For the first time he looked into his heart and wrote, and thus for the first time he touched the hearts of others; the cold style took fire, and beneath the clumsy periods welled tears.
Ch. 1 : D'Alembert: The Thinker, p. 29
It is by character and not by intellect the world is won.
Ch. 1 : D'Alembert: The Thinker, p. 31
If to be great means to be good, then Denis Diderot was a little man. But if to be great means to do great things in the teeth of great obstacles, then none can refuse him a place in the temple of the Immortals.
Ch. 2 : Diderot : The Talker, p. 61
It is as the father of the Encyclopedia that Denis Diderot merits eternal recognition. Guilty as he was in almost every relation of life towards the individual, for mankind, in the teeth of danger and of infidelity, at the ill-paid sacrifice of the best years of his exuberant life, he produced that book which first levelled a free path to knowledge and enfranchised the soul of his generation.
Ch. 2 : Diderot : The Talker, p. 61
A Platonic friendship is perhaps only possible when one or other of the Platonists is in love with a third person.
Ch. 3 : Galiani : The Wit, p. 79
There is always more goodness in the world than there appears to be, because goodness is of its very nature modest and retiring.
'What a fuss about an omelette!' he had exclaimed when he heard of the burning. How abominably unjust to persecute a man for such an airy trifle as that! "I disapprove of what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it," was his attitude now.
Ch. 7 : Helvetius : The Contradiction, p. 199; because of quote marks around the original publication of these words, they are often attributed to Voltaire, though Hall was not actually quoting him but summarizing his attitude with the expression. The statement was widely popularized when misattributed to Voltaire as a "Quotable Quote" in Reader's Digest (June 1934), but in response to the misattribution, Hall had been quoted in Saturday Review (11 May 1935), p. 13, as stating: I did not mean to imply that Voltaire used these words verbatim and should be surprised if they are found in any of his works. They are rather a paraphrase of Voltaire's words in the Essay on Tolerance — "Think for yourselves and let others enjoy the privilege to do so too."
The paragraph in which the statement first appears reads:
"On the Mind" [De l'Esprit by Helvétius] became not the success of the season, but one of the most famous books of the century. The men who had hated it and had not particularly loved Helvétius, flocked round him now. Voltaire forgave him all injuries, intentional or unintentional. 'What a fuss about an omelette!' he had exclaimed when he heard of the burning. How abominably unjust to persecute a man for such an airy trifle as that! 'I disapprove of what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it,' was his attitude now.
Another possible source for the quote was proposed by Norbert Guterman, editor of "A Book of French Quotations," who noted a letter to M. le Riche (February 6, 1770) in which Voltaire is quoted as saying: "Monsieur l'abbé, I detest what you write, but I would give my life to make it possible for you to continue to write" ("Monsieur l'abbé, je déteste ce que vous écrivez, mais je donnerai ma vie pour que vous puissiez continuer à écrire"). This remark, however, does not appear in the letter.
Hopeless, filthy, degraded, superstitious with the craven superstition which made them the easy prey of their unscrupulous clergy and left them wholly sensual and stupid; as animals, without the animals' instinctive joy of life and fearlessness of the morrow ; with no ambitions for themselves or the children who turned to curse them for having brought them into such a world; with no time to dream or love, no time for the tenderness which makes life, life indeed — they toiled for a few cruel years because they feared to die, and died because they feared to live. Such were the people Turgot was sent to redeem.
Ch. 8 : Turgot: The Statesman, p. 218
In his home-life Turgot remained most frugal and laborious, treating his servants with a benevolence then accounted contemptible, and working out his quiet schemes with an infinite patience and thoroughness. When he was offered the richer Intendancy of Lyons, he would not take it. Here, as he said of himself, though he was 'the compulsory instrument of great evil,' he was doing a little good. Only a little, it might be. But if every man did the little he could — what a different world!