A statement found in a letter from Voltaire
, the incomparable French writer
, to Mme. d' Angenthal on October 4, 1748
The axiom is a quite characteristic one for Voltaire, considering his time and, especially, his personality and beliefs. If anything, he was continuously at war with the dominant religous, social, and moral standards of his age, or so I gather from my limited readings on the subject.
Voltaire's "To hold a pen is to be at war" contrasts with a later and more famous statement - "The pen is mightier than the sword" - by the English novelist Edward G. Bulwer-Lytton (of "It was a dark and stormy night" fame and now satirically immortalized in the annual Bulwer-Lytton Fiction Contest, whose website can be found at the URL http://www.bulwer-lytton.com/).