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Voltaire Quotes

21 of the best book quotes from Voltaire
  1. #1
    “’It is demonstrable,’ said he, ‘that things cannot be otherwise than as they are; for all being created for an end, all is necessarily for the best end.’”
  2. #2
    “Why should you think it so strange that in some countries there are monkeys which insinuate themselves into the good graces of the ladies; they are a fourth part human, as I am a fourth part Spaniard.”
  3. #3
    “’My friend,’ said he, ‘we are all priests. The King and all the heads of families sing solemn canticles of thanksgiving every morning, accompanied by five or six thousand musicians.’
    ‘What! have you no monks who teach, who dispute, who govern, who cabal, and who burn people that are not of their opinion?’
    ‘We must be mad, indeed, if that were the case,’ said the old man.”
  4. #4
    “’How many dramas have you in France, sir?’ said Candide to the Abbé.
    ‘Five or six thousand.’
    ‘What a number!’ said Candide. ‘How many good?’
    ‘Fifteen or sixteen,’ replied the other.
    ‘What a number!’ said Martin.”
  5. #5
    “A hundred times I was upon the point of killing myself; but still I loved life. This ridiculous foible is perhaps one of our most fatal characteristics; for is there anything more absurd than to wish to carry continually a burden which one can always throw down? to detest existence and yet to cling to one’s existence? in brief, to caress the serpent which devours us, till he has eaten our very heart?”
  6. #6
    “I own to you that when I cast an eye on this globe, or rather on this little ball, I cannot help thinking that God has abandoned it to some malignant being. I except, always, El Dorado. I scarcely ever knew a city that did not desire the destruction of a neighbouring city, nor a family that did not wish to exterminate some other family. Everywhere the weak execrate the powerful, before whom they cringe; and the powerful beat them like sheep whose wool and flesh they sell. A million regimented assassins, from one extremity of Europe to the other, get their bread by disciplined depredation and murder, for want of more honest employment. Even in those cities which seem to enjoy peace, and where the arts flourish, the inhabitants are devoured by more envy, care, and uneasiness than are experienced by a besieged town. Secret griefs are more cruel than public calamities. In a word I have seen so much, and experienced so much that I am a Manichean.”
  7. #7
    “All that is is for the best. If there is a volcano at Lisbon it cannot be elsewhere. It is impossible that things should be other than they are; for everything is right.”
  8. #8
    “My friend, you see how perishable are the riches of this world; there is nothing solid but virtue, and the happiness of seeing Cunegonde once more.”
  9. #9
    “They give us a pair of linen drawers for our whole garment twice a year. When we work at the sugar-canes, and the mill snatches hold of a finger, they cut off the hand; and when we attempt to run away, they cut off the leg; both cases have happened to me. This is the price at which you eat sugar in Europe.”
  10. #10
    “’My friend,’ said the orator to him, ‘do you believe the Pope to be Anti-Christ?’
    ‘I have not heard it,’ answered Candide; ‘but whether he be, or whether he be not, I want bread.’
    ‘Thou dost not deserve to eat,’ said the other. ‘Begone, rogue; begone, wretch; do not come near me again.’
    The orator’s wife, putting her head out of the window, and spying a man that doubted whether the Pope was Anti-Christ, poured over him a full.... Oh, heavens! to what excess does religious zeal carry the ladies.

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  1. #11
    “The villainy of mankind presented itself before his imagination in all its deformity, and his mind was filled with gloomy ideas.”
  2. #12
    “I have not a farthing, my friend, and all over the globe there is no letting of blood or taking a glister, without paying, or somebody paying for you.”
  3. #13
    “They entered a very plain house, for the door was only of silver, and the ceilings were only of gold, but wrought in so elegant a taste as to vie with the richest. The antechamber, indeed, was only encrusted with rubies and emeralds, but the order in which everything was arranged made amends for this great simplicity.”
  4. #14
    “’It is more likely,’ said he, ‘mankind have a little corrupted nature, for they were not born wolves, and they have become wolves; God has given them neither cannon of four-and-twenty pounders, nor bayonets; and yet they have made cannon and bayonets to destroy one another. Into this account I might throw not only bankrupts, but Justice which seizes on the effects of bankrupts to cheat the creditors.’”
  5. #15
    “’But do you believe,’ said Candide, ‘that the earth was originally a sea, as we find it asserted in that large book belonging to the captain?’
    ‘I do not believe a word of it,’ said Martin, ‘any more than I do of the many ravings which have been published lately.’”
  6. #16
    “Cacambo asked one of the great officers in what way he should pay his obeisance to his Majesty; whether they should throw themselves upon their knees or on their stomachs; whether they should put their hands upon their heads or behind their backs; whether they should lick the dust off the floor; in a word, what was the ceremony?
    ‘The custom,” said the great officer, ‘is to embrace the King, and to kiss him on each cheek.’”
  7. #17
    “I am the best-natured creature in the world, and yet I have already killed three men, and of these three two were priests.”
  8. #18
    “’You see,’ said Candide to Martin, ‘that crime is sometimes punished. This rogue of a Dutch skipper has met with the fate he deserved.’
    ‘Yes,’ said Martin; ‘but why should the passengers be doomed also to destruction? God has punished the knave, and the devil has drowned the rest.’”
  9. #19
    “’There is a concatenation of events in this best of all possible worlds: for if you had not been kicked out of a magnificent castle for love of Miss Cunegonde: if you had not been put into the Inquisition: if you had not walked over America: if you had not stabbed the Baron: if you had not lost all your sheep from the fine country of El Dorado: you would not be here eating preserved citrons and pistachio-nuts.’
    ‘All that is very well,’ answered Candide, ‘but let us cultivate our garden.’”
  10. #20
    “You reckon you are to-day going to feast upon a Jesuit. It is all very well, nothing is more unjust than thus to treat your enemies. Indeed, the law of nature teaches us to kill our neighbour, and such is the practice all over the world. If we do not accustom ourselves to eating them, it is because we have better fare.”
  11. #21
    “‘But for what end, then, has this world been formed?’ said Candide.
    ‘To plague us to death,’ answered Martin.”
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