I do not flatter myself into thinking that, when the great revolution comes, my name will still survive…. This feeble work [the History of the Two Indies], whose sole merit will be to have inspired better books, will undoubtedly be forgotten. But at least I will be able to tell myself that I contributed as much as possible to the happiness of my fellow men, and prepared, perhaps from afar, the improvement of their lot. This sweet thought will for me take the place of glory. It will be the charm of my old age and the consolation of my final moment.
From Diderot and the Art of Thinking Freely, by Andrew S. Curran
From the wikipedia:
Diderot’s contemporary, and rival, Jean Jacques Rousseau wrote in his Confessions that after a few centuries Diderot would be accorded as much respect by posterity as was given to Plato and Aristotle. In Germany, Goethe, Schiller, and Lessing expressed admiration for Diderot’s writings, Goethe pronouncing Diderot’s Rameau’s Nephew to be “the classical work of an outstanding man” and that “Diderot is Diderot, a unique individual; whoever carps at him and his affairs is a philistine.”
In the next century, Diderot was admired by Balzac, Delacroix, Stendhal, Zola, and Schopenhauer. According to Comte, Diderot was the foremost intellectual in an exciting age. Historian Michelet described him as “the true Prometheus” and stated that Diderot’s ideas would continue to remain influential long into the future. Marx chose Diderot as his “favourite prose-writer.”