Slaying the sacred sayings

Helen Pringle tells us that Voltaire didn’t really say : ‘I disapprove of what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it’ which is a bit sad.

I hope she doesn’t debunk one of my favourite ‘famous last words’. Please tell me it’s true. I’ve always believed the story that when asked to repent and renouce the devil on his deathbed, Voltaire said . . .

“This is no time to be making new enemies”.

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Michael S.
Michael S.
2022 years ago

To debunk another famous one, Burke never said

“The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing”

Don’t know about the veracity of Voltaire’s last words though.

Rafe
2022 years ago

There is a nasty story about Voltaire hounding mercilessly someone who wrote things that he did not like, to the point where the man’s livelihood was threatened.

And then there was the one about “let them eat cake”.

Also Tony Abbott did not say “let them eat lamingtons”. I wonder what he is saying about the NSW liberals?

Geoff Honnor
Geoff Honnor
2022 years ago

Rafe, it was Rousseau rather than Voltaire who first published mention of a princess who said “let them eat cake” – in 1766, when Marie Antoinette was a small child living in Austria.

The M-A linkage arose in the 1790’s when revolutionaries were busy inventing all manner of calumnies – lesbianism, nymphomania, paedophilia, neoconservatism, opposition to Kyoto – against the Queen.

blank
blank
2022 years ago

The Marie Antoinette misattribution is “Qu’ils mangent de la brioche” in French.

So “Let them eat cake” is a mistranslation of a misattribution.

Nicholas Gruen
2022 years ago

I am shocked to hear that Marie Antoinette opposed Kyoto. Would she stop at nothing?

Jacques Chester
Jacques Chester
2022 years ago

Machiavelli, on his deathbed, was apparently asked by a priest whether he repented, with particular reference to his writing.

“Repent what? My sanity?”

Gummo Trotsky
2022 years ago

The alleged last words of Dylan Thomas:

“I’ve just drunk eighteen straight double scotches. I think that’s a record.”

derrida derider
derrida derider
2022 years ago

The alleged last words of Brendan Beahan to the nun caring for him:
“God bless ye, sister, may all your sons be bishops.”

As for Voltaire, he had a famous spat with Hume in which his behaviour was so bad that you have to seriously question his mental health.

Kent
2022 years ago

Well, never trust the internet, but
http://www.geocities.###/Athens/7308/deathbed.htm ?

replace the ### with “com”, obviously. The spam filter blocks it otherwise