previous next
[30] of his times with flashes of sagacity; and spoke out the
chap. II.} 1763.
hidden truth, that the old social world was smitten with inevitable decay; that if there is life still on earth, ‘it is the masses alone that live.’1

At the very time when Bedford and Choiseul were concluding the peace that was ratified in 1763, Rousseau, in a little essay on the social compact, published to the millions, that while true legislation has its source in divinity, the right to exercise sovereignty belongs inalienably to the people; but rushing eagerly to the doctrine which was to renew the world, he lost out of sight the personal and individual freedom of mind. The race as it goes forward, does not let fall one truth, but husbands the fruits of past wisdom for the greater welfare of the ages to come. Before government could grow out of the consenting mind of all, there was need of all the teachers who had asserted freedom for the reason of each separate man. Rousseau claimed power for the public mind over the mind of each member of the state, which would make of democracy a homicidal tyranny. He did not teach that the freedom, and therefore the power, of the general mind, rests on the freedom of each individual mind; that the right of private judgment must be confirmed before the power of the collective public judgment can be justified; that the sovereignty of the people presupposes the entire personal freedom of each citizen. He demanded for his commonwealth the right of making its power a religion, its opinions a creed, and of punishing every dissenter with exile or death;2 so that his precepts

1 The phrase is from Cousin.

2 Rousseau: Du Contrat Social, livre IV. chap. VIII. ‘Il y a done une profession de foi purement civile dont il appartient au souverain de fixer les articles. . . Sans pouvoir obliger personne à les croire, il peut bannir de laetat quiconque ne les croit pas. . . Que, si quelqu'un, apres avoir reconnu publiquement ces mimes dogmes, se conduit comme ne les croyant pas, qu'il soit puni de mort.’

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.

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.
Jean Jacques Rousseau (3)
Due Choiseul (1)
Bedford (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 (2)
hide Display Preferences
Greek Display:
Arabic Display:
View by Default:
Browse Bar: