Voltaire (François-Marie Arouet) was a marvel in eighteenth-century France: historian, playwright, novelist, scientist, philosopher, lawyer and human-rights crusader. He was independently wealthy through his own effort. His pen seldom rested during his 83 years of life. He battled oppression of speech and action by an overbearing Church and dysfunctional State. In fact, he spent much of his life in exile, self-imposed or otherwise, and saw as an inmate the inside of the Bastille prison more than once.
Voltaire’s vast literary output surely reflected an unusual talent, but he gave some credit to le café, or coffee. It was not unusual for him to consume thirty cups of coffee in a day. The cups were small, perhaps two ounces each, not American-sized mugs, but added up to a considerable volume all the same. And there is no telling how strong the coffee was—each cup could have caused the heart to race. Thus provisioned, Voltaire wrote like the wind. Here is a sample of his work:
Under coercion there is no virtue, and without virtue there is no religion. Make a slave of me, and I shall be no better for it. Even the king has no right to use coercion to lead men to religion, which in its nature presupposes choice and liberty.

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