Shakespeare and Voltaire

By Thomas R. Lounsbury | Go to book overview
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AUTHORS are frequently disposed to take themselves very seriously. This is a feeling on their part about themselves which is rarely shared in by their brethren. With them it is more often made a subject of ridicule than of solemn consideration. But while this is true in general, it was not true in the case of Voltaire. Seriously as he took himself, he was taken just as seriously by many of his contemporaries. There was some warrant for their state of mind. He had accomplished so much that lay outside the legitimate fields of literary activity; he had so impressed men by the fact that singlehanded he had overthrown the decisions of judicial tribunals; he had even been so successful in modifying the policy of great sovereigns, that little limit was set to what it was in his power to perform. He had declared war, he said, against England. Men asked themselves gravely, what would be the consequence. The belief in the momentous nature of this proceeding was shared in by others as well as by himself.

That Voltaire with his insatiable vanity, coupled with his long literary sovereignty, should entertain the feeling about the importance of any action he took is not so very surprising; but that it should be exhibited


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Shakespeare and Voltaire


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