Charles Forbes René de Montalembert

French publicist, historian and Count of Montalembert, Deux-Sèvres (1810-1870)

Charles Forbes René de Montalembert (15 April 1810, in London – 13 March 1870, in Paris) was a French publicist, historian and Count of Montalembert, Deux-Sèvres, and a prominent representative of liberal Catholicism.

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  • Not being able to read in the book of history, which shows that democracy degenerates everywhere into despotism, it undertook to establish democracy in France . . . thus it dared to fight in every way the two foundations of all societies, authority and inequality; inequality which is the obvious basis of all activity and fecundity in social life; which is at the same time the mother and the daughter of liberty, since equality cannot be imagined outside of tyranny. To be sure, I am not speaking about Christian equality, whose real name is equity; but about this democratic and social equality, which is nothing but the canonization of envy and the chimera of jealous ineptitude. This equality was never anything but a mask which could not become reality without the abolition of all merit and virtue . . .
    . . . No, property, the last religion of bastard societies, cannot resist alone the onslaught of the levellers. Have we not seen in our days that the privileges even of intellect have been challenged, and that appeals have been made to ignorance in order to save the revolution? It cannot be doubted that the dogma of equality, quite logically, should not respect merit or wealth more than birth.
    • Speech delivered February 5, 1852. Reprint in pamphlet form by the Académie Française.

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