There is something dark and wintry about the atmosphere of the later Middle Ages.
The old interests of aristocracy - the romance of action, the exalted passions of chivalry and war - faded into the background, and their place was taken by the refined and intimate pursuits of peace and civilization.
In pure literature, the writers of the eighteenth century achieved, indeed, many triumphs; but their great, their peculiar, triumphs were in the domain of thought.
Ignorance is the first requisite of the historian - ignorance, which simplifies and clarifies, which selects and omits, with a placid perfection unattainable by the highest art.
Discretion is not the better part of biography.
During this earlier period of his activity Voltaire seems to have been trying - half unconsciously, perhaps - to discover and to express the fundamental quality of his genius.
The stability and peace which seemed to be so firmly established by the brilliant monarchy of Francis I vanished with the terrible outbreak of the Wars of Religion.
Though, with the ascendancy of Louis, the political power of the nobles finally came to an end, France remained, in the whole complexion of her social life, completely aristocratic.
The genius of the French language, descended from its single Latin stock, has triumphed most in the contrary direction - in simplicity, in unity, in clarity, and in restraint.
Modern as the style of Pascal's writing is, his thought is deeply impregnated with the spirit of the Middle Ages. He belonged, almost equally, to the future and to the past.
When the French nation gradually came into existence among the ruins of the Roman civilization in Gaul, a new language was at the same time slowly evolved.
Englishmen have always loved Moliere.
Unlike the majority of the writers of his age, La Rochefoucauld was an aristocrat; and this fact gives a peculiar tone to his work.
In sheer genius Pascal ranks among the very greatest writers who have lived upon this earth. And his genius was not simply artistic; it displayed itself no less in his character and in the quality of his thought.
When Louis XIV assumed the reins of government France suddenly and wonderfully came to her maturity; it was as if the whole nation had burst into splendid flower.
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