Toleration and Other Essays By Voltaire


It seems useful, in presenting to English readers this selection of the works of Voltaire, to recall the position and personality of the writer and the circumstances in which the works were written. It is too lightly assumed, even by many who enjoy the freedom which he, more than any, won for Europe, and who may surpass him in scepticism, that Voltaire is a figure to be left in a discreetly remote niche of memory. Other times, other manners is one of the phrases he contributed to modern literature. Let us genially acknowledge that he played a great part in dispelling the last mists of the Middle A ges, and politely attribute to the papal perversity and the lingering vulgarity of his age the more effective features of his work. Thus has Voltaire become a mere name to modern rationalists; a name of fading brilliance, a monumental name, but nothing more. This sentiment is at once the effect and the cause of a very general ignorance concerning Voltaire; and it is a reproach to us.

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