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FrRevol_501-550.indd 37 3/16/12 1:13 PM ++++++ PART V* ++++++ CHAPTER I OfWhat Constitutes Legitimate Royalty. In considering royalty, as all institutions ought to be judged with reference to the happiness and dignity ofnations, 1shall say generally, but with due respect to exceptions, that princes of old established families are much more likely to promote the welfare of a country than those princes who have raised themselves to a throne.1 Their talents are commonly less remarkable , but their disposition is more pacific; they have more prejudices but less ambition; they are less dazzled by power because they are told from their infancy that they were destined to it; and they do not fear so much to lose it, which renders them less uneasy and less suspicious. Their mode of living and acting is more simple, as they are under no necessity of recurring to artificial means to strike the public, and have nothing new to gain in point of respect: the habits and traditions serve as their guides. Add to this that outward splendor, a necessary attribute of royalty, seems perfectly in place in the case of princes whose forefathers have stood for centuries at the same elevation of rank. When a man is suddenly raised, * We think it incumbent on us to mention again that a part of the third volume of this work was not revised by Madame de Stael. Some of the subsequent chapters will perhaps appear unfinished; but we felt it a duty to publish the MS. in the state in which we found it, without taking on us to make any addition whatever to the production of the author. It is proper also to remark that this portion of the work was written in the early part of the year 1816, and that it is consequently ofimportance to refer to that period the opinions, whether favorable or unfavorable, pronounced by the author. (Note by the Editors.) 1. For an overview of the historical context of 1814-1), see Furet, Revolutionary France, 269-84. FrRevol_501-550.indd 38 3/16/12 1:13 PM PART V the first in his family, to the highest dignity, he requires the illusion of glory to cast into the shade the contrast between royal pomp and his former situation of a private individual. But the glory calculated to inspire the respect which men willingly bestow on ancient pre-eminence can be acquired only by military exploits; and the world well knows how the great captains and conquerors almost always conductthemselves in civil affairs. Besides, hereditary succession in a monarchy is indispensable to the tranquillity, I will even say to the morality and progress, of the human mind. Elective royalty offers a vast field to ambition; the factions resulting from it have infallibly the effect of corrupting the heart and of diverting the thoughts from every occupation which does not point to the interest oftomorrow. But the prerogatives granted to birth, whether for founding a class of nobility or for fixing the succession to the throne in a single family, stand in need ofbeing confirmed by time; they differ in that respect from natural rights, which are independent of every conventional sanction . Now, the principle ofhereditary succession is best established in old dynasties. But in order that this principle may not become contrary to reason, and to that general good for the sake ofwhich it has been adopted, it must be indissolubly connected with the reign of law. For were it necessary that millions should be governed by one man according to his will or caprice, it would be better, in such a case, that he were a man ofgenius; and genius is more likely to be found when we have recourse to election than when we are regulated by the chance of birth. In no country is hereditary succession more solidly established than in England, although that country has rejected the legitimacy founded on divine right, to substitute for it the hereditary succession sanctioned by a representative government. All sensible people are perfectly able to understand how, by virtue of laws passed by the delegates of a people and accepted by the king, it is the interest of nations, who also are hereditary and even legitimate, to acknowledge a dynasty called to the throne by right of primogeniture. If, on the other hand, royal power was founded on the doctrine that all power proceeds from God, nothing could be more favorable to usurpation; for it is not...

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Additional Information

ISBN
9781614878636
Related ISBN
9780865977327
MARC Record
OCLC
836874520
Pages
834
Launched on MUSE
2014-01-01
Language
English
Open Access
No
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