The poem is available in an excellent translation by Tobias Smollett and others in The Works of Voltaire (Paris, 1901), from which quotations are made. It is the humanitarian Voltaire, a man deeply moved, who posed the question, can we indeed say that innocent victims were being punished for sin by a just God? And can you then impute a sinful deed To babes who on their mothers' bosoms bleed? Was then more vice in fallen Lisbon found, Than Paris, where voluptuous joys abound? Was less debauchery to London known, Where opulence luxurious holds the throne? He rejected the charge that selfishness and pride had made him rebel against suffering: When the earth gapes my body to entomb, I justly may complain of such a doom. Why, asked Voltaire, could not an omnipotent God achieve His purpose in another way? The
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