Revolution

Pre-20th-century Europeans on Self-Defense


Trenchard and Moyle on Deterrence

If those in government are heedless of reason, the people must patiently submit to Bondage, or stand upon their own Defence; which if they are enabled to do, they shall never be put upon it, but their Swords may grow rusty in their hands; for that Nation is surest to live in Peace, that is most capable of making War; and a Man that hath a Sword by his side, shall have least occasion to make use of it.

-- J. Trenchard & W. Moyle, An Argument Showing, That a Standing Army is Inconsistent With a Free Government, and Absolutely Destructive to the Constitution of the English Monarch (London, 1697).


Barlow on Arms

The danger (where there is any) from armed citizens, is only to the government, not to the society; as long as they have nothing to revenge in the government (which they cannot have while it is in their own hands) there are many advantages in their being accustomed to the use of arms and no possible disadvantage.

-- J. Barlow, Advice to the Privileged Orders in the Several States of Europe: Resulting From the Necessity and Propriety of a General Revolution in the Principle of Government (London, 1792, 1795 and reprint 1956).


Francis Place on Self-Defense

Dogs could not be used in the streets in the manner many Jews were treated. One circumstance among others put an end to the ill-usage of the Jews. About the year 1787 Daniel Mendoza, a Jew, became a celebrated boxer and set up a school to teach the art of boxing as a science. The art soon spread among young Jews and they became generally expert at it. The consequence was in a very few years seen and felt too. It was no longer safe to insult a Jew unless he was an old man and alone. But even if the Jews were unable to defend themselves, the few who would now be disposed to insult them merely because they are Jews, would be in danger of chastisement from the passers-by and of punishment from the police.

-- Francis Place, Improvement of the Working Classes (1834) as quoted in R. Webb, Modern England: From the 18th Century to the Present (1970).