a study of eighteenth-century radicalism in France
The following study proposes to deal with this attack on religion that preceded and helped to prepare the French Revolution. Similar phenomena are by no means rare in the annals of history; eighteenth-century atheism, however, is of especial interest, standing as it does at the end of a long period of theological and ecclesiastical disintegration and prophesying a reconstruction of society on a purely rational and naturalistic basis.
The anti-theistic movement has been so obscured by the less thoroughgoing tendency of deism and by subsequent romanticism that the real issue in the eighteenth century has been largely lost from view. Hence it has seemed fit to centre this study about the man who stated the situation with the most unmistakable and uncompromising clearness, and who still occupies a unique though obscure position in the history of thought.
The sources are in a sense full and reliable for certain phases of his life and literary activity. His own publications numbering about fifty forms the most important body of source material for the history and development of his ideas.
Next in importance are contemporary memoirs and letters including those of Voltaire, Rousseau, Diderot, Grimm, Morellet, Marmontel, Mme. d'Epinay, Naigeon, Garat, Galiani, Hume, Garrick, Wilkes, Romilly and others; and scattered letters by Holbach himself, largely to his English friends. In addition, there is a large body of contemporary hostile criticism of his books, by Voltaire; Frederick II, Castillon, Holland, La Harpe, Delisle de Sales and a host of outraged ecclesiastics, so that one is well informed in regard to the scandal that his books caused at the time. Out of these materials and other scattered documents and no- tices it is possible to reconstruct — though somewhat defectively — the figure of a man who played an important role in his own day; but whose name has long since lost its significance — even in the ears of scholars.
It is at the suggestion of Professor James Harvey Robinson that this reconstruction has been made. If it shall prove of any interest or value he must be credited with the initiation of the idea as well as constant aid in its realization.
For rendering possible the necessary investigations, recognition is due to the administration and officers of the Bibliotheque Nationale, the British Museum, the Library of Congress, the Libraries of Columbia and Harvard Universities, Union and Andover Theological Seminaries, and the Public Libraries of Boston and New York.
Chapter I. Holbach, The Man 5
Early letters to John Wilkes .6
Holbach's family 12
Relations with Diderot, Rousseau, Hume, Garrick
and other important persons of the century 15
Estimate of Holbach. His character and personality. 21
Chapter II. Holbach's Works 26
Miscellaneous Works 26
Translations of German Scientific Works 27.
Translations of English Deistical Writers 31
Boulanger's Antiquite devoilee 36
Original Works : Le Christianisme devoilee 38
Theologie portative 43
La Contagion sacree 46
Essai sur les prejuges 49
Le Bon-sens 51
Chapter ill I. The Systeme de la Nature and its Phi-
Voltaire's correspondence on the subject 56
Goethe's sentiment 58
Refutations and criticisms 59
Holbach's philosophy; 65
Appendix. Holbach's Correspondence 70
Five unpublished letters to John Wilkes 75
Bibliography. Part I. Editions of Holbach's Works in
Chronological Order 85
Part II. General Bibliography 104
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