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A Philosophical Dictionary, Volume 9   By: (1694-1778)

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First Page:

A PHILOSOPHICAL DICTIONARY

VOLUME IX

By

VOLTAIRE

EDITION DE LA PACIFICATION

THE WORKS OF VOLTAIRE

A CONTEMPORARY VERSION

With Notes by Tobias Smollett, Revised and Modernized New Translations by William F. Fleming, and an Introduction by Oliver H.G. Leigh

A CRITIQUE AND BIOGRAPHY

BY

THE RT. HON. JOHN MORLEY

FORTY THREE VOLUMES

One hundred and sixty eight designs, comprising reproductions of rare old engravings, steel plates, photogravures, and curious fac similes

VOLUME XIII

E.R. DuMONT

PARIS : LONDON : NEW YORK : CHICAGO

1901

The WORKS of VOLTAIRE

"Between two servants of Humanity, who appeared eighteen hundred years apart, there is a mysterious relation. Let us say it with a sentiment of profound respect: JESUS WEPT: VOLTAIRE SMILED. Of that divine tear and of that human smile is composed the sweetness of the present civilization."

VICTOR HUGO.

LIST OF PLATES VOL. IX

THE HOUDON BUST Frontispiece

GENIUS INSPIRING THE MUSES

SAMSON DESTROYING THE TEMPLE

JOHN LOCKE

[Illustration: Voltaire.]

VOLTAIRE

A PHILOSOPHICAL DICTIONARY

IN TEN VOLUMES

VOL. IX.

PROPERTY STATES GENERAL

PROPERTY.

"Liberty and property" is the great national cry of the English. It is certainly better than "St. George and my right," or "St. Denis and Montjoie"; it is the cry of nature. From Switzerland to China the peasants are the real occupiers of the land. The right of conquest alone has, in some countries, deprived men of a right so natural.

The general advantage or good of a nation is that of the sovereign, of the magistrate, and of the people, both in peace and war. Is this possession of lands by the peasantry equally conducive to the prosperity of the throne and the people in all periods and circumstances? In order to its being the most beneficial system for the throne, it must be that which produces the most considerable revenue, and the most numerous and powerful army.

We must inquire, therefore, whether this principle or plan tends clearly to increase commerce and population. It is certain that the possessor of an estate will cultivate his own inheritance better than that of another. The spirit of property doubles a man's strength. He labors for himself and his family both with more vigor and pleasure than he would for a master. The slave, who is in the power of another, has but little inclination for marriage; he often shudders even at the thought of producing slaves like himself. His industry is damped; his soul is brutalized; and his strength is never exercised in its full energy and elasticity. The possessor of property, on the contrary, desires a wife to share his happiness, and children to assist in his labors. His wife and children constitute his wealth. The estate of such a cultivator, under the hands of an active and willing family, may become ten times more productive than it was before. The general commerce will be increased. The treasure of the prince will accumulate. The country will supply more soldiers. It is clear, therefore, that the system is beneficial to the prince. Poland would be thrice as populous and wealthy as it is at present if the peasants were not slaves.

Nor is the system less beneficial to the great landlords. If we suppose one of these to possess ten thousand acres of land cultivated by serfs, these ten thousand acres will produce him but a very scanty revenue, which will be frequently absorbed in repairs, and reduced to nothing by the irregularity and severity of the seasons. What will he in fact be, although his estates may be vastly more extensive than we have mentioned, if at the same time they are unproductive? He will be merely the possessor of an immense solitude. He will never be really rich but in proportion as his vassals are so; his prosperity depends on theirs... Continue reading book >>




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