The Works of Voltaire: A Contemporary Version [Introduction; Candide; Political Dissertations] - Vol. 1

By Voltaire; William F. Fleming | Go to book overview

classes of society, and in part effaced from the hearts of the common people; if we have beheld the masks stripped from the faces of those religious sectaries who were privileged to impose on the world; and if reason, for the first time, has begun to shed its clear and uniform light over all Europe—we shall everywhere discover, in the history of the changes that have been effected, the name of Voltaire.

* * *


VICTOR HUGO ON VOLTAIRE.

[Oration delivered at Paris, May 30, 1878, the one hun-
dredth anniversary of Voltaire's death.]

A hundred years ago to-day a man died. He died immortal. He departed laden with years, laden with works, laden with the most illustrious and the most fearful of responsibilities, the responsibility of the human conscience informed and rectified. He went cursed and blessed, cursed by the past, blessed by the future; and these, gentlemen, are the two superb forms of glory. On his death-bed he had, on the one hand, the acclaim of contemporaries and of posterity; on the other, that triumph of hooting and of hate which the implacable past bestows upon those who have combated it. He was more than a man; he was an age. He had exercised a function and fulfilled a mission. He had been evidently chosen for the work which he had done, by the Supreme Will, which manifests itself as visibly in the laws of destiny as in the laws of nature.

-44-

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