From the French Dictionnaire Philosophique, translated by William F. Fleming. The Philosophical Dictionary is not a sustained work, but a compilation of articles contributed to Diderot's Encyclopédie. The quality of the articles bear witness to the great genius and intellect of François-Marie Arouet, more known as Voltaire.
seriously in his eighth eclogue:
Carmina de coelo possunt de duecere lunam. Pale Phoebe, drawn by verse, from heaven descends. --DRYDEN'S VIRGIL.
In short, the alphabet was the origin, of all man's knowledge, and of all his errors.
The word abbe, let it be remembered, signifies father. If you become one you render a service to the state; you doubtless perform the best work that a man can perform; you give birth to a thinking being: in this action there is something divine. But if you are only Monsieur l'Abbe because you have had your head shaved, wear a small collar, and a short cloak, and are waiting for a fat benefice, you do not deserve the name of abbe.
The ancient monks gave this name to the superior whom they elected; the abbe was their spiritual father. What different things do the same words signify at different times! The spiritual abbe was once a poor man at the head of others equally poor: but the p
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