Great Throughts Treasury

This site is dedicated to the memory of Dr. Alan William Smolowe who gave birth to the creation of this database.

Voltaire, pen name of François-Marie Arouet NULL

French Satirist, Essayist, Dramatist, Philosopher and Historian

"All men are equal; it is not birth, but virtue alone, that makes the difference."

"By appreciation we make excellence in others our own property."

"Faith is deferential incredulity."

"Bring together all the children of the universe, you will see nothing in them but innocence, gentleness, and fear; were they born wicked, spiteful, and cruel, some signs of it would come from them; as little snakes strive to bite, and little tigers to tear. But nature having been of offensive weapons to man as to pigeons and rabbits, it cannot have given them an instinct to mischief and destruction."

"All sects are different, because they come from men; morality is everywhere the same, because it comes from God."

"Calumny, the immortal daughter of self-love and idleness."

"Common sense is not so common."

"False wit is a fatiguing search after cunning traits, an affectation of saying in enigmas what others have already said naturally, to hang together ideas which are incompatible, to divide that which ought to be united, of seizing false relations."

"Fear succeeds crime - it is its punishment."

"He must be very ignorant for he answers every question he is asked."

"He who seeks truth should be of no country."

"He who thinks himself wise, O heavens! is a great fool."

"I have seen men incapable of the sciences, but never incapable of virtue."

"How is reason so precious a gift that we would not lose it for anything in the world? and how has this reason served only to make us the most unhappy of all beings? Whence comes it that loving truth passionately, we are always betrayed to the most gross impostures?"

"It is better to risk saving a guilty man than to condemn an innocent one."

"Judge a man by his questions rather than his answers."

"It is not enough to conquer; one must know how to seduce."

"Let all the laws be clear, uniform, and precise; to interpret laws is almost always to corrupt them."

"Love truth, but pardon error."

"Love has features which pierce all hearts, he wears a bandage which conceals the faults of those beloved. He has wings, he comes quickly and flies away the same."

"Let us leave every man free to search within himself and lose himself in his ideas."

"Man is free the moment he wants to be."

"Men use thought only to justify their wrongdoings, and speech only to conceal their thoughts."

"Nature has always had more power than education."

"Of all religions, the Christian is without doubt the one which should inspire tolerance most, although up to now the Christians have been the most intolerant of all men."

"Prejudice is opinion without judgment."

"Perfection is attained by slow degrees; she requires the hand of time."

"Prejudice is the reason of fools."

"Self-love is the instrument of our preservation; it resembles that provision for the perpetuity of mankind; it is necessary, it is dear to us, it gives us pleasure, but we must conceal it."

"Superstition sets the whole world in flames; philosophy extinguishes them."

"Self-esteem is the instrument of our conservation; it resembles the instrument of the perpetuity of the species: it is necessary, it is dear to us, it gives us pleasure, and it has to be hidden."

"The ear is the road to the heart."

"Suspicion invites treachery."

"The prudent man does himself good; the virtuous one does it to other men."

"The word “liberty,” “free-will,” is therefore an abstract word, a general word, like beauty, goodness, justice. These terms do not state that all men are always beautiful, good and just; similarly, they are not always free."

"The superfluous, a thing highly necessary."

"Virtue debases itself in justifying itself."

"There are moral as well as physical assassinations."

"We are rarely proud when we are alone."

"We cannot always oblige, but we can always speak obligingly."

"A long dispute means that both parties are wrong."

"A multitude of laws in a country is like a great number of physicians, a sign of weakness and malady."

"Work banishes those three great evils: Boredom, vice and poverty."

"Doctors are men who prescribe medicines of which they know little, to cure diseases of which they know less, in human beings of whom they know nothing."

"All the arts are brothers; each one is a light to the others."

"Everything can be borne except contempt."

"Every man is guilty of all the good he didn't do."

"Friendship is the marriage of souls, and this marriage is subject to divorce."

"Fear follows (succeeds) crime, and is its punishment."

"God prefers bad verses recited with a pure heart to the finest verses possible chanted by the wicked."