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THE first aim of the following pages is to provide a correct text of the Contrat social, together with such notes as are necessary for the full understanding of Rousseau's meaning. My second aim, an aim pursued both in the Notes and the Introduction, has been to set forth the central ideas of Rousseau's theory, to explain their relation to each other and to determine the place of the author in the history of political philosophy and of its practical application. In order to carry out this purpose more completely, I have added two short studies: one, on the history of the idea of Contract, as a theory designed to account for the origin both of civil society and of Government; the other, on the mark which Rousseau's influence has left upon the successive Constitutions of the French Revolution. By way of supplement to the latter study, I have also added to the Notes a few illustrations from the debates of the National Assembly and other records, as given in the Moniteur.
There is a further task which lies upon all who seek to understand the teaching and influence of Rousseau: a task to which students of the subject are at last beginning seriously to set themselves. It is to examine—and, if possible, to explain-the relation between the individualist strain in Rousseau's work, the strain which comes to the
surface in the Discours sur l'inégalité and Émile, and his equally strong conviction that the individual, in his own. interest, must be rigorously subordinated to the State: a conviction which lies at the root of the Economie politique, of the writings on Corsica and Poland, and above all of the Contrat social. In furtherance of this task, I have endeavoured to break what I believe to be fresh ground in the second section of the Introduction and in a note to the chapter on Civil Religion.
In conclusion, I wish to express my warmest thanks to Professor Tout, to whose suggestions and criticisms I am deeply indebted.
I must also thank the Delegates of the Cambridge University Press for their kindness in permitting me to use material embodied in my edition of The Political Works of J. J. Rousseau.
= Euvres de J. J. Rousseau, 13 vols. Ed. Hachette,
= Correspondance de J. J. Rousseau avec M. M. Rey. Ed. Bosscha, Amsterdam, 1858.
POL. WRIT. = Political Writings of J. J. Rousseau, 2 vols. Ed. Vaughan, Cambridge University Press, 1915.
=Aulard, Histoire politique de la Révolution française, I vol. 4to. Paris (3rd edition, 1905).
Sébastien Mercier, De J. J. Rousseau, considéré comme l'un des principaux auteurs de la Révolution française, 2 vols. Paris, 1791.