Front Page Titles (by Subject) THE NEGRO. - The Works of Voltaire, Vol. XIX (Philosophical Letters)
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THE NEGRO. - Voltaire, The Works of Voltaire, Vol. XIX (Philosophical Letters) 
The Works of Voltaire. A Contemporary Version. A Critique and Biography by John Morley, notes by Tobias Smollett, trans. William F. Fleming (New York: E.R. DuMont, 1901). In 21 vols. Vol. XIX.
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The negro race is a species of men as different from ours as the breed of spaniels is from that of greyhounds. The mucous membrane, or network, which nature has spread between the muscles and the skin, is white in us and black or copper–colored in them. The famous Ruisch was the first in our time, who, in dissecting a negro at Amsterdam, was so happily skilful as to raise the whole of this mucoreticular membrane. Czar Peter purchased it of him; but Ruisch kept a small piece for himself, which I have seen, and it is like a piece of black gauze. If a negro by accident burns himself so that his membrane is hurt, his skin turns brown in the place, otherwise it comes black again as before. Their eyes are not formed like ours. The black wool on their heads and other parts has no resemblance to our hair; and it may be said that if their understanding is not of a different nature from ours, it is at least greatly inferior. They are not capable of any great application or association of ideas, and seem formed neither for the advantages nor abuses of our philosophy. They are a race peculiar to that part of Africa, the same as elephants and monkeys. The negroes of the empire of Morocco are a warlike, hardy, and cruel people, and often superior in the field to the sunburned, tawny troops, whom they call white. They think themselves born in Guinea, to be sold to the whites and to serve them.
There are several kinds of negroes. Those of Guinea, Ethiopia, Madagascar and the Indies are all different. The blacks of Guinea and Congo have wool; the others long, shaggy hair. The petty nations of blacks, who have but little commerce with other nations, are strangers to all kind of religious worship. The first degree of stupidity is to think only of the present and of bodily wants. This was the state of several nations, and especially those which inhabited islands. The second degree is to foresee by halves, without being able to form any fixed society; to behold the stars with wonder and amazement; to celebrate certain feasts, to make a general rejoicing on the return of certain seasons, or the appearance of a particular star, without going further or having any distinct positive idea. In this middle state between imbecility and infant reason, many nations have continued for several ages.