Voltaire XII

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  • 8/20/2019 Voltaire XII


    E D I T I O N D E L A P A C I F I C A T I O N

    T H E W O R K S O F







    T H E R T . H O N . J O H N M O R L E Y  

    F O R T Y - T H R E E V O L U M E S








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    I am a heritage because I

    brln you years cj thought

  • 8/20/2019 Voltaire XII


    and tbe lore of time *-^

    I Impart yet I can r>ot speak-

    I have traveled amorxi tbe

    peoples o^ tbe eartb

    am a rover-^ Oft-tl

    I strc^y jron? tbe tresufe-

    of tbe or^ u!bo loves ar^"

    cberlsbeo n#e-abo

    rmooeo n?e uhep I an?

    ^oi?e ^-$hould you %nd

    me varar?t please send

    brothers -on tbe book-

    sbelves of

    &'O&(') O+

    , . /0'1'(02($

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  • 8/20/2019 Voltaire XII


    (4I)IO5 4( .0 &06I+I60)IO5

    .imited to one thousand sets

    for 0merica and 1reat 7ritain

    87et9een t9o servants of /umanity: 9ho appeared

    eighteen hundred years apart: the rf *; a mysterious relation

    * * * * .et us say it 9ith a sentiment of

    profound respect< =($$ ,(&)< 2O.)0I'( $I.(4

    Of that divine tear and of that human smile is composed the

    s9eetness of the present [email protected]

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    0IAlA(BO'IO0lA 7$) OC 2O.)0I'(

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    0 ,O'4 made use of to express gold 8$ir: 9ill

    you lend me a hundred louis d;or?8 8$ir: I 9ould

    9ith all my heart: but I have no money ! I am out

    of ready money8 )he Italian 9ill say to you<

    8$ignore: non ha di danari8 8I have no deniers8

    /arpagon asks aitre =acKues< 8,ilt thou

    make a good entertainment?8 8es: if you 9ill

    give me plenty of money8

    ,e continually inKuire 9hich of the countries of

    (urope is the richest in money ? 7y that 9e mean:

    9hich is the people 9ho circulate the most metals

    representative of objects of commerce? In the

    same manner 9e ask: 9hich is the poorest? and

    thirty contending nations present themselves the

    ,estphalian: .imousin: 7asKue: )yrolese: 2alois:

    1rison: Istrian: $cotch: and Irish: the $9iss of a

    small canton: and above all the subjects of the pope

    In deciding 9hich has most: 9e hesitate at pres-

    ent bet9een +rance: $pain: and /olland: 9hich had

    none in FHGG

  • 8/20/2019 Voltaire XII


    +ormerly: in the thirteenth: fourteenth: and %f-

    teenth centuries: the province of the papal treasury

    had no doubt the most ready money: and therefore


    H &hilosophical

    the greatest trade /o9 do you sell that ? 9ould be

    asked of a theological merchant: 9ho replied: +or

    as much as the people are fools enough to give me

    0ll (urope then sent its money to the 'oman

    court: 9ho gave in change consecrated beads:

    agnuses: indulgences plenary and limited: dispensa-

    tions: con%rmations: exemptions: benedictions: and

    even excommunications against those 9hom the

    subscriber chose! and 9ho had not suMcient faith

    in the court of 'ome

     )he 2enetians sold nothing of all this: but they

    traded 9ith all the ,est by 0lexandria: and it 9as

    through them only that 9e had pepper and cinna-

    mon )he money 9hich 9ent not to the papal

  • 8/20/2019 Voltaire XII


    treasury came to them: excepting a little to the

     )uscans and 1enoese 0ll the other kingdoms of

    (urope 9ere so poor in ready money that 6harles

    2III 9as obliged to borro9 the je9els of the

    duchess of $avoy and put them in pa9n: to raise

    funds to conKuer 5aples: 9hich he soon lost again

     )he 2enetians supported stronger armies than his

    0 noble 2enetian had more gold in his coCers: and

    more vessels of silver on his table: than the emperor

    aximilian surnamed 8&ochi danari8

     )hings changed 9hen the &ortuguese tradeN

    9ith India as conKuerors: and the $paniards sub-

     jugated exico and &eru 9ith six or seven hundreH

    men ,e kno9 that then the commerce of 2enice::

    and the other to9ns of Italy all fell to the ground

    &hilip II: the master of $pain: &ortugal: the .o9

    4ictionary P

    6ountries: the )9o $icilies: and the ilanese: of

    %fteen hundred leagues of coast in 0sia: and mines

    of gold and silver in 0merica: 9as the only rich:

    and conseKuently the only po9erful prince in (u-

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    rope )he spies 9hom he gained in +rance kissed

    on their knees the 6atholic doubloons: and the small

    number of angels and caroluses 9hich circulated in

    that country had not much credit It is pretended

    that 0merica and 0sia brought him in nearly ten

    million ducats of revenue /e 9ould have really

    bought (urope 9ith his money: but for the iron of

    /enry I2 and the Qeets of Bueen ([email protected]

     )he 84ictionnaire (ncyclopediKue8 in the article

    on 80rgent:8 Kuotes the 8$pirits of .a9s:8 in 9hich

    it is said < 8I have heard deplored a thousand times:

    the blindness of the council of +rancis I: 9ho re-

     jected the proposal of 6hristopher 6olumbus for the

    discovery of the Indies perhaps this imprudence

    has turned out a very 9ise thing8

    ,e see by the enormous po9er of &hilip that the

    pretended council of +rancis I could not have done

    such a 9ise thing 7ut let us content ourselves

    9ith remarking that +rancis I 9as not born 9hen

    it is pretended that he refused the oCers of 6hris-

    topher 6olumbus )he 1enoese captain landed in

    0merica in F#J: and +rancis I 9as born in F#P:

    and did not ascend the throne until FLFL .et us

    here compare the revenues of /enry III: /enry

  • 8/20/2019 Voltaire XII


    I2: and Bueen ([email protected]: 9ith those of &hilip II

     )he ordinary income of ([email protected] 9as only one

    R &hilosophical

    hundred thousand pound sterling: and 9ith extras

    it 9as: one year 9ith another: four hundred thou-

    sand! but she reKuired this surplus to defend her-

    self from &hilip II ,ithout extreme economy she

    9ould have been lost: and (ngland 9ith her

     )he revenue of /enry III indeed increased to

    thirty millions of livres of his time ! this: to the sum

    that &hilip dre9 from the Indies: 9as as three to

    ten! but not more than a third of this money en-

    tered into the coCers of /enry III: 9ho 9as very

    prodigal: greatly robbed: and conseKuently very

    poor ,e %ndthat &hilip II in one article 9as ten

    times richer than /enry

    0s to /enry I2: it is not 9orth 9hile to com-

    pare his treasures 9ith those of &hilip II ntil

    the &eace of 2ervins: he had only 9hat he could

    borro9 or 9in at the point of his s9ord! and he

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    lived as a knight-errant: until the time in 9hich he

    became the %rst king in (urope (ngland had al-

    9ays been so poor that 3ing (d9ard III 9as the

    %rst king 9ho coined money of gold

    ,ould 9e kno9 9hat became of the money

    9hich Qo9ed continually from exico and &eru

    into $pain? It entered the pockets of the +rench:

    (nglish and 4utch: 9ho traded 9ith [email protected] under

    $panish names! and 9ho sent to 0merica the

    productions of their manufactories 0 great part

    of this money goes to the (ast Indies to pay for

    spices: cotton: saltpetre: sugar: candy: tea: cloths:

    diamonds: and monkeys

    4ictionary: #

    ,e may after9ards demand: 9hat is become of

    all the treasures of the Indies ? I ans9er that $hah

     )hamas 3ouli-3han or $hah 5adir had carried

    a9ay all those of the great ogul: together 9ith

    his je9els ou 9ould kno9 9here those je9els

    are: and this money that $hah 5adir carried 9ith

    him into &ersia? 0 part 9as hidden in the earth

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    during the civil 9ars ! predatory leaders made use

    of the rest to raise troops against one another!

    for: as 6aesar very 9ell remarks < 8,ith money 9e

    get soldiers: and 9ith soldiers 9e steal money8 0

     our curiosity is not yet satis%ed ! you are

    troubled to kno9 9hat have become of the treasures

    of $esostris: of 6roesus: 6yrus: [email protected]@ar:

    and above all of $olomon: 9ho: it is said: had to his

    o9n share eKual to t9enty millions and more of our

    pounds in his coCers

    I 9ill tell you It is spread all over the 9orld

     )hings %nd their level in time 7e sure: that in the

    time of 6yrus: the 1auls: 1ermany: 4enmark:

    &oland: and 'ussia: had not a cro9n 7esides: that

    9hich is lost in gilding: 9hich is fooled a9ay upon

    our .ady of .oretto: and other places: and 9hich

    has been s9allo9ed up by the avaricious sea must

    be counted

    /o9 did the 'omans under their great 'omulus:

    the son of ars: and a vestal: and under the devout

    5uma &ompilius? )hey had a =upiter of oak!

    rudely carved huts for palaces! a handful of hay

    at the end of a stick for a standard ! and not a piece

  • 8/20/2019 Voltaire XII


    io &hilosophical

    of money of t9elve sous value in their pockets

    Our coachmen have gold 9atches that the seven

    kings of 'ome: the 6amilluses: anliuses: and

    +abiuses: could not have paid for

    If by chance the 9ife of a receiver-general of

    %nances 9as to have this chapter read at her

    toilette by the bel-esprit of the house: she 9ould

    have a strange contempt for the 'omans of the

    three %rst centuries: and 9ould not allo9 a anlius:

    6urius: or +abius to enter her antechamber: should

    he come on foot: and not have 9here9ithal to take

    his part at play

     )heir ready money 9as of brass It served at

    once for arms and money )hey fought and reck-

    oned 9ith brass )hree or four pounds of brass:

    of t9elve ounces 9eight: paid for an ox )hey

    bought necessaries at market: as 9e buy them at

    present ! and men had: as in all times: food: cloth-

    ing: and habitations )he 'omans: poorer than

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    their neighbors: conKuered them: and continually

    augmented their territory for the space of %ve hun-

    dred years: before they coined silver money

     )he soldiers of 1ustavus 0dolphus in $9eden

    had nothing but copper money for their pay: before

    the time that they made conKuests out of their o9n


    &rovided 9e have a pledge of exchange for the

    necessary things of life: commerce 9ill continually

    go on It signi%es not 9hether this pledge be of

    shells or paper 1old and silver have prevailed

    4ictionary F F

    every9here: only because they have been the most


    It 9as in 0sia that the %rst manufactures of

    money of these t9o metals commenced: because

    0sia 9as the cradle of all the arts

     )here certainly 9as no money in the )rojan

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    9ar 1old and silver passed by 9eight ! 0gamem-

    non might have had a treasure: but certainly no


    ,hat has made several hardy scholars suspect

    that the 8&entateuch8 9as not 9ritten until the

    time in 9hich the /ebre9s began to procure coins

    from their neighbors is that in more than one pas-

    sage mention is made of shekels It is there said

    that 0braham: 9ho 9as a stranger and had not an

    inch of land in the country of 6anaan: bought there

    a %eld and a cave in 9hich to bury his 9ife: for four

    hundred shekels of silver current money )he

     judicious 4om 6almet values this sum at four hun-

    dred and forty-eight livres: six sous: nine deniers:

    according to the ancient calculation adopted at ran-

    dom: in 9hich the silver mark 9as of six-and-

    t9enty livres value 0s the silver mark has: ho9-

    ever: increased by half the sum: the present value

    9ould be eight hundred and ninety-six livres

    5o9: as in that time there 9as no coined money

    ans9ering to the 9ord 8pecunia8 that 9ould make

    a little diMculty: from 9hich it is not easy to extri-

    cate ourselves

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    0nother diMculty is: that in one place it is said

    F J &hilosophical

    that 0braham bought this %eld in /ebron: and in

    another at $ichem On that point consult the vener-

    able 7ede: 'aban: aure: and (manuel $a

    ,e 9ill no9 speak of the riches 9hich 4avid

    left to $olomon in coined money $ome make it

    amount to t9enty-one or t9enty-t9o millions of

    +rench livres: others to %ve-and-t9enty )here is

    no keeper of the royal treasure: nor t-efterdan of the

    grand )urk;s: 9ho can exactly compute the treasure

    of 3ing $olomon ! but the young bachelors of Ox-

    ford and the $orbonne make out the amount 9ith-

    out diMculty

    I 9ill not speak of the innumerable adventures

    9hich have happened to money since it has been

    stamped: marked: valued: altered: increased: buried:

    and stolen: having through all its transformations

    constantly remained the idol of mankind It is so

    much loved that among all 6hristian princes there

  • 8/20/2019 Voltaire XII


    still exists an old la9 9hich is not to allo9 gold

    and silver to go out of their kingdoms )his la9

    implies one of t9o things either that these princes

    reign over fools 9ho lavish their money in a foreign

    country for their pleasure: or that 9e must not pay

    our debts to foreigners It is: ho9ever: clear that

    no person is foolish enough to give his money

    9ithout reason: and that: 9hen 9e are in debt to a

    foreigner: 9e should pay him either in bills of ex-

    change: commodities: or legitimate coin )hus this

    la9 has not been executed since 9e began to open

    our eyes 9hich is not long ago

    4ictionary F"

     )here are many things to be said on coined

    money! as on the unjust and ridiculous augmenta-

    tion of specie: 9hich suddenly loses considerable

    sums to a state on the melting do9n again ! on the

    re-stamping: 9ith an augmentation of ideal value:

    9hich augmentation invites all your neighbors and

    all your enemies to re-coin your money and gain at

    your expense! in short: on t9enty other eKually

    ruinous expedients $everal ne9 books are full of

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     judicious remarks upon this subject It is more easy

    to 9rite on money than to obtain it ! and those 9ho

    gain it: jest much at those 9ho only kno9 ho9 to

    9rite about it

    In general: the art of government consists in

    taking as much money as possible from one part of

    the [email protected] to give to the other

    It is demanded: if it be possible radically to ruin

    a kingdom of 9hich the soil in general is fertile

    ,e ans9er that the thing is not practicable: since

    from the 9ar of FHR# till the end of FPH#: in 9hich

    9e 9rite: everything has continually been done

    9hich could ruin +rance and leave it 9ithout re-

    source: and yet it never could be brought about It

    is a sound body 9hich has had a fever of eighty

    years 9ith relapses: and 9hich has been in the hands

    of Kuacks: but 9hich 9ill survive


     )/( de%nition of monsters is more diMcult than

    is generally imagined 0re 9e to apply the term

  • 8/20/2019 Voltaire XII


    F &hilosophical

    to animals of enormous [email protected] ! to a %sh: or a serpent

    %fteen feet long: for instance? )here are some:

    ho9ever: that are t9enty or even thirty feet long:

    in comparison 9ith 9hich of course the others: in-

    stead of enormous or monstrous: 9ould appear


     )here are monsters through defect 7ut: if a

    generally 9ell-made and handsome man 9ere desti-

    tute from his birth of the little toes and little

    %ngers: 9ould he be a monster? )eeth are more

    necessary to a man ! I have seen a man 9ho never

    had a tooth /e 9as in other respects pleasing in

    his person 7eing destitute of the organs of genera-

    tion: still more necessary in the system of nature:

    9ould not constitute the person thus defective a


     )here are monsters by excess as 9ell as by de-

    fect 7ut those 9ho have six %ngers: or three testi-

    cles: or t9o perforations instead of one: or the spine

    elongated in the form of a small tail: are not con-

    sidered monsters

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     )he third kind consists of those 9hich have

    members of other animals ! as: for example: a lion

    9ith the 9ings of an ostrich: or a serpent 9ith the

    9ings of an eagle: like the griMn and ixion of the

     =e9s 7ut all bats have 9ings: and Qying %sh have

    them: 9ithout being monsters

    .et us: then: reserve the name for animals 9hose

    deformities strike us 9ith horror

     et the %rst negro: upon this idea: 9as a monster

    4ictionary FL

    to 9hite 9omen! and the most admirable of (u-

    ropean beauties 9as a monster in the eyes of ne-


    If &olyphemus and the 6yclops had really ex-

    isted: people 9ho carried an eye on each side of the

    root of the nose: 9ould: in the island of .ipari: and

    the neighborhood of ount ^tna: have been pro-

    nounced monsters

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    I once sa9: at a fair: a young 9oman 9ith four

    nipples: or rather dugs: and 9hat resembled the

    tail of a co9 hanging do9n bet9een them $he

    9as decidedly a monster 9hen she displayed her

    neck: but 9as rather an agreeable 9oman in appear-

    ance 9hen she concealed it

    6entaurs and inotaurs 9ould have been mon-

    sters: but beautiful monsters )he 9ell-propor-

    tioned body of a horse serving as a base or support

    to the upper part of a man 9ould have been a

    masterpiece of nature;s 9orkmanship on earth ! just

    as 9e dra9 the masterpieces of heaven those

    spirits 9hich 9e call angels: and 9hich 9e paint and

    sculpture in our churches adorned sometimes 9ith

    t9o 9ings: sometimes 9ith four: and sometimes

    even 9ith six

    ,e have already asked: 9ith the judicious .ocke:

    9hat is the boundary of distinction bet9een the

    human and merely animal %gure ! 9hat is the point

    of monstrosity at 9hich it 9ould be proper to take

    your stand against [email protected] an infant: against ad-

    mitting it as a member of the human species: against

  • 8/20/2019 Voltaire XII


    F H &hilosophical

    according to it the possession of a soul? ,e have

    seen that this boundary is as diMcult to be settled

    as it is diMcult to ascertain 9hat a soul is ! for there

    certainly are none 9ho kno9 9hat it is but theo-


    ,hy should the satyrs 9hich $t =erome sa9:

    the oCspring of 9omen and baboons: have been re-

    puted monsters? ight it not be thought: on the

    contrary: that their lot 9as in reality happier than

    ours ? ust they not have possessed more strength

    and more agility ? and 9ould they not have laughed

    at us as an unfortunate race: to 9hom nature had re-

    fused both tails and clothing? 0 mule: the oC-

    spring of t9o diCerent species ! a jumart: the oC-

    spring of a bull and a mare ! a tarin: the oCspring:

    9e are told: of a canary bird and hen linnet are

    not monsters

    7ut ho9 is it that mules: jumarts: and tarins:

    9hich are thus produced in nature: do not them-

    selves reproduce? 0nd ho9 do the seminists:

  • 8/20/2019 Voltaire XII


    ovists: or animalculists: explain: upon their respec-

    tive theories: the formation of these mongrel produc-

    tions ?

    I 9ill tell you plainly: that they do not explain

    it at all )he seminists never discovered ho9 it

    is that the ass communicates to his mule oCspring

    a resemblance only in the ears and crupper! the

    ovists neither inform us: nor understand ho9 a

    mare should contain in her egg anything but an

    animal of her o9n species 0nd the animalculists

    4ictionary FP

    cannot perceive ho9 a minute embryo of an ass

    could introduce its ears into the matrix of a mare

     )he theorist 9ho: in a 9ork entitled the 8&hi-

    losophy of 2enus:8 maintained that all animals and

    all monsters are formed by attraction: 9as still less

    successful than those just mentioned: in accounting

    for phenomena so common and yet so surprising

    0las S my good friends S you none of you kno9

  • 8/20/2019 Voltaire XII


    ho9 you originate your o9n oCspring! you are

    ignorant of the secrets of nature in your o9n

    species: and yet vainly attempt to develop them in

    the mule S

    It may: ho9ever: be con%dently presumed: in

    reference to a monster by defect: that the 9hole

    seminal matter did not reach its destined appropria-

    tion! or: perhaps: that the small spermatic 9orm

    had lost a portion of its substance ! or: perhaps that

    the egg 9as [email protected] and injured ,ith respect to

    a monster by excess: you may imagine that some

    portions of the seminal matter superabounded ! that

    of t9o spermatic 9orms united: one could only ani-

    mate a single member of the animal: and that that

    member remains in supererogation! that t9o eggs

    have blended together: and that one of them has

    produced but a single member: 9hich 9as joined to

    the body of the other

    7ut 9hat 9ould you say of so many monstrosi-

    ties arising from the addition of parts of animals of

    a totally diCerent species? /o9 9ould you ex-

    plain a crab on the neck of a girl? or the tail of

    2ol FJ J

  • 8/20/2019 Voltaire XII


    F R &hilosophical

    a rat upon the thigh? or: above all: the four dugs

    and tail of a co9: 9hich 9as exhibited at the fair

    at $t 1ermain? ou 9ould be reduced to the

    supposition that the unfortunate 9oman;s mother

    belonged to the very extraordinary family of &asi-


    .et each of us boldly and honestly say: /o9 little

    is it that I really kno9


    7077.('$: preachers: extravagant controversial-

    ists S endeavor to remember that your master never

    announced that the sacrament 9as the visible

    sign of an invisible thing! /e has no9here ad-

    mitted four cardinal virtues: and three divine ones

    /e has never decided 9hether /is mother came

    into the 9orld maculate or immaculate 6ease:

    therefore: to repeat things 9hich never entered into

    /is mind /e has said: in conformity 9ith a truth

    as ancient as the 9orld .ove 1od and your neigh-

  • 8/20/2019 Voltaire XII


    bor 0bide by that precept: miserable cavillers S

    &reach morality and nothing more Observe it: and

    let the tribunals no longer echo 9ith your prosecu-

    tions ! snatch no longer: by the cla9 of an attorney:

    their morsel of bread from the 9ido9 and the or-

    phan 4ispute not concerning some petty bene%ce

    9ith the same fury as the papacy 9as disputed in

    the great schism of the ,est onks S place not to

    the utmost of your po9er: the universe under con-

    4ictionary F#

    tribution: and 9e may then be able to believe you

    I have just read these 9ords in a piece of decla-

    mation in fourteen volumes: entitled: 8)he /istory

    of the .o9er (mpire8! 8)he 6hristians had a

    morality: but the &agans had none8

    Oh: .e 7eau S author of these fourteen

    volumes: 9here did you pick up this absurdity?

    ,hat becomes of the morality of $ocrates: of Daleu-

    cus: of 6harondas: of 6icero: of (pictetus: and of

    arcus 0urelius ?

  • 8/20/2019 Voltaire XII


     )here is but one morality: .e 7eau: as there

    is but one geometry 7ut you 9ill tell me that the

    greater part of mankind are ignorant of geometry

     )rue ! but if they apply a little to the study of it: all

    men dra9 the same conclusions 0griculturists:

    manufacturers: artisans: do not go through a regu-

    lar course of morality! they read neither the 84e

    +inibus8 of 6icero: nor the 8(thics8 of 0ristotle!

    but as soon as they reQect: they are: 9ithout kno9-

    ing it: disciples of 6icero )he Indian dyer: the

     )artarian shepherd: and the (nglish seaman: are

    acKuainted 9ith justice and injustice 6onfucius

    did not invent a system of morals: as men construct

    physical systems /e found his in the hearts of all


     )his morality existed in the bosom of the praetor

    +estus: 9hen the =e9s pressed him to put &aul to

    death for having taken strangers into their temple

    8.earn:8 said he: 8that the 'omans never con-

    demn any one unheard8

    JG &hilosophical

  • 8/20/2019 Voltaire XII


    If the =e9s 9ere de%cient in a moral sense: the

    'omans 9ere not: and paid it homage

     )here is no morality in superstition! it exists

    not in ceremonies: and has nothing to do 9ith dog-

    mas ,e cannot repeat too freKuently that dogmas

    diCer: but that morality is the same among all men

    9ho make use of their reason orality proceeds

    from 1od: like light! our superstitions are only

    darkness 'eQect: reader! pursue the truth: and

    dra9 the conseKuences


    $(6)IO5 I

    &/I.O$O&/: of 9hich 9e sometimes pass the

    boundaries: researches of antiKuity: and the spirit

    of discussion and criticism: have been carried so

    far that several learned men have %nally doubted

    if there ever 9as a oses: and 9hether this man

    9as not an imaginary being: such as 9ere &erseus:

    7acchus: 0tlas: &enthesilea: 2esta: 'hea $ilvia:

    Isis: $ammonocodom: +o: ercury: )rismegistus:

    Odin: erlin: +rancus: 'obert the 4evil: and so

    many other heroes of romance 9hose lives and

  • 8/20/2019 Voltaire XII


    pro9ess have been recorded

    It is not very likely: say the incredulous: that a

    man ever existed 9hose life is a continual prodigy

    It is not very likely that he 9orked so many

    stupendous miracles in (gypt: 0rabia: and $yria:

    9ithout their being kno9n throughout the 9orld

    4ictionary JF

    It is not likely that no (gyptian or 1reek 9riter

    should have transmitted these miracles to posterity

     )hey are mentioned by the =e9s alone ! and in the

    time that this history 9as 9ritten by them: they

    9ere not kno9n to any nation not indeed until to-

    9ards the second century )he %rst author 9ho

    expressly Kuotes the 7ook of oses is .onginus:

    minister of Bueen Denobia: in the time of the em-

    peror 0urelian

    It is to be remarked that the author of the 8er-

    cury )rismegistus8 9ho certainly 9as an (gyptian:

    says not a single 9ord about this oses

  • 8/20/2019 Voltaire XII


    If a single ancient author had related a single

    one of these miracles: (usebius 9ould no doubt

    have triumphed in this evidence: either in his 8/is-

    tory8 or in his 8(vangelical &reparation8

    It is true: he mentions authors 9ho have Kuoted

    his name: but none 9ho have cited his prodigies

    7efore him: the =e9s: =osephus and &hilo: Tvho

    have so much celebrated their o9n nation: sought

    all the 9riters in 9hich the name of oses is found:

    but there 9as not a single one 9ho made the least

    mention of the marvellous actions attributed to him

    In this silence of the 9hole 9orld: the incredu-

    lous reason 9ith a temerity 9hich refutes itself

     )he =e9s are the only people 9ho possessed the

    &entateuch: 9hich they attribute to oses It is

    said: even in their books: that this &entateuch 9as

    not kno9n until the reign of their king =osiah:

    thirty-six years before the destruction and captivity

    JJ &hilosophical

  • 8/20/2019 Voltaire XII


    of =erusalem ! and they then only possessed a single

    copy: 9hich the priest /ilkiah found at the bottom

    of a strong box: 9hile counting money )he priest

    sent it to the king by his scribe $haphan 0ll this:

    say they: necessarily obscures the authenticity of

    the &entateuch

    In short: if the &entateuch 9as kno9n to all

    the =e9s: 9ould $olomon the 9ise $olomon: in-

    spired by 1od /imself to build a temple have orna-

    mented this temple 9ith so many statues: contrary

    to the express order of oses ?

    0ll the =e9ish prophets: 9ho prophesied in the

    name of the .ord from the time of oses till that

    of 3ing =osiah: 9ould they not have been supported

    in all their prophecies by the la9s of oses?

    ,ould they not a thousand times have Kuoted his

    o9n 9ords ? ,ould they not have commented upon

    them ? 5one of them: ho9ever: Kuote t9o lines no

    one follo9s the text of oses they even oppose

    them in several places

    0ccording to these unbelievers: the books at-

    tributed to oses 9ere only 9ritten among the

  • 8/20/2019 Voltaire XII


    7abylonians during the captivity: or immediately

    after9ards by (sdras Indeed: 9e see only &ersian

    and 6haldsean terminations in the =e9ish 9ritings <

    87abel:8 gate of 1od! 8&hegor-beel8 or 87cel-

    phegor:8 god of the precipices! 8Debuth-beel:8 or

    [email protected]:8 god of insects! 87ethel8 house of

    1od! 84aniel8 judgment of 1od! 81abriel:8 man

    of 1od! 8=ahel:8 aUicted of 1od! 8=ael:8 the life of

    4ictionary J"

    1od! 8Israel:8 seeing 1od! 8Ovid:8 strength of

    1od ! 8'aphael:8 help of 1od ! 8riel:8 %re of 1od

     )hus: all is foreign in the =e9ish nation: a

    stranger itself in &alestine! circumcision: cere-

    monies: sacri%ces: the ark: the cherubim: the goat

    /[email protected]@el: baptism of justice: simple baptism: proofs:

    divination: interpretation of dreams: enchantment

    of serpents nothing originated among these peo-

    ple: nothing 9as invented by them

     )he celebrated .ord 7olingbroke believed not

    that oses ever existed ! he thought he sa9 in the

  • 8/20/2019 Voltaire XII


    &entateuch a cro9d of contradictions and [email protected]@ling

    chronological and geographical faults ! names of

    to9ns not then built: precepts given to kings at a

    time 9hen not only the =e9s had no kings: but in

    9hich it is probable there 9ere none: since they

    lived in deserts: in tents: in the manner of the 7ed-

    ouin 0rabs

    ,hat appears to him above all the most palpable

    contradiction is the gift of forty-eight cities 9ith

    their suburbs: made to the .evites in a country in

    9hich there 9as not a single village ! and it is prin-

    cipally on these forty-eight cities that he refutes 0b-

    badie: and even has the cruelty to treat him 9ith

    the aversion and contempt of a lord of the pper

    6hamber: or a minister of state to9ards a petty

    foreign priest 9ho 9ould be so impertinent as to

    reason 9ith him

    I 9ill take the liberty of representing to 2iscount

    7olingbroke: and to all those 9ho think 9ith him:

    J &hilosophical

  • 8/20/2019 Voltaire XII


    not only that the =e9ish nation has al9ays believed

    in the existence of oses: and in that of his books:

    but that even =esus 6hrist has ackno9ledged him

     )he four 1ospels: the 0cts of the 0postles: recog-

    [email protected] him $t atthe9 says expressly: that oses

    and (lias appeared to =esus 6hrist on the mountain

    during the night of the trans%guration: and $t

    .uke says the same

     =esus 6hrist declares in $t atthe9 that he is

    not come to abolish this la9: but to accomplish it

    In the 5e9 )estament: 9e are often referred to the

    la9 of oses and to the prophets )he 9hole

    6hurch has al9ays believed the &entateuch 9ritten

    by oses ! and further: of %ve hundred diCerent so-

    cieties: 9hich have been so long established in 6hris-

    tendom: none have ever doubted the existence of this

    great prophet ,e must: therefore: submit our rea-

    son: as so many men have done before us

    I kno9 very 9ell that I shall gain nothing in the

    mind of the viscount: or of those of his opinion

     )hey are too 9ell persuaded that the =e9ish books

    9ere not 9ritten until very late: and during the

    captivity of the t9o tribes 9hich remained 7ut 9e

    shall possess the consolation of having the 6hurch

  • 8/20/2019 Voltaire XII


    9ith us

    $(6)IO5 II

    If you 9ould be instructed and amused 9ith an-

    tiKuity: read the life of oses in the article on


    In vain have several scholars believed that the

    4ictionary JL

    &entateuch could not have been 9ritten by oses

     )hey say that it is aMrmed even by the $cripture:

    that the %rst kno9n copy 9as found in the time of

    3ing =osiah: and that this single copy 9as brought

    to the king by the secretary $haphan 5o9: be-

    t9een the time of oses and this adventure of the

    secretary $haphan: there 9ere one thousand one

    hundred and sixty-seven years: by the /ebre9 com-

    putation +or 1od appeared to oses in the burn-

    ing bush: in the year of the 9orld JJF": and the

    secretary $haphan published the book of the la9 in

    the year of the 9orld ""RG )his book found under

  • 8/20/2019 Voltaire XII


     =osiah: 9as unkno9n until the return from the 7aby-

    lonish captivity! and it is said that it 9as (sdras:

    inspired by 1od: 9ho brought the /oly $criptures

    to light

    7ut 9hether it 9as (sdras or another 9ho di-

    gested this book is absolutely indiCerent: since it is

    inspired It is not said in the &entateuch: that oses

    9as the author! 9e might: therefore: be permitted

    to attribute it to the declaration of some other divine

    mind: if the 6hurch had not decided that the book is

    by oses

    $ome opposers add: that no prophet has Kuoted

    the books of the &entateuch: that there is no mention

    of it either in the &salms or in the books attributed

    to $olomon: in =eremiah or Isaiah: or: in short: in

    any canonical book of the =e9s ,ords ans9ering

    to those of 1enesis: (xodus: 5umbers: .eviticus:

    4euteronomy: are not found in any other language

    JH &hilosophical

    [email protected] by them as authentic Others: still

  • 8/20/2019 Voltaire XII


    more bold: have put the follo9ing Kuestions <

    F In 9hat language could oses have 9ritten

    in a savage desert? It could only be in (gyptian!

    for by this same book 9e are told that oses and

    all his people 9ere born in (gypt It is therefore

    probable that they spoke no other language )he

    (gyptians had yet made no use of papyrus ! they

    engraved hieroglyphics on tables of 9ood or marble

    It is even said: that the tables of the commandments

    9ere engraved on polished stones: 9hich reKuired

    prodigious time and labor

    J Is it likely: that in a desert 9here the =e9ish

    people had neither shoemaker nor tailor in 9hich

    the 1od of the universe 9as obliged to 9ork a con-

    tinual miracle to preserve the old dresses and shoes

    of the =e9s men could be found clever enough to

    engrave the %ve books of the &entateuch on marble

    or 9ood? ou 9ill say: that they found laborers

    9ho made a golden calf in one night: and 9ho after-

    9ards reduced the gold into po9der an operation

    impracticable to common chemistry: 9hich 9as not

    yet discovered ,ho constructed the tabernacle?

    ,ho ornamented thirty columns of brass 9ith capi-

    tals of silver? ,ho 9ove and embroidered veils

  • 8/20/2019 Voltaire XII


    of linen 9ith hyacinth: purple: and scarlet ? 0n ac-

    count that supports the opinion of the contradictors

     )hey ans9er: that it 9as not possible that in a des-

    ert: 9here they 9ere in 9ant of everything: for

    them to perform 9orks so intricate ! that they must

    4ictionary JP

    have begun by making shoes and tunics ! that those

    9ho 9anted necessaries could not indulge in luxu-

    ries! and that it is an evident contradiction to say:

    that they had founders: engravers: and embroider-

    ers: 9hen they had neither clothes nor bread

    " If oses had 9ritten the %rst chapter of

    1enesis: 9ould all young people have been forbidden

    to read the %rst chapter? ,ould so little respect

    have been paid to the legislator? If it 9as oses

    9ho said that 1od punished the iniKuity of the

    fathers to the fourth generation: 9ould (@ekiel

    have dared to say the contrary ?

    If oses 9rote .eviticus: could he have con-

    tradicted it in 4euteronomy? .eviticus forbids a

  • 8/20/2019 Voltaire XII


    9oman to marry her brother: 4euteronomy com-

    mands it

    L 6ould oses have spoken of to9ns 9hich ex-

    isted not in his time? ,ould he have said that

    to9ns 9hich: in regard to him: 9ere on the east of

    the =ordan 9ere on the 9est?

    H ,ould he have assigned forty-eight cities to

    the .evites: in a country in 9hich there 9ere never

    ten: and in a desert in 9hich he had al9ays 9an-

    dered 9ithout habitation?

    P ,ould he have prescribed rules for the =e9-

    ish kings: 9hen not only there 9ere no kings

    among this people: but they 9ere held in horror: and

    it 9as not probable they 9ould ever have any?

    ,hatS 9ould oses have given precepts for the

    conduct of kings 9ho came not until %ve hundred

    JR &hilosophical

    years after him: and have said nothing in relation

    to the judges and priests 9ho succeeded him? 4oes

  • 8/20/2019 Voltaire XII


    not this religion lead us to believe that the &enta-

    teuch 9as composed in the time of kings: and that

    the ceremonies instituted by oses 9ere only tra^


    R $uppose he had said to the =e9s< I have

    made you depart to the number of six hundred thou;

    sand combatants from the land of (gypt under the

    protection of your 1od ? ,ould not the =e9s have

    ans9ered him < ou must have been very timid not

    to lead us against &haraoh of (gypt ! he could not

    have opposed to us an army of t9o hundred thou-

    sand men )here never 9as such an army on foot

    in (gypt! 9e should have conKuered them easily!

    9e should have been the masters of their country

    ,hatS has the 1od: 9ho talks to you: to please us

    slain all the %rst-born of (gypt: 9hich: if there 9ere

    in this country three hundred thousand families:

    makes three hundred thousand men destroyed in one

    night: simply to avenge us: and yet you have not

    seconded your 1od and given us that fertile country

    9hich nothing could 9ithhold from us On the

    contrary you have made us depart from (gypt as

    thieves and co9ards: to perish in deserts bet9een

    mountains and precipices ou might: at least:

    have conducted us by the direct road to this land of

  • 8/20/2019 Voltaire XII


    6anaan: to 9hich 9e have no right: but 9hich you

    have promised us: and on 9hich 9e have not yet

    been able to enter

    4ictionary J#

    It 9as natural that: from the land of 1oshen:

    9e should march to9ards )yre and $idon: along the

    editerranean! but you made us entirely pass the

    Isthmus of [email protected]: and re-enter (gypt: proceed as far

    as emphis: 9hen 9e %nd ourselves at 7eel-$ephor

    on the borders of the 'ed $ea: turning our backs on

    the land of 6anaan: having journeyed eighty leagues

    in this (gypt 9hich 9e 9ished to avoid: so as at

    last to nearly perish bet9een the sea and the army of

    &haraoh S

    If you had 9ished to deliver us to our enemies:

    you could not have taken a diCerent route and other

    measures 1od has saved us by a miracle: you say !

    the sea opened to let us pass ! but after such a favor:

    should /e let us die of hunger and fatigue in the

    horrible deserts of 3adesh-barnea: ara: (lim:

    /oreb: and $inai ? 0ll our fathers perished in these

  • 8/20/2019 Voltaire XII


    frightful solitudes! and you tell us: at the end of

    forty years: that 1od took particular care of them

     )his is 9hat these murmuring =e9s: these unjust

    children of the vagabonds 9ho died in the desert:

    might have said to oses: if he had read (xodus

    and 1enesis to them 0nd 9hat might they not

    have said and done on the article of the golden calf ?

    ,hatS you dare to tell us that your brother made

    a calf for our fathers: 9hen you 9ere 9ith 1od on

    the mountain ? ou: 9ho sometimes tell us that you

    have spoken to 1od face to face: and sometimes that

    you could only see /is backS 7ut no matter: you

    9ere 9ith this 1od: and your brother cast a golden

    "G &hilosophical

    calf in one day: and gave it to us to adore it! and

    instead of punishing your un9orthy brother: you

    make him our chief priest: and order your .evites to

    slay t9enty-three thousand men of your people

    ,ould our fathers have suCered this ? ,ould they

    have allo9ed themselves to be sacri%ced like so

    many victims by sanguinary priests? ou tell us

  • 8/20/2019 Voltaire XII


    that: not content 9ith this incredible butchery: you

    have further massacred t9enty-four thousand of our

    poor follo9ers because one of them slept 9ith a

    idianitish 9 P oman: 9hilst you yourself espoused

    a idianite ! and yet you add: that you are the mild-

    est of men S 0 fe9 more instances of this mildness:

    and not a soul 9ould have remained

    5o! if you have been capable of all this cruelty:

    if you can have exercised it: you 9ould be the most

    barbarous of men: and no punishment 9ould suMce

    to expiate so great a crime

     )hese are nearly the objections 9hich all schol-

    ars make to those 9ho think that oses is the au-

    thor of the &entateuch 7ut 9e ans9er them: that

    the 9ays of 1od are not those of men ! that 1od has

    proved: conducted: and abandoned /is people by a

    9isdom 9hich is unkno9n to us! that the =e9s

    themselves: for more than t9o thousand years: have

    believed that oses is the author of these books!

    that the 6hurch: 9hich has succeeded the syna-

    gogue: and 9hich is eKually infallible: has decided

    this point of controversy ! and that scholars should

    remain silent 9hen the 6hurch pronounces

  • 8/20/2019 Voltaire XII


    4ictionary " F

    $(6)IO5 III

    ,e cannot doubt that there 9as a oses: a legis-

    lator of the =e9s ,e 9ill here examine his his-

    tory: follo9ing merely the rules of criticism! the

    4ivine is not submitted to similar examination ,e

    must con%ne ourselves to the probable! men can

    only judge as men It is very natural and very

    probable that an 0rab nation d9elt on the con%nes

    of (gypt: on the side of 0rabia 4eserta ! that it 9as

    tributary or slave to the (gyptian kings: and that

    after9ards it sought to establish itself else9here!

    but that 9hich reason alone cannot admit is: that

    this nation: composed of seventy persons at most in

    the time of =oseph: increased in t9o hundred and

    %fteen years: from =oseph to oses: to the number

    of six hundred thousand combatants: according to

    the 7ook of (xodus: 9hich six hundred thousand

    men capable of bearing arms imply a multitude of

    about t9o millions: counting old men: 9omen: and

    children It is not certainly in the course of nature

    for a colony of seventy persons: as many males as

  • 8/20/2019 Voltaire XII


    females: to produce in t9o centuries t9o millions of

    inhabitants )he calculations made on this progres-

    sion by men very little versed in the things of this

    9orld: are falsi%ed by the experience of all nations

    and all times 6hildren are not made by a stroke of

    the pen 'eQect 9ell that at this rate a population

    of ten thousand persons in t9o hundred years 9ould

    produce more inhabitants than the globe of the earth

    could sustain

    "J &hilosophical

    Is it any more probable: that these six hundred

    thousand combatants: favored by the 0uthor of na-

    ture 9ho 9orked for them so many prodigies: 9ere

    forced to 9ander in the deserts in 9hich they died:

    instead of seeking to possess themselves of fertile

    (gypt ?

    7y these rules of an established and reasonable

    human criticism: 9e must agree that it is very likely

    that oses conducted a small people from the con-

    %nes of (gypt )here 9as among the (gyptians

    an ancient tradition: related by &lutarch in his

  • 8/20/2019 Voltaire XII


    8)reatise on Isis and Osiris:8 that )iphon: the father

    of =erosselaim and =uddecus: Qed from (gypt on an

    ass It is clear from this passage that the ancestors

    of the =e9s: the inhabitants of =erusalem: 9ere sup-

    posed to have been fugitives from (gypt 0 tradi-

    tion: no less ancient and more general is: that the

     =e9s 9ere driven from (gypt: either as a troop of

    unruly brigands: or a people infected 9ith leprosy

     )his double accusation carries its probability even

    from the land of 1oshen: 9hich they had inhabited:

    a neighboring land of the vagabond 0rabs: and

    9here the disease of leprosy: peculiar to the 0rabs:

    might be common It appears even by the $cripture

    that this people 9ent from (gypt against their 9ill

     )he seventeenth chapter of 4euteronomy forbids

    kings to think of leading the =e9s back to (gypt

     )he conformity of several (gyptian and =e9ish

    customs still more strengthens the opinion that this

    people 9as an (gyptian colony: and 9hat 4rives it a

    4ictionary ""

    ne9 degree of probability is the feast of the &ass-

  • 8/20/2019 Voltaire XII


    over! that is to say: of the Qight or passage insti-

    tuted in memory of their evasion )his feast alone

    9ould be no proof ! for among all peoples there are

    solemnities established to celebrate fabulous and in-

    credible events ! such 9ere most of the feasts of the

    1reeks and 'omans ! but a Qight from one country

    to another is nothing uncommon: and calls for belief

     )he proof dra9n from this feast of the &assover re-

    ceives a still greater force by that of the )aberna-

    cles: in memory of the time in 9hich the =e9s in-

    habited the desert on their departure from (gypt

     )hese similitudes: united 9ith so many others: prove

    that a colony really 9ent from (gypt: and %nally

    established itself for some time at &alestine

    0lmost all the rest is of a kind so marvellous that

    human sagacity cannot digest it 0ll that 9e can do

    is to seek the time in 9hich the history of this Qight

    that is to say: the 7ook of (xodus can have

    been 9ritten: and to examine the opinions 9hich

    then prevailed! opinions: of 9hich the proof is in

    the book itself: compared 9ith the ancient customs

    of nations

    ,ith regard to the books attributed to oses: the

    most common rules of criticism permit us not to be-

  • 8/20/2019 Voltaire XII


  • 8/20/2019 Voltaire XII


  • 8/20/2019 Voltaire XII


    rounded 9ith high forti%ed 9alls: independent of

    an in%nite number of open cities? Is it not much

    more probable that these exaggerations 9ere after-

    9ards 9ritten by a man 9ho 9ished to Qatter a

    stupid nation?

    H It is still less likely: that oses related the

    miracles 9ith 9hich this history is %lled

    It is easy to persuade a happy and victorious peo-

    ple that 1od has fought for them ! but it is not in

    human nature that a people should believe a hundred

    miracles in their favor: 9hen all these prodigies

    ended only in making them perish in a desert

    .et us examine some of the miracles related in


    P It appears contradictory and injurious to the

    divine essence to suppose that 1od: having formed a

    people to be the sole depository of /is la9s: and to

    reign over all nations: should send a man of this

    people to demand of the king: their oppressor: per-

    mission to go into the desert to sacri%ce to his 1od:

    that this people might escape under the pretence of

    this sacri%ce Our common ideas cannot forbear

    attaching an idea of baseness and knavery to this

  • 8/20/2019 Voltaire XII



    management: far from [email protected] the majesty and

    po9er of the $upreme 7eing

    ,hen: immediately after: 9e read that oses

    changed his rod into a serpent: before the king: and

    turned all the 9aters of the kingdom into blood!

    that he caused frogs to be produced 9hich covered

    the surface of the earth ! that he changed all the dust

    "H &hilosophical

    into lice: and %lled the air 9ith venomous 9inged

    insects! that he aUicted all the men and animals

    of the country 9ith frightful ulcers ! that he called

    hail: tempests: and thunder: to ruin all the country !

    that he covered it 9ith locusts! that he plunged

    it in fearful darkness for three days! that: %nally:

    an exterminating angel struck 9ith death all the

    %rst-born of men and animals in (gypt: commencing

    9ith the son of the king ! again: 9hen 9e after9ards

    see his people 9alking across the 'ed $ea: the 9aves

  • 8/20/2019 Voltaire XII


    suspended in mountains to the right and left: and

    later falling on the army of &haraoh: 9hich they

    s9allo9ed up 9hen: I say: 9e read all these mira-

    cles: the %rst idea 9hich comes into our minds is r

    that this people: for 9hom 1od performed such as-

    tonishing things: no doubt became the masters of

    the universe 7ut: noS the fruit of so many 9on-

    ders 9as: that they suCered 9ant and hunger in arid

    sands! and prodigy upon prodigy all died 9ith-

    out seeing the little corner of earth in 9hich their

    descendants after9ards: for some years: established

    themselvesS It is no doubt pardonable if 9e disbe-

    lieve this cro9d of prodigies: at the least of 9hich

    reason so decidedly revolts

     )his reason: left to itself: cannot be persuaded

    that oses 9rote such strange things /o9 can 9e

    make a generation believe so many miracles use-

    lessly 9rought for it: and all of 9hich: it is said:

    9ere performed in the desert? ,hat being: enjoy-

    ing divine po9er: 9ould employ it in preserving the

    4ictionary "P

  • 8/20/2019 Voltaire XII


    clothes and shoes of these people: after having armed

    all nature in their favor?

    It is therefore very natural to think that all this

    prodigious history 9as 9ritten a long time after

    oses: as the romances of 6harlemagne 9ere forged

    three centuries after him! and as the origins of all

    nations have not been 9ritten until they 9ere out

    of sight: the imagination has been left at liberty to

    invent )he more coanse and unfortunate a people

    are: the more they seek to exalt their ancient his-

    tory! and 9hat people have been longer miserable:

    or more barbarous: than the =e9s?

    It is not to be believed that: 9hen they had not

    9here9ithal to make shoes in their deserts: under

    the government of oses: there 9ere any cunning

    enough to 9rite ,e should presume: that the poor

    creatures born in these deserts did not receive a very

    brilliant education ! and that the nation only began

    to read and 9rite 9hen it had some commerce 9ith

    &hoenicia It 9as probably in the commencement of

    monarchy that the =e9s: feeling they had some

    genius: 9rote the &entateuch: and adjusted their

    traditions ,ould they have made oses recom-

    mend kings to read and 9rite his la9 in a time in

  • 8/20/2019 Voltaire XII


  • 8/20/2019 Voltaire XII



     )he authors of the &entateuch give us to under-

    stand that every nation has its gods: and that these

    gods have all nearly an eKual po9er

    If oses: in the name of 1od: changed his rod

    into a serpent: the priests of &haraoh did as much !

    if he changed all the 9aters of (gypt into blood:

    even to that 9hich 9as in the vases: the priests im-

    mediately performed the same prodigy: 9ithout our

    being able to conceive on 9hat 9aters they per-

    formed this metamorphosis ! at least: unless they ex-

    pressly created ne9 9aters for the purpose )he

     =e9ish 9riters prefer being reduced to this absurd-

    ity: rather than allo9 us to suspect that the gods of

    (gypt had not the po9er of changing 9ater into

    blood as 9ell as the 1od of =acob

    7ut 9hen the latter %lls the land of (gypt 9ith

    4ictionary "#

    lice: changing all the dust into them: /is entire su-

  • 8/20/2019 Voltaire XII


    periority appears! the magi cannot imitate it: and

    they make the 1od of the =e9s speak thus < 8&ha-

    raoh shall kno9 that nothing is eKual to me8 )hese

    9ords put into his mouth: merely mark a being 9ho

    believes himself more po9erful than his rivals! he

    9as eKualled in the metamorphosis of a rod into a

    serpent: and in that of the 9aters into blood! but

    he gains the victory in the article of the lice and the

    follo9ing miracles

     )his idea of the supernatural po9er of priests of

    all countries is displayed in several places of $crip-

    ture ,hen 7alaam: the priest of the little state

    of a petty king: named 7alak: in the midst of deserts:

    is near cursing the =e9s: their 1od appears to him to

    prevent him It seems that the malediction of 7a-

    laam 9as much to be feared )o restrain this priest:

    it is not enough that 1od speaks to him: he sends be-

    fore him an angel 9ith a s9ord: and speaks /imself

    again by the mouth of his ass 0ll these precautions

    certainly prove the opinion 9hich then prevailed:

    that the malediction of a priest: 9hatever it 9as:

    dre9 fatal conseKuences after it

     )his idea of a 1od superior to other gods: though

    /e made heaven and earth: 9as so rooted in all

  • 8/20/2019 Voltaire XII


    minds: that $olomon in his last prayer cries < 8Oh:

    my 1od S there is no other god like thee in earth or

    heaven8 It is this opinion 9hich rendered the =e9s

    so credulous respecting the sorceries and enchant-

    ments of other nations

    G &hilosophical

    It is this 9hich gave rise to the story of the ,itch

    of (ndor: 9ho had the po9er of invoking the shade

    of $aul (very people had their prodigies and ora-

    cles: and it never even came into the minds of any

    nations to doubt the miracles and prophecies of

    others )hey 9ere contented 9ith opposing similar

    arms! it seems as if the priests: in denying the

    prodigies of other nations: feared to discredit their

    o9n )his kind of theology prevailed a long time

    over all the earth

    It is not for us to enter here on the detail of all

    that is 9ritten on oses ,e speak of his la9s in

    more than one place in this 9ork ,e 9ill here

    con%ne ourselves to remarking ho9 much 9e are

    astonished to see a legislator inspired by 1od ! a

  • 8/20/2019 Voltaire XII


    prophet: through 9hom 1od /imself speaks: pro-

    posing to us no future life )here is not a single

    9ord in .eviticus: 9hich can lead us to suspect the

    immortality of the soul )he reply to this over-

    9helming diMculty is: that 1od proportioned /im-

    self to the ignorance of the =e9s ,hat a miserable

    ans9er S It 9as for 1od to elevate the =e9s to nec-

    essary kno9ledge not to lo9er /imself to them

    If the soul is immortal: if there are re9ards and

    punishments in another life: it is necessary for men

    to be informed of it If 1od spoke: /e must have

    informed them of this fundamental dogma ,hat

    legislator: 9hat god but this: proposes to his people

    9ine: oil: and milk aloneS ,hat god but this al-

    9ays encourages his believers: as a chief of robbers

    4ictionary F

    (ncourages his troops: 9ith the hope of plunder only S

    Once more! it is very pardonable for mere human

    reason simply to see: in such a history: the barbarous

    stupidity of the %rst ages of a savage people an:

    9hatever he does: cannot reason other9ise! but if

    Tjod really is the author of the &entateuch: 9e must

  • 8/20/2019 Voltaire XII


    ibmit 9ithout reasoning


    0 &/I.O$O&/(': in the neighborhood of ount

    3rapak: argued 9ith me that motion is essential to


    8(verything moves:8 says he! 8the sun contin-

    ually revolves on its o9n axis ! the planets do the

    same: and every planet has many diCerent motions !

    everything is a sieve! everything passes through a

    sieve! the hardest metal is pierced 9ith an in%nity

    of pores: by 9hich escapes a constant torrent of

    vapors that circulate in space )he universe is noth-

    ing but motion! motion: therefore: is essential to


    87ut: sir:8 said I to hinij 8might not any one

    say: in ans9er to 9hat you have advanced< )his

    block of marble: this cannon: this house: this motion:

    are not in motion! therefore motion is not essen-


    8)hey do move:8 he replied ! 8they move in space

    together 9ith the earth by the common motion: and

  • 8/20/2019 Voltaire XII


    they move so incontestably although insensibly

    by their o9n peculiar motion: that: at the expiration

    J &hilosophical

    of an inde%nite number of centuries: there 9ill re-

    main not a single atom of the masses 9hich no9

    constitute them: from 9hich particles are detaching

    themselves every passing moment8

    87ut: my good sir: I can conceive matter to be in

    a state of rest! motion: therefore: cannot be con-

    sidered essential to it8

    8,hy: certainly: it must be of vast conseKuence

    9hether you conceive it to be: or conceive it not to

    be: in a state of rest I still repeat: that it is impos-

    sible for it to be so8

    8)his is a bold assertion! but 9hat: let me ask

    you: 9ill you say to chaos?8

    8Oh: chaosS If 9e 9ere inclined to talk about

    chaos: I should tell you that all 9as necessarily in

  • 8/20/2019 Voltaire XII


    motion: and that ;the breath of 1od moved upon the

    9aters;! that the element of 9ater 9as [email protected]

    in existence: and that the other elements existed also !

    that: conseKuently: %re existed ! that there cannot be

    %re 9ithout motion: that motion is essential to %re

     ou 9ill not succeed much 9ith chaos8

    80lasS 9ho can succeed 9ith all these subjects

    of dispute? 7ut: as you are so very fully ac-

    Kuainted 9ith these things: I must reKuest you to

    inform me 9hy one body impels another< 9hether

    it is because matter is impenetrable: or because t9o

    bodies cannot be together in one place ! or because:

    in every case of every description: the 9eak is driven

    before the strong?8

    8our last reason is rather more facetious than

    4ictionary "

    philosophical 5o person has hitherto been able

    to discover the cause of the communication of mo-


  • 8/20/2019 Voltaire XII


    8)hat: ho9ever: does not prevent its being essen-

    tial to matter 5o one has ever been able to discover

    the cause of sensation in animals! yet this sensa-

    tion is* so essential to them: that: if you exclude the

    idea of it: you no longer have the idea of an ani-


    8,ell: I 9ill concede to you: for a moment: that

    motion is essential to matter just for a moment: let

    it be remembered: for I am not much inclined to em-

    broil myself 9ith the theologians and no9: after

    this admission: tell me ho9 one ball produces motion

    in another?8

    8ou are very curious and inKuisitive ! you 9ish

    me to inform you of 9hat no philosopher ever


    8It appears rather curious: and even ludicrous:

    that 9e should kno9 the la9s of motion: and yet be

    profoundly ignorant of the principle of the commu-

    nication of motion S8

    8It is the same 9ith everything else ! 9e kno9 the

    la9s of reasoning: but 9e kno9 not 9hat it is in us

    that reasons )he ducts through 9hich our blood

  • 8/20/2019 Voltaire XII


    and other animal Quids pass are very 9ell kno9n

    to us: but 9e kno9 not 9hat forms that blood and

    those Quids ,e are in life: but 9e kno9 not in

    9hat the vital principle consists8

    8Inform me: ho9ever: at least: 9hether: if mo-


    tion be essential to matter: there has not al9ays ex-

    isted the same Kuantity of motion in the 9orld ?8

    8)hat is an old chimera of (picurus revived by

    4escartes I do not: for my o9n part: see that this

    eKuality of motion in the 9orld is more necessary

    than an eKuality of triangles It is essential that

    a triangle should have three angles and three sides:

    but it is not essential that the number of triangles on

    this globe should be al9ays eKual8

    87ut is there not al9ays an eKuality of forces:

    as other philosophers express it?8

    8)hat is a similar chimera ,e must: upon such

  • 8/20/2019 Voltaire XII


    a principle: suppose that there is al9ays an eKual

    number of men: and animals: and moving beings:

    9hich is absurd8

    7y the 9ay: 9hat: let me ask: is the force of a

    body in motion ? It is the product of its Kuantity mul-

    tiplied by its velocity in a given time 6alling the

    Kuantity of a body four: and its velocity four: the

    force of its impulse 9ill be eKual to sixteen 0n-

    other Kuantity 9e 9ill assume to be t9o: and its ve-

    locity t9o! the force 9ith 9hich that impels is as

    four )his is the grand principle of mechanics

    [email protected] decidedly and pompously pronounced the

    principle defective /e maintained that it 9as nec-

    essary to measure that force: that product: by the

    Kuantity multiplied by the sKuare of the velocity

    7ut this 9as mere captious sophistry and chicanery:

    an ambiguity un9orthy of a philosopher: founded

    on an abuse of the discovery of the great 1alileo:

    4ictionary L

    that the spaces traversed 9ith a motion uniformly

    accelerated 9ere: to each other: as the sKuares of the

  • 8/20/2019 Voltaire XII


    times and velocities

    [email protected] did not consider the time 9hich he

    should have considered 5o (nglish mathematician

    adopted his system It 9as received for a 9hile by a

    small number of geometricians in +rance It per-

    vaded some books: and even the philosophical insti-

    tutions of a person of great celebrity aupertuis

    is very abusive of airan: in a little 9ork entitled

    80: 7: 68 ! as if he thought it necessary to teach the

    a: b: c: of science to any man 9ho follo9ed the old

    and: in fact: the true system of calculation airan

    9as: ho9ever: in the right /e adhered to the an-

    cient measurement: that of the Kuantity multiplied

    by the velocity /e gradually prevailed over his

    antagonists: and his system recovered its former sta-

    tion! the scandal of mathematics disappeared: and

    the Kuackery of the sKuare of the velocity 9as dis-

    missed at last to the extramundane spaces: to the

    limbo of vanity: together 9ith the monads 9hich

    [email protected] supposed to constitute the concentric mirror

    of nature: and also 9ith his elaborate and fanciful

    system of 8pre-established harmony8


  • 8/20/2019 Voltaire XII


     )/( fable of the mountain 9hich: after alarming

    the 9hole neighborhood 9ith its outcries in labor:

    9as ridiculed by all present 9hen it became deliv-

    ered of a mouse: is at once ancient and universal

    H &hilosophical

     )he company: ho9ever: 9ho thus gave 9ay to ridi-

    cule 9ere not a company of philosophers )hose

    9ho mocked should in reality have admired 0

    mountain;s being delivered of a mouse 9as an event

    as extraordinary: and as 9orthy of admiration: as a

    mouse;s being delivered of a mountain 0 rock;s

    producing a rat is a case absolutely prodigious: and

    the 9orld never beheld anything approaching to

    such a miracle 0ll the 9orlds in the universe could

    not originate a Qy )hus: in cases 9here the vulgar

    mock: the philosopher admires ! and 9here the vul-

    gar strain their eyes in stupid astonishment: he often



    ,( O5. ask here from the censors of books:

  • 8/20/2019 Voltaire XII


    permission to transcribe from that 9hich the 4omin-

    ican missionary .abat: proveditor of the holy oMce:

    has 9ritten concerning the nails of the cross: into

    9hich it is more than probable no nails 9ere ever


    8)he Italian priest 9ho conducted us had suM-

    cient interest to get us: among other things: a sight

    of the nails 9ith 9hich our $aviour 9as fastened

    to the cross )hey appeared to me very diCerent

    from those 9hich the 7enedictines sho9 at $t

    4enis &ossibly those belonging to $t 4enis served

    for the feet: and the others for the hands It 9as

    necessary that those for the hands should be suM-

    ciently large and strong to support all the 9eight of

    4ictionary P

    the body /o9ever: the =e9s must either have

    made use of more than four nails: or some of those

    9hich are sho9n to the faithful are not genuine

    /istory relates that $t /elena thre9 one of them

    into the sea: to appease a furious tempest 9hich as-

    sailed the ship in 9hich she had embarked 6on-

  • 8/20/2019 Voltaire XII


    stantine made use of another: to make a bit for the

    bridle of his horse One is sho9n entire at $t 4enis

    in +rance ! another also entire at the /oly 6ross of

     =erusalem at 'ome 0 very celebrated 'oman au-

    thor of our day asserts that the iron cro9n 9ith

    9hich they cro9n the emperors in Italy 9as made

    out of one of these nails ,e are sho9n at 'ome

    and at 6arpentras t9o bridle bits also made of these

    nails: not to mention more at other places )o be

    sure:: several of them are discreet enough to say: that

    it is the head or point only of these nails 9hich they


     )he missionary speaks in the same tone of all the

    relics /e observes in the same passage: that 9hen

    the body of the %rst deacon: $t $tephen: 9as brought

    from =erusalem to 'ome: in LLP: and placed in the

    tomb of the deacon of $t .a9rence< 8$t .a9-

    rence made 9ay of himself to give the right hand to

    his predecessor! an action 9hich procured him the

    name of the civil $paniard8

    pon this passage 9e venture only one reQec-

    tion: 9hich is: that if some philosopher had said as

    much: in the 8(ncyclopaedia:8 as the 4ominican .a-

    bat: a cro9d of &antouillets: 5onnottes: 6hiniacs:

  • 8/20/2019 Voltaire XII


    R &hilosophical

    6haumeix: and other knaves: 9ould have exclaimed

    4eist: atheist: and geometricianS 0ccording to

    circumstances things change their names

    $elon ce Kue 2on peut etre

    .es choses changent de nom

    0mphytrion: &rologue


    4ialogue 7et9een the &hilosopher and 5ature


    ,/0) are you: 5ature? I live in you? but I

    have been searching for you for %fty years: and have

    never yet been able to %nd you


  • 8/20/2019 Voltaire XII


     )he ancient (gyptians: 9hose lives it is said ex-

    tended to t9elve hundred years: attached the same

    reproach to me )hey called me Isis! they placed

    a thick veil over my head ! and they said that no one

    could ever raise it


    It is on that account that I apply directly to your-

    self I have been able to measure some of your

    globes: to ascertain their courses: and to point out

    the la9s of motion! but I have never been able to

    ascertain 9hat you are yourself

    0re you al9ays active ? 0re you al9ays passive ?

    4o your elements arrange themselves: as 9ater

    places itself over sand: oil over 9ater: and air over

    oil ? /ave you a mind 9hich directs all your oper-

    4ictionary #

    ations as councils are inspired as soon as they

    meet: although the individual members composing

    them are often ignorant? (xplain to me: I entreat:

  • 8/20/2019 Voltaire XII


    the enigma in 9hich you are enveloped


    I am the great universal system I kno9 nothing

    farther I am no mathematician: and yet everything

    in and about me is arranged agreeably to mathemat-

    ical la9s 6onjecture: if you can: ho9 all this is



    6ertainly: since your great universal system

    kno9s nothing of mathematics: and yet the la9s by

    9hich you are regulated are those of the most pro-

    found geometry: there must necessarily be an eter-

    nal geometrician: 9ho directs you: and presides over

    your operations


     ou are perfectly right ! I am 9ater: earth: %re:

    air: metal: mineral: stone: vegetable: and animal I

    clearly perceive that there is an intelligence in me<

    you possess an intelligence: although you see it not

    5either do I see mine ! I feel this invisible po9er !

  • 8/20/2019 Voltaire XII


    I am unable to kno9 it< 9hy should you: 9ho are

    only a very minute portion of myself: be anxious

    to kno9 9hat I myself am ignorant of?


    ,e are curious I should be pleased to learn

    ho9 it is: that 9hile so rough and coarse in your

    2ol FJ

    LG &hilosophical

    mountains: and deserts: and seas: you are at the same

    time so ingenious and %nished in your animals and

    vegetables ?


    y poor child: shall I tell you the real truth?

    I have had besto9ed upon me a name that does not

    at all suit me < I am called nature: 9hile I am all art


  • 8/20/2019 Voltaire XII


     )hat 9ord deranges all my ideas ,hatS is it

    possible that nature should be nothing but art


    It is undoubtedly the case 4o you not kno9 that

    there is in%nite art in those seas and mountains

    9hich you represent as so rough and so coarse ? 4o

    you not kno9 that all those 9aters gravitate to9ards

    the centre of the earth: and are raised only by immu-

    table la9s! and that those mountains 9hich cro9n

    the earth are immense reservoirs of eternal sno9s:

    incessantly producing the fountains: lakes: and

    rivers: 9ithout 9hich my animal and vegetable oC-

    spring 9ould inevitably perish? 0nd: 9ith respect

    to 9hat are denominated my animal: vegetable: and

    mineral kingdoms: constituting thus only three king-

    doms: be assured that I have in fact millions of them

    7ut if you consider the formation of an insect: of an

    ear of corn: of gold: or of copper: all 9ill exhibit to

    you prodigies of art


    It is undoubtedly true )he more I reQect on

  • 8/20/2019 Voltaire XII


    4ictionary L F

    the subject: the more clearly I perceive that you are

    only the art of some 1reat 7eing: extremely po9er-

    ful and skilful: 9ho conceals /imself and exhibits

    you 0ll the reasoners: from the time of )hales:

    and probably long before him: have been playing at

    hide and seek 9ith you )hey have said: 8I have

    hold of you8 ! and they in fact held nothing ,e all

    resemble Ixion < he thought he embraced =uno: 9hen

    he embraced only a cloud


    $ince I am the 9hole that exists: ho9 is it possi-

    ble for a being like you: so small a portion of myself:

    to comprehend me ? 7e contented: my dear little ;

    atomic children: 9ith seeing a fe9 particles that sur-

    round you: 9ith drinking a fe9 drops of ;my milk:

    9ith vegetating for a fe9 moments in my bosom:

    and at last dying 9ithout any kno9ledge of your

    mother and your nurse

  • 8/20/2019 Voltaire XII



    y beloved mother: pray tell me a little 9hy you

    exist 9hy anything has existed ?


    I 9ill ans9er you in the language in 9hich I al-

    9ays have ans9ered: for so long a series of ages:

    those 9ho have interrogated me on the subject of

    %rst principles< 8I kno9 nothing at all about the



    5othing itself: 9ould it not be preferable to that

    LJ &hilosophical

    multitude of existences formed to be continually dis-

    solved ! those tribes of animals born and reproduced

    to devour others: and devoured in their turn!

    those numberless beings endued 9ith sensation: and

    formed to experience so many sensations of pain !

  • 8/20/2019 Voltaire XII


    and those other tribes of reasoning beings 9hich

    never: or at least only rarely: listen to reason? +or

    9hat purpose: 5ature: 9as all this?


    Oh S pray go and inKuire of /im 9ho made me

    5(6($$0' 5(6($$I)


    4o O not assert that everything is necessary?


    If all be not necessary: it follo9s that 1od does

    unnecessary things


     )hat is to say: it 9as necessary for the 4ivine

    5ature to do 9hat it has done


    I believe: or at least I suspect so )here are men

  • 8/20/2019 Voltaire XII


    9ho think diCerently I do not understand them !

    but possibly they are right I fear to dispute on this



    It is: ho9ever: necessary for me to talk to you

    upon it

    4ictionary L"


    In 9hat manner? ,ould you speak of 9hat is

    necessary to sustain life: or the evil to 9hich people

    are reduced 9ho cannot procure it?


    5o ! for that 9hich is necessary to one is not al-

    9ays necessary to another It is necessary for an

    Indian to possess rice: for an (nglishman to eat ani-

    mal food: as 'ussians must 9ear furs: and 0fricans

    [email protected] One man believes that he has need of a

  • 8/20/2019 Voltaire XII


    [email protected] coach-horses: another limits himself to a pair

    of shoes: and a third 9alks gayly on his bare feet

    I 9ish to speak to you of that 9hich is necessary to

    all men


    It appears to me that 1od has given us all that is

    necessary in this sense< eyes to see: feet to 9alk: a

    mouth to eat: a gullet to s9allo9: a stomach to di-

    gest: a brain to reason: and organs to produce our



    /o9 happens it then that men are sometimes

    born 9ho are deprived of a part of these necessary



    7ecause the general la9s of nature are liable to

    accidents 9hich produce monsters ! but in general

    man is provided 9ith all things necessary to his ex-

    istence in society

  • 8/20/2019 Voltaire XII


    L &hilosophical


    0re there not notions common to all men neces-

    sary to this purpose?



     es! I have travelled 9ith &aul .ucas: and

    9herever I 9ent I sa9 that man respected his father

    and mother ! that he thought himself bound to keep

    his promise ! that he pitied oppressed innocence !

    that he detested persecution ! that he regarded free-

    dom of thinking as a right of nature: and the enemies

    of that freedom as the enemies of the human race

     )hey 9ho think diCerently appear to me to be badly

    [email protected]: and monsters: like those 9ho are born

    9ithout eyes or heads


  • 8/20/2019 Voltaire XII


     )hese necessary things are they necessary in all

    times: and in all places ?


     es< other9ise they 9ould not be necessary to

    human kind


     )herefore: a ne9 creed is not necessary to man-

    kind en could live in society: and perform all

    their duties to9ards 1od: before they believed that

    ahomet had freKuent conversations 9ith the angel



    5othing is more evident ! it 9ould be ridiculous

    to think that man could not perform his duties until

    ahomet came into the 9orld It 9as no 9ay

    4ictionary LL

  • 8/20/2019 Voltaire XII


    necessary for men to believe the 3oran )he 9orld

    9ent on before the appearance of ahomet: pre-

    cisely as at present If ahometanism 9as neces-

    sary to the 9orld: it 9ould exist every9here 1od:

    9ho has given us t9o eyes to see the sun: 9ould

    have besto9ed upon us some means of discovering

    the truths of the ahometan religion )hat sect

    therefore resembles the arbitrary la9s 9hich change

    according to times and places: like fashions or the

    theories of physicians: 9hich displace and succeed

    one another )he ahometan religion cannot there-

    fore be essentially necessary to man


    7ut since it exists: 1od has permitted it


     es: as /e permits all the 9orld to abound in

    absurdities: errors: and calamities )his is not say-

    ing that men 9ere absolutely created in order to

    be foolish and unhappy 1od permits some men

    to be eaten by serpents: but 9e ought not to say that

    1od made man to be eaten by serpents


  • 8/20/2019 Voltaire XII


    ,hat do you mean by saying that 1od permits?

    6an anything happen but by /is orders? )o per-

    mit and to 9ill are they not 9ith /im the same

    thing ?


    /e permits crime: but does not commit it

    LH &hilosophical


     )o commit a crime is to act against 4ivine jus-

    tice to disobey 1od )herefore: as 1od cannot

    disobey /imself: /e cannot commit crime! but /e

    has so made man that man commits it freKuently

    /o9 does that arise?


    $ome men can tell: but I am not one of them

    0ll that I kno9 is: that the 3oran is ridiculous:

    although possessing here and there things 9hich are

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    passable )he 3oran: ho9ever: is certainly not

    necessary to man that I maintain I perceive

    clearly that 9hich is false: but kno9 very little of

    that 9hich is true


    I thought that you 9ould instruct me: but you

    teach me nothing


    Is it not something to kno9 the men 9ho deceive

    you: and the gross and dangerous errors they pro-

    mulgate ?


    I should have cause to complain of a physician

    9ho made me acKuainted 9ith poisonous plants:

    9ithout instructing me in regard to such as are sal-



    I am no physician: nor are you a sick man ! and

  • 8/20/2019 Voltaire XII


    it appears to me that I give you a very useful pre-

    4ictionary LP

    scription: 9hen I say to you< 4istrust the inven-

    tions of charlatans! 9orship 1od! be an honest

    man ! and believe that t9o and t9o make four

    5(, 5O2(.)I($

    I) $(($ as if the %rst 9ords of Ovid;s 8eta-

    morphoses8 8In nova fert animus8 9ere the em-

    blem of mankind 5o one is touched 9ith the ad-

    mirable spectacle of the sun 9hich rises or seems

    to rise every day ! but everybody runs at the small-

    est meteor 9hich appears for a moment in the map

    of vapors 9hich surround the earth: and 9hich 9e

    call heaven ,e despise 9hatever is common: or

    9hich has been long kno9n <

    2illa sunt nobis KuacumKue prioribus annis

    2idimus: et sordet KuidKuid spectavimus olim

    0 ha9ker 9ill not burden himself 9ith a 82ir-

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    gil8 or a 8/orace:8 but 9ith a ne9 book: 9ere it

    ever so detestable /e dra9s you aside and says to

    you < 8$ir: 9ill you have some books from /ol-


    +rom the commencement of the 9orld: 9omen

    have complained of the in%delities done to them in

    favor of the %rst ne9 object 9hich presents itself:

    and 9hich has often this novelty for its only merit

    $everal ladies 9e must confess it: not9ithstanding

    the in%nite respect 9hich 9e have for them have

    treated men as they complain that the men have

    treated them ! and the story of =ocondo is much

    more ancient than 0riosto

    LR &hilosophical

    &erhaps this universal taste for novelty is a bene-

    %t of nature ,e are told< 6ontent yourselves

    9ith 9hat you have! desire nothing beyond your

    situation! subdue the restlessness of your mind

     )hese are very good maxims! but if 9e had fol-

    lo9ed them: 9e should still live upon acorns and

    sleep under the stars: and 9e should have had

  • 8/20/2019 Voltaire XII


    neither 6orneille: 'acine: oliere: &oussin: .e

    7run: .emoine: nor &igal


    ,/ do 9e shut up a man or a 9oman 9hom 9e

    %nd naked in the streets ? and 9hy is no one oCended

    at entirely naked statues: and 9ith certain paintings

    of =esus and of agdalen 9hich are to be seen in

    some of the churches ? It is very likely that human

    beings existed for a considerable time 9ithout cloth-

    ing In more than one island and on the continent

    of 0merica: people are still found 9ho are ignorant

    of clothing

     )he most [email protected] of them conceal the organs of

    generation by leaves: by interlaced rushes or mats:

    and by feathers ,hence this latter modesty ? Is it

    the instinct of nature to provoke desire by the con-

    cealment of that 9hich 9e are inclined to discover?

    Is it true that among nations some9hat more pol-

    ished than the =e9s and demi-=e9s: there are entire

    sects 9ho: 9hen they 9orship 1od: deprive them-

    selves of clothing $uch have been: it is said: the

    0damites and the 0belians )hey assembled: nicked:

  • 8/20/2019 Voltaire XII


    4ictionary L#

    to sing the praises of 1od $t (piphanius and $t

    0ugustine say this: 9ho: it is true: 9ere not contem-

    poraries: and 9ho lived very distant from their coun-

    try 7ut after all: this folly is possible: and is not

    more extraordinary or insane than a hundred other

    follies 9hich have made the tour of the 9orld: one

    after another

    ,e have seen: in the article 8(mblem:8 that the

    ahometans still possess saints 9ho are mad: and

    9ho go about naked as apes It is very possible that

    [email protected] people have existed: 9ho thought that it 9as

    more proper to present ourselves before the 4eity

    in the state in 9hich /e has formed us: than under

    any disguise of our o9n invention It is possible

    that these persons exposed themselves out of pure

    devotion )here are so fe9 9ell-made people of

    either sex: that nudity may have inspired chastity:

    or rather disgust: instead of augmenting desire

    It is moreover asserted that the 0belians re-

    nounced marriage If they abounded in youthful

  • 8/20/2019 Voltaire XII


    gallants and amorous maidens: they 9ere the less

    comparable 9ith $t 0dhelm and the happy 'obert

    4;0rbriselle: 9ho lay 9ith the most beautiful

    9omen: only in order to prove the strength of their

    continence I confess: ho9ever: that it must be

    pleasant to 9itness a hundred naked /elens and

    &arises singing anthems: giving one another the kiss

    of peace: and performing the ceremonies of the


    0ll this proves that there is nothing so singular:

    HG &hilosophical

    so extravagant: or so superstitious: 9hich has not

    been conceived by the head of man /appy it is:

    9hen these follies do not trouble society: and make

    of it a scene of hate: of discord: and of fury It is

    doubtless better to pray to 1od stark naked: than to