THERE were similar writers in England. At the end of the seventeenth century John Locke, the mouthpiece of the Whigs, in his Civil Government, defended the idea of natural rights and found arguments in favour of subjects as against princes. Absolute government had been advocated by Filmer, the exponent of the Divine Right of Kings, and Thomas Hobbes, who in his Leviathan ingeniously turned the " contract " theory to the support of absolutism. This Contract theory was an attempt to explain the origin of government on a priori (from cause to effect) principles. Men, it was said, had surrendered to government their natural right to seek their own interests in their own way. One school, typified later by Rousseau, argued that men only did so in return for definite advantages, their natural state being one of great freedom and innocence, and, if a government failed to give them these advantages, the contract was at an end, and men had the right to change their government.
Hobbes, a little less unhistorically, said that the natural state of man was brutish and nasty, and that man owed everything to government, and, having once made the surrender of his rights, could not now resume them. Filmer, in his Patri-archa really came nearer to the truth, which is that no such contract was ever made, and that in primitive times Man lived under the most direct of all tyrannies-the tyranny of his father. The general tendency of eighteenth-century thought in England and France was towards Locke's argument.
These social ideas were coupled with the justification of individualism. The moral individualism of the Protestant reformers had co-existed with a high degree of state interference in economic life. Throughout the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries there was a strong current of feeling in favour of non-interference in anything which could possibly be left to individuals. Adam Smith's Wealth of Nations advocated it very cogently, and there was a school of " Physiocrats " in France who popularised the principle, as yet untried in practice, of laissez-faire-" leave things alone." The greatest advocate of individualism was Bentham, who at an early age published in 1776 his Fragment on Government, and who later played a great part in the sweeping away of mediaeval lumber in the spheres of law and commerce.
In France the seventeenth century had been a time of toleration, and Huguenots had done great things in the national service. In his later years Louis XIV. revoked Henry IV.'s Edict of Nantes (1685), and by mean forms of pressure forced a million Huguenots to conform. A hundred thousand escaped from France and carried their industrial skill and their religious persistence to Holland, Prussia, England, and America. The French Church, thus unified, did not gain in health: there was not much active persecution, but there was no crusading energy. By 1770 the Jesuits were temporarily suppressed throughout Catholic countries, so much had times changed in two hundred years. Similar apathy came over religion in most of the Latin countries where Jews, Moors, and other heretics had been expelled or made to conform.
England was more fortunate in that comparatively few Catholics or Nonconformists were driven into exile. But during the seventeenth century almost every generation of clergymen had had to adapt their views to those of some new government as an alternative to giving up their livings. Those who retained office were, inevitably, the more pliant. In the eighteenth century parish clergy were sometimes inoffensive, ineffective gentlemen, sometimes sycophantic topers-in either case generally Tories. The bishops, selected by the government, were often time-servers and sceptics, frequently absentees from their dioceses.
It must not be imagined that there was no religious feeling -Dr. Johnson, for instance, was strongly religious. But the commonest belief was a diluted Deism, which recognised the probable existence of a Supreme Being, credited Him with kindly rational sentiments and a preference for the established social order, and tolerated drunkenness and license in private behaviour as well as callous brutality towards prisoners, paupers, lunatics, apprentices, negro slaves, chimney sweeps, sailors, and schoolboys. Life was then rougher for even the wealthiest than it is now, and the sufferings of the poor were proportionately less striking, while many good men who did not interfere to prevent cruelty would certainly not themselves have been cruel. Philanthropists did indeed appear during the century, amongst whom, John Howard (1726-90), the prison reformer, was typical.