Freethought Archives > Baron d'Holbach > The System of Nature

Notes on this e-text of The System of Nature

To avoid persecution, Holbach published La Système de la Nature in 1770 under the name of Jean-Baptiste de Mirabaud (1674-1760), an actual scholar who had died ten years previously. The work was first translated into English in 1795 by William Hodgson while imprisoned in Newgate for drinking a toast to the success of the French Revolution.  It appeared in several English editions in the nineteenth century, under the titles of The System of Nature and Nature and Her Laws.

This online version is based on Samuel Wilkinson's translation, published in London in 1820-21. Although Wilkinson's edition was originally published in three instalments, this e-text retains the original two-volume format. 

It is noteworthy that Wilkinson was unaware of the true author's identity, as in his Appendix he misattributes the work to Mirabaud. Wilkinson also seems to have adapted the French text rather freely in parts, such as the final paragraph of the Preface. For a more faithful translation see Henry D. Robinson's translation of 1835.