The Works of Voltaire: A Contemporary Version [The Lisbon Earthquake and Other Poems] - Vol. 36

The Works of Voltaire: A Contemporary Version [The Lisbon Earthquake and Other Poems] - Vol. 36

Read FREE!

The Works of Voltaire: A Contemporary Version [The Lisbon Earthquake and Other Poems] - Vol. 36

The Works of Voltaire: A Contemporary Version [The Lisbon Earthquake and Other Poems] - Vol. 36

Read FREE!

Excerpt

If the question concerning physical evil ever deserves the attention of men, it is in those melancholy events which put us in mind of the weakness of our nature; such as plagues, which carry off a fourth of the inhabitants of the known world; the earthquake which swallowed up four hundred thousand of the Chinese in 1699, that of Lima and Callao, and, in the last place, that of Portugal and the kingdom of Fez. The maxim, " whatever is, is right," appears somewhat extraordinary to those who have been eye-witnesses of such calamities. All things are doubtless arranged and set in order by Providence, but it has long been too evident, that its superintending power has not disposed them in such a manner as to promote our temporal happiness.

When the celebrated Pope published his " Essay on Man," and expounded in immortal verse the systems of Leibnitz, Lord Shaftesbury and Lord Bolingbroke, his system was attacked by a multitude of divines of a variety of different communions. They were shocked at the novelty of the propositions, " whatever is, is right"; and that " man always enjoys that measure of happiness which is suited to his being." There are few writings that may not be condemned, if considered in one light, or approved of, if considered in another. It would be much more reasonable to attend only to the beauties and improving parts of a work, than to endeavor to put an odious construction on it; but it is one of the imperfections of our nature to put a bad interpretation on whatever has a dubious sense, and to run down whatever has been successful.

In a word, it was the opinion of many, that the axiom, "whatever is, is right," was subversive of all our received ideas. If it be true, said they, that whatever is, is right, it follows that human nature is not degenerated. If the general order requires that everything should be as it is, human nature has not been corrupted, and consequently could have had no occasion for a Redeemer. If this world, such as it is, be the best of systems possible, we have no room to hope for a happy future state. If the various evils . . .

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.