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neck under so shameful a yoke, and the pusillanimity of those people in power who peaceably suffered the memory of her, whom they had so much admired, to be thus insulted. Though nations are slow to correct themselves, they still suffer themselves to be told of their faults with patience. But the priests, whom the parliaments would suffer to excommunicate none but wizards and players, were irritated to see a poet dare to dispute the half of their empire, and the people in power could not pardon him for having proclaimed their unworthy cowardice.

Voltaire felt that some great theatrical success could alone secure him the hearts of the public, and shield him from the attacks of fanaticism. In a country in which no popular power exists, each class has some point at which to rally, and forms itself into a species of power. A dramatic author is under the protection of those societies who resort to the theatre for amusement. The public, by applauding allusions, flatter or offend the vanity of men in office, discourage or reanimate their opponents, and cannot for this reason be openly defied. Voltaire, therefore, presented his “ Eriphile," which did not effect his purpose ; but, far from being discouraged by want of successs and delighted with the subject of “ Zaire," he finished that tragedy in eighteen days, and it made its appearance on the stage four months after “ Eriphile.”

Its success surpassed his hopes. This was the first piece in which, forsaking the track of Corneille and Racine, he discovered art, style, and talents entirely his own. Never did love more true, or more impassioned, draw tears more sweet; never did poet before so depict the fury of jealousy in a mind so simple, so affectionate, and so generous. We love Orosmanes at the very moment he makes us shudder. With what art has the poet painted the Christians, whose interference disturb so sweet a union-a feeling and pious woman who has sacrificed her life and her love to her God; while the man who believes not in Christianity weeps for Zaïre, whose mind is distracted by filial affection, and who is the willing victim of a superstitious prejudice which forbids her to love a man of a different sect. This is the masterpiece of art. Whoever does not believe in the Old Testament, discovers in Athalia nothing but the school of bigotry, falsehood, and murder ; but to all sects, and in all countries, “ Zaïre" is the tragedy of the feeling and the innocent heart.

This tragedy was followed by that of " Adelaide de Gueschlin,” which had likewise love for its subject; and in which, as in “ Zaïre,” French heroes and French history were recited in beautiful poetry, so as to increase the interest. But it was the patriotisın of a citizen who delighted in the recollection of respected names and great events, and not the patriotism of the anti-chamber which has since been so applauded on the French theatre.

It is said that the success of “ Adelaide” was injured by the “ Temple of Taste,” in which charming work Voltaire had passed sentence on the writers of the past age, and even on some of his contemporaries. Time has confirmed all his decisions, which each then appeared sacrilegious. In observing such literary intolerance, the necessity, under which every writer labours who wishes to live in peace, of respecting opinions already formed of the merit of an orator or a poet, and the fury with which the public pursues those who dare even on the most indifferent subjects to think differently from themselves, we should be tempted to imagine that man is intolerant by nature. Wit, reason, and genius, cannot always guard us against this misfortune. There are few men who have not some secret idols, the worship of which they cannot calmly see destroyed.

Voltaire had, in his retirement, conceived the happy plan of bringing his nation acquainted with the philosophy, the literature, the opinions, and the sects of England; to effect which, he wrote his “ Letters on the English Nation." Fontenelle

was the first who made reason and philosophy speak an agreeble and inviting language : he had the art to mingle reflections, sage, delicate, and frequently profound, with the sciences. In the “ Letters of Voltaire,” we discover the merit of Fontenelle with more taste, simplicity, boldness, and gaiety. No rooted attachment to the errors of Descartes interfered to spread a shade over, and to disfigure, truth. He possessed the logic and pleasantry of the “ Lettres Provinciales,” but exercised them on greater subjects; nor were they injured by a varnish of monkish devotion.

This work was the era of a revolution in France ; it gave rise to a taste for philosophy, and English literature; it interested us in the manners, policy, and commercial knowledge of that nation ; and it brought us acquainted with the English language.

The publication of these letters excited persecution, the bitterness of which, to read them at present, could scarcely be conceived: but innate ideas were opposed in them, and our doctors of that day believed, if there were no innate ideas, there would be no sufficiently marked characters to distinguish between the souls of men and of brutes. Beside, it was there maintained, after Locke, that there was no strict proof that God had not the power, if he had the will, to impart to matter the faculty of thinking. This was to infringe on the privilege of the divines, who pretended to know accurately and exactly, they and they alone, all that God has thought, and all that he could do, or has done, since, and even before, the beginning of the world.

In fine, Voltaire criticised some passages of the “ Thoughts of Pascal :" a work which the Jesuits, in their own despite, were obliged to respect as much as the works of St. Augustin. It gave scandalous offence to see a poet-nay, more, a layman-dare to sit in judgment on Pascal. It appeared to be an attack on the only defender of the Christian religion, who, among the fashionable world, had the reputation of being a great man. It was to attack religion itself: and how much would the proofs of religion be weakened, should the mathematician Pascal, who had openly devoted bimself to its defence, be convicted of having often reasoned ill?

The clergy demanded that the “ Letters on the English Nation,” should be suppressed ; and they were so, by an arret of council. These arrets were given, without examination, as a kind of retribution, for the subsidy which government obtained from the assemblies of the clergy: and as a reward for the facility with which they were granted, the parliament burnt the book, according to a custom formerly invented by Tiberius, and rendered ridiculous since the invention of printing. But there are certain people for whom the experience of three ages are necessary, before they can begin to perceive absurdity.

So much persecution, exercised at the very time when the miracles of the Abbé Paris and those of Father Girard were acting, loaded the two persecuting parties with ridicule and opprobrium. It was natural that they should unite against a man who daringly preached reason; and they went so far as to order informations to be issued against the author of the “ Letters.” The keeper of the seals banished Voltaire, who, being at that time absent, received early information, and avoided the people sent to conduct him to the place of his exile ; rather choosing to combat at a distance, and where he could be in safety. His friends proved that he had not forfeited' his promise, not to publish his Letters" in France; and that they had made their appearance from the treachery of a book binder. Fortunately, the keeper of the seals had more zeal for his authority than for religion, and was much more of a minister than of a devotee. The storm was hushed, and Voltaire had permission to return to Paris.

This calm was but of momentary duration. The epistle to Urania, which, till then, had been kept in secret, was printed ; and Voltaire, to escape a new persecution, was obliged to disavow and attribute it to the Abbé de Chaulieu, who had been dead several years. The imputation did the abbé honour as a poet, without injuring his fame as a Christian.

The necessity of falsehood, in disavowing a work, is an act of extremity, alike repugnant to conscience and to dignity of character ; but the crime is in the injus. tice of those men who render such a disavowal necessary for the safety of the author.

We do not, however, disculpate Voltaire, for having attributed his work to the abbé de Chaulieu, but such an imputation is in itself indifferent, and a mere act of pleasantry; it is affording an excuse to people in power who are disposed to be indulgent without daring to confess themselves so, by the aid of which they may repel such persecutors as are over-serious in their zeal.

The indiscretion with which some of the friends of Voltaire repeated fragments from his " Maid of Orleans," was the cause of a new persecution. The keeper of the seals threatened to confine the poet in the worst and deepest of durigeons, if any part of the poem made its appearance. Remembering the long space of time during which such subaltern tyrants, inflated by momentary power, have dared to hold similar language to men who have been the glory of their country and their age, the sensations of contempt rise in us and smother those of indignation. The oppressor and the oppressed are now both in the grave; but the name of the oppressed will be borne, on the wings of fame, to future ages, and singly preserved from oblivion ; while eternal shame will pursue the memory of his cowardly persecutors.

At a time when there was much conversation concerning a man who had been arrested by a supposed forged lettre de cachet, Voltaire asked the lieutenant of the police, Herault, what punishment would be inflicted on those who should fabricate false lettres de cachet. “They will be hanged.” “That will be but doing right: let us hope the time will come when those who sign the true will be served in the same way.”

Wearied by so much persecution, Voltaire thought it necessary to change his mode of life; to effect which, fortune secured him the means. The fortune which descended to him from his father and his brother was ample, and had been increased by the London edition of the “ Henriade,” and fortunate speculations in the public funds. Thus, to the advantage of possessing wealth, which ascertained independence, he added that of being indebted for it to himself. The use he made of riches might prevail on envy itself to pardon him their acquirement.

Much of his wealth was expended in aiding men of letters, and in encouraging such youth as he thought discovered the seeds of genius. This, in particular, was the application he made of the trifling profits he derived from his works and his theatrical productions, when he did not make a free gift of the latter to the comedians. Yet never was author more cruelly accused of injuries done to his booksellers ; but the whole swarm of literary insects were at their commanu, and were themselves anxious to decry the conduct of a man whose works they were conscious they could not bring into disrepute. But proofs of the falsehood of these imputations, as well as the favours heaped by Voltaire on some of his detractors, still subsist; nor can we remember these proofs without a sigh, at the misfortune of genius thus condemned to suffer, and at that shameful facility men have to credit whatever can relieve them from the necessity of admiring. Such sighs are the melancholy retribution of fame.

Having no more need, for the security of his fortune, to court patronage, solicit places, or to traffic with booksellers, Voltaire renounced all residence at the capital. Previously to the administration of Cardinal de Fleury, and his journey to England, his intercourse had been among people of the first fashion. Princes and nobles, those who were at the head of affairs, people of fashion and women most in vogue, were courted by him and were equally desirous of his company. He was every where received with pleasure and welcome, but he everywhere inspired envy and fear. Superior, in genius, he was even more so in the wit of conversation, into which he infused whatever can render frivolity amiable, and at the same time interspersed traits of a more elevated nature. Born with the talent of humour, his repartees were often repeated ; nor was there any want of a.. application of the word malignant to what was no more than the decision of the understanding rendered acute by native wit.

On his return from England, he felt that in society, where men assemble from motives of vanity and self-love, he should meet but with few friends. He, therefore, though he did not quarrel with such societies, frequented them less. The taste he had acquired for magnificence, grandeur, and whatever is uncommon and splendid, had become habitual, and he preserved it even in retirement. By this taste his works were often embellished, and it occasionally influenced his judgment. On his return to his country, he confined himself to live familiarly with only a few friends. He had lost M. de Génonville and M. de Maisons, but he still possessed M. d'Argental, who, during his long life, preserved sensations of affection and admiration for Voltaire, and who was rewarded by his friendship and his confidence. Madame Forment and Madame Cideville were likewise his friends, and the confidants of his works and his projects.

But about the time when he suffered such various persecution, friendship, still more tender, afforded him consolation, and increased his love of retirement. The Marchioness de Châtelet was, like him, passionately enamoured of study and fame, as well as of philosophy ; but it was of that kind of philosophy which springs up in the strong and free mind. She had studied metaphysics and geometry sufficiently to analyse Leibnitz, and translate Newton. She cultivated the arts; but not undistinguishingly—not so as 10 prefer them to the knowledge of nature and man. Superior to prejudice, as well from strength of character as from reason, she had not the weakness to conceal how much prejudice was despised by her. Indulging in the trifling amusements of her sex, rank, and age, she yet could contemn and abandon them without regret in favour of retirement, labour, and friendship. Her superiority excited the jealousy of women, and even of most of the men, with whom she necessarily associated. Yet she could pardon their envy without an effort. Such was the friend that Voltaire selected with whom 10 pass his days; which were ever consecrated to works of genius, and embellished by mutual friendship. She retired with Voltaire to Cirey, on the borders of Champagne and Lorraine, where they led a life of study and retirement, interrupted and varied by an occasional quarrel. At Cirey, Voltaire wrote several of his plays-“Alzire," “ Mahomet," “ Mérope," and others; and he collected materials for the “ Essai sur les Meurs et l'Esprit des Nations," which, with all its defects, is one of his best works. Here also he finished his “ Pucelle," which he had commenced some time before. Several fragments of it had been circulated before he left Paris.

It was in the year 1736, during his residence at Cirey, that a correspondence commenced between Prince Frederick, the son of Frederick William, King of Prussia, and Voltaire ; it began by Frederick writing to him to express his admiration, and to solicit the favour of Voltaire's literary counsel. Voltaire's residence at

Cirey was not interrupted. He visited Paris, and also on several occasions left France, but his movements are not easily traced. Voltaire was at Brussels with Madame du Châtelet, in 1740, when Frederick William died, and he soon received an invitation from his successor, Frederick, to visit him. The first meeting of the new King of Prussia and Voltaire took place at a small chateau near Cleves, and is described by Voltaire in his amusing Memoires. When Frederick was princeroya!, he had written a treatise entitled “ Anti-Machiavel," which he sent to Voltaire, who was then at Brussels, to correct and get it printed. Voltaire had given it to a Dutch bookseller ; but on the accession of Frederick, seeing what his political schemes were, and anticipating, as he says, the invasion of Silesia, he suggested to his majesty that this was not precisely the time for the “ Anti-Machiavel” to appear, and he obtained the king's permission to stop the publication, for which purpose he visited Holland. But the bookseller's demands were high; and the king, who did not like parting with his money, and was at least not sorry to see his work printed, preferred having it published for nothing to paying anything in order to stop the publication. While Voltaire was in Holland, the Emperor Charles VI. died, and Frederick began to make preparations for his campaigns. Voltaire visited him at Berlin, but on Frederick's setting out for Silesia, he returned to Brussels. From Brussels he went to Lille, where his tragedy of “ Maho. met” was acted (1741); but though he had at first obtained the permission of the Cardinal de Fleury to have it acted at Paris, the representation was prevented by the intrigues of some zealots, who saw or affected to see in it an irreligious tendency. “ Mahomet " was not acted at Paris till 1751.

At this time Voltaire was selected to conclude a treaty of alliance with the king of Prussia, and he executed his commission better than most diplomatists; but he was left without his reward. The mistress of Louis XV. was vexed that all Vol. taire's letters from Berlin had passed through the hands of Madame du Châtelet, instead of her own: she revenged herself by causing the dismissal of M. Amelot, the minister for foreign affairs, from whom Voltaire had received his instructions : and Voltaire's hopes were thus disappointed.

The mistress herself was soon dismissed ; and on her death, which followed shortly after, it was necessary for Louis to have a new favourite, and Mademoiselle Poisson, subsequently known as Madame de Pompadour, filled the vacant place. Voltaire was already acquainted with her, and, as he says, was in her confidence. Through her interest, he was made one of the forty members of the Academy, in the place of Bouhier (1746); and he was also appointed historiographer of France, and received the place of gentilhomme ordinaire de la chambre du roi. “I concluded,” says Voltaire, " that to make the smallest fortune, it was better to say four words to the mistress of a king than to write a hundred volumes.”

During their residence at Cirey, Voltaire aud Madame du Châtelet occasionally visited King Stanislaus at his little court of Luneville, which Voltaire has sketched in his usual happy way. Here Madame du Châtelet fell violently in love with M. de St. Lambert. The intrigue was discovered, and she died in child-bed at the age of forty-three. After her death, her husband opened a ring concealing a portrait which had once been his own, Voltaire knew that he had replaced the duke of Richelieu, and he had now the mortification to see that St. Lambert had replaced him. “Monsieur le Marquis," he said to the unhappy husband,“ this is a discovery which does no honour to either of us."

Voltaire returned to Paris, and resumed his literary labours. King Frederick, who had not been able to induce him to visit Prussia during the lifetime of Madame du Châtelet, now renewed his invitation, and after some hesitation Voltaire went to

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