François-Marie Arouet (21 November 1694 – 30 May 1778), better known by the pen name Voltaire, was a brilliant and prolific French Enlightenment writer, historian and philosopher, famous for his wit and for his advocacy of civil liberties, including freedom of belief. His polemical novel “Candide” is critical of the passivity and acceptance that induced the philosophy of optimism, that this is the best of possible worlds (see: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Voltaire ).
In Chapter 25 of Voltaire's novel "Candide", entitled "Visit to Lord Pococurante, Venetian nobleman": "Martin noticed some shelves laden with English books. "I trust", he said, "that a republican must take pleasure in the majority of those books written with so much freedom". "Yes", replied Pococurante, "it's a fine thing to write what one thinks; it's the privilege of man. In all Italy people write only what they don't think; those who inhabit the native land of the Caesars and the Antonines don't care to have an idea without permission of a Dominican. I would be happy with the freedom that inspires the English geniuses if party feeling and party spirit didn't corrupt everything estimable in that precious freedom."