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34. Pierre de Marivaux (1688-1763), The French Spectator, 5 October 172355

Marivaux is best known as a dramatist and novelist, but he also worked as a journalist.56 With Le Spectateur français, he aimed to produce a periodical focusing particularly on moral reflection, in the vein of the seventeenth-century moralists. It ran to twenty-five issues and was published sporadically between June-July 1721 and October 1724.

It is true that we are all born wicked, but this wickedness takes the form of a monster that we carry within us, with which we must struggle; we recognise this monster all too clearly whenever we gather en masse. […]

There is little doubt that the particular mores and customs of men are flawed; what else can we expect, when these mores are the pure invention of men, when these customs are as varied and numerous as there are nations in the world? But the law that commands us to be just and virtuous is everywhere the same: men did not invent it, they merely agreed that they must follow it as it was revealed to them by reason or by God himself, as it is revealed everywhere with perfect uniformity. There was no need for men to say, ‘this is how we must be just and virtuous’; they merely said, ‘let us be just and virtuous’, and that was sufficient. Everyone understands it everywhere, in no land does it require explanation. Wherever I go, I find in the minds of men the same thinking on this matter, a point of agreement among all peoples.

55 Pierre Carlet de Chamblain de Marivaux, Le Spectateur français, 5 October 1723, in his Journaux et Œuvres diverses, ed. Frédéric Deloffre et Michel Gilot, Paris: Classiques Garnier, 1969, pp. 233-235.