We are afraid to put men to live and trade each on his own private stock of reason; because we suspect that this stock in each man is small, and that individuals would do better to avail themselves of the general bank and capital of nations and ages.
The 1730s were a time of war in Europe. The French Revolution’s message of equality, democracy, and national community as the source of progress and happiness clashed with the forces of reaction. Observing this scene and thinking back to earlier wars, the German poet Klopstock confessed that “before, most hateful of all horrors to me was murderous struggle over the right path to everlasting joy. Now I am filled with equal dismay at every life taken, every breath failing in battle over how to be happy on this side of the grave.”