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A Popular History of France From The Earliest Times
Louis XV., The Philosophers.
by Guizot, M.


Nowhere and at no epoch had literature shone with so vivid a lustre as in the reign of Louis XIV.; never has it been in a greater degree the occupation and charm of mankind, never has it left nobler and rarer models behind it for the admiration and imitation of the coming race; the writers of Louis XV.'s age, for all their brilliancy and all their fertility, themselves felt their inferiority in respect of their predecessors. Voltaire confessed as much with a modesty which was by no means familiar to him. Inimitable in their genius, Corneille, Bossuet, Pascal, Moliere left their imprint upon the generation that came after them; it had judgment enough to set them by acclamation in the ranks of the classics; in their case, greatness displaced time. Voltaire took Racine for model; La Mothe imagined that he could imitate La Fontaine. The illustrious company of great minds which surrounded the throne of Louis XIV., and had so much to do with the lasting splendor of his reign, had no reason to complain of ingratitude on the part of its successors; but, from the pedestal to which they raised it, it exercised no potent influence upon new thought and new passions. Enclosed in their glory as in a sanctuary, those noble spirits, discreet and orderly even in their audacities, might look forth on commotions and yearnings they had never known; they saw, with astonishment mingled with affright, their successors launching without fear or afterthought upon that boundless world of intellect, upon which the rules of conscience and the difficulties of practical life do not come in anywhere to impose limits. They saw the field everywhere open to human thought, and they saw falling down on all sides the boundaries which they had considered sacred. They saw pioneers, as bold as they were thoughtless, marching through the mists of a glorious hope towards an unknown future, attacking errors and abuses, all the while that they were digging up the groundwork of society in order to lay new foundations, and they must have shuddered even in their everlasting rest to see ideas taking the place of creeds, doubt substituted for belief, generous aspirations after liberty, justice, and humanity mingled, amongst the masses, with low passions and deep-seated rancor. They saw respect disappearing, the church as well as the kingly power losing prestige every day, religious faith all darkened and dimmed in some corner of men's souls, and, amidst all this general instability, they asked themselves with awe, "What are the guiding-reins of the society which is about to be? What will be the props of the new fabric? The foundations are overturned; what will the good man do?"

Good men had themselves sometimes lent a hand to the work, beyond what they had intended or foreseen, perhaps; Montesquieu, despite the wise moderation of his great and strong mind, had been the first to awaken that yearning for novelty and reforms which had been silently brooding at the bottom of men's hearts. Born in 1689 at the castle of La Brede, near Bordeaux, Montesquieu really belonged, in point of age, to the reign of Louis XIV., of which he bears the powerful imprint even amidst the boldness of his thoughts and expressions. Grandeur is the distinctive characteristic of Montesquieu's ideas, as it is of the seventeenth century altogether. He was already councillor in the Parliament of Bordeaux when Louis XIV. died; next year (1716) he took possession of a mortar-cap president's (president d mortier) office, which had been given up to him by one of his uncles. "On leaving college," he says, "there were put into my hands some law-books; I examined the spirit of them." Those profound researches, which were to last as long as his life, were more suited to his tastes than jurisprudence properly so called. "What has always given me rather a low opinion of myself," he would say, "is that there are very few positions in the commonwealth for which I should be really fit. As for my office of president, I have my heart in the right place, I comprehend sufficiently well the questions in themselves; but as to the procedure I did not understand anything about it. I paid attention to it, nevertheless; but what disgusted me most was to see fools with that very talent which, so to speak, shunned me." He resolved to deliver himself from the yoke which was intolerable to him, and resigned his office; but by this time the world knew his name, in spite of the care he had taken at first to conceal it. In 1721, when he still had his seat on the fleurs-de-lis, he had published his Lettres persanes, an imaginary trip of two exiled Parsees, freely criticising Paris and France. The book appeared under the Regency, and bears the imprint of it in the licentiousness of the descriptions and the witty irreverence of the criticisms. Sometimes, however, the future gravity of Montesquieu's genius reveals itself amidst the shrewd or biting judgments. It is in the Lettres persanes that he seeks to set up the notion of justice above the idea of God himself. "Though there were no God," he says, "we should still be bound to love justice, that is to say, make every effort to be like that Being of whom we have so grand an idea, and who, if He existed, would of necessity be just." Holy Scripture, before Montesquieu, had affirmed more simply and more powerfully the unchangeable idea of justice in every soul of man. "He who is judge of all the earth, shall not He do right?" Abraham had said when interceding with God for the righteous shut up in Sodom.

The success of the Lettres persanes was great; Montesquieu had said what many people thought without daring to express it; the doubt which was nascent in his mind, and which he could only withstand by an effort of will, the excessive freedom of the tone and of the style scared the authorities, however; when he wanted to get into the French Academy, in the place of M. de Sacy, Cardinal Fleury opposed it formally. It was only on the 24th of January, 1728, that Montesquieu, recently elected, delivered his reception speech. He at once set out on some long travels; he went through Germany, Hungary, Italy, Switzerland, Holland, and ended by settling in England for two years. The sight of political liberty had charmed him. "Ambassadors know no more about England than a six months' infant," he wrote in his journal; "when people see the devil to pay in the periodical publications, they believe that there is going to be a revolution next day; but all that is required is to remember that in England as elsewhere, the people are dissatisfied with the ministers and write what is only thought elsewhere. England is the freest country in the world; I do not except any republic." He returned to France so smitten with the parliamentary or moderate form of government, as he called it, that he seemed sometimes to forget the prudent maxim of the Lettres persanes. "It is true," said the Parsee Usbeck, "that, in consequence of a whimsicality (bizarrerie) which springs rather from the nature than from the mind of man, it is sometimes necessary to change certain laws; but the case is rare, and, when it occurs, it should not be touched save with a trembling hand."

On returning to his castle of La Brede after so many and such long travels, Montesquieu resolved to restore his tone by intercourse with the past. "I confess my liking for the ancients," he used to say; "this antiquity enchants me, and I am always ready to say with Pliny, 'You are going to Athens; revere the gods.'" It was not, however, on the Greeks that he concentrated the working of his mind; in 1734, he published his Considerations sur les causes de la grandeur et de la decadence des Romaine. Montesquieu did not, as Bossuet did, seek to hit upon God's plan touching the destinies of mankind; he discovers in the virtues and vices of the Romans themselves the secret of their triumphs and of their reverses. The contemplation of antiquity inspires him with language often worthy of Tacitus, curt, nervous, powerful in its grave simplicity. "It seemed," he says, "that the Romans only conquered in order to give; but they remained so positively the masters that, when they made war on any prince, they crushed him, so to speak, with the weight of the whole universe."

Montesquieu thus performed the prelude to the great work of his life; he had been working for twenty years at the Esprit des lois, when he published it in 1748. "In the course of twenty years," he says, "I saw my work begin, grow, progress, and end." He had placed as the motto to his book this Latin phrase, which at first excited the curiosity of readers: Prolem sine matre creatam (Offspring begotten without a mother). "Young man," said Montesquieu, by this time advanced in years, to M. Suard (afterwards perpetual secretary to the French Academy), "young man, when a notable book is written, genius is its father, and liberty its mother; that is why I wrote upon the title-page of my work, Prolem sine matre creatam."

It was liberty at the same time as justice that Montesquieu sought and claimed in his profound researches into the laws which have from time immemorial governed mankind; that new instinctive idea of natural rights, those new yearnings which were beginning to dawn in all hearts, remained as yet, for the most part, upon the surface of their minds and of their lives; what was demanded at that time in France was liberty to speak and write rather than to act and govern. Montesquieu, on the contrary, went to the bottom of things, and, despite the natural moderation of his mind, he propounded theories so perilous for absolute power that he dared not have his book printed at Paris, and brought it out in Geneva; its success was immense; before his death, Montesquieu saw twenty-one French editions published, and translations in all the languages of Europe. "Mankind had lost its titledeeds," says Voltaire; "Montesquieu recovered and restored them."

The intense labor, the immense courses of reading, to which Montesquieu had devoted himself, had exhausted his strength. "I am overcome with weariness," he wrote in 1747; "I propose to rest myself for the remainder of my days." "I have done," he said to M. Suard; "I have burned all my powder, all my candles have gone out." "I had conceived the design of giving greater breadth and depth to certain parts of my Esprit; I have become incapable of it; my reading has weakened my eyes, and it seems to me that what light I have left is but the dawn of the day when they will close forever."

Montesquieu was at Paris, ill and sad at heart, in spite of his habitual serenity; notwithstanding the scoffs he had admitted into his Lettres persanes, he had always preserved some respect for religion; he considered it a necessary item in the order of societies; in his soul and on his own private account he hoped and desired rather than believed. "Though the immortality of the soul were an error," he had said, "I should be sorry not to believe it; I confess that I am not so humble as the atheists. I know not what they think, but as for me I would not truck the notion of my immortality for that of an ephemeral happiness. There is for me a charm in believing myself to be immortal like God himself. Independently of revealed ideas, metaphysical ideas give me, as regards my eternal happiness, strong hopes which I should not like to give up." As he approached the tomb, his views of religion appeared to become clearer. "What a wonderful thing!" he would say, "the Christian religion, which seems to have no object but felicity in the next world, yet forms our happiness in this." He had never looked to life for any very keen delights; his spirits were as even as his mind was powerful. "Study has been for me the sovereign remedy against the disagreeables of life," he wrote, "never having had any sorrow that an hour's reading did not dispel. I awake in the morning with a secret joy at beholding the light; I gaze upon the light with a sort of enchantment, and all the rest of the day I am content. I pass the night without awaking, and in the evening, when I go to bed, a sort of entrancement prevents me from giving way to reflections."

Montesquieu died as he had lived, without retracting any of his ideas or of his writings. The priest of his parish brought him the sacraments, and, "Sir," said he, "you know how great God is!" "Yes," replied the dying man, "and how little men are!" He expired almost immediately on the 10th of February, 1755, at the age of sixty-six. He died at the beginning of the reign of the philosophers, whose way he had prepared before them without having ever belonged to their number. Diderot alone followed his bier. Fontenelle, nearly a hundred years old, was soon to follow him to the tomb.

Born at Rouen in February, 1657, and nephew of Corneille on the mother's side, Fontenelle had not received from nature any of the unequal and sublime endowments which have fixed the dramatic crown forever upon the forehead of Corneille; but he had inherited the wit, and indeed the brilliant wit (bel esprit), which the great tragedian hid beneath the splendors of his genius. He began with those writings, superfine (precieux), dainty, tricked out in the fashion of the court and the drawing-room, which suggested La Bruyere's piquant portrait.

"Ascanius is a statuary, Hegio a metal-founder, AEschines a fuller, and Cydias a brilliant wit. That is his trade; he has a sign, a workshop, articles made to order, and apprentices who work under him. Prose, verse, what d'ye lack? He is equally successful in both. Give him an order for letters of consolation, or on an absence; he will undertake them. Take them ready made, if you like, and enter his shop; there is a choice assortment. He has a friend whose only duty on earth is to puff him for a long while in certain society, and then present him at their houses as a rare bird and a man of exquisite conversation, and thereupon, just as the musical man sings and the player on the lute touches his lute before the persons to whom he has been puffed, Cydias, after coughing, pulling up his wristband, extending his hand and opening his fingers, gravely spouts his quintessentiated ideas and his sophisticated arguments."

Fontenelle was not destined to stop here in his intellectual developments; when, at forty years of age, he became perpetual secretary to the Academy of Sciences, he had already written his book on the Pluralite des Mondes, the first attempt at that popularization of science which has spread so since then. "I believe more and more," he said, "that there is a certain genius which has never yet been out of our Europe, or, at least, has not gone far out of it." This genius, clear, correct, precise, the genius of method and analysis, the genius of Descartes, which was at a later period that of Buffon and of Cuvier, was admirably expounded and developed by Fontenelle for the use of the ignorant. He wrote for society, and not for scholars, of whose labors and discoveries he gave an account to society. His extracts from the labors of the Academy of Science and his eulogies of the Academicians are models of lucidness under an ingenious and subtle form, rendered simple and strong by dint of wit. "There is only truth that persuades," he used to say, "and even without requiring to appear with all its proofs. It makes its way so naturally into the mind, that, when it is heard for the first time, it seems as if one were merely remembering."

Equitable and moderate in mind, prudent and cold in temperament, Fontenelle passed his life in discussion without ever stumbling into disputes. "I am no theologian, or philosopher, or man of any denomination, of any sort whatever; consequently I am not at all bound to be right, and I can with honor confess that I was mistaken, whenever I am made to see it." "How did you manage to keep so many friends without making one enemy?" he was asked in his old age. "By means of two maxims," he answered: "Everything is possible; everybody may be right" (tout le monde a raison). The friends of Fontenelle were moderate like himself; impressed with his fine qualities, they pardoned his lack of warmth in his affections. "He never laughed," says Madame Geoffrin, his most intimate friend. "I said to him one day, 'Did you ever laugh, M. de Fontenelle?' 'No,' he answered; 'I never went ha! ha! ha!' That was his idea of laughing; he just smiled at smart things, but he was a stranger to any strong feeling. He had never shed tears, he had never been in a rage, he had never run, and, as he never did anything from sentiment, he did not catch impressions from others. He had never interrupted anybody, he listened to the end without losing anything; he was in no hurry to speak, and, if you had been accusing against him, he would have listened all day without saying a syllable."

The very courage and trustiness of Fontenelle bore this stamp of discreet moderation. When Abbe St. Pierre was excluded from the French Academy under Louis XV. for having dared to criticise the government of Louis XIV., one single ball in the urn protested against the unjust pressure exercised by Cardinal Fleury upon the society. They all asked one another who the rebel was; each defended himself against having voted against the minister's order; Fontenelle alone kept silent; when everybody had exculpated himself, "It must be myself, then," said Fontenelle half aloud.

So much cool serenity and so much taste for noble intellectual works prolonged the existence of Fontenelle beyond the ordinary limits; he was ninety-nine and not yet weary of life. "If I might but reach the strawberry-season once more!" he had said. He died at Paris on the 9th of January, 1759; with him disappeared what remained of the spirit and traditions of Louis XIV.'s reign. Montesquieu and Fontenelle were the last links which united the seventeenth century to the new era. In a degree as different as the scope of their minds, they both felt respect for the past, to which they were bound by numerous ties, and the boldness of their thoughts was frequently tempered by prudence. Though naturally moderate and prudent, Voltaire was about to be hurried along by the ardor of strife, by the weaknesses of his character, by his vanity and his ambition, far beyond his first intentions and his natural instincts. The flood of free-thinking had spared Montesquieu and Fontenelle; it was about to carry away Voltaire almost as far as Diderot.

Francois Marie Arouet de Voltaire was born at Paris on the 21st of November, 1694. "My dear father," said a letter from a relative to his family in Poitou, "our cousins have another son, born three days ago; Madame Arouet will give me some of the christening sugar-plums for you. She has been very ill, but it is hoped that she is going on better; the infant is not much to look at, having suffered from a fall which his mother had." M. Arouet, the father, of a good middle-class family, had been a notary at the Chatelet, and in 1701 became paymaster of fees (payeur d'epices) to the court of exchequer, an honorable and a lucrative post, which added to the easy circumstances of the family. Madame Arouet was dead when her youngest son was sent to the college of Louis-le-Grand, which at that time belonged to the Jesuits. As early as then little Arouet, who was weak and in delicate health, but withal of a very lively intelligence, displayed a freedom of thought and a tendency of irreverence which already disquieted and angered his masters. Father Lejay jumped from his chair and took the boy by the collar, exclaiming, "Wretch, thou wilt one of these days raise the standard of Deism in France!" Father Pallou, his confessor, accustomed to read the heart, said, as he shook his head, "This, child is devoured with a thirst for celebrity."

Even at school and among the Jesuits, that passion for getting talked about, which was one of the weaknesses of Voltaire's character, as well as one of the sources of his influence, was already to a certain extent gratified. The boy was so ready in making verses, that his masters themselves found amusement in practising upon his youthful talent. Little Arouet's snuff box had been confiscated because he had passed it along from hand to, hand in class; when he asked for it back from Father Poree, who was always indulgent towards him, the rector required an application in verse. A quarter of an hour later the boy returned with his treasure in his possession, having paid its ransom thus:
          "Adieu, adieu, poor snuff-box mine;
          Adieu; we ne'er shall meet again:
          Nor pains, nor tears, nor prayers divine
          Will win thee back; my efforts are in vain!
          Adieu, adieu, poor box of mine;
          Adieu, my sweet crowns'-worth of bane;
          Could I with money buy thee back once more,
          The treasury of Plutus I would drain.
          But ah! not he the god I must implore;
          To have thee back, I need Apollo's vein.  .  .
          'Twixt thee and me how hard a barrier-line,
          To ask for verse!  Ah! this is all my strain!
          Adieu, adieu, poor box of mine;
          Adieu; we ne'er shall meet again!"


Arouet was still a child when a friend of his family took him to see Mdlle. Ninon de l'Enclos, as celebrated for her wit as for the irregularity of her life. "Abbe Chateauneuf took me to see her in my very tender youth," says Voltaire; "I had done some verses, which were worth nothing, but which seemed very good for my age. She was then eighty-five. She was pleased to put me down in her will; she left me two thousand francs to buy books; her death followed close upon my visit and her will."

Young Arouet was finishing brilliantly his last year of rhetoric, when John Baptist Rousseau, already famous, saw him at the distribution of prizes at the college. "Later on," wrote Rousseau, in the thick of his quarrels with Voltaire, "some ladies of my acquaintance had taken me to see a tragedy at the Jesuits in August, 1710; at the distribution of prizes which usually took place after those representations, I observed that the same scholar was called up twice. I asked Father Tarteron, who did the honors of the room in which we were, who the young man was that was so distinguished amongst his comrades. He told me that it was a little lad who had a surprising turn for poetry, and proposed to introduce him to me; to which I consented. He went to fetch him to me, and I saw him returning a moment afterwards with a young scholar who appeared to me to be about sixteen or seventeen, with an ill-favored countenance, but with a bright and lively expression, and who came and shook hands with me with very good grace."

Scarcely had Francois Arouet left college when he was called upon to choose a career. "I do not care for any but that of a literary man," exclaimed the young fellow. "That," said his father, "is the condition of a man who means to be useless to society, to be a charge to his family, and to die of starvation." The study of the law, to which he was obliged to devote himself, completely disgusted the poet, already courted by a few great lords who were amused at his satirical vein; he led an indolent and disorderly life, which drove his father distracted; the latter wanted to get him a place. "Tell my father," was the young man's reply to the relative commissioned to make the proposal, "that I do not care for a position which can be bought; I shall find a way of getting myself one that costs nothing." "Having but little property when I began life," he wrote to M. d'Argenson, his sometime fellow-pupil, "I had the insolence to think that I should have got a place as well as another, if it were to be obtained by hard work and good will. I threw myself into the ranks of the fine arts, which always carry with them a certain air of vilification, seeing that they do not make a man king's counsellor in his councils. You may become a master of requests with money; but you can't make a poem with money, and I made one."

This independent behavior and the poem on the Construction du Choeur de Notre-Dame de Paris, the subject submitted for competition by the French Academy, did not prevent young Arouet from being sent by his father to Holland in the train of the Marquis of Chateauneuf, then French ambassador to the States General; he committed so many follies that on his return to France, M. Arouet forced him to enter a solicitor's office. It was there that the poet acquired that knowledge of business which was useful to him during the whole course of his long life; he, however, did not remain there long: a satire upon the French Academy which had refused him the prize for poetry, and, later on, some verses as biting as they were disrespectful against the Duke of Orleans, twice obliged their author to quit Paris. Sent into banishment at Sully-sur-Loire, he there found partisans and admirers; the merry life that was led at the Chevalier Sully's mitigated the hardships of absence from Paris. "Don't you go publishing abroad, I beg," wrote Arouet, nevertheless, to one of his friends, "the happiness of which I tell you in confidence: for they might perhaps leave me here long enough for me to become unhappy; I know my own capacity; I am not made to live long in the same place."

A beautiful letter addressed to the Regent and disavowing all the satirical writings which had been attributed to him, brought Arouet back to Paris at the commencement of the year 1717; he had been enjoying it for barely a few months when a new satire, entitled J'ai vu (I have seen), and bitterly criticising the late reign, engaged the attention of society, and displeased the Regent afresh. Arouet defended himself with just cause and with all his might against the charge of having written it. The Duke of Orleans one day met him in the garden of the Palais-Royal. "Monsieur Arouet," said he, "I bet that I will make you see a thing you have never seen." "What, pray, monseigneur?" "The Bastille." "Ah! monseigneur, I will consider it seen." Two days later, young Arouet was shut up in the Bastille.
          I needs must go; I jog along in style,
          With close-shut carriage, to the royal pile
          Built in our fathers' days, hard by St.  Paul,
          By Charles the Fifth.  O brethren, good men all,
          In no such quarters may your lot be cast!
          Up to my room I find my way at last
          A certain rascal with a smirking face
          Exalts the beauties of my new retreat,
          So comfortable, so compact, so neat.
          Says he, "While Phoebus runs his daily race,
          He never casts one ray within this place.
          Look at the walls, some ten feet thick or so;
          You'll find it all the cooler here, you know."
          Then, bidding me admire the way they close
          The triple doors and triple locks on those,
          With gratings, bolts and bars on every side,
          "It's all for your security," he cried.
          At stroke of noon some skilly is brought in;
          Such fare is not so delicate as thin.
          I am not tempted by this splendid food,
          But what they tell me is, "'Twill do you good
          So eat in peace; no one will hurry you."
          Here in this doleful den I make ado,
          Bastilled, imprisoned, cabined, cribbed, confined,
          Nor sleeping, drinking, eating-to my mind;
          Betrayed by every one, my mistress too!
          O Marc Rene! [M. d'Argenson] whom Censor Cato's ghost
          Might well have chosen for his vacant post,
          O Marc Rene! through whom 'tis brought about
          That so much people murmur here below,
          To your kind word my durance vile I owe;
          May the good God some fine day pay you out!


Young Arouet passed eleven months in the Bastille; he there wrote the first part of the poem called La Henriade, under the title of La Ligue; when he at last obtained his release in April, 1718, he at the same time received orders to reside at Chatenay, where his father had a country house. It was on coming out of the Bastille that the poet took, from a small family-estate, that name of Voltaire which he was to render so famous. "I have been too unfortunate under my former name," he wrote to Mdlle. du Noyer; "I mean to see whether this will suit me better."

The players were at that time rehearsing the tragedy of OEdipe, which was played on the 18th of November, 1718, with great success. The daring flights of philosophy introduced by the poet into this profoundly and terribly religious subject excited the enthusiasm of the roues; Voltaire was well received by the Regent, who granted him an honorarium. "Monseigneur," said Voltaire, "I should consider it very kind if his Majesty would be pleased to provide henceforth for my board, but I beseech your Highness to provide no more for my lodging." Voltaire's acts of imprudence were destined more than once to force him into leaving Paris; he all his life preserved such a horror of prison, that it made him commit more than one platitude. "I have a mortal aversion for prison," he wrote in 1734; once more, however, he was to be an inmate of the Bastille.

Launched upon the most brilliant society, everywhere courted and flattered, Voltaire was constantly at work, displaying the marvellous suppleness of his mind by shifting from the tragedies of Artemise and Marianne, which failed, to the comedy of L'Indiscret, to numerous charming epistles, and lastly to the poem of La Henriade, which he went on carefully revising, reading fragments of it as he changed his quarters from castle to castle. One day, however, some criticisms to which he was not accustomed angered him so much, that he threw into the fire the manuscript he held in his hand. "It is only worth burning, then," he exclaimed in a rage. President Henault dashed at the papers. "I ran up and drew it out of the flames, saying that I had done more than they who did not burn the AEneid as Virgil had recommended; I had drawn out of the fire La Henriade, which Voltaire was going to burn with his own hands. If I liked, I might ennoble this action by calling to mind that picture of Raphael's at the Vatican which represents Augustus preventing Virgil from burning the AEneid; but I am not Augustus, and Raphael is no more."

Wholly indulgent and indifferent as might be the government of the Regent and of Dubois, it was a little scared at the liberties taken by Voltaire with the Catholic church. He was required to make excisions in order to get permission to print the poem; the author was here, there, and everywhere, in a great flutter and preoccupied with his literary, financial, and fashionable affairs. In receipt of a pension from the queen, and received as a visitor at La Source, near Orleans, by Lord Bolingbroke in his exile, every day becoming more brilliant and more courted, he was augmenting his fortune by profitable speculations, and appeared on the point of finding himself well off, when an incident, which betrayed the remnant still remaining of barbarous manners, occurred to envenom for a long while the poet's existence. He had a quarrel at the Opera with Chevalier Rohan-Chabot, a court libertine, of little repute; the scene took place in the presence of Mdlle. Adrienne Lecouvreur; the great actress fainted they were separated. Two days afterwards, when Voltaire was dining at the Duke of Sully's, a servant came to tell him that he was wanted at the door of the hotel; the poet went out without any suspicion, though he had already been the victim of several ambuscades. A coach was standing in the street, and he was requested to get in; at that instant two men, throwing themselves upon him and holding him back by his clothes, showered upon him a hailstorm of blows with their sticks. The Chevalier de Rohan, prudently ensconced in a second vehicle, and superintending the—execution of his cowardly vengeance, shouted to his servants, "Don't hit him on the head; something good may come out of it." When Voltaire at last succeeded in escaping from these miscreants to take refuge in Sully's house, he was half dead.

Blows with a stick were not at that time an unheard-of procedure in social relations. "Whatever would become of us if poets had no shoulders!" was the brutal remark of the Bishop of Blois, M. de Caumartin. But the customs of society did not admit a poet to the honor of obtaining satisfaction from whoever insulted him. The great lords, friends of Voltaire, who had accustomed him to attention and flattery, abandoned him pitilessly in his quarrel with Chevalier de Rohan. "Those blows were well gotten and ill given," said the Prince of Conti. That was all the satisfaction Voltaire obtained. "The poor victim shows himself as much as possible at court, in the city," says the Marais news, "but nobody pities him, and those whom he considered his friends have turned their backs upon him."

Voltaire was not of an heroic nature, but excess of rage and indignation had given him courage; he had scarcely ever had a sword in his hand; he rushed to the fencers' and practised from morning till night, in order to be in a position to demand satisfaction. So much ardor disquieted Chevalier de Rohan and his family; his uncle, the cardinal, took precautions. The lieutenant of police wrote to the officer of the watch, "Sir, his Highness is informed that Chevalier de Rohan is going away to-day, and, as he might have some fresh affair with Sieur de Voltaire, or the latter might do something rash, his desire is for you to see that nothing comes of it."

Voltaire anticipated the intentions of the lieutenant of police he succeeded in sending a challenge to Chevalier de Rohan; the latter accepted it for the next day; he even chose his ground: but before the hour fixed, Voltaire was arrested and taken to the Bastille; he remained there a month. Public opinion was beginning to pity him. Marshal Villars writes in his memoirs,—

"The chevalier was very much inconvenienced by a fall which did not admit of his handling a sword. He took the course of having a caning administered in broad day to Voltaire, who, instead of adopting legal proceedings, thought vengeance by arms more noble. It is asserted that he sought it diligently, but too indiscreetly. Cardinal Rohan asked M. le Duc to have him put in the Bastille: orders to that effect were given and executed, and the poor poet, after being beaten, was imprisoned into the bargain. The public, whose inclination is to blame everybody and everything, justly considered, in this case, that everybody was in the wrong; Voltaire, for having offended Chevalier de Rohan; the latter, for having dared to commit a crime worthy of death in causing a citizen to be beaten; the government, for not having punished a notorious misdeed, and for having put the beatee in the Bastille to tranquillize the beater."

Voltaire left the Bastille on the 3d of May, 1726, and was accompanied by an exon to Calais, having asked as a favor to be sent to England; but scarcely had he set foot on English territory, scarcely had he felt himself free, when the recurring sense of outraged honor made him take the road back to France. "I confess to you, my dear Theriot," he wrote to one of his friends, "that I made a little trip to Paris a short time ago. As I did not call upon you, you will easily conclude that I did not call upon anybody. I was in search of one man only, whom his dastardly instinct kept concealed from me, as if he guessed that I was on his track. At last the fear of being discovered made me depart more precipitately than I had come. That is the fact, my dear Theriot. There is every appearance of my never seeing you again. I have but two things to do with my life: to hazard it with honor, as soon as I can, and to end it in the obscurity of a retreat which suits my way of thinking, my misfortunes, and the knowledge I have of men."

Voltaire passed three years in England, engaged in learning English and finishing La Henriade, which he published by subscription in 1727. Touched by the favor shown by English society to the author and the poem, he dedicated to the Queen of England his new work, which was entirely consecrated to the glory of France; three successive editions were disposed of in less than three weeks. Lord Bolingbroke, having returned to England and been restored to favor, did potent service to his old friend, who lived in the midst of that literary society in which Pope and Swift held sway, without, however, relaxing his reserve with its impress of melancholy. "I live the life of a Bosicrucian," he wrote to his friends, "always on the move and always in hiding." When, in the month of March, 1729, Voltaire at last obtained permission to revisit France, he had worked much without bringing out anything. The riches he had thus amassed appeared ere long: before the end of the year 1731 he put Brutus on the stage, and began his publication of the Histoire de Charles XII.; he was at the same time giving the finishing touch to Eriphyle and La Mort de Caesar. Zaire, written in a few weeks, was played for the first time on the 13th of August, 1732; he had dedicated it to Mr. Falkner, an English merchant who had overwhelmed him with attentions during his exile. "My satisfaction grows as I write to tell you of it," he writes to his friend Cideville in the fulness of joy: "never was a piece so well played as Zaire at the fourth appearance. I very much wished you had been there; you would have seen that the public does not hate your friend. I appeared in a box, and the whole pit clapped their hands at me. I blushed, I hid myself; but I should be a humbug if I did not confess to you that I was sensibly affected. It is pleasant not to be dishonored in one's own country."

Voltaire had just inaugurated the great national tragedy of his country, as he had likewise given it the only national epopee attempted in France since the Chansons de Geste; by one of those equally sudden and imprudent reactions to which he was always subject, it was not long before he himself damaged his own success by the publication of his Lettres philosophiques sur les Anglais.

The light and mocking tone of these letters, the constant comparison between the two peoples, with many a gibe at the English, but always turning to their advantage, the preference given to the philosophical system of Newton over that of Descartes, lastly the attacks upon religion concealed beneath the cloak of banter—all this was more than enough to ruffle the tranquillity of Cardinal Fleury. The book was brought before Parliament; Voltaire was disquieted. "There is but one letter about Mr. Locke," he wrote to M. de Cideville; "the only philosophical matter I have treated of in it is the little trifle of the immortality of the soul, but the thing is of too much consequence to be treated seriously. It had to be mangled so as not to come into direct conflict with our lords the theologians, gentry who so clearly see the spirituality of the soul that, if they could, they would consign to the flames the bodies of those who have a doubt about it." The theologians confined themselves to burning the book; the decree of Parliament delivered on the 10th of June, 1734, ordered at the same time the arrest of the author; the bookseller was already in the Bastille. Voltaire was in the country, attending the Duke of Richelieu's second marriage; hearing of the danger that threatened him, he took fright and ran for refuge to Bale. He soon left it to return to the castle of Cirey, to the Marchioness du Chatelet's, a woman as learned as she was impassioned, devoted to literature, physics, and mathematics, and tenderly attached to Voltaire, whom she enticed along with her into the paths of science. For fifteen years Madame du Chatelet and Cirey ruled supreme over the poet's life. There began a course of metaphysics, tales, tragedies; Alzire, Merope, Mahomet, were composed at Cirey and played with ever increasing success. Pope Benedict XIV. had accepted the dedication of Mahomet, which Voltaire had addressed to him in order to cover the freedoms of his piece. Every now and then, terrified in consequence of some bit of anti-religious rashness, he took flight, going into hiding at one time to the court of Lorraine beneath the wing of King Stanislaus, at another time in Holland, at a palace belonging to the King of Prussia, the Great Frederick. Madame du Chatelet, as unbelieving as he at bottom, but more reserved in expression, often scolded him for his imprudence. "He requires every moment to be saved from himself," she would say. "I employ more policy in managing him than the whole Vatican employs to keep all Christendom in its fetters." On the appearance of danger, Voltaire ate his words without scruple; his irreligious writings were usually launched under cover of the anonymous. At every step, however, he was advancing farther and farther into the lists, and at the very moment when he wrote to Father La Tour, "If ever anybody has printed in my name a single page which could scandalize even the parish beadle, I am ready to tear it up before his eyes," all Europe regarded him as the leader of the open or secret attacks which were beginning to burst not only upon the Catholic church, but upon the fundamental verities common to all Christians.

Madame du Chatelet died on the 4th of September, 1749, at Luneville, where she then happened to be with Voltaire. Their intimacy had experienced many storms, yet the blow was a cruel one for the poet; in losing Madame de Chatelet he was losing the centre and the guidance of his life. For a while he spoke of burying himself with Dom Calmet in the abbey of Senones; then he would be off to England; he ended by returning to Paris, summoning to his side a widowed niece, Madame Denis, a woman of coarse wit and full of devotion to him, who was fond of the drama and played her uncle's pieces on the little theatre which he had fitted up in his rooms. At that time Oreste was being played at the Comedie-Francaise; its success did not answer the author's expectations. "All that could possibly give a handle to criticism," says Marmontel, who was present, "was groaned at or turned into ridicule. The play was interrupted by it every instant. Voltaire came in, and, just as the pit were turning into ridicule a stroke of pathos, he jumped up, and shouted, 'O, you barbarians; that is Sophocles!' Rome Sauvee was played on the stage of Sceaux, at the Duchess of Maine's; Voltaire himself took the part of Cicero. Lekain, as yet quite a youth, and making his first appearance under the auspices of Voltaire, said of this representation, 'I do not think it possible to hear anything more pathetic and real than M. de Voltaire; it was, in fact, Cicero himself thundering at the bar.'"

Despite the lustre of that fame which was attested by the frequent attacks of his enemies as much as by the admiration of his friends, Voltaire was displeased with his sojourn at Paris, and weary of the court and the men of letters. The king had always exhibited towards him a coldness which the poet's adulation had not been able to overcome; he had offended Madame de Pompadour, who had but lately been well disposed towards him; the religious circle, ranged around the queen and the dauphin, was of course hostile to him. "The place of historiographer to the king was but an empty title," he says himself; "I wanted to make it a reality by working at the history of the war of 1741; but, in spite of my work, Moncrif had admittance to his Majesty, and I had not."

In tracing the tragic episodes of the war, Voltaire, set as his mind was on the royal favor, had wanted in the first place to pay homage to the friends he had lost. It was in the "eulogium of the officers who fell in the campaign of 1741" that he touchingly called attention to the memory of Vauvenargues. He, born at Aix on the 6th of August, 1715, died of his wounds, at Paris, in 1747. Poor and proud, resigning himself with a sigh to idleness and obscurity, the young officer had written merely to relieve his mind. His friends had constrained him to publish a little book, one only, the Introduction de la connaissance de l'esprit humain, suivie de reflexions et de maximes. Its success justified their affectionate hopes; delicate minds took keen delight in the first essays of Vauvenargues. Hesitating between religion and philosophy, with a palpable leaning towards the latter, ill and yet bravely bearing the disappointments and sufferings of his life, Vauvenargues was already expiring at thirty years of age, when Provence was invaded by the enemy. The humiliation of his country and the peril of his native province roused him from his tranquil melancholy. "All Provence is in arms," he wrote to his friend Fauris de St. Vincent, "and here am I quite quietly in my chimney-corner; the bad state of my eyes and of my health is not sufficient excuse for me, and I ought to be where all the gentlemen of the province are. Send me word then, I beg, immediately whether there is still any employment to be had in our newly raised, levies, and whether I should be sure to be employed if I were to go to Provence." Before his friend's answer had reached Vauvenargues, the Austrians and the Piedmontese had been forced to evacuate Provence; the dying man remained in his chimney-corner, where he soon expired, leaving amongst the public, and still more amongst those who had known him personally, the impression of great promise sadly extinguished. "It was his fate," says his faithful biographer, M. Gilbert, "to be always opening his wings and to be unable to take flight."

Voltaire, quite on the contrary, was about to take a fresh flight. After several rebuffs and long opposition on the part of the eighteen ecclesiastics who at that time had seats in the French Academy, he had been elected to it in 1746. In 1750, he offered himself at one and the same time for the Academy of Sciences and the Academy of Inscriptions; he failed in both candidatures. This mishap filled the cup of his ill-humor. For a long time past Frederick II. had been offering the poet favors which he had long refused. The disgust he experienced at Paris through his insatiable vanity made him determine upon seeking another arena; after having accepted a pension and a place from the King of Prussia, Voltaire set out for Berlin.

But lately allied to France, to which he was ere long to deal such heavy blows, Frederick II. was French by inclination, in literature and in philosophy; he was a bad German scholar; he always wrote and spoke in French, and his court was the resort of the cultivated French wits too bold in their views to live in peace at Paris. Maupertuis, La Mettrie, and the Marquis of Argens had preceded Voltaire to Berlin. He was received there with enthusiasm and as sovereign of the little court of philosophers. "A hundred and fifty thousand victorious soldiers," he wrote in a letter to Paris, "no attorneys, opera, plays, philosophy, poetry, a hero who is a philosopher and a poet, grandeur and graces, grenadiers and muses, trumpets and violins, Plato's symposium, society and freedom! Who would believe it? It is all true, however!" Voltaire found his duties as chamberlain very light. "It is Caesar, it is Marcus Aurelius, it is Julian, it is sometimes Abbe Chaulieu, with whom I sup; there is the charm of retirement, there is the freedom of the country, with all those little delights of life which a lord of a castle who is a king can procure for his very obedient humble servants and guests. My own duties are to do nothing. I enjoy my leisure. I give an hour a day to the King of Prussia to touch up a bit his works in prose and verse; I am his grammarian, not his chamberlain. The rest of the day is my own, and the evening ends with a pleasant supper. . . . Never in any place in the world was there more freedom of speech touching the superstitions of men, and never were they treated with more banter and contempt. God is respected, but all they who have cajoled men in His name are treated unsparingly."

The coarseness of the Germans and the mocking infidelity of the French vied with each other in license. Sometimes Voltaire felt that things were carried rather far. "Here be we, three or four foreigners, like monks in an abbey," he wrote; "please God the father abbot may content himself with making fun of us."

Literary or philosophical questions already gave rise sometimes to disagreements. "I am at present correcting the second edition which the King of Prussia is going to publish of the history of his country," wrote Voltaire; "fancy! in order to appear more impartial, he falls tooth and nail on his grandfather. I have lightened the blows as much as I could. I rather like this grandfather, because he displayed magnificence, and has left some fine monuments. I had great trouble about softening down the terms in which the grandson reproaches his ancestor for his vanity in having got himself made a king; it is a vanity from which his descendants derive pretty solid advantages, and the title is not at all a disagreeable one. At last I said to him, 'It is your grandfather, it is not mine; do what you please with him,' and I confined myself to weeding the expressions."

Whilst Voltaire was defending the Great Elector against his successor, a certain coldness was beginning to slide into his relations with Maupertuis, president of the Academy founded by the king at Berlin. "Maupertuis has not easygoing springs," the poet wrote to his niece; "he takes my dimensions sternly with his quadrant. It is said that a little envy enters into his calculations." Already Voltaire's touchy vanity was shying at the rivals he encountered in the king's favor. "So it is known, then, by this time at Paris, my dear child," he writes to his niece, "that we have played the Mort de Caesar at Potsdam, that Prince Henry is a good actor, has no accent, and is very amiable, and that this is the place for pleasure? All that is true . . . but . . . The king's supper-parties are delightful; at them people talk reason, wit, science; freedom prevails thereat; he is the soul of it all; no ill temper, no clouds, at any rate no storms; my life is free and well occupied . . . but . . . Opera, plays, carousals, suppers at Sans- Souci, military manoeuvres, concerts, studies, readings . . but . . The city of Berlin, grand, better laid out than Paris; palaces, play-houses, affable parish priests, charming princesses, maids of honor beautiful and well made; the mansion of Madame de Tyrconnel always full, and sometimes too much so . . . but . . . but. . . . My dear child, the weather is beginning to settle down into a fine frost."

The "frost" not only affected Voltaire's relations with his brethren in philosophy, it reached even to the king himself. A far from creditable lawsuit with a Jew completed Frederick's irritation. He forbade the poet to appear in his presence before the affair was over. "Brother Voltaire is doing penance here," wrote the latter to the Margravine of Baireuth, the King of Prussia's amiable sister, "he has a beast of a lawsuit with a Jew, and, according to the law of the Old Testament, there will be something more to pay for having been robbed. . . ." Frederick, on his side, writes to his sister, "You ask me what the lawsuit is in which Voltaire is involved with a Jew. It is a case of a rogue wanting to cheat a thief. It is intolerable that a man of Voltaire's intellect should make so unworthy an abuse of it. The affair is in the hands of justice; and, in a few days, we shall know from the sentence which is the greater rogue of the two. Voltaire lost his temper, flew in the Jew's face, and, in fact, behaved like a madman. I am waiting for this affair to be over to put his head under the pump or reprimand him severely (lui laver la tete), and see whether, at the age of fifty-six, one cannot make him, if not reasonable, at any rate less of a rogue."

Voltaire settled matters with the Jew, at the same time asking the king's pardon for what he called his giddiness. "This great poet is always astride of Parnassus and Rue Quincampoix," said the Marquis of Argenson. Frederick had written him on the 24th of February, 1751, a severe letter, the prelude and precursor of the storms which were to break off before long the intimacy between the king and the philosopher. "I was very glad to receive you," said the king; "I esteemed your wit, your talents, your acquirements, and I was bound to suppose that a man of your age, tired of wrangling with authors and exposing himself to tempests, was coming hither to take refuge as in a quiet harbor; but you at the very first, in a rather singular fashion, required of me that I should not engage Frerron to write me news. D'Arnauld did you some injuries; a generous man would have pardoned them; a vindictive man persecutes those towards whom he feels hatred. In fine, though D'Arnauld had done nothing so far as I was concerned, on your account he had to leave. You went to the Russian minister's to speak to him about matters you had no business to meddle with, and it was supposed that I had given you instructions; you meddled in Madame de Bentinck's affairs, which was certainly not in your province. Then you have the most ridiculous squabble in the world with that Jew. You created a fearful uproar all through the city. The matter of the Saxon bills is so well known in Saxony that grave complaints have been made to me about them. For my part, I kept peace in my household until your arrival, and I warn you that, if you are fond of intrigue and cabal, you have come to the wrong place. I like quiet and peaceable folks who do not introduce into their behavior the violent passions of tragedy; in case you can make up your mind to live as a philosopher, I shall be very glad to see you; but, if you give way to the impetuosity of your feelings and quarrel with everybody, you will do me no pleasure by coming hither and you may just as well remain at Berlin."

Voltaire was not proud; he readily heaped apology upon apology; but he was irritable and vain; his ill-humor against Maupertuis came out in a pamphlet, as bitter as it was witty, entitled La Diatribe du Docteur Akakia; copies were circulating in Berlin; the satire was already printed anonymously, when the Great Frederick suddenly entered the lists. He wrote to Voltaire, "Your effrontery astounds me after that which you have just done, and which is as clear as daylight. Do not suppose that you will make black appear white; when one does not see, it is because one does not want to see everything; but, if you carry matters to extremity, I will have everything printed, and it will then be seen that if your works deserve that statues should be raised to you, your conduct deserves handcuffs."

Voltaire, affrighted, still protesting his innocence, at last gave up the whole edition of the diatribe, which was burned before his eyes in the king's own closet. According to the poet's wily habit, some copy or other had doubtless escaped the flames. Before long Le Docteur Akakia appeared at Berlin, arriving modestly from Dresden by post; people fought for the pamphlet, and everybody laughed; the satire was spread over all Europe. In vain did Frederick have it burned on the Place d'Armes by the hands of the common hangman; he could not assuage the despair of Maupertuis. "To speak to you frankly," the king at last wrote to the disconsolate president, "it seems to me that you take too much to heart, both for an invalid and a philosopher, an affair which you ought to despise. How prevent a man from writing, and how prevent him from denying all the impertinences he has uttered? I made investigations to find out whether any fresh satires had been sold at Berlin, but I heard of none; as for what is sold in Paris, you are quite aware that I have not charge of the police of that city, and that I am not master of it. Voltaire treats you more gently than I am treated by the gazetteers of Cologne and Lubeck, and yet I don't trouble myself about it."

Voltaire could no longer live at Potsdam or at Sans-Souci; even Berlin seemed dangerous: in a fit of that incurable perturbation which formed the basis of his character and made him commit so many errors, he had no longer any wish but to leave Prussia, only he wanted to go without embroiling himself with the king. "I sent the Solomon of the North," he writes to Madame Denis on the 13th of January, 1753, "for his present, the cap and bells he gave me, with which you reproached me so much. I wrote him a very respectful letter, for I asked him for leave to go. What do you think he did? He sent me his great factotum Federshoff, who brought me back my toys; he wrote me a letter saying that he would rather have me to live with than Maupertuis. What is quite certain is, that I would rather not live with either one or the other."

Frederick was vexed with Voltaire; he nevertheless found it difficult to give up the dazzling charm of his conversation. Voltaire was hurt and disquieted; he wanted to get away—the king, however, exercised a strong attraction over him. But in spite of mutual coquetting, making up, and protesting, the hour of separation was at hand; the poet was under pressure from his friends in France; in Berlin he had never completely neglected Paris. He had just published his Siecle de Louis XIV.; he flattered himself with the hope that he might again appear at court, though the king had disposed of his place as historiographer in favor of Duclos. Frederick at last yielded; he was on the parade, Voltaire appeared there. "Ah! Monsieur Voltaire," said the king, "so you really intend to go away?" "Sir, urgent private affairs, and especially my health, leave me no alternative." "Monsieur, I wish you a pleasant journey." Voltaire jumped into his carriage, and hurried to Leipsic; he thought himself free forever from the exactions and tyrannies of the King of Prussia.

The poet, according to his custom, had tarried on the way. He had passed more than a month at Gotha, being overwhelmed with attentions by the duke, and by the duchess, for whom he wrote the dry chronicle entitled Les Annales de L'Empire. He arrived at Frankfort on the 31st of May only: the king's orders had arrived before him.

"Here is how this fine adventure came to pass," says Voltaire. "There was at Frankfort one Freytag, who had been banished from Dresden, and had become an agent for the King of Prussia. . . . He notified me on behalf of his Majesty that I was not to leave Frankfort till I had restored the valuable effects I was carrying away from his Majesty. 'Alack! sir, I am carrying away nothing from that country, if you please, not even the smallest regret. What, pray, are those jewels of the Brandenburg crown that you require?' 'It be, sir,' replied Freytag, 'the work of poesy of the king, my gracious master.' 'O! I will give him back his prose and verse with all my heart,' replied I, 'though, after all, I have more than one right to the work. He made me a present of a beautiful copy printed at his expense. Unfortunately this copy is at Leipsic with my other luggage.' Then Freytag proposed to me to remain at Frankfort until the treasure which was at Leipsic should have arrived; and he signed an order for it."

The volume which Frederick claimed, and which he considered it of so much importance to preserve from Voltaire's indiscretions, contained amongst other things a burlesque and licentious poem, entitled the Palladium, wherein the king scoffed at everything and everybody in terms which he did not care to make public. He knew the reckless malignity of the poet who was leaving him, and he had a right to be suspicious of it; but nothing can excuse the severity of his express orders, and still less the brutality of his agents. The package had arrived; Voltaire, agitated, anxious, and ill, wanted to get away as soon as possible, accompanied by Madame Denis, who had just joined him. Freytag had no orders, and refused to let him go; the prisoner loses his head, he makes up his mind to escape at any price, he slips from the hotel, he thinks he is free, but the police of Frankfort was well managed. "The moment I was off, I was arrested, I, my secretary and my people; my niece is arrested; four soldiers drag her through the mud to a cheese-monger's named Smith, who had some title or other of privy councillor to the King of Prussia; my niece had a passport from the King of France, and, what is more, she had never corrected the King of Prussia's verses. They huddled us all into a sort of hostelry, at the door of which were posted a dozen soldiers; we were for twelve days prisoners of war, and we had to pay a hundred and forty crowns a day."

The wrath and disquietude of Voltaire no longer knew any bounds; Madame Denis was ill, or feigned to be; she wrote letter upon letter to Voltaire's friends at the court of Prussia; she wrote to the king himself. The strife which had begun between the poet and the maladroit agents of the Great Frederick was becoming serious. "We would have risked our lives rather than let him get away," said Freytag; "and if I, holding a council of war with myself, had not found him at the barrier, but in the open country, and he had refused to jog back, I don't know that I shouldn't have lodged a bullet in his head. To such a degree had I at heart the letters and writings of the king."

Freytag's zeal received a cruel rebuff: orders arrived to let the poet go. "I gave you no orders like that," wrote Frederick, "you should never make more noise than a thing deserves. I wanted Voltaire to give up to you the key, the cross, and the volume of poems I had intrusted to him; as soon as all that was given up to you I can't see what earthly reason could have induced you to make this uproar." At last, on the 6th of July, "all this affair of Ostrogoths and Vandals being over," Voltaire left Frankfort precipitately. His niece had taken the road to Paris, whence she soon wrote to him, "There is nobody in France, I say nobody without exception, who has not condemned this violence mingled with so much that is ridiculous and cruel; it makes a deeper impression than you would believe. Everybody says that you could not do otherwise than you are doing, in resolving to meet with philosophy things so unphilosophical. We shall do very well to hold our tongues; the public speaks quite enough." Voltaire held his tongue, according to his idea of holding his tongue, drawing, in his poem of La Loi naturelle, dedicated at first to the margravine of Baireuth and afterwards to the Duchess of Saxe-Gotha, a portrait of Frederick which was truthful and at the same time bitter:
          "Of incongruities a monstrous pile,
          Calling men brothers, crushing them the while;
          With air humane, a misanthropic brute;
          Ofttimes impulsive, sometimes over-'cute;
          Weak 'midst his choler, modest in his pride;
          Yearning for virtue, lust personified;
          Statesman and author, of the slippery crew;
          My patron, pupil, persecutor too."


Voltaire's intimacy with the Great Frederick was destroyed it had for a while done honor to both of them; it had ended by betraying the pettinesses and the meannesses natural to the king as well as to the poet. Frederick did not remain without anxiety on the score of Voltaire's rancor; Voltaire dreaded nasty diplomatic proceedings on the part of the king; he had been threatened with as much by Lord Keith, Milord Marechal, as he was called on the Continent from the hereditary title he had lost in his own country through his attachment to the cause of the Stuarts:—

"Let us see in what countries M. de Voltaire has not had some squabble or made himself many enemies," said a letter to Madame Denis from the great Scotch lord, when he had entered Frederick's service: "every country where the Inquisition prevails must be mistrusted by him; he would put his foot in it sooner or later. The Mussulmans must be as little pleased with his Mahomet as good Christians were. He is too old to go to China and turn mandarin; in a word, if he is wise, there is no place but France for him. He has friends there, and you will have him with you for the rest of his days; do not let him shut himself out from the pleasure of returning thither, for you are quite aware that, if he were to indulge in speech and epigrams offensive to the king my master, a word which the latter might order me to speak to the court of France would suffice to prevent M. de Voltaire from returning, and he would be sorry for it when it was too late."

Voltaire was already in France, but he dared not venture to Paris. Mutilated, clumsy, or treacherous issues of the Abrege de l'Histoire Universelle had already stirred the bile of the clergy; there were to be seen in circulation copies of La Pucelle, a disgusting poem which the author had been keeping back and bringing out alternately for several years past. Voltaire fled from Colmar, where the Jesuits held sway, to Lyons, where he found Marshal Richelieu, but lately his protector and always his friend, who was repairing to his government of Languedoc. Cardinal Tencin refused to receive the poet, who regarded this sudden severity as a sign of the feelings of the court towards him. "The king told Madame de Pompadour that he did not want me to go to Paris; I am of his Majesty's opinion, I don't want to go to Paris," wrote Voltaire to the Marquis of Paulmy. He took fright and sought refuge in Switzerland, where he soon settled on the Lake of Geneva, pending his purchase of the estate of Ferney in the district of Gex and that of Tourney in Burgundy. He was henceforth fixed, free to pass from France to Switzerland and from Switzerland to France. "I lean my left on Mount Jura," he used to say, "my right on the Alps, and I have the beautiful Lake of Geneva in front of my camp, a beautiful castle on the borders of France, the hermitage of Delices in the territory of Geneva, a good house at Lausanne; crawling thus from one burrow to another, I escape from kings. Philosophers should always have two or three holes under ground against the hounds that run them down."

The perturbation of Voltaire's soul and mind was never stilled; the anxious and undignified perturbation of his outer life at last subsided; he left off trembling, and, in the comparative security which he thought he possessed, he gave scope to all his free-thinking, which had but lately been often cloaked according to circumstances. He had taken the communion at Colmar, to soften down the Jesuits; he had conformed to the rules of the convent of Senones, when he took refuge with Dom Calmet; at Delices he worked at the Encyclopaedia, which was then being commenced by D'Alembert and Diderot, taking upon himself in preference the religious articles, and not sparing the creed of his neighbors, the pastors of Geneva, any more than that of the Catholic church. "I assure you that my friends and I will lead them a fine dance; they shall drink the cup to the very lees," wrote Voltaire to D'Alembert. In the great campaign against Christianity undertaken by the philosophers, Voltaire, so long, a wavering ally, will henceforth fight in the foremost ranks; it is he who shouts to Diderot, "Squelch the thing (Ecrasez l'infame)!" The masks are off, and the fight is barefaced; the encyclopaedists march out to the conquest of the world in the name of reason, humanity, and free-thinking; even when he has ceased to work at the Encyclopaedia, Voltaire marches with them.

The Essai sur l'Histoire generale et les Moeurs was one of the first broadsides of this new anti-religious crusade. "Voltaire will never write a good history," Montesquieu used to say: "he is like the monks, who do not write for the subject of which they treat, but for the glory of their order: Voltaire writes for his convent." The same intention betrayed itself in every sort of work that issued at that time from the hermitage of Delices, the poem on Le Tremblement de Terre de Lisbonne, the drama of Socrate, the satire of the Pauvre Diable, the sad story of Candide, led the way to a series of publications every day more and more violent against the Christian faith. The tragedy of L'Orphelin de la Chine and that of Tancrede, the quarrels with Freron, with Lefranc de Pompignan, and lastly with Jean Jacques Rousseau, did not satiate the devouring activity of the Patriarch, as he was called by the knot of philosophers. Definitively installed at Ferney, Voltaire took to building, planting, farming. He established round his castle a small industrial colony, for whose produce he strove to get a market everywhere. "Our design," he used to say, "is to ruin the trade of Geneva in a pious spirit." Ferney, moreover, held grand and numerously attended receptions; Madame Denis played her uncle's pieces on a stage which the latter had ordered to be built, and which caused as much disquietude to the austere Genevese as to Jean Jacques Rousseau. It was on account of Voltaire's theatrical representations that Rousseau wrote his Lettre centre les Spectacles. "I love you not, sir," wrote Rousseau to Voltaire: "you have done me such wrongs as were calculated to touch me most deeply. You have ruined Geneva in requital of the asylum you have found there." Geneva was about to banish Rousseau before long, and Voltaire had his own share of responsibility in this act of severity so opposed to his general and avowed principles. Voltaire was angry with Rousseau, whom he accused of having betrayed the cause of philosophy; he was, as usual, hurried away by the passion of the moment, when he wrote, speaking of the exile, "I give you my word that if this blackguard (polisson) of a Jean Jacques should dream of coming (to Geneva), he would run great risk of mounting a ladder which would not be that of Fortune." At the very same time Rousseau was saying, "What have I done to bring upon myself the persecution of M. de Voltaire? And what worse have I to fear from him? Would M. de Buffon have me soften this tiger thirsting for my blood? He knows very well that nothing ever appeases or softens the fury of tigers; if I were to crawl upon the ground before Voltaire, he would triumph thereat, no doubt, but he would rend me none the less. Basenesses would dishonor me, but would not save me. Sir, I can suffer, I hope to learn how to die, and he who knows how to do that has never need to be a dastard."

Rousseau was high-flown and tragic; Voltaire was cruel in his contemptuous levity; but the contrast between the two philosophers was even greater in the depths of them than on the surface. Rousseau took his own words seriously, even when he was mad, and his conduct was sure to belie them before long. He was the precursor of an impassioned and serious age, going to extremes in idea and placing deeds after words. In spite of occasional reticence dictated by sound sense, Voltaire had abandoned himself entirely in his old age to that school of philosophy, young, ardent, full of hope and illusions, which would fain pull down everything before it knew what it could set up, and the actions of which were not always in accordance with principles. "The men were inferior to their ideas." President De Brosses was justified in writing to Voltaire, "I only wish you had in your heart a half-quarter of the morality and philosophy contained in your works." Deprived of the counterpoise of political liberty, the emancipation of thought in the reign of Louis XV. had become at one and the same time a danger and a source of profound illusions; people thought that they did what they said, and that they meant what they wrote, but the time of actions and consequences had not yet come; Voltaire applauded the severities against Rousseau, and still he was quite ready to offer him an asylum at Ferney; he wrote to D'Alembert, "I am engaged in sending a priest to the galleys," at the very moment when he was bringing eternal honor to his name by the generous zeal which led him to protect the memory and the family of the unfortunate people named Calas.

The glorious and bloody annals of the French Reformation had passed through various phases; liberty, always precarious, even under Henry IV., and whilst the Edict of Nantes was in force, and legally destroyed by its revocation, had been succeeded by periods of assuagement and comparative repose; in the latter part of Louis XV.'s reign, about 1760, fresh severities had come to overwhelm the Protestants. Modestly going about their business, silent and timid, as inviolably attached to the king as to their hereditary creed, several of them had undergone capital punishment. John Calas, accused of murdering his son, had been broken on the wheel at Toulouse; the reformers had been accustomed to these sombre dramas, but the spirit of the times had marched onward; ideas of justice, humanity, and liberty, sown broadcast by the philosophers, more imbued than they were themselves aware of with the holy influences of Christianity, had slowly and secretly acted upon men's minds; executions which had been so frequent in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries caused trouble and dismay in the eighteenth: in vain did the fanatical passions of the populace of Toulouse find an echo in the magistracy of that city: it was no longer considered a matter of course that Protestants should be guilty of every crime, and that those who were accused should not be at liberty to clear themselves. The philosophers had at first hesitated. Voltaire wrote to Cardinal Bernis, "Might I venture to entreat your eminence to be kind enough to tell me what I am to think about the frightful case of this Calas, broken on the wheel at Toulouse, on a charge of having hanged his own son? The fact is, they maintain here that he is quite innocent, and that he called God to witness it. . . . This case touches me to the heart; it saddens my pleasures, it taints them. Either the Parliament of Toulouse or the Protestants must be regarded with eyes of horror." Being soon convinced that the Parliament deserved all his indignation, Voltaire did not grudge time, efforts, or influence in order to be of service to the unfortunate remnant of the Calas family. "I ought to look upon myself as in some sort a witness," he writes: "several months ago Peter Calas, who is accused of having assisted his father and mother in a murder, was in my neighborhood with another of his brothers. I have wavered a long while as to the innocence of this family; I could not believe that any judges would have condemned to a fearful death an innocent father of a family. There is nothing I have not done to enlighten myself as to the truth. I dare to say that I am as sure of the innocence of this family as I am of my own existence."

For three years, with a constancy which he often managed to conceal beneath an appearance of levity, Voltaire prosecuted the work of clearing the Calas. "It is Voltaire who is writing on behalf of this unfortunate family," said Diderot to Mdlle. Voland: "O, my friend, what a noble work for genius! This man must needs have soul and sensibility; injustice must revolt him; he must feel the attraction of virtue. Why, what are the Calas to him? What can awaken his interest in them? What reason has he to suspend the labors he loves in order to take up their defence?" From the borders of the Lake of Geneva, from his solitude at Genthod, Charles Bonnet, far from favorable generally to Voltaire, writes to Haller, "Voltaire has done a work on tolerance which is said to be good; he will not publish it until after the affair of the unfortunate Calas has been decided by the king's council. Voltaire's zeal for these unfortunates might cover a multitude of sins; that zeal does not relax, and, if they obtain satisfaction, it will be principally to his championship that they will owe it. He receives much commendation for this business, and he deserves it fully."

The sentence of the council cleared the accused and the memory of John Calas, ordering that their names should be erased and effaced from the registers, and the judgment transcribed upon the margin of the charge-sheet. The king at the same time granted Madame Calas and her children a gratuity of thirty-six thousand livres, a tacit and inadequate compensation for the expenses and losses caused them by the fanatical injustice of the Parliament of Toulouse. Madame Calas asked no more. "To prosecute the judges and the ringleaders," said a letter to Voltaire from the generous advocate of the Calas, Elias de Beaumont, "requires the permission of the council, and there is great reason to fear that these petty plebeian kings appear powerful enough to cause the permission, through a weakness honored by the name of policy, to be refused."

Voltaire, however, was triumphant. "You were at Paris," he writes to M. de Cideville, "when the last act of the tragedy finished so happily. The piece is according to the rules; it is, to my thinking, the finest fifth act there is on the stage." Henceforth he finds himself transformed into the defender of the oppressed. The Protestant Chaumont, at the galleys, owed to him his liberation; he rushed to Ferney to thank Voltaire. The pastor, who had to introduce him, thus described the interview to Paul Rabaut: "I told him that I had brought him a little fellow who had come to throw himself at his feet to thank him for having, by his intercession, delivered him from the galleys; that it was Chaumont whom I had left in his antechamber, and whom I begged him to permit me to bring in. At the name of Chaumont M. de Voltaire showed a transport of joy, and rang at once to have him brought in. Never did any scene appear to me more amusing and refreshing. 'What,' said he, 'my poor, little, good fellow, they sent you to the galleys! What did they mean to do with you? What a conscience they must have to put in fetters and chain to the oar a man who had committed no crime beyond praying to God in bad French!' He turned several times to me, denouncing persecution. He summoned into his room some persons who were staying with him, that they might share the joy he felt at seeing poor little Chaumont, who, though perfectly well attired for his condition, was quite astonished to find himself so well received. There was nobody, down to an ex-Jesuit, Father Adam, who did not come forward to congratulate him."

Innate love of justice and horror of fanaticism had inspired Voltaire with his zeal on behalf of persecuted Protestants; a more personal feeling, a more profound sympathy, caused his grief and his dread when Chevalier de la Barre, accused of having mutilated a crucifix, was condemned, in 1766, to capital punishment; the scepticism of the eighteenth century had sudden and terrible reactions towards fanatical violence, as a protest and a pitiable struggle against the doubt which was invading it on all sides; the chevalier was executed; he was not twenty years old. He was an infidel and a libertine, like the majority of the young men of his day and of his age; the crime he expiated so cruelly was attributed to reading bad books, which had corrupted him. "I am told," writes Voltaire to D'Alembert, "that they said at their examination that they had been led on to the act of madness they committed by the works of the Encyclopaedists. I can scarcely believe it; these madmen don't read; and certainly no philosopher would have counselled profanation. The matter is important; try to get to the bottom of so odious and dangerous a report." And, at another time, to Abbe Morellet, "You know that Councillor Pasquier said in full Parliament that the young men of Abbeville who were put to death had imbibed their impiety in the school and the works of the modern philosophers. . . . They were mentioned by name; it is a formal denunciation. . . . Wise men, under such terrible circumstances, should keep quiet and wait."

Whilst keeping quiet, Voltaire soon grew frightened; he fancied himself arrested even on the foreign soil on which he had sought refuge. "My heart is withered," he exclaims, "I am prostrated, I am tempted to go and die in some land where men are less unjust." He wrote to the Great Frederick, with whom he had resumed active correspondence, asking him for an asylum in the town of Cleves, where he might find refuge together with the persecuted philosophers. His imagination was going wild. "I went to him," says the celebrated physician, Tronchin, an old friend of his; "after I had pointed out to him the absurdity of his fearing that, for a mere piece of imprudence, France would come and seize an old man on foreign soil to shut him up in the Bastille, I ended by expressing my astonishment that a head like his should be deranged to the extent I saw it was. Covering his eyes with his clinched hands and bursting into tears, 'Yes, yes, my friend, I am mad!' was all he answered. A few days afterwards, when reflection had driven away fear, he would have defied all the powers of malevolence."

Voltaire did not find his brethren in philosophy so frightened and disquieted by ecclesiastical persecution as to fly to Cleves, far from the "home of society," as he had himself called Paris. In vain he wrote to Diderot, "A man like you cannot look save with horror upon the country in which you have the misfortune to live; you really ought to come away into a country where you would have entire liberty not only to express what you pleased, but to preach openly against superstitions as disgraceful as they are sanguinary. You would not be solitary there; you would have companions and disciples; you might establish a chair there, the chair of truth. Your library might go by water, and there would not be four leagues' journey by land. In fine, you would leave slavery for freedom."

All these inducements having failed of effect, Voltaire gave up the foundation of a colony at Cleves, to devote all his energy to that at Ferney. There he exercised signorial rights with an active and restless guardianship which left him no illusions and but little sympathy in respect of that people whose sacred rights he had so often proclaimed. "The people will always be sottish and barbarous," he wrote to M. Bordes; "they are oxen needing a yoke, a goad, and a bit of hay." That was the sum and substance of what he thought; he was a stern judge of the French character, the genuine and deep-lying resources of which he sounded imperfectly, but the infinite varieties of which he recognized. "I always find it difficult to conceive," he wrote to M. de Constant, "how so agreeable a nation can at the same time be so ferocious, how it can so easily pass from the opera to the St. Bartholomew, be at one time made up of dancing apes and at another of howling bears, be so ingenious and so idiotic both together, at one time so brave and at another so dastardly." Voltaire fancied himself at a comedy still; the hour of tragedy was at hand. He and his friends were day by day weakening the foundations of the edifice; for eighty years past the greatest minds and the noblest souls have been toiling to restore it on new and strong bases; the work is not finished, revolution is still agitating the depths of French society, which has not yet recovered the only proper foundation-stones for greatness and order amongst a free people.

Henceforth Voltaire reigned peacefully over his little empire at Ferney, courted from afar by all the sovereigns of Europe who made any profession of philosophy. "I have a sequence of four kings" (brelan de roi quatrieme), he would say with a laugh when he counted his letters from royal personages. The Empress of Russia, Catherine II., had dethroned, in his mind, the Great Frederick. Voltaire had not lived in her dominions and at her court; he had no grievance against her; his vanity was flattered by the eagerness and the magnificent attentions of the Semiramis of the North, as he called her. He even forgave her the most odious features of resemblance to the Assyrian princess. "I am her knight in the sight and in the teeth of everybody," he wrote to Madame du Deffand; "I am quite aware that people bring up against her a few trifles on the score of her husband; but these are family matters with which I do not meddle, and besides it is not a bad thing to have a fault to repair. It is an inducement to make great efforts in order to force the public to esteem and admiration, and certainly her knave of a husband would never have done any one of the great things my Catherine does every day." The portrait of the empress, worked in embroidery by herself, hung in Voltaire's bedroom. In vain had he but lately said to Pastor Bertrand, "My dear philosopher, I have, thank God, cut all connection with kings;" instinct and natural inclination were constantly re-asserting themselves. Banished from the court of Versailles by the disfavor of Louis XV., he turned in despite towards the foreign sovereigns who courted him. "Europe is enough for me," he writes; "I do not trouble myself much about the Paris clique, seeing that that clique is frequently guided by envy, cabal, bad taste, and a thousand petty interests which are always opposed to the public interest."

Voltaire, however, returned to that Paris in which he was born, in which he had lived but little since his early days, to which he belonged by the merits as well as the defects of his mind, and in which he was destined to die. In spite of his protests about his being a rustic and a republican, he had never allowed himself to slacken the ties which united him to his Parisian friends; the letters of the patriarch of Ferney circulated amongst the philosophical fraternity; they were repeated in the correspondence of Grimm and Diderot with foreign princes; from his splendid retreat at Ferney he cheered and excited the literary zeal and often the anti-religious ardor of the Encyclopaedists. He had, however, ceased all working connection with that great work since it had been suspended and afterwards resumed at the orders and with the permission of government. The more and more avowed materialistic theories revolted his shrewd and sensible mind; without caring to go to the bottom of his thought and contemplate its consequences, he clung to the notion of Providence as to a waif in the great shipwreck of positive creeds; he could not imagine
          "This clock without a Maker could exist."


It is his common sense, and not the religious yearnings of his soul, that makes him write in the poem of La Loi naturelle,—
          O God, whom men ignore, whom everything reveals,
          Hear Thou the latest words of him who now appeals;
          'Tis searching out Thy law that hath bewildered me;
          My heart may go astray, but it is full of Thee.


When he was old and suffering, he said to Madame Necker, in one of those fits of melancholy to which he was subject, "The thinking faculty is lost just like the eating, drinking, and digesting faculties. The marionettes of Providence, in fact, are not made to last so long as It." In his dying hour Voltaire was seen showing more concern for terrestrial scandals than for the terrors of conscience, crying aloud for a priest, and, with his mouth full of the blood he spat, still repeating in a half whisper, "I don't want to be thrown into the kennel." A sad confession of the insufficiency of his convictions and of the inveterate levity of his thoughts; he was afraid of the judgment of man without dreading the judgment of God. Thus was revealed the real depth of an infidelity of which Voltaire himself perhaps had not calculated the extent and the fatal influences.

Voltaire was destined to die at Paris; there he found the last joys of his life and there he shed the last rays of his glory. For the twenty-seven years during which he had been away from it he had worked much, written much, done much. Whilst almost invariably disavowing his works, he had furnished philosophy with pointed and poisoned weapons against religion; he had devoted to humanity much time and strength; one of the last delights he had tasted was the news of the decree which cleared the memory of M. de Lally; he had received into his house, educated and found a husband for the grand-niece of the great Corneille; he had applied the inexhaustible resources of his mind at one time to good and at another to evil, with almost equal ardor; he was old, he was ill, yet this same ardor still possessed him when he arrived at Paris on the 10th of February, 1778. The excitement caused by his return was extraordinary. "This new prodigy has stopped all other interest for some time," writes Grimm; "it has put an end to rumors of war, intrigues in civil life, squabbles at court. Encyclopaedic pride appeared diminished by half, the Sorbonne shook all over, the Parliament kept silence; all the literary world is moved, all Paris is ready to fly to the idol's feet." So much attention and so much glory had been too much for the old man. Voltaire was dying; in his fright he had sent for a priest and had confessed; when he rose from his bed by a last effort of the marvellous elasticity, inherent in his body and his mind, he resumed for a while the course of his triumphs. "M. de Voltaire has appeared for the first time at the Academy and at the play; he found all the doors, all the approaches to the Academy besieged by a multitude which only opened slowly to let him, pass and then rushed in immediately upon his footsteps with repeated plaudits and acclamations. The Academy came out into the first room to meet him, an honor it had never yet paid to any of its members, not even to the foreign princes who had deigned to be present at its meetings. The homage he received at the Academy was merely the prelude to that which awaited him at the National theatre. As soon as his carriage was seen at a distance, there arose a universal shout of joy. All the curb-stones, all the barriers, all the windows were crammed with spectators, and, scarcely was the carriage stopped, when people were already on the imperial and even on the wheels to get a nearer view of the divinity. Scarcely had he entered the house when Sieur Brizard came up with a crown of laurels, which Madame de Villette placed upon the great man's head, but which he immediately took off, though the public urged him to keep it on by clapping of hands and by cheers which resounded from all corners of the house with such a din as never was heard."

"All the women stood up. I saw at one time that part of the pit which was under the boxes going down on their knees, in despair of getting a sight any other way. The whole house was darkened with the dust raised by the ebb and flow of the excited multitude. It was not without difficulty that the players managed at last to begin the piece. It was Irene, which was given for the sixth time. Never had this tragedy been better played, never less listened to, never more applauded. The illustrious old man rose to thank the public, and, the moment afterwards, there appeared on a pedestal in the middle of the stage a bust of this great man, and the actresses, garlands and crowns in hand, covered it with laurels; M. de Voltaire seemed to be sinking beneath the burden of age and of the homage with which he had just been overwhelmed. He appeared deeply affected, his eyes still sparkled amidst the pallor of his face, but it seemed as if he breathed no longer save with the consciousness of his glory. The people shouted, 'Lights! lights! that everybody may see him!' The coachman was entreated to go at a walk, and thus he was accompanied by cheering and the crowd as far as Pont Royal."

Thus is described in the words of an eye-witness the last triumph of an existence that had been one of ceaseless agitation, owing to Voltaire himself far more than to the national circumstances and events of the time at which he lived. His anxious vanity and the inexhaustible movement of his mind had kept him constantly fluctuating between alternations of intoxication and despair; he had the good fortune to die at the very pinnacle of success and renown, the only immortality he could comprehend or desire, at the outset of a new and hopeful reign; he did not see, he had never apprehended the terrible catastrophe to which he had been thoughtlessly contributing for sixty years. A rare piece of good fortune and one which might be considered too great, if the limits of eternal justice rested upon earth and were to be measured by our compass.

Voltaire's incessant activity bore many fruits which survived him; he contributed powerfully to the triumph of those notions of humanity, justice, and freedom, which, superior to his own ideal, did honor to the eighteenth century; he became the model of a style, clear, neat, brilliant, the natural exponent of his own mind, far more than of the as yet confused hopes and aspirations of his age; he defended the rights of common sense, and sometimes withstood the anti-religious passion of his friends, but he blasted both minds and souls with his sceptical gibes; his bitter and at the same time temperate banter disturbed consciences which would have been revolted by the materialistic doctrines of the Encyclopaedists; the circle of infidelity widened under his hands; his disciples were able to go beyond him on the fatal path he had opened to them. Voltaire has remained the true representative of the mocking and stone-flinging phase of free-thinking, knowing nothing of the deep yearnings any more than of the supreme wretchlessness of the human soul, which it kept imprisoned within the narrow limits of earth and time. At the outcome from the bloody slough of the French Revolution and from the chaos it caused in men's souls, it was the infidelity of Voltaire which remained at the bottom of the scepticism and moral disorder of the France of our day. The demon which torments her is even more Voltairian than materialistic.

Other influences, more sincere and at the same time more dangerous, were simultaneously undermining men's minds. The group of Encyclopaedists, less prudent and less temperate than Voltaire, flaunted openly the flag of revolt. At the head marched Diderot, the most daring of all, the most genuinely affected by his own ardor, without perhaps being the most sure of his ground in his negations. His was an original and exuberant nature, expansively open to all new impressions. "In my country," he says, "we pass within twenty-four hours from cold to hot, from calm to storm, and this changeability of climate extends to the persons. Thus, from earliest infancy, they are wont to shift with every wind. The head of a Langrois stands on his shoulders like a weathercock on the top of a church-steeple; it is never steady at one point, and, if it comes round again to that which it had left, it is not to stop there. As for me, I am of my country; only residence of the capital and constant application

Narrow circumstances had their share in the versatility of Diderot's genius as well as in the variety of his labors. Son of a cutler at Langres, a strict and virtuous man, Denys Diderot, born in 1715, had at first been intended by his father for the church. He was educated at Harcourt College, and he entered an attorney's office. The young man worked incessantly, but not a law-book did he open. "What do you mean to be, pray?" the lawyer asked him one day; "do you think of being an attorney?" "No." "A barrister?" "No." "A doctor?" "No more than the rest." "What then?" "Nothing at all. I like study, I am very happy, very contented, I ask no more." Diderot's father stopped the allowance he had been making his son, trusting thus to force him to choose a profession. But the young man gave lessons for a livelihood.

"I know a pretty good number of things," he wrote towards the end of his life, "but there is scarcely a man who doesn't know his own thing better than I do. This mediocrity in every sort is the consequence of insatiable curiosity and of means so small, that they never permitted me to devote myself to one single branch of human knowledge. I have been forced all my life to follow pursuits for which I was not adapted, and to leave on one side those for which I had a call from inclination." Before he was thirty years old, and without any resource but his lessons and the work of every sort he did for third parties, Diderot married; he had not asked the consent of his parents, but this did not prevent him from saddling them before long with his wife and child. "She started yesterday," he writes quite simply to his father, "she will be with you in three days; you can say anything you like to her, and when you are tired of her, you can send her back." Diderot intended to be free at any price, and he threw off, one after another, the fetters he had forged for himself, not without remorse, however, and not without acknowledging that he was thus wanting to all natural duties. "What can you expect," he would exclaim, "of a man who has neglected wife and daughter, got into debt, given up being husband and father?"

Diderot never neglected his friends; amidst his pecuniary embarrassments, when he was reduced to coin his brain for a livelihood, his labor and his marvellous facility were always at the service of all. It was to satisfy the requirements of a dangerous fair friend that he wrote his Pensees philosophiques, the sad tale of the Bijoux indiscrets and the Lettre sur les Aveugles, those early attacks upon religious faith which sent him to pass a few months in prison at the Castle of Vincennes. It was to oblige Grimm that he for the first time gave his mind to painting, and wrote his Salons, intended to amuse and instruct the foreign princes. "A pleasure which is only for myself affects me but slightly and lasts but a short time," he used to say; "it is for self and friends that I read, reflect, write, meditate, hear, look, feel. In their absence, my devotion towards them refers everything to them. I am always thinking of their happiness. Does a beautiful line strike me, they shall know it. Have I stumbled upon a beautiful trait, I make up my mind to communicate it to them. Have I before my eyes some enchanting scene; unconsciously, I meditate an account of it for them. To them I have dedicated the use of all my senses and of all my faculties, and that perhaps is the reason why everything is exaggerated, everything is embellished a little in my imagination and in my talk; and they sometimes reproach me with this, the ingrates!"

It was, further, in conjunction with his friends and in community of ideas that Diderot undertook the immense labor of the Encyclopaedia. Having, in the first instance, received a commission from a publisher to translate the English collection of [Ephraim] Chambers, Diderot was impressed with a desire to unite in one and the same collection all the efforts and all the talents of his epoch, so as to render joint homage to the rapid progress of science. Won over by his enthusiasm, D'Alembert consented to share the task; and he wrote the beautiful exposition in the introduction. Voltaire sent his articles from Delices. The Jesuits had proposed to take upon themselves a certain number of questions, but their co-operation was declined: it was a monument to philosophy that the Encyclopaedists aspired to raise; the clergy were in commotion at seeing the hostile army, till then uncertain and unbanded, rally organized and disciplined around this vast enterprise. An early veto, soon, however, taken off, compelled the philosophers to a certain moderation; Voltaire ceased writing for the Encyclopaedia; it was not sufficiently free-going for him. "You admit articles worthy of the Trevoux journal," he said to D'Alembert. New severities on the part of the Parliament and the grand council dealt a blow to the philosophers before long: the editors' privilege was revoked. Orders were given to seize Diderot's papers. Lamoignon de Malesherbes, who was at that time director of the press, and favorable to freedom without ever having abused it in thought or action, sent him secret warning. Diderot ran home in consternation. "What's to be done?" he cried; "how move all my manuscripts in twenty-four hours? I haven't time even to make a selection. And, above all, where find people who would and can take charge of them safely?" "Send them all to me," replied M. de Malesherbes; "nobody will come thither to look for them."

Feeble governments are ill served even by their worthiest servants; the severities ordered against the Encyclopaedia did not stop its publication; D'Alembert, however, weary of the struggle, had ceased to take part in the editorship. Naturally cool and moderate, when it was nothing to do with Mdlle. de Lespinasse, the great affection of his life, the illustrious geometer was content with a little. "Twelve hundred livres a year are enough for me," he wrote to the Great Frederick who was pressing him to settle in his dominions. "I will not go and reap the succession to Maupertuis during his lifetime. I am overlooked by government, just as so many others by Providence; persecuted as much as anybody can be, if some day I have to fly my country, I will simply ask Frederick's permission to go and die in his dominions, free and poor."

Frederick II. gave D'Alembert a pension; it had but lately been Louis XIV. who thus lavished kindnesses on foreign scholars: he made an offer to the Encyclopaedists to go and finish their vast undertaking at Berlin. Catherine II. made the same offers, asking D'Alembert, besides, to take charge of the education of her son. "I know your honesty too well," she wrote, "to attribute your refusals to vanity; I know that the cause is merely love of repose in order to cultivate literature and friendship. But what is to prevent your coming with all your friends? I promise you and them too all the comforts and every facility that may depend upon me; and perchance you will find more freedom and repose than you have at home. You do not yield to the entreaties of the King of Prussia, and to the gratitude you owe him, it is true, but then he has no son. I confess that I have my son's education so much at heart, and that you are so necessary to me, that perhaps I press you too much. Pardon my indiscretion for the reason's sake, and rest assured that it is esteem which has made me so selfish."

D'Alembert declined the education of the hereditary Grand Duke, just as he had declined the presidency of the Academy at Berlin; an infidel and almost a materialist by the geometer's rule, who knows no power but the laws of mathematics, he did not carry into anti-religious strife the bitterness of Voltaire, or the violence of Diderot. "Squelch the thing! you are always repeating to me," he said to Voltaire on the 4th of May, 1762. "Ah! my good friend, let it go to rack and ruin of itself, it is hurrying thereto faster than you suppose." More and more absorbed by pure science, which he never neglected save for the French Academy, whose perpetual secretary he had become, D'Alembert left to Diderot alone the care of continuing the Encyclopaedia. When he died, in 1783, at fifty-six years of age, the work had been finished nearly twenty years. In spite of the bad faith of publishers, who mutilated articles to render them acceptable, in spite of the condemnation of the clergy and the severities of the council, the last volumes of the Encyclopaedia had appeared in 1765.

This immense work, unequal and confused as it was, a medley of various and often ill-assorted elements, undertaken for and directed to the fixed end of an aggressive emancipation of thought, had not sufficed to absorb the energy and powers of Diderot. "I am awaiting with impatience the reflections of Pantophile Diderot on Tancrede," wrote Voltaire: "everything is within the sphere of activity of his genius: he passes from the heights of metaphysics to the weaver's trade, and thence he comes to the stage."

The stage, indeed, occupied largely the attention of Diderot, who sought to introduce reforms, the fruit of his own thought as well as of imitation of the Germans, which he had not perhaps sufficiently considered. For the classic tragedies, the heritage of which Voltaire received from the hands of Racine, Diderot aspired to substitute the natural drama. His two attempts in that style, Le Pere de Famille and Le Fils natural, had but little success in France, and contributed to develop in Germany the school already founded by Lessing. An excess of false sensibility and an inflation of expression had caused certain true ideas to fall flat on the French stage.

"You have the inverse of dramatic talent," said Abbe Arnauld to Diderot; "the proper thing is to transform one's self into all the characters, and you transform all the characters into yourself." The criticism did Diderot wrong: he had more wits than his characters, and he was worth more at bottom than those whom he described. Carried away by the richness as well as the unruliness of his mind, destitute as he was of definite and fixed principles, he recognized no other moral law than the natural impulse of the soul. "There is no virtue or vice," he used to say, "but innate goodness or badness." Certain religious cravings, nevertheless, sometimes: asserted themselves in his conscience: he had. a glimmering perception of the necessity for a higher rule and law. "O God, I know not whether Thou art," he wrote in his Interpretation de la Nature, "but I will think as if Thou didst see into my soul, I will act as if I were in Thy presence."

A strange illusion on the part of the philosopher about the power of ideas as well as about the profundity of evil in the human heart! Diderot fancied he could regulate his life by a perchance, and he was constantly hurried away by the torrent of his passion into a violence of thought and language foreign to his natural benevolence. It was around his name that the philosophic strife had waxed most fierce: the active campaign undertaken by his friends to open to him the doors of the French Academy remained unsuccessful. "He has too many enemies," said Louis XV. "his election shall not be sanctioned." Diderot did not offer himself; he set out for St. Petersburg; the Empress Catherine had loaded him with kindnesses. Hearing of the poverty of the philosopher who was trying to sell his library to obtain a dower for his daughter, she bought the books, leaving the enjoyment of them to Diderot, whom she appointed her librarian, and, to secure his maintenance in advance, she had a sum of fifty thousand livres remitted to him. "So here I am obliged, in conscience, to live fifty years," said Diderot.

He passed some months in Russia, admitted several hours a day to the closet of the empress, chatting with a frankness and a freedom which sometimes went to the extent of license. Catherine II. was not alarmed. "Go on," she would say; "amongst men anything is allowable." When the philosopher went away, he shed hot tears, and "so did she, almost," he declares. He refused to go to Berlin; absolute power appeared to him more arbitrary and less indulgent in the hands of Frederick than with Catherine. "It is said that at Petersburg Diderot is considered a tiresome reasoner," wrote the King of Prussia to D' Alembert in January, 1774; "he is incessantly harping on the same things. All I know is that I couldn't stand the reading of his, books, intrepid reader as I am; there is a self-sufficient tone and an arrogance in them which revolts my sense of freedom." The same sense of freedom which the king claimed for himself whilst refusing it to the philosopher, the philosopher, in his turn, refused to Christians not less intolerant than he. The eighteenth century did not practise on its own account that respect for conscience which it, nevertheless, powerfully and to its glory promoted.

Diderot died on the 29th of July, 1784, still poor, an invalid for some time past, surrounded to the end by his friends, who rendered back to him that sincere and devoted affection which he made the pride of his life. Hearing of his sufferings from Grimm, the Empress Catherine had hired a furnished apartment for him; he had just installed himself in it when he expired; without having retracted any one of his works, nearly all published under the veil of the anonymous, he was, nevertheless, almost reconciled with the church, and was interred quietly in the chapel of the Virgin at St. Roch. The charm of his character had often caused people to forget his violence, which he himself no longer remembered the next day. "I should like to know this hot-headed metaphysician," was the remark made to Buffon by President De Brosses, who happened to be then at Paris; and he afterwards added,

"He is a nice fellow, very pleasant, very amiable, a great philosopher, a mighty arguer, but a maker of perpetual digressions. Yesterday he made quite five and twenty between nine o'clock and one, during which time he remained in my room. O, how much more lucid is Buffon than all those gentry!"

The magistrate's mind understood and appreciated the great naturalist's genius. Diderot felt in his own fashion the charm of nature, but, as was said by Chevalier Chastellux, "his ideas got drunk and set to work chasing one another." The ideas of Buffon, on the other hand, came out in the majestic order of a system under powerful organization, and informed as it were with the very secrets of the Creator. "The general history of the world," he says, "ought to precede the special history of its productions; and the details of singular facts touching the life and habits of animals, or touching the culture and vegetation of plants, belong perhaps less to natural history than do the general results of the observations which have been made on the different materials which compose the terrestrial globe, on the elevations, the depressions, and the unevennesses of its form, on the movement of the seas, on the trending of mountains, on the position of quarries, on the rapidity and effects of the currents of the sea—this is nature on the grand scale."

M. Fleurens truly said, "Bufon aggrandizes every subject he touches." Born at Montbard in Burgundy on the 7th of September, 1707, Buffon belonged to a family of wealth and consideration in his province. In his youth he travelled over Europe with his friend the Duke of Kingston; on returning home, he applied himself at first to mathematics, with sufficient success to be appointed at twenty-six years of age, in 1733, adjunct in the mechanical class at the Academy of Sciences. In 1739, he received the superintendence of the Jardin du Roi, not long since enlarged and endowed by Richelieu, and lovingly looked after by the scholar Dufay, who had just died, himself designating Buffon as his successor. He had shifted from mechanics to botany, "not," he said, "that he was very fond of that science, which he had learned and forgotten three times," but he was aspiring just then to the Jardin du Roi; his genius was yet seeking its proper direction. "There are some things for me," he wrote to President De Brosses, "but there are some against, and especially my age; however, if people would but reflect, they would see that the superintendence of the Jardin du Roi requires an active young man, who can stand the sun, who is conversant with plants and knows the way to make them multiply, who is a bit of a connoisseur in all the sorts used in demonstration there, and above all who understands buildings, in such sort that, in my own heart, it appears to me that I should be exactly made for them: but I have not as yet any great hope."

In Buffon's hands the Jardin du Roi was transformed; in proportion as his mind developed, the requirements of the study appeared to him greater and greater; he satisfied them fearlessly, getting together collections at his own expense, opening new galleries, constructing hot-houses, being constantly seconded by the good-will of Louis XV., who never shrank from expenses demanded by Buffon's projects. The great naturalist died at eighty years of age, without having completed his work; but he had imprinted upon it that indisputable stamp of greatness which was the distinctive feature of his genius. The Jardin du Roi, which became the Jardin des Plantes, has remained unique in Europe.

Fully engaged as he was in those useful labors, from the age of thirty, Buffon gave up living at Paris for the greater part of the year. He had bought the ruins of the castle of Montbard, the ancient residence of the Dukes of Burgundy, overlooking his native town. He had built a house there which soon became dear to him, and which he scarcely ever left for eight months in the year. There it was, in a pavilion which overhung the garden planted in terraces, and from which he had a view of the rich plains of La Brenne, that the great naturalist, carefully dressed by five o'clock in the morning, meditated the vast plan of his works as he walked from end to end and side to side. "I passed delightful hours there," he used to say. When he summoned his secretary, the work of composition was completed. "M. de Buffon gives reasons for the preference he shows as to every word in his discourses, without excluding from the discussion even the smallest particles, the most insignificant conjunctions," says Madame Necker; "he never forgot that he had written 'the style is the man.' The language could not be allowed to derogate from the majesty of the subject. 'I made it a rule,' he used to say, 'to always fix upon the noblest expressions.'"

It was in this dignified and studious retirement that Buffon quietly passed his long life. "I dedicated," he says, "twelve, nay, fourteen, hours to study; it was my whole pleasure. In truth, I devoted myself to it far more than I troubled myself about fame; fame comes afterwards, if it may, and it nearly always does."

Buffon did not lack fame; on the appearance of the first three volumes of his "Histoire naturelle," published in 1749, the breadth of his views, the beauty of his language, and the strength of his mind excited general curiosity and admiration. The Sorbonne was in a flutter at certain bold propositions; Buffon, without being disconcerted, took pains to avoid condemnation. "I took the liberty," he says in a letter to M. Leblant, "of writing to the Duke of Nivernais (then ambassador at Rome), who has replied to me in the most polite and most obliging way in the world; I hope, therefore, that my book will not be put in the Index, and, in truth, I have done all I could not to deserve it and to avoid theological squabbles, which I fear far more than I do the criticisms of physicists and geometricians." "Out of a hundred and twenty assembled doctors," he adds before long, "I had a hundred and fifteen, and their resolution even contains eulogies which I did not expect." Despite certain boldnesses which had caused anxiety, the Sorbonne had reason to compliment the great naturalist. The unity of the human race as well as its superior dignity were already vindicated in these first efforts of Buffon's genius, and his mind never lost sight of this great verity. "In the human species," he says, "the influence of climate shows itself only by slight varieties, because this species is one, and is very distinctly separated from all other species; man, white in Europe, black in Africa, yellow in Asia, and red in America, is only the same man tinged with the hue of climate; as he is made to reign over the earth, as the whole globe is his domain, it seems as if his nature were ready prepared for all situations; beneath the fires of the south, amidst the frosts of the north, he lives, he multiplies, he is found to be so spread about everywhere from time immemorial that he appears to affect no climate in particular. . . . Whatever resemblance there may be between the Hottentot and the monkey, the interval which separates them is immense, since internally he is garnished with mind and externally with speech."

Buffon continued his work, adroitly availing himself of the talent and researches of the numerous co-operators whom he had managed to gather about him, directing them all with indefatigable vigilance in their labors and their observations. "Genius is but a greater aptitude for perseverance," he used to say, himself justifying his definition by the assiduity of his studies. "I had come to the sixteenth volume of my work on natural history," he writes with bitter regret, "when a serious and long illness interrupted for nearly two years the course of my labors. This shortening of my life, already far advanced, caused one in my works. I might, in the two years I have lost, have produced two or three volumes of the history of birds, without abandoning for that my plan of a history of minerals, on which I have been engaged for several years."

In 1753 Buffon had been nominated a member of the French Academy. He had begged his friends to vote for his compatriot, Piron, author of the celebrated comedy Metromanie, at that time an old man and still poor. "I can wait," said Buffon. "Two days before that fixed for the election," writes Grimm, "the king sent for President Montesquieu, to whose lot it had fallen to be director of the Academy on that occasion, and told him that, understanding that the Academy had cast their eyes upon M. Piron, and knowing that he was the author of several licentious works, he desired the Academy to choose some one else to fill the vacant place. His Majesty at the same time told him that he would not have any member belonging to the order of advocates."

Buffon was elected, and on the 25th of August, 1754, St. Louis' day, he was formally received by the Academy; Grimm describes the session. "M. de Buffon did not confine himself to reminding us that Chancellor Seguier was a great man, that Cardinal Richelieu was a very great man, that Kings Louis XIV. and Louis XV. were very great men too, that the Archbishop of Sens (whom he succeeds) was also a great man, and finally that all the forty were great men; this celebrated man, disdaining the stale and heavy eulogies which are generally the substance of this sort of speech, thought proper to treat of a subject worthy of his pen and worthy of the Academy. He gave us his ideas on style, and it was said, in consequence, that the Academy had engaged a writing-master."

"Well-written works are the only ones which will go down to posterity," said Buffon in his speech; "quantity of knowledge, singularity of facts, even novelty in discoveries, are not certain guaranties of immortality; knowledge, facts, discoveries, are easily abstracted and transferred. Those things are outside the man; the style is the man himself; the style, then, cannot be abstracted, or transferred, or tampered with; if it be elevated, noble, sublime, the author will be equally admired at all times, for it is only truth that is durable and even eternal."

Never did the great scholar who has been called "the painter of nature" relax his zeal for painstaking as a writer. "I am every day learning to write," he would still say at seventy years of age.

To the Theorie de la Terre, the Idees generales sur les Animaux, and the Histoire de l'Homme, already published when Buffon was elected by the French Academy, succeeded the twelve volumes of the Histoire des Quadrupedes, a masterpiece of luminous classifications and incomparable descriptions; eight volumes on Oiseaux appeared subsequently, a short time before the Histoire des Mineraux; lastly, a few years before his death, Buffon gave to the world the Epoques de la Nature. "As in civil history one consults titles, hunts up medals, deciphers antique inscriptions to determine the epochs of revolutions amongst mankind, and to fix the date of events in the moral world, so, in natural history, we must ransack the archives of the universe, drag from the entrails of the earth the olden monuments, gather together their ruins and collect into a body of proofs all the indications of physical changes that can guide us back to the different ages of nature. It is the only way of fixing certain points in the immensity of space, and of placing a certain number of memorial-stones on the endless road of time."

"This is what I perceive with my mind's eye," Buffon would say, "thus forming a chain which, from the summit of Time's ladder, descends right down to us." "This man," exclaimed Hume, with an admiration which surprised him out of his scepticism, "this man gives to things which no human eye has seen a probability almost equal to evidence."

Some of Buffon's theories have been disputed by his successors' science; as D'Alembert said of Descartes: "If he was mistaken about the laws of motion, he was the first to divine that there must be some." Buffon divined the epochs of nature, and by the intuition of his genius, absolutely unshackled by any religious prejudice, he involuntarily reverted to the account given in Genesis. "We are persuaded," he says, "independently of the authority of the sacred books, that man was created last, and that he only came to wield the sceptre of the earth when that earth was found worthy of his sway."

It has often been repeated, on the strength of some expressions let fall by Buffon amongst intimates, that the panorama of nature had shut out from his eyes the omnipotent God, creator and preserver of the physical world as well as of the moral law. Wrong has been done the great naturalist; he had answered beforehand these incorrect opinions as to his fundamental ideas. "Nature is not a being," he said; "for that being would be God;" and he adds, "Nature is the system of the laws established by the Creator." The supreme notion of Providence appears to his eyes in all its grandeur, when he writes, "The verities of nature were destined to appear only in course of time, and the Supreme Being kept them to Himself as the surest means of recalling man to Him when his faith, declining in the lapse of ages, should become weak; when, remote from his origin, he might begin to forget it; when, in fine, having become too familiar with the spectacle of nature, he would no longer be moved by it, and would come to ignore the Author. It was necessary to confirm from time to time, and even to enlarge, the idea of God in the mind and heart of man. Now every new discovery produces this grand effect, every new step that we make in nature brings us nearer to the Creator. A new verity is a species of miracle; its effect is the same, and it only differs from the real miracle in that the latter is a startling stroke which God strikes instantaneously and rarely, instead of making use of man to discover and exhibit the marvels which He has hidden in the womb of Nature, and in that, as these marvels are operating every instant, as they are open at all times and for all time to his contemplation, God is constantly recalling him to Himself, not only by the spectacle of the moment, but, further, by the successive development of His works."

Buffon was still working at eighty years of age; he had undertaken a dissertation on style, a development of his reception speech at the French Academy. Great sorrows had crossed his life. Married late to a young wife whom he loved, he lost her early; she left him a son, brought up under his wing, and the object of his constant solicitude. Just at the time of sending him to school, he wrote to Madame Daubenton, wife of his able and learned co-operator: "I expect Buffonet on Sunday. I have arranged all his little matters he will have a private room, with a closet for his man-servant; I have got him a tutor in the school-house itself, and a little companion of his own age. I do not think that he will be at all unhappy." And, at a later date, when he is expecting this son who has reached man's estate, and has been travelling in Europe: "My son has just arrived; the empress and the grand-duke have treated him very well, and we shall have some fine minerals, the collection of which is being at this moment completed. I confess that anxiety about his return has taken away my sleep and the power of thinking."

When the young Count de Buffon, an officer in the artillery, and at first warmly favorable to the noble professions of the French Revolution, had, like his peers, to mount the scaffold of the Terror, he damned with one word the judges who profaned in his person his father's glory. "Citizens," he exclaimed from the fatal car, "my name is Buffon." With less respect for the rights of genius than was shown by the Algerian pirates who let pass, without opening them, the chests directed to the great naturalist, the executioner of the Committee of public safety cut off his son's head.

This last drop of bitterness, and the cruel spectacle of social disorder, Buffon had been spared; he had died at the Jardin du Roi on the 14th of April, 1788, preserving at eighty years of age, and even in the feebleness of ill health, all the powers of his intelligence and the calm serenity of 'his soul. His last lines dictated to his son were addressed to Madame Necker, who had been for a long time past on the most intimate terms with him. Faithful in death to the instincts of order and regularity which had always controlled his mind even in his boldest flight, he requested that all the ceremonies of religion should be fulfilled around his body. His son had it removed to Montbard, where it lies between his father and his wife.

Buffon had lived long, he had accomplished in peace his great work, he had reaped the fruits of it. On the eve of the terrible shocks whereof no presage disturbed his spirit, "directed for fifty years towards the great objects of nature," the illustrious scholar had been permitted to see his statue placed during his lifetime in the Jardin du Roi. On sending to the Empress Catherine his bust which she had asked him for, he wrote to his son who had charge of it: "I forgot to remark to you, whilst talking of bust and effigy, that, by the king's order, they have put at the bottom of my statue the following inscription: Majestati naturae par ingenium (Genius to match the majesty of nature). It is not from pride that I send you this, but perhaps Her Majesty will have it put at the bottom of the bust."

"How many great men do you reckon?" Buffon was asked one day. "Five," answered he at once: "Newton, Bacon, Leibnitz, Montesquieu, and myself."

This self-appreciation, fostered by the homage of his contemporaries, which showed itself in Buffon undisguisedly with an air of ingenuous satisfaction, had poisoned a life already extinguished ten years before amidst the bitterest agonies. Taking up arms against a society in which he had not found his proper place, Jean Jacques Rousseau had attacked the present as well as the past, the Encyclopaedists as well as the old social organization. It was from the first his distinctive trait to voluntarily create a desert around him. The eighteenth century was in its nature easily seduced; liberal, generous, and open to allurements, it delighted in intellectual contentions, even the most dangerous and the most daring; it welcomed with alacrity all those who thus contributed to its pleasures. The charming drawing-rooms of Madame Geoffrin, of Madame du Deffand, of Madlle. Lespinasse, belonged of right to philosophy. "Being men of the world as well as of letters, the philosophers of the eighteenth century had passed their lives in the pleasantest and most brilliant regions of that society which was so much attacked by them. It had welcomed them, made them famous; they had mingled in all the pleasures of its elegant and agreeable existence; they shared in all its tastes, its manners, all the refinements, all the susceptibilities of a civilization at the same time old and rejuvenated, aristocratic and literary; they were of that old regimen which was demolished by their hands. The philosophical circle was everywhere, amongst the people of the court, of the church, of the long robe, of finance; haughty here, complaisant there, at one time indoctrinating, at another amusing its hosts, but everywhere young, active, confident, recruiting and battling everywhere, penetrating and fascinating the whole of society." [M. Guizot, Madame la comtesse de Rumford]. Rousseau never took his place in this circle; in this society he marched in front like a pioneer of new times, attacking tentatively all that he encountered on his way. "Nobody was ever at one and the same time more factious and more dictatorial," is the clever dictum of M. Saint Marc Girardin.

Rousseau was not a Frenchman: French society always felt that, in consequence of certain impressions of his early youth which were never to be effaced. Born at Geneva on the 28th of June, 1712, in a family of the lower middle class, and brought up in the first instance by an intelligent and a pious mother, he was placed, like Voltaire and Diderot, in an attorney's office. Dismissed with disgrace "as good for nothing but to ply the file," the young man was bound apprentice to an engraver, "a clownish and violent fellow," says Rousseau, "who succeeded very shortly in dulling all the brightness of my boyhood, brutalizing my lively and loving character, and reducing me in spirit, as I was in fortune, to my real position of an apprentice."

Rousseau was barely sixteen when he began that roving existence which is so attractive to young people, so hateful in ripe age, and which lasted as long as his life. Flying from his master whose brutality he dreaded, and taking refuge at Oharmettes in Savoy with a woman whom he at first loved passionately, only to leave her subsequently with disgust, he had reached the age of one and twenty, and had already gone through many adventures when he set out, heart-sore and depraved, to seek at Paris a means of subsistence. He had invented a new system of musical notation; the Academy of Sciences, which had lent him a favorable ear, did not consider the discovery useful. Some persons had taken an interest in him, but Rousseau could never keep his friends; and he had many, zealous and devoted. He was sent to Venice as secretary to the French ambassador M. de Montaigu. He soon quarrelled with the ambassador and returned to Paris. He found his way into the house of Madame Dupin, wife of a rich farmer-general (of taxes). He was considered clever; he wrote little plays, which he set to music. Enthusiastically welcomed by the friends of Madame Dupin, he contributed to their amusements. "We began with the Engagement temeraire," says Madame d'Epinay in her Memoires: "it is a new play by M. Rousseau, a friend of M. de Francueil's, who introduced him to us. The author played a part in his piece. Though it is only a society play, it was a great success. I doubt, however, whether it would be successful at the theatre, but it is the work of a clever man and no ordinary man. I do not quite know, though, whether it is what I saw of the author or of the piece that made me think so. He is complimentary without being polite, or at least without having the air of it. He seems to be ignorant of the usages of society, but it is easy to see that he has infinite wit. He has a brown complexion, and eyes full of fire light up his face. When he has been speaking and you watch him, you think him good-looking; but when you recall him to memory, it is always as a plain man. He is said to be in bad health; it is probably that which gives him from time to time a wild look."

It was amid this brilliant intimacy, humiliating and pleasant at the same time, that Rousseau published his Discours sur les Sciences et les Arts. It has been disputed whether the inspiration was such as he claimed for this production, the first great work which he had ever undertaken and which was to determine the direction of his thoughts. "I was going to see Diderot at Vincennes," he says, "and, as I walked, I was turning over the leaves of the Mercure de France, when I stumbled upon this question proposed by the Academy of Dijon: Whether the advance of sciences and arts has contributed to the corruption or purification of morals. All at once I felt my mind dazzled by a thousand lights, crowds of ideas presented themselves at once with a force and a confusion which threw me into indescribable bewilderment; I felt my head seized with a giddiness like intoxication, a violent palpitation came over me, my bosom began to heave. Unable to breathe any longer as I walked, I flung myself down under one of the trees in the avenue, and there spent half an hour in such agitation that, on rising up, I found all the front of my waistcoat wet with tears without my having had an idea that I had shed any." Whether it were by natural intuition or the advice of Diderot, Jean Jacques had found his weapons; poor and obscure as he was, he attacked openly the brilliant and corrupt society which had welcomed him for its amusement. Spiritualistic at heart and nurtured upon Holy Scripture in his pious childhood, he felt a sincere repugnance for the elegant or cynical materialism which was every day more and more creeping over the eighteenth century. "Sciences and arts have corrupted the world," he said, and he put forward, as proof of it, the falsity of the social code, the immorality of private life, the frivolity of the drawing-rooms into which he had been admitted. "Suspicions, heart-burnings, apprehensions, coldness, reserve, hatred, treason, lurk incessantly beneath that uniform and perfidious veil of politeness, under that so much vaunted urbanity which we owe to the enlightenment of our age."

Rousseau had launched his paradox; the frivolous and polite society which he attacked was amused at it without being troubled by it: it was a new field of battle opened for brilliant jousts of wit; he had his partisans and his admirers. In the discussion which ensued, Jean Jacques showed himself more sensible and moderate than he had been in the first exposition of his idea; he had wanted to strike, to astonish he soon modified the violence of his assertions. "Let us guard against concluding that we must now burn all libraries and pull down the universities and academies," he wrote to King Stanislaus: "we should only plunge Europe once more into barbarism, and morals would gain nothing by it. The vices would remain with us, and we should have ignorance besides. In vain would you aspire to destroy the sources of the evil; in vain would you remove the elements of vanity, indolence, and luxury; in vain would you even bring men back to that primal equality, the preserver of innocence and the source of all virtue: their hearts once spoiled will be so forever. There is no remedy now save some great revolution, almost as much to be feared as the evil which it might cure, and one which it were blamable to desire and impossible to forecast. Let us, then, leave the sciences and arts to assuage, in some degree, the ferocity of the men they have corrupted. . .. The enlightenment of the wicked is at any rate less to be feared than his brutal stupidity."

Rousseau here showed the characteristic which invariably distinguished him from the philosophers, and which ended by establishing deep enmity between them and him. The eighteenth century espied certain evils, certain sores in the social and political condition, believed in a cure, and blindly relied on the power of its own theories. Rousseau, more earnest, often more sincere, made a better diagnosis of the complaint; he described its horrible character and the dangerousness of it, he saw no remedy and he pointed none out. Profound and grievous impotence, whose utmost hope is an impossible recurrence to the primitive state of savagery! "In the private opinion of our adversaries," says M. Roy de Collard eloquently, "it was a thoughtless thing, on the great day of creation, to let man loose, a free and intelligent agent, into the midst of the universe; thence the mischief and the mistake. A higher wisdom comes forward to repair the error of Providence, to restrain His thoughtless liberality, and to render to prudently mutilated mankind the service of elevating it to the happy innocence of the brute."

Before Rousseau, and better than he, Christianity had recognized and proclaimed the evil; but it had at the same time announced to the world a remedy and a Saviour.

Henceforth Rousseau had chosen his own road: giving up the drawing-rooms and the habits of that elegant society for which he was not born and the admiration of which had developed his pride, he made up his mind to live independent, copying music to get his bread, now and then smitten with the women of the world who sought him out in his retirement,—in love with Madame d'Epinay and Madame d'Houdetot, anon returning to the coarse servant-wench whom he had but lately made his wife, and whose children he had put in the foundling-hospital. Music at that time absorbed all minds. Rousseau brought out a little opera entitled Le Devin de village (The Village Wizard), which had a great success. It was played at Fontainebleau before the king. "I was there that day," writes Rousseau, "in the same untidy array which was usual with me; a great deal of beard and wig rather badly trimmed. Taking this want of decency for an act of courage, I entered in this state the very room into which would come, a short time afterwards, the king, the queen, the royal family, and all the court. . . . When the lights were lit, seeing myself in this. array in the midst of people all extensively got up, I began to be ill at ease; I asked myself if I were in my proper place, if I were properly dressed, and, after a few moments' disquietude, I answered yes, with an intrepidity which arose perhaps more from the impossibility of getting out of it than from the force of my arguments. After this little dialogue, I plucked up so much, that I should have been quite intrepid if there had been any need of it. But, whether it were the effect of the master's presence or natural kindness of heart, I observed nothing but what was obliging and civil in the curiosity of which I was the object. I was steeled against all their gibes, but their caressing air, which I had not expected, overcame me so completely, that I trembled like a child when things began. I heard all about me a whispering of women who seemed to me as beautiful as angels, and who said to one another below their breath, 'This is charming, this is enchanting: there is not a note that does not appeal to the heart.' The, pleasure of causing emotion in so many lovable persons moved me myself to tears."

The emotions of the eighteenth century were vivid and easily roused; fastening upon everything without any earnest purpose, and without any great sense of responsibility, it grew as hot over a musical dispute as over the gravest questions of morality or philosophy. Grimm had attacked French music, Rousseau supported his thesis by a Lettre sur la Musique. It was the moment of the great quarrel between the Parliament and the clergy. "When my letter appeared, there was no more excitement save against me," says Rousseau; "it was such that the nation has never recovered from it. When people read that this pamphlet probably prevented a revolution in the state, they will fancy they must be dreaming." And Grimm adds in his correspondence: "The Italian actors who have been playing for the last ten months on the stage of the Opera de Paris and who are called here bouffons, have so absorbed the attention of Paris that the Parliament, in spite of all its measures and proceedings which should have earned it celebrity, could not but fall into complete oblivion. A wit has said that the arrival of Manelli saved us from a civil war; and Jean Jacques Rousseau of Geneva, whom his friends have dubbed the citizen of citizens (le citoyen par excellence), that eloquent and bilious foe of the sciences, has just set fire to the four corners of Paris with a Lettre sur la Musique, in which he proves that it is impossible to set French words to music. . . . What is not easy to believe, and is none the less true for all that, is that M. Rousseau was afraid of being banished for this pamphlet. It would have been odd to see Rousseau banished for having spoken ill of French music, after having with impunity dealt with the most delicate political matter."

Rousseau had just printed his Discours sur l'Inegalite des conditions, a new and violent picture of the corruptions of human society. "Inequality being almost nil in a state of nature," he says, "it derives its force and increment from the development of our faculties and from the progress of the human mind . . . according to the poet it is gold and silver, but according to the philosopher it is iron and corn which have civilized men and ruined the human race."

The singularity of his paradox had worn off; Rousseau no longer astounded, he shocked the good sense as well as the aspirations, superficial or generous, of the eighteenth century. The Discours sur l'Inegalite des conditions was not a success. "I have received, sir, your new book against the human race," wrote Voltaire; "I thank you for it. You will please men to whom you tell truths about them, and you will not make them any better. Never was so much good wit expended in the desire to make beasts of us; one feels disposed to walk on all fours when one reads your work. However, as it is more than sixty years since I lost the knack, I unfortunately find it impossible to recover it, and I leave that natural gait to those who are better fitted for it than you or I. No more can I embark upon a visit to the savages of Canada, first, because the illnesses to which I am subject render a European doctor necessary to me; secondly, because war has been introduced into that country, and because the examples of our nations have rendered the savages almost as wicked as ourselves. I shall confine myself to being a peaceable savage in the solitude I have selected hard by your own country, where you ought to be."

Rousseau had, indeed, thought of returning and settling at Geneva. In 1754, during a trip he made thither, he renounced the Catholic faith which he had embraced at sixteen under the influence of Madame de Warens, without any more conviction than he carried with him in his fresh abjuration. "Ashamed," says he, "at being excluded from my rights of citizenship by the profession of a cult other than that of my fathers, I resolved to resume the latter openly. I considered that the Gospel was the same for all Christians, and that, as the fundamental difference of dogma arose from meddling with explanations of what could not be understood, it appertained in every country to the sovereigns alone to fix both the cult and the unintelligible dogma, and that, consequently, it was the duty of the citizen to accept the dogma and follow the cult prescribed by law." Strange eccentricity of the human mind! The shackles of civilization are oppressive to Rousseau, and yet he would impose the yoke of the state upon consciences. The natural man does not reflect, and does not discuss his religion; whilst seeking to recover the obliterated ideal of nature, the philosopher halts on the road at the principles of Louis XIV. touching religious liberties.

Madame d'Epinay had offered Rousseau a retreat in her little house, the Hermitage. There it was that he began the tale of La Nouvelle Heloise, which was finished at Marshal de Montmorency's, when the susceptible and cranky temper of the philosopher had justified the malevolent predictions of Grimm. The latter had but lately said to Madame d'Epinay "I see in Rousseau nothing but pride concealed everywhere about him; you will do him a very sorry service in giving him a home at the Hermitage, but you will do yourself a still more sorry one. Solitude will complete the blackening of his imagination; he will fancy all his friends unjust, ungrateful, and you first of all, if you once refuse to be at his beck and call; he will accuse you of having bothered him to live under your roof and of having prevented him from yielding to the wishes of his country. I already see the germ of these accusations in the turn of the letters you have shown me."

Rousseau quarrelled with Madame d'Epinay, and shortly afterwards with all the philosophical circle: Grimm, Helvetius, D'Holbach, Diderot; his quarrels with the last were already of old date, they had made some noise. "Good God!" said the Duke of Castries in astonishment, "wherever I go I hear of nothing but this Rousseau and this Diderot! Did anybody ever? Fellows who are nobody, fellows who have no house, who lodge on a third floor! Positively, one can't stand that sort of thing!" The rupture was at last complete, it extended to Grimm as well as to Diderot. "Nobody can put himself in my place," wrote Rousseau, "and nobody will see that I am a being apart, who has not the character, the maxims, the resources of the rest of them, and who must not be judged by their rules."

Rousseau was right; he was a being apart; and the philosophers could not forgive him for his independence. His merits as well as his defects annoyed them equally: his "Lettre contre les Spectacles" had exasperated Voltaire, the stage at Deuces as in danger. "It is against that Jean Jacques of yours that I am most enraged," he writes in his correspondence with D'Alembert: "he has written several letters against the scandal to deacons of the Church of Geneva, to my ironmonger, to my cobbler. This arch-maniac, who might have been something if he had left himself in your hands, has some notion of standing aloof: he writes against theatricals after having done a bad play; he writes against France which is a mother to him; he picks up four or five rotten old hoops off Diogenes' tub and gets inside them to bay; he cuts his friends; he writes to me myself the most impertinent letter that ever fanatic scrawled. He writes to me in so many words, 'You have corrupted Geneva in requital of the asylum she gave you;' as if I cared to soften the manners of Geneva, as if I wanted an asylum, as if I had taken any in that city of Socinian preachers, as if I were under any obligation to that city!"

More moderate and more equitable than Voltaire, D'Alembert felt the danger of discord amongst the philosophical party. In vain he wrote to the irritated poet: "I come to Jean Jacques, not Jean Jacques Lefranc de Pompignan, who thinks he is somebody, but to Jean Jacques Rousseau, who thinks he is a cynic, and who is only inconsistent and ridiculous. I grant that he has written you an impertinent letter; I grant that you and your friends have reason to complain of that; in spite of all this, however, I do not approve of your declaring openly against him, as you are doing, and, thereanent, I need only quote to you your own words: 'What will become of the little flock, if it is divided and scattered?' We do not find that Plato, or Aristotle, or Sophocles, or Euripides, wrote against Diogenes, although Diogenes said something insulting to them all. Jean Jacques is a sick man with a good deal of wit, and one who only has wit when he has fever; he must neither be cured nor have his feelings hurt." Voltaire replied with haughty temper to these wise counsels, and the philosophers remained forever embroiled with Rousseau.

Isolated henceforth by the good as well as by the evil tendencies of his nature, Jean Jacques stood alone against the philosophical circle which he had dropped, as well as against the Protestant or Catholic clergy whose creeds he often offended. He had just published Le Contrat Social, "The Gospel,"; says M. Saint-Marc Girardin, "of the theory as to the sovereignty of the state representing the sovereignty of the people." The governing powers of the time had some presentiment of its danger; they had vaguely comprehended what weapons might be sought therein by revolutionary instincts and interests; their anxiety and their anger as yet brooded silently; the director of publications (de la librairie), M. de Malesherbes, was one of the friends and almost one of the disciples of Rousseau whom he shielded; he himself corrected the proofs of the Emile which Rousseau had just finished. The book had barely begun to appear, when, on the 8th of June, 1762, Rousseau was awakened by a message from la Marchale de Luxembourg: the Parliament had ordered Emile to be burned, and its author arrested. Rousseau took flight, reckoning upon finding refuge at Geneva. The influence of the French government pursued him thither; the Grand Council condemned Emile. One single copy had arrived at Geneva it was this which was burned by the hand of the common hangman, nine days after the, burning at Paris in the Place de Greve. "The Contrat Social has received its whipping on the back of Emile," was the saying at Geneva. "At the instigation of M. de Voltaire they have avenged upon me the cause of God," Jean Jacques declared.

Rousseau rashly put his name to his book; Voltaire was more prudent. One day, having been imprisoned for some verses which were not his, he had taken the resolution to impudently repudiate the paternity of his own works. "You must never publish anything under your own name," he wrote to Helvetius; "La Pucelle was none of my doing, of course. Master Joly de Fleury will make a fine thing of his requisition; I shall tell him that he is a calumniator, that La Pucelle is his own doing, which he wants to put down to me out of spite."

Geneva refused asylum to the proscribed philosopher; he was warned of hostile intentions on the part of the magnific signiors of Berne. Neuchatel and the King of Prussia's protection alone were left; thither he went for refuge. Received with open arms by the governor, my lord Marshal (Keith), he wrote thence to the premier syndic Favre a letter abdicating his rights of burghership and citizenship in the town of Geneva. "I have neglected nothing," he said, "to gain the love of my compatriots; nobody could have had worse success. I desire to indulge them even in their hate; the last sacrifice remaining for me to make is that of a name which was dear to me."

Some excitement, nevertheless, prevailed at Geneva; Rousseau had partisans there. The success of Emile had been immense at Paris, and was destined to exercise a serious influence upon the education of a whole generation. "It is good," wrote Voltaire, "that the brethren should know that yesterday six hundred persons came, for the third time, to protest on behalf of Jean Jacques against the Council of Geneva, which had dared to condemn the Vicaire savoyard." The Genevese magistrates thought it worth while to defend their acts; the Lettres ecrites de la Campagne, published to that end, were the work of the attorney-general Robert Tronchin. Rousseau replied to them in the Lettres de la Montagne, with a glowing eloquence having a spice of irony. He hurled his missiles at Voltaire, whom, with weakly exaggeration, he accused of being the author of all his misfortunes. "Those gentlemen of the Grand Council," he said, "see M. de Voltaire so often, how is it that he did not inspire them with a little of that tolerance which he is incessantly preaching, and of which he sometimes has need? If they had consulted him a little on this matter, it appears to me that he might have addressed them pretty nearly thus: 'Gentlemen, it is not the arguers who do harm; philosophy can gang its ain gait without risk;' the people either do not hear it at all or let it babble on, and pay it back all the disdain it feels for them. I do not argue myself, but others argue, and what harm comes of it? We have arranged that my great influence in the court and my pretended omnipotence should serve you as a pretext for allowing a free, peaceful course to the sportive jests of my advanced years; that is a good thing, but do not, for all that, burn graver writings, for that would be too shocking. I have so often preached tolerance! It must not be always required of others and never displayed towards them. This poor creature believes in God, let us pass over that; he will not make a sect. He is a bore; all arguers are. If all bores of books were to be burned, the whole country would have to be made into one great fireplace. Come, come, let us leave those to argue who leave us to joke; let us burn neither people nor books and remain at peace, that is my advice. That, in my opinion, is what might have been said, only in better style, by M. Voltaire, and it would not have been, as it seems to me, the worst advice he could have given."

My lord Marshal had left Neuchatel; Rousseau no longer felt safe there; he made up his mind to settle in the Island of St. Pierre, in the middle of the Lake of Bienne. Before long an order from the Bernese senate obliged, him to quit it "within four and twenty hours, and with a prohibition against ever returning, under the heaviest penalties." Rousseau went through Paris and took refuge in England, whither he was invited by the friendliness of the historian Hume. There it was that he began writing his Confessions.

Already the reason of the unhappy philosopher, clouded as it had sometimes been by the violence of his emotions, was beginning to be shaken at the foundations; he believed himself to be the victim of an immense conspiracy, at the head of which was his friend Hume. The latter flew into a rage; he wrote to Baron d'Holbach: "My dear Baron, Rousseau is a scoundrel." Rousseau was by this time mad.

He returned to France. The Prince of Conti, faithful to his philosophical affections, quartered him at the castle of Trye, near Gisors. Thence he returned to Paris, still persecuted, he said, by invisible enemies. Retiring, finally, to the pavilion of Ermenonville, which had been offered to him by M. de Girardin, he died there at the age of sixty-six, sinking even more beneath imaginary woes than under the real sorrows and bitter deceptions of his life. The disproportion between his intellect and his character, between the boundless pride and the impassioned weakness of his spirit, had little by little estranged his friends and worn out the admiration of his contemporaries. By his writings Rousseau acted more powerfully upon posterity than upon his own times: his personality had ceased to do his genius injustice.

He belonged moreover and by anticipation to a new era; from the restless working of his mind, as well as from his moral and political tendencies, he was no longer of the eighteenth century properly speaking, though the majority of the philosophers outlived him; his work was not their work, their world was never his. He had attempted a noble reaction, but one which was fundamentally and in reality impossible. The impress of his early education had never been thoroughly effaced: he believed in God, he had been nurtured upon the Gospel in childhood, he admired the morality and the life of Jesus Christ; but he stopped at the boundaries of adoration and submission. "The spirit of Jean Jacques Rousseau inhabits the moral world, but not that other which is above," M. Joubert has said in his Pensees. The weapons were insufficient and the champion was too feeble for the contest; the spirit of the moral world was vanquished as a foregone conclusion. Against the systematic infidelity which was more and more creeping over the eighteenth century, the Christian faith alone, with all its forces, could fight and triumph. But the Christian faith was obscured and enfeebled, it clung to the vessel's rigging instead of defending its powerful hull; the flood was rising meanwhile, and the dikes were breaking one after, another. The religious belief of the Savoyard vicar, imperfect and inconsistent, such as it is set forth in Emile, and that sincere love of nature which was recovered by Rousseau in his solitude, remained powerless to guide the soul and regulate life.

"What the eighteenth century lacked," [M. Guizot, Melanges biographiques (Madame la Comtesse de Rumford)], "what there was of superficiality in its ideas and of decay in its morals, of senselessness in its pretensions and of futility in its creative power, has been strikingly revealed to us by experience; we have learned it to our cost. We know, we feel the evil bequeathed to us by that memorable epoch. It preached doubt, egotism, materialism. It laid for some time an impure and blasting hand upon noble and beautiful phases of human life. But if the eighteenth century had done only that, if such had been merely its chief characteristic, can any one suppose that it would have carried in its wake so many and such important matters, that it would have so moved the world? It was far superior to all its sceptics, to all its cynics. What do I say? Superior? Nay, it was essentially opposed to them and continually gave them the lie. Despite the weakness of its morals, the frivolity of its forms, the mere dry bones of such and such of its doctrines, despite its critical and destructive tendency, it was an ardent and a sincere century, a century of faith and disinterestedness. It had faith in the truth, for it claimed the right thereof to reign in this world. It had faith in humanity, for it recognized the right thereof to perfect itself and would have had that right exercised without obstruction. It erred, it lost itself amid this twofold confidence; it attempted what was far beyond its right and power; it misjudged the moral nature of man and the conditions of the social state. Its ideas as well as its works contracted the blemish of its views. But, granted so much, the original idea, dominant in the eighteenth century, the belief that man, truth, and society are made for one another, worthy of one another, and called upon to form a union, this correct and salutary belief rises up and overtops all its history. That belief it was the first to proclaim and would fain have realized. Hence its power and its popularity over the whole face of the earth. Hence also, to descend from great things to small, and from the destiny of man to that of the drawing-room, hence the seductiveness of that epoch and the charm it scattered over social, life. Never before were seen all the conditions, all the classes that form the flower of a great people, however diverse they might have been in their history and still were in their interests, thus forgetting their past, their personality, in order to draw near to one another, to unite in a communion of the sweetest manners, and solely occupied in pleasing one another, in rejoicing and hoping together during fifty years which were to end in the most terrible conflicts between them."

At the death of King Louis XV., in 1774, the easy-mannered joyance, the peaceful and brilliant charm of fashionable and philosophical society were reaching their end: the time of stern realities was approaching with long strides.

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