Philosophical Dictionary, by Voltaire


This word has sometimes a bounded and sometimes an extended sense. “Favorite” sometimes conveys the idea of power; and sometimes it only signifies a man who pleases his master.

Henry III. had favorites who were only playthings, and he had those who governed the state, as the dukes of Joyeuse and Épernon. A favorite may be compared to a piece of gold, which is valued at whatever the prince pleases.

An ancient writer has asked, “Who ought to be the king’s favorite? — the people!” Good poets are called the favorites of the muses, as prosperous men are called the favorites of fortune, because both are supposed to receive these gifts without laboring for them. It is thus, that a fertile and well-situated land is called the favorite of nature.

The woman who pleases the sultan most is called the favorite sultana. Somebody has written the history of favorites; that is to say, the mistresses of the greatest princes.

Several princes in Germany have country houses which they call favorites.

A lady’s favorite is now only to be found in romances and stories of the last century.

Last updated Sunday, March 27, 2016 at 12:01