Voltaire's letter to Rousseau on the Social Contract  

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Train wreck at Montparnasse (October 22, 1895) by Studio Lévy and Sons.
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Train wreck at Montparnasse (October 22, 1895) by Studio Lévy and Sons.

Voltaire's letter to Jean-Jacques Rousseau on the The Social Contract is famous for stating "One longs on reading your book to walk on all fours."

Fuller excerpt:

J’ai reçu, monsieur, votre nouveau livre contre le genre humain, je vous en remercie. […] On n’a jamais employé tant d’esprit à vouloir nous rendre bêtes ; il prend envie de marcher à quatre pattes quand on lit votre ouvrage. Cependant, comme il y a plus de soixante ans que j’en ai perdu l’habitude, je sens malheureusement qu’il m’est impossible de la reprendre et je laisse cette allure naturelle à ceux qui en sont plus dignes que vous et moi. […] (Lettre à Rousseau, --30 août 1755 [1]

Unidentified translation from the 1870s:

"I have received your new book against the human race and thank you for it. Never was such cleverness used in the design of making us all stupid. One longs on reading your book to walk on all fours. But as I have lost that habit for more than sixty years, I feel unhappily the impossibility of renewing it."




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