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or oppose each other, united against the “Encyclopedia," and it fell. The editors were obliged to finish and to print in secret this work, to whose perfection liberty and publicity were so essential; and one of the noblest undertakings which the human mind' has ever conceived, would have remained unfinished but for the courage of Diderot, and the zeal of a great number of men of distinguished learning, whom persecution could not deter.

Happily, the honour of having given the “ Encyclopedia” to Europe, compensated France for the shame of having opposed its progress. It was, with justice, regarded as the work of the nation, and its persecution as that of a policy and jealousy equally despicable.

But the coniests which the “ Encyclopedia” had occasioned, did not cease with the proscription of that work. Its principal authors and their friends, marked by the name of philosophers and encyclopedists, which was designed as an opprobrium by the enemies of reason, were compelled to unite even by this very persecution ; and Voltaire naturally became their leader by his age, his celebrity, his zeal, and his genius, He had long before enjoyed some friends and a great number of admirers ; at that period, he had a party. The persecution rallied under his standard all the men of merit, whoin, perhaps, his superiority would have kept at a distance from him, as it had banished their predecessors; and enthusiasm took the place of former injustice.

It was in the year 1760, that this literary war was most violent. Le Franc de Pompignan, an estimable man of letters but an indifferent poet, of whose works there remains a fine stanza, and a feeble tragedy in which the combined genius of Virgil and Metastasio could not yield him sufficient support, was elected one of the French academy. Clothed with the honours of magistracy, he thought that his dignity, as well as his works, exempted him from all gratitude; in the discourse, which he delivered at his admission, he permitted himself to insult the men whose names did the greatest honour to the society that condescended to receive him ; and, clearing pointing out Voltaire, accused him of infidelity and falsehood. Soon after, Palissoi—the venal instrument of the rancour of a woman-exhibited the philosophers on the stage. The laws, which prohibit the ridiculing individuals at the theaire, were silent. The journals repeated the insults of the iheatre Sull Vol. taire combatted all. The Poor Devil,” the “ Russian at Paris,” “ Vanity,"a crowd of humorous pieces in prose succeeded each other with astonishing rapidity.

Le Franc de Pompignan complained to the king, and to the academy, and beheld, with an impotent grief, that his own name was obscured by the splendour of that of Voltaire. Each step he took did but increase the satire, which every tongue repeated, and the verses in which he is consigned to eternal ridicule. And he retired to bury his humbled pride and deceived ambition in the country; a fearful, but saiutary, example of the power of genius, and the dangers of literary hypocrisy.

Fréron, an ex-Jesuit as well as Desfontaines, had succeeded the latter in the trade of flattering, by periodical satires, the jealousy of the enemies of virtue, of reason, and of talerits. He distinguished himself in the war against the philosophers. Voltaire, who had long supported his outrages, at length did justice, and avenged bis friends. In the comedy of " l'Ecossaise," (the Scotchwoman), he introduced a depraved journalist, whose character was formed of venality and rancour. The pit, in the character, recognised Fréron, who, delivered over to public disdain in a piece which could not fail to be preserved to the theatre by interesting scenes, and the original and forcible character of the worthy blunt Freeport, was condemned to bear, during the remainder of his life, a ridiculous and disgraced name. Fréron, in applauding the insult offered to the philosophers, had forfeited his right of


complaining; and his protectors chose rather to abandon him than to avow a partiality which might have involved their own discredit.

Other enemies, less virulent, had been either corrected or punished ; and Voltaire, triumphing in the midst of these victims sacrificed to reason and to his glory, sent to the theatre, at the age of sixty-six, the chef-d'æuvre of “Tancred.” That tragedy was dedicated to the Marchioness de Pompadour. It was the fruit of the address with which Voltaire could, without wounding the Duke de Choiseul, support the cause of the philosophers, whose adversaries had obtained a slight protection from that minister. This dedication taught his enemies that their calumnies were not more injurious to his security than their criticisms to his fame : it completed his vengeance.

In this same year he learned that a young niece of Corneille languished in a condition unworthy of his name ; "It is the duty of a soldier," he cried, “ to succour the niece of his general.” Mademoiselle Corneille was invited to Ferney ; and she there received an education suitable to the rank that her birth had marked for her in society. Voltaire even carried his delicacy so far as not to suffer the establishment of Mademoiselle Corneille to appear as his benefaction. He wished that she should owe that to the works of her uncle, and he undertook to publish an edition of them with notes. The creator of the French theatre commented on by the writer who had conducted that theatre to its perfection, a man of genius, born at a time when taste was not yet formed, judged by a rival who joined to genius the gift, almost as rare, of a taste that was penetrating without severity, delicate without timidity, and enlightened by a long and happy experience of the art : these are the beauties presented in that work. Voltaire speaks in it of Corneille's defects with frankness, and of his beauties with enthusiasm. Never has Comeille been examined with such rigour, never has he been praised with a feeling more profound and true. Resolved to instruct both the French youth and the youth of other countries who cultivate the French literature, he did not pardon the vices of language, the extravagance, nor the offences committed against delicacy and good taste, which are found in Corneille ; but, at the same time, he taught them to know the progress which the art owes to that writer, the uncommon elevation of his mind, the almost inimitable beauty of his poeiry in the passages dictated by his genius, and those vast, sublime words which spring suddenly from the necessity of the occasion, and paint great characters with a single stroke.

The herd of writers reproached him, nevertheless, with a design of degrading Corneille, from motives of mean jealousy; whereas, throughout the whole of his commentary, he seizes, he even seems to seek, occasion to proclaim his admiration of Racine; a more dangerous rival, whom he has surpassed only in some parts of the tragic art, and whose prodigious excellence he might well envy in the height of bis glory.

Voltaire, tranquil in his retreat, employed in continuing the happy war which he had declared against prejudice, saw the arrival of an unfortunate family, the father of which had been conducted to the wheel by fanatic judges; the instruments of a ferocious passion of a superstitious peopie. He learnt that Calas, an infirm old man, had been accused of having hanged his young and vigorous son, in the midst of his family, and in the presence of a Catholic servant ; that he had been urged to commit this crime by the fear of seeing this son embrace the Catholic religion, this son who spent his life in dissipation, and of whom no one in the midst of the universal effervescence could ever cite a single word, or point to a single action which announced such a design, while another son of Calas, already converted to the Catholic faich, enjoyed a pension from the bounty of this father,

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who was far from possessing affluence. Never, in an event of such a nature, had circumstances so concurred to banish the suspicion of a crime in the father, or to strengthen the reasons to ascribe suicide to the son. The young man's conduct, his character, the kind of reading in which he indulged, all confirmed this idea. Yet a magistrate, whose weak mind was intoxicated with superstition, and whose hatred to the Protestants did not hesitate to impute crimes to them, caused the whole family to be imprisoned. The Catholic populace became inflamed, and the young man was declared to be a martyr. The fraternity of the penitents, which, to the disgrace of the nation, still exists at Thoulouse, performed a solemn mass for him, during which they bore his effigies, holding the palm of martyrdom in one hand, and in the other the pen with which he was to have signed his abjuration.

It was soon reported that the Protestant religion commanded fathers to assassinate their children, when they designed to abjure it; and that, for greater security, they elected, in their secret assemblies, the butcher of the sect. The inferior tribus nal, led by the furious M. David, pronounced the unfortunate Calas guilty ; and the parliament confirmed the sentence by that very small majority which is unhappily regarded as sufficient by our absurd jurisprudence. Condemned to the torture and the wheel, this miserable father died protesting his innocence; and the judges absolved his family, the necessary acccomplices of the guilt, or the innocence of its head.

This family, ruined and stained by prejudice, went to seek, among men of their own persuasion, a retreat, assistance, but, above all, consolation. They took up their residence near Geneva. Voltaire, whose compassion was moved, and whose indignation was roused, informed himself of the horrible particulars ; and, assured of the innocence of the unfortunate Calas, he dared to conceive the hope of obtaining justice. The zeal of the advocates was excited, and their courage sustained by his letters. He interested, in the cause of humanity, the naturally susceptible mind of the Duke de Choiseul. The reputation of Tronchin had brought to Geneva the Duchess d’Enville, the great grand-daughter of the author of the “Maxims." Superior to superstition, both by her native feelings and by her acquired knowledge, informed how to produce the welfare of mankind by equal activity and courage, and embellishing by a genuine modesty the energy of her virtues, her hatred of fanaticism and oppression ensured to Calas a protectress, whose zeal could not be abated by obstacles or delays. The investigation was commenced. To the memorials of the advocates, too profuse and declamatory, Voltaire added more nervous writings, the style of which was seductive, and calculated in some places to excite pity, and in others to awaken the public indignation, so prone to sleep among a people, at that time, too much a stranger to their own interests. Pleadirg for Calas, he supported the cause of toleration, which word it was then boldness to pronounce, and which is even now rejected with contempt by men who recognise the right of enslaving thought and conscience. Le:ters, abounding with that subtle praise which he could distribute with such delicacy, animated the zeal of the defenders of the cause, of its protectors, and of the judges. It was, while he promised immortality, that he demanded justice.

The sentence of Thoulouse was annulled. The Duke de Choiseul had the wisdom and the courage to order a tribunal of masters of requests to revise this cause, in defending which the parliaments were all interested, whose prejudices and spirit of mutual defence left little hope of an equitable decision. In fine, Calas was declared innocent; dishonour was removed from his memory; and a generous minister caused the public treasury to repair the wrongs that the injustice of the judges had done to the fortune of his family, which was as respectable as it was unhappy,

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But le did not procced so far as to compel the parliament of Languedoc to acknowledge the decision which overturned an act of its injustice. That tribunai preferred the miserable vanity of persevering in its error, to the honour of lamenting, and repairing, the injury.

Meanwhile, the applauses of France and of Europe were heard at Thoulouse, and the unhappy M. David, sinking beneath the weight of remorse and of shame, soon lost his reason and his life. This affair, so great in itself, so important in its consequences, since it turned the attention not only of France but of other nations to the crimes of intolerance and the necessity of preventing them, this affair occupied the soul of Voltaire during more than three years.—“ In all this time,” said he, “a smile has not escaped me, for which I have not reproached myself, as for a crime.” His name, which had long been dear to the enlightened friends of humanity as that of its most zealous, most indefatigable defender, this name was then blest by that multitude of citizens who, devoted to persecution during eighty years, at length heard a voice raised in their defence. Having returned to Paris in 1778, one day that the people surrounded him on the Pont Royal, a poor woman was asked who that man was who thus drew the crowd after him—“Know you not,' said she, “ that he is the saviour of Calas ?" He was informed of this answer, and, surrounded as he was by the marks of admiration which were lavished on him, it was this by which he was most sensibly affected.

Shortly after the unfortunate death of Calas, a young woman of the same province, who, according to a barbarous custom, had been taken from her parents and shut up in a convent with a design of aiding saving grace by human means, wearied of the ill treatment she had endured, escaped, and her body was discovered in a well. The priest who had solicited the lettre de cuchet, the sisterhood who had used with barbarity the power which it gave them over this unfortunate young woman, doubtless merited punishment; but it was on the family of this victim that fanaticism wished punishment to fall. The injurious reproach which had conducted Calas to the wheel was revived with a new fury. Sirven, fortunately, had time to fly ; and, condemned to death for contumacy, he sought an asylum with the protector of Calas. But his wife, who accompanied him, fell a prey to her grief and to the fatigue of a journey, undertaken on foot, over tracts of snow.

Judicial forms required Sirven to present himself before the same parliament who had shed the blood of Calas. Voltaire endeavoured to obtain other judges. The Duke de Choiseul at that time thought it necessary to respect the opinion of the parliament, who, after the decay of his influence over the Marchioness de Pompadour, and again after her death, were become useful to him, at times to free him from an enemy, and at others to afford the means of rendering himself necessary by the art with which he could appease their commotions, which he himself frequently excited.

Sirven then was compelled to yield to necessity, and to appear before the tribunal of Thoulouse ; but Voltaire knew how to provide for his security, and to prepare for his success. He had disciples in the parliament; some able advocates of Thoulouse wished to partake of the glory which those of Paris had acquired by defending Calas ; the friends of toleration were become powerful even in this very city; within a few years Voltaire's works had changed the minds of men ; they had only pitied Calas with a silent horror, Sirven found declared protectors, for which he was indebted to the eloquence of Voltaire, to the talent of opportunely infusing truth, mingled with approbation, into the feelings of those whom he designed to work his purposes. The friends of truth triumphed over the abettors of the pentents, and Sirven was saved.


The Jesuits had usurped the possession of a well descended family, who, hy their property, were prevented from recovering their rights. Voltaire gave them the means of accomplishing that; and oppressors of every kind, who, long had feared his writings, now learnt to dread his activity, his generosity and his courage.

This last event almost immediately preceded the destruction of the Jesuits. Voltaire, educated among them, had maintained a correspondence with his former

While they were living they restrained the fury of the fraternity from any open attack, and Voltaire was respectful to the Jesuits, both in deference to the connections of his youth and also to preserve allies in the party which at that time governed the devotees. But, after the death of these friends, wearied by the clamours of the " Journal de Trévoux," which, by unceasing accusations of impiety seemed to call down persecutions on his head, he no longer preserved the same respect for the Jesuits, nor did his zeal for the defence of the oppressed extend to them, when they, in their turn, became oppressed.

He exulted in the destruction of an order, the friend of letters but the enemy of reason, which was desirous of destroying all talents, or of drawing them into its bosom, to corrupt them, by employing them to serve its designs, and to hold the human race in infancy, in order to govern them. Yet he pitied individuals treated with barbarity by the hatred of the jansenists; and he gave an asylum, in his own house to a Jesuit, to point out to the devotees that true humanity knows only misfortune and forgets opinions. Father Adam, to whom a sort of celebrity was given by his abode at Ferney, was not absolutely useless to his host. He played with him at chess, and he played the game with sufficient address sometimes to conceal his superiority. He also spared Voltaire labour in his learned researches ; he even served him as an almoner, for Voltaire wished to oppose his fidelity in fulfilling the exterior duties of the Romish religion to the accusations which were brought against him of impiety.

At this period a great revolution was engendering in the human mind. Since the revival of philosophy, religion, exclusively established throughout Europe, had been attacked only in England. Leibnitz, Fontenelle, and other less celebrated philosophers, accused of free-thinking, had respected religion in their writings. Bayle, himself, by a precaution that was necessary to his safety, while he indulged himself in all objections, assumed the air of wishing to prove that revelation alone could resolve them, and of having formed the project of exalting faith by humiliating reason. In England, these attacks had little success or effect. In France, there had appeared some bold writers, but the blows which they aimed were still indirect. Even the work of Helvetius “De l'Esprit” (on the understanding) was only an attack on religious principles in general ; it questioned the foundations of all religions, and left the reader to draw consequences and make applications. “Emilius" appeared ; the savoyard vicar's profession of faith contained nothing relative to the utility, toward morals, of the belief of a God, and the inutility of revelation, which is not to be found in the poem of “Natural Law;" but the attack was open, and the persons attacked were brought upon the stage under their proper name and character, and not under that of the priests of India or Thibet. This boldness astonished Voltaire and excited his emulation. The success of “ Emilius" encouraged him, nor was he terrified by the fear of persecution. Rousseau had not been persecuted at Paris had he not put his name to the work, nor at Geneva had he not maintained in another part of “ Emilius" that the people possessed not the power of renouncing the right of reforming a depraved government. This doctrine authorized the citizens of that republic to overthrow the

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