By Francois Voltaire, Leonard Tancock
Often referred to as the Lettres anglaises ou philosophiques, Voltaire's reaction to his exile in England provided the French public of 1734 a wide ranging view of British tradition. Perceiving them as a veiled assault opposed to the ancien regime, even though, the French govt ordered the letters burned and Voltaire persecuted.
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Extra resources for Letters on England
You know that this great man was accused of a crime very unbecoming a philosopher: I mean bribery and extortion. You know that he was sentenced by the House of Lords to pay a fine of about four hundred thousand French livres, to lose his peerage and his dignity of Chancellor; but in the present age the English revere his memory to such a degree, that they will The most singular and the best of all his pieces is that which, at this time, is the most useless and the least read, I mean his Novum Scientiarum Organum.
In the remaining twentieth part how few are readers? And among such as are so, twenty amuse themselves with romances to one who studies philosophy. The thinking part of mankind is confined to a very small number, and these will never disturb the peace and tranquillity of the world. —ON DESCARTES AND SIR ISAAC NEWTON Neither Montaigne, Locke, Bayle, Spinoza, Hobbes, the Lord Shaftesbury, Collins, nor Toland lighted up the firebrand of discord in their countries; this has generally been the work of divines, who being at first puffed up with the ambition of becoming chiefs of a sect, soon grew very desirous of being at the head of a party.
And a man who maintained a thesis on Aristotle’s “Categories,” on the universals a parte rei, or suchlike nonsense, was looked upon as a prodigy. The most astonishing, the most useful inventions, are not those which reflect the greatest honour on the human mind. were crystal heavens, that the stars were small lamps which sometimes fell into the sea, and one of their greatest philosophers, after long researches, found that the stars were so many flints which had been detached from the earth. In a word, no one before the Lord Bacon was acquainted with experimental philosophy, nor with the several physical experiments which have been made since his time.