In lieu of an abstract, here is a brief excerpt of the content:

chapter xviii 641 chapter xviii Of Civil War. It is a question very much debated, whether a sovereign is bound to observe the common laws of war towards rebellious subjects who have openly taken up arms against him? A flatterer, or a prince of a cruel and arbitrary disposition, will immediately pronounce that the laws of war were not made for rebels, for whom no punishment can be too severe. Let us proceed more soberly, and reason from the incontestable principles above laid down. In order clearly to discover what conduct thesove- reign ought to pursue towards revolted subjects, we must, in the first place, recollect that all the sovereign’s rights are derived from those of the state or of civil society, from the trust reposed in him, from the obligation he lies under of watching over the welfare of the nation, of procuring her greatest happiness, of maintaining order, justice, and peace within her boundaries (Book I. Chap. IV.). Secondly, we must distinguish the nature and degree of the different disorders which may disturb the state, and oblige the sovereign to take up arms, or substitute forcible measures instead of the milder influence of authority. The name of rebels is given to all subjects who unjustly take up arms against the ruler of the society, whether their view be to deprive him of the supreme authority, or to resist his commands in some particular instance , and to impose conditions on him. A popular commotion is a concourse of people who assemble in a tumultuous manner, and refuse to listen to the voice of their superiors, whether the design of the assembled multitude be levelled against the superiors themselves, or only against some private individuals. Violent commotions of this kind take place when the people think themselves aggrieved; and there is no order of men who so frequently give rise to them, as the tax-gatherers. If the rage of the malcontents be particularly levelled at the magistrates, or others vested with the public authority, and they proceed to a formal disobedience or acts of open violence, this is called a sedition. When the evil spreads,—when it infects the majority of the inhabitants of a city or province, and gains such strength that§287. Foundation of the sovereign’s rights against the rebels.§288. Who are rebels.§289. Popular commotion, insurrection, sedition. 642 book iii: of war even the sovereign himself is no longer obeyed,—it is usual more particularly to distinguish such a disorder by the name of insurrection. All these violences disturb the public order, and are state crimes, even when arising from just causes of complaint. For violent measures are forbidden in civil society: the injured individuals should apply to the magistrate for redress; and if they donotobtainjusticefromthatquarter, they may lay their complaints at the foot of the throne. Every citizen should even patiently endure evils which are not insupportable, rather than disturb the public peace. A denial of justice on the part of the sovereign, or affected delays, can alone excuse the furious transports of a people whose patience has been exhausted,—and even justify them, if the evils be intolerable, and the oppression great and manifest. But what conduct shall the sovereign observe towards the insurgents? I answer, in general,—such conduct as shall at the same time be the most consonant to justice, and the most salutary to the state. Although it be his duty to repress those who unnecessarily disturb the public peace, he is bound to shew clemency towards unfortunate persons, to whom just causes of complaint have been given, and whose sole crime consists in the attempt to do themselves justice: they have been deficient in patience ra- ther than fidelity. Subjects who rise against their prince without cause, deserve severe punishment: yet, even in this case, on account of the number of the delinquents, clemency becomes a duty in the sovereign . Shall he depopulate a city, or desolate a province, in order to punish her rebellion? Any punishment, however just in itself, whichembraces too great a number of persons, becomes an act of downright cruelty . Had the insurrection of the Netherlands against Spain been totally unwarrantable, universal detestation would still attend the memory of the duke of Alva,72 who made it his boast that he had caused twenty thousand heads to be struck off by the hands of the common executioner . Let not his sanguinary imitators expect to justify their enormities by the plea of necessity. What...


Additional Information

Related ISBN
MARC Record
Launched on MUSE
Open Access
Back To Top

This website uses cookies to ensure you get the best experience on our website. Without cookies your experience may not be seamless.