Today’s words come to us from François-Marie Arouet, aka, Voltaire. Who was Voltaire? Other than some guy you had to study in Western Civilization, Voltaire was an 18th century French Enlightenment writer. His ideas on civil liberties and religious freedom influenced both the American and French Revolutions. Voltaire was a major pain in the back-sides of both the French government and the Catholic Church, and spent more than a few years of his life either imprisoned in the Bastille, or in exile.
You’ll probably recognize Voltaire for these words, which, while pretty awesome, he didn’t actually say:
I disapprove of what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it.
What Voltaire actually said was, “Think for yourselves and let others enjoy the privilege to do so too.” Just doesn’t have the same swagger, does it? These words are from Voltaire’s Essay on Tolerance. The misquote comes from the 1907 book, Friends of Voltaire, written by Evelyn Beatrice Hall. Hall wrote the book under the pen name, S. G. Tallentyre, and (for reasons unknown to me) she wrote it in the first person. Hall intended for the words to be a reflection on Voltaire’s beliefs, but (because she wrote in the first person), people mistook her words for Voltaire’s own.
And now you know.
Voltaire loved wine, especially Burgundy. In a letter to Burgundy négociant, Louis Latour, Voltaire once remarked, “I serve your Beaune to my friends, but your Volnay I keep for myself.” I kinda want to go out and buy a bottle of Louis Latour Beaune and Louis Latour Volnay — and see which one I’d keep for myself.
And so, with harvest in full swing for most of the Northern Hemisphere, I thought these words apropos for today: