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This article examines Volney right before and after 1789. Placed together in their intellectual historical context, his works in this period – Travels in Syria and Egypt (1787), Considerations (1788), and The Ruins (1791) – offer a valuable guide into the workings of the “Enlightenment narrative” of “European” and “Oriental” history at the critical juncture of the age of revolutions. The image of Volney as a progressive stadial historian and optimist revolutionary hereby cedes its place to that of Volney the worried republican indulged in the heroic attempt to find a way to build a free and stable polity.


Volney, Enlightenment historiography, French Revolution, republicanism, commerce, luxury, Orient, travel literature, religion


One of the French intellectuals most immersed in history during the late eighteenth century, Constantin-François de Chasseboeuf, better known by the pen name “Volney,” wrote books that vividly show the hopes and worries of the period. A subject worthy of serious scholarly attention, Volney’s writing provides an invaluable window into the historical anxieties of intellectuals at the beginning of the French Revolution. Before the Revolution he was already a noted historian of antiquity. During the Revolution he was a deputy to the Estates General and the National Constituent Assembly, a member of the French Academy, and a professor of history at the École normale. In 1789 he was already so well known that he felt it sufficient to sign his name merely as “Volney”—no “Chasseboeuf,” no “de”—at the Tennis Court Oath.1

Among his publications, The Ruins, or Meditations on the Revolutions of Empires2 is most often cited in studies of “Orientalism,” such as those [End Page 221] of Urs App and Edward Said;3 in studies of European travel literature, most notably those by Alexander Cook and David Denby;4 and also in studies of other varied topics, including literature, rhetoric, and natural rights.5 Despite this diversity in interpretative angles—a natural result of the complexity of The Ruins—a reading of Volney focusing on his historical anxiety is needed, for such a reading may open a path to a richer understanding of the juncture between the eighteenth century and the French Revolution. In the extant literature, The Ruins is detached from the three crucial elements of its historical context: Enlightenment historiography, the French Revolution, and Volney’s other related writings. Jean Gaulmier, still the premier authority on Volney, certainly captures the close relationship among his books published from 1787 to 1791. Nonetheless, Gaulmier does not read them in the light of eighteenth-century Europe’s historical perspectives on the rise and fall of states, which is partly understandable given the imposing salience of Volney’s political stance as a “Girondin” before and an “Idéologue” after the Thermidor. Volney is not typically considered in intellectual contexts that account for Enlightenment historiography. Guido Abbattista correctly argues that the importance and the complexity of this historiography have long been “underrated by interpretative traditions conditioned by Romanticism or idealism.”6 This omission of the context of Enlightenment historiography appears especially questionable when Jonathan Israel reduces Volney to an anti-Rousseauian proponent of a “Radical Enlightenment” characterized by secularism and political representation [End Page 222] and to an unwavering revolutionary republican who opposed Robespierre’s “populism.”7

Conversely, I intend on reading Volney’s work within the context of eighteenth-century European intellectuals’ historical concerns about their society’s future during emerging modernity. The focus is therefore not whether Volney was an “atheist” who spoke in the name of “reason” against religions or was “the precursor to the nineteenth-century historians and positivist sociologists.”8 Instead, I focus on his “historical perspective”—how he viewed the past and the future of his own civilization. The somewhat naïve image of Volney as a progressive stadial historian and optimistic revolutionary can be replaced by an image of him as a worried republican steeped in the Enlightenment’s historiographical tradition and engaged in the heroic attempt to find a way out of the menacing dead-locks of his age. The analysis will proceed chronologically, mainly from 1787 to 1791, a profoundly fruitful phase of his thought around the French Revolution. After the Terror, especially in Lessons of History (1795), Volney was immersed in a one-dimensional struggle against what he regarded as a dangerously inappropriate return of the Ancients—a new phase for Volney, the serious treatment of which is beyond the scope of this particular study.9


Volney published The Ruins in August 1791, and within ten years it was translated into English, German, and Dutch.10 In England, according to E. P. Thompson, it was “the most influential [tract] . . . in Jacobin circles in the 1790s.”11 In the United States, its influence was such that a couple at [End Page 223] the end of the nineteenth century “chose to honor four illustrious infidels—Voltaire, Volney, Ingersoll, and Heston—in the first and middle names they picked for their two sons.”12 The book stimulated many intellectuals during the Revolution and the early nineteenth century; the best known may have been Mary Shelley, who in Frankenstein made the beast overhear the reading of The Ruins.13 The work belonged to historiography informed by the “Enlightened narrative” developed in the case of France through the seventeenth-century transition from humanist tradition to histoire raisonnée.14 It needs to be read as a work born within the context of anxieties built into the eighteenth-century view of the history of European “civilization” and not, as Jean Gaulmier contends, as a “typical revolutionary profession” of faith in linear historical progress and human reason.15 In the eighteenth century it was widely accepted that the feudal history of post-Roman Europe constituted a “Dark Age” to which the Moderns should avoid returning at all costs. The prospect of such a return was closely associated with notions of religious fanaticism, ferocious barbarism, democratic anarchy, agrarian laws, corruption, and often luxury. A great deal of recent research demonstrates that an intense historical anxiety surrounded these questions.16 In addition to those who openly admired “polite” modernity like Voltaire, Montesquieu, David Hume, Adam Smith, [End Page 224] and François-Jean de Chastellux, intellectuals more reserved about modern commercial society, such as Adam Ferguson, were also wary of any reprise of ancient history precisely because they feared that it could bring military government and imperial despotism.17 Even such “Jacobins” as Robespierre, Saint-Just, Barère, and Billaud-Varenne, who were tirelessly reproached by both their political enemies and posterity for allegedly having venerated the Romans, expressed their deep concerns for the prospect of military government and the loss of liberty.18

In this context The Ruins provided less a solution than an elaborate rearticulation of the problems with some hints at remedies. This becomes clearer when it is read in close relation not only to the more general historiography of the eighteenth century but also to Volney’s previous publications, Travels in Syria and Egypt (1787) and Considerations on the Current War between the Turks and the Russians (1788).19 He began writing The Ruins in the late 1780s, and it clearly bears the imprint of Travels and Considerations. The publication of The Ruins was only postponed due to his close participation in the pre-Revolutionary crisis. L’esprit des journaux also underlined the continuity between Travels and The Ruins.20 It is therefore necessary to look closely at Travels and Considerations, although they come from a significantly different political context, before delving into The Ruins. I will examine Considerations first, for it alludes to the historical setting in which Travels was written.

Considerations was a direct intervention into the Russo-Turkish War. Volney expressed deep concerns about the rise of the Turks: in his eyes the Ottoman rulers jeopardized both the liberty of the Turkish people and the commercial and polite modernity of Europe. This stance provoked a refutation from Claude-Charles de Peyssonnel, the former French General Consul in İzmir. He argued that Volney had little knowledge of Turkey and that his suggestions for Russia and other European states to use force against it was [End Page 225] dangerously misleading.21 Mercure de France also intervened from Peyssonnel’s side, dismissing Volney as one of the “subaltern polemical and political writers.”22

Volney’s contention was that the Ottomans were weakened by a long period of despotic rule and were showing “all the symptoms of decadence”: their empire was “nothing more than an empty ghost” and its army was “composed of peasants and vagabonds assembled in haste, led by unenlightened commanders.”23 The Turks “lack[ed] population, culture, arts, commerce, . . . and military art.”24 He was “assured of the fall of their Empire.”25 As for Russia, he argued that since the reign of Peter the Great, the country had been “marching to the opposite side of the Turkish Empire.” After immense reforms Russia had become a stronger state, and its “progress in civilization” would increase over time, as it had just commenced.26 The weakness of the Ottomans did not assuage his fears; he worried that if they defeated the Russians, Europe would face grave danger. He argued, in light of the large amount of European trade with Asia, that it was better for France that the enlightened Russians, rather than the despotic Turks, “surround Asia.” France should renounce its policy of backing Turkey and side instead with Russia.27 It was impossible to “conduct a rich commerce for a long time with a country that was ruining itself.”28

Volney saw deep-seated reasons for the Orient’s decline, and his Travels was obsessed with this problem. He traveled to the East from 1783 to 1785 as part of a secret mission at the request of Vergennes.29 The Travels was not just a travelogue but was, in a more important sense, a lengthy report of this journey, one closely related to France’s strategy concerning the Ottoman Empire and Egypt. The Travels was also directed toward the contemporary trade in books; it was a huge success among learned circles. Catherine II sent a medal decoration to Volney in honor of the work, which he accepted but later renounced in December 1791, saying he could not [End Page 226] keep it when the Empress was overtly protecting the émigrés.30 The Travels was a comprehensive work of social anthropology, a detailed and elegant critique of civilizations. A contemporary review remarked on the striking difference between The Travels and Claude-Étienne Savary’s Letters on Egypt: the novelty of approach demonstrated by The Travels was well noted.31 Volney did not describe his itinerary or his adventures but instead painstakingly recorded the climate, soil, population, customs, government, revenue, religion, and military of the nations in the lands of Egypt and Syria—evidence that leads us to conclude, with Gaulmier, that the work was at once both a report to Vergennes and a public intervention in the debate on France’s strategy regarding the East.32 Despite taking the form of travel literature in the title and the preface, the primary goal of The Travels was to prove the Turks’ inability to regenerate their despotic polity and to show the potential danger were they ever to return to power on the eastern front of Europe.

In a set of depictions and arguments inspired by Montesquieuan political sociology, Volney tried to discern the correct set of relations among nature, mode of subsistence, government, war, and liberty. He made it clear that the Orient had the wrong set, and that to marvel at the Orient was just as absurd as to revere Greek and Roman antiquity. For him the Orient was a fallen civilization—a cautionary example, not a model to follow, and certainly not an ideal diplomatic partner.

Volney began The Travels by discussing the Mamluks, Druze, Greeks, and Turks; he tried to demonstrate that their customs and manners were closely related to their respective geographical positions, topography, agriculture, governments, and religions.33 He categorically rejected Montesquieu’s thesis about the decisive influence of climate and argued that the true reason for the inertia of the people and the birth of despotism had to lay elsewhere. The wars of the Assyrians, the empires of the Persians, and the Parthians’ rivalry with Rome were sufficient counterexamples to Montesquieu’s thesis that hot climates generated inertia. Volney searched around for an alternative explanation. How could one account for the sight of the “modern Greeks so much degraded amidst the ruins of Sparta and Athens” [End Page 227] when it certainly could not be “alleged that the climate has changed?” Even if it could, the changes to climate would have occurred irregularly, rendering it unreliable as an explicative factor.34 The Egyptian people worked surprisingly well under blazing heat.35 The sun did not make a population lazy: rich soil did. But much more crucial than the natural quality of land and abundance of food were the “social institutions called government and religion.”36 The downfall of the once prosperous and industrious ancient states was, Volney argued, the result not of the climate but of religion and the cupidity of rulers. His most arresting account of the effects of religion was given in regard to the Muslims who were “raised with the prejudices of fatalism” and were “firmly persuaded that all was predestined.” This made them endure with “resignation” the endless “misfortune” imposed by the Sultans—unlike the Greeks, who craved ever more blessings from their capricious gods.37

Even more important than religion was the character of the political regime: government was always the “radical source” of problems.38 Where the rulers had all the land, where the despot regarded his territory and population as his private possession, where the inheritance of property was prohibited, “where the cultivator could not enjoy the fruit of his labor,” and “where there was no security in the use” of property, there would be neither agriculture nor industry. Such was “the condition of Egypt.”39 Syria was not much different, for the governor of each province held absolute power as a representative of the sultan and yet was prevented by short-term rotations from effectively becoming king of the region; every governor would reap the riches of the province without implementing long-term measures that would only benefit his successor. Governors would often go through the streets and kill any well-off man and confiscate his property: everyone concealed property and labored no more than required for the absolute necessities. The “arbitrary power of the Sultan” was a double-edged sword that struck “agriculture, arts, commerce, population, i.e. everything which constitutes the power of the state, i.e. the power of the Sultan himself.”40

The Travels, written to provide an argument against the French alliance with Turkey and involvement in Egypt, turned out to be the seedbed [End Page 228] of The Ruins and its search for an escape route from the collapse of states and civilizations. Under despotism, Volney thought, agriculture and industry were stifled by military conquests and the luxuries of commerce. Criticizing what he considered to be a shortsighted question by the French merchants as to why the people in Egypt were ungrateful to the fallen Mamluk leader Ali Bey Al-Kabir, he contended that

In vain may the people be told that the honor of the empire, the glory of the nation, the encouragement of commerce, and the improvement of fine arts require such and such measures. The necessity of living comes before everything; and when the multitude lack bread, they have at least a right to refuse to praise and admire. What did it matter to the Egyptian people that Ali Bey had conquered the Sidon, Mecca, and Syria, if these conquests only worsened, instead of bettering, their fate? . . . When the inhabitants of Cairo and the peasants in the villages were starving to death, were they wrong to murmur against Ali Bey? Were they wrong to blame the commerce with India, if all its advantages were concentrated in a few hands? When Ali spent 225,000 livres in the useless handle of a kandjar, . . . had not the people the right to detest his luxury?41

With this, Volney had his own country’s Grand Siècle and the warring eighteenth-century Europeans in mind. Further on in The Ruins he sarcastically invoked the “lakes dug up in the dry ground” to denounce the extravagance of Versailles.42 In his view, Europe should not imitate Egyptian commerce, where the lowly people had no spending power and the rich spent fortunes on the “finished luxury goods”; this hardly contributed to “the riches of Egypt and the benefit of the nation.”43 Luxury-based commerce was detrimental to industry. For Volney liberty was not an abstract moral value but a concrete engine of growth in population, agriculture, and commerce. The Travels demonstrated that these could not be considered in isolation.

Volney lamented the steep fall of the “blacks” of Egypt—that they, who had once given “arts, sciences, and even language” to Europe, were now Europeans’ slaves considered as not having “the same intelligence as [End Page 229] white men” and that their slavery was justified by the so-called “friends of liberty and humanity.”44 His distress was evident throughout the work: “if formerly the states of Asia enjoyed this magnificence, who can assure us that those of Europe will not one day suffer the same reverse?”45

The Considerations and The Travels thus demonstrate the centrality of his anxiety about the fall of modern Europe. He nevertheless had reasons for optimism: he found his worry to be “yet more useful” in that it forced the European states to reconsider their future with a view toward potential dangers. There lay the “merit of history,” namely that “by remembering the past, it lets the present era anticipate the costly fruits of experience.” And this “goal of history” was better approached by travel, he argued, because the observer was “better able than the posthumous historian to grasp the facts in their totality, unknot their relations, explain the causes, in a word analyze the whole working of the complicated political machine.” Building on this ambitious connection between travel and history, at the end of Travels, he set himself the task of writing a work that would instruct European governments on how to avoid the fate of Turkey and demonstrate “how the abuse of authority, by bringing about the misery of individuals, becomes ruinous to the power of a state.”46 I shall now turn to The Ruins.


The dialectic of prosperity and decline received a more focused treatment in The Ruins. Though co-conceived with The Travels, by the time of first publication in 1791 it appeared as unmistakably “revolutionary,” invoking the “virtuous dogma of equality.”47 Between 1788 and 1791, Volney was immersed in the events of the French Revolution. In the pre-Revolution crisis of 1788 he published a pamphlet arguing for an “entirely free” election on the basis of suffrage “equally balanced from corps to corps, from individual to individual.” Opposing the claims of the nobility, he contended that “the Estates General must represent the Nation in the most extended sense,” though this did not mean acknowledging the competence to those “unfree and living in direct dependence of someone else, such as all men in [End Page 230] service, soldiers, sailors, domestic servants, and mercenaries.”48 Volney was a celebrated figure by the time he reached Versailles as a deputy of the Third Estate. His lodgings were frequented by deputies and he befriended Lanjuinais and Le Chapelier.49 Jacques-Pierre Brissot also remarked that he was close to Volney.50 The royalist pamphleteer Galart de Montjoie listed Volney among the leaders of the nascent Breton Club with “Sieyès, Mirabeau, Barnave, and Pétion.”51 After more than a year of turbulent politics, he ceased to actively participate in the debates of the Constituent Assembly and concentrated on writing The Ruins in the winter of 1790–1791. Gaulmier’s suggestion that he was then a typical “man of 1789” who liked neither the “illusions” of “the Girondin” or the “audacity” of “the Jacobin” is inaccurate, since in 1790 these were not yet distinct groups.52

In The Ruins, Volney argued that since nature has made all men equal with “the same organs, sensations, and wants, it has thereby declared that it has given to everyone the same right to make use of its treasures, and that all men are equal in the order of nature.” This equality assured that each man was created to become free, “independent of each other.”53 Equality came first, and liberty was “derived” as a consequence. He pointed out that the Declaration of the Rights of Man and of the Citizen had made a mistake by reversing this order, but also added that it was not a serious defect at a time when the “science of the rights of man” had just been envisioned.54 This view was radical enough to be picked up and castigated. A certain Jouvin, for example, said it was something “only demagogues adopt.”55

The Ruins, however, was not merely a manifesto of revolutionary confidence. At its core, it contained a rich meditation on historical anxiety. It attempted to present a kind of global history that went beyond the familiar realms of Greece and Rome by taking account of the rise and fall of the once “powerful cities of Tyre, Sidon, Ashkelon, Gaza, and Beirut.”56 This geographical scope of Gibbonian flavor was closely linked to the universalist claims of the French Revolution. Volney later complained in 1795 that [End Page 231] “our classics of Europe only ever spoke of the Greeks, the Romans, the Jews.”57 The constitution of Sparta, being “a regulation worthy of the monks of La Trappe,” had “condemned a nation of thirty thousand people never to increase in population or territory.” The Greeks and the Romans who formed “a number of small and semi-barbarous states, poor and piratical, divided, and enemies by birth and by prejudice” should not be regarded as composing the totality of the “antiquity.”58

The Catholic writer Étienne Jondot vehemently criticized this point.59 Finding no nation in Asia and pre-Roman Europe which merited a place in “universal history,” Jondot insisted that only those influenced by the Greeks and the Romans came to be “civilized” and should be the proper subjects of such.60 But for Volney classical examples, especially that of Rome, were just as much failed cases as were the fallen states of the Orient. As for the Romans, “such a quick passage from their republican despotism to their profound servility under the emperors” indicated that they were not worth imitating. The solution to the vicissitudes of time had to be sought elsewhere.61 He claimed that the history of Western antiquity had to be expanded to include the East so that the search for the “general” causes of decline could be effectively substantiated. In a more generalized and abstract fashion than in The Travels, and in a more direct conversation with preceding Enlightenment histories, The Ruins tried to make sense of the complex relations that liberty had with religion and government.

In the opening pages of The Ruins the narrator revisits the itineraries of The Travels, finding “fields abandoned, villages deserted, and cities in ruins.”62 He sits among the tombstones and monuments—an unmistakable allusion to Gibbon’s trip to Rome in October 1764 where he first thought of writing The History of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire “among the ruins of the Capitol”63—wondering what made once opulent empires turn to dust. Then, when the “Génie of the tombs and ruins” appears before the narrator, he puts forth the vital questions: “By what [End Page 232] causes do empires rise and fall? From what causes are prosperity and misfortunes of nations born? Finally, on what principles should peace of societies and happiness of man be established?” The Génie generously promises to “reveal the wisdom of tombstones and the science of centuries”: thus begins Volney’s conjecture on measures to prevent the fall of empires.64 This speculation illuminates the problems underlying the political thought of the French revolutionaries. The history of empires mattered because it was inextricably associated with the contemporary prospect for liberty, a point that was not overlooked by the revolutionaries. In October 1791, for example, La Feuille villageoise commented that The Ruins, “inspired by the highest philosophy and the vastest erudition, . . . merits to be presented [not only to the National Assembly as it had been but also] to the entire world.” If Young and Hervey had written a “moral lesson” on the vanished cities, the journal remarked, Volney was the first to write a “political lesson” using the same background.65

In his discussion of the ills that destroyed governments and civilizations, Volney presented a set of straightforward measures to prevent history from repeating itself. Taxation had to be rationally designed and levied through representation. Property had to be broadly distributed so that the citizens would retain their interests in the preservation of the state. Responsibility of government, transparency of administration, and abolition of aristocratic privileges were necessary to shorten the distance between the governors and the governed. Society had to be “enlightened” to avert “fanaticism.” He promoted a single system of law with the bitter reproach that tyrants elaborated the “science of oppression” by making laws that severely punished the deeds of the ruled, while condoning structural injustice that served the ruler in the name of legal justice.66 This list of remedies, developed by Volney the historian, reads like a credo of the republican majority in the revolutionary decade and shows that the French Revolution was in part a response to deep-seated concerns of the eighteenth century heretofore insufficiently stressed by historians.

In the conjectural history of The Ruins, states were small and weak when initially formed. They therefore had to treat their citizens as free individuals: man without liberty was man without patrie, and he could not be counted on to defend the state from foreign invasion. If oppressed, people could leave and “establish their independence in the open land.” Thus the [End Page 233] liberty that man had enjoyed in the state of nature was not lost at this stage. In these small states the tactic of divide and rule did not work because communication was easy and confusion of interests rarely occurred. Egalitarian distribution of property checked slavery and despotism: “everybody had property, so nobody needed to sell himself, and the despot could not find mercenaries to recruit.” This combination of military and economic relations directly supported the well-being of citizens and their common interest in the preservation of the state. The continuity between The Travels and The Ruins is clear: in The Travels, Volney had associated the wide distribution of property with liberty for the people and security for the state, finding the causes of the frailty of Asian states in the concentration of property in the hands of despots and their courtiers.67

Thriving commercial centers were the fruits of property, liberty, and geographical good fortune: thus “the accumulated riches of India and of Europe successively raised the splendor of a hundred metropolises on the banks of the Nile and the Mediterranean, of the Tigris and the Euphrates.” While this could foster material overabundance, because the people had straightforward manners and liberty reigned at this stage of historical development, the surplus was wisely invested in such public works as “the wells of Tyre, the dykes of the Euphrates, the underground pipes of Media, . . . the aqueducts of Palmyra.”68 Thus, in this historical assessment, liberty was compatible with commerce. Moreover, the former prevented the corruption of the latter. Volney argued that the coexistence of frugality and superfluity was possible if the citizens enjoyed liberty and security. Under such conditions they could fully deploy their faculties for individual and common goals—tantamount to making “social institutions conform to the true laws of nature.” Immense public works did not overburden the state or suffocate liberty, since they were “the products of equal and common cooperation,” a stark contrast to public works such as pyramids built under despotism.69

Luxury entailed the most hideous and fruitless labor: hunting parks, gardens, lakes, and palaces were unmistakable signs of such labor. A Fénelonian voice is clearly heard in these parts of The Ruins, condemning luxury as the evil that destroyed prosperous and virtuous states. Voluminous extravagance ruined Egypt, Volney argued, and the resources spent in building three pyramids in Giza would have been much better spent in building a large canal near Alexandria.70 The vital question of modern political [End Page 234] economy was whether commerce-generated luxury could be compatible with virtue and stability. Figures no less diverse than Vertot, Montesquieu, Voltaire, Rousseau, Smith, Ferguson, and Hume were deeply troubled by this.71 Like Rousseau and Smith, Volney endorsed the thesis that luxury had brought down Rome and the feudal states.72

Such considerations led him to further explore the sources of decline. He moved on to the part of history in which “audacious and fierce cupidity” corrupted the laws, institutions, and governments of advanced societies, leading to their destruction. When the strong began to enslave the weak, when inequality of force, which was nothing more than the “accident of nature,” was mistaken to be the law of nature, the slavery of individuals was bred, inevitably leading to the slavery of nations.73 With this, Volney countered the ancient philosophers including Plato and Aristotle who had argued in favor of the inherent inequality of men. Volney thought that their view had the effect of endorsing the “right of the strongest,” which was the source of the ancient West’s misfortune: endless wars and slavery among the “Gauls, Romans, and Athenians.” From inequality and corruption arose despotism.74


While the verdict was not the end goal, it did provide the cure. If the loss of liberty and the fall of empires were associated, and if they were repeated throughout history, then precisely how could the symptoms of the process be recognized and treated? The central assumptions of his moral view were reflected in Volney’s detailed account of the steps through which despotism had progressed in the fallen empires: within social relations man becomes ambitious; power corrupts man; cupidity is the fountain of tyranny. The working mechanism of ambition, cupidity, and corruption depended on the combination of political, economic, cultural, and military institutions. Each [End Page 235] problem was associated with other symptoms, and the totality of their relations to the political sphere provided the basis for the elaboration of remedies.

Volney found the source of decline to be rooted in the empowerment of the aristocratic minority and the degradation of the weak majority into slavery, both on domestic and international levels. He argued, significantly, that the force of vicious historical cycles had been working beneath the rise and fall of empires. His view reversed the order of Polybius’s circle, who thought that the cycle of constitutions could never be stopped, that all polities would eventually decay and initiate the next cycle, and that the cycle began with despotism and ran to kingship, tyranny, aristocracy, oligarchy, democracy, and finally to ochlocracy.75 But for Volney it was the other way around: starting from democracy and moving to aristocracy and then to monarchy. No single system could suffice to prevent the fall of states.

Volney began his search on the domestic level, mediated by the history of governments. Early states dissolved when discord destroyed their social contracts, allowing for the rise of “anarchy,” employed here as a synonym of “democracy.” He thought that when citizens constituted a democratic government to protect their liberty, some of the appointed agents would use the means at their disposal to build factions and foment divisions among the people, all for the sake of greater power and perpetual office: these were “the inconveniences of democracy.”76 Democracy came after, not with, early small states and was a political form already deprived of felicity and liberty. The democratic experience of the Greeks earned nothing but blame from Volney, as eighteenth-century common sense would have held.77 Volney’s critical view of democracy demonstrates the fallacy of regarding him, as in Jonathan Israel’s work, as “the revolutionary democratic vanguard.”78 [End Page 236]

At a democracy’s zenith, “aristocracy” was formed through the establishment of privileges. But under this system “the state was tormented by the passions of the great and the rich.” Elsewhere, under theocracy, the “weakness of the human soul” empowered the clergy, who gave false oracles in exchange for sacrifices and tributes, and “the states were tormented by the passions of priests.” When a nation decided at some point to give power to a single person, monarchy was formed. Such concentration of power, however, was not necessarily the result of a legitimate consent, since it often happened through the tumultuous process of dissension and factional struggles.79 The monarch would employ a vile political machine:

Opposing the interests or the prejudices to each other, he sowed division and hatred, promised to the poor the spoils of the rich, to the rich the enslavement of the poor . . . and isolating all citizens by distrust, he created his force out of their weakness . . . With the army, he levied contributions; with those contributions, he had the army at his command; by playing the cards of wealth and office this way, he tied a whole people in unfathomable knots, and the states withered away in the slow consumption of despotism.80

Kings could not be trusted; monarchy was not the solution. No regime seemed able to avoid decline. When faced with this dilemma, Volney did not opt for a mixed government; he did not reflect extensively on it, since the crucial question for him seemed to lie elsewhere. To Volney, the same degenerative mechanism was at play in all forms of government, because man was everywhere an animal of passions: “an eternal circle of vicissitudes sprang from an eternal circle of passions.”81 Taming passions and fostering reason became vital for preserving liberty.

On the international level, victory and conquest brought misfortune: the winners were not “rendered happier.” Rather, their condition became “instead more upsetting and more miserable day by day,” because liberty disappeared as states grew larger.82 Provinces were united to form a kingdom, and kingdoms an empire. In the growth of states, Volney identified two adverse effects of peace and liberty. First, the balance of power was broken as some states grew larger and some did not. Second, the empire [End Page 237] that triumphed over its small neighbors could not maintain strength in proportion to its expanded conquest because large states needed complex administration that fostered secret conduct, which in turn resulted in corruption. In large states, as the high officials governed by “violence and fraud,” the people saw them as “public enemies” and the “harmony between the governors and the governed was lost.”83

Volney explained how regaining peace and liberty was not easy once states fell into war and despotism. Despots tried to harness great developments of power within and beyond the nation lest they be opposed. As taxes increased to feed the despot’s taste for luxury and glory, the poor had to abandon the land and sell it to the rich. The ancient empires thus became populated with wealthy men who feared the people. The number of citizens who took interest in the defense of the state greatly decreased, and mercenaries had to be recruited. Divided against one another while supporting their own governments’ vice, these nations enfeebled themselves and one another because the true power of the state invariably languished as liberty waned.84

This “historical” reading illuminates the fact that, for Volney, the domestic and the international were inseparable: perpetual slavery and war went hand-in-hand while human ignorance and passion faced with stupefied awe such despotic products of forced labor as the pyramids or the gardens of Versailles. When strong neighboring nations finally invaded, empires fell, anarchy returned, and the cycles of history started anew.

Standing on the shoulders of the Enlightenment historians who regarded medieval “darkness” with regret and contempt,85 Volney thought that religion made the problem more severe by seizing upon two weak points of humans’ passions: fear and hope. The hell-fearing religious man “oppressed his senses [and] hated his life; self-denying and anti-social morality plunged the nations into the inertia of death.”86 For hope:

Because the provident Nature endowed the heart of man with an inexhaustible hope, when his desires for happiness were miscarried on this earth, he pursued it in another world. By a sweet illusion he created for himself another patrie, an asylum . . . besotted with [End Page 238] an imaginary world, man despised the world of Nature: for chimerical hopes, he neglected the reality. His life seemed to be nothing more than a troublesome journey, a painful dream; his body nothing but a prison, obstacle to his felicity; and the earth nothing more than a place of exile and of pilgrimage, not worthy of cultivation any more. Then a sacred indolence was established in the political world; fields were deserted, deserts multiplied, empires were depopulated, monuments were neglected; and everywhere ignorance, superstition, and fanaticism, combining their effects, multiplied the devastations and the ruins.87

Religion thus controlled human passions in a way destructive to liberty and civilizations. The Russians and the Turks fought each other, one praying to and fighting in the cause of Christ, and the other in the name of Allah. Clergymen on both sides sanctioned the war.88 Fanatical doctrines were deadly: “it has been calculated that Caesar made three million men perish; it would be interesting to make the same calculation with every founder of religion.”89

His historical enquiries had led Volney to adopt a relativist position on religion. He suggested that if religion were amended with “true principles,” that is, if the relativity of various sacred histories were acknowledged and deist rationality were tolerated by religious people, Christianity and Islam would revert to insignificance. “If God were to gather all past and present generations, in their ocean, what would become of the sects of Christians and Muslims who call themselves universal?” The “equal and common justice” of Volney’s deist god would assure that “his sun shines equally on all races of men, on the white as on the black, on the Jew, on the Muslim, on the Christian” and that prosperity reigns in “every empire . . . where the powerful are bound by laws, where the poor are protected by laws, where the weak live in safety.”90

Regarding religious matters, he was basically a French philosophe, a rationalist. And though he only incompletely shared Rousseau’s idea of natural or civil religion that was to be transformed later by Robespierre into the Cult of the Supreme Being, he agreed with Rousseau’s vicar that each religious doctrine held only relative truth value.91 The Ruins was born [End Page 239] within the myriad Enlightenment views on religion that condemned its “fanaticism” or “enthusiasm” as the source of the fall of civilizations but generally did not go as far as to adopt overt atheism. Like Rousseau in Profession of Faith of a Savoyard Vicar but with more erudition, Volney built his radically rationalist proposition on a comparative study of such religions as Christianity, Islam, Buddhism, Brahmanism, Zoroastrianism, and Sabianism. He denounced the clergy of all religions everywhere for having formed “secret associations” that were “enemies to the rest of society,” for exacting from the people a sumptuous amount of tax “in the name of mendicancy,” and for preaching the glory of kings “to win their favors.”92 For this he earned himself virulent criticism from professed Christian authors.93 Joseph Priestley castigated him and ranked him among such “unbelievers” as Voltaire, Rousseau, d’Alembert, Franklin, Gibbon, and Hume.94 Volney indeed shared Hume’s disdain for religious enthusiasm, and he replied to Priestley with sarcasm.95 For Volney religious belief was not far from “ignorance” in comparison to “science” and the “law of nature”; it sufficed to state that every man was “equal before God” and attend to earthly problems.96 He recommended a healthy skepticism; the argument of The Ruins was that most existing religions approved only blind “faith” and thereby deprived man of sensible “doubt,” which was instrumental to improving knowledge and overcoming “ignorance and passions.” Nations had to escape from the “delirium of superstition” to avoid the trap of “fanaticism” and the “yoke of false doctrine.”97 The diversity of religious systems in the world was proof that all religious debates were centered on an intangible and unimportant idea of god. Therefore, he argued, “theological and religious opinions” that [End Page 240] belonged to the “world of fantastic beings” must be “deprived of all civil effects” in this “world of realities.”98

Returning to the design of government, Volney rejected kings, nobles, and priests. After the second half of 1791, a republican argument emerged in France for a viable alternative to all forms of monarchy in light of the fiasco of Louis XVI’s flight to Varennes.99 The idea of representative government offered no concrete solution for Volney, however, since neither the representatives nor the people could be completely trusted and no historically-tested mechanism for adjustment of the political system existed; pace Jonathan Israel, he was no straightforwardly optimistic advocate of either revolutionary democracy or representative government.100 The republican dream of constitutional perfection assumed that man could not be trusted with power. Mere avoidance of monarchy was insufficient, and the underlying dilemma of the Revolution was manifest: the dynamics between law and passions dictated that representative institutions themselves could be given neither full confidence nor complete distrust. At this point, the dilemma of The Ruins is also clear. The fate of the state depended on both the society and the individuals, since a state could prosper only upon its citizens’ virtuous manners, but these were men whose natures were also guided by passions.

Eighteenth-century political thought was predicated upon the view that all republics eventually failed because of cupidity, and history seemed to prove the vulnerability of republics in large commercial states.101 Particularly, as the war progressed, it seemed that the French state would either succumb to the coalition of foreign powers or become a belligerent empire under a military government. For French republicans, the former option had to be avoided at all costs; but the latter was no better, as such a prospect had been dreaded throughout the century as the horrifying vision of “universal monarchy.”


Situating Volney within his century’s anxieties about the prospect of modern liberty yields a larger picture of Enlightenment historiography and the [End Page 241] French Revolution. His concerns about the threats of the cycle of history and the vicissitudes of civilizations, and his search for a way to build a free and stable government fit for modern France are significant because they show how the well-traveled French philosophe, building on the intellectual tradition of the eighteenth century, negotiated his journey, at once hopeful and distressed, through the last days of the Old Regime and the early days of the Revolution.

By examining Volney’s political pamphlet, travelogue, and conjectural history together, this essay has offered a newly contextualized reading of his works. This reading provides a way to see how revolutionary thought was rooted in the historical concerns of the eighteenth century. The merit of this approach lies in the warning it issues against adopting binary categories that can easily populate the historiography of an event as immense and contested as the French Revolution. In a telling way, Volney did not make simplistic choices between the “radical” and the “moderate,” between “conservatism” and “progressivism,” or between “republicanism” and “royalism”; he approached the predicament of his time through historical thinking, not as a disciplinary practice but as a mode of navigating through the vast complexity of social, political, and international relations in an age of commerce, war, and revolutions. [End Page 242]

Minchul Kim
University of St Andrews.

I would like to thank Nathan G. Alexander, Colin Kidd, Richard Whatmore, and two anonymous referees for their helpful comments and suggestions. This research has been financially supported by the Kim Hee-Kyung Scholarship Foundation for European Humanities. All translations of source material are my own unless specified otherwise.


1. Jean Gaulmier, L’Idéologue Volney, 1757–1820: Contribution à l’histoire de l’orientalisme en France (Beyrouth, 1951; Geneva: Slatkine Reprints, 1980), 168–69. Citations refer to the Slatkine edition.

2. Volney, Les Ruines, ou Méditation sur les révolutions des empires (Paris: Desenne, 1791),

3. Urs App, The Birth of Orientalism (Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 2010), 440–79; Edward Said, Orientalism (New York: Pantheon, 1978).

4. Alexander Cook, “Entre l’ancien et le nouveau monde: C. F. Volney et la politique des récits de voyages en France, 1782–1803,” Annales historiques de la Révolution française 385 (2016): 87–107; David Denby, “Enlightenment Travel Accounts: Constantin de Volney,” in Cross-Cultural Travel: Papers from the Royal Irish Academy Symposium on Literature and Travel, ed. Jane Conroy (New York: Peter Lang, 2003), 99–110.

5. Clifton Cherpack, “Volney’s Les Ruines and the Age of Rhetoric,” Studies in Philology 54, no. 1 (1957): 65–75; Dan Edelstein, The Terror of Natural Right: Republicanism, the Cult of Nature, and the French Revolution (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2009), 195–97; Michael Heffernan, “Historical Geographies of the Future: Three Perspectives from France, 1750–1825,” in Geography and Enlightenment, ed. David Livingstone and Charles Withers (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1999), 125–64; Sophie Lacroix, “Volney et le thème des ruines,” Revue de métaphysique et de morale 1 (2007): 89–102; Sanja Perovic, “Lyricist in Britain; Empiricist in France: Volney’s Divided Legacy,” in Historical Writing in Britain, 1688–1830, ed. Benjamin Dew and Fiona Price (Basingstoke: Palgrave, 2014), 127–44.

6. Guido Abbattista, “The Historical Thought of the French Philosophes,” in The Oxford History of Historical Writing: 1400–1800, vol. 3, ed. José Rabasa et al. (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2012), 406: Abbattista does not analyze Volney in this work.

7. Jonathan Israel, Democratic Enlightenment: Philosophy, Revolution, and Human Rights, 1750–1790 (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2011); Israel, Revolutionary Ideas: An Intellectual History of the French Revolution from The Rights of Man to Robespierre (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 2014). For criticism on Israel’s binary categorization of the ideas behind the French Revolution, see Minchul Kim, “Book Review: Revolutionary Ideas,” History of European Ideas 41, no. 6 (2015): 825–30.

8. Gaulmier, L’Idéologue Volney, 207–29, 338–45.

9. Volney, Leçons d’histoire prononcées à l’École normale, in Séances des Écoles normales (Paris: Le Cercle social, 1799–1800), Seconde séance.

10. Jed Buchwald and Diane Josefowicz, The Zodiac of Paris: How an Improbable Controversy over an Ancient Egyptian Artifact Provoked a Modern Debate between Religion and Science (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 2010), 39.

11. E. P. Thompson, The Making of the English Working Class (London: Victor Gollancz, 1963), 98–99.

12. Leigh Eric Schmidt, Village Atheists: How America’s Unbelievers Made Their Way in a Godly Nation (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 2016), 165.

13. Wessel Krul, “Volney, Frankenstein, and the Lessons of History,” in Revolutionary Histories: Cultural Crossings 1775–1875, ed. Wil Verhoeven (Basingstoke: Palgrave, 2002), 26–28.

14. Phyllis Leffler, “From Humanist to Enlightenment Historiography: A Case Study of François Eudes de Mézeray,” French Historical Studies 10, no. 3 (1978): 416–38.

15. Gaulmier, L’Idéologue Volney, 201–38.

16. István Hont, Jealousy of Trade: International Competition and the Nation-State in Historical Perspective (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 2005); Hont, Politics in Commercial Society: Jean-Jacques Rousseau and Adam Smith (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 2015); Antoine Lilti, “La civilisation est-elle européenne? Ecrire l’histoire de l’Europe au XVIIIe siècle,” in Penser l’Europe au XVIIIe siècle, ed. Lilti and Céline Spector (Oxford: Voltaire Foundation, 2014), 139–66; Karen O’Brien, Narratives of Enlightenment: Cosmopolitan History from Voltaire to Gibbon (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1997); J. G. A. Pocock, Barbarism and Religion, vol. 1, The Enlightenments of Edward Gibbon (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1999), 10; Pocock, Barbarism and Religion, vol. 2, Narratives of Civil Government (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1999); Michael Sonenscher, Before the Deluge: Public Debt, Inequality, and the Intellectual Origins of the French Revolution (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 2007); Hugh Trevor-Roper, History and the Enlightenment (New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, 2010), 1–16; Richard Whatmore, “Burke on Political Economy,” in The Cambridge Companion to Edmund Burke, ed. David Dwan and Christopher Insole (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2012), 80–91.

17. François-Jean de Chastellux, De la félicité publique, 2 vols. (Amsterdam: Marc-Michel Rey, 1772); Iain McDaniel, Adam Ferguson in the Scottish Enlightenment: The Roman Past and Europe’s Future (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 2013).

18. Kim, “Republicanism in the Age of Commerce and Revolutions: Barère’s Reading of Montesquieu,” French History 30, no. 3 (2016): 368–70.

19. Volney, Voyage en Syrie et en Égypte, pendant les années 1783, 1784 et 1785, 2 vols. (Paris: Volland, 1787), (vol. 1) and (vol. 2); Volney, Considérations sur la guerre actuelle des Turcs (Paris [printed “London” to evade censorship], 1788),

20. L’esprit des journaux françois et étrangers (Paris: Valade, 1793), 8:6.

21. Claude-Charles de Peyssonnel, Examen du livre intitulé Considérations sur la guerre actuelle des Turcs, par M. de Volney (Amsterdam, 1788).

22. Mercure de France, collected in L’esprit des journaux (1788), 10:34–62.

23. Volney, Considérations, 4–14.

24. Volney, Considérations, 22.

25. Volney, Considérations, 25–26.

26. Volney, Considérations, 37–40, 51–54; Marc Belissa, La Russie mise en Lumières: Représentations et débats autour de la Russie dans la France du XVIIIe siècle (Paris: Kimé, 2010).

27. Volney, Considérations, 41–43, 67–78.

28. Volney, Considérations, 91.

29. Gaulmier, L’Idéologue Volney, 43–63.

30. Le Moniteur, December 5, 1791, “Lettre de M. Volney à M. le baron de Grimm, chargé d’affaires de S. M. l’impératrice des Russies [sic],” December 4, 1791; Stephen Prickett, Modernity and the Reinvention of Tradition: Backing into the Future (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2009), 90.

31. Journal de Paris, May 8, 1787 (Paris: Quillau, 1787), 553–54; L’esprit des journaux (1787), 9:91–115.

32. Gaulmier, L’Idéologue Volney, 43–63.

33. Volney, Voyage, 2:62–70.

34. Volney, Voyage, 2:424–26.

35. Volney, Voyage, 1:184–85.

36. Volney, Voyage, 2:432.

37. Volney, Voyage, 2:450–51.

38. Volney, Voyage, 2:417.

39. Volney, Voyage, 1:171–72.

40. Volney, Voyage, 2:345–48.

41. Volney, Voyage, 1:128–29.

42. Volney, Ruines, 70.

43. Volney, Voyage, 1:191.

44. Volney, Voyage, 1:76–77.

45. Volney, Voyage, 2:456.

46. Volney, Voyage, 2:456–58.

47. Volney, Ruines, vii–xii.

48. Volney, Des conditions nécessaires à la légalité des États-Généraux (Rennes, 1788), 15–19.

49. Gaulmier, L’Idéologue Volney, 159–60.

50. Jacques-Pierre Brissot, Mémoires de Brissot, 2 vols. (Paris: Ladvocat, 1830), 2:321.

51. Galart de Montjoie, Histoire de la conjuration de Maximilien Robespierre, 2nd ed. (Paris: Maret, 1796), 53.

52. Gaulmier, L’Idéologue Volney, 192–95.

53. Volney, Ruines, 138–40.

54. Volney, Ruines, 348n3.

55. Jouvin, Examen d’un écrit intitulé Les Ruines . . . par Mr Volney (London: Le Boussonnier & Co., 1799), v.

56. Volney, Ruines, 29.

57. Volney, Leçons d’histoire. Quotations from this work are from the English translation: Lectures on History (London: James Watson, 1831), 6.

58. Volney, Lectures, 85–86.

59. Jacques-Paul Migne, Nouvelle encyclopédie théologique (Paris: Migne, 1851), 2:905–906.

60. Étienne Jondot, Observations critiques sur les Leçons d’histoire du cen Volney (Paris: Migneret, 1799–1800).

61. Volney, Ruines, 342, note m.

62. Volney, Ruines, 2.

63. Edward Gibbon, The History of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire, vols. 4–6 (London: Strahan and Cadell, 1788), 6:646.

64. Volney, Ruines, 24–25.

65. La Feuille villageoise, October 6, 1791 (Paris: Desenne, 1791), 3:27,

66. Volney, Ruines, 73.

67. Volney, Ruines, 56–59; Volney, Voyage, 1:171–72 and 2:345–48.

68. Volney, Ruines, 59–61.

69. Volney, Ruines, 60–61.

70. Volney, Ruines, 343, note o.

71. Jeremy Jennings, “The Debate about Luxury in Eighteenth- and Nineteenth-Century French Political Thought,” Journal of the History of Ideas 68, no. 1 (2007): 79–105; John Shovlin, The Political Economy of Virtue: Luxury, Patriotism, and the Origins of the French Revolution (Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 2006); Sonenscher, Sans-Culottes: An Eighteenth-Century Emblem in the French Revolution (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 2008); Till Wahnbaeck, Luxury and Public Happiness: Political Economy in the Italian Enlightenment (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2004).

72. Hont, Politics in Commercial Society.

73. Volney, Ruines, 62–63.

74. Volney, Ruines, 340–41, note l.

75. Polybius, The Histories, ed. Brian McGing (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2010), 6:3–10; James Blythe, Ideal Government and the Mixed Constitution in the Middle Ages (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 1992), 24–29; McGing, Polybius’ Histories (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2010), 170–74; Pocock, Barbarism and Religion, 3: The First Decline and Fall (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2003), 32–34.

76. Volney, Ruines, 64–65.

77. Mogens Herman Hansen, “The Tradition of the Athenian Democracy, AD 1750–1990,” Greece & Rome 39, no. 1 (1992): 14–30; Wilfried Nippel, Ancient and Modern Democracy: Two Concepts of Liberty?, trans. Keith Tribe (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2016); Pierre Rosanvallon, “L’histoire du mot démocratie à l’époque moderne,” in Situations de la démocratie, ed. Marcel Gauchet, Pierre Manent, and Rosanvallon (Paris: Seuil, 1993), 11–29.

78. Israel, Revolutionary Ideas, 29.

79. Volney, Ruines, 65–66.

80. Volney, Ruines, 67.

81. Volney, Ruines, 67.

82. Volney, Ruines, 68–69.

83. Volney, Ruines, 68–72.

84. Volney, Ruines, 70–72.

85. Chastellux, Giannone, Voltaire, Hume, and Rousseau are but a few examples of the sea of intellectuals in the Enlightenment who held this position. The best illustration is found in Pocock, Barbarism and Religion, 2: Narratives of Civil Government.

86. Volney, Ruines, 74–75.

87. Volney, Ruines, 75–76.

88. Volney, Ruines, 78–86; Volney, Considérations, 2–3.

89. Volney, Ruines, 349n7.

90. Volney, Ruines, 88–91.

91. Jean-Jacques Rousseau, Profession of Faith of a Savoyard Vicar (Rockville: Wildside Press, 2008); Rousseau, “On the Social Contract,” in The Basic Political Writings, ed. and trans. Donald A. Cress (Indianapolis: Hackett Publishing, 2011), 243–51; Bruno Bernardi, “La religion civile, institution de tolérance?” in Rousseau and “L’Infâme,” ed. Ourida Mostefai and John T. Scott (Amsterdam: Rodopi, 2009), 153–72; Éric Desmons, “Réflexions sur la politique et la religion, de Rousseau à Robespierre,” Revue française d’histoire des idées politiques 29 (2009): 77–93; Morris Dickstein, “The Faith of a Vicar: Reason and Morality in Rousseau’s Religion,” Yale French Studies 28 (1961): 48–54; Noel Parker, “Religion and Politics: Voltaire’s and Rousseau’s Enlightenment Strategies,” Distinktion: Journal of Social Theory 7, no. 1 (2006): 93–115.

92. Volney, Ruines, 148–330.

93. Jondot, Observations; Jean-Frederic van Beeck-Calkoen, Examen du système de Depuis et Volney sur l’origine de la religion mosaïque et chretienne (Amsterdam: Hengst, 1802); Cook, “Volney and the science of morality in revolutionary France,” Humanities Research 16, no. 2 (2010): n55.

94. Joseph Priestley, Observations on the Increase of Infidelity (London: J. Johnson, 1796), 7–9, 47; Priestley, 3rd ed. (Philadelphia: Thomas Dobson, 1797), xix–xx, 110–40.

95. Volney, “Answer to Dr Priestley,” The Anti-Jacobin Review and Magazine (London: J. Whittle, 1799), 2:331–34, 443–46.

96. Volney, La loi naturelle, ou Catéchisme du citoyen français (Paris: Sallior, 1793), 80.

97. Volney, Ruines, 122–23.

98. Volney, Ruines, 328.

99. Timothy Tackett, When the King Took Flight (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 2003).

100. Volney, Ruines, 133–37; Israel, Democratic Enlightenment; Israel, Revolutionary Ideas.

101. Pocock, The Machiavellian Moment: Florentine Political Thought and the Atlantic Republican Tradition (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 1975).

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