The men who had hated [the book], and had not particularly loved Helvétius, flocked round him now. Voltaire forgave him all injuries, intentional or unintentional. ‘What a fuss about an omelette!’ he had exclaimed when he heard of the burning. How abominably unjust to persecute a man for such an airy trifle as that! ‘I disapprove of what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it,’ was his attitude now.
S. G. Tallentyre, referring to Voltaire. Often attributed to Voltaire.
pseudonym of Evelyn Beatrice Hall
Notes about this Quotation
This is likely the origin of the popular saying usually attributed to Voltaire, “I disapprove of what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it.” The author intended it to sum up Voltaire’s attitude. [note by Michael Moncur, January 12, 2005]