Life Is Thick Sown with Thorns, and I Know No Other Remedy Than To Pass Quickly Through Them

Voltaire? Louis Mayeul Chaudon? Apocryphal?

Dear Quote Investigator: The famous French writer Voltaire (François-Marie Arouet) apparently said something like: Life is bristling with thorns. One must travel through them quickly to minimize the pain and harm. Would you please help me to find a citation?

Quote Investigator: Voltaire died in 1778, and Louis Mayeul Chaudon published a biographical work in 1785. The anecdote section included the following. Boldface added to excerpts by QI:[1]1785, Mémoires Pour Servir à L’Histoire de M. de Voltaire, Editor: Louis Mayeul Chaudon, Part 2, Section: Anecdotes Sur Voltaire, Quote Page 78, Amsterdam, Netherlands. (Google Books Full … Continue reading

« La vie est hérissée d’épines, ( disoit Voltaire ) ; & je ne sçais d’autre remède, que de passer vite à travers ces broussailles. C’est donner de la consistance aux maux, que de trop s’y arrêter. »

In 1786 Chaudon’s work was translated and published under the title “Historical and Critical Memoirs of the Life and Writings of M. de Voltaire”. The text above was rendered as follows:[2]1786, Historical and Critical Memoirs of the Life and Writings of M. de Voltaire. Interspersed with Numerous Anecdotes, Poetical Pieces, Epigrams and Bon Mots, From the French of Dom Chaudon (Louis … Continue reading

Life, said Voltaire, is thick sown with thorns, and I know no other remedy than to pass quickly through them. The longer we dwell on our misfortunes, the greater is their power to harm us.

Thus, this quotation did not appear in Voltaire’s writings; instead, it appeared in a biographical work printed posthumously. Its authenticity is dependent upon the care and diligence of Louis Mayeul Chaudon.

Below are additional selected citations.

Continue reading Life Is Thick Sown with Thorns, and I Know No Other Remedy Than To Pass Quickly Through Them

References

References
1 1785, Mémoires Pour Servir à L’Histoire de M. de Voltaire, Editor: Louis Mayeul Chaudon, Part 2, Section: Anecdotes Sur Voltaire, Quote Page 78, Amsterdam, Netherlands. (Google Books Full View) link
2 1786, Historical and Critical Memoirs of the Life and Writings of M. de Voltaire. Interspersed with Numerous Anecdotes, Poetical Pieces, Epigrams and Bon Mots, From the French of Dom Chaudon (Louis Mayeul Chaudon), Quote Page 291, Printed for G. G. J and J. Robinson, London. (Google Books Full View) link