previous next
[20] none were so eager to fill, and as it were
chap. III.} 1763.
to burden the fleeting moment with pleasure; and none so ready to renounce pleasure, and risk life for a caprice, or sacrifice it for glory. Self-indulgent, they abounded in offices of charity. Often exhibiting the most heartless egoism, they were also easily inflamed, with a most generous enthusiasm. Seemingly lost in profligate sensuality, they were yet capable of contemplative asceticism. To the superficial observer, they were a nation of atheists; and yet they preserved the traditions of their own Bossuet and Calvin, of Descartes and Fenelon. In this most polished and cultivated land,—whose government had just been driven out from North America, whose remaining colonies collectively had but about seventy thousand white persons, whose commerce with the New World could only be a consequence of American Independence,—two opposite powers competed for supremacy; on the one side monarchy, claiming to be absolute; on the other, free thought, which was becoming the mistress of the world.

Absolute power met barriers on every side. The arbitrary Central will was circumscribed by the customs and privileges of the provinces, and the independence of its own agents. Many places near the king were held by patent; the officers of his army were poorly paid, and often possessed of large private fortunes; the clergy, though named by him, held office irrevocably, and their vast revenues, of a hundred Rand thirty millions of livres annually, were their own property. His treasury was always in need of money, not by taxes only, but by loans, which require the credit

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 United States License.

An XML version of this text is available for download, with the additional restriction that you offer Perseus any modifications you make. Perseus provides credit for all accepted changes, storing new additions in a versioning system.

hide Places (automatically extracted)

View a map of the most frequently mentioned places in this document.

Sort places alphabetically, as they appear on the page, by frequency
Click on a place to search for it in this document.
North America (1)

Download Pleiades ancient places geospacial dataset for this text.

hide People (automatically extracted)
Sort people alphabetically, as they appear on the page, by frequency
Click on a person to search for him/her in this document.
Rand (1)
Fenelon (1)
Descartes (1)
Bossuet (1)
hide Dates (automatically extracted)
Sort dates alphabetically, as they appear on the page, by frequency
Click on a date to search for it in this document.
1763 AD (1)
hide Display Preferences
Greek Display:
Arabic Display:
View by Default:
Browse Bar: