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JESUITICA: Voltaire’s education

voltaire_01Even though he was an inveterate opponent of the Catholic Church, to the end of his days Voltaire felt deep gratitude to the Jesuits who had educated him. He never stopped insisting that the Church was the enemy of progress and sought to “keep people as ignorant and submissive as children”; and yet he waxed lyrical about the profound and expansive education in the classics, theatre, rhetoric, philosophy, and natural science which he received at the Collège Louis-le-Grand (1704-11). This is what he had to say about the Jesuit teachers he had there: “I was educated for seven years by men who took unrewarded and indefatigable pains to form the minds and morals of youth. Is it credible that anyone should fail to have some feeling of gratitude toward such teachers?”