Reference > Fiction > Nonfiction > Warner, et al., eds. > The Library

C.D. Warner, et al., comp.  The Library of the World’s Best Literature.
An Anthology in Thirty Volumes.  1917.
Passages from the Pamphlets
By Voltaire (1694–1778)
LOVE truth, but pardon error. The mortal who goes astray is still a man and thy brother. Be wise for thyself alone; compassionate for him. Achieve thine own welfare by blessing others.  1
  TAKE revenge upon a rival by surpassing him.  2
  TO desire all is the mark of a fool. Excess is his portion. Moderation is the treasure of the wise: he knows how to control his tastes, his labors, his pleasures.  3
  WORK is often the father of pleasure. I pity the man overwhelmed with the weight of his own leisure. Happiness is a good that nature sells us.  4
  ONE day some mice said to one another, “How charming is this world! What an empire is ours! This palace so superb was built for us; from all eternity God made for us these large holes. Do you see those fat hams under that dim ceiling? they were created there for us by Nature’s hands; those mountains of lard, inexhaustible aliment, will be ours till the end of time. Yes, we are, great God, if our sages tell us the truth, the masterpiece, the end, the aim, of all thy works! Cats are dangerous and prompt to devour, but it is to instruct and correct us!”  5
  MIRACLES are good; but to relieve a brother, to draw a friend from the depths of misery, to pardon the virtues of our enemies—these are greater miracles.  6
  THE SECRET of wearying your reader is to tell him everything.  7
  THE TRUE virtue then is “beneficence”; a new word in the French language, but the whole universe ought to cherish the idea.  8
  SOULS communicate with souls, and can measure one another without need of an intermediate body. It is only the greatness or the worth of a soul that ought to frighten or intimidate us. To fear or to respect the body and its accessories—force, beauty, royalty, rank, office—is pure imbecility. Men are born equal and die equal. Let us respect the virtue, the merit of their souls, and pity the imperfections of these souls.  9
  DOUBTLESS we should by prudence avoid the evil which that physical force [of rulers] can do us, as we should guard ourselves against a crowned bull, an enthroned monkey, a savage dog, let loose upon us. Let us beware of such. Let us even endeavor, if possible, to moderate them, to soften them; but this sentiment is very different from the esteem and respect which we owe to souls.  10
  HAVING it clearly in your heart that all men are equal, and in your head that the exterior distinguishes them, you can get on very well in the world.  11
  BELIEVE that in his eternal wisdom the Most High has, with his own hand, engraved at the bottom of thy heart natural religion. Believe that the native candor of thy soul will not be the object of God’s eternal hate. Believe that before his throne, in all times and in all places, the heart of the just person is precious. Believe that a modest bonze, a charitable dervish, finds favor in his eyes sooner than a pitiless Jansenist or an ambitious pontiff. God judges us according to our virtues, not our sacrifices.  12
  AFTER all, it is right to give every possible form to our soul. It is a flame that God has intrusted to us: we are bound to feed it with all that we find most precious. We should introduce into our existence all imaginable modes, and open every door of the soul to all sorts of knowledge and all sorts of feelings: so long as it does not all go in pell-mell, there is plenty of room for everything.  13
  ONE who has many witnesses of his death can die with courage.  14
  I ENVY the beasts two things,—their ignorance of evil to come, and their ignorance of what is said about them.  15
  DOES not experience prove that influence over men’s minds is gained only by offering them the difficult, nay, the impossible, to perform or believe? Offer only things that are reasonable, and all the world will answer, “We knew as much as that.” But enjoin things that are hard, impracticable; paint the Deity as ever armed with the thunder; make blood run before the altars: and you will win the multitude’s ear, and everybody will say of you, “He must be right, or he would not so boldly proclaim things so marvelous.”  16
  A SURE means of not yielding to the desire to kill yourself is to have always something to do.  17
  OPINION rules the world, and wise men rule opinion.  18
  ALL nature is nothing but mathematics.  19
  TO make a good book, one must have a prodigious length of time and the patience of a saint.  20
  THE HUMAN race would be too unhappy if it were as common to commit atrocious things as it is to believe them.  21
  MOST men die without having lived.  22
  WHO ought to be the king’s favorite? The people.  23
  I KNOW no great men except those who have rendered great services to the human race.  24
  YES, without doubt, peace is of more value than truth; that is to say, we must not vex our neighbor by arguments; but it is necessary to seek the soul’s peace in truth, and to tread under foot the monstrous errors which would perturb it, and render it the prey of knaves.  25
  CONTROVERSY never convinced any man; men can be influenced by making them think for themselves, by seeming to doubt with them, by leading them as if by the hand, without their perceiving it. A good book lent to them, which they read at leisure, produces upon them surer effects, because they do not then blush to be subjugated by the superior reason of an antagonist.  26
  WE are in this world only to do good in it.  27
  THE MORE you know, the less sure you are.  28

Shakespeare · Bible · Strunk · Anatomy · Nonfiction · Quotations · Reference · Fiction · Poetry
© 1993–2015 · [Top 150] · Subjects · Titles · Authors · World Lit.