Diderot and the Encyclopædists (Vol 1 of 2)
95 Pages

Diderot and the Encyclopædists (Vol 1 of 2)


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The Project Gutenberg EBook of Diderot and the Encyclopaedists (Vol 1 of 2) by John Morley This eBook is for the use of anyone anywhere at no cost and with almost no restrictions whatsoever. You may copy it, give it away or re-use it under the terms of the Project Gutenberg License included with this eBook or online at www.gutenberg.net Title: Diderot and the Encyclopaedists (Vol 1 of 2) Author: John Morley Release Date: February 18, 2005 [EBook #15098] Language: English Character set encoding: UTF-8 *** START OF THIS PROJECT GUTENBERG EBOOK DIDEROT *** Produced by Paul Murray, LN Yaddanapudi, Leonard Johnson and the PG Online Distributed Proofreading Team at http://www.pgdp.net. DIDEROT AND THE ENCYCLOPÆDISTS BY JOHN MORLEY VOL. I. LONDON MACMILLAN AND CO., LIMITED NEW YORK: THE MACMILLAN COMPANY 1905 First published elsewhere New Edition 1886. Reprinted 1891, 1897, 1905 PREFACE. The present work closes a series of studies on the literary preparation for the French Revolution. It differs from the companion volumes on Voltaire and Rousseau, in being much more fully descriptive. In the case of those two famous writers, every educated reader knows more or less of their performances. Of Diderot and his circle, such knowledge cannot be taken for granted, and I have therefore thought it best to occupy a considerable space, which I hope that those who do me the honour to read these pages will not find excessive, with what is little more than transcript or analysis. Such a method will at least enable the reader to see what those ideas really were, which the social and economic condition of France on the eve of the convulsion made so welcome to men. The shortcomings of the encyclopædic group are obvious enough. They have lately been emphasised in the ingenious and one-sided exaggerations of that brilliant man of letters, Mr. Taine. The social significance and the positive quality of much of their writing is more easily missed, and this side of their work it has been one of my principal objects, alike in the case of Voltaire, of Rousseau, and of Diderot, to bring into the prominence that it deserves in the history of opinion. The edition of Diderot's works to which the references are made, is that in twenty volumes by the late Mr. Assézat and Mr. Maurice Tourneux. The only other serious book on Diderot with which I am acquainted is Rosenkranz's valuable Diderot's Leben, published in 1866, and abounding in full and patient knowledge. Of the numerous criticisms on Diderot by Raumer, Arndt, Hettner, Damiron, Bersot, and above all by Mr. Carlyle, I need not make more particular mention. May, 1878. NOTE. Since the following pages were printed, an American correspondent writes to me with reference to the dialogue between Franklin and Raynal, mentioned on page 218, Vol. II.:—"I have now before me Volume IV. of the American Law Journal , printed at Philadelphia in the year 1813, and at page 458 find in full, 'The Speech of Miss Polly Baker, delivered before a court of judicature in Connecticut, where she was prosecuted.'" Raynal, therefore, would have been right if instead of Massachusetts he had said Connecticut; and either Franklin told an untruth, or else Silas Deane. September, 1878. CONTENTS OF VOL. I. CHAPTER I. PRELIMINARY . The Church in the middle of the century New phase in the revolt The Encyclopædia, its symbol End of the reaction against the Encyclopædia Diderot's position in the movement CHAPTER II. YOUTH. Birth and birthplace (1713) His family Men of letters in Paris Diderot joins their company His life in Paris: his friendly character Stories of his good-nature His tolerance for social reprobates His literary struggles Marriage (1743) CHAPTER III. EARLY WRITINGS. Diderot's mismanagement of his own talents Apart from this, a great talker rather than a great writer A man of the Socratic type Hack-work for the booksellers The Philosophical Thoughts (1746) Shaftesbury's influence Scope of the Philosophical Thoughts On the Sufficiency of Natural Religion (1747) Explanation of the attraction of Natural Religion Police supervision over men of letters Two pictures of the literary hack Seizure of the Sceptic's Walk (1747) Its drift A volume of stories (1748) Diderot's view of the fate and character of women CHAPTER IV. THE NEW PHILOSOPHY . Voltaire's account of Cheselden's operation Diderot publishes the Letter on the Blind (1749) Its significance Condillac and Diderot Account of the Letter on the Blind The pith of it, an application of Relativity to the conception of God Saunderson of Cambridge Argument assigned to him Curious anticipation of a famous modern hypothesis Voltaire's criticism Effect of Diderot's philosophic position on the system of the Church Not merely a dispute in metaphysics Illustration of Diderot's practical originality Points of literary interest The Letter on Deaf Mutes (1751) Condillac's Statue Diderot imprisoned at Vincennes (1749) Rousseau's visit to him Breach with Madame de Puisieux Diderot released from captivity CHAPTER V. THE ENCYCLOPÆDIA. (1) ITS HISTORY . Previous examples of the Encyclopædic idea True parentage of Diderot's Encyclopædia Origin of the undertaking Co-operation of D'Alembert: his history and character Diderot and D'Alembert on the function of literature Presiding characteristic of the Encyclopædia Its more eminent contributors The unsought volunteer Voltaire's share in it Its compliance with reigning prejudice Its aim, not literature but life Publication of first and second volumes (1751-52) Affair of De Prades Diderot's vindication of him (1752) Marks rupture between the Philosophers and the Jansenists Royal decree suppressing first two volumes (1752) Failure of the Jesuits to carry on the work Four more volumes published The seventh volume (1757) Arouses violent hostility The storm made fiercer by Helvétius's L'Esprit Proceedings against the Encyclopædia Their significance They also mark singular reaction within the school of Illumination Retirement of D'Alembert Diderot continues the work alone for seven years His harassing mortifications The Encyclopædia at Versailles Reproduction and imitations Diderot's payment (2) GENERAL CONTENTS. Transformation of a speculative into a social attack Circumstances of practical opportuneness Broad features of Encyclopædic revolution Positive spirit of the Encyclopædia Why we call it the organ of a political work Articles on Agriculture On the Gabelle and the Taille On Privilege On the Corveée On the Militia On Endowments, Fairs, and Industrial Guilds On Game and the Chase Enthusiasm for the details of industry Meaning of the importance assigned to industry and science Intellectual side of the change Attitude of the Encyclopædia to religion Diderot's intention under this head How far the scheme fulfilled his intention The Preliminary Discourse Recognition of the value of discussion And of toleration (3) DIDEROT'S CONTRIBUTIONS. Their immense confusion Constant insinuation of sound doctrines And of practical suggestions Diderot not always above literary trifling No taste for barren erudition