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(*) In short,
monarchs do nothing, and their ministers do evil: this is the history of
all monarchies.

But if Royalty as such is baneful, as hereditary succession it is
equally revolting and ridiculous. What! there exists among my kind a man
who pretends that he is born to govern me? Whence derived he such right?
From his and my ancestors, says he. But how could they transmit to him
a right they did not possess? Man has no authority over generations
unborn. I cannot be the slave of the dead, more than of the living.
Suppose that instead of our posterity, it was we who should succeed
ourselves: we should not to-day be able to despoil ourselves of the
rights which would belong to us in our second life: for a stronger
reason we cannot so despoil others.

An hereditary crown! A transmissible throne! What a notion! With even a
little reflexion, can any one tolerate it? Should human beings then be
the property of certain individuals, born or to be born? Are we then to
treat our descendants in advance as cattle, who shall have neither will
nor rights of their own? To inherit government is to inherit peoples,
as if they were herds. It is the basest, the most shameful fantasy that
ever degraded mankind.

It is wrong to reproach kings with their ferocity, their brutal
indifference, the oppressions of the people, and molestations of
citizens: it is hereditary succession that makes them what they are:
this breeds monsters as a marsh breeds vipers.

* J. J. Rousseau, Contrat Social.--Author.

The logic on which the hereditary prince rests is in effect this: I
derive my power from my birth; I derive my birth from God; therefore
I owe nothing to men. It is little that he has at hand a complacent
minister, he continues to indulge, conscientiously, in all the crimes of
tyranny. This has been seen in all times and countries.

Tell me, then, what is there in common between him who is master of a
people, and the people of whom he is master? Are these masters really of
their kind? It is by sympathy that we are good and human: with whom does
a monarch sympathize? When my neighbor suffers I pity, because I put
myself in his place: a monarch pities none, because he has never been,
can never be, in any other place than his own.

A monarch is an egoist by nature, the _egoist par excellence_. A
thousand traits show that this kind of men have no point of contact with
the rest of humanity. There was demanded of Charles II. the punishment
of Lauderdale, his favorite, who had infamously oppressed the Scotch.
"Yes," said Charles coolly, "this man has done much against the Scotch,
but I cannot see that he has done anything against my interests." Louis
XIV. often said: "If I follow the wishes of the people, I cannot act the
king." Even such phrases as "misfortunes of the State," "safety of the
State," filled Louis XIV. with wrath.

Could nature make a law which should assure virtue and wisdom invariably
in these privileged castes that perpetuate themselves on thrones, there
would be no objection to their hereditary succession. But let us pass
Europe in review: all of its monarchs are the meanest of men. This one
a tyrant, that one an imbecile, another a traitor, the next a debauchee,
while some muster all the vices. It looks as if fate and nature had
aimed to show our epoch, and all nations, the absurdity and enormity of
Royalty.

But I mistake: this epoch has nothing peculiar. For, such is the
essential vice of this royal succession by animal filiation, the peoples
have not even the chances of nature,--they cannot even hope for a good
prince as an alternative. All things conspire to deprive of reason
and justice an individual reared to command others. The word of young
Dionysius was very sensible: his father, reproaching him for a shameful
action, said, "Have I given thee such example?" "Ah," answered the
youth, "thy father was not a king!"

In truth, were laughter on such a subject permissible, nothing would
suggest ideas more burlesque than this fantastic institution of
hereditary kings. Would it not be believed, to look at them, that there
really exist particular lineages possessing certain qualities which
enter the blood of the embryo prince, and adapt him physically
for royalty, as a horse for the racecourse? But then, in this wild
supposition, it yet becomes necessary to assure the genuine family
descent of the heir presumptive. To perpetuate the noble race of
Andalusian chargers, the circumstances pass before witnesses, and
similar precautions seem necessary, however indecent, to make sure that
the trickeries of queens shall not supply thrones with bastards, and
that the kings, like the horses, shall always be thoroughbreds.

Whether one jests or reasons, there is found in this idea of hereditary
royalty only folly and shame. What then is this office, which may be
filled by infants or idiots? Some talent is required to be a simple
workman; to be a king there is need to have only the human shape, to be
a living automaton. We are astonished when reading that the Egyptians
placed on the throne a flint, and called it their king. We smile at
the dog Barkouf, sent by an Asiatic despot to govern one of his
provinces.(*) But mon-archs of this kind are less mischievous and less
absurd than those before whom whole peoples prostrate themselves. The
flint and the dog at least imposed on nobody. None ascribed to them
qualities or characters they did not possess. They were not styled
'Father of the People,'--though this were hardly more ridiculous than
to give that title to a rattle-head whom inheritance crowns at eighteen.
Better a mute than an animate idol. Why, there can hardly be cited an
instance of a great man having children worthy of him, yet you will have
the royal function pass from father to son! As well declare that a wise
man's son will be wise. A king is an administrator, and an hereditary
administrator is as absurd as an author by birthright.

* See the first year of La Feuille Villageoise, No. 42.--
Author. [Cf. Montaigne's Essays, chap. xii.--_Editor._]

Royalty is thus as contrary to common sense as to com-mon right. But it
would be a plague even if no more than an absurdity; for a people who
can bow down in honor of a silly thing is a debased people. Can they be
fit for great affairs who render equal homage to vice and virtue, and
yield the same submission to ignorance and wisdom? Of all institutions,
none has caused more intellectual degeneracy. This explains the
often-remarked abjectness of character under monarchies.

Such is also the effect of this contagious institution that it renders
equality impossible, and draws in its train the presumption and the
evils of "Nobility." If you admit inheritance of an office, why not that
of a distinction? The Nobility's heritage asks only homage, that of
the Crown commands submission. When a man says to me, 'I am born
illustrious,' I merely smile; when he says 'I am born your master,' I
set my foot on him.

When the Convention pronounced the abolition of Royalty none rose
for the defence that was expected. On this subject a philosopher, who
thought discussion should always precede enactment, proposed a singular
thing; he desired that the Convention should nominate an orator
commissioned to plead before it the cause of Royalty, so that the
pitiful arguments by which it has in all ages been justified might
appear in broad daylight. Judges give one accused, however certain
his guilt, an official defender. In the ancient Senate of Venice there
existed a public officer whose function was to contest all propositions,
however incontestible, or however perfect their evidence. For the rest,
pleaders for Royalty are not rare: let us open them, and see what the
most specious of royalist reasoners have said.

1. _A king is necessary to preserve a people from the tyranny of
powerful men_.

Establish the Rights of Man(1); enthrone Equality; form a good
Constitution; divide well its powers; let there be no privileges, no
distinctions of birth, no monopolies; make safe the liberty of industry
and of trade, the equal distribution of [family] inheritances, publicity
of administration, freedom of the press: these things all established,
you will be assured of good laws, and need not fear the powerful men.
Willingly or unwillingly, all citizens will be under the Law.

1 The reader should bear in mind that this phrase, now used
vaguely, had for Paine and his political school a special
significance; it implied a fundamental Declaration of
individual rights, of supreme force and authority, invasion
which, either by legislatures, law courts, majorities, or
administrators, was to be regarded as the worst treason and
despotism.--_Editor._

2. _The Legislature might usurp authority, and a king is needed to
restrain it_.

With representatives, frequently renewed, who neither administer
nor judge, whose functions are determined by the laws; with national
conventions, with primary assemblies, which can be convoked any moment;
with a people knowing how to read, and how to defend itself; with good
journals, guns, and pikes; a Legislature would have a good deal of
trouble in enjoying any months of tyranny. Let us not suppose an evil
for the sake of its remedy.

3. _A king is needed to give force to executive power_.

This might be said while there existed nobles, a priesthood,
parliaments, the privileged of every kind. But at present who can resist
the Law, which is the will of all, whose execution is the interest of
all? On the contrary the existence of an hereditary prince inspires
perpetual distrust among the friends of liberty; his authority is odious
to them; in checking despotism they constantly obstruct the action of
government. Observe how feeble the executive power was found, after our
recent pretence of marrying Royalty with Liberty.

Take note, for the rest, that those who talk in this way are men who
believe that the King and the Executive Power are only one and the same
thing: readers of _La Feuille Villageoise_ are more advanced.(*)

* See No.



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