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PART III - THE PAST
CHAPTER VI - VOLTAIRE'S LABORATORY

In this passage-it comes from his charming fantasy Micromegas-Voltaire neatly contrasts the literary man and the scientist. The literary man loves images, and as soon as he has found a vivid one, his interest in the truth it is supposed to illustrate is apt to cease. But the scientist knows that Nature is Nature. Voltaire himself was literary, yet he had enough sense of science to perceive his own limitations, and though he amuses us and is amused by hot iron and slugs, he has realized-perhaps through Madame du ChAtelet-that the universe has not been created for our stylistic exercises. For what, then, has it been created ? He cannot say :` cultiver son jardin ' is a reaction, not a reply. But he could ask the question, he could cause others to ask it, and if ' popular interest in science ' has any importance (for my own part, I think it has immense importance), he must be honoured as an early popularizer.

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