1669, to serve the king in Canada. Had he not been killed, probably he would have written to us."

"Do you believe," said Miss Kerkabon, "that our sister-in-law has been eaten by the Cherokees, as we have been told?”

"Certain it is, had she not been killed, she would have come back. I shall weep for her all my life­time. She was a charming woman, and our brother, who had a great deal of wit, would no doubt have made a fortune."

Thus they were going on with mutual tender­ness, when they beheld a small vessel enter the bay of Rence with the tide. It was from England, and came to sell provisions. The crew leaped on shore without looking at the prior or Miss, his sister, who were shocked at the little attention shown them.

That was not the behavior of a well-made youth, who, darting himself over the heads of his com­panions, suddenly stood before Miss Kerkabon. Being unaccustomed to bowing, he made her a sign with his head. His figure and his dress attracted the notice of brother and sister. His head was un­covered, and his legs bare; instead of shoes, he wore a kind of sandals. From his head his long hair flowed in tresses, while a small, close doublet displayed the beauty of his shape. He had a sweet and martial air. In one hand he held a small bottle of Barbadoes water, and in the other a bag, in which he had a goblet, and some sea biscuit. He spoke French very intelligibly. He offered some of his Barbadoes to Miss Kerkabon and her brother. He drank with them; he made them drink a second time, and all this with an air of such native sim­plicity that quite charmed brother and sister. They offered him their service, and asked him who he was, and whither going?* The young man an­swered that he knew not where he should go, that he had some curiosity, that he had a desire to see the coast of France, that he had seen it, and should return.

The prior, judging by his accent that he was not an Englishman, took the liberty of asking of what country he was.

"I am a Huron," answered the youth.

Miss Kerkabon, amazed and enchanted to see a Huron who had behaved so politely to her, begged the young man's company to supper. He complied immediately, and all three went together to the priory of our Lady of the Mountain. This short and round Miss devoured him with her little eyes, and said from time to time to her brother:

"This tall lad has a complexion of lilies and roses. What a fine skin he has for a Huron!"

"Very true, sister," said the prior.

She put a hundred questions, one after another, and the traveler answered always pertinently.

The report was soon spread that there was a Huron at the priory. All the genteel company of the country came to supper. The abbot of St. Yves came with his sister, a fine, handsome, well educated girl. The bailiff, the tax-gatherer, and their wives, came all together. The foreigner was seated between Miss Kerkabon and Miss St. Yves. The company eyed him with admiration. They all questioned him together. This did not confound the Huron. He seemed to have taken Lord Bolingbroke's motto, Nil admirari. But at last, tired out with so much noise, he told them in a sweet but serious tone:

"Gentlemen, in my country one talks after an-other. How can I answer you if you will not allow me to hear you?"

Reasoning always brings people to a momentary reflection. They were all silent.

Mr. Bailiff, who always made a property of a foreigner wherever he found him, and who was the first man for asking questions in the province, opening a mouth of large size, began:

"Sir, what is your name?"

"I have always been called the Inginu" an­swered the Huron; "and the English have con­firmed that name, because I always speak as I think and act as I like."

"But, being born a Huron, how could you come to England?"

"I have been carried thither. I was made pris­oner by the English after some resistance, and the English, who love brave people, because they are as brave and honest as we, proposed to me, either to return to my family, or go with them to England. I accepted the latter, having naturally a relish for travelling."

"But, sir," said the bailiff, with his usual gravity, "how could you think of abandoning father and mother?"

"Because I never knew either father or mother," said the foreigner.

This moved the company; they all repeated:

"Neither father nor mother!"

"We will be in their stead," said the mistress of the house to her brother, the prior. "How interest­ing this Huron gentleman is!"

The Inginu thanked her with a noble and proud cordiality, and gave her to understand that he wanted the assistance of nobody.

"I perceive, Mr. Huron," said the huge bailiff, "that you talk better French than can be expected from an Indian."

"A Frenchman," answered he, "whom they had made prisoner when I was a boy, and with whom I contracted a great friendship, taught it me. I rap­idly learn what I like to learn. When I came to Plymouth I met with one of your French refugees,' whom you, I know not why, call Huguenots. He improved my knowledge of your language, and as soon as I could express myself intelligibly I came to see your country, because I like the French well enough, if they do not put too many questions."

Notwithstanding this candid remark, the abbé of St. Yves asked him which of the three languages pleased him best, the Huron, English, or French?

"The Huron, to be sure," answered the Ingenu.

"Is it possible?" cried Miss Kerkabon. "I al­ways thought the French was the first of all lan­guages, after that of Low Brittany."

Then all were eager to know how, in Huron, they asked for snuff? He replied:


"What signifies to eat?" "Essenten"

Miss Kerkabon was impatient to know how they expressed to make love.

He informed her, Trovander, and insisted, not without reason, that these words were well worth their synonyms in French and English. Trovander, especially, seemed very pretty to all the company. The prior, who had in his library a Huron gram­mar, which had been given him by the Rev. Father Sagar Theodat, a Recollet and famous missionary, rose from the table to consult it. He returned quite panting with tenderness and joy. He acknowl­edged the foreigner for a true Huron. The com­pany speculated a little on the multiplicity of lan­guages, and all agreed that, had it not been for the unfortunate affair of the Tower of Babel, all the world would have spoken French.

The inquisitive bailiff, who till then had some suspicions of the foreigner, conceived the deepest respect for him. He spoke to him with more civil­ity than before, and the Huron took no notice of it.

Miss St. Yves was very curious to know how people made love among the Hurons.

"In performing great actions to please such as resemble you."

All the company admired and applauded. Miss St. Yves blushed, and was extremely well pleased. Miss Kerkabon blushed likewise, but was not so well pleased. She was a little piqued that this gal­lantry was not addressed to her; but she was so good-natured that her affection for the Huron was not diminished at all. She asked him, with great complacency, how many mistresses he had at home.

"Only one," answered the foreigner; "Miss Abacaba, the good friend of my dear nurse. The reed is not straighter, nor is ermine whiter, no lamb meeker, no eagle fiercer, nor a stag swifter, than was my Abacaba. One day she pursued a hare not above fifty leagues from my habitation. A base Algonquin, who dwells an hundred leagues farther, took her hare from her. I was told of it; I ran thither, and with one stroke of my club leveled him with the ground. I brought him to the feet of my mistress, bound hand and foot. Abacaba's parents were for burning him, but I always had a dislike for such scenes. I set him at liberty, and thus made him my friend. Abacaba was so pleased with my conduct that she preferred me to all her lovers; and she would have continued to love me had she not been devoured by a bear. I slew the bear, and wore his skin a long while, but that has not comforted me.

Miss St. Yves felt a secret pleasure at hearing that Abacaba had been his only mistress, and that she was no more; yet she understood not the cause of her own pleasure. All eyes were riveted on the Huron, and he was much applauded for delivering an Algonquin from the cruelty of his countrymen.

The merciless bailiff had now grown so furious that he even asked the Huron what religion he was of; whether he had chosen the English, the French, or that of the Huguenots?

"I am of my own religion ," said he, "just as you are of yours."

"Lord!" cried Miss Kerkabon, "I see already that those wretched English have not once thought of baptizing him!"

"Good heavens!" said Miss St. Yves, "how is it possible? How is it possible the Hurons should not be Roman Catholics? Have not those rever­end fathers, the Jesuits, converted all the world?"

The Huron assured her that no true American had ever changed his opinion, and that there was not in their language a word to express incon­stancy.

These last words extremely pleased Miss St. Yves.

"Oh! we'll baptize him, we'll baptize him," said Miss Kerkabon to the prior. "You shall have that honor, my dear brother, and I will be his god­mother. The Abbot St. Yves shall present him to the font. It will make a fine appearance; it will be talked of all over Brittany, and do us the greatest honor."

The company were all of the same mind with the mistress of the house; they all cried: "We'll baptize him."

The Huron interrupted them by saying that in England every one was allowed to live as he pleased. He rather showed some aversion to the proposal which was made, and could not help tell­ing them that the laws of the Hurons were to the .full as good as those of Low Brittany. He finished with saying that he should return the next day. The bottles grew empty, and the company went to bed.

After the Huron had been conducted to his room, they saw that he spread the blankets on the floor, and laid himself down upon them in the finest attitude in the world.


the huron, called the ingenu, acknowledged by his relations.

The Inginu, according to custom, awoke with the sun, at the crowing of the cock, which is called in England and Huronia, "the trumpet of the day." He did not imitate what is styled good company, who languish in the bed of indolence till the sun has performed half its daily journey, unable to sleep, but not disposed to rise, and lose so many precious hours in that doubtful state between life and death, and who nevertheless complain that life is too short.

He had already traversed two or three leagues, and killed fifteen brace of game with his rifle, when, upon his return, he found the prior of the Lady of the Mountain, with his discreet sister, in their night­caps, walking in their little garden. He presented them with the spoils of his morning labor, and, taking from his bosom a kind of little talisman, which he constantly wore about his neck, he en­treated them to accept of it as an acknowledgment for the kind reception they had given him.

"It is," said he, ''the most valuable thing I pos­sess. I have been assured that I shall always be happy while I carry this little toy about me; and I give it to you that you may be always happy."

The prior and Miss smiled with pity at the frank­ness of the Inginu. This present consisted of two little portraits, poorly executed, and tied together with a greasy string.

Miss Kerkabon asked him if there, were any painters in Huronia?

"No," replied the Ingenu, "I had this curiosity from my nurse. Her husband had obtained it by conquest, in stripping some of the French of Can­ada, who had made war upon us. This is all I know of the matter."

The prior looked attentively upon these pictures, while he changed color; his hands trembled, and he seemed much affected.

"By our Lady of the Mountain!" he cried out, "I believe these to be the faces of my brother, the captain, and his lady."

Miss, after having consulted them with like emo­tion, thought the same. They were both struck with astonishment and joy, blended with grief. They both melted, they both wept, their hearts throbbed, and during their disorder the pictures were interchanged between them at least twenty times in a second. They seemed to devour the Hu­ron's pictures with their eyes. They asked one after another, and even both at once, at what time, in what place, and how these miniatures fell into the hands of the nurse? They reckoned and computed the time from the captain's departure; they recollected having received notice that he had penetrated as far as the country of the Hurons; and from that time they had never heard anything more of him.

The Huron had told them that he had never known either father or mother. The prior, who was a man of sense, observed that he had a little beard, and he knew very well that the Hurons never had any. His chin was somewhat hairy; he was therefore the son of a European. His brother and sister-in-law were never seen after the expedi­tion against the Hurons, in 1669. His nephew must then have been nursing at the breast; the Huron nurse has preserved his life, and been a mother to him. At length, after a hundred questions and answers, the prior and his sister concluded that the Huron was their own nephew. They embraced him, while tears streamed from their eyes, and the Huron laughed to think that an Indian should be nephew to a prior of Lower Brittany.

All the company went downstairs. Mr. de St. Yves, who was a great physiognomist, compared the two pictures with the Huron's countenance.

They observed, very skillfully, that he had the mother's eyes, the forehead and nose of the late Cap­tain Kerkabon, and the cheeks common to both.

Miss St. Yves, who had never seen either father or mother, was strenuously of opinion that the young man had a perfect resemblance to them. They all admired Providence, and wondered at the strange events of this world. In a word, they were so persuaded, so convinced of the birth of the Huron, that he himself consented to be the prior's nephew, saying that -he would as soon have him for his uncle as another.

The prior went to return thanks in the church of our Lady of the Mountain; while the Huron, with an air of indifference, amused himself with drinking in the house.

The English who had brought him over, and who were ready to set sail, came to tell him that it was time to depart.

"Probably," said he to them, "you have not met with any of your uncles and aunts. I shall stay here; go you back to Plymouth. I give you all my clothes, as I have no longer occasion for anything in this world, since I am the nephew of a prior."

The English set sail, without being at all con­cerned whether the Huron had any relations or not in Lower Brittany.

After the uncle, the aunt, and the company had sung Te Deum; after the bailiff had once more overwhelmed the Huron with questions; after they had exhausted all their astonishment, joy, and ten­derness, the prior of the Mountain and the abbé of St. Yves concluded that the Huron should be baptized with all possible expedition. But the case was very different with a tall, robust Indian of twenty-two, and an infant who is regenerated with­out his knowing anything of the matter. It was necessary to instruct him, and this appeared diffi­cult, for the abbé of St. Yves supposed that a man who was not born in France could not be endowed with common sense.

The prior, indeed, observed to the company that, though, in fact, the ingenuous gentleman, his nephew, was not so fortunate as to be born in Lower Brittany, he was not, upon that account, in any way deficient in sense, which might be concluded from all his answers; and that, doubtless, nature had greatly favored him, as well on his father's as on his mother's side.

He then was asked if he had ever read any books ? He said he had read Rabelais translated into Eng­lish, and some passages in Shakespeare, which he knew by heart; that these books belonged to the captain on board of whose ship he came from Amer­ica to Plymouth; and that he was very well pleased with them. The bailiff failed not to put many ques­tions to him concerning these books.

 "I acknowledge," said the Huron, "I thought, in reading them, I understood some things, but not the whole."

The abbé of St. Yves reflected upon this dis­course, that it was in this manner he had always read, and that most men read no other way.

"You have," said he to the Huron, "doubtless read the Bible?"

"Never, Mr. Abbé; it was not among the cap­tain's books. I never heard it mentioned."

"This is the way with those cursed English,'' said Miss Kerkabon; "they think more of a play of Shakespeare's, a plum pudding, or a bottle of rum, than they do of the Pentateuch. For this reason they have never converted any Indians in America. They are certainly cursed by God, and we shall wrest Jamaica and Virginia from them in a very short time."

Be this as it may, the most skilful tailor in all St. Malo was sent for to dress the Huron from head to foot. The company separated, and the bailiff went elsewhere to display his inquisitiveness. Miss St. Yves, in parting, returned several times to ob­serve the young stranger, and made him lower courtesies than ever she did any one in her life.

The bailiff, before he took his leave, presented to Miss St. Yves a stupid dolt of a son, just come from college; but she scarcely looked at him, so much was she taken up with the politeness of the Huron. 


the huron converted.

The prior, finding that he was somewhat ad­vanced in years, and that God had sent him a nephew for his consolation, took it into his head that he would resign his benefice in his favor, if he succeeded in baptizing him and of making him enter into orders.

The Huron had an excellent memory. A good constitution, inherited from his ancestors of Lower Brittany, strengthened by the climate of Canada, had made his head so vigorous that when he was struck upon it he scarce felt it; and when anything was graven in it, nothing could efface it. Nothing had ever escaped his memory. His conception was the more sure and lively because his infancy had not been loaded with useless fooleries, which over­whelm ours. Things entered into his head without being clouded. The prior at length resolved to make him read the New Testament. The Huron devoured it with great pleasure; but, not knowing at what time, or in what country, all the adven­tures related in this book had happened, he did not in the least doubt that the scene of action had been in Lower Brittany; and he swore that he would cut off Caiaphas' and Pontius Pilate's ears if ever he met those scoundrels.

His uncle, charmed with this good disposition, soon brought him to the point. He applauded his zeal, but at the same time acquainted him that it was needless, as these people had been dead upward of 1690 years. The Huron soon got the whole book by heart He sometimes proposed difficulties that greatly embarrassed the prior. He was often obliged to consult the Abbé St. Yves, who, not knowing what to answer, brought a Jesuit of Lower Brittany to perfect the conversion of the Huron.

Grace, at length, operated, and the Huron prom­ised to become a Christian. He did not doubt that the first step toward it was circumcision.

"For," said he, "I do not find in the book that was put into my hands a single person who was not circumcised. It is therefore evident that I must make a sacrifice to the Hebrew custom, and the sooner the better."

He sent for the surgeon of the village, and de­sired him to perform the operation. The surgeon, who had never performed such an operation, ac­quainted the family, who screamed out. The good Miss Kerkabon trembled lest her nephew, whom she knew to be resolute and expeditious, should perform the operation unskillfully himself, and that fatal consequences might ensue.

The prior rectified the Huron's mistake, repre­senting to him that circumcision was no longer in fashion; that baptism was much more gentle and salutary; that the law of grace was not like the law of rigor. The Huron, who had much good sense, and was well disposed, disputed, but soon ac­knowledged his error, which seldom happens in Europe among disputants. In a word, he prom­ised to let himself be baptized whenever they pleased.

But before baptism it was necessary that he should go to confession, and this was the greatest difficulty to surmount. The Huron had still in his pocket the book his uncle gave him. He did not there find that a single apostle had ever been con­fessed, and this made him very restive. The prior silenced him by showing him, in the epistle of St. James the Minor, these words: "Confess your sins to one another." The Huron was mute, and con­fessed his sins to a Recollet. When he had done, he dragged the Recollet from the confessional chair, and seizing him with a vigorous arm, placed himself in his seat, making the Recollet kneel before him.

"Come, my friend, it is said, 'we must confess our sins to one another;' I have related to you my sins, and you shall not stir till you recount yours."

While he said this, he fixed his great knee against his adversary's stomach. The Recollet roared and groaned till he made the church re­echo. The noise brought people to his assistance, who found the catechumen cuffing the monk in the name of St. James the Minor. The joy diffused at the baptizing at once a Low-Breton, a Huron, and an Englishman, surmounted all these singularities. There were even some theologians of opinion that confession was not necessary, as baptism supplied the place of everything.

The bishop of St. Malo was chosen for the cere­mony, who, flattered, as may be believed, at bap­tizing a Huron, arrived in a pompous equipage, fol­lowed by his clergy. Miss St. Yves put on her best gown to bless God, and sent for a hair-dresser from St. Malo, to shine at the ceremony. The inquisi­tive bailiff brought the whole country with him. The church was magnificently ornamented. But when the Huron was summoned to attend the bap­tismal font, he was not to be found.

His uncle and aunt sought for him everywhere. It was imagined that he had gone hunting, accord­ing to his usual custom. Every one present at the festival searched the neighboring woods and vil­lages; but no intelligence could be obtained of the Huron. They began to fear he had returned to England. Some remembered that he had said he was very fond of that country. The prior and his sister were persuaded that nobody was baptized there, and were troubled for their nephew's soul. The bishop was confounded, and ready to return home. The prior and the Abbé St. Yves were in despair. The bailiff interrogated all passengers with his usual gravity. Miss Kerkabon melted into tears. Miss St. Yves did not weep, but she vented such deep sighs, as seemed to testify her sacra­mental disposition. They were walking in this mel­ancholy mood, among the willows and reeds upon the banks of the little river Rence, when they per­ceived, in the middle of the stream, a large figure, tolerably white, with its two arms across its breast. They screamed out, and ran away. But curiosity being stronger than any other consideration, they advanced softly amongst the reeds; and when they were pretty certain they could not be seen, they were willing to descry what it was.


the huron baptized. 

 The prior and the abbé having run to the river­side, they asked the Huron what he was doing?

"In faith," said he, "gentlemen, I am waiting to be baptized. I have been an hour in the water, up to my neck, and I do not think it is civil to let me be quite exhausted."

"My dear nephew," said the prior to him, ten­derly, "this is not the way of being baptized in Lower Brittany. Put on your clothes, and come with us."

Miss St. Yves, listening to the discourse, said in a whisper to her companion:

"Miss, do you think he will put his clothes on in such a hurry?"

The Huron, however, replied to the prior:

"You will not make me believe now as you did before. I have studied very well since, and I am very certain there is no other kind of baptism. The eunuch of Queen Candace was baptized in a rivulet. I defy you to show me, in the book you gave me, that people were ever baptized in any other way. I either will not be baptized at all, or the ceremony shall be performed in the river."

It was in vain to remonstrate with him that cus­toms were altered. He always recurred to the eunuch of Queen Candace. And though Miss and his aunt, who had observed him through the wil­lows, were authorized to tell him that he had no right to quote such a man they, nevertheless, said nothing—so great was their discretion. The bishop came himself to speak to him, which was a great thing; but he could not prevail. The Huron dis­puted with the bishop.

"Show me," said he "in the book my uncle gave me, one single man that was not baptized in a river, and I will do whatever you please."

His aunt, in despair, had observed that the first time her nephew bowed, he made a much lower bow to Miss St. Yves, than to any one in the company —that he had not even saluted the bishop with so much respect, blended with cordiality, as he did that agreeable young lady. She thought it advisable to apply to her in this great embarrassment. She earnestly entreated her to use her influence to en­gage the Huron to be baptized according to the custom of Brittany, thinking that her nephew, could never be a Christian if he persisted in being christened in the stream.

Miss St. Yves blushed at the secret joy she felt in being appointed to execute so important a com­mission. She modestly approached the Huron, and squeezing his hand in quite a noble manner, she said to him:

"What, will you do nothing to please me?"

And in uttering these words, she raised her eyes from a downcast look into a graceful tenderness.

"Oh! yes, Miss, everything you require, all that you command, whether it is to be baptized in water, fire, or blood; there is nothing I can refuse you."

Miss St. Yves had the glory of effecting, in two words, what neither the importunities of the prior, the repeated interrogations of the bailiff, nor the reasoning of the bishop, could effect. She was sen­sible of her triumph; but she was not yet sensible of its utmost latitude.

Baptism was administered, and received with all the decency, magnificence, and propriety possible. His uncle and aunt yielded to the Abbé St. Yves and his sister the favor of supporting the Huron upon the font. Miss St. Yves' eyes sparkled with joy at being a godmother. She was ignorant how much this high title compromised her. She ac­cepted the honor, without being acquainted with its fatal consequences.

As there never was any ceremony that was not followed by a good dinner, the company took their seats at table after the christening. The humorists of Lower Brittany said, "they did not choose to have their wine baptized." The prior said, "that wine, according to Solomon, cherished the heart of man." The bishop added, "that the Patriarch Judah ought to have tied his ass-colt to the vine, and steeped his cloak in the blood of the grape; and that he was sorry the same could not be done in Lower Brittany, to which God had not allotted vines." Every one endeavored to say a good thing upon the Huron's christening and strokes of gal­lantry to the godmother. The bailiff, ever interro­gating, asked the Huron if he was faithful in keep­ing his promises.

"How," said he, "can I fail keeping them, since I have deposited them in the hands of Miss St. Yves?"

The Huron grew warm; he had repeatedly drunk his godmother's health.

"If," said he, "I had been baptized with your hand, I feel that the water which was poured on the nape of my neck would have burned me.

The bailiff thought that this was too poetical, being ignorant that allegory is a familiar figure in Canada. But his godmother was very well pleased.

The Huron had, at his baptism, received the name of Hercules. The bishop of St. Malo fre­quently inquired, who was this tutelar saint, whom he had never heard mentioned before? The Jesuit, who was very learned, told him that "he was a saint who had wrought twelve miracles." There was a thirteenth, which was well worth the other twelve, but it was not proper for a Jesuit to mention it. This was the marriage of fifty girls at one time —the daughters of King Thespius. A wag, who was present, related this miracle very feelingly. And all judged, from the appearance of the Huron, that he was a worthy representative of the saint whose name he bore.


the huron in love. 

It must be acknowledged, that from the time of this christening and this dinner, Miss St. Yves pas­sionately wished that the bishop would again make her an assistant with Mr. Hercules in some other fine ceremony—that is, the marriage ceremony. However, as she was well brought up, and very modest, she did not entirely agree with herself in regard to these tender sentiments; but if a look, a word, a gesture, a thought, escaped from her, she concealed it admirably under the veil of modesty. She was tender, lively, and sagacious.

As soon as the bishop was gone, the Huron and Miss St. Yves met together, without thinking they were in search of one another. They spoke together, without premeditating what they said. The sincere youth immediately declared that he loved her with all his heart; and that the beauteous Abacaba, with whom he had been desperately in love in his own country, was far inferior to her. Miss replied, with her usual modesty, that the prior, her uncle, and the lady, her aunt, should be spoken to immediately; and that, on her side, she would say a few words to her dear brother, the abbé of St. Yves, and that she flattered herself it would meet with no opposi­tion.

The youth replied that the consent of any one was entirely superfluous; that it appeared to him ex­tremely ridiculous to go and ask others what they were to do; that when two parties were agreed, there was no occasion for a third, to accomplish their union.

"I never consult any one," said he, "when I have a mind to breakfast, to hunt, or to sleep. I am sen­sible that in love it is not amiss to have the consent of the person whom we wish for; but as I am neither in love with my uncle nor my aunt, I have no occa­sion to address myself to them in this affair; and if you will believe me, you may equally dispense with the advice of the abbé of St. Yves."'

It may be supposed that the young lady exerted all the delicacy of her wit to bring her Huron to the terms of good breeding. She was very angry, but soon softened. In a word, it cannot be said how this conversation would have ended, if the declining day had not brought the abbé to conduct his sister home. The Huron left his uncle and aunt to rest, they being somewhat fatigued with the ceremony and long dinner. He passed part of the night in writing verses in the Huron language upon his well-beloved, for it should be known that there is no country where love has not rendered lovers poets.

The next day his uncle spoke to him in the fol­lowing manner: "I am somewhat advanced in years. My brother has left only a little bit of ground, which is a very small matter. I have a good priory. If you will only make yourself a sub-deacon, as I hope you will, I will resign my priory in your favor; and you will live quite at your ease, after having been the consolation of my old age."

The Huron replied:

"Uncle, much good may it do you; live as long as you can. I do not know what it is to be a sub-deacon, or what it is to resign; but everything will be agreeable to me, provided I have Miss St. Yves at my disposal."

"Good heavens, nephew! what is it you say? Do you love that beautiful young lady so earnestly?"

"Yes, uncle."

"Alas! nephew, it is impossible you should ever marry her."

"It is very possible, uncle; for she did not only squeeze my hand when she left me, but she prom­ised she would ask me in marriage. I certainly shall wed her."

"It is impossible, I tell you; she is your god­mother. It is a dreadful sin for a godmother to give her hand to her godson. It is contrary to all laws, human and divine."

"Why the deuce, uncle, should it be forbidden to marry one's godmother, when she is young and handsome? I did not find in the book you gave me that it was wrong to marry young women who assisted at christenings. I perceive every day that an infinite number of things are done here which are not in your book, and nothing is done that is said in it. I must acknowledge to you that this as­tonishes and displeases me. If I am deprived of the charming Miss St. Yves on account of my baptism, I give you notice that I will run away with her and unbaptize myself."

The prior was confounded; his sister wept

"My dear brother," said she, "our nephew must not damn himself; our holy father, the pope, can give him a dispensation, and then he may be happy, in a Christian-like manner, with the person he likes."

The ingenuous Hercules embraced his aunt "For goodness sake," said he, "who is this charming man, who is so gracious as to promote the amours of girls and boys? I will go and speak to him this instant."

The dignity and character of the pope was ex­plained to him, and the Huron was still more aston­ished than before.

"My dear uncle/' said he, "there is not a word of all this in your book; I have travelled, and am ac­quainted with the sea; we are now upon the coast of the ocean, and I must leave Miss St. Yves to go and ask leave to marry her of a man who lives to­ward the Mediterranean, four hundred leagues hence, and whose language I do not understand! This is most incomprehensibly ridiculous! But I will go first to the Abbé St. Yves, who lives only a league hence; and I promise you I will wed my mistress before night."

While he was yet speaking, the bailiff entered, and, according to his usual custom, asked him where he was going?

"I am going to get married," replied the in­genuous Hercules, running along; and in less than a quarter of an hour he was with his charming dear mistress, who was still asleep.

"Ah, my dear brother," said Miss Kerkabon to the prior, "you will never make a subdeacon of our nephew."

The bailiff was very much displeased at this jour­ney, for he laid claim to Miss St. Yves in favor of his son, who was a still greater and more insup­portable fool than his father.


the huron flies to his mistress and becomes quite furious.


No sooner had the ingenuous Hercules reached the house, than having asked the old servant which was his mistress* apartment, he forced open the door, which was badly fastened, and flew toward the bed. Miss St. Yves, startled out of her sleep, cried:

"Ah! what; is it you? Stop; what are you about?" He answered:

"I am going to marry."

She opposed him with all the decency of a young lady so well educated; but the Huron did not under­stand raillery, and found all evasions extremely dis­agreeable.

"Miss Abacaba, my first mistress," said he, "did not behave in this manner; you have no honesty; you promised me marriage, and you will not marry; this is being deficient in the first laws of honor."

The outcries of the lady brought the sagacious Abbé de St. Yves with his housekeeper, an old devotee servant, and the parish priest. The sight of these moderated the courage of the assailant.

"Good heavens!" cried the abbé; "my dear neigh­bor, what are you about ?"

"My duty," replied the young man; "I am ful­filling my promises, which are sacred."

Miss St. Yves adjusted herself, not without blushing. The lover was conducted into another apartment. The abbé remonstrated to him on the enormity of his conduct. The Huron defended him­self upon the privileges of the law of nature, which he understood perfectly well. The abbé main­tained that the law positive should be allowed all its advantages, and that without conventions agreed on between men the law of nature must almost con­stantly be nothing more than natural felony. No­taries, priests, witnesses, contracts, and dispensa­tions are absolutely necessary.

The ingenuous Hercules made answer with the observation constantly adopted by savages:

"You are then very great rogues, since so many precautions are necessary."

This remark somewhat disconcerted the abbé.

"There are, I acknowledge, libertines and cheats among us, and there would be as many among the Hurons, if they were united in a great city; but, at the same time, we have discreet, honest, enlightened people; and these are the men who have framed the laws. The more upright we are, the more readily we should submit to them, as we thereby set an ex­ample to the vicious, who respect those bounds which virtue has given herself."

This answer struck the Huron. It has already been observed that his mind was well disposed. He was softened by flattering speeches, which promised him hopes; all the world is caught in these snares; and Miss St. Yves herself appeared, after having been at her toilet. Everything was now conducted with the utmost good breeding.

It was with much difficulty that Hercules was sent back to his relations. It was again necessary for the charming Miss St. Yves to interfere; the more she perceived the influence she had upon him, the more she loved him. She made him depart, and was much affected at it. At length, when he was gone, the abbé, who was not only Miss St. Yves' elder brother by many years, but was also her guar­dian, endeavored to wean his ward from the impor­tunities of this dreadful lover. He went to consult the bailiff, who had always intended his son for the abbé's sister, and who advised him to place the poor girl in a convent. This was a terrible stroke. Such a measure would, to a young lady unaffected with any particular passion, have been inexpressible pun­ishment; but to a love-sick maid, equally sagacious and tender, it was despair itself.

When the ingenuous Hercules returned to the prior's, with his usual frankness, he related all that had happened. He met with some remonstrances, which had some effect upon his mind, though none upon his senses; but the next day, when he wanted to return to his mistress, in order to reason with her upon the law of nature and the law of convention, the bailiff acquainted him, with insulting joy, that she was in a convent.

"Very well," said he, "I'll go and reason with her in this convent"

"That cannot be," said the bailiff; and then en­tered into a long explanation of the nature of a con­vent, telling him that this word was derived from conventus, in the Latin, which signifies "an assem­bly" ; and the Huron could not comprehend why he might not be admitted into this assembly. As soon as he was informed that this assembly was a kind of prison, in which girls were shut up, a shocking institution, unknown in Huronia and England, he became as furious as was his patron Hercules when Euritus, king of Œchalia, no less cruel than the abbé of St. Yves, refused him the beauteous Iola, his daughter, not inferior in beauty to the abbé's sis­ter. He was upon the point of going to set fire to the convent to carry off his mistress, or be burned with her. Miss Kerkabon, terrified at such a decla­ration, gave up all hopes of ever seeing her nephew a subdeacon; and, sadly weeping, she exclaimed: "The devil has certainly been in him since he has been christened."


the huron repulses the english.

The ingenuous Hercules walked toward the sea-coast wrapped in deep and gloomy melancholy, with his double-charged fusee upon his shoulder and his cutlass by his side, shooting now and then a bird, and often tempted to shoot himself; but he had still some affection for life, for the sake of his dear mistress; by turns execrating his uncle and aunt, all Lower Brittany, and his christening; then blessing them, as they had introduced him to the knowledge of her he loved. He resolved upon going to burn the con­vent, and he stopped short for fear of burning his mistress. The waves of the channel are not more agitated by the easterly and westerly winds than was his heart by so many contrary emotions.

He was walking along very fast, without know­ing whither he was going, when he heard the beat of a drum. He saw, at a great distance, a vast multi­tude, part of whom ran toward the coast, and the other part in the opposite direction.

A thousand shrieks re-echoed on every side. Cu­riosity and courage hurried him, that instant, toward the spot where the greatest clamor arose, which he attained in a few leaps. The commander of the mili­tia, who had supped with him at the prior's, knew him immediately, and he ran to the Huron with open arms:

"Ah! it is the sincere American: he will fight for us."

Upon which the militia, who were almost dead with fear, recovered themselves, crying with one voice:

"It is the Huron, the ingenuous Huron."

"Gentlemen," said he, "what is the matter ? Why are you frightened ? Have they shut your mistresses up in convents ?"

Instantly a thousand confused voices cried out:

"Do you not see the English, who are landing?"

"Very well," replied the Huron, "they are a brave people; they never proposed making me a subdeacon; they never carried off my mistress."

The commander made him understand that they were coming to pillage the abbé of the mountain, drink his uncle's wine, and perhaps carry off Miss St. Yves; that the little vessel which set him on shore in Brittany had come only to reconnoitre the coast; that they were committing acts of hostility, without having declared war against France; and that the province was entirely exposed to them.

"If this be the case," said he, "they violate the law of nature: let me alone; I lived a long time among them; I am acquainted with their language, and I will speak to them. I cannot think they can have so wicked a design."

During this conversation the English fleet ap­proached ; the Huron ran toward it, and having jumped into a little boat, soon rowed to the admiral's ship, and having gone on board, asked whether it was true that they were come to ravage the coast, without having honestly declared war?

The admiral and all his crew burst out into laugh­ter, made him drink some punch, and sent him back.

The ingenuous Hercules, piqued at this reception, thought of nothing else but beating his old friends for his countrymen and the prior. The gentlemen of the neighborhood ran from all quarters, and joined them; they had some cannon, and he discharged them one after the other. The English landed, and he flew toward them, when he killed three of them with his own hand. He even wounded the admiral, who had made a joke of him. The entire militia were ani­mated with his prowess. The English returned to their ships, and went on board; and the whole coast re-echoed with the shouts of victory, "Live the king! live the ingenuous Hercules!"

Every one ran to embrace him; every one strove to stop the bleeding of some slight wounds he had received.

"Ah I" said he, "if Miss St. Yves were here, she would put on a plaster for me."

The bailiff, who had hid himself in his cellar dur­ing the battle, came to pay his compliments like the rest. But he was greatly surprised when he heard the ingenuous Hercules say to a dozen young men, well disposed for his service, who surrounded him:

"My friends, having delivered the abbé of the mountain is nothing; we must rescue a nymph."

The warm blood of these youths was fired at the expression. He was already followed by crowds, who repaired to the convent. If the bailiff had not immediately acquainted the commandant with their design, and he had not sent a detachment after the joyous troop, the thing would have been done. The Huron was conducted back to his uncle and aunt, who overwhelmed him with tears and tenderness.

"I see very well," said his uncle, "that you will never be either a subdeacon or a prior; you will be an officer, and one still braver than my brother the captain, and probably as poor."

Miss Kerkabon could not stop an incessant flood of tears, while she embraced him, saying, "He will be killed, too, like my brother; it were much better he were a subdeacon."

The Huron had, during the battle, picked up a purse full of guineas, which the admiral had prob­ably lost. He did not doubt that this purse would buy all Lower Brittany, and, above all, make Miss St. Yves a great lady. Every one persuaded him to repair to Versailles, to receive the recompense due to his services. The commandant and the principal of­ficers furnished him with certificates in abundance. The uncle and aunt also approved of this journey. He was to be presented to the king without any dif­ficulty. This alone would give him great weight in the province. These two good folks added to the English purse a considerable present out of their savings. The Huron said to himself, "When I see the king, I will ask Miss St. Yves of him in mar­riage, and certainly he will not refuse me." He set out accordingly, amidst the acclamations of the whole district, stifled with embraces, bathed in tears by his aunt, blessed by his uncle, and recommending him­self to the charming Miss St. Yves. 


the huron goes to court—sups upon the road with some huguenots.


The ingenuous Hercules took the Saumur road in the coach, because there was at that time no other convenience. When he came to Saumur, he was as­tonished to find the city almost deserted, and to see several families going away. He was told that, half a dozen years before, Saumur contained upward of fifty thousand inhabitants, and that at present there were not six thousand. He mentioned this at the inn, while at supper. Several Protestants were at table; some complained bitterly, others trembled with rage, others, weeping, said, "Nos dulcia linquimus arva, nos patriam fugimus." The Huron, who did not understand Latin, had these words explained to him, which signified, "We abandon our sweet fields; we fly from our country."

"And why do you fly from your country, gentle­men?"

"Because we must otherwise acknowledge the pope."

"And why not acknowledge him ? You have no godmothers, then, that you want to marry, for I am told it is he that grants this permission."

"Ah! sir, this pope says that he is master of the domains of kings."

 "But, gentlemen, what religion are you of?"

 "Why, sir, we are for the most part drapers and manufacturers."

"If the pope, then, is not the master of "your clothes and manufactures, you do very well not* to acknowledge him; but as to kings, it is their business, and why do you trouble yourselves about it ?"

Here a little black man took up the argument, and very learnedly set forth the grievances of the com­pany. He talked of the revocation of the edict of Nantes with so much energy; he deplored, in so pa­thetic a manner, the fate of fifty thousand fugitive families, and of fifty thousand others converted by

David Hume, "Of Civil Liberty"

Published 1777 (Posthumously)

Used with the permission of the Online Library of Liberty.




Those who employ their pens on political subjects, free from party-rage, and party-prejudices, cultivate a science, which, of all others, contributes most to public utility, and even to the private satisfaction of those who addict themselves to the study of it. I am apt, however, to entertain a suspicion, that the world is still too young to fix many general truths in politics, which will remain true to the latest posterity. We have not as yet had experience of three thousand years; so that not only the art of reasoning is still imperfect in this science, as in all others, but we even want sufficient materials upon which we can reason. It is not fully known, what degree of refinement, either in virtue or vice, human nature is susceptible of; nor what may be expected of mankind from any great revolution in their education, customs, or principles. Machiavel was certainly a great genius; but having confined his study to the furious and tyrannical governments of ancient times, or to the little disorderly principalities of Italy, his reasonings especially upon monarchical government, have been found extremely defective; and there scarcely is any maxim in his prince, which subsequent experience has not entirely refuted. A weak prince, says he, is incapable of receiving good counsel; for if he consult with several, he will not be able to choose among their different counsels. If he abandon himself to one, that minister may, perhaps, have capacity; but he will not long be a minister: He will be sure to dispossess his master, and place himself and his family upon the throne.  I mention this, among many instances of the errors of that politician, proceeding, in a great measure, from his having lived in too early an age of the world, to be a good judge of political truth. Almost all the princes of Europe are at present governed by their ministers; and have been so for near two centuries; and yet no such event has ever happened, or can possibly happen. Sejanus might project dethroning the Cæsars; but Fleury,  though ever so vicious, could not, while in his senses, entertain the least hopes of dispossessing the Bourbons.

Trade was never esteemed an affair of state till the last century; and there scarcely is any ancient writer on politics, who has made mention of it.  Even the Italians have kept a profound silence with regard to it, though it has now engaged the chief attention, as well of ministers of state, as of speculative reasoners. The great opulence, grandeur, and military achievements of the two maritime powers  seem first to have instructed mankind in the importance of an extensive commerce.

Having, therefore, intended in this essay to make a full comparison of civil liberty and absolute government, and to show  the great advantages of the former above the latter; I began to entertain a suspicion, that no man in this age was sufficiently qualified for such an undertaking; and that whatever any one should advance on that head would, in all probability, be refuted by further experience, and be rejected by posterity. Such mighty revolutions have happened in human affairs, and so many events have arisen contrary to the expectation of the ancients, that they are sufficient to beget the suspicion of still further changes.

It had been observed by the ancients, that all the arts and sciences arose among free nations; and, that the Persians and Egyptians, notwithstanding their ease, opulence, and luxury, made but faint efforts towards a relish in those finer pleasures, which were carried to such perfection by the Greeks, amidst continual wars, attended with poverty, and the greatest simplicity of life and manners. It had also been observed, that, when the Greeks lost their liberty, though they increased mightily in riches, by means of the conquests of Alexander; yet the arts, from that moment, declined among them, and have never since been able to raise their head in that climate. Learning was transplanted to Rome, the only free nation at that time in the universe; and having met with so favourable a soil, it made prodigious shoots for above a century; till the decay of liberty produced also the decay of letters, and spread a total barbarism over the world. From these two experiments, of which each was double in its kind, and shewed the fall of learning in absolute governments, as well as its rise in popular ones, Longinus thought himself sufficiently justified, in asserting, that the arts and sciences could never flourish, but in a free government:  And in this opinion, he has been followed by several eminent writers  in our own country, who either confined their view merely to ancient facts, or entertained too great a partiality in favour of that form of government, established amongst us.

But what would these writers have said, to the instances of modern Rome and of Florence? Of which the former carried to perfection all the finer arts of sculpture, painting, and music, as well as poetry, though it groaned under tyranny, and under the tyranny of priests: While the latter made its chief progress in the arts and sciences, after it began to lose its liberty by the usurpation of the family of Medici. Ariosto, Tasso, Galileo, more than Raphael, and Michael Angelo, were not born in republics.  And though the Lombard school was famous as well as the Roman, yet the Venetians have had the smallest share in its honours, and seem rather inferior to the other Italians, in their genius for the arts and sciences. Rubens established his school at Antwerp, not at Amsterdam: Dresden, not Hamburgh, is the centre of politeness in Germany. 

But the most eminent instance of the flourishing of learning in absolute governments, is that of France, which scarcely ever enjoyed any established liberty, and yet has carried the arts and sciences as near perfection as any other nation. The English are, perhaps, greater philosophers;  the Italians better painters and musicians; the Romans were greater orators: But the French are the only people, except the Greeks, who have been at once philosophers, poets, orators, historians, painters, architects, sculptors, and musicians. With regard to the stage, they have excelled even the Greeks, who far excelled the English.  And, in common life, they have, in a great measure, perfected that art, the most useful and agreeable of any, l’Art de Vivre, the art of society and conversation.

If we consider the state of the sciences and polite arts in our own country, Horace’s observation, with regard to the Romans, may, in a great measure, be applied to the British.

  • —Sed in longum tamen ævum
  • Manserunt, hodieque manent vestigia ruris. 

The elegance and propriety of style have been very much neglected among us. We have no dictionary of our language, and scarcely a tolerable grammar. The first polite prose we have, was writ by a man who is still alive.  As to Sprat, Locke and, even Temple, they knew too little of the rules of art to be esteemed elegant writers.  The prose of Bacon, Harrington, and Milton,  is altogether stiff and pedantic; though their sense be excellent. Men, in this country, have been so much occupied in the great disputes of Religion, Politics, and Philosophy, that they had no relish for the seemingly minute observations of grammar and criticism. And though this turn of thinking must have considerably improved our sense and our talent of reasoning; it must be confessed, that, even in those sciences above-mentioned, we have not any standard-book, which we can transmit to posterity: And the utmost we have to boast of, are a few essays towards a more just philosophy; which, indeed, promise well, but have not, as yet, reached any degree of perfection.

It has become an established opinion, that commerce can never flourish but in a free government; and this opinion seems to be founded on a longer and larger experience than the foregoing, with regard to the arts and sciences. If we trace commerce in its progress through Tyre, Athens, Syracuse, Carthage, Venice, Florence, Genoa, Antwerp, Holland, England, &c. we shall always find it to have fixed its seat in free governments. The three greatest trading towns now in Europe, are London, Amsterdam, and Hamburgh; all free cities, and protestant cities; that is, enjoying a double liberty. It must, however, be observed, that the great jealousy entertained of late, with regard to the commerce of France, seems to prove, that this maxim is no more certain and infallible than the foregoing, and that the subjects of an absolute prince may become our rivals in commerce, as well as in learning.

Durst I deliver my opinion in an affair of so much uncertainty, I would assert, that, notwithstanding the efforts of the French, there is something hurtful to commerce inherent in the very nature of absolute government, and inseparable from it: Though the reason I should assign for this opinion, is somewhat different from that which is commonly insisted on. Private property seems to me almost as secure in a civilized European monarchy, as in a republic; nor is danger much apprehended in such a government, from the violence of the sovereign; more than we commonly dread harm from thunder, or earthquakes, or any accident the most unusual and extraordinary. Avarice, the spur of industry, is so obstinate a passion, and works its way through so many real dangers and difficulties, that it is not likely to be scared by an imaginary danger, which is so small, that it scarcely admits of calculation. Commerce, therefore, in my opinion, is apt to decay in absolute governments, not because it is there less secure, but because it is less honourable. A subordination of ranks is absolutely necessary to the support of monarchy. Birth, titles, and place, must be honoured above industry and riches. And while these notions prevail, all the considerable traders will be tempted to throw up their commerce, in order to purchase some of those employments, to which privileges and honours are annexed.

Since I am upon this head, of the alterations which time has produced, or may produce in politics, I must observe, that all kinds of government, free and absolute, seem to have undergone, in modern times, a great change for the better, with regard both to foreign and domestic management. The balance of power is a secret in politics, fully known only to the present age; and I must add, that the internal Police of states has also received great improvements within the last century. We are informed by Sallust, that Catiline’s army was much augmented by the accession of the highwaymen about Rome;  though I believe, that all of that profession, who are at present dispersed over Europe, would not amount to a regiment. In Cicero’s pleadings for Milo, I find this argument, among others, made use of to prove, that his client had not assassinated Clodius. Had Milo, said he, intended to have killed Clodius, he had not attacked him in the daytime, and at such a distance from the city: He had way-laid him at night, near the suburbs, where it might have been pretended, that he was killed by robbers; and the frequency of the accident would have favoured the deceit. This is a surprizing proof of the loose police of Rome, and of the number and force of these robbers; since Clodius  was at that time attended by thirty slaves, who were completely armed, and sufficiently accustomed to blood and danger in the frequent tumults excited by that seditious tribune. 

But though all kinds of government be improved in modern times, yet monarchical government seems to have made the greatest advances towards perfection. It may now be affirmed of civilized monarchies, what was formerly said in praise of republics alone, that they are a government of Laws, not of Men. They are found susceptible of order, method, and constancy, to a surprizing degree. Property is there secure; industry encouraged; the arts flourish; and the prince lives secure among his subjects, like a father among his children. There are perhaps, and have been for two centuries, near two hundred absolute princes, great and small, in Europe; and allowing twenty years to each reign, we may suppose, that there have been in the whole two thousand monarchs or tyrants, as the Greeks would have called them: Yet of these there has not been one, not even Philip II. of Spain, so bad as Tiberius, Caligula, Nero, or Domitian,  who were four in twelve amongst the Roman emperors.  It must, however, be confessed, that, though monarchical governments have approached nearer to popular ones, in gentleness and stability; they are still inferior. Our modern education and customs instil more humanity and moderation than the ancient; but have not as yet been able to overcome entirely the disadvantages of that form of government.

But here I must beg leave to advance a conjecture, which seems probable, but which posterity alone can fully judge of. I am apt to think, that, in monarchical governments there is a source of improvement, and in popular governments a source of degeneracy, which in time will bring these species of civil polity still nearer an equality. The greatest abuses, which arise in France, the most perfect model of pure monarchy, proceed not from the number or weight of the taxes, beyond what are to be met with in free countries; but from the expensive, unequal, arbitrary, and intricate method of levying them, by which the industry of the poor, especially of the peasants and farmers, is, in a great measure, discouraged, and agriculture rendered a beggarly and slavish employment. But to whose advantage do these abuses tend? If to that of the nobility, they might be esteemed inherent in that form of government; since the nobility are the true supports of monarchy; and it is natural their interest should be more consulted, in such a constitution, than that of the people. But the nobility are, in reality, the chief losers by this oppression; since it ruins their estates, and beggars their tenants. The only gainers by it are the Finançiers,  a race of men rather odious to the nobility and the whole kingdom. If a prince or minister, therefore, should arise, endowed with sufficient discernment to know his own and the public interest, and with sufficient force of mind to break through ancient customs, we might expect to see these abuses remedied; in which case, the difference between that absolute government and our free one, would not appear so considerable as at present.

The source of degeneracy, which may be remarked in free governments, consists in the practice of contracting debt, and mortgaging the public revenues, by which taxes may, in time, become altogether intolerable, and all the property of the state be brought into the hands of the public. This practice is of modern date. The Athenians, though governed by a republic, paid near two hundred per Cent. for those sums of money, which any emergence made it necessary for them to borrow; as we learn from Xenophon.  Among the moderns, the Dutch first introduced the practice of borrowing great sums at low interest, and have well nigh ruined themselves by it. Absolute princes have also contracted debt; but as an absolute prince may make a bankruptcy when he pleases, his people can never be oppressed by his debts. In popular governments, the people, and chiefly those who have the highest offices, being commonly the public creditors, it is difficult for the state to make use of this remedy, which, however it may sometimes be necessary, is always cruel and barbarous. This, therefore seems to be an inconvenience, which nearly threatens all free governments; especially our own, at the present juncture of affairs. And what a strong motive is this, to encrease our frugality of public money; lest for want of it, we be reduced, by the multiplicity of taxes, or what is worse, by our public impotence and inability for defence, to curse our very liberty, and wish ourselves in the same state of servitude with all the nations that surround us?


From Essays Moral, Political, Literary, edited and with a Foreword, Notes, and Glossary by Eugene F. Miller, with an appendix of variant readings from the 1889 edition by T.H. Green and T.H. Grose, revised edition (Indianapolis: Liberty Fund 1987).

David Hume, "Of the Origin of Government"

Published in 1777 (posthumoulsy)

Used with the permission of the Online Library of Liberty.




Man, born in a family, is compelled to maintain society, from necessity, from natural inclination, and from habit. The same creature, in his farther progress, is engaged to establish political society, in order to administer justice; without which there can be no peace among them, nor safety, nor mutual intercourse. We are, therefore, to look upon all the vast apparatus of our government, as having ultimately no other object or purpose but the distribution of justice, or, in other words, the support of the twelve judges. Kings and parliaments, fleets and armies, officers of the court and revenue, ambassadors, ministers, and privy-counsellors, are all subordinate in their end to this part of administration. Even the clergy, as their duty leads them to inculcate morality, may justly be thought, so far as regards this world, to have no other useful object of their institution.

All men are sensible of the necessity of justice to maintain peace and order; and all men are sensible of the necessity of peace and order for the maintenance of society. Yet, notwithstanding this strong and obvious necessity, such is the frailty or perverseness of our nature! it is impossible to keep men, faithfully and unerringly, in the paths of justice. Some extraordinary circumstances may happen, in which a man finds his interests to be more promoted by fraud or rapine, than hurt by the breach which his injustice makes in the social union. But much more frequently, he is seduced from his great and important, but distant interests, by the allurement of present, though often very frivolous temptations. This great weakness is incurable in human nature.

Men must, therefore, endeavour to palliate what they cannot cure. They must institute some persons, under the appellation of magistrates, whose peculiar office it is, to point out the decrees of equity, to punish transgressors, to correct fraud and violence, and to oblige men, however reluctant, to consult their own real and permanent interests. In a word, Obedience is a new duty which must be invented to support that of Justice; and the tyes of equity must be corroborated by those of allegiance.

But still, viewing matters in an abstract light, it may be thought, that nothing is gained by this alliance, and that the factitious duty of obedience, from its very nature, lays as feeble a hold of the human mind, as the primitive and natural duty of justice. Peculiar interests and present temptations may overcome the one as well as the other. They are equally exposed to the same inconvenience. And the man, who is inclined to be a bad neighbour, must be led by the same motives, well or ill understood, to be a bad citizen and subject. Not to mention, that the magistrate himself may often be negligent, or partial, or unjust in his administration.

Experience, however, proves, that there is a great difference between the cases. Order in society, we find, is much better maintained by means of government; and our duty to the magistrate is more strictly guarded by the principles of human nature, than our duty to our fellow-citizens. The love of dominion is so strong in the breast of man, that many, not only submit to, but court all the dangers, and fatigues, and cares of government; and men, once raised to that station, though often led astray by private passions, find, in ordinary cases, a visible interest in the impartial administration of justice. The persons, who first attain this distinction by the consent, tacit or express, of the people, must be endowed with superior personal qualities of valour, force, integrity, or prudence, which command respect and confidence: and after government is established, a regard to birth, rank, and station has a mighty influence over men, and enforces the decrees of the magistrate. The prince or leader exclaims against every disorder, which disturbs his society. He summons all his partizans and all men of probity° to aid him in correcting and redressing it: and he is readily followed by all indifferent persons in the execution of his office. He soon acquires the power of rewarding these services; and in the progress of society, he establishes subordinate ministers and often a military force, who find an immediate and a visible interest, in supporting his authority. Habit soon consolidates what other principles of human nature had imperfectly founded; and men, once accustomed to obedience, never think of departing from that path, in which they and their ancestors have constantly trod, and to which they are confined by so many urgent and visible motives.

But though this progress of human affairs may appear certain and inevitable, and though the support which allegiance brings to justice, be founded on obvious principles of human nature, it cannot be expected that men should beforehand be able to discover them, or foresee their operation. Government commences more casually and more imperfectly. It is probable, that the first ascendant of one man over multitudes begun during a state of war; where the superiority of courage and of genius discovers itself most visibly, where unanimity and concert are most requisite, and where the pernicious effects of disorder are most sensibly felt. The long continuance of that state, an incident common among savage tribes, enured the people to submission; and if the chieftain possessed as much equity as prudence and valour, he became, even during peace, the arbiter of all differences, and could gradually, by a mixture of force and consent, establish his authority. The benefit sensibly felt from his influence, made it be cherished by the people, at least by the peaceable and well disposed among them; and if his son enjoyed the same good qualities, government advanced the sooner to maturity and perfection; but was still in a feeble state, till the farther progress of improvement procured the magistrate a revenue, and enabled him to bestow rewards on the several instruments of his administration, and to inflict punishments on the refractory and disobedient. Before that period, each exertion of his influence must have been particular, and founded on the peculiar circumstances of the case. After it, submission was no longer a matter of choice in the bulk of the community, but was rigorously exacted by the authority of the supreme magistrate.

In all governments, there is a perpetual intestine struggle, open or secret, between Authority and Liberty; and neither of them can ever absolutely prevail in the contest. A great sacrifice of liberty must necessarily be made in every government; yet even the authority, which confines liberty, can never, and perhaps ought never, in any constitution, to become quite entire and uncontroulable. The sultan is master of the life and fortune of any individual; but will not be permitted to impose new taxes on his subjects: a French monarch can impose taxes at pleasure; but would find it dangerous to attempt the lives and fortunes of individuals. Religion also, in most countries, is commonly found to be a very intractable principle; and other principles or prejudices frequently resist all the authority of the civil magistrate; whose power, being founded on opinion, can never subvert other opinions, equally rooted with that of his title to dominion. The government, which, in common appellation, receives the appellation of free, is that which admits of a partition of power among several members, whose united authority is no less, or is commonly greater than that of any monarch; but who, in the usual course of administration, must act by general and equal laws, that are previously known to all the members and to all their subjects. In this sense, it must be owned, that liberty is the perfection of civil society; but still authority must be acknowledged essential to its very existence: and in those contests, which so often take place between the one and the other, the latter may, on that account, challenge the preference. Unless perhaps one may say (and it may be said with some reason) that a circumstance, which is essential to the existence of civil society, must always support itself, and needs be guarded with less jealousy, than one that contributes only to its perfection, which the indolence of men is so apt to neglect, or their ignorance to overlook.


From Essays Moral, Political, Literary, edited and with a Foreword, Notes, and Glossary by Eugene F. Miller, with an appendix of variant readings from the 1889 edition by T.H. Green and T.H. Grose, revised edition (Indianapolis: Liberty Fund 1987).

David Hume, "Of the Original Contract"

Published 1777 (Posthumoulsy)

Used with the permission of the Online Library of Liberty.



As no party, in the present age, can well support itself, without a philosophical or speculative system of principles, annexed to its political or practical one; we accordingly find, that each of the factions, into which this nation is divided, has reared up a fabric of the former kind, in order to protect and cover that scheme of actions, which it pursues.  The people being commonly very rude builders, especially in this speculative way, and more especially still, when actuated by party-zeal; it is natural to imagine, that their workmanship must be a little unshapely, and discover evident marks of that violence and hurry, in which it was raised. The one party, by tracing up government to the Deity, endeavour to render it so sacred and inviolate, that it must be little less than sacrilege, however tyrannical it may become, to touch or invade it, in the smallest article. The other party, by founding government altogether on the consent of the People, suppose that there is a kind of original contract, by which the subjects have tacitly reserved the power of resisting their sovereign, whenever they find themselves aggrieved by that authority, with which they have, for certain purposes, voluntarily entrusted him. These are the speculative principles of the two parties; and these too are the practical consequences deduced from them.

I shall venture to affirm, That both these systems of speculative principles are just; though not in the sense, intended by the parties: And, That both the schemes of practical consequences are prudent; though not in the extremes, to which each party, in opposition to the other, has commonly endeavoured to carry them.

That the Deity is the ultimate author of all government, will never be denied by any, who admit a general providence, and allow, that all events in the universe are conducted by an uniform plan, and directed to wise purposes. As it is impossible for the human race to subsist, at least in any comfortable or secure state, without the protection of government; this institution must certainly have been intended by that beneficent Being, who means the good of all his creatures: And as it has universally, in fact, taken place, in all countries, and all ages; we may conclude, with still greater certainty, that it was intended by that omniscient Being, who can never be deceived by any event or operation. But since he gave rise to it, not by any particular or miraculous interposition, but by his concealed and universal efficacy; a sovereign cannot, properly speaking, be called his vice-gerent, in any other sense than every power or force, being derived from him, may be said to act by his commission. Whatever actually happens is comprehended in the general plan or intention of providence; nor has the greatest and most lawful prince any more reason, upon that account, to plead a peculiar sacredness or inviolable authority, than an inferior magistrate, or even an usurper, or even a robber and a pyrate. The same divine superintendant, who, for wise purposes, invested  a Titus or a Trajan with authority, did also, for purposes, no doubt, equally wise, though unknown, bestow power on a Borgia or an Angria.  The same causes, which gave rise to the sovereign power in every state, established likewise every petty jurisdiction in it, and every limited authority. A constable, therefore, no less than a king, acts by a divine commission, and possesses an indefeasible right.

When we consider how nearly equal all men are in their bodily force, and even in their mental powers and faculties, till cultivated by education; we must necessarily allow, that nothing but their own consent could, at first, associate them together, and subject them to any authority. The people, if we trace government to its first origin in the woods and desarts, are the source of all power and jurisdiction, and voluntarily, for the sake of peace and order, abandoned their native liberty, and received laws from their equal and companion. The conditions, upon which they were willing to submit, were either expressed, or were so clear and obvious, that it might well be esteemed superfluous to express them. If this, then, be meant by the original contract, it cannot be denied, that all government is, at first, founded on a contract, and that the most ancient rude combinations of mankind were formed chiefly by that principle. In vain, are we asked in what records this charter of our liberties is registered. It was not written on parchment, nor yet on leaves or barks of trees. It preceded the use of writing and all the other civilized arts of life. But we trace it plainly in the nature of man, and in the equality,  or something approaching equality, which we find in all the individuals of that species. The force, which now prevails, and which is founded on fleets and armies, is plainly political, and derived from authority, the effect of established government. A man’s natural force consists only in the vigour of his limbs, and the firmness of his courage; which could never subject multitudes to the command of one. Nothing but their own consent, and their sense of the advantages resulting from peace and order, could have had that influence.

 Yet even this consent was long very imperfect, and could not be the basis of a regular administration. The chieftain, who had probably acquired his influence during the continuance of war, ruled more by persuasion than command; and till he could employ force to reduce the refractory and disobedient, the society could scarcely be said to have attained a state of civil government. No compact or agreement, it is evident, was expressly formed for general submission; an idea far beyond the comprehension of savages: Each exertion of authority in the chieftain must have been particular, and called forth by the present exigencies of the case: The sensible utility, resulting from his interposition, made these exertions become daily more frequent; and their frequency gradually produced an habitual, and, if you please to call it so, a voluntary, and therefore precarious, acquiescence in the people.

But philosophers, who have embraced a party (if that be not a contradiction in terms) are not contented with these concessions. They assert, not only that government in its earliest infancy arose from consent or rather the voluntary acquiescence of the people; but also, that, even at present, when it has attained full maturity, it rests on no other foundation.  They affirm, that all men are still born equal, and owe allegiance to no prince or government, unless bound by the obligation and sanction of a promise. And as no man, without some equivalent, would forego the advantages of his native liberty, and subject himself to the will of another; this promise is always understood to be conditional, and imposes on him no obligation, unless he meet with justice and protection from his sovereign. These advantages the sovereign promises him in return; and if he fail in the execution, he has broken, on his part, the articles of engagement, and has thereby freed his subject from all obligations to allegiance. Such, according to these philosophers, is the foundation of authority in every government; and such the right of resistance, possessed by every subject.

But would these reasoners look abroad into the world, they would meet with nothing that, in the least, corresponds to their ideas, or can warrant so refined and philosophical a system. On the contrary, we find, every where, princes, who claim their subjects as their property, and assert their independent right of sovereignty, from conquest or succession. We find also, every where, subjects, who acknowledge this right in their prince, and suppose themselves born under obligations of obedience to a certain sovereign, as much as under the ties of reverence and duty to certain parents. These connexions are always conceived to be equally independent of our consent, in Persia and China; in France and Spain; and even in Holland and England, wherever the doctrines above-mentioned have not been carefully inculcated. Obedience or subjection becomes so familiar, that most men never make any enquiry about its origin or cause, more than about the principle of gravity, resistance, or the most universal laws of nature. Or if curiosity ever move them; as soon as they learn, that they themselves and their ancestors have, for several ages, or from time immemorial, been subject to such a form of government or such a family; they immediately acquiesce, and acknowledge their obligation to allegiance. Were you to preach, in most parts of the world, that political connexions are founded altogether on voluntary consent or a mutual promise, the magistrate would soon imprison you, as seditious, for loosening the ties of obedience; if your friends did not before shut you up as delirious, for advancing such absurdities. It is strange, that an act of the mind, which every individual is supposed to have formed, and after he came to the use of reason too, otherwise it could have no authority; that this act, I say, should be so much unknown to all of them, that, over the face of the whole earth, there scarcely remain any traces or memory of it.

But the contract, on which government is founded, is said to be the original contract; and consequently may be supposed too old to fall under the knowledge of the present generation. If the agreement, by which savage men first associated and conjoined their force, be here meant, this is acknowledged to be real; but being so ancient, and being obliterated by a thousand changes of government and princes, it cannot now be supposed to retain any authority. If we would say any thing to the purpose, we must assert, that every particular government, which is lawful, and which imposes any duty of allegiance on the subject, was, at first, founded on consent and a voluntary compact. But besides that this supposes the consent of the fathers to bind the children, even to the most remote generations, (which republican writers will never allow) besides this, I say, it is not justified by history or experience, in any age or country of the world.

Almost all the governments, which exist at present, or of which there remains any record in story, have been founded originally, either on usurpation or conquest, or both, without any pretence of a fair consent, or voluntary subjection of the people. When an artful and bold man is placed at the head of an army or faction, it is often easy for him, by employing, sometimes violence, sometimes false pretences, to establish his dominion over a people a hundred times more numerous than his partizans. He allows no such open communication, that his enemies can know, with certainty, their number or force. He gives them no leisure to assemble together in a body to oppose him. Even all those, who are the instruments of his usurpation, may wish his fall; but their ignorance of each other’s intention keeps them in awe, and is the sole cause of his security. By such arts as these, many governments have been established; and this is all the original contract, which they have to boast of.

The face of the earth is continually changing, by the encrease of small kingdoms into great empires, by the dissolution of great empires into smaller kingdoms, by the planting of colonies, by the migration of tribes. Is there any thing discoverable in all these events, but force and violence? Where is the mutual agreement or voluntary association so much talked of?

Even the smoothest way, by which a nation may receive a foreign master, by marriage or a will, is not extremely honourable for the people; but supposes them to be disposed of, like a dowry or a legacy, according to the pleasure or interest of their rulers.

But where no force interposes, and election takes place; what is this election so highly vaunted? It is either the combination of a few great men, who decide for the whole, and will allow of no opposition: Or it is the fury of a multitude, that follow a seditious ringleader, who is not known, perhaps, to a dozen among them, and who owes his advancement merely to his own impudence, or to the momentary caprice of his fellows.

Are these disorderly elections, which are rare too, of such mighty authority, as to be the only lawful foundation of all government and allegiance?

In reality, there is not a more terrible event, than a total dissolution of government, which gives liberty to the multitude, and makes the determination or choice of a new establishment depend upon a number, which nearly approaches to that of the body of the people: For it never comes entirely to the whole body of them. Every wise man, then, wishes to see, at the head of a powerful and obedient army, a general, who may speedily seize the prize, and give to the people a master, which they are so unfit to chuse for themselves. So little correspondent is fact and reality to those philosophical notions.

Let not the establishment at the Revolution deceive us, or make us so much in love with a philosophical origin to government, as to imagine all others monstrous and irregular. Even that event was far from corresponding to these refined ideas. It was only the succession, and that only in the regal part of the government, which was then changed: And it was only the majority of seven hundred, who determined that change for near ten millions.  I doubt not, indeed, but the bulk of those ten millions acquiesced willingly in the determination: But was the matter left, in the least, to their choice? Was it not justly supposed to be, from that moment, decided, and every man punished, who refused to submit to the new sovereign? How otherwise could the matter have ever been brought to any issue or conclusion?

The republic of Athens was, I believe, the most extensive democracy, that we read of in history: Yet if we make the requisite allowances for the women, the slaves, and the strangers, we shall find, that that establishment was not, at first, made, nor any law ever voted, by a tenth part of those who were bound to pay obedience to it: Not to mention the islands and foreign dominions, which the Athenians claimed as theirs by right of conquest. And as it is well known, that popular assemblies in that city were always full of licence and disorder, notwithstanding the institutions and laws by which they were checked: How much more disorderly must they prove, where they form not the established constitution, but meet tumultuously on the dissolution of the ancient government, in order to give rise to a new one? How chimerical must it be to talk of a choice in such circumstances?

 The Achæans enjoyed the freest and most perfect democracy of all antiquity; yet they employed force to oblige some cities to enter into their league, as we learn from Polybius. 

Harry the IVth  and Harry the VIIth of England, had really no title to the throne but a parliamentary election; yet they never would acknowledge it, lest they should thereby weaken their authority. Strange, if the only real foundation of all authority be consent and promise!

It is in vain to say, that all governments are or should be, at first, founded on popular consent, as much as the necessity of human affairs will admit. This favours entirely my pretension. I maintain, that human affairs will never admit of this consent; seldom of the appearance of it. But that conquest or usurpation, that is, in plain terms, force, by dissolving the ancient governments, is the origin of almost all the new ones, which were ever established in the world. And that in the few cases, where consent may seem to have taken place, it was commonly so irregular, so confined, or so much intermixed either with fraud or violence, that it cannot have any great authority.

 My intention here is not to exclude the consent of the people from being one just foundation of government where it has place. It is surely the best and most sacred of any. I only pretend, that it has very seldom had place in any degree, and never almost in its full extent. And that therefore some other foundation of government must also be admitted.

Were all men possessed of so inflexible a regard to justice, that, of themselves, they would totally abstain from the properties of others; they had for ever remained in a state of absolute liberty, without subjection to any magistrate or political society: But this is a state of perfection, of which human nature is justly deemed incapable. Again; were all men possessed of so perfect an understanding, as always to know their own interests, no form of government had ever been submitted to, but what was established on consent, and was fully canvassed by every member of the society: But this state of perfection is likewise much superior to human nature. Reason, history, and experience shew us, that all political societies have had an origin much less accurate and regular; and were one to choose a period of time, when the people’s consent was the least regarded in public transactions, it would be precisely on the establishment of a new government. In a settled constitution, their inclinations are often consulted; but during the fury of revolutions, conquests, and public convulsions, military force or political craft usually decides the controversy.

When a new government is established, by whatever means, the people are commonly dissatisfied with it, and pay obedience more from fear and necessity, than from any idea of allegiance or of moral obligation. The prince is watchful and jealous, and must carefully guard against every beginning or appearance of insurrection. Time, by degrees, removes all these difficulties, and accustoms the nation to regard, as their lawful or native princes, that family, which, at first, they considered as usurpers or foreign conquerors. In order to found this opinion, they have no recourse to any notion of voluntary consent or promise, which, they know, never was, in this case, either expected or demanded. The original establishment was formed by violence, and submitted to from necessity. The subsequent administration is also supported by power, and acquiesced in by the people, not as a matter of choice, but of obligation. They imagine not, that their consent gives their prince a title: But they willingly consent, because they think, that, from long possession, he has acquired a title, independent of their choice or inclination.

Should it be said, that, by living under the dominion of a prince, which one might leave, every individual has given a tacit consent to his authority, and promised him obedience; it may be answered, that such an implied consent can only have place, where a man imagines, that the matter depends on his choice. But where he thinks (as all mankind do who are born under established governments) that by his birth he owes allegiance to a certain prince or certain form of government; it would be absurd to infer a consent or choice, which he expressly, in this case, renounces and disclaims.

Can we seriously say, that a poor peasant or artizan has a free choice to leave his country, when he knows no foreign language or manners, and lives from day to day, by the small wages which he acquires? We may as well assert, that a man, by remaining in a vessel, freely consents to the dominion of the master; though he was carried on board while asleep, and must leap into the ocean, and perish, the moment he leaves her.

What if the prince forbid his subjects to quit his dominions; as in Tiberius’s time, it was regarded as a crime in a Roman knight that he had attempted to fly to the Parthians, in order to escape the tyranny of that emperor? Or as the ancient Muscovites prohibited all travelling under pain of death? And did a prince observe, that many of his subjects were seized with the frenzy of migrating to foreign countries, he would doubtless, with great reason and justice, restrain them, in order to prevent the depopulation of his own kingdom. Would he forfeit the allegiance of all his subjects, by so wise and reasonable a law? Yet the freedom of their choice is surely, in that case, ravished from them.

A company of men, who should leave their native country, in order to people some uninhabited region, might dream of recovering their native freedom; but they would soon find, that their prince still laid claim to them, and called them his subjects, even in their new settlement. And in this he would but act conformably to the common ideas of mankind.

The truest tacit consent of this kind, that is ever observed, is when a foreigner settles in any country, and is beforehand acquainted with the prince, and government, and laws, to which he must submit: Yet is his allegiance, though more voluntary, much less expected or depended on, than that of a natural born subject. On the contrary, his native prince still asserts a claim to him. And if he punish not the renegade, when he seizes him in war with his new prince’s commission; this clemency is not founded on the municipal law, which in all countries condemns the prisoner; but on the consent of princes, who have agreed to this indulgence, in order to prevent reprisals.

Did one generation of men go off the stage at once, and another succeed, as is the case with silk-worms and butterflies, the new race, if they had sense enough to choose their government, which surely is never the case with men, might voluntarily, and by general consent, establish their own form of civil polity, without any regard to the laws or precedents, which prevailed among their ancestors. But as human society is in perpetual flux, one man every hour going out of the world, another coming into it, it is necessary, in order to preserve stability in government, that the new brood should conform themselves to the established constitution, and nearly follow the path which their fathers, treading in the footsteps of theirs, had marked out to them. Some innovations must necessarily have place in every human institution, and it is happy where the enlightened genius of the age give these a direction to the side of reason, liberty, and justice: but violent innovations no individual is entitled to make: they are even dangerous to be attempted by the legislature: more ill than good is ever to be expected from them: and if history affords examples to the contrary, they are not to be drawn into precedent, and are only to be regarded as proofs, that the science of politics affords few rules, which will not admit of some exception, and which may not sometimes be controuled by fortune and accident. The violent innovations in the reign of Henry VIII. proceeded from an imperious monarch, seconded by the appearance of legislative authority: Those in the reign of Charles I. were derived from faction and fanaticism; and both of them have proved happy in the issue: But even the former were long the source of many disorders, and still more dangers; and if the measures of allegiance were to be taken from the latter, a total anarchy must have place in human society, and a final period at once be put to every government.

Suppose, that an usurper, after having banished his lawful prince and royal family, should establish his dominion for ten or a dozen years in any country, and should preserve so exact a discipline in his troops, and so regular a disposition in his garrisons, that no insurrection had ever been raised, or even murmur heard, against his administration: Can it be asserted, that the people, who in their hearts abhor his treason, have tacitly consented to his authority, and promised him allegiance, merely because, from necessity, they live under his dominion? Suppose again their native prince restored, by means of an army, which he levies in foreign countries: They receive him with joy and exultation, and shew plainly with what reluctance they had submitted to any other yoke. I may now ask, upon what foundation the prince’s title stands? Not on popular consent surely: For though the people willingly acquiesce in his authority, they never imagine, that their consent made him sovereign. They consent; because they apprehend him to be already, by birth, their lawful sovereign. And as to that tacit consent, which may now be inferred from their living under his dominion, this is no more than what they formerly gave to the tyrant and usurper.

When we assert, that all lawful government arises from the consent of the people, we certainly do them a great deal more honour than they deserve, or even expect and desire from us. After the Roman dominions became too unwieldly for the republic to govern them, the people, over the whole known world, were extremely grateful to Augustus for that authority, which, by violence, he had established over them; and they shewed an equal disposition to submit to the successor, whom he left them, by his last will and testament. It was afterwards their misfortune, that there never was, in one family, any long regular succession; but that their line of princes was continually broken, either by private assassinations or public rebellions. The prætorian bands, on the failure of every family, set up one emperor; the legions in the East a second; those in Germany, perhaps, a third: And the sword alone could decide the controversy. The condition of the people, in that mighty monarchy, was to be lamented, not because the choice of the emperor was never left to them; for that was impracticable: But because they never fell under any succession of masters, who might regularly follow each other. As to the violence and wars and bloodshed, occasioned by every new settlement; these were not blameable, because they were inevitable.

The house of Lancaster ruled in this island about sixty years; yet the partizans of the white rose seemed daily to multiply in England. The present establishment has taken place during a still longer period. Have all views of right in another family been utterly extinguished; even though scarce any man now alive had arrived at years of discretion, when it was expelled, or could have consented to its dominion, or have promised it allegiance? A sufficient indication surely of the general sentiment of mankind on this head. For we blame not the partizans of the abdicated family, merely on account of the long time, during which they have preserved their imaginary loyalty. We blame them for adhering to a family, which, we affirm, has been justly expelled, and which, from the moment the new settlement took place, had forfeited all title to authority.

But would we have a more regular, at least a more philosophical, refutation of this principle of an original contract or popular consent; perhaps, the following observations may suffice.

All moral duties may be divided into two kinds. The first are those, to which men are impelled by a natural instinct or immediate propensity, which operates on them, independent of all ideas of obligation, and of all views, either to public or private utility. Of this nature are, love of children, gratitude to benefactors, pity to the unfortunate. When we reflect on the advantage, which results to society from such humane instincts, we pay them the just tribute of moral approbation and esteem: But the person, actuated by them, feels their power and influence, antecedent to any such reflection.

The second kind of moral duties are such as are not supported by any original instinct of nature, but are performed entirely from a sense of obligation, when we consider the necessities of human society, and the impossibility of supporting it, if these duties were neglected. It is thus justice or a regard to the property of others, fidelity or the observance of promises, become obligatory, and acquire an authority over mankind. For as it is evident, that every man loves himself better than any other person, he is naturally impelled to extend his acquisitions as much as possible; and nothing can restrain him in this propensity, but reflection and experience, by which he learns the pernicious effects of that licence, and the total dissolution of society which must ensue from it. His original inclination, therefore, or instinct, is here checked and restrained by a subsequent judgment or observation.

The case is precisely the same with the political or civil duty of allegiance, as with the natural duties of justice and fidelity. Our primary instincts lead us, either to indulge ourselves in unlimited freedom, or to seek dominion over others: And it is reflection only, which engages us to sacrifice such strong passions to the interests of peace and public order. A small degree of experience and observation suffices to teach us, that society cannot possibly be maintained without the authority of magistrates, and that this authority must soon fall into contempt, where exact obedience is not payed to it. The observation of these general and obvious interests is the source of all allegiance, and of that moral obligation, which we attribute to it.

What necessity, therefore, is there to found the duty of allegiance or obedience to magistrates on that of fidelity or a regard to promises, and to suppose, that it is the consent of each individual, which subjects him to government; when it appears, that both allegiance and fidelity stand precisely on the same foundation, and are both submitted to by mankind, on account of the apparent interests and necessities of human society? We are bound to obey our sovereign, it is said; because we have given a tacit promise to that purpose. But why are we bound to observe our promise? It must here be asserted, that the commerce and intercourse of mankind, which are of such mighty advantage, can have no security where men pay no regard to their engagements. In like manner, may it be said, that men could not live at all in society, at least in a civilized society, without laws and magistrates and judges, to prevent the encroachments of the strong upon the weak, of the violent upon the just and equitable. The obligation to allegiance being of like force and authority with the obligation to fidelity, we gain nothing by resolving the one into the other. The general interests or necessities of society are sufficient to establish both.

If the reason be asked of that obedience, which we are bound to pay to government, I readily answer, because society could not otherwise subsist: And this answer is clear and intelligible to all mankind. Your answer is, because we should keep our word. But besides, that no body, till trained in a philosophical system, can either comprehend or relish this answer: Besides this, I say, you find yourself embarrassed, when it is asked, why we are bound to keep our word? Nor can you give any answer, but what would, immediately, without any circuit, have accounted for our obligation to allegiance.

But to whom is allegiance due? And who is our lawful sovereign? This question is often the most difficult of any, and liable to infinite discussions. When people are so happy, that they can answer, Our present sovereign, who inherits, in a direct line, from ancestors, that have governed us for many ages; this answer admits of no reply; even though historians, in tracing up to the remotest antiquity, the origin of that royal family, may find, as commonly happens, that its first authority was derived from usurpation and violence. It is confessed, that private justice, or the abstinence from the properties of others, is a most cardinal virtue: Yet reason tells us, that there is no property in durable objects, such as lands or houses, when carefully examined in passing from hand to hand, but must, in some period, have been founded on fraud and injustice. The necessities of human society, neither in private nor public life, will allow of such an accurate enquiry: And there is no virtue or moral duty, but what may, with facility, be refined away, if we indulge a false philosophy, in sifting and scrutinizing it, by every captious rule of logic, in every light or position, in which it may be placed.

The questions with regard to private property have filled infinite volumes of law and philosophy, if in both we add the commentators to the original text; and in the end, we may safely pronounce, that many of the rules, there established, are uncertain, ambiguous, and arbitrary. The like opinion may be formed with regard to the succession and rights of princes and forms of government. Several cases, no doubt, occur, especially in the infancy of any constitution, which admit of no determination from the laws of justice and equity: And our historian Rapin pretends, that the controversy between Edward the Third and Philip de Valois was of this nature, and could be decided only by an appeal to heaven, that is, by war and violence.

Who shall tell me, whether Germanicus or Drusus ought to have succeeded to Tiberius, had he died, while they were both alive, without naming any of them for his successor? Ought the right of adoption to be received as equivalent to that of blood, in a nation, where it had the same effect in private families, and had already, in two instances, taken place in the public? Ought Germanicus to be esteemed the elder son because he was born before Drusus; or the younger, because he was adopted after the birth of his brother? Ought the right of the elder to be regarded in a nation, where he had no advantage in the succession of private families? Ought the Roman empire at that time to be deemed hereditary, because of two examples; or ought it, even so early, to be regarded as belonging to the stronger or to the present possessor, as being founded on so recent an usurpation?

Commodus mounted the throne after a pretty long succession of excellent emperors, who had acquired their title, not by birth, or public election, but by the fictitious rite of adoption. That bloody debauchee being murdered by a conspiracy suddenly formed between his wench and her gallant, who happened at that time to be Prætorian Præfect; these immediately deliberated about choosing a master to human kind, to speak in the style of those ages; and they cast their eyes on Pertinax. Before the tyrant’s death was known, the Præfect went secretly to that senator, who, on the appearance of the soldiers, imagined that his execution had been ordered by Commodus. He was immediately saluted emperor by the officer and his attendants; chearfully proclaimed by the populace; unwillingly submitted to by the guards; formally recognized by the senate; and passively received by the provinces and armies of the empire.

The discontent of the Prætorian bands broke out in a sudden sedition, which occasioned the murder of that excellent prince: And the world being now without a master and without government, the guards thought proper to set the empire formally to sale. Julian, the purchaser, was proclaimed by the soldiers, recognized by the senate, and submitted to by the people; and must also have been submitted to by the provinces, had not the envy of the legions begotten opposition and resistance. Pescennius Niger in Syria elected himself emperor, gained the tumultuary consent of his army, and was attended with the secret good-will of the senate and people of Rome. Albinus in Britain found an equal right to set up his claim; but Severus, who governed Pannonia, prevailed in the end above both of them. That able politician and warrior, finding his own birth and dignity too much inferior to the imperial crown, professed, at first, an intention only of revenging the death of Pertinax. He marched as general into Italy; defeated Julian; and without our being able to fix any precise commencement even of the soldiers’ consent, he was from necessity acknowledged emperor by the senate and people; and fully established in his violent authority by subduing Niger and Albinus.

Inter hæc Gordianus Cæsar (says Capitolinus, speaking of another period) sublatus a militibus. Imperator est appellatus, quia non erat alius in præsenti. It is to be remarked, that Gordian was a boy of fourteen years of age.

Frequent instances of a like nature occur in the history of the emperors; in that of Alexander’s successors; and of many other countries: Nor can any thing be more unhappy than a despotic government of this kind; where the succession is disjointed and irregular, and must be determined, on every vacancy, by force or election. In a free government, the matter is often unavoidable, and is also much less dangerous. The interests of liberty may there frequently lead the people, in their own defence, to alter the succession of the crown. And the constitution, being compounded of parts, may still maintain a sufficient stability, by resting on the aristocratical or democratical members, though the monarchical be altered, from time to time, in order to accommodate it to the former.

In an absolute government, when there is no legal prince, who has a title to the throne, it may safely be determined to belong to the first occupant. Instances of this kind are but too frequent, especially in the eastern monarchies.  When any race of princes expires, the will or destination of the last sovereign will be regarded as a title. Thus the edict of Lewis the XIVth, who called the bastard princes to the succession in case of the failure of all the legitimate princes, would, in such an event, have some authority. Thus the will of Charles the Second disposed of the whole Spanish monarchy. The cession of the ancient proprietor, especially when joined to conquest, is likewise deemed a good title. The general obligation, which binds us to government, is the interest and necessities of society; and this obligation is very strong. The determination of it to this or that particular prince or form of government is frequently more uncertain and dubious. Present possession has considerable authority in these cases, and greater than in private property; because of the disorders which attend all revolutions and changes of government.

We shall only observe, before we conclude, that, though an appeal to general opinion may justly, in the speculative sciences of metaphysics, natural philosophy, or astronomy, be deemed unfair and inconclusive, yet in all questions with regard to morals, as well as criticism, there is really no other standard, by which any controversy can ever be decided. And nothing is a clearer proof, that a theory of this kind is erroneous, than to find, that it leads to paradoxes, repugnant to the common sentiments of mankind, and to the practice and opinion of all nations and all ages. The doctrine, which founds all lawful government on an original contract, or consent of the people, is plainly of this kind; nor has the most noted of its partizans, in prosecution of it, scrupled to affirm, that absolute monarchy is inconsistent with civil society, and so can be no form of civil government at all; and that the supreme power in a state cannot take from any man, by taxes and impositions, any part of his property, without his own consent or that of his representatives. What authority any moral reasoning can have, which leads into opinions so wide of the general practice of mankind, in every place but this single kingdom, it is easy to determine.

The only passage I meet with in antiquity, where the obligation of obedience to government is ascribed to a promise, is in Plato’sCrito: where Socrates refuses to escape from prison, because he had tacitly promised to obey the laws. Thus he builds a tory consequence of passive obedience, on a whig foundation of the original contract.

New discoveries are not to be expected in these matters. If scarce any man, till very lately, ever imagined that government was founded on compact, it is certain, that it cannot, in general, have any such foundation.

The crime of rebellion among the ancients was commonly expressed by the terms νεωτερίζειν, novas res moliri.


From Essays Moral, Political, Literary, edited and with a Foreword, Notes, and Glossary by Eugene F. Miller, with an appendix of variant readings from the 1889 edition by T.H. Green and T.H. Grose, revised edition (Indianapolis: Liberty Fund 1987).

David Hume, "Some Farther Considerations with Regard to Justice"

 Appendix III of Enquiries Concerning the Human Understanding and Concerning the Principles of Morals [1777]

Used with the permission of the Online Library of Liberty.



The intention of this Appendix is to give some more particular explication of the origin and nature of Justice, and to mark some differences between it and the other virtues.

The social virtues of humanity and benevolence exert their influence immediately by a direct tendency or instinct, which chiefly keeps in view the simple object, moving the affections, and comprehends not any scheme or system, nor the consequences resulting from the concurrence, imitation, or example of others. A parent flies to the relief of his child; transported by that natural sympathy which actuates him, and which affords no leisure to reflect on the sentiments or conduct of the rest of mankind in like circumstances. A generous man cheerfully embraces an opportunity of serving his friend; because he then feels himself under the dominion of the beneficent affections, nor is he concerned whether any other person in the universe were ever before actuated by such noble motives, or will ever afterwards prove their influence. In all these cases the social passions have in view a single individual object, and pursue the safety or happiness alone of the person loved and esteemed. With this they are satisfied: in this they acquiesce. And as the good, resulting from their benign influence, is in itself complete and entire, it also excites the moral sentiment of approbation, without any reflection on farther consequences, and without any more enlarged views of the concurrence or imitation of the other members of society. On the contrary, were the generous friend or disinterested patriot to stand alone in the practice of beneficence, this would rather inhance his value in our eyes, and join the praise of rarity and novelty to his other more exalted merits.

The case is not the same with the social virtues of justice and fidelity. They are highly useful, or indeed absolutely necessary to the well-being of mankind: but the benefit resulting from them is not the consequence of every individual single act; but arises from the whole scheme or system concurred in by the whole, or the greater part of the society. General peace and order are the attendants of justice or a general abstinence from the possessions of others; but a particular regard to the particular right of one individual citizen may frequently, considered in itself, be productive of pernicious consequences. The result of the individual acts is here, in many instances, directly opposite to that of the whole system of actions; and the former may be extremely hurtful, while the latter is, to the highest degree, advantageous. Riches, inherited from a parent, are, in a bad man’s hand, the instrument of mischief. The right of succession may, in one instance, be hurtful. Its benefit arises only from the observance of the general rule; and it is sufficient, if compensation be thereby made for all the ills and inconveniences which flow from particular characters and situations.

Cyrus, young and unexperienced, considered only the individual case before him, and reflected on a limited fitness and convenience, when he assigned the long coat to the tall boy, and the short coat to the other of smaller size. His governor instructed him better, while he pointed out more enlarged views and consequences, and informed his pupil of the general, inflexible rules, necessary to support general peace and order in society.

The happiness and prosperity of mankind, arising from the social virtue of benevolence and its subdivisions, may be compared to a wall, built by many hands, which still rises by each stone that is heaped upon it, and receives increase proportional to the diligence and care of each workman. The same happiness, raised by the social virtue of justice and its subdivisions, may be compared to the building of a vault, where each individual stone would, of itself, fall to the ground; nor is the whole fabric supported but by the mutual assistance and combination of its corresponding parts.

All the laws of nature, which regulate property, as well as all civil laws, are general, and regard alone some essential circumstances of the case, without taking into consideration the characters, situations, and connexions of the person concerned, or any particular consequences which may result from the determination of these laws in any particular case which offers. They deprive, without scruple, a beneficent man of all his possessions, if acquired by mistake, without a good title; in order to bestow them on a selfish miser, who has already heaped up immense stores of superfluous riches. Public utility requires that property should be regulated by general inflexible rules; and though such rules are adopted as best serve the same end of public utility, it is impossible for them to prevent all particular hardships, or make beneficial consequences result from every individual case. It is sufficient, if the whole plan or scheme be necessary to the support of civil society, and if the balance of good, in the main, do thereby preponderate much above that of evil. Even the general laws of the universe, though planned by infinite wisdom, cannot exclude all evil or inconvenience in every particular operation.

It has been asserted by some, that justice arises from Human Conventions, and proceeds from the voluntary choice, consent, or combination of mankind. If by convention be here meant a promise (which is the most usual sense of the word) nothing can be more absurd than this position. The observance of promises is itself one of the most considerable parts of justice, and we are not surely bound to keep our word because we have given our word to keep it. But if by convention be meant a sense of common interest; which sense each man feels in his own breast, which he remarks in his fellows, and which carries him, in concurrence with others, into a general plan or system of actions, which tends to public utility; it must be owned, that, in this sense, justice arises from human conventions. For if it be allowed (what is, indeed, evident) that the particular consequences of a particular act of justice may be hurtful to the public as well as to individuals; it follows that every man, in embracing that virtue, must have an eye to the whole plan or system, and must expect the concurrence of his fellows in the same conduct and behaviour. Did all his views terminate in the consequences of each act of his own, his benevolence and humanity, as well as his self-love, might often prescribe to him measures of conduct very different from those which are agreeable to the strict rules of right and justice.

Thus, two men pull the oars of a boat by common convention for common interest, without any promise or contract: thus gold and silver are made the measures of exchange; thus speech and words and language are fixed by human convention and agreement. Whatever is advantageous to two or more persons, if all perform their part; but what loses all advantage if only one perform, can arise from no other principle. There would otherwise be no motive for any one of them to enter into that scheme of conduct.[1]

The word natural is commonly taken in so many senses and is of so loose a signification, that it seems vain to dispute whether justice be natural or not. If self-love, if benevolence be natural to man; if reason and forethought be also natural; then may the same epithet be applied to justice, order, fidelity, property, society. Men’s inclination, their necessities, lead them to combine; their understanding and experience tell them that this combination is impossible where each governs himself by no rule, and pays no regard to the possessions of others: and from these passions and reflections conjoined, as soon as we observe like passions and reflections in others, the sentiment of justice, throughout all ages, has infallibly and certainly had place to some degree or other in every individual of the human species. In so sagacious an animal, what necessarily arises from the exertion of his intellectual faculties may justly be esteemed natural.[2]

Among all civilized nations it has been the constant endeavour to remove everything arbitrary and partial from the decision of property, and to fix the sentence of judges by such general views and considerations as may be equal to every member of society. For besides, that nothing could be more dangerous than to accustom the bench, even in the smallest instance, to regard private friendship or enmity; it is certain, that men, where they imagine that there was no other reason for the preference of their adversary but personal favour, are apt to entertain the strongest ill-will against the magistrates and judges. When natural reason, therefore, points out no fixed view of public utility by which a controversy of property can be decided, positive laws are often framed to supply its place, and direct the procedure of all courts of judicature. Where these too fail, as often happens, precedents are called for; and a former decision, though given itself without any sufficient reason, justly becomes a sufficient reason for a new decision. If direct laws and precedents be wanting, imperfect and indirect ones are brought in aid; and the controverted case is ranged under them by analogical reasonings and comparisons, and similitudes, and correspondencies, which are often more fanciful than real. In general, it may safely be affirmed that jurisprudence is, in this respect, different from all the sciences; and that in many of its nicer questions, there cannot properly be said to be truth or falsehood on either side. If one pleader bring the case under any former law or precedent, by a refined analogy or comparison; the opposite pleader is not at a loss to find an opposite analogy or comparison: and the preference given by the judge is often founded more on taste and imagination than on any solid argument. Public utility is the general object of all courts of judicature; and this utility too requires a stable rule in all controversies: but where several rules, nearly equal and indifferent, present themselves, it is a very slight turn of thought which fixes the decision in favour of either party.[3]

We may just observe, before we conclude this subject, that after the laws of justice are fixed by views of general utility, the injury, the hardship, the harm, which result to any individual from a violation of them, enter very much into consideration, and are a great source of that universal blame which attends every wrong or iniquity. By the laws of society, this coat, this horse is mine, and ought to remain perpetually in my possession: I reckon on the secure enjoyment of it: by depriving me of it, you disappoint my expectations, and doubly displease me, and offend every bystander. It is a public wrong, so far as the rules of equity are violated: it is a private harm, so far as an individual is injured. And though the second consideration could have no place, were not the former previously established: for otherwise the distinction of mine and thine would be unknown in society: yet there is no question but the regard to general good is much enforced by the respect to particular. What injures the community, without hurting any individual, is often more lightly thought of. But where the greatest public wrong is also conjoined with a considerable private one, no wonder the highest disapprobation attends so iniquitous a behaviour.


Edition used:

Enquiries Concerning the Human Understanding and Concerning the Principles of Morals by David Hume, ed. L. A. Selby-Bigge, M.A. 2nd ed. (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1902).

[1] This theory concerning the origin of property, and consequently of justice, is, in the main, the same with that hinted at and adopted by Grotius. ‘Hinc discimus, quae fuerit causa, ob quam a primaeva communione rerum primo mobilium, deinde et immobilium discessum est: nimirum quod cum non contenti homines vesci sponte natis, antra habitare, corpore aut nudo agere, aut corticibus arborum ferarumve pellibus vestito, vitae genus exquisitius delegissent, industria opus fuit, quam singuli rebus singulis adhiberent: Quo minus autem fructus in commune conferrentur, primum obstitit locorum, in quae homines discesserunt, distantia, deinde justitiae et amoris defectus, per quem fiebat, ut nec in labore, nec in consumtione fructuum, quae debebat, aequalitas servaretur. Simul discimus, quomodo res in proprietatem iverint; non animi actu solo, neque enim scire alii poterant, quid alii suum esse vellent, ut eo abstinerent, et idem velle plures poterant; sed pacto quodam aut expresso, ut per divisionem, aut tacito, ut per occupationem.’ De jure belli et pacis. Lib. ii. cap. 2. § 2. art. 4 and 5.

[2] Natural may be opposed, either to what is unusual, miraculous, or artificial. In the two former senses, justice and property are undoubtedly natural. But as they suppose reason, forethought, design, and a social union and confederacy among men, perhaps that epithet cannot strictly, in the last sense, be applied to them. Had men lived without society, property had never been known, and neither justice nor injustice had ever existed. But society among human creatures had been impossible without reason and forethought. Inferior animals, that unite, are guided by instinct, which supplies the place of reason. But all these disputes are merely verbal.

[3] That there be a separation or distinction of possessions, and that this separation be steady and constant; this is absolutely required by the interests of society, and hence the origin of justice and property. What possessions are assigned to particular persons; this is, generally speaking, pretty indifferent; and is often determined by very frivolous views and considerations. We shall mention a few particulars.

Were a society formed among several independent members, the most obvious rule, which could be agreed on, would be to annex property to present possession, and leave every one a right to what he at present enjoys. The relation of possession, which takes place between the person and the object, naturally draws on the relation of property.

For a like reason, occupation or first possession becomes the foundation of property.

Where a man bestows labour and industry upon any object, which before belonged to no body; as in cutting down and shaping a tree, in cultivating a field, &c., the alterations, which he produces, causes a relation between him and the object, and naturally engages us to annex it to him by the new relation of property. This cause here concurs with the public utility, which consists in the encouragement given to industry and labour.

Perhaps too, private humanity towards the possessor concurs, in this instance, with the other motives, and engages us to leave with him what he has acquired by his sweat and labour; and what he has flattered himself in the constant enjoyment of. For though private humanity can, by no means, be the origin of justice; since the latter virtue so often contradicts the former; yet when the rule of separate and constant possession is once formed by the indispensable necessities of society, private humanity, and an aversion to the doing a hardship to another, may, in a particular instance, give rise to a particular rule of property.

I am much inclined to think, that the right of succession or inheritance much depends on those connexions of the imagination, and that the relation to a former proprietor begetting a relation to the object, is the cause why the property is transferred to a man after the death of his kinsman. It is true; industry is more encouraged by the transference of possession to children or near relations: but this consideration will only have place in a cultivated society; whereas the right of succession is regarded even among the greatest Barbarians.

Acquisition of property by accession can be explained no way but by having recourse to the relations and connexions of the imagination.

The property of rivers, by the laws of most nations, and by the natural turn of our thoughts, is attributed to the proprietors of their banks, excepting such vast rivers as the Rhine or the Danube, which seem too large to follow as an accession to the property of the neighbouring fields. Yet even these rivers are considered as the property of that nation, through whose dominions they run; the idea of a nation being of a suitable bulk to correspond with them, and bear them such a relation in the fancy.

The accessions, which are made to land, bordering upon rivers, follow the land, say the civilians, provided it be made by what they call alluvion, that is, insensibly and imperceptibly; which are circumstances, that assist the imagination in the conjunction.

Where there is any considerable portion torn at once from one bank and added to another, it becomes not his property, whose land it falls on, till it unite with the land, and till the trees and plants have spread their roots into both. Before that, the thought does not sufficiently join them.

In short, we must ever distinguish between the necessity of a separation and constancy in men’s possession, and the rules, which assign particular objects to particular persons. The first necessity is obvious, strong, and invincible: the latter may depend on a public utility more light and frivolous, on the sentiment of private humanity and aversion to private hardship, on positive laws, on precedents, analogies, and very fine connexions and turns of the imagination.

The Works of Voltaire, Volume Four 


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A governor of Cayenne, having brought over with him a savage from Guiana, who had a great share of good natural understanding, and spoke French tolerably well; a bachelor of arts at Paris had the honor of entering into the following conversation with him:

Bachelor.—I suppose, Mr. Savage, you have seen a number of your country people who pass their lives all alone, for it is said that this is the true way of living natural to man, and that society is only an artificial depravity?

Savage.—Indeed I never did see any of those people you speak of. Man appears to me to be born for society, as well as several other species of animals. Each species follows the dictates of its nature; as for us, we live all together in a community.

Bachelor.—How! in community? Why, then, you have fine towns, and cities with walls, and kings who keep a court. You have shows, convents, universities, libraries, and taverns, have you?

Savage.—No; but have I not frequently heard it said that in your continent you have Arabians and Scythians who never knew anything of these matters, and yet form considerable nations? Now we live like these people; neighboring families assist each other. We inhabit a warm climate, and so have very few necessities; we can easily procure ourselves food; we marry; we get children; we bring them up, and then we die. You see this is just the same as among you; some few ceremonies excepted.

Bachelor.—Why, my good sir, then you are not a savage?

Savage.—I do not know what you mean by that word.

Bachelor.—Nor, to tell you the truth, do I myself—stay—let me consider a little—Oh!—a savage? —Why—a savage is—what we call a savage, is a man of a morose, unsociable disposition, who flies all company.

Savage.—I have told you already that we live together in families.

Bachelor.—We also give the name of savage to those beasts who are not tamed, but roam wild about the forests; and from hence we have transferred that appellation to men who inhabit the woods.

Savage.—I go into the woods sometimes, as well as you do, to hunt.

Bachelor.—Pray, now, do you think sometimes?

Savage.—It is impossible to be without some sort of ideas.

Bachelor.—I have a great curiosity to know what your ideas are. What think you of man?

Savage.—Think of him! Why, that he is a twofooted animal, who has the faculty of reasoning, speaking, and who uses his hands much more dexterously than the monkey. I have seen several kinds of men, some white, like you, others copper-colored, like me, and others black, like those that wait upon the governor of Cayenne. You have a beard, we have none; the negroes have wool, you and I have hair. They say, that in your more northerly climates the inhabitants have white hair, whereas that of the Americans is black. This is all I know about man.

Bachelor.—But your soul, my dear sir? your soul? what notion have you of that? whence comes it? what is it? what does it do? how does it act? where does it go?

Savage.—I know nothing about all this, indeed; for I never saw the soul.

Bachelor.—Apropos; do you think that brutes are machines?

Savage.—They appear to me to be organized machines, that have sentiment and memory.

Bachelor.—Well; and pray now, Mr. Savage, what do you think that you, you yourself, I say, possess above those brutes?

Savage.—The gifts of an infinitely superior memory, a much greater share of ideas, and, as I have already told you, a tongue capable of forming many more sounds than those of brutes; with hands more ready at executing; and the faculty of laughing, which a long-winded argumentator always makes me exercise.

Bachelor.—But tell me, if you please, how came you by all this? What is the nature of your mind? How does your soul animate your body? Do you always think? Is your will free?

Savage.—Here are a great number of questions; you ask me how I came to possess what God has given to man? You might as well ask me how I was born? For certainly, since I am born a man, I must possess the things that constitute a man in the same manner as a tree has its bark, roots, and leaves. You would have me to know what is the nature of my mind. I did not give it to myself, and therefore I cannot know what it is; and as to how my soul animates my body, I am as much a stranger to that, too; and, in my opinion, you must first have seen the springs that put your watch in motion before you can tell how it shows the hour. You ask me if I always think? No, for sometimes I have half-formed ideas, in the same manner as I see objects at a distance, confusedly; sometimes my ideas are much stronger, as I can distinguish an object better when it is nearer to me; sometimes I have no ideas at all, as when I shut my eyes I can see nothing. Lastly, you ask me, if my will is free? Here I do not understand you; these are things with which you are perfectly well acquainted, no doubt, therefore I shall be glad you will explain them to me.

Bachelor.—Yes, yes, I have studied all these matters thoroughly; I could talk to you about them for a month together without ceasing, in such a manner as would surpass your understanding. But tell me, do you know good and evil, right and wrong? Do you know which is the best form of government? which the best worship? what is the law of nations? the common law? the civil law? the canon law? Do you know the names of the first man and woman who peopled America? Do you know the reason why rain falls into the sea; and why you have no beard?

Savage.—Upon my word, sir, you take rather too great advantage of the confession I made just now, that man has a superior memory to the brutes; for I can hardly recollect the many questions you have asked me; you talk of good and evil, right and wrong; now, I think that whatever gives you pleasure, and does injury to no one, is very good and very right; that what injures our fellow-creatures, and gives us no pleasure, is abominable; and what gives us pleasure but, at the same time, hurts others, may be good with respect to us for the time, but it is in itself both dangerous to us, and very wrong in regard to others.

Bachelor.—And do you live in society with these maxims?

Savage.—Yes, with our relatives and neighbors, and, without much pain or vexation, we quietly attain our hundredth year; some indeed reach to a hundred and twenty, after which our bodies serve to fertilize the earth that has nourished us.

Bachelor.—You seem to me to have a clear understanding, I would very fain puzzle it. Let us dine together, after which we will philosophize methodically.

Savage.—I find that I have swallowed foods that are not made for me, notwithstanding I have a good stomach; you have made me eat after my stomach was satisfied, and drink when I was no longer dry. My legs are not so firm under me as they were before dinner; my head feels heavy, and my ideas are confused. I never felt this diminution of my faculties in my own country. For my part, I think the more a man puts into his body here, the more he takes away from his understanding. Pray, tell me, what is the reason of all this damage and disorder?

Bachelor.—I will tell you. In the first place, as to what passes in your legs, I know nothing about the matter, you must consult the physicians about that; they will satisfy you in a trice. But I am perfectly well acquainted with how things go in your head. You must know, then, that the soul being confined to no place, has fixed her seat either in the pineal gland, or callous body in the middle of the brain. The animal spirits that rise from the stomach

fly up to the soul, which they cannot affect, they beVol. 4—8

ing matter and it immaterial. Now, as neither can act upon the other, therefore the soul takes their impression, and, as it is a simple principle, and consequently subject to no change, therefore it suffers a change, and becomes heavy and dull when we eat too much; and this is the reason that so many great men sleep after dinner.

Savage.—What you tell me appears very ingenious and profound, but I should take it as a favor if you would explain it to me in such a manner as I might comprehend.

Bachelor.—Why, I have told you everything that can be said upon this weighty affair; but, to satisfy you, I will be a little more explicit. Let us go step by step. First, then, do you know that this is the best of all possible worlds?

Savage.—How! is it impossible for the Infinite Being to create anything better than what we now see?

Bachelor.—Undoubtedly; for nothing can be better than what we see. It is true, indeed, that mankind rob and murder each other, but they all the while extol equity and moderation. Several years ago they massacred about twelve millions of your Americans, but then it was to make the rest more reasonable. A famous calculator has proved that from a certain war of Troy, which you know nothing of, to the last war in North America, which you do know something of, there have been killed in pitched battles no less than five hundred and fiftyfive million six hundred and fifty thousand men, without reckoning young children andwomen buried under the ruins of cities and towns which have been set on fire; but this was all for the good of community; four or five thousand dreadful maladies, to which mankind are subject, teach us the true value of health; and the crimes that cover the face of the earth greatly enhance the merit of religious men, of which I am one; you see that everything goes in the best manner possible, at least as to me.

Now things could never be in this state of perfection, if the soul was not placed in the pineal gland. For—but let me take you along with me in the argument. Let us go step by step. What notion have you of laws, and of the rule of right and wrong; of the to Kalon, as Plato calls it?

Savage.—Well, but my good sir, while you talk of going step by step, you speak to me of a hundred different things at a time.

Bachelor.—Every one converses in this manner. But tell me who made the laws in your country?

Savage.—The public good.

Bachelor.—That word public good means a great deal. We have not any so expressive; pray, in what sense do you understand?

Savage.—I understand by it that those who have a plantation of cocoa trees or maize, have forbidden others to meddle with them, and that those who had them not, are obliged to work, in order to have a right to eat part of them. Everything that I have seen, either in your country or my own, teaches me that there can be no other spirit of the laws.

Bachelor.—But as to women, Mr. Savage, women?

Savage.—As to women, they please me when they are handsome and sweet-tempered; I prize them even before our cocoa trees; they are a fruit which we are not willing to have plucked by any but ourselves. A man has no more right to take my wife from me than to take my child. However, I have heard it said, that there are people who will suffer this; they have it certainly in their will; every one may do what he pleases with his own property.

Bachelor.—But as to successors, legatees, heirs, and collateral kindred?

Savage.—Every one must have a successor. I can no longer possess my field when I am buried in it, I leave it to my son; if I have two, I divide it equally between them. I hear that among you Europeans, there are several nations where the law gives the whole to the eldest child, and nothing to the younger. It must have been sordid interest that dictated such unequal and ridiculous laws. I suppose either the elder children made it themselves, or their fathers, who were willing they should have the pre-eminence.

Bachelor.—What body of laws appears to you the best?

Savage.—Those in which the interests of mankind, my fellow creatures, have been most consulted.

Bachelor.—And where are such laws to be found?

Savage.—In no place that I have ever heard of.

Bachelor.—You must tell me from whence the inhabitants of your country first came? Who do you think first peopled America?

Savage.—God—whom else should we think?

Bachelor.—That is no answer. I ask you from what country your people first came?

Savage.—The same country from which our trees came; really the Europeans appear to me a very pleasant kind of people, to pretend that we can have nothing without them; we have just as much reason to suppose ourselves your ancestors as you have to imagine yourselves ours.

Bachelor.—You are an obstinate little savage.

Savage.—You a very babbling bachelor.

Bachelor.—But, hark ye, Mr. Savage, one word more with you, if you please. Do you think it right in Guiana to put those to death who are not of the same opinion with yourselves?

Savage.—Undoubtedly, provided you eat them afterwards.

Bachelor.—Now you are joking. What do think of the constitution?

Savage.—Your servant.