"We who are only the people will not cease to tell Kings, or Governments, that to them alone wars are profitable: that the true and just conquests are those which each makes at home, by comforting the peasantry, by promoting agriculture and manufactories, by multiplying men and the other productions of nature that then it is that Kings may call themselves the image of God, whose will is perpetually directed to the creation of new beings. If they continue to make us fight and kill one another, in uniform, we will continue to write and speak, until nations shall be cured of this folly."

Quoted in An Address At a Meeting of the Society for Political Information held at the Talbot Inn in Derby, July 16th 1792 as being by a “celebrated author”.


1 Answer 1


A Google books search for books no later than 1800 containing "We, who are only the people, but who" yields two sorts of hits: about half a dozen with "celebrated author", in which the search phrase is being quoted, and somewhat fewer, to 1792 and 1793 translation editions of The History of the Revolution in France by Jean Paul RABAUT SAINT-ÉTIENNE. None of the Rabaut snippets have "celebrated author" in them.

Simple logic seems to indicate the celebrated author is Rabaut. Note that Rabaut wrote

We who are only the people, but who pay for war with our substance and our blood, will not cease to tell Kings...

so the use of this quotation in the OP is inexact. The French original reads

LIX. Nous qui ne sommes que peuple , mais qui payons la guerre de notre sang, nous ne cesserons de dire aux rois que les guerres ne sont bonnes que pour eux; que ce sont des jeux de princes, qui ne plaisent qu'à ceux qui les font; que les véritables et justes conquêtes sont celles que chacun fait chez soi en soulageant le paysan, en multipliant les hommes et les autres productions de la nature ; qu'ainsi seulement les rois peuvent se dire l'image de Dieu, dont la volonté continuée crée toujours...

The number of 1792 editions listed in Worldcat, together with the number of copies in libraries, seems to show the book was widely distributed, and presumably read by enemies of the Ancien Régime. The copy in the university library nearest where I live shows the authors as "Jean-Paul Rabaut; James White; Samuel Taylor Coleridge", the last one of which I recognize as not being a friend of the Ancien Régime. (Other editions' title pages make it clear that White was the translator. Coleridge was presumably a preface-writer.)

  • Thx. It is a match. Now, pardon my ignorance: why is/was Rabaut "celebrated" (perhaps: esp for the author(s) of the 'address'? (Honest disclosure: never heard of him before) May 17 at 0:09
  • @LаngLаngС Me neither, but he has a wikipedia page, and his book seems to have been widely read. May 17 at 0:14
  • Thx. He was a French Protestant and a moderate revolutionary. As a Protestant I guess he would have had a particular appeal to English evangelical sympathisers with the French Revolution both non-conformist and with in the C of E. yesterday

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.