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A Philosophical Dictionary, Volume 3   By: (1694-1778)

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A PHILOSOPHICAL DICTIONARY

VOLUME III

By

VOLTAIRE

EDITION DE LA PACIFICATION

THE WORKS OF VOLTAIRE

A CONTEMPORARY VERSION

With Notes by Tobias Smollett, Revised and Modernized New Translations by William F. Fleming, and an Introduction by Oliver H.G. Leigh

A CRITIQUE AND BIOGRAPHY

BY

THE RT. HON. JOHN MORLEY

FORTY THREE VOLUMES

One hundred and sixty eight designs, comprising reproductions of rare old engravings, steel plates, photogravures, and curious facsimiles

VOLUME VII

E.R. DuMONT

PARIS LONDON NEW YORK CHICAGO

The WORKS of VOLTAIRE

"Between two servants of Humanity, who appeared eighteen hundred years apart, there is a mysterious relation. Let us say it with a sentiment of profound respect: JESUS WEPT: VOLTAIRE SMILED. Of that divine tear and of that human smile is composed the sweetness of the present civilization."

VICTOR HUGO.

LIST OF PLATES VOL. III

VOLTAIRE'S RECEPTION OF MADAME D'ÉPINAY AT LES DÉLICES Frontispiece

THE DEATH OF COLIGNY

CATHERINE II. OF RUSSIA

THE ALMONER AND THE ANABAPTIST

[Illustration: Voltaire receives Mme. d'Épinay at Les Délices.]

VOLTAIRE

A PHILOSOPHICAL DICTIONARY

IN TEN VOLUMES

VOL. III

CANNIBALS COUNCILS

CANNIBALS.

SECTION I.

We have spoken of love. It is hard to pass from people kissing to people eating one another. It is, however, but too true that there have been cannibals. We have found them in America; they are, perhaps, still to be found; and the Cyclops were not the only individuals in antiquity who sometimes fed on human flesh. Juvenal relates that among the Egyptians that wise people, so renowned for their laws those pious worshippers of crocodiles and onions the Tentyrites ate one of their enemies who had fallen into their hands. He does not tell this tale on hearsay; the crime was committed almost before his eyes; he was then in Egypt, and not far from Tentyra. On this occasion he quotes the Gascons and the Saguntines, who formerly fed on the flesh of their countrymen.

In 1725 four savages were brought from the Mississippi to Fontainebleau, with whom I had the honor of conversing. There was among them a lady of the country, whom I asked if she had eaten men; she answered, with great simplicity that she had. I appeared somewhat scandalized; on which she excused herself by saying that it was better to eat one's dead enemy than to leave him to be devoured by wild beasts, and that the conquerors deserved to have the preference. We kill our neighbors in battles, or skirmishes; and, for the meanest consideration, provide meals for the crows and the worms. There is the horror; there is the crime. What matters it, when a man is dead, whether he is eaten by a soldier, or by a dog and a crow?

We have more respect for the dead than for the living. It would be better to respect both the one and the other. The nations called polished have done right in not putting their vanquished enemies on the spit; for if we were allowed to eat our neighbors, we should soon eat our countrymen, which would be rather unfortunate for the social virtues. But polished nations have not always been so; they were all for a long time savage; and, in the infinite number of revolutions which this globe has undergone, mankind have been sometimes numerous and sometimes scarce. It has been with human beings as it now is with elephants, lions, or tigers, the race of which has very much decreased. In times when a country was but thinly inhabited by men, they had few arts; they were hunters. The custom of eating what they had killed easily led them to treat their enemies like their stags and their boars. It was superstition that caused human victims to be immolated; it was necessity that caused them to be eaten.

Which is the greater crime to assemble piously together to plunge a knife into the heart of a girl adorned with fillets, or to eat a worthless man who has been killed in our own defence?

Yet we have many more instances of girls and boys sacrificed than of girls and boys eaten... Continue reading book >>


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