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Optimism is the madness of insisting that all is well when we are miserable.


Work banishes those three great evils, boredom, vice, and poverty.


Common sense is not so common.

VOLTAIRE, Dictionnaire Philosophique

Superstition is to religion what astrology is to astronomy: the mad daughter of a wise mother.


O superstition! Your inflexible rigours deprive humanity of the most sensitive hearts.

VOLTAIRE, Fanatacism, or Mahomet the Prophet

Our wretched species is so made that those who walk on the well-trodden path always throw stones at those who are showing a new road.

VOLTAIRE, quoted in William R. Shad's The Whole Truth

Men who are occupied in the restoration of health to other men, by the joint exertion of skill and humanity, are above all the great of the earth. They even partake of divinity, since to preserve and renew is almost as noble as to create.

VOLTAIRE, "Physicians," Philosophical Dictionary

History can be well written only in a free country.

VOLTAIRE, letter to Frederick the Great

What is called happiness is an abstract idea, composed of various ideas of pleasure; for he who has but a moment of pleasure is not a happy man, in like manner that a moment of grief constitutes not a miserable one.

VOLTAIRE, A Philosophical Dictionary

Happiness is not the portion of man.


Constant happiness is the philosopher's stone of the soul.

VOLTAIRE, A Philosophical Dictionary

Speech was given to man to disguise his thoughts.

VOLTAIRE, Dialogue

Labor rids us of three great evils--poverty, vice, and boredom.

VOLTAIRE, attributed, Day's Collacon

It is ourselves alone that make our days lucky or unlucky. Away, then, with a vain prejudice, the invention of the priesthood, which has been transmitted by our ancestors to an ignorant people.

VOLTAIRE, attributed, Day's Collacon

Men are in general so tricky, so envious, and so cruel, that when we find one who is only weak, we are too happy.

VOLTAIRE, attributed, Day's Collacon

It is an infantile superstition of the human spirit that virginity would be thought a virtue and not the barrier that separates ignorance from knowledge.

VOLTAIRE, Notebooks

I cannot imagine how the clockwork of the universe can exist without a clockmaker.

VOLTAIRE, attributed, More Random Walks in Science: An Anthology

Let us work without theorizing, 'tis the only way to make life endurable.


A company of tyrants is inaccessible to all seductions.

VOLTAIRE, Dictionnaire philosophique

Discord is the great ill of mankind; and tolerance is the only remedy for it.

VOLTAIRE, Philosophical Dictionary

Toleration is the prerogative of humanity; we are all full of weaknesses and mistakes; let us reciprocally forgive ourselves. It is the first law of nature.

VOLTAIRE, A Treatise on Toleration and Other Essays

Broken words came first, then half-uttered questions and answers, followed by sighs, tears, and groans.


Clever tyrants are never punished; they have always some slight shade of virtue: they support the laws before destroying them.


Satire lies about literary men while they live and eulogy lies about them when they die.

VOLTAIRE, letter to Bordes, January 10, 1769

Let us read, and let us dance; these two amusements will never do any harm to the world.

VOLTAIRE, A Philosophical Dictionary

The instruction we find in books is like fire. We fetch it from our neighbors, kindle it at home, communicate it to others, and it becomes the property of all.

VOLTAIRE, attributed, Best Thoughts of Best Thinkers

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

VOLTAIRE, A Philosophical Dictionary

Society therefore is as ancient as the world.

VOLTAIRE, A Philosophical Dictionary

People must have renounced, it seems to me, all natural intelligence to dare to advance that animals are but animated machines. ... Such people can never have observed with attention the character of animals, not to have distinguished among them the different voices of need, of suffering, of joy, of pain, of love, of anger, and of all their affections. It would be very strange that they should express so well what they could not feel.

VOLTAIRE, Traite de la Tolerance a l' Occasion de la Morte de Jean Calas, 1763

The hand of our parents traces on our feeble hearts those first characters to which example and time give firmness, and which perhaps God alone can efface.

VOLTAIRE, attributed, Day's Collacon

The opportunity to do mischief is found a hundred times a day, and that of doing good once a year.

VOLTAIRE, attributed, Day's Collacon

Originality is nothing but judicious imitation.

VOLTAIRE, attributed, Day's Collacon

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

VOLTAIRE, attributed, Day's Collacon

Life is thickly sown with thorns, and I know no other remedy than to pass quickly through them. The longer we dwell on our misfortunes, the greater is their power to harm us.


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


Divorce is probably of nearly the same date as marriage. I believe, however, that marriage is some weeks the more ancient.

VOLTAIRE, Philosophical Dictionary

Voltaire - an essay by John Cowper Powys.

Voltaire - a biography.

Voltaire: Poems - a collection of Voltaire's poetry.


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