Open main menu
This page has been proofread, but needs to be validated.

Malebranche, secretary to Louis XIII., and Catherine de Lauzon, sister of a viceroy of Canada, was born at Paris on the 6th of August 1638. Deformed and constitutionally feeble, he received his elementary education from a tutor, and left home only when sufficiently advanced to enter upon a course of philosophy at the Collège de la Marche, and subsequently to study theology at the Sorbonne. He had resolved to take holy orders, but his studious disposition led him to decline a stall in Notre Dame, and in 1660 he joined the congregation of the Oratory. He was first advised by Père Lecointe to devote himself to ecclesiastical history, and laboriously studied Eusebius, Socrates, Sozomen and Theodoret, but “the facts refused to arrange themselves in his mind, and mutually effaced one another.” Richard Simon undertook to teach him Hebrew and Biblical criticism with no better success. At last in 1664 he chanced to read Descartes’s Traité de l’homme (de homine), which moved him so deeply that (it is said) he was repeatedly compelled by palpitations of the heart to lay aside his reading. Malebranche was from that hour consecrated to philosophy, and after ten years’ study of the works of Descartes he produced the famous De la recherche de la vérité, followed at intervals by other works, both speculative and controversial. Like most of the great metaphysicians of the 17th century, Malebranche interested himself also in questions of mathematics and natural philosophy, and in 1699 was admitted an honorary member of the Academy of Sciences. During his later years his society was much courted, and he received many visits from foreigners of distinction. He died on the 13th of October 1715; his end was said to have been hastened by a metaphysical argument into which he had been drawn in the course of an interview with Bishop Berkeley. For a critical account of Malebranche’s place in the history of philosophy, see Cartesianism.

Works.De La recherche de la vérité (1674; 6th ed., 1712; ed. Bouillier, 1880; Latin trans, by J. Lenfant at Geneva in 1685; English trans. by R. Sault, 1694; and T. Taylor, 1694, 1712); Conversations chrétiennes (1677, and frequently; Eng. trans., London, 1695); Traité de la nature et de la grâce (1680; Eng. trans., London, 1695); Méditations chrétiennes et métaphysiques (1683); Traité de morale (1684; separate ed. by H. Joly, 1882; Eng. trans, by Sir J. Shipton, 1699); several polemical works against Arnauld from 1684 to 1688; Entretiens sur la métaphysique et sur la religion (1688); Traité de l’amour de Dieu (1697); Entretiens d’un philosophe chrétien et d’un philosophe chinois sur l’existence et la nature de Dieu (1708); Réflexions sur la prémotion physique (1715).

A convenient edition of his works in two volumes, with an introduction, was published by Jules Simon in 1842. A full account by Mrs Norman Smith of his theory of vision, in which he unquestionably anticipated and in some respects surpassed the subsequent work of Berkeley, will be found in the British Journal of Psychology (Jan. 1905). For recent criticism see H. Joly, in the series Les Grands philosophes (Paris, 1901); L. Ollé-Laprune, La Philosophie de Malebranche (1870); M. Novaro, Die Philosophie des Nicolaus Malebranche (1893).

MALER KOTLA, a native state of India, within the Punjab. It ranks as one of the Cis-Sutlej states, which came under British influence in 1809. The territory lies south of Ludhiana. Area, 167 sq. m. Pop. (1901), 77,506, showing an increase of 2% in the decade. Estimated gross revenue, £30,100. The military force numbers 280 men; and there is no tribute. The town Maler Kotla is 30 m. S. of Ludhiana; pop. (1901), 21,122. The nawab or chief is of Afghan descent; his family originally came from Kabul, and occupied positions of trust in Sirhind under the Mogul emperors. They gradually became independent as the Mogul Empire sank into decay in the course of the 18th century. In General Lake’s campaign against Holkar in 1805 the nawab of Maler Kotla sided with the British. After the subjugation and flight of Holkar, the English government succeeded to the power of the Mahrattas in the districts between the Sutlej and the Jumna; and in 1809 its protection was formally extended to Maler Kotla, as to the other Cis-Sutlej states, against the formidable encroachments of Ranjit Singh. In the campaigns of 1806, 1807 and 1808 Ranjit Singh had made considerable conquests across the Sutlej; in 1808 he marched on Maler Kotla and demanded a ransom of £10,000 from the nawab. This led to the interference of the British, who addressed an ultimatum to Ranjit Singh, declaring the Cis-Sutlej states to be under British protection. Finally the raja of Lahore submitted, and the nawab was reinstated in February 1809. Owing to the mental incapacity of nawab Ibrahim Ali Khan, the state was administered in recent years for some time by the chief of Loharu; but his son, Ahmed Ali Khan, was made regent in February 1905.

See Maler Kotla State Gazetteer (Lahore, 1908).

MALESHERBES, CHRÉTIEN GUILLAUME DE LAMOIGNON DE (1721–1794), commonly known as Lamoignon-Malesherbes, French statesman, minister, and afterwards counsel for the defence of Louis XVI., came of a famous legal family. He was born at Paris on the 6th of December 1721, and was educated for the legal profession. The young lawyer soon proved his intellectual capacity, when he was appointed president of the cour des aides in the parlement of Paris in 1750 on the promotion of his father, Guillaume de Lamoignon, to be chancellor. One of the chancellor’s duties was to control the press, and this duty was entrusted to Malesherbes by his father during his eighteen years of office, and brought him into connexion with the public far more than his judicial functions. To carry it out efficiently he kept in communication with the literary leaders of Paris, and especially with Diderot, and Grimm even goes so far as to say that “without the assistance of Malesherbes the Encyclopédie would probably never have been published.” In 1771 he was called upon to mix in politics; the parlements of France had been dissolved, and a new method of administering justice devised by Maupeou, which was in itself commendable as tending to the better and quicker administration of justice, but pernicious as exhibiting a tendency to over-centralization, and as abolishing the hereditary “nobility of the robe,” which, with all its faults, had from its nature preserved some independence, and been a check on the royal power. Malesherbes presented a strong remonstrance against the new system, and was at once banished to his country seat at St Lucie, to be recalled, however, with the old parlement on the accession of Louis XVI., and to be made minister of the maison du roi in 1775. He only held office nine months, during which, however, he directed his attention to the police of the kingdom, which came under his department, and did much to check the odious practice of issuing lettres de cachet. The protest of the cour des aides in 1775 is one of the most important documents of the old régime in France. It gives a complete survey of the corrupt and inefficient administration, and presented the king with most outspoken criticism. On retiring from the ministry with Turgot in 1776, he betook himself entirely to a happy country and domestic life and travelled through Switzerland, Germany and Holland. An essay on Protestant marriages (1787) did much to procure for them the civil recognition in France. He had always been an enthusiastic botanist; his avenue at St Lucie was world famous; he had written against Buffon on behalf of the botanists whom Buffon had attacked, and had been elected a member of the Académie des sciences as far back as 1750. He was now elected a member of the Académie française, and everything seemed to promise a quiet and peaceful old age spent in the bosom of his family and occupied with scientific and literary pursuits, when the king in his difficulties wished for the support of his name, and summoned him back to the ministry in 1787. Lamoignon-Malesherbes held office but a short time, but returned to his country life this time with a feeling of insecurity and disquiet, and, as the troubles increased, retired to Switzerland. Nevertheless, in December 1792, in spite of the fair excuse his old age and long retirement would have given him, he voluntarily left his asylum and undertook with Tronchet and Desèze the defence of the king before the Convention, and it was his painful task to break the news of his condemnation to the king. After this effort he returned once more to the country, but in December 1793 he was arrested with his daughter, his son-in-law M. de Rosambo, and his grandchildren, and on the 23rd of April 1794 he was guillotined, after having seen all whom he loved in the world executed before his eyes for their relationship to him. Malesherbes is one of the