The Ideological Origins of the Batavian Revolution

pp 98-148

The Development of Patriot and Orangist Ideology

  • I. Leonard Leeb

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During the 1760’s powerful intellectual trends from outside the Republic continued to increase their penetration. From France in particular was this the case. Voltaire’s works became better known; his Traité sur la Tolerance was translated in 1764. As early as 1755 most of the works of Jean-Jacques Rousseau were published in first or early editions in Holland. The publisher Marc Michel Rey of Amsterdam was one of the chief agents in the dissemination of Rousseau’s ideas. In 1755 he put out the first edition of Discours sur L’inégalité, in’58 Lettre à d’Alembert, in’61 La Nouvelle Héloïse, and in 1763 Contrat Social. While these books emanated from Amsterdam, their influence on the intellectual life in the Netherlands was far less than one might expect. They were read and discussed; their content of new or newly presented ideas came to be reflected in the interests of some Dutch writers; they were, oddly enough, not translated for the most part until long after their original appearance in French. In the case of the primarily political works like the Contrat Social, there are only indirect and sporadic hints that it has been incorporated into the mental baggage of Patriot and other writers before the French Revolution itself. By the time the first translation of the Contrat appears in 1793, most of its insights have become quite common, almost imperceptibly so.