Toleration by Voltaire - PDF ebook




A short account of the death of jean calas the murder of calas, which was perpetrated with the sword of justice at Toulouse on March 9, 1762, is one of the most singular events that deserve the attention of our own and of later ages. 

We quickly forget the long list of the dead who have perished in our battles. It is the inevitable fate of war; those who die by the sword might themselves have inflicted death on their enemies, and did not die without the means of defending themselves.

 When the risk and the advantage are equal astonishment ceases, and even pity is enfeebled. But when an innocent father is given into the hands of error, of passion, or of fanaticism; when the accused has no defence but his virtue; when those who dispose of his life run no risk but that of making a mistake; when they can slay with impunity by a legal decree — then the voice of the general public is heard, and each fear for himself. 

They see that no man's life is safe before a court that has been set up to guard the welfare of citizens, and every voice is raised in a demand of vengeance. In this strange incident, we have to deal with religion, suicide, and parricide. 

The question was, whether a father and mother had 6 toleration strangled their son to please God, a brother had strangled his brother, and a friend had strangled his friend; or whether the judges had incurred the reproach of breaking on the wheel an innocent father, or of sparing a guilty mother, brother, and friend. Jean calas, a man of sixty-eight years, had been engaged in commerce at Toulouse for more than forty years and was recognized by all who knew him as a good father.

 He was a protestant, as were also his wife and family, except one son, who had abjured the heresy, and was in receipt of a small allowance from his father. He seemed to be so far removed from the absurd fanaticism that breaks the bonds of society that he had approved the conversion of his son [louis calas], and had had in his service for thirty years a zealous Catholic woman, who had reared all his children. One of the sons of jean calas, named Marc Antoine, was a man of letters. He was regarded as a restless, sombre, and violent character. 

This young man, failing to enter the commercial world, for which he was un- fitted, or the legal world, because he could not obtain the necessary certificate that he was a catholic, determined to end his life, and. In- formed a friend of his intention. He strengthened his resolution by reading all that has ever been written on suicide. Having one day lost his money in gambling, he determined to carry out his plan on that very day. 

Contents of the book:

A Short Account of the Death of Jean Calas. 5 How Toleration May Be Admitted IS Whether Intolerance Is of Natural and Human Law 21 Whether Intolerance Was Known to the Greeks 23 Whether the Romans Were Tolerant 26 cases of abuse of Intolerance 30 Whether Intolerance Was of Divine Right in Judaism, and Whether It Was Always Practiced 34 Extreme Intolerance of the Jews.- 42 Whether Intolerance Was Taught by Christ.. 44 The Only Cases in Which Intolerance Is Humanly Lawful 49 An account of a Controversial Dispute in China. 51 Whether It Is Useful to Maintain the People in Superstition 54 Virtue Better Than Science 58 Of Universal Toleration 60

the book details :
  • Author: Voltaire
  • Publication date: 1923
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