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DUTY (from " due," that which is owin...

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Originally appearing in Volume V08, Page 737 of the 1911 Encyclopedia Britannica.
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DUTY (from " due," that which is owing, O. Fr. deu, dil, past participle of devoir; Lat. debere, debitum; cf. " debt "), a term loosely applied to any action or course of action which is regarded as morally incumbent, apart from personal likes and dislikes or any external compulsion. Such action must be viewed in relation to a principle, which may be abstract in the highest sense (e.g. obedience to the dictates of conscience) or based on local and personal relations. That a father and his children have mutual duties implies that there are moral laws regulating their relation-ship; that it is the duty of a servant to obey his master within certain limits is part of a definite contract, whereby he becomes a servant engaging to d& certain things for a specified wage. Thus it is held that it is not the duty of a servant to infringe a moral law even though his master should command it. For the nature of duty in the abstract, and the various criteria on which it has been based, see ETHICS. From the root idea of obligation to serve or give something in return, involved in the conception of duty, have sprung various derivative uses of the word; thus it is used of the services performed by a minister of a church, by a soldier, or by any employee or servant. A special application is to a tax, a payment due to the revenue of a state, levied by force of law. Properly a " duty " differs from a " tax " in being levied on specific commodities, transactions, estates, &c., and not on individuals; thus it is right to talk of import-duties, excise-duties, death- or succession-duties, &c., but of income-tax as being levied on a person in proportion to his income. DU VAIR, GUILLAUME (1556—1621), French author and lawyer, was born in Paris on the 7th of March 1 556. Du Vair was in orders, and, though during the greater part of his life he exercised only legal functions, he was from 1617 till his death bishop of Lisieux. His reputation, however, is that of a lawyer, a statesman and a man of letters. He became in 1584 counsellor of the parlement of Paris, and as deputy for Paris to the Estates of the League he pronounced his most famouspolitico-legal discourse, an argument nominally for the Salic law, but in reality directed against the alienation of the crown of France to the Spanish infanta, which was advocated by the extreme Leaguers. Henry IV. a tknowledged his services by entrusting him with a special commission as magistrate at Marseilles, and made him master of requests. In 1595 appeared his treatise De l'eloquence francaise et des raisons pour quoi elle est demeuree si basse, in which he criticizes the orators of his day, adding by way of example some translations of the speeches of ancient orators, which reproduce the spirit rather than the actual words of the originals. He was sent to England in 1596 with the marshal de Bouillon to negotiate a league against Spain; in 1599 he became first president of the parlement of Province (Aix); and in 1603 was appointed to the see of Marseilles, which he soon resigned in order to resume the presidency. In 1616 he received the highest promotion open to a French lawyer and became keeper of the seals. He died at Tonneins (Lot-et-Garonne) on the 3rd of August 1621. Both as speaker and writer he holds a very high rank, and his character was equal to his abilities. Like other political lawyers of the time, Du Vair busied himself not a little in the study of philosophy. The most celebrated of his treatises are La Philosophie morale des Stoiques, translated into English (1664) by Charles Cotton; De la constance et consolation es calamites publiques,' which was composed during the siege of Paris in 1589, and applied the Stoic doctrine to present misfortunes; and La Sainte Philosophic, in which religion and philosophy are intimately connected. Pierre Charron drew freely on these and other works of Du Vair. F. de Brunetiere points out the analogy of Du Vair's position with that afterwards developed by Pascal, and sees in him the ancestor of the Jansenists. Du Vair had a great indirect influence on the development of style in French, for in the south of France he made the acquaintance of Malherbe, who conceived a great admiration for Du Vair's writings. The reformer of French poetry learned much from the treatise De l'eloquence francaise, to which the counsels of his friend were no doubt added. Du Vair's works were published in folio at Paris in 1641. See Niceron, Memoires, vol. 43; and monographs by C. A. Sapey (1847 and 1858).
End of Article: DUTY (from " due," that which is owing, O. Fr. deu, dil, past participle of devoir; Lat. debere, debitum; cf. " debt ")

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