Four (4) double-spaced pages on the topic below:

Compare and contrast Aristotle’s and John Locke’s ideals of citizenship. How do these differing ideals of citizenship reflect different ideas about human flourishing—about what makes a good life? Whose vision of citizenship is more convincing, and why? Substantiate your answer with textual evidence. 

Read the following before writing:

Aristotle, Politics (c. 347-322 B.C.E.), Book III:  
Chapters 6-9, 11-12, 15-18, Book IV: Chapters 7-
11, Book VI: Chapters 2-3, Book VII: Chaps. 1-3,
13-14, 17, Book VIII: Chapters 1-2 (48pp.) 

John Locke, Second Treatise of Government (1690),  
Chapters 1-5, 7-9 Chapters 10-15, 18-19  

Benjamin Constant(Attached)



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Political Writings





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British Library Cataloguing in Publication data
Constant, Benjamin

The political writings of Benjamin Constant.

I. Political science

I. Title II. Fontana, Biancamaria

320 JA71

Library ofCongress Cataloguing in Publication data
Constant, Benjamin, 1767-1830

The political writings of Benjamin Constant.

(Cambridge texts in the history of political thought)


Includes index.

I. Political science – Collected works.

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JC179·c6713 1988 320′.092’4 87-24228

ISBN 0 52 I 30336 2 hardback

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Bibliographical note
Preface to the first edition
Preface to the third edition
Foreword to the fourth edition


Part I . The spirit ofconquest
I The virtues compatible with war at given stages of social

2 The character of modem nations in relation to war
3 The spirit of conquest in the present condition of Europe
4 Of a military race acting on self-interest alone
5 A further reason for the deterioration of the military class

within the system of conquest
6 The influence of this military spirit upon the internal

condition of nations
7 A further drawback of the formation of this military spirit












Bibliographical note
This translation of Constant’s speech of 18 I 9 on the
liberty of the ancients and the moderns reproduces the
text published in his Co/leaion complete des ouvrages
publits sur Ie gouvemement representatif et 111, constitution
aetuel/e, ou Cout’S de po/itique constitutionnelle, 4 vols.
(Paris and Rouen, 1820), vol 4, pp. 238-74.

The speech contains numerous repetitions and refor­
mulations of passages which appeared in the Spirit of
Conquest and Usurpation and in the Principles ofPolitics.
The general significance of these reformulations is dis­
cussed in the Introduction to this volume. It seemed too
pedantic to indicate the repeated passages one by one in
the annotation, as their presence does not affect the
overall originality and interest of this text.


I wish to submit for your attention a few distinctions, still rather new,
between two kinds of liberty: these differences have thus far remained
unnoticed, or at least insufficiendy remarked. The first is the liberty the
exercise ofwhich was so dear to the ancient peoples; the second the one
the enjoyment ofwhich is especially precious to the modem nations. If
1 am right, this investigation will prove interesting from two different

Firsdy, the confusion of these two kinds ofliberty has been amongst
us, in the all too famous days of our revolution, the cause of many an
evil. France was exhausted by useless experiments, the authors of
which, irritated by their poor success, sought to force her to enjoy the
good she did not want, and denied her the good which she did want.

Secondly, called as we are by our happy revolution (I call it happy,
despite its excesses, because I concentrate my attention on its results)
to enjoy the benefits of representative government, it is curious and
interesting to discover why this form of government, the only one in the
shelter of which we could find some freedom and peace today, was
totally unknown to the free nations of antiquity.

I know that there are writers who have claimed to distinguish traces
ofit among some ancient peoples, in the Lacedaemonian republic for
example, or amongst our ancestors the Gauls; but they are mistaken.

The Lacedaemonian government was a monastic aristocracy, and in
no way a representative government. The power of the kings was
limited, but it was limited by the ephors, and not by men invested with a

30 9

The liberty ojthe ancients compared with that ojthe moderns


mission similar to that which election confers today on the defenders of
our liberties. The ephors, no doubt, though originally created by the
kings, were elected by the people. But there were only five of theln.
Their authority was as much religious as political; they even shared in
the administration of government, that is, in the executive power. Thus
their prerogative, like that of almost all popular magistrates in the
ancient republics, far from being simply a barrier against tyranny,
became sometimes itself an insufferable tyranny.

The regime of the Gauls, which quite resembled the one that a
certain party would like to restore to us,. was at the same time theocratic
and warlike. The priests enjoyed unlimited power. The military class or
nobility had markedly insolent and oppressive privileges; the people
had no rights and no safeguards.

In Rome the tribunes had, up to a point, a representative mission.
They were the organs ofthose plebeians whom the oligarchy – which is
the same in all ages – had submitted, in overthrowing the kings, to so
harsh a slavery. The people, however, exercised a large part of the
political rights directly. They met to vote on the laws and to judge the
patricians against whom charges had been levelled: thus there were, in
Rome, only feeble traces of a representative system.

This system is a discovery of the moderns, and you will see, Gentle­
men, that the condition of the human race in antiquity did not allow for
the introduction or establishment of an institution of this nature. The
ancient peoples could neither feel the need for it, nor appreciate its
advantages. Their social organization led them to desire an entirely
different freedom from the one which this system grants to us.

Tonight’s lecture will be devoted to demonstrating this truth to you.
First ask yourselves, Gentlemen, what an Englishman, a French­

man, and a citizen ofthe United States ofAmerica understand today by
the word ‘liberty’.

For each of them it is the rightto be subjected only to the laws, and to
be neither arrested, detained, put to death or maltreated in any way by
the arbitrary will ofone or more individuals. It is the right ofeveryone to

• If the model of the ancient republics had dominared the politics of the Jacobins,

during the Restoration the return to feudal liberty became the ideal of the mon­

archical ‘reformers’. The most influential contemporary source is: Robert de

Montlosier, D~ II/. “, For a survey of the political interpretations of

France’s feudal past, see: Stanley Mellon, Tht Poli/iCIJI UstS ofHistory, I/. Sludy of

HislorialfJ in II” Frmch Resloration (Stanford, California, 1958); Shirley M. Gruner,

‘Political Historiography in Restoration France’, Hislory IJ.1Id Th{(lry, 8 (1969),



Speech given at the Athettie Royal

express their opinion, choose a profession and practise it, to dispose of
property, and even to abuse it; to come and go without permission, and
without having to account for their motives or undertakings. It is
everyone’s right to associate with other individuals, either to discuss
their interests, or to profess the religion which they and their associates
prefer, or even simply to occupy their days or hours in a way which is
most compatible with their inclinations or whims. Finally it is
everyone’s right to exercise some influence on the administration of the
government, either by electing all or particular officials, or through
representations, petitions, demands to which the authorities are more
or less compelled to pay heed. Now compare this liberty with that of the

The latter consisted in exercising collectively, but directly, several
parts of the complete sovereignty; in deliberating, in the public square,
over war and peace; in forming alliances with foreign governments; in
voting laws, in pronouncing judgements; in examining the accounts,
the acts, the stewardship of the magistrates; in calling them to appear in
front of the assembled people, in accusing, condemning or absolving
them. But if this was what the ancients called liberty, they admitted as
compatible with this collective freedom the complete subjection of the
individual to the authority of the community. You find among them
almost none of the enjoyments which we have just seen form part ofthe
liberty of the modems. All private actions were submitted to a severe
surveillance. No importance was given to individual independence,
neither in relation to opinions, nor to labour, nor, above all, to religion.
The right to choose one’s own religious affiliation, a right which we
regard as one ofthe most precious, would have seemed to the ancients a
crime and a sacrilege. In the domains which seem to us the most useful,
the authority of the social body interposed itself and obstructed the will
of individuals. Among the Spartans, Therpandrus could not add a
string to his lyre without causing offence to the ephors. In the most
domestic of relations the public authority again intervened. The young
Lacedaemonian could not visit his new bride freely. In Rome, the
censors cast a searching eye over family life. The laws regulated
customs, and as customs touch on everything, there was hardly any­
thing that the laws did not regulate.

Thus among the ancients the individual, almost always sovereign in
public affairs, was a slave in all his private relations. As a citizen, he
decided on peace and war; as a private individual, he was constrained,

3 11


The liberty of the ancients compared with that of the moderns

watched and repressed in all his movements; as a member of the
collective body, he interrogated, dismissed, condemned, beggared,
exiled, or sentenced to death his magistrates and superiors; as a subject
of the collective body he could himself be deprived of his status,
stripped of his privileges, banished, put to death, by the discretionary
will of the whole to which he belonged. Among the modems, on the
contrary, the individual, independent in his private life, is, even in the
freest of states, sovereign only in appearance. His sovereignty is re­
stricted and almost always suspended. If, at fixed and rare intervals, in
which he is again surrounded by precautions and obstacles, he exer­
cises this sovereignty, it is always only to renounce it.

I must at this point, Gentlemen, pause for a moment to anticipate an
objection which may be addressed to me. There was in antiquity a
republic where the enslavement ofindividual existence to the collective
body was not as complete as I have described it. This republic was the
most famous of all: you will guess that I am speaking of Athens. I shall
return to it later, and in subscribing to the truth of this fact, I shall also
indicate its cause. We shall see why, ofall the ancient states, Athens was
the one which most resembles the modem ones. Everywhere else social
jurisdiction was unlimited. The ancients, as Condorcet says, had no
notion of individual rights.- Men were, so to speak, merely machines,
whose gears and cog-wheels were regulated by the law. The same
subjection characterized the golden centuries of the Roman republic;
the individual was in some way lost in the nation, the citizen in the city.

We shall now trace this essential difference between the ancients
and ourselves back to its source.

All ancient republics were restricted to a narrow territory. The most
populous, the most powerful, the most substantial among them, was
not equal in extension to the smallest ofmodem states. As an inevitable
consequence of their narrow territory, the spirit of these republics was
bellicose; each people incessantly attacked their neighbours or was
attacked by them. Thus driven by necessity against one another, they
fought or threatened each other constantly. Those who had no ambi­
tion to be conquerors, could still not lay down their weapons, lest they
should themselves be conquered. All had to buy their security, their
independence, their whole existence at the price of war. This was the
constant interest, the almost habitual occupation of the free states of

• J. A. N. Caritat de Condorcet, Sur /’inslnu:twn puhliqu., p. 47.

3 12

Speech given at the Athenie Royal

antiquity. Finally, by an equally necessary result of this way ofbeing, all
these states had slaves.” The mechanical professions and even, among
some nations, the industrial ones, were committed to people in chains.

The modem world offers us a completely opposing view. The
smallest states of our day are incomparably larger than Sparta or than
Rome was over five centuries. Even the division of Europe into several
states is, thanks to the progress of enlightenment, more apparent than
real. While each people, in the past, formed an isolated family, the born
enemy of other families, a mass of human beings now exists, that under
different names and under different forms of social organization are
essentially homogeneous in their nature. This mass is strong enough to
have nothing to fear from barbarian hordes. It is sufficiently civilized to
find war a burden. Its uniform tendency is towards peace.

This difference leads to another one. War precedes commerce. War
and commerce are only two different means of achieving the same end,
that of getting what one wants. Commerce is simply a tribute paid to the
strength of the possessor by the aspirant to possession. It is an attempt
to conquer, by mutual agreement, what one can no longer hope to
obtain through violence. A man who was always the stronger would
never conceive the idea of commerce. It is experience, by proving to
him that war, that is the use of his strength against the strength of
others, exposes him to a variety of obstacles and defeats, that leads him
to resort to commerce, that is to a milder and surer means of engaging
the interest of others to agree to what suits his own. War is all impulse,
commerce, calculation. Hence it follows that an age must come in
which commerce replaces war. We have reached this age.

I do not mean that amongst the ancients there were no trading
peoples. But these peoples were to some degree an exception to the
general rule. The limits of this lecture do not allow me to illustrate all
the obstacles which then opposed the progress ofcommerce; you know
them as well as I do; I shall only mention one of them.

Their ignorance of the compass meant that the sailors of antiquity
always had to keep close to the coast. To pass through the pillars of
Hercules, that is, the straits of Gibraltar, was considered the most
daring of enterprises. The Phoenicians and the Carthaginians, the

• In the 1806 draft, Constant observed: ‘ … slavery, universally practised by the

ancients gave to their mores a severe and cruel imprint, which made it easy for them

to sacrifice gentle affections to political interests.’ E. Hofmann (ed.), Les ‘Principes de

Poliliqul, vol. z, p. 428.

3 13

The liberty of the ancients compared with that of the moderns

most able ofnavigators, did not risk it until very late, and their eX8.Jnplf*r’

for long remained without imitators. In Athens, of which we shall ~:'{~

soon, the interest on maritime enterprises was around 60%, while~i

current interest was only 12 %: that was how dangerous the idea of ..

distant navigation seemed.”

Moreover, if I could permit myself a digression which would uat’

fortunately prove too long, I would show you, Gentlemen, through the
details of the customs, habits, way of trading with others of the tradina
peoples of antiquity, that their commerce was itself impregnated by ~.
spirit of the age, by the atmosphere of war and hostility which sur­
rounded it. Commerce then was a lucky accident, today it is the nOnnal
state of things, the only aim, the universal tendency, the true IifeQf:
nations. They want repose, and with repose comfort, and as a sourceofi:
comfort, industry. Every day war becomes a more ineffective means of
satisfying their wishes. Its hazards no longer offer to individuals bene,: .
fits that match the results of peaceful work and regular exchanges,
Among the ancients, a successful war increased both private and publiq

outcome of these


wealth in slaves, tributes and lands shared out. For the moderns, even.
successful war costs infallibly more than it is worth.

Finally, thanks to commerce, to religion, to the moral and in:­
tellectual progress of the human race, there are no longer slaves amOIlJ
the European nations. Free men must exercise all professions,
for all the needs of society.

It is easy to see, Gentlemen, the inevitable

Firstly, the size of a country causes a corresponding decrease of the
political importance allotted to each individual. The most obscure
republican of Sparta or Rome had power. The same is not true of the
simple citizen of Britain or ofthe United States. His personal influence
is an imperceptible part of the social will which impresses
government its direction.

Secondly, the abolition of slavery has deprived the free population
all the leisure which resulted from the fact that slaves took care of mOSl
ofthe work. Without the slave population of Athens, 20,000 Athenian14
could never have spent every day at the public square in discussions.

Thirdly, commerce does not, like war, leave in men’s lives intervals
of inactivity. The constant exercise of political rights, the daily dis­
cussion of the affairs of the state, disagreements, confabulations, the
whole entourage and movement of factions, necessary agitations, the

3 14

Speech given at the Athettie Royal

compulsory filling, if I may use the term, of the life of the peoples of
antiquity, who, without this resource would have languished under the
weight of painful inaction, would only cause trouble and fatigue to
modem nations, where each individual, occupied with his speculations,
his enterprises, the pleasures he obtains or hopes for, does not wish to
be distracted from them other than momentarily, and as little as

Finally, commerce inspires in men a vivid love ofindividual indepen­
dence. Commerce supplies their needs, satisfies their desires, without
the intervention of the authorities. This intervention is almost always­
and I do not know why I say almost – this intervention is indeed always a
trouble and an embarrassment. Every time collective power wishes to
meddle with private speculations, it harasses the speculators. Every
time governments pretend to do our own business, they do it more
incompetently and expensively than we would.

I said, Gentlemen, that I would return to Athens, whose example
tnight be opposed to some of my assertions, but which will in fact
confirm all of them.

Athens, as I have already pointed out, was of all the Greek republics
the most closely engaged in trade:” thus it allowed to its citizens an
infinitely greater individual liberty than Sparta or Rome. If I could
enter into historical details, I would show you that, among the Athe­
nians, commerce had removed several of the differences which dis­
tinguished the ancient from the modem peoples. The spirit of the
Athenian merchants was similar to that of the merchants of our days.
Xenophon tells us that during the Peloponnesian war, they moved their
capitals from the continent of Attica to place them on the islands of the
archipelago. Commerce had created among them the circulation of
money. In Isocrates there are signs that bills of exchange were used.
Observe how their customs resemble our own. In their relations with
women, you will see, again I cite Xenophon, husbands, satisfied when
peace and a decorous friendship reigned in their households, make
allowances for the wife who is too vulnerable before the tyranny of
nature, dose their eyes to the irresistible power ofpassions, forgive the
first weakness and forget the second. In their relations with strangers,
we shall see them extending the rights ofcitizenship to whoever would,

• Constant’s notes to the 1806 draft show that he derived most of his illustrations and

examples about Athens in this passage from Cornelius de Pauw, Rechl1Tches phi/OSo­

phiques su’ ks Crt”” vol. I, pp. 93ff.

3 1 5

The liberty of the ancients compared with that ofthe moderns

by moving among them with his family, establish some trade or
try. Finally, we shall be struck by their excessive love of individual
independence. In Sparta, says a philosopher, the citizens quicken
step when they are called by a magistrate; but an Athenian would be
desperate if he were thought to be dependent on a magistrate.­

However, as several of the other circumstances which determined’
the character of ancient nations existed in Athens as well; as there was’i ”
slave population and the territory was very restricted; we find there too
the traces of the liberty proper to the ancients. The people made the
laws, examined the behaviour of the magistrates, called Pericles to
account for his conduct, sentenced to death the generals who had
commanded the battle of the Arginusae. Similarly ostracism, that legal.
arbitrariness, extolled by all the legislators of the age; ostracism, which
appears to us, and rightly so, a revolting iniquity, proves that the
individual was much more subservient to the supremacy of the social ,
body in Athens, than he is in any of the free states of Europe today,

It follows from what I have just indicated that we can no longer enjoy
the liberty of the ancients, which consisted in an active and constant
participation in collective power. Our freedom must consist ofpeaceful
enjoyment and private independence. The share which in antiquity
everyone held in national sovereignty was by no means an abstract
presumption as it is in our own day. The will of each individual had real
influence: the exercise of this will was a vivid and repeated pleasure.
Consequently the ancients were ready to make many a sacrifice to
preserve their political rights and their share in the administration of
the state. Everybody, feeling with pride all that his suffrage was worth,
found in this awareness of his personal importance a great

This compensation no longer exists for us today. Lost in the multi­
tude, the individual can almost never perceive the influence he exer­
cises. Never does his will impress itself upon the whole; nothing
confirms in his eyes his own cooperation.

The exercise ofpolitical rights, therefore, offers us but a part of the
pleasures that the ancients found in it, while at the same time the
progress of civilization, the commercial tendency of the age, the com­
munication amongst peoples, have infinitely multiplied and varied the
means of personal happiness.

• Xenophon, De Republi((J L~iu”., VIn, 2 in: J. M:.Moore (ed.), Aristotle and

Xmophon on dtrnocracy and oIigardry (London, 1975).


Speech given at the Athence Royal

It follows that we must be far more attached than the ancients to our
individual independence. For the ancients when they sacrificed that
independence to their political rights, sacrificed less to obtain more;
while in making the same sacrifice, we would give more to obtain less.

The aim of the ancients was the sharing of social power among the
citizens of the same fatherland: this is what they called liberty. The aim
of the modems is the enjoyment of security in private pleasures; and
they call liberty the guarantees accorded by institutions to these

I said at the beginning that, through their failure to perceive these
differences, otherwise well-intentioned men caused infinite evils
during our long and stormy revolution. God forbid that I should
reproach them too harshly. Their error itself was excusable. One could
not read the beautiful pages of antiquity, one could not recall the
actions of its great men, without feeling an indefinable and special
emotion, which nothing modem can possibly arouse. The old elements
of a nature, one could almost say, earlier than our own, seem to awaken
in us in the face of these memories. It is difficult not to regret the time
when the faculties ofman developed along an already trodden path, but
in so wide a career, so strong in their own powers, with such a feeling of
energy and dignity. Once we abandon ourselves to this regret, it is
impossible not to wish to imitate what we regret. This impression was
very deep, especially when we lived under vicious governments, which,
without being strong, were repressive in their effects; absurd in their
principles; wretched in action; governments which had as their
strength arbitrary power; for their purpose the belittling of mankind;
and which some individuals still dare to praise to us today, as ifwe could
ever forget that we have been the witnesses and the victims of their
obstinacy, of their impotence and of their overthrow. The aim of our
reformers was noble and generous. Who among us did not feel his
heart beat with hope at the outset of the course which they seemed to
open up? And shame, even today, on whoever does not feel the need to
declare that acknowledging a few errors committed by our first guides
does not mean blighting their memory or disowning the opinions which
the friends of mankind have professed throughout the ages.

But those men had derived several oftheir theories from the works of
two philosophers who had themselves failed to recognize the changes
brought by two thousand years in the dispositions of mankind. I shall
perhaps at some point examine the system of the most illustrious of

31 7

The liberty ojthe ancients compared with that ofthe moderns Speech given at the Athenee Royal

these philosophers, ofJean-Jacques Rousseau, and I shall show that, by
transposing into our modern age an extent ofsocial power, ofcollective:.
sovereignty, which belonged to other centuries, this sublime genius,
animated by the purest love of liberty, has nevertheless fUrnished
deadly pretexts for more than one kind of tyranny. No doubt, in
pointing out what I regard as a misunderstanding which it is imPOrtant
to uncover, I shall be careful in my refutation, and respectful in my
criticism. I shall certainly refrain from joining myself to the detractors
of a great man. When chance has it that I find myself apparently in
agreement with them on some one particular point, I suspect myself;
and to console myself for appearing for a moment in agreement with
them on a single partial question, I need to disown and denounce with
all my energies these pretended allies.

Nevertheless, the interests of truth must prevail over considerations
which make the glory of a prodigious talent and the authority of an
immense reputation so powerful. Moreover, as we shall see, it is not to
Rousseau that we must chiefly attribute the error against which I am
going to argue; this is to be imputed much more to one of his suc­
cessors, less eloquent but no less austere and a hundred times more
exaggerated. The latter, the abbe de Mably, can be …


Translated by Benjamin Jowett

Batoche Books


BOOK ONE …………………………………………………………………… 3
BOOK TWO ………………………………………………………………… 22
BOOK THREE …………………………………………………………….. 51
BOOK FOUR ………………………………………………………………. 80
BOOK FIVE ………………………………………………………………. 108
BOOK SIX ………………………………………………………………… 140
BOOK SEVEN …………………………………………………………… 152
BOOK EIGHT ……………………………………………………………. 180

Part I

Every state is a community of some kind, and every community is es-
tablished with a view to some good; for mankind always act in order to
obtain that which they think good. But, if all communities aim at some
good, the state or political community, which is the highest of all, and
which embraces all the rest, aims at good in a greater degree than any
other, and at the highest good.

Some people think that the qualifications of a statesman, king, house-
holder, and master are the same, and that they differ, not in kind, but
only in the number of their subjects. For example, the ruler over a few is
called a master; over more, the manager of a household; over a still
larger number, a statesman or king, as if there were no difference be-
tween a great household and a small state. The distinction which is made
between the king and the statesman is as follows: When the government
is personal, the ruler is a king; when, according to the rules of the politi-
cal science, the citizens rule and are ruled in turn, then he is called a

But all this is a mistake; for governments differ in kind, as will be
evident to any one who considers the matter according to the method
which has hitherto guided us. As in other departments of science, so in
politics, the compound should always be resolved into the simple ele-
ments or least parts of the whole. We must therefore look at the elements
of which the state is composed, in order that we may see in what the
different kinds of rule differ from one another, and whether any scien-
tific result can be attained about each one of them.


Part II
He who thus considers things in their first growth and origin, whether a
state or anything else, will obtain the clearest view of them. In the first
place there must be a union of those who cannot exist without each
other; namely, of male and female, that the race may continue (and this
is a union which is formed, not of deliberate purpose, but because, in
common with other animals and with plants, mankind have a natural
desire to leave behind them an image of themselves), and of natural
ruler and subject, that both may be preserved. For that which can fore-
see by the exercise of mind is by nature intended to be lord and master,
and that which can with its body give effect to such foresight is a sub-
ject, and by nature a slave; hence master and slave have the same inter-
est. Now nature has distinguished between the female and the slave. For
she is not niggardly, like the smith who fashions the Delphian knife for
many uses; she makes each thing for a single use, and every instrument
is best made when intended for one and not for many uses. But among
barbarians no distinction is made between women and slaves, because
there is no natural ruler among them: they are a community of slaves,
male and female. Wherefore the poets say,

“It is meet that Hellenes should rule over barbarians;”

as if they thought that the barbarian and the slave were by nature one.
Out of these two relationships between man and woman, master

and slave, the first thing to arise is the family, and Hesiod is right when
he says,

“First house and wife and an ox for the plough,”

for the ox is the poor man’s slave. The family is the association estab-
lished by nature for the supply of men’s everyday wants, and the mem-
bers of it are called by Charondas ‘companions of the cupboard,’ and
by Epimenides the Cretan, ‘companions of the manger.’ But when sev-
eral families are united, and the association aims at something more
than the supply of daily needs, the first society to be formed is the vil-
lage. And the most natural form of the village appears to be that of a
colony from the family, composed of the children and grandchildren,
who are said to be suckled ‘with the same milk.’ And this is the reason
why Hellenic states were originally governed by kings; because the


Hellenes were under royal rule before they came together, as the barbar-
ians still are. Every family is ruled by the eldest, and therefore in the
colonies of the family the kingly form of government prevailed because
they were of the same blood. As Homer says:

“Each one gives law to his children and to his wives.”

For they lived dispersedly, as was the manner in ancient times.
Wherefore men say that the Gods have a king, because they themselves
either are or were in ancient times under the rule of a king. For they
imagine, not only the forms of the Gods, but their ways of life to be like
their own.

When several villages are united in a single complete community,
large enough to be nearly or quite self-sufficing, the state comes into
existence, originating in the bare needs of life, and continuing in exist-
ence for the sake of a good life. And therefore, if the earlier forms of
society are natural, so is the state, for it is the end of them, and the
nature of a thing is its end. For what each thing is when fully developed,
we call its nature, whether we are speaking of a man, a horse, or a
family. Besides, the final cause and end of a thing is the best, and to be
self-sufficing is the end and the best.

Hence it is evident that the state is a creation of nature, and that man
is by nature a political animal. And he who by nature and not by mere
accident is without a state, is either a bad man or above humanity; he is
like the

“Tribeless, lawless, hearthless one,”

whom Homer denounces—the natural outcast is forthwith a lover of
war; he may be compared to an isolated piece at draughts.

Now, that man is more of a political animal than bees or any other
gregarious animals is evident. Nature, as we often say, makes nothing in
vain, and man is the only animal whom she has endowed with the gift of
speech. And whereas mere voice is but an indication of pleasure or pain,
and is therefore found in other animals (for their nature attains to the
perception of pleasure and pain and the intimation of them to one an-
other, and no further), the power of speech is intended to set forth the
expedient and inexpedient, and therefore likewise the just and the un-
just. And it is a characteristic of man that he alone has any sense of


good and evil, of just and unjust, and the like, and the association of
living beings who have this sense makes a family and a state.

Further, the state is by nature clearly prior to the family and to the
individual, since the whole is of necessity prior to the part; for example,
if the whole body be destroyed, there will be no foot or hand, except in
an equivocal sense, as we might speak of a stone hand; for when de-
stroyed the hand will be no better than that. But things are defined by
their working and power; and we ought not to say that they are the same
when they no longer have their proper quality, but only that they have
the same name. The proof that the state is a creation of nature and prior
to the individual is that the individual, when isolated, is not self-suffic-
ing; and therefore he is like a part in relation to the whole. But he who is
unable to live in society, or who has no need because he is sufficient for
himself, must be either a beast or a god: he is no part of a state. A social
instinct is implanted in all men by nature, and yet he who first founded
the state was the greatest of benefactors. For man, when perfected, is
the best of animals, but, when separated from law and justice, he is the
worst of all; since armed injustice is the more dangerous, and he is
equipped at birth with arms, meant to be used by intelligence and virtue,
which he may use for the worst ends. Wherefore, if he have not virtue,
he is the most unholy and the most savage of animals, and the most full
of lust and gluttony. But justice is the bond of men in states, for the
administration of justice, which is the determination of what is just, is
the principle of order in political society.

Part III
Seeing then that the state is made up of households, before speaking of
the state we must speak of the management of the household. The parts
of household management correspond to the persons who compose the
household, and a complete household consists of slaves and freemen.
Now we should begin by examining everything in its fewest possible
elements; and the first and fewest possible parts of a family are master
and slave, husband and wife, father and children. We have therefore to
consider what each of these three relations is and ought to be: I mean the
relation of master and servant, the marriage relation (the conjunction of
man and wife has no name of its own), and thirdly, the procreative rela-
tion (this also has no proper name). And there is another element of a
household, the so-called art of getting wealth, which, according to some,
is identical with household management, according to others, a princi-


pal part of it; the nature of this art will also have to be considered by us.
Let us first speak of master and slave, looking to the needs of prac-

tical life and also seeking to attain some better theory of their relation
than exists at present. For some are of opinion that the rule of a master
is a science, and that the management of a household, and the master-
ship of slaves, and the political and royal rule, as I was saying at the
outset, are all the same. Others affirm that the rule of a master over
slaves is contrary to nature, and that the distinction between slave and
freeman exists by law only, and not by nature; and being an interference
with nature is therefore unjust.

Part IV
Property is a part of the household, and the art of acquiring property is
a part of the art of managing the household; for no man can live well, or
indeed live at all, unless he be provided with necessaries. And as in the
arts which have a definite sphere the workers must have their own proper
instruments for the accomplishment of their work, so it is in the man-
agement of a household. Now instruments are of various sorts; some are
living, others lifeless; in the rudder, the pilot of a ship has a lifeless, in
the look-out man, a living instrument; for in the arts the servant is a kind
of instrument. Thus, too, a possession is an instrument for maintaining
life. And so, in the arrangement of the family, a slave is a living posses-
sion, and property a number of such instruments; and the servant is
himself an instrument which takes precedence of all other instruments.
For if every instrument could accomplish its own work, obeying or an-
ticipating the will of others, like the statues of Daedalus, or the tripods
of Hephaestus, which, says the poet,

“of their own accord entered the assembly of the Gods;”

if, in like manner, the shuttle would weave and the plectrum touch the
lyre without a hand to guide them, chief workmen would not want ser-
vants, nor masters slaves. Here, however, another distinction must be
drawn; the instruments commonly so called are instruments of produc-
tion, whilst a possession is an instrument of action. The shuttle, for
example, is not only of use; but something else is made by it, whereas of
a garment or of a bed there is only the use. Further, as production and
action are different in kind, and both require instruments, the instru-
ments which they employ must likewise differ in kind. But life is action


and not production, and therefore the slave is the minister of action.
Again, a possession is spoken of as a part is spoken of; for the part is
not only a part of something else, but wholly belongs to it; and this is
also true of a possession. The master is only the master of the slave; he
does not belong to him, whereas the slave is not only the slave of his
master, but wholly belongs to him. Hence we see what is the nature and
office of a slave; he who is by nature not his own but another’s man, is
by nature a slave; and he may be said to be another’s man who, being a
human being, is also a possession. And a possession may be defined as
an instrument of action, separable from the possessor.

Part V
But is there any one thus intended by nature to be a slave, and for whom
such a condition is expedient and right, or rather is not all slavery a
violation of nature?

There is no difficulty in answering this question, on grounds both of
reason and of fact. For that some should rule and others be ruled is a
thing not only necessary, but expedient; from the hour of their birth,
some are marked out for subjection, others for rule.

And there are many kinds both of rulers and subjects (and that rule
is the better which is exercised over better subjects—for example, to
rule over men is better than to rule over wild beasts; for the work is
better which is executed by better workmen, and where one man rules
and another is ruled, they may be said to have a work); for in all things
which form a composite whole and which are made up of parts, whether
continuous or discrete, a distinction between the ruling and the subject
element comes to fight. Such a duality exists in living creatures, but not
in them only; it originates in the constitution of the universe; even in
things which have no life there is a ruling principle, as in a musical
mode. But we are wandering from the subject. We will therefore restrict
ourselves to the living creature, which, in the first place, consists of soul
and body: and of these two, the one is by nature the ruler, and the other
the subject. But then we must look for the intentions of nature in things
which retain their nature, and not in things which are corrupted. And
therefore we must study the man who is in the most perfect state both of
body and soul, for in him we shall see the true relation of the two;
although in bad or corrupted natures the body will often appear to rule
over the soul, because they are in an evil and unnatural condition. At all
events we may firstly observe in living creatures both a despotical and a


constitutional rule; for the soul rules the body with a despotical rule,
whereas the intellect rules the appetites with a constitutional and royal
rule. And it is clear that the rule of the soul over the body, and of the
mind and the rational element over the passionate, is natural and expe-
dient; whereas the equality of the two or the rule of the inferior is always
hurtful. The same holds good of animals in relation to men; for tame
animals have a better nature than wild, and all tame animals are better
off when they are ruled by man; for then they are preserved. Again, the
male is by nature superior, and the female inferior; and the one rules,
and the other is ruled; this principle, of necessity, extends to all man-

Where then there is such a difference as that between soul and body,
or between men and animals (as in the case of those whose business is to
use their body, and who can do nothing better), the lower sort are by
nature slaves, and it is better for them as for all inferiors that they should
be under the rule of a master. For he who can be, and therefore is,
another’s and he who participates in rational principle enough to appre-
hend, but not to have, such a principle, is a slave by nature. Whereas the
lower animals cannot even apprehend a principle; they obey their in-
stincts. And indeed the use made of slaves and of tame animals is not
very different; for both with their bodies minister to the needs of life.
Nature would like to distinguish between the bodies of freemen and
slaves, making the one strong for servile labor, the other upright, and
although useless for such services, useful for political life in the arts
both of war and peace. But the opposite often happens—that some have
the souls and others have the bodies of freemen. And doubtless if men
differed from one another in the mere forms of their bodies as much as
the statues of the Gods do from men, all would acknowledge that the
inferior class should be slaves of the superior. And if this is true of the
body, how much more just that a similar distinction should exist in the
soul? but the beauty of the body is seen, whereas the beauty of the soul
is not seen. It is clear, then, that some men are by nature free, and others
slaves, and that for these latter slavery is both expedient and right.

Part VI
But that those who take the opposite view have in a certain way right on
their side, may be easily seen. For the words slavery and slave are used
in two senses. There is a slave or slavery by law as well as by nature.
The law of which I speak is a sort of convention—the law by which


whatever is taken in war is supposed to belong to the victors. But this
right many jurists impeach, as they would an orator who brought for-
ward an unconstitutional measure: they detest the notion that, because
one man has the power of doing violence and is superior in brute strength,
another shall be his slave and subject. Even among philosophers there is
a difference of opinion. The origin of the dispute, and what makes the
views invade each other’s territory, is as follows: in some sense virtue,
when furnished with means, has actually the greatest power of exercis-
ing force; and as superior power is only found where there is superior
excellence of some kind, power seems to imply virtue, and the dispute to
be simply one about justice (for it is due to one party identifying justice
with goodwill while the other identifies it with the mere rule of the stron-
ger). If these views are thus set out separately, the other views have no
force or plausibility against the view that the superior in virtue ought to
rule, or be master. Others, clinging, as they think, simply to a principle
of justice (for law and custom are a sort of justice), assume that slavery
in accordance with the custom of war is justified by law, but at the same
moment they deny this. For what if the cause of the war be unjust? And
again, no one would ever say he is a slave who is unworthy to be a slave.
Were this the case, men of the highest rank would be slaves and the
children of slaves if they or their parents chance to have been taken
captive and sold. Wherefore Hellenes do not like to call Hellenes slaves,
but confine the term to barbarians. Yet, in using this language, they
really mean the natural slave of whom we spoke at first; for it must be
admitted that some are slaves everywhere, others nowhere. The same
principle applies to nobility. Hellenes regard themselves as noble every-
where, and not only in their own country, but they deem the barbarians
noble only when at home, thereby implying that there are two sorts of
nobility and freedom, the one absolute, the other relative. The Helen of
Theodectes says:

“Who would presume to call me servant who am on both sides sprung
from the stem of the Gods?”

What does this mean but that they distinguish freedom and slavery,
noble and humble birth, by the two principles of good and evil? They
think that as men and animals beget men and animals, so from good men
a good man springs. But this is what nature, though she may intend it,
cannot always accomplish.


We see then that there is some foundation for this difference of opin-
ion, and that all are not either slaves by nature or freemen by nature, and
also that there is in some cases a marked distinction between the two
classes, rendering it expedient and right for the one to be slaves and the
others to be masters: the one practicing obedience, the others exercising
the authority and lordship which nature intended them to have. The abuse
of this authority is injurious to both; for the interests of part and whole,
of body and soul, are the same, and the slave is a part of the master, a
living but separated part of his bodily frame. Hence, where the relation
of master and slave between them is natural they are friends and have a
common interest, but where it rests merely on law and force the reverse
is true.

Part VII
The previous remarks are quite enough to show that the rule of a

master is not a constitutional rule, and that all the different kinds of rule
are not, as some affirm, the same with each other. For there is one rule
exercised over subjects who are by nature free, another over subjects
who are by nature slaves. The rule of a household is a monarchy, for
every house is under one head: whereas constitutional rule is a govern-
ment of freemen and equals. The master is not called a master because
he has science, but because he is of a certain character, and the same
remark applies to the slave and the freeman. Still there may be a science
for the master and science for the slave. The science of the slave would
be such as the man of Syracuse taught, who made money by instructing
slaves in their ordinary duties. And such a knowledge may be carried
further, so as to include cookery and similar menial arts. For some du-
ties are of the more necessary, others of the more honorable sort; as the
proverb says, ‘slave before slave, master before master.’ But all such
branches of knowledge are servile. There is likewise a science of the
master, which teaches the use of slaves; for the master as such is con-
cerned, not with the acquisition, but with the use of them. Yet this so-
called science is not anything great or wonderful; for the master need
only know how to order that which the slave must know how to execute.
Hence those who are in a position which places them above toil have
stewards who attend to their households while they occupy themselves
with philosophy or with politics. But the art of acquiring slaves, I mean
of justly acquiring them, differs both from the art of the master and the
art of the slave, being a species of hunting or war. Enough of the distinc-


tion between master and slave.

Let us now inquire into property generally, and into the art of getting
wealth, in accordance with our usual method, for a slave has been shown
to be a part of property. The first question is whether the art of getting
wealth is the same with the art of managing a household or a part of it,
or instrumental to it; and if the last, whether in the way that the art of
making shuttles is instrumental to the art of weaving, or in the way that
the casting of bronze is instrumental to the art of the statuary, for they
are not instrumental in the same way, but the one provides tools and the
other material; and by material I mean the substratum out of which any
work is made; thus wool is the material of the weaver, bronze of the
statuary. Now it is easy to see that the art of household management is
not identical with the art of getting wealth, for the one uses the material
which the other provides. For the art which uses household stores can
be no other than the art of household management. There is, however, a
doubt whether the art of getting wealth is a part of household manage-
ment or a distinct art. If the getter of wealth has to consider whence
wealth and property can be procured, but there are many sorts of prop-
erty and riches, then are husbandry, and the care and provision of food
in general, parts of the wealth-getting art or distinct arts? Again, there
are many sorts of food, and therefore there are many kinds of lives both
of animals and men; they must all have food, and the differences in their
food have made differences in their ways of life. For of beasts, some are
gregarious, others are solitary; they live in the way which is best adapted
to sustain them, accordingly as they are carnivorous or herbivorous or
omnivorous: and their habits are determined for them by nature in such
a manner that they may obtain with greater facility the food of their
choice. But, as different species have different tastes, the same things
are not naturally pleasant to all of them; and therefore the lives of car-
nivorous or herbivorous animals further differ among themselves. In the
lives of men too there is a great difference. The laziest are shepherds,
who lead an idle life, and get their subsistence without trouble from
tame animals; their flocks having to wander from place to place in search
of pasture, they are compelled to follow them, cultivating a sort of liv-
ing farm. Others support themselves by hunting, which is of different
kinds. Some, for example, are brigands, others, who dwell near lakes or
marshes or rivers or a sea in which there are fish, are fishermen, and


others live by the pursuit of birds or wild beasts. The greater number
obtain a living from the cultivated fruits of the soil. Such are the modes
of subsistence which prevail among those whose industry springs up of
itself, and whose food is not acquired by exchange and retail trade—
there is the shepherd, the husbandman, the brigand, the fisherman, the
hunter. Some gain a comfortable maintenance out of two employments,
eking out the deficiencies of one of them by another: thus the life of a
shepherd may be combined with that of a brigand, the life of a farmer
with that of a hunter. Other modes of life are similarly combined in any
way which the needs of men may require. Property, in the sense of a
bare livelihood, seems to be given by nature herself to all, both when
they are first born, and when they are grown up. For some animals bring
forth, together with their offspring, so much food as will last until they
are able to supply themselves; of this the vermiparous or oviparous
animals are an instance; and the viviparous animals have up to a certain
time a supply of food for their young in themselves, which is called
milk. In like manner we may infer that, after the birth of animals, plants
exist for their sake, and that the other animals exist for the sake of man,
the tame for use and food, the wild, if not all at least the greater part of
them, for food, and for the provision of clothing and various instru-
ments. Now if nature makes nothing incomplete, and nothing in vain,
the inference must be that she has made all animals for the sake of man.
And so, in one point of view, the art of war is a natural art of acquisi-
tion, for the art of acquisition includes hunting, an art which we ought
to practice against wild beasts, and against men who, though intended
by nature to be governed, will not submit; for war of such a kind is
naturally just.

Of the art of acquisition then there is one kind which by nature is a
part of the management of a household, in so far as the art of household
management must either find ready to hand, or itself provide, such things
necessary to life, and useful for the community of the family or state, as
can be stored. They are the elements of true riches; for the amount of
property which is needed for a good life is not unlimited, although Solon
in one of his poems says that

“No bound to riches has been fixed for man.”

But there is a boundary fixed, just as there is in the other arts; for
the instruments of any art are never unlimited, either in number or size,


and riches may be defined as a number of instruments to be used in a
household or in a state. And so we see that there is a natural art of
acquisition which is practiced by managers of households and by states-
men, and what is the reason of this.

Part IX
There is another variety of the art of acquisition which is commonly and
rightly called an art of wealth-getting, and has in fact suggested the
notion that riches and property have no limit. Being nearly connected
with the preceding, it is often identified with it. But though they are not
very different, neither are they the same. The kind already described is
given by nature, the other is gained by experience and art.

Let us begin our discussion of the question with the following con-

Of everything which we possess there are two uses: both belong to
the thing as such, but not in the same manner, for one is the proper, and
the other the improper or secondary use of it. For example, a shoe is
used for wear, and is used for exchange; both are uses of the shoe. He
who gives a shoe in exchange for money or food to him who wants one,
does indeed use the shoe as a shoe, but this is not its proper or primary
purpose, for a shoe is not made to be an object of barter. The same may
be said of all possessions, for the art of exchange extends to all of them,
and it arises at first from what is natural, from the circumstance that
some have too little, others too much. Hence we may infer that retail
trade is not a natural part of the art of getting wealth; had it been so,
men would have ceased to exchange when they had enough. In the first
community, indeed, which is the family, this art is obviously of no use,
but it begins to be useful when the society increases. For the members of
the family originally had all things in common; later, when the family
divided into parts, the parts shared in many things, and different parts in
different things, which they had to give in exchange for what they wanted,
a kind …


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1764 EDITOR’S NOTE The present Edition of this Book has not only been collated with the first

three Editions, which were published during the Author’s Life, but also has the Advantage of his last

Corrections and Improvements, from a Copy delivered by him to Mr. Peter Coste, communicated to
the Editor, and now lodged in Christ College, Cambridge.

CHAPTER: I., II., III., IV., V., VI., VII., VIII., IX., X., XI., XII., XIII., XIV., XV., XVI.,



Reader, thou hast here the beginning and end of a discourse concerning government; what fate has

otherwise disposed of the papers that should have filled up the middle, and were more than all the rest,
it is not worth while to tell thee. These, which remain, I hope are sufficient to establish the throne of our

great restorer, our present King William; to make good his title, in the consent of the people, which
being the only one of all lawful governments, he has more fully and clearly, than any prince in

Christendom; and to justify to the world the people of England, whose love of their just and natural
rights, with their resolution to preserve them, saved the nation when it was on the very brink of slavery

and ruin. If these papers have that evidence, I flatter myself is to be found in them, there will be no great
miss of those which are lost, and my reader may be satisfied without them: for I imagine, I shall have
neither the time, nor inclination to repeat my pains, and fill up the wanting part of my answer, by tracing

Sir Robert again, through all the windings and obscurities, which are to be met with in the several
branches of his wonderful system. The king, and body of the nation, have since so thoroughly confuted

his Hypothesis, that I suppose no body hereafter will have either the confidence to appear against our
common safety, and be again an advocate for slavery; or the weakness to be deceived with

contradictions dressed up in a popular stile, and well-turned periods: for if any one will be at the pains,
himself, in those parts, which are here untouched, to strip Sir Robert’s discourses of the flourish of


doubtful expressions, and endeavour to reduce his words to direct, positive, intelligible propositions,
and then compare them one with another, he will quickly be satisfied, there was never so much glib

nonsense put together in well-sounding English. If he think it not worth while to examine his works all
thro’, let him make an experiment in that part, where he treats of usurpation; and let him try, whether he

can, with all his skill, make Sir Robert intelligible, and consistent with himself, or common sense. I
should not speak so plainly of a gentleman, long since past answering, had not the pulpit, of late years,
publicly owned his doctrine, and made it the current divinity of the times. It is necessary those men, who

taking on them to be teachers, have so dangerously misled others, should be openly shewed of what
authority this their Patriarch is, whom they have so blindly followed, that so they may either retract what

upon so ill grounds they have vented, and cannot be maintained; or else justify those principles which
they preached up for gospel; though they had no better an author than an English courtier: for I should

not have writ against Sir Robert, or taken the pains to shew his mistakes, inconsistencies, and want of
(what he so much boasts of, and pretends wholly to build on) scripture-proofs, were there not men

amongst us, who, by crying up his books, and espousing his doctrine, save me from the reproach of
writing against a dead adversary. They have been so zealous in this point, that, if I have done him any

wrong, I cannot hope they should spare me. I wish, where they have done the truth and the public
wrong, they would be as ready to redress it, and allow its just weight to this reflection, viz. that there

cannot be done a greater mischief to prince and people, than the propagating wrong notions concerning
government; that so at last all times might not have reason to complain of the Drum Ecclesiastic. If any

one, concerned really for truth, undertake the confutation of my Hypothesis, I promise him either to
recant my mistake, upon fair conviction; or to answer his difficulties. But he must remember two things.

First, That cavilling here and there, at some expression, or little incident of my discourse, is not an
answer to my book.

Secondly, That I shall not take railing for arguments, nor think either of these worth my notice, though
I shall always look on myself as bound to give satisfaction to any one, who shall appear to be

conscientiously scrupulous in the point, and shall shew any just grounds for his scruples.

I have nothing more, but to advertise the reader, that Observations stands for Observations on

Hobbs, Milton, &c. and that a bare quotation of pages always means pages of his Patriarcha, Edition

Book II




Sect. 1. It having been shewn in the foregoing discourse,

(1). That Adam had not, either by natural right of fatherhood, or by positive donation from God, any
such authority over his children, or dominion over the world, as is pretended:

(2). That if he had, his heirs, yet, had no right to it:

(3). That if his heirs had, there being no law of nature nor positive law of God that determines which is
the right heir in all cases that may arise, the right of succession, and consequently of bearing rule, could
not have been certainly determined:

(4). That if even that had been determined, yet the knowledge of which is the eldest line of Adam’s
posterity, being so long since utterly lost, that in the races of mankind and families of the world, there
remains not to one above another, the least pretence to be the eldest house, and to have the right of


All these premises having, as I think, been clearly made out, it is impossible that the rulers now on

earth should make any benefit, or derive any the least shadow of authority from that, which is held to be
the fountain of all power, Adam’s private dominion and paternal jurisdiction; so that he that will not give
just occasion to think that all government in the world is the product only of force and violence, and that
men live together by no other rules but that of beasts, where the strongest carries it, and so lay a

foundation for perpetual disorder and mischief, tumult, sedition and rebellion, (things that the followers
of that hypothesis so loudly cry out against) must of necessity find out another rise of government,
another original of political power, and another way of designing and knowing the persons that have it,
than what Sir Robert Filmer hath taught us.

Sect. 2. To this purpose, I think it may not be amiss, to set down what I take to be political power;
that the power of a MAGISTRATE over a subject may be distinguished from that of a FATHER over

his children, a MASTER over his servant, a HUSBAND over his wife, and a LORD over his slave. All
which distinct powers happening sometimes together in the same man, if he be considered under these
different relations, it may help us to distinguish these powers one from wealth, a father of a family, and a
captain of a galley.

Sect. 3. POLITICAL POWER, then, I take to be a RIGHT of making laws with penalties of death,
and consequently all less penalties, for the regulating and preserving of property, and of employing the

force of the community, in the execution of such laws, and in the defence of the commonwealth from
foreign injury; and all this only for the public good.



Sect. 4. TO understand political power right, and derive it from its original, we must consider, what
state all men are naturally in, and that is, a state of perfect freedom to order their actions, and dispose of
their possessions and persons, as they think fit, within the bounds of the law of nature, without asking
leave, or depending upon the will of any other man.


A state also of equality, wherein all the power and jurisdiction is reciprocal, no one having more than
another; there being nothing more evident, than that creatures of the same species and rank,
promiscuously born to all the same advantages of nature, and the use of the same faculties, should also

be equal one amongst another without subordination or subjection, unless the lord and master of them
all should, by any manifest declaration of his will, set one above another, and confer on him, by an
evident and clear appointment, an undoubted right to dominion and sovereignty.

Sect. 5. This equality of men by nature, the judicious Hooker looks upon as so evident in itself, and
beyond all question, that he makes it the foundation of that obligation to mutual love amongst men, on
which he builds the duties they owe one another, and from whence he derives the great maxims of

justice and charity. His words are,

The like natural inducement hath brought men to know that it is no less their duty, to love
others than themselves; for seeing those things which are equal, must needs all have one
measure; if I cannot but wish to receive good, even as much at every man’s hands, as any
man can wish unto his own soul, how should I look to have any part of my desire herein

satisfied, unless myself be careful to satisfy the like desire, which is undoubtedly in other men,
being of one and the same nature? To have any thing offered them repugnant to this desire,
must needs in all respects grieve them as much as me; so that if I do harm, I must look to
suffer, there being no reason that others should shew greater measure of love to me, than they

have by me shewed unto them: my desire therefore to be loved of my equals in nature as
much as possible may be, imposeth upon me a natural duty of bearing to them-ward fully the
like affection; from which relation of equality between ourselves and them that are as
ourselves, what several rules and canons natural reason hath drawn, for direction of life, no
man is ignorant, Eccl. Pol. Lib. 1.

Sect. 6. But though this be a state of liberty, yet it is not a state of licence: though man in that state
have an uncontroulable liberty to dispose of his person or possessions, yet he has not liberty to destroy
himself, or so much as any creature in his possession, but where some nobler use than its bare

preservation calls for it. The state of nature has a law of nature to govern it, which obliges every one:
and reason, which is that law, teaches all mankind, who will but consult it, that being all equal and
independent, no one ought to harm another in his life, health, liberty, or possessions: for men being all
the workmanship of one omnipotent, and infinitely wise maker; all the servants of one sovereign master,
sent into the world by his order, and about his business; they are his property, whose workmanship they

are, made to last during his, not one another’s pleasure: and being furnished with like faculties, sharing all
in one community of nature, there cannot be supposed any such subordination among us, that may
authorize us to destroy one another, as if we were made for one another’s uses, as the inferior ranks of
creatures are for our’s. Every one, as he is bound to preserve himself, and not to quit his station wilfully,

so by the like reason, when his own preservation comes not in competition, ought he, as much as he
can, to preserve the rest of mankind, and may not, unless it be to do justice on an offender, take away,
or impair the life, or what tends to the preservation of the life, the liberty, health, limb, or goods of

Sect. 7. And that all men may be restrained from invading others rights, and from doing hurt to one
another, and the law of nature be observed, which willeth the peace and preservation of all mankind, the

execution of the law of nature is, in that state, put into every man’s hands, whereby every one has a right
to punish the transgressors of that law to such a degree, as may hinder its violation: for the law of nature
would, as all other laws that concern men in this world ‘be in vain, if there were no body that in the state


of nature had a power to execute that law, and thereby preserve the innocent and restrain offenders.

And if any one in the state of nature may punish another for any evil he has done, every one may do so:
for in that state of perfect equality, where naturally there is no superiority or jurisdiction of one over
another, what any may do in prosecution of that law, every one must needs have a right to do.

Sect. 8. And thus, in the state of nature, one man comes by a power over another; but yet no absolute
or arbitrary power, to use a criminal, when he has got him in his hands, according to the passionate
heats, or boundless extravagancy of his own will; but only to retribute to him, so far as calm reason and

conscience dictate, what is proportionate to his transgression, which is so much as may serve for
reparation and restraint: for these two are the only reasons, why one man may lawfully do harm to
another, which is that we call punishment. In transgressing the law of nature, the offender declares
himself to live by another rule than that of reason and common equity, which is that measure God has set

to the actions of men, for their mutual security; and so he becomes dangerous to mankind, the tye,
which is to secure them from injury and violence, being slighted and broken by him. Which being a
trespass against the whole species, and the peace and safety of it, provided for by the law of nature,
every man upon this score, by the right he hath to preserve mankind in general, may restrain, or where it

is necessary, destroy things noxious to them, and so may bring such evil on any one, who hath
transgressed that law, as may make him repent the doing of it, and thereby deter him, and by his
example others, from doing the like mischief. And in the case, and upon this ground, EVERY MAN


Sect. 9. I doubt not but this will seem a very strange doctrine to some men: but before they condemn

it, I desire them to resolve me, by what right any prince or state can put to death, or punish an alien, for
any crime he commits in their country. It is certain their laws, by virtue of any sanction they receive from
the promulgated will of the legislative, reach not a stranger: they speak not to him, nor, if they did, is he
bound to hearken to them. The legislative authority, by which they are in force over the subjects of that
commonwealth, hath no power over him. Those who have the supreme power of making laws in

England, France or Holland, are to an Indian, but like the rest of the world, men without authority: and
therefore, if by the law of nature every man hath not a power to punish offences against it, as he soberly

judges the case to require, I see not how the magistrates of any community can punish an alien of
another country; since, in reference to him, they can have no more power than what every man naturally
may have over another.

Sect, 10. Besides the crime which consists in violating the law, and varying from the right rule of
reason, whereby a man so far becomes degenerate, and declares himself to quit the principles of human
nature, and to be a noxious creature, there is commonly injury done to some person or other, and some

other man receives damage by his transgression: in which case he who hath received any damage, has,
besides the right of punishment common to him with other men, a particular right to seek reparation from
him that has done it: and any other person, who finds it just, may also join with him that is injured, and
assist him in recovering from the offender so much as may make satisfaction for the harm he has

Sect. 11. From these two distinct rights, the one of punishing the crime for restraint, and preventing

the like offence, which right of punishing is in every body; the other of taking reparation, which belongs
only to the injured party, comes it to pass that the magistrate, who by being magistrate hath the common
right of punishing put into his hands, can often, where the public good demands not the execution of the
law, remit the punishment of criminal offences by his own authority, but yet cannot remit the satisfaction
due to any private man for the damage he has received. That, he who has suffered the damage has a
right to demand in his own name, and he alone can remit: the damnified person has this power of


appropriating to himself the goods or service of the offender, by right of self-preservation, as every man
has a power to punish the crime, to prevent its being committed again, by the right he has of preserving
all mankind, and doing all reasonable things he can in order to that end: and thus it is, that every man, in
the state of nature, has a power to kill a murderer, both to deter others from doing the like injury, which

no reparation can compensate, by the example of the punishment that attends it from every body, and
also to secure men from the attempts of a criminal, who having renounced reason, the common rule and
measure God hath given to mankind, hath, by the unjust violence and slaughter he hath committed upon
one, declared war against all mankind, and therefore may be destroyed as a lion or a tyger, one of those
wild savage beasts, with whom men can have no society nor security: and upon this is grounded that
great law of nature, Whoso sheddeth man’s blood, by man shall his blood be shed. And Cain was so
fully convinced, that every one had a right to destroy such a criminal, that after the murder of his brother,
he cries out, Every one that findeth me, shall slay me; so plain was it writ in the hearts of all mankind.

Sect. 12. By the same reason may a man in the state of nature punish the lesser breaches of that law.
It will perhaps be demanded, with death? I answer, each transgression may be punished to that degree,
and with so much severity, as will suffice to make it an ill bargain to the offender, give him cause to
repent, and terrify others from doing the like. Every offence, that can be committed in the state of
nature, may in the state of nature be also punished equally, and as far forth as it may, in a
commonwealth: for though it would be besides my present purpose, to enter here into the particulars of

the law of nature, or its measures of punishment; yet, it is certain there is such a law, and that too, as
intelligible and plain to a rational creature, and a studier of that law, as the positive laws of
commonwealths; nay, possibly plainer; as much as reason is easier to be understood, than the fancies
and intricate contrivances of men, following contrary and hidden interests put into words; for so truly are
a great part of the municipal laws of countries, which are only so far right, as they are founded on the
law of nature, by which they are to be regulated and interpreted.

Sect. 13. To this strange doctrine, viz. That in the state of nature every one has the executive power
of the law of nature, I doubt not but it will be objected, that it is unreasonable for men to be judges in
their own cases, that self-love will make men partial to themselves and their friends: and on the other
side, that ill nature, passion and revenge will carry them too far in punishing others; and hence nothing
but confusion and disorder will follow, and that therefore God hath certainly appointed government to
restrain the partiality and violence of men. I easily grant, that civil government is the proper remedy for
the inconveniencies of the state of nature, which must certainly be great, where men may be judges in
their own case, since it is easy to be imagined, that he who was so unjust as to do his brother an injury,
will scarce be so just as to condemn himself for it: but I shall desire those who make this objection, to

remember, that absolute monarchs are but men; and if government is to be the remedy of those evils,
which necessarily follow from men’s being judges in their own cases, and the state of nature is therefore
not to be endured, I desire to know what kind of government that is, and how much better it is than the
state of nature, where one man, commanding a multitude, has the liberty to be judge in his own case,
and may do to all his subjects whatever he pleases, without the least liberty to any one to question or
controul those who execute his pleasure? and in whatsoever he doth, whether led by reason, mistake or
passion, must be submitted to? much better it is in the state of nature, wherein men are not bound to
submit to the unjust will of another: and if he that judges, judges amiss in his own, or any other case, he

is answerable for it to the rest of mankind.

Sect. 14. It is often asked as a mighty objection, where are, or ever were there any men in such a
state of nature? To which it may suffice as an answer at present, that since all princes and rulers of
independent governments all through the world, are in a state of nature, it is plain the world never was,
nor ever will be, without numbers of men in that state. I have named all governors of independent
communities, whether they are, or are not, in league with others: for it is not every compact that puts an


end to the state of nature between men, but only this one of agreeing together mutually to enter into one
community, and make one body politic; other promises, and compacts, men may make one with
another, and yet still be in the state of nature. The promises and bargains for truck, &c. between the two
men in the desert island, mentioned by Garcilasso de la Vega, in his history of Peru; or between a Swiss
and an Indian, in the woods of America, are binding to them, though they are perfectly in a state of
nature, in reference to one another: for truth and keeping of faith belongs to men, as men, and not as
members of society.

Sect. 15. To those that say, there were never any men in the state of nature, I will not only oppose the
authority of the judicious Hooker, Eccl. Pol. lib. i. sect. 10, where he says,

The laws which have been hitherto mentioned, i.e. the laws of nature, do bind men

absolutely, even as they are men, although they have never any settled fellowship, never any
solemn agreement amongst themselves what to do, or not to do: but forasmuch as we are not
by ourselves sufficient to furnish ourselves with competent store of things, needful for such a
life as our nature doth desire, a life fit for the dignity of man; therefore to supply those defects
and imperfections which are in us, as living single and solely by ourselves, we are naturally
induced to seek communion and fellowship with others: this was the cause of men’s uniting
themselves at first in politic societies.

But I moreover affirm, that all men are naturally in that state, and remain so, till by their own consents
they make themselves members of some politic society; and I doubt not in the sequel of this discourse,
to make it very clear.



Sect. 16. THE state of war is a state of enmity and destruction: and therefore declaring by word or
action, not a passionate and hasty, but a sedate settled design upon another man’s life, puts him in a
state of war with him against whom he has declared such an intention, and so has exposed his life to the
other’s power to be taken away by him, or any one that joins with him in his defence, and espouses his
quarrel; it being reasonable and just, I should have a right to destroy that which threatens me with
destruction: for, by the fundamental law of nature, man being to be preserved as much as possible, when
all cannot be preserved, the safety of the innocent is to be preferred: and one may destroy a man who
makes war upon him, or has discovered an enmity to his being, for the same reason that he may kill a

wolf or a lion; because such men are not under the ties of the commonlaw of reason, have no other rule,
but that of force and violence, and so may be treated as beasts of prey, those dangerous and noxious
creatures, that will be sure to destroy him whenever he falls into their power.

Sect. 17. And hence it is, that he who attempts to get another man into his absolute power, does
thereby put himself into a state of war with him; it being to be understood as a declaration of a design
upon his life: for I have reason to conclude, that he who would get me into his power without my


consent, would use me as he pleased when he had got me there, and destroy me too when he had a
fancy to it; for no body can desire to have me in his absolute power, unless it be to compel me by force
to that which is against the right of my freedom, i.e. make me a slave. To be free from such force is the
only security of my preservation; and reason bids me look on him, as an enemy to my preservation, who

would take away that freedom which is the fence to it; so that he who makes an attempt to enslave me,
thereby puts himself into a state of war with me. He that, in the state of nature, would take away the
freedom that belongs to any one in that state, must necessarily be supposed to have a design to take
away every thing else, that freedom being the foundation of all the rest; as he that, in the state of society,
would take away the freedom belonging to those of that society or commonwealth, must be supposed
to design to take away from them every thing else, and so be looked on as in a state of war.

Sect. 18. This makes it lawful for a man to kill a thief, who has not in the least hurt him, nor declared
any design upon his life, any farther than, by the use of force, so to get him in his power, as to take away
his money, or what he pleases, from him; because using force, where he has no right, to get me into his
power, let his pretence be what it will, I have no reason to suppose, that he, who would take away my
liberty, would not, when he had me in his power, take away every thing else. And therefore it is lawful
for me to treat him as one who has put himself into a state of war with me, i.e. kill him if I can; for to that
hazard does he justly expose himself, whoever introduces a state of war, and is aggressor in it.

Sect. 19. And here we have the plain difference between the state of nature and the state of war,
which however some men have confounded, are as far distant, as a state of peace, good will, mutual
assistance and preservation, and a state of enmity, malice, violence and mutual destruction, are one from
another. Men living together according to reason, without a common superior on earth, with authority to
judge between them, is properly the state of nature. But force, or a declared design of force, upon the
person of another, where there is no common superior on earth to appeal to for relief, is the state of
war: and it is the want of such an appeal gives a man the right of war even against an aggressor, tho’ he
be in society and a fellow subject. Thus a thief, whom I cannot harm, but by appeal to the law, for

having stolen all that I am worth, I may kill, when he sets on me to rob me but of my horse or coat;
because the law, which was made for my preservation, where it cannot interpose to secure my life from
present force, …