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curable of all of them is jealoufy. The venom of calumny, the ftiletto of fatire, the ruft of envy, have degraded a profeffion which has fomething of divinity in it. It is abfolutely falfe that I have been the ruin of any bookfeller.

Friend. And fuppofe you had ruined fome book fellers that I could name, you would have done no bad action; for they are the pirates of literature. Authors are at perpetual war with them, and to rob fuch is but making reprisals.

Volt. This reafoning is more acute than honest. However, I had to conteft with a combination of bookfellers, printers, hawkers, publishers, and fubfcribers; and fome of thefe, when vexed and tormented, I have fent to the dogs, and with them they may growl and bark for all I care for them.

About this period of my life, if my memory ferves me, I ftrove to become a member of the French Academy. I was refufed admiflion into the fociety, but all I regretted was the emoluments of it. My Temple of Tafte (Temple du Gout) feemed to give difguft to every reader; yet every body read it, and many readers even committed it to memory. As to my works upon phyfics, (I know not by what fatality it is,) none of the editions are correct, but abound with errors of the prefs. You will agree with me, that my Hiftory of Charles XII. is a plealing book. There is much aufement in it, and it may be fet in competition with the Alexander the Great of Quintus Curtius. A Swedish clergyman wrote a long differtation to prove, as he faid, that I was an arch liar; but he gave the most stupid reafons for it that could be given. My anfwer to his work was all that was read upon the matter. The fame charge of want of veracity was brought against my Univerfal History. I confefs that I did not lofe my time in enquiries about the truth of a number of events of little confequence; but I took particular pains to fet out in a proper light the faults of men of fcience, of princes, of churchmen, and of popes. My good friends, I have written operas, and I hope heaven will forgive me for having done fo. They were wretched performances, and I have been ingenuous enough to confefs they were fo. I was drawn into this fpecies of compofition, in order to have the fatisfaction of doing fomething for the celebrated Ramena. I was never able to cry down that compilation of apophthegms, or rather fophifms, fet forth by Pafcal; and my efforts have been as ineffectual in that refpect as

thofe of that geometrician to dercy poefy.

The

It was whilft I was in exile in Eugland, that I faid the fevereft things againft France. It was necellary for me, my friends, that I fhould ftrive to curry favour with the English: but I have ever loved my country, though my country has proved fo ungrateful to me. Age of Lewis XIV. is, I think, my best work in profe. The catalogue of celebrated writers, which is placed at the end of the laft volume, made a great ftir, as you well know. It was faid to be a fatire from beginning to end, and this becaufe I did juftice, and dared to be impartial. I do not retract a fyllable of what I then faid; and I do declare to you, that, were I to undertake writing my opinion concerning the merits of the French writers of the prefent day, I fhould be as bold in the execution of fuch a work as I was at that time. I had been collecting materials for this work for a length of time. It was my endeavour to form a well-proportioned whole out of the scattered parts, and to reprefeut, in proper colours and at one ftroke, what others had spread over volumes.

In writing the Hiftory of the Reign of Lewis XIV., I did not confine myself folely to give the life of that prince. It was not the hiftory of his reign that I meant to write, but the hiftory of the human mind during the age when the human mind appeared in its greatest glory. I drew a picture of the great events of that time; the principal perfons of that time are brought forward on the canvas, whilft the multitude are placed in the back-ground. Away with trifling narrative! pofterity will difregard it. It is through this minutenefs of defcription that many a great work is fpoiled. It was my defign to characterize the age, to fhew the rife of the revolution that took place in it, and to give what it would be interefting to know for a century to come. This was what I was defirous to write, and what I have written. I took Dangeau's Memoirs for my guide as to the private life of Lewis. This work is comprized in forty volumes, and I extracted from it about forty pages in the whole. I profited by the informa tion I derived from certain old courtiers, fervants about the royal perfon, great lords, and others; and I fet down the facts in which they agreed. The ret I left to compilers of anecdotes and converfation.

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hiftory of the Man with the Iron Mask, who died in the Ballile, as I converfed with fome perfons who attended upon bin. With refpect to the arts and fciences, I had only to trace the progrefs of the mind in philofophy, in eloquence, is poetry, and in criticifin; to mark the fteps of painting, fculpture, mufic, and the improvements in jewellery work, in the manufactures of tapestry, glafs, gold stuffs, and clocks and watches. Ifketehed, as I went on, the men of ingenuity in all thefe branches. Heaven forbid that I fhould have employed 300 pages in giving the laftory of Gaffendi! Life is too fhort, and time too precious, to be trifled away in fuch a manner. Do not think, my friends, that whilft I fometimes praife my own writings, I wish to avoid Speaking of their faults, or to excufe my own deficiency. To whom fhould I acknowledge them, if not to my own friends, and to thofe who with their happy talent of criticifin unite indulgence? Whole hearts fhould I with to infpire with tenderness, but yours? In thefe, my confettions, I open to you my whole mind, and I confider that my ingenuouf nefs will be looked upon as the tribute due to your friendship,

Friend. But what hinders you now from giving us a fpecimen of your excellent criticifm, your opinion of the works of fome of the authors of the eighteenth century? This will furnith an elegant digrellion, and prove an agreeable amufe

ment.

Volt.-I want no folicitation for that purpote. I am ready to give you an napartial unftudied judgment of the greater part of the authors of the prefent

age.

Friend-Begin then by telling us what you think of Crébillon.

Volt.-Judge of Crébillon by this fingle circumftance: he was twenty years in writing a tragedy, which is never now performed.

Chateaubrun obtained great reputation by his Philoctetes, which is little more than a tranflation from the Greek,

Greffer, it must be acknowledged, has diftinguished himself by fome little pieces, full of inaccuracies, like thofe of Chaubea. There is an Epifile upon Happirefs, which is attributed to him-but what is this trivial poem? This man writes about happinefs like other poor devils, who make a great other in their garrets, and fing in praife of pleasure and idleness.

Mad. Denys.-And Tefranc, uncle, 1 beg you will not forget him.

Volt.-Lefranc is a laborious writer. He got himself banished through his vanity of making the Court of Aids of Montauban a Parliament of Paris. Should he not rather have known that perfons like himself and me ought to unite and oppofe every Piron? But his Dido, indifferent as the piece was, turned his head, and caufed him to write a preface to it, as impertinent as a preface could well be; and for this he merited banishment, much more than for his Difcourfe to a Court of Aids. I have felt much concern for him ever since. I heard that he had cuckolded a governor, and I have been told that contributed to his exile. In truth, fuch things as thefe are much to the honour of polite literature, but they do no credit to lettres de cachet. I have told Thiriot twenty times, that I was forry I had not formed a strict connec tion with Lefranc. They fay, he is not only a man of learning, but really a good citizen and a warm friend. I own to you, that I have read with pleature his Differtation on the Pervigilium Veneris. He has given us fome good specimens of tranflation. I have defended all he has faid of the Eneid of Virgil: he was capable of feeling Virgil's beauties, and he has dared to speak of his faults.

Friend.-What do you think of Pi,

ron?

Volt.-Piron is the author of the Metromania, and of a famous little ode. Pi ron had a mind to laugh at me in his Metromania, and has fucceeded in a great measure,

I am now going to anticipate your queftions.

His

I give you my opinion of Diderot in two words. He was born a poet, but had no head for metaphyfics. As for Montefquieu, the character of his principal work, L'Efprit des Loir (the Spirit of Laws), may be given by a play on the words of the title: Esprit fur les Loir (Wit on Laws). He laboured at this work during fifty years of his life. He was perfecuted, and celebrated. book is excellent, but of no ufe. D'Alem bert is a perfect geometrician; he maintained, before the French Academy, that there was na fuch thing as poetry, and he has only to write verfes and prove his problem. I have but one word to fay of Desfontaines, and that is what a magiftrate faid very coldly to him, “ And what does it fignify whether you live?" He is the Anti-Chrift of literature. The Marquis de Mirabeau has written a Treatife upon Population, full of ideas; but as to ftyle!—I must own, I love good

French.

French. D'Olivet found every thing in Cicero, as Mallebranche faw every thing in the Supreme Being: however, I think his extracts from Cicero are very elegantly tranilated. I do not know that his Detached Thoughts will do much in time to come; they are pithy, but they are mere common-place. They want that precision, that brilliancy, which it is neceffary for maxims to have, in order to their making an impreflion on the memory. Cicero was diffufe; and fuch prolixity is necellary in popular speaking, and addreffes to a multitude of hearers. We cannot form a Rochefoucault out of a Roman advocate, an orator of Rome. In detached thoughts there is a neceflity for falt, figure, and laconicifin: Cicero does not appear to me in his right place in them.

Mad. Denys.-Uncle, you have made no mention yet of philofophers, metaphyficians, and fceptics.

Volt. My dear niece, there are many fmall wits, without induftry, who conceal their ignorance under the mark of Pyrrhouifm. Scepticism requires a cultivated genius. Defcartes, by advancing too far, found himfelf in the region of pollibilities. From the eloquent Plato to the profound Leibnitz, of whom I fhall prefently fpeak, all the metaphyficians appear to me to be like thofe curious travellers who have vifited the feraglio of the Grand Signior; they have feen eunuchs there, and pretend to have converfed with them; and proceed to inform us about the favourite fultana, whilft, in fact, the grand fignior has no favourite fultana at all.

Friend. I do not like that decifive tone in which Defcartes delivers his Fairy Tales.

Volt. You are very juftly difpleafed with it but I beg you not to find fault with his algebra, nor his geometrical calculations, for he gave them up altogether in his works. He has built an enchanted caftle, without condefcending to take a fingle dimenfion. He was one of the greatcil geometricians of the time he lived in; yet he gave up his geometry, and even his geometrical firit, for the fpirit of invention and a fyftem of romance. It is this which ought to leffen hit in our opinion; yet, to our fhame, it is this to which he owes his, fuccefs. It must be owned, that his phyfics are all a title of errors; falle laws of motion, vortices, which have been proved impoffible, are to be found in his fyftem, which Haygeus has laboured in vain to buliter up and amend. His

anatomy is falfe, his theory of light es roneous; he has magnetic matter running in channels, a thing impollible; three elements to be placed in the Ara bian Nights Entertainment; no oblervations of the courte of nature, no dif covery.-This is all that is to be found in Defcartes.

Friend.-There was living in his time a Galileo, who was a real inventor. He attacked Ariftotle with geometry and experimental philofophy, whilft Defcartes only oppofed new chimeras to antiquated reveries.

Volt.-You are right: but this Galileo did not take upon himself to make a world, as Defcartes did; he contented himfelf with examining the universe. There was no impofition on the great vulgar, or the fall, in that. Descartes was an egregious quack, Galileo was a great philofopher. But I promifed to fay fomething about Leibnitz. That faid Leibnitz is a pleafant kind of doctor: he fays, in his Mifcellanies, that Pafcal's melancholy led his reafon aftray at laft; and he fays it rather hardly too. And, after all, what is there furprising in the matter?-is it to be wondered at, if a man like Pafcal, of a delicate habit of body, rather difpofed to melancholy, fhould from the effects of a bad regimen lote his fenfes? Such a diforder is no more a fubject for humiliation and wonder, than the head-ach, or a fever. If the great Pascal had an attack of fuch a nature, he was a Samfon lofing his ftrength. Have you remarked in his works, where he fays our life is very fhort, compared to that of a flag or raven? His nurfe had told him, I fuppofe, that ftags live three hundred years, and ravens nine hundred. Heliod's nurse, too, in all probability, had told him the fame thing. But our doctor had only to alk the queftion of fome huntfinan, who would have told him that the life of a ftag does not exceed twenty years.

He is highly ridiculous, too, where he tells us that we are wretched. This is mania, abfolute frenzy: I hate a quack that would make me believe I am tick, in order to vend his pills. Keep your pills, my friend, and let me enjoy my prefent ftate of health. But, doétor, why do you load me with abufive language? Is it because I preferve my health, and do not take your Panacea?

This is my opinion of Doctor Leibnitz. He labours to prove that the foul is immaterial I am willing to believe his is fo; but, in truth, he gives us very poor reafons to confirm it. He would

give Mr. Locke a flap on the face over my cheek, because this philofopher has faid, God has fufficient power over matter to cause it to think. The oftener I read Locke, the more I am defirous fuch gentlemen as thefe fhould study him. It appears to me that he has done what the Emperor Auguftus did, and has iffued out an. edict de coercendo intra fines imperio. Locke has prefcribed bounds to fcience, in order to concentrate its ftrength. What is the foul?—I cannot tell. What is matter?-Matter is I know not what. But here is Doctor Leibnitz, who has difcovered that matter is a collection of monades: it may be fo; but I do not comprehend what thefe monades are, nor he neither. Well then, my, foul fhall be a monade: -how much now I am enlightened! But, fays our doctor, I will prove to you that you are immortal. Will he? that will be doing me a pleasure; for I have as great a defire to be immortal as the doctor has I wrote my Henriad for no other purpose. But this good man thinks himfelf more fure of inmortality from his doctrine, than I do from my Henriad. Vanitas vanitatum, et metaphyfica

vanitas!

Friend. What do you think of Gaf fendi? Do you not perceive that he weakens the ftrength of all his arguments?

Volt.-I think fo; but a greater mifchief than that is, that his arguments fail him. He has gueffed at many things which have been proved fince his time. It is not fufficient, for example, to conquer the plenum by the ftrength of argument; Newton found it neceffary to thew, by examining the path of comets, in what proportion they are forced on more, fwiftly at the height of our planets; and confequently are not moved by a pretended vortex of matter, which cannot move flowly at one time with a planet, and fwiftly at another with a comet; and that in the faine fpace. It was neceffary that Bradley fhould discover, that light, in its progrefs, is not stopped betwixt a ftar and us; and, confequently, that there is no matter there to effect fuch ftoppage. This is truly metaphyfical. Gaffendi is a man who tells you Simply, there is a gold-mine fomewhere; but thefe are the men who bring you the ore worked and refined into pure gold. I own to you, my friends, that I have rather been an enthufiaft with regard to Newton; but it was because I found in him fomething divine. I am not apt to give way to enthufiafm, efpecially in

profe. You know that when I wrote the Hiftory of Charles XII. I found him to be a common man, whilft others looked upon him as a hero. But Newton appeared to me a man of an uncommon fort: all he told me carried with it fuch an appearance of truth, that my lips were hut, and I had no refolution to open them. Befides, you know what Frenchmen are; do but fpeak with diffidence of what you offer to them, and they take you on your word. In fact, it is by addrefs that you can pafs counterfeit money with pofterity for good specie; and if Newton has difcovered the truth, that truth and its difcoverer merit to be announced to his age with confidence. In fhort, Newton has fet out philofophy just as the ought to be: he did not affect a ftile of humour and pleasantry, to shew you he kept good company; there was a neceflity for clearnefs and method, and he is clear and methodical.

Friend. Here you have given Fontenelle a little rap on the knuckles.

Volt. Granted. Fontenelle has enlivened his Plurality of Worlds. So pleafant a fubject admitted of being decked out with garlands of flowers; but thoughts of a deep and ferious nature are mafculine beauties, which you must cover with the drapery of Pouffin. The Dialogues of the Plurality of Worlds, from which no great matter of inftruction is to be derived, and which befides are founded on the wretched hypothesis of Vortices, are notwithstanding very pret ty. It is an agreeable book; there is no depth of metaphyfical learning in it, nor any minutencfs of difquifition. When Algarotti read me his Dialogues on Light, I gave him the praife he merited, of having difplayed an infinite degree of wit, and clearness of thought, upon the finest part of phyfics: but, at the fame time, he had not founded the matter very deeply. Wit and lively expreffions an fwer well enough for fuch truths as we do but fkim the furface of. I have not the least intention of faying a word to the difcredit of the author of the Plurality of Worlds, whom I look upon as one who has done great honour to this world which we inhabit. I have made a public declaration to the fame purpofe, in fome papers which I fent to all the journals. Newton has the advantage, that he has gone to the very bottom of his fubject; and it is abfolute quackery to give out fuch a title as this, "The Elements of Newton's Philofophy made eafy to every one's Capacity." He mu be a very weak man indeed, who fup

pofes that the philofophy of Newton is within the comprehenfion of every one. I am of opinion, that whoever has gone through a tolerable course of study, and who has been accustomed to reflect a little, may easily understand my book; but if it is fuppofed to be a book which any one may take up and read betwixt the opera and fupper-time, it is a grofs miftake. It is a book which must be ftudied.

My friends, it has long been the practice to charge me with things to which I have been a perfect stranger. I could never learn precifely who the Sofia was who difgraced me in verfe, whilft I was vexed and tormented in profe on account of my Newton's Elements: but I have no doubt it is the fame Sofia who was the author of that tedious and unequal epiftle to Rouffeau. I knew who that was, and I was acquainted with his tricks. He hated Rouffeau and Desfontaines, but he withed to make a cat's paw of me. I never granted his pardon for fullering me to be fufpected of having written that wretched epittle; he might have peaceably enjoyed his temporary fuccefs, and have eftablished his reputation by means of his cunning, but he ought not to have laid his bantling at my door. My dear friends, this world is full of perplexity; it envies the tranquillity of men of retirement; the peace which they enjoy is matter of jealoufy for the generality of mankind, and I have never lefs regretted Paris than I do at this moment.

Friend. Your Newton's Elements, notwithstanding all the malicious tricks that were played you, were exceedingly well received.

Volt.-Doubtlefs; but their great po-` pularity was a real injury to me. The quack title, which fome ignorant bookfellers gave the work, was a matter that gave me the leaft difquietude.

Mad. Denys-Was not that title, Elemens de Newton, mis à la portée de tout le monde, par M. de Voltaire ?

Volt. It was. I begged of my friends to undeceive all those who could fuppofe me capable of placing fuch a ridiculous title to the book. I am perfuaded this work may have its ufe; and I fhall efteem it a happiness if I teach the human understanding to itammer forth thofe truths, which Maupertuis has taught the learned to speak eloquently. He is the preceptor of men, I have undertaken the inftruction of children only. Algarotti had the fair fex for his pupils; but MONTHLY Mag., No. 156.

not Madame du Châtelet, who knew at leaft as much of the matter as he did, and who corrected many things in his book. I am unwilling to dwell upon the fubject of self-praise, but I will maintain that, with a little application, any good understanding may comprehend thefe elements. The errors which have crept into the work ought not to be imputed to me: the edition is very fine, but I prefer a fingle truth to a hundred head and tail pieces.

My friends, you all know my turn of mind; you know how much I am attached to truth; I have fometimes ftretched virtue to the length of imprudence, and yet, by an inconceivable fatality, I have met with a great deal of ill ufage. I have been the reputed author of epiftles, which I certainly never wrote; and that in the verfes which are faid to be the compofition of the daughter of a minifter of ftate. It drove me into defpair; I had a thousand obligations to the minifter; I had a friendship of five and twenty years ftanding with the mother of this young lady, against whom this wicked charge has been brought: her husband, whofe lofs I ftill lament, died in my arms. Through what frenzy, by what folly could I have given her offence? upon what ground has this unjust imputation been laid? did the ever write two lines against any perfon whatever? If innocence is to be thus injuriously attacked, we must renounce verfe, profe, and even life itself.

Mad. Denys.-You ought to think no more of fuch calumnies, you have been fully revenged.

Volt.-I comforted myself under this misfortune, by working at a corrected edition of Newton's Elements, which is neither intended for the use of ladies, nor of the public in general. It is not a book to be turned over like a catalogue of new publications: it is a book to be well contidered, and which Desfontaines can no more be a judge of than he can of a manly action. I have just received Algarotti, and have had him unpacked. He is engraved in the front of his book with Madame du Châtelet: the is there the real marchionefs; Italy could not have produced one more capable than he was to give him advice. The little that I have curforily read of his book,

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