Voltaire's Philosophical Dictionary
The Philosophical Dictionary
Selected and Translated by H.I. Woolf
New York: Knopf, 1924
Scanned by the Hanover College Department of History in 1995.
Proofread and pages added by Jonathan Perry, March 2001.
IT is a very old, very universal fable that tells of the mountain which,
having frightened all the countryside by its outcry that it was in labour,
was hissed by all present when it brought into the world a mere mouse.
The people in the pit were not philosophers. Those who hissed should have
admired. It was as fine for the mountain to give birth to a mouse, as for
the mouse to give birth to a mountain. A rock which produces a rat is a
very prodigious thing; and never has the world seen anything approaching
this miracle. All the globes of the universe could not call a fly into
existence. Where the vulgar laugh, the philosopher admires; and he laughs
where the vulgar open their big, stupid eyes in astonishment.
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