Voltaire & Baudouin I

Jonathan Lighter wuxxmupp2000 at GMAIL.COM
Thu Jul 14 13:38:46 UTC 2011

The young King Baudouin I of Belgium (1930-1993) is often cited for having
reminded a joint session of Congress in 1959

"It takes twenty years or more of peace to make a man; it takes only twenty
seconds of war to destroy him."

This is a pithy reduction of a passage from Voltaire's _Philosophical
Dictionary_ (s.v. "General Reflection on Man"):

"It requires twenty years for a man to rise from the vegetable state in
which he is within his mother's womb, and from the pure animal state which
is the lot of his early childhood, to the state when the maturity of reason
begins to appear. It has required thirty centuries to learn a little about
his structure. It would need eternity to learn something about his soul. It
takes an instant to kill him."

That's the Wikiquotes translation: the site offers the French text as well.
 Others are available, though not in general dictionaries of quotations.

Minutes later: Neither YBQ, Bartlett's latest, or Oxford appears to include
either quote!  But I noted the Baudouin many years ago from a similar work.
(An earlier Bartlett's?)


"If the truth is half as bad as I think it is, you can't handle the truth."

The American Dialect Society - http://www.americandialect.org

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