Voltaire notes that where Commerce and Toleration predominate, a Multiplicity of Faiths can live together in Peace and Happiness (1764)


Found in The Works of Voltaire, Vol. VI (Philosophical Dictionary Part 4)

In his Philosophical Dictionary, Voltaire makes a connection between economic prosperity and religious toleration in England:

Enter into the Royal Exchange of London, a place more respectable than many courts, in which deputies from all nations assemble for the advantage of mankind. There the Jew, the Mahometan, and the Christian bargain with one another as if they were of the same religion, and bestow the name of infidel on bankrupts only… Was there in London but one religion, despotism might be apprehended; if two only, they would seek to cut each other’s throats; but as there are at least thirty, they live together in peace and happiness.

One of Voltaire’s purposes behind writing the Philosophical Dictionary (1764) was to provide his readers with a pocket sized volume which could be carried on one’s person at all times, and which could be pulled out when one got into an argument with a political or religious bigot. He wanted to be able to provide a summary of the key ideas which would help one win an argument in these difficult circumstances.