Hanover Historical Texts Project
Baron D'Holbach,
Good Sense: or, Natural Ideas Opposed to Supernatural; being a Translation from a Work Called "Le Bon Sens"
corrected and carefully revised by H. D. Robinson
(Boston: J. P. Mendum, 1856) Pages 3-5.

Scanned by Aaron Gulyas, February, 1998.

THERE is a vast empire, governed by a monarch,whose strange conduct is very proper to confound the minds of his subjects. He wishes to be known, loved, respected, obeyed; but never shows himself to his subjects, and everything conspires to render uncertain the ideas formed of his character.

The people, subjected to his power, have, of the character and laws of their invisible sovereign, such ideas only as his ministers give them. They however confess that they have no idea of their master; that his ways are impenetrable; his views and nature totally incomprehensible. These ministers, likewise, disagree upon the commands which they pretend have been issued by the sovereign, whose instruments they call themselves. They announce them differently to each province of the empire. They defame one another, and mutually treat each other as impostors and false teachers. The decrees and ordinances, they take upon themselves to promulgate, are obscure; they are enigmas, little calculated to be understood, or even divined by the subjects, for whose instruction they were intended. The laws of the concealed monarch require interpreters; but the interpreters are always disputing upon the true manner of understanding them. Besides they are not consistent with. themselves; all they relate of their concealed prince is only a thread of contradiction. They utter concerning him not a single word that does not immediately confute itself. They call him supremely good; yet there is no one who does not complain of his decrees. They suppose him infinitely wise; and under his administration everything appears to contradict reason and good sense. They extol his justice; and the best of his subjects are generally the least favored. They assert, he sees everything; yet his presence avails nothing. He is, they say, the friend of order; yet throughout his dominions all is in confusion and disorder. He makes all for himself; and the events seldom answer his designs. He foresees everything; but cannot prevent anything. He impatiently suffers offence, yet gives every one the power of offending him. Men admire the wisdom and perfection of his works; yet his works, full of imperfection, are short of duration. He is continually doing and undoing: repairing what he has made; but is never pleased with his work. In all his undertakings he proposes only his own glory; yet is never glorified. His only end is the happiness of his subjects; and his subjects, for the most part, want necessaries. Those (5) whom he seems to favor, are generally least satisfied with their fate; almost all appear in perpetual revolt against a master, whose greatness they never cease to adlnire, whose wisdom to extol, whose goodness to adore, whose justice to fear, and whose laws to reverence, though never obeyed!


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