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Great French Writers: Turgot

  • Great French Writers: Turgot By Leon Say
April 30, 1888

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For an those who have related to us his life, who have collected with a pious care his most trifling sayings, his slightest writings, Turgot is a great mind, one of the greatest minds of the eighteenth century, the greatest, perhaps, next to Montesquieu; but they all look upon him as an unlucky reformer, who died at his work under the attacks of adversaries, weaker than himself, it is true, but more cunning; men who were no doubt less anxious to know and to apply the great truths of political economy, but who were admirably trained to set in motion, for their own profit, all the springs of court intrigues.

We cannot conceal the fact that an utterance escapes from the bosom of those even who have most constantly lived near him, who have never ceased loving and admiring him. They all say, repeat, and write: Turgot did not possess the qualities which insure victory.

My aim is to deduce from his life and his work a very different conclusion; and whilst speaking of him, I would treat him, not as a defeated man, but as a glorious.

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George Routledge and Sons, London, 1888