Philosophical Dictionary, by Voltaire


All great successes, of whatever kind, are founded upon things done or said apropos.

Arnold of Brescia, John Huss, and Jerome of Prague did not come quite apropos; the people were not then sufficiently enlightened; the invention of printing had not then laid the abuses complained of before the eyes of every one. But when men began to read — when the populace, who were solicitous to escape purgatory, but at the same time wished not to pay too dear for indulgences, began to open their eyes, the reformers of the sixteenth century came quite apropos, and succeeded.

It has been elsewhere observed that Cromwell under Elizabeth or Charles the Second, or Cardinal de Retz when Louis XIV. governed by himself, would have been very ordinary persons.

Had Cæsar been born in the time of Scipio Africanus he would not have subjugated the Roman commonwealth; nor would Mahomet, could he rise again at the present day, be more than sheriff of Mecca. But if Archimedes and Virgil were restored, one would still be the best mathematician, the other the best poet of his country.

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