Slavery, properly so called, is the establishment of a right which gives to one man such a power over another as renders him absolute master of his life and fortune.
Life was given to me as a favor, so I may abandon it when it is one no longer.
To become truly great, one has to stand with people, not above them.
Thus the creation, which seems an arbitrary act, supposes laws as invariable as those of the fatality of the Atheists. It would be absurd to say that the Creator might govern the world without those rules, since without them it could not subsist.
They who assert that a blind fatality produced the various effects we behold in this world talk very absurdly; for can anything be more unreasonable than to pretend that a blind fatality could be productive of intelligent beings?
But constant experience shows us that every man invested with power is apt to abuse it, and to carry his authority as far as it will go.
The sublimity of administration consists in knowing the proper degree of power that should be exerted on different occasions.
It is always the adventurers who do great things, not the sovereigns of great empires.
It is not the young people that degenerate; they are not spoiled till those of mature age are already sunk into corruption.
Weak minds exaggerate too much the wrong done to the Africans.
There are only two cases in which war is just: first, in order to resist the aggression of an enemy, and second, in order to help an ally who has been attacked.
If we only wanted to be happy, it would be easy; but we want to be happier than other people, and that is almost always difficult, since we think them happier than they are.
The deterioration of a government begins almost always by the decay of its principles.
Although born in a prosperous realm, we did not believe that its boundaries should limit our knowledge, and that the lore of the East should alone enlighten us.
If I knew of something that could serve my nation but would ruin another, I would not propose it to my prince, for I am first a man and only then a Frenchman... because I am necessarily a man, and only accidentally am I French.
The tyranny of a prince in an oligarchy is not so dangerous to the public welfare as the apathy of a citizen in a democracy.
I have always observed that to succeed in the world one should appear like a fool but be wise.
People here argue about religion interminably, but it appears that they are competing at the same time to see who can be the least devout.