Cirey is now a village of 230 inhabitants in the département of Haute-Marne in northeastern France, only a few miles from Lorraine. Mme. Denis, Voltaire’s niece, described it in 1738 as “a frightful solitude … four leagues from any habitation, in a country where one sees only mountains and uncultivated land.”29 Perhaps Voltaire loved it for this isolation—a quiet spot where he could study science, write history and philosophy, and be forgotten by the French government, or, if harassed by it, could escape in an hour’s dash into Lorraine.

The château was a dilapidated relic of the thirteenth century, rarely used by the Du Châtelets, and long since unfit for civilized living. The Marquis had little interest or funds to repair it; Voltaire lent him forty thousand francs for this purpose at five per cent interest, which the Marquis was not called upon to pay. A few rooms were made habitable; Voltaire moved in, ordered the construction of a new wing, and superintended the rehabilitation of the rest. In November the Marquise arrived with two hundred parcels of baggage, revised Voltaire’s repairs to her taste, and settled down-she who had spent most of her adult years at or near the court—to a life of study and bigamous devotion. The amiable Marquis stayed with her and Voltaire, on and off, till 1740, gracefully keeping a separate apartment and separate mealtimes; thereafter he spent most of his time with his regiment. France marveled less at the husband’s complaisance than at the lovers’ fidelity.

In December Madame returned to Paris, attended the Duchesse de Richelieu in her confinement, and persuaded the government to cancel the exclusion of Voltaire from the capital (March 2, 1735). He came to Paris, and stayed there a few weeks with his mistress. But his past pursued him. Parts of his scandalous Pucelle were going the rounds; he himself could not resist reading juicy passages to his friends; and now his anti-Christian Epistle to Urania, written fifteen years before, was issued by a pirate publisher. He denied its authorship as a matter of course, but it had the earmarks of his style and thought, and no one believed his denial. Again he fled to Lorraine, and thence cautiously back to Cirey. He received indirect assurances from the government that if he remained there, and gave no further offense, he would not be molested. Mme. du Châtelet rejoined him, bringing her daughter, her son, and their tutor; her third child had died. Now at last this philosophic honeymoon began.

Each of the philosophers had a separate suite of rooms, at opposite ends of the château. Voltaire’s was composed of anteroom, study-library, and bedroom. The walls were hung with red velvet tapestries or with pictures; of these he accumulated a costly collection, including a Titian and several Teniers; and there were statues of Venus, Cupid, and Hercules, and a large portrait of their new friend the Crown Prince Frederick of Prussia. There was such cleanliness in these rooms, according to Mme. de Graffigny, that “one could kiss the floor.”30 The Marquise’s apartment was in different taste, light yellow and pale blue, with paintings by Veronese and Watteau, picture ceiling, marble floor, and a hundred little boxes, bottles, rings, gems, and toilet articles lying about in her pretty boudoir. Between the two suites ran a large hall fitted up as a laboratory for physics and chemistry, with air pumps, thermometers, furnaces, crucibles, telescope, microscopes, prisms, compasses, scales. There were several guest rooms, not so well equipped. Despite tapestries, the woodland winds still slipped through cracks, windows, and doors; in winter it took thirty-six fireplaces, burning six cords of wood per day, to keep the château tolerably warm. We can imagine the number of servants. Add a theater, for Voltaire loved to act, especially in his own plays; the Marquise, he assures us, was an excellent actress; guests, tutor, and servants rounded out the cast. Sometimes operas were sung there, for Madame (on the same authority) had a “voix divine” Also there were puppet shows and magic-lantern shows, which Voltaire accompanied with commentaries that exhausted the company with laughter.

But play was an incident, work was the order of the day. The lovers sometimes collaborated in the laboratory, but usually they worked in their separate quarters, hardly seeing each other during the day except at the main meal, which came toward noon. The Marquis quit the table before the conversation began; Voltaire, too, often left the others to entertain themselves, and stole back to his study. He had his own silver service there, for he sometimes ate alone. We rightly think of him as a vivacious talker; he could be the life of any gathering; but he hated small talk. “It is frightful,” he said, “the time we spend in talk. We ought not to lose a minute. The greatest expenditure we can make is of time.”31 Occasionally he hunted venison for exercise.

We must not picture the philosophic mates as angels. Madame could be harsh, overbearing, even cruel. She was a bit straitened in purse, severe and parsimonious with her servants, and she protested when Voltaire paid his more. She had no physical modesty; she thought nothing of completely disrobing in the presence of their secretary Longchamp, or of having him pour warm water upon her as she lay in the bath.32 She secretly read some of the letters written by or to her guests; but of this we have only the testimony of another woman.33 As for Voltaire, he had a hundred faults, which will appear in Duc course. He was as vain as a poet and could pout like a child; he took offense readily and had many a quarrel with his lady. These, however, were but passing clouds that accentuated the sunshine of their days. Voltaire soon recovered his spirits and good cheer, and never tired of telling his friends how happy he was, and how he loved Madame, in his own passionless way. He wrote to her a hundred little poems of affection, each a cameo of compact art. One such literary gem accompanied a ring into which his portrait had been engraved:

Barter grave ces traits destinés pour vos yeux;

Avec quelque plaisir daignez les reconnaître!

Les vôtres dans mon coeur furent gravés bien mieux,

Mais ce fut par un plus grand maître.34 I

And she, for her part, said, “I could not be away from him for two hours without pain.”35

Of the two she was the more deeply devoted to science. She exercised the unwritten law of feminine domain by hiding the half-finished manuscript of Voltaire’s Siècle de Louis XIV, and sternly directing him to science as the proper study of modern man. Mme. de Graffigny, who was their guest in 1738, described her as more assiduous in her scientific pursuits than Voltaire, as spending most of the day and much of the night at her desk, sometimes till five or seven o’clock in the morning.36 Maupertuis came occasionally to Cirey to continue her lessons in mathematics and physics; perhaps those visits, and Madame’s open admiration for Maupertuis’ intellectual attainments, stirred in the sensitive Voltaire a jealousy that prepared him for his bout with Maupertuis in Berlin.

Was she a real scholar or did she put on science as a fashionable dress? Mme. du Deffand and several other ladies thought that her studies were a pose. The Marquise de Créqui alleged that “algebra and geometry had the effect of making her half crazy, while her pedantry on the subject of her learning made her insupportable. In reality she muddled up everything that she had learned.”37 But hear Mme. de Graffigny describe a session at Cirey:

This morning the lady of the house read us a geometrical calculation of an English dreamer.… The book was in Latin, and she read it to us in French. She hesitated a moment at each period, and I supposed it was to understand the mathematical calculations. But no; she translated easily the mathematical terms; the numbers, the extravagances, nothing stopped her. Is not that really astonishing?38

Voltaire assured Thieriot that Mme. du Châtelet understood English well, knew all the philosophical works of Cicero, and was deeply interested in mathematics and metaphysics.39 She once bettered the physicist and Academician de Mairan in a discussion of kinetic energy.40 She read Cicero and Virgil in Latin, Ariosto and Tasso in Italian, Locke and Newton in English. When Algarotti visited Cirey she conversed with him in Italian. She wrote, but did not publish, a six-volume Examen de Genèse, based on the work of English deists, and exposing the contradictions, improbabilities, immoralities, and injustices of the Bible. Her Traité de la bonheur was an original discourse on the foundations of happiness; these, she thought, were health, love, virtue, rational self-indulgence, and the pursuit of knowledge. She translated Newton’s Principia from Latin into French; edited by Clairaut, it was published in 1756, six years after her death. She composed an Exposition abrégée du système du monde, which was published in1759, and which Voltaire, perhaps gallantly, pronounced superior to his Éléments de la philosophie de Newton (1738).41 When the Académie des Sciences offered (1738) a prize for the best essay on the nature and diffusion of fire, and Voltaire entered the competition, she secretly wrote and submitted her own essay, incognito; she wrote it at night to conceal it from Voltaire, “since in my essay I opposed nearly all of his ideas.”42 Neither won the prize, which went to Euler, but her paper, as well as Voltaire’s, was printed by the Academy. Each praised the other’s work in an ecstasy of amor intellectualis.

For his own essay Voltaire carried on many experiments, some in his laboratory, some in a foundry at neighboring Chaumont.43 He studied calcination, and came close to discovering oxygen.44 In May, 1737, we find him writing to the Abbé Moussinot in Paris, asking for a chemist to come and live at Cirey for a hundred écus per year and board; but the chemist must also know how to say Mass on Sundays and holydays in the chapel of the château.45 As for himself, he believed now only in science. “That which our eyes and mathematics demonstrate to us,” he wrote in 1741, “we must hold to be true. In all the rest we must say only, ’I do not know.’”46 Philosophy at this time meant to him only a summary of science.

It was in this sense that he used the term in his Éléments de la philosophie de Newton. He sought the royal privilege for its publication, but was refused. An edition appeared in Amsterdam (1738) without his consent; his own edition came out there in 1741. It was a substantial volume of 440 pages, a splendid example of what the French, with no derogatory intent, call vulgarisation— that is, an attempt to make the difficult and recondite more widely understood. The printer added a subtitle: Mis à la portée de tout le monde—“brought within the comprehension of everyone”; the Abbé Desfontaines, in a hostile review, altered this to Mis à la porte de tout le monde— “shown the door by everyone.” On the contrary, nearly everyone praised it; even the Jesuits were generous to it in theirJournal de Trévoux.47 Now the Newtonian cosmology of gravitation finally ousted Descartes’ vortices from the French mind. Voltaire included an exposition of Newton’s optics; he verified the experiments in his own laboratory, and contrived others of his own. He went out of his way to stress the consistency of Newton’s philosophy with belief in God; at the same time he emphasized the universality of law in the physical world.

Despite these efforts Voltaire had neither the spirit nor the limitations of a scientist. It is said that he failed as a scientist; we should rather say that he was too rich and varied a personality to give himself fully and finally to science. He used science as a liberation of the mind; that done, he passed on to poetry, drama, philosophy in its largest sense, and humanitarian involvement in the basic affairs of his time. “We should introduce into our existence all imaginable modes, and open every door of the soul to all sorts of knowledge and feeling. So long as these do not go in pell-mell, there is plenty of room for everything.”48 So he wrote at this time (1734) a Discours sur l’homme, largely echoing Pope’s Essay on Man, even to sanctioning the quite un-Voltairean idea that “all is right.”49 He composed in these years most of La Pucelle d’Orléans, perhaps as a relief from Newton. And he expounded his own philosophy in a Traité de métaphy sique which he judiciously refrained from publishing.

It was as unique as all his productions. He began by imagining himself to be a visitor from Jupiter or Mars; so, he thought, he could not be expected to reconcile his views with the Bible. Landing among the Kaffirs of South Africa, he concludes that man is an animal with black skin and wooly hair. Passing to India, he finds men with yellow skin and straight hair; he concludes that man is a genus composed of several distinct species, not all derived from one ancestor.50 He judges from the appearances of order in the world, and of purposeful design of organs in animals, that there is an intelligent deity designing the whole. He sees no evidence of an immortal soul in man, but he feels that his will is free. Long before Hume and Adam Smith, he derives the moral sense from fellow feeling, sympathy. Long before Helvétius and Bentham, he defines virtue and vice as “that which is useful or injurious to the society.”51 We shall look at the Traité again later on.

How different from this treatise was Voltaire’s rollicking versification of Jeanne d’Arc’s history! If we open that mock epic today we must remember that French speech and French literature were freer then than in the first half of the twentieth century. We have seen an example in the Lettres persanes of the magistrate Montesquieu; Diderot was even freer, not only in Les Bijoux indiscrets but in Jacques le fataliste. Compared with these La Pucelle, as finally published by Voltaire in 1756, is innocuously mild; presumably the privately circulated original was more Rabelaisian. The grave Condorcet defended the poem, and we are told that Malesherbes, a high official in the French government, learned it by heart.52 A sedulous search has found some mildly sensual passages in the twenty-one cantos; they are as forgivable as similar pictures in Ariosto; and they are redeemed by many passages of graphic description and vigorous narrative. Like many Frenchmen of his time, Voltaire thought of Jeanne as a healthy and simple peasant girl, probably of bastard birth, given to superstitions and hearing “voices”; and he suspected that France would have been saved from the Goddams (Jeanne’s name for the English invaders) even if she had never been born. Otherwise, and allowing for some historical blunders, he told the story faithfully, merely salting it with humor.

Turning his head toward the dauntless Joan,

Thus spake the King, in a majestic tone

Which any might have feared but her alone:

“Joan, hear me: if thou art a maid, avow.”

She answered: “Oh, great Sire, give orders now

That doctors sage, with spectacles on nose,

Who, versed in female mysteries, can depose;

That clerks, apothecaries, matrons tried

Be called at once the matter to decide;

Let them all scrutinize, and let them see.”

By this sage answer Charles knew she must be

Inspired and blessed with sweet virginity.

“Good,” said the King, “since you know so well,

Daughter of heaven, I prithee, instant tell

What with my fair one passed last night in bed?

Speak free.” “Why, nothing happened,” Joan said.

Surprised, the King knelt down and cried aloud,

“A miracle!” then crossed himself and bowed.53

Voltaire amused his guests by reading a canto or two of La Pucelle to warm a winter evening. Usually Mme. du Châtelet kept the swelling manuscript under lock and key, but Voltaire carelessly allowed some parts of it to circulate among his friends. Parts were copied, and went the rounds of impolite society more widely than was wise. The fear that the French government would prosecute him—not for the obscenity of the poem but for its incidental satire of monks, Jesuits, prelates, popes, and the Inquisition-became one of the haunting worries of Voltaire’s life.

He was more serious with Alzire, which had a happy première at the Théâtre-Français on January 27, 1736. It made theatrical history by dressing the actors in the costumes of the indicated time and place—the Spanish conquest and spoliation of Peru. Alvarez, the Spanish governor of the fallen state, pleads with the victors to abate their cruelty and greed:

We are the scourge

Of this new world, vain, covetous, unjust. …

We alone

Are the barbarians here; the simple savage,

Tho’ fierce by nature, is in courage equal,

In goodness our superior.54

Paris acclaimed the piece for twenty successive nights, paying 53,640 livres. Voltaire gave his share of the receipts to the players.

On August 8, 1736, he received his first letter from Frederick of Prussia; so began a remarkable correspondence and a tragic friendship. In this same year he published a poem, Le Mondain (The Worldly Man), which reads like an answer, by anticipation, to Rousseau’s Discourse on the Arts and Sciences (1750). Voltaire had no patience with the visionaries who were idealizing the “friendly and flowing savage,” or were recommending a “return to nature” as an escape from the strains, hypocrisies, and artifices of modern life. He himself was quite comfortable amid his tribulations, and he thought he ought to say a good word for civilization. He saw no virtue in poverty, and no harmony between bugs and love. Primitive men may have been communists, but only because they had nothing; and if they were sober it was only because they had no wine. “For my Part I thank the wise nature that for my happiness gave me birth in this age so decried by our melancholy critics. This profane time is just right for my ways. I love luxury, even a soft life [mollesse], all the pleasures, the arts in their variety, cleanliness, taste, and ornaments.” All this seemed to him clearly preferable to the Garden of Eden. “My dear father Adam, confess that you and Madame Eve had long nails black with dirt, and that your hair was a bit out of order.… In vain have scholars sought to locate the Garden of Eden; … the terrestrial paradise is where I am.”

The ecclesiastics did not like this picture of Adam and Eve; they insisted that the Book of Genesis was good history, and they did not agree with Voltaire about Adam’s nails and Eve’s hair. Again the word went forth for the arrest of the impious devil of Cirey. Again friends warned him, and he decided to travel. On December 21, 1736, he left Cirey and Émilie, and made his way to Brussels, disguised as the merchant Revol. His admirers there laughed at his disguise, and, in his honor, staged Alzire. Jean Baptiste Rousseau warned the Bruxellois that Voltaire had come to preach atheism. Voltaire moved on to Leiden, where crowds collected to see him, and to Amsterdam, where he supervised the printing of his book on Newton. The Marquise began to fear that he would never return. “Two weeks ago,” she wrote to d’Argental, “I was in torture if I let two hours pass without seeing him; I wrote to him from my room to his; now two weeks have gone by, and I don’t know where he is or what he is doing.… I am in a terrible state.”55At last he returned (March, 1737), vowing that only his love for her could keep him in a France that so hounded him.

In May, 1739, the lovers went to Brussels, where Voltaire used his legal and other wits to defend the Marquise in a suit affecting her property. Then, with her husband, they went on to Paris, where Voltaire offered two plays, Mahomet and Mérope, to the Comédie-Française, and Madame saw through the press her three-volume Institutions de physique. In these “lessons” she played truant from both Voltaire and Newton by favoring the monadic philosophy of Leibniz. In September they returned to Cirey, and soon afterward to Brussels for a long stay. Thence, in September, 1740, Voltaire hurried to Cleves for his first meeting with Frederick—now king—who refused to include Émilie in his invitation. In November he traveled 350 painful miles to Berlin, hoping to play diplomat for Cardinal Fleury; more of this later. Émilie meanwhile went to Fontainebleau, where she labored to secure permission for Voltaire to reside in Paris; apparently Cirey had become a bore. On November 23 she wrote to d’Argental:

I have been cruelly rewarded for all that I have done at Fontainebleau. I have adjusted the most difficult matters; I have obtained for M. de Voltaire the right to return to his country openly; I won him the good will of the ministry, and paved his way for acceptance by the Academies; in a word, I have given him back in three weeks all that he has taken pains to lose in six years.

And do you know how he repays such zealous devotion? He informs me dryly that he has gone to Berlin, knowing perfectly well that he is piercing my heart, and leaves me in a state of indescribable torture.… A fever has seized me, and I hope soon to end my life.… And would you believe that the thought that is uppermost in my mind, when I feel that my grief will kill me, is the terrible sorrow my death would bring to M. de Voltaire? .. . I cannot bear the idea that the memory of me will one day cause him unhappiness. All those who have loved him must refrain from reproaching him.

Voltaire tore himself away from Potsdam and royal adulation to rejoin his mistress. On the way back he sent to Frederick a letter that gives his side of the matter:

I abandon a great monarch who cultivates and honors an art which I idolize, and I go to join a person who reads nothing but the metaphysics of Christian Wolff [the expositor of Leibniz]. I tear myself from the most amiable court in Europe for a lawsuit. I did not leave your adorable court to sigh like an idiot at a woman’s knees. But, Sire, that woman abandoned for me everything for which other women abandon their friends. There is no sort of obligation which I am not under to her.… Love is often ridiculous, but pure friendship has rights more binding than a king’s commands.56

He was reunited with Émilie at Brussels, which, because of her prolonged lawsuit, became their second home. In May, 1741, they attended the première of Mahomet at Lille, and received an ovation. They returned to Brussels elated, but sombered by a growing consciousness that their idyl was over. Her love was still strong, even if possession was its soul, but Voltaire’s fire was escaping through his pen. In July, 1741, he apologized to her for his failing ardor:

Si vous voulez que j’aime encore,

Rendez-moi l’âge des amours;

Au crépuscule de mes jours

Réjoignez, s’il se peut, l’aurore.

On meurt deux fois, je le vois bien:

Cesser d’aimer et d’être aimable

C’est une mort insupportable;

Cesser de vivre, ce n’est rien.57 II

In August, 1742, they went to Paris to assist at the presentation of Mahomet at the Théâtre-Français. Voltaire sought from Cardinal Fleury an official permit for the performance; the Cardinal consented. The Paris première (August 19) was the literary event of the year; magistrates, priests, and poets were numerous in the packed audience. All seemed satisfied except some of the clergy, who claimed that the play was “a bloody satire against the Christian religion.” Fréron, Desfontaines, and others joined in the complaint; and though the Cardinal felt that these critics were injuring their own cause, he sent private advice to Voltaire to withdraw the play. This was done after the fourth performance before a full house. Voltaire and Émilie returned in angry frustration to Brussels.

Was Mahomet anti-Christian? Not quite. It was against fanaticism and bigotry, but it portrayed the Prophet in a hostile light that should have pleased all Christians innocent of history. Voltaire pictured Mahomet as a conscious deceiver who foists his new religion upon a credulous people, uses their faith as a spur to war, and conquers Mecca by ordering his fanatical devotee, Séide, to assassinate the resisting sheik Zopir. When Séide hesitates, Mahomet reproves him in terms that seemed to some auditors a reflection on the Christian priesthood:

And dost thou pause? Presumptuous youth, ’tis impious

But to deliberate. Far from Mahomet

Be all who for themselves shall dare to judge … .

Those who reason are not oft

Prone to believe. Thy part is to obey.

Have I not told thee what the will of Heaven

Determines? …

Knowest thou holy Abram here

Was born, that here his sacred ashes rest-

He who, obedient to the voice of God,

Stifled the cries of nature, and gave up

His darling child? The same all-powerful Being

Requires of thee a sacrifice; to thee

He calls for blood; and darest thou hesitate

When God commands? …

Strike, then, and by the blood

Of Zopir merit life eternal.58

Séide kills the old man, who, dying, recognizes him as his own son. This, of course, was an attack upon the use of religion to sanction murder and foment war. Voltaire meant it so, and in a letter to Frederick he gave, as examples of pious crimes, the assassination of William of Orange and of Henry III and Henry IV of France. But he denied that the play was an attack upon religion; it was a plea to make Christianity Christian.

Cardinal Fleury consoled him by commissioning him (September, 1742) to try his hand at turning the policy of Frederick to friendship with France. Voltaire, proud to be a diplomat, visited the King at Aachen; Frederick saw through his purposes, and answered his politics with poetry. Voltaire returned to Paris, Émilie, and the drama. On February 20, 1743, his greataest play, Mérope, was produced by the Comédie-Française with a success that for a while silenced his enemies.

Several plays had already been written on the theme; Euripides had used it in a drama of which only fragments remain. In a preliminary letter Voltaire acknowledged his special indebtedness to Marchese Francesco Scipione di Maffei of Verona, who had produced a Merope in 1713. It was a distinction of these plays that their interest turned on parental rather than sexual love. At the final curtain, we are told, most of the audience was in tears. For the first time in the history of the French theater there were calls for the author to show himself on the stage. According to the accepted account he complied, creating a precedent which Lessing deplored; according to other sources Voltaire refused to go on the stage, though urged to do so by the two duchesses in whose box he sat; he merely stood up for a moment and acknowledged the applause.59 Frederick gave it as his judgment that Mérope was “one of the finest tragedies ever written.”60 Gibbon thought the final act equal to anything in Racine.61

The success of Mérope was alloyed for Voltaire by the failure, soon afterward, of his candidacy for a seat in the Academy. He campaigned for it eagerly, even to proclaiming himself “a true Catholic” and the author of “many pages sanctified by religion.”62 Louis XV at first favored him, but was deterred by his new minister Maurepas, who protested that it would be unseemly to let so profane a spirit succeed to the seat vacated by the death of Cardinal Fleury. The seat was given to the bishop of Mirepoix. Frederick urged Voltaire to abandon a country that so little honored its geniuses, and come and live with him in Potsdam. Mme. du Châtelet objected. The French government advised him to accept the invitation for a time, and to serve as its secret agent in Berlin. Longing to play politics, Voltaire agreed, and undertook again the racking ride across France, Belgium, and Germany. He spent six weeks (August 30 to October 12, 1743) in the enterprise. Frederick again laughed at his politics and praised his poetry. Voltaire returned to Émilie at Brussels. In April, 1744, they resumed their residence at Cirey, and tried to revive their dying love.

In her Traité de la bonheur the Marquise thought that “of all the passions the desire for knowledge is the one which contributes most to happiness, for it is the one which makes us least dependent upon each other.” Nevertheless she called love

the greatest of the good things that are within our grasp, the only one to which even the pleasure of study should be sacrificed. The ideal would be two individuals who would be so attracted to each other that their passions would never cool or become surfeited. But one cannot hope for such harmony of two persons; it would be too perfect. A heart which would be capable of such love, a soul which would be so steadfast and so affectionate, is perhaps born once in a century.63

In a touching letter she summed up her surrender of this hope:

I was happy for ten years in the love of the one who had conquered my soul, and those ten years I spent in perfect communion with him.… When age and illness had reduced his affection, a long time passed before I noticed it; I loved for two; I spent my whole life with him, and my trusting heart enjoyed the ecstasy of love, and the illusion of believing itself to be loved.… I have lost this happy state.64

What was it that had turned Voltaire from love to a kind of intermittent fidelity? He seems to have been sincere in pleading the decline of his physical powers; yet we shall find him, within a year, “sighing like an idiot at a woman’s knees.” The truth was that he had exhausted one phase of his life and interest—Mme. de Châtelet and science. The isolation of Cirey would have palled much sooner on an average mind; it was a blessing only when the police pursued him and science called. But now he had tasted again the pleasures of Paris and premières; he was even playing a part in national politics. If only from a distance he felt the glamour of the court. His friend the Marquis d’Argenson had become chief minister, his friend and debtor the Duc de Richelieu was first chamberlain to the King, and Louis himself had relented. In 1745 the Dauphin was to marry the Infanta Maria Teresa Rafaela; a lordly festival must be prepared; Richelieu commissioned Voltaire to write a play for the occasion. But Rameau was to write the music; poet and composer had to work together; Voltaire must come to Paris. In September, 1744, the lovers bade goodbye to Cirey and moved to the capital.

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