Philosophical Dictionary, by Voltaire


This fruit grows in America on the branches of a tree as high as the tallest oaks.

Thus, Matthew Garo, who is thought so wrong in Europe for finding fault with gourds creeping on the ground, would have been right in Mexico. He would have been still more in the right in India, where cocoas are very elevated. This proves that we should never hasten to conclusions. What God has made, He has made well, no doubt; and has placed his gourds on the ground in our climates, lest, in falling from on high, they should break Matthew Garo’s nose.

The calabash will only be introduced here to show that we should mistrust the idea that all was made for man. There are people who pretend that the turf is only green to refresh the sight. It would appear, however, that it is rather made for the animals who nibble it than for man, to whom dog-grass and trefoil are useless. If nature has produced the trees in favor of some species, it is difficult to say to which she has given the preference. Leaves, and even bark, nourish a prodigious multitude of insects: birds eat their fruits, and inhabit their branches, in which they build their industriously formed nests, while the flocks repose under their shades.

The author of the “Spectacle de la Nature” pretends that the sea has a flux and reflux, only to facilitate the going out and coming in of our vessels. It appears that even Matthew Garo reasoned better; the Mediterranean, on which so many vessels sail, and which only has a tide in three or four places, destroys the opinion of this philosopher.

Let us enjoy what we have, without believing ourselves the centre and object of all things.

Last updated Sunday, March 27, 2016 at 12:01