Voltaire

Voltaire

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Excerpt: ... good chance, if not of sharing the fate of his book, at least of permanent lodgment in the Bastille, of which he had already sufficient taste. He knew that although Bolingbroke had no hand in its composition he largely shared its ideas, and he obtained at once publicity and security by attributing it to the dead friend who, Morley says, "was the direct progenitor of Voltaire's opinions in religion." If he stuck at no subterfuge to achieve his work, his lies injured no one. One of the funniest was the signing one of his heterodox publications as the Archbishop of Canterbury, a lie which may remind us of the drunken Sheridan announcing himself as William Wilberforce. Voltaire had been Bastilled twice, and verily believed that another taste would end his days. "I am," he said, "a friend of truth, but no friend at all to martyrdom." Shelter behind any ambush was necessary in such guerilla warfare as his. Over fifty of his works were condemned, and placed upon the Index. Voltaire used no fewer than one hundred and thirty different pen-names, which have enabled bibliographers to display their erudition.(1) But for this underground method, he might have been laid by the heels instead of living to old age, with the satisfaction of seeing the world becoming a little more humane and tolerant through his efforts. In such warfare the only test is success, and the fact remains that Voltaire's blows told. He cleared the course for modern science, and it is not for those who benefit by his labors to sneer because he did not become a martyr in the struggle. 1. Special mention should be made of the Bibliographie Voltairienne of M. L. Querard, and Voltaire: Bibliographie de ses uvres, in four volumes, by M. G. Bengesco, 1882- 1890. Condorcet says: "His zeal against a religion which he regarded as the cause of the fanaticism which has desolated Europe since its birth, of the superstition which had burst about it, and as the source of the mischief...show more

Product details

  • Paperback
  • 189 x 246 x 2mm | 77g
  • Rarebooksclub.com
  • United States
  • English
  • black & white illustrations
  • 1236691873
  • 9781236691873