VI. VOLTAIRE IN GERMANY: 1750–54

Even he was satisfied with his reception. Frederick put on Gallic manners to greet him. “He took my hand to kiss it,” Voltaire reported to Richelieu. “I kissed his, and made myself his slave.”93 He was given an elegant apartment in the Palace of Sanssouci, just over the royal suite. The King’s horses, coaches, coachmen, and cuisine were placed at his command. A dozen servants fussed around him; a hundred princes, princesses, nobles, the Queen herself, paid court to him. He was officially a chamberlain to the King at twenty thousand francs a year, but his chief chore was to correct the French of Frederick’s poetry and speech. He was second only to the King at the suppers. A German visitor thought their exchanges “a thousand times more interesting than any book.”94 “Never in any place in the world,” Voltaire later recalled, “was there greater freedom of conversation concerning the superstitions of mankind.”95

He was ecstatic. To d’Argental he wrote (September, 1750):

I find a port after thirty years of storms. I find the protection of a king, the conversation of a philosopher, the agreeable qualities of an amiable man, all united in one who for sixteen years has wished to console me for my misfortunes, make me secure against my enemies… . Here I am sure of a destiny forever tranquil. If one can be sure of anything it is of the character of the King of Prussia.96

He wrote to Mme. Denis asking her to come and live with him in his paradise. She wisely preferred Paris and younger gallants. She warned him against staying long in Berlin. Friendship with a king (she wrote) is always precarious; he changes his mind and his favorites; one must be always on one’s guard not to cross the royal mood or will. Sooner or later Voltaire would find himself a servant and a prisoner rather than a friend.97

The foolish philosopher sent the letter to Frederick, who, reluctant to lose his prize, wrote to him in reply (August 23):

I have seen the letter which your niece writes you from Paris. The affection which she has for you wins my esteem. If I were Mme. Denis I should think as she does; but being what I am, I think otherwise. I should be in despair to be the cause of my enemy’s unhappiness; how, then, could I wish the misfortune of a man whom I esteem, whom I love, and who sacrifices to me his country and all that is dearest to humanity? No, my dear Voltaire, if I could foresee that your removal hither would turn the least in the world to your disadvantage, I should be the first to dissuade you from it. I should prefer your happiness to my extreme pleasure in possessing you. But you are a philosopher; I am one also; what is then more natural, more simple, more according to the order of things, than that philosophers made to live together, united by the same studies, by the same tastes, and by a similar way of thinking, should give one another that satisfaction? … I am firmly persuaded that you will be very happy here; that you will be regarded as the father of letters and of people of taste; and that you will find in me all the consolations which a man of your merit can expect from one who esteems him. Good night.98

It took the older philosopher only four months to ruin his paradise. Voltaire was a millionaire, but he could not with equanimity miss an opportunity to swell his hoard. The state bank of Saxony had issued notes called Steuerscheine (revenue certificates), which had fallen to half their original worth. In the Treaty of Dresden Frederick had required that all such notes that had been bought by Prussians should be redeemed, at maturity, at their face value in gold. Some wily Prussians bought Steuerscheine at a low price in Holland and then had them redeemed in full in Prussia. In May, 1748, in justice to Saxony, Frederick forbade such importation. On November 23, 1750, Voltaire summoned to him at Potsdam a Jewish banker, Abraham Hirsch. According to Hirsch, Voltaire asked him to go to Dresden and buy for him 18,430 écus’ worth of Steuerscheine at thirty-five per cent of their face value. Hirsch claimed to have warned Voltaire that these bank notes could not be legally brought into Prussia; Voltaire (said Hirsch) promised him protection, and gave him letters of exchange on Paris and Leipzig. As security for these sums Hirsch left with Voltaire some diamonds that had been appraised at 18,430 écus. After his agent’s departure (December 2) Voltaire regretted the arrangement, and Hirsch, arrived in Dresden, decided not to go through with the transaction; Voltaire stopped payment on the letters of exchange, and the banker returned to Berlin. According to Hirsch, Voltaire sought to bribe him to silence by buying three thousand écus’ worth of the diamonds. A dispute arose over the appraisal; Voltaire flew at Hirsch’s throat and knocked him down;99 not receiving further satisfaction, he had Hirsch arrested, and brought the dispute to public trial (December 30). Hirsch exposed Voltaire’s plan for buying Saxon bonds; Voltaire denied it, saying he had sent Hirsch to Dresden to buy furs. Nobody believed him.

Frederick, learning of the mess, dispatched an angry letter from Potsdam to Voltaire at Berlin (February 24, 1751):

I was glad to receive you in my house; I esteemed your genius, your talents and acquirements; and I had reason to think that a man of your age, wearied with fencing against authors and exposing himself to the storm, came hither to take refuge as in a safe harbor.

But, on arriving, you exacted of me, in a rather singular manner, not to take Fréron to write news from Paris, and I had the weakness … to grant you this, though it is not for you to decide what persons I should take into my service. Baculard d’Arnault [Baculard d’Arnaud, a French poet at Frederick’s court] had given you offense, a generous man would have pardoned him; a vindictive man hunts down those whom he takes to hating… . Though to me d’Arnault had done nothing, it was on your account that he had to go… . You have had the most villainous affair in the world with a Jew. It has made a frightful scandal all over town. And that Steuerschein business is so well known in Saxony that they have made grievous complaints of it to me.

For my own Part I have preserved peace in my house till your arrival; and I warn you that if you have the passion of intriguing and caballing, you have applied to the wrong hand. I like peaceable, composed people, who do not put into their conduct the passions of tragic drama. In case you can resolve to live like a philosopher, I shall be glad to see you; but if you abandon yourself to all the violences of your passions, and get into quarrels with all the world, you will do me no good by coming hither, and you may as well stay in Berlin.

The trial court declared in favor of Voltaire. He sent humble apologies to the King; Frederick granted him pardon, but advised him to “have no more quarrels, neither with the Old Testament nor with the New.”100 Henceforth Voltaire was lodged not in Sanssouci but in a pleasant rural lodge nearby called “the Marquisat.” The King sent him assurances of renewed esteem, but Voltaire’s foolishness did not extend to trusting them. The royal poet sent him poems with requests to polish the French; Voltaire labored over them to weariness, and offended the author by making incisive alterations.

Voltaire now composed his poem Sur la Loi naturelle; it sought to find God in nature, chiefly along the lines of Alexander Pope. Of far greater import was Le Siècle de Louis XIV, which in these worrisome months he brought to finished form, and published in Berlin (1751). He was anxious to have it printed before some necessity should drive him from Germany, for only under Frederick could it be safe from censorship. “You know very well,” he wrote to Richelieu on August 31, “that there is not one little censor of books [in Paris] who would not have made a merit and duty out of mutilating or suppressing my work.”101 The sale of the book was forbidden in France; booksellers in Holland and England issued pirated editions, for which they paid Voltaire nothing; noting this, we may better understand his love of money. He had to fight “rogue booksellers”102 as well as ecclesiastics and governments.

The Age of Louis XIV was the most thoroughly and conscientiously prepared of Voltaire’s works. He had planned it in 1732, begun it in 1734 put it aside in 1738, resumed it in 1750. For it he read two hundred volumes and reams of unpublished memoirs, consulted scores of survivors from le grand Siècle, studied the original papers of protagonists like Louvois and Colbert, secured from the Due de Noailles the manuscripts left by Louis XIV, and found important documents, hitherto unused, in the archives of the Louvre.103 He weighed conflicting evidence with discretion and care, and achieved a high degree of accuracy. With Mme. du Châtelet he had tried to be a scientist, and had failed; now he turned to writing history, and there his success was a revolution.

Long ago, in a letter of January 18, 1739, he had expressed his aim: “My chief object is not political and military history, it is the history of the arts, of commerce, of civilization—in a word, of the human mind.” And, still better, in a letter written to Thieriot in 1736:

When I asked for anecdotes on the age of Louis XIV it was less on the King himself than on the arts that flourished in his reign. I should prefer details about Racine and Boileau, Quinault, Lully, Moliere, Le Brun, Bossuet, Poussin, Descartes, and others, rather than about the battle of Steenkerke. Nothing but a name remains of those who commanded battalions and fleets; nothing results to the human race from a hundred battles gained; but the great men of whom I have spoken prepared pure and durable delights for generations unborn. A canal that connects two seas, a picture by Poussin, a beautiful tragedy, a discovered truth, are things a thousand times more precious than all the annals of the court, all the narratives of war. You know that with me great men rank first, “heroes” last. I call great men all those who have excelled in the useful and the agreeable. The ravagers of provinces are mere heroes.104

Possibly Voltaire would have promoted martial heroes from last place if their victories had saved civilization from barbarism; but it was natural that the philosopher who knew no weapon but words would enjoy raising aloft the men of his own kind; and his name illustrates his thesis by remaining, after two centuries, the most prominent in our memory of his age. Originally he had proposed to give all the book to cultural history; then Mme. du Châtelet suggested to him a “general history” of the nations; consequently he added chapters on politics, war, and the court to make the volume a homogeneous continuation of the larger Essai sur l’histoire générale that was taking form under his pen. This may be the reason why the cultural history is not integrated into the rest of the volume: the first half of the book is devoted to political and military history; then follow sections on manners (“characteristics and anecdotes”), government, commerce, science, literature, art, and religion.

The hunted scribe looked back with admiration to the reign under which poets (if they behaved) were honored by the King; perhaps his emphasis on the support of literature and art by Louis XIV was a flank attack upon Louis XV’s comparative indifference to such patronage. Now that the grandeur of the former age stood out in gilded retrospect, and its despotism and dragonnades were shunted from memory, Voltaire idealized the Sun King somewhat, and thrilled to the victories of French generals—though he stigmatized the devastation of the Palatinate. But criticism hides its head before this first modern attempt at integral history. Perceptive contemporaries realized that here was a new start—history as the biography of civilization, history as transformed by art and perspective into literature and philosophy. Within a year of its publication the Earl of Chesterfield wrote to his son:

Voltaire has sent me from Berlin his Histoire du siècle de Louis XIV. It came at a very proper time; Lord Bolingbroke had just taught me how history should be read; Voltaire shows me how it should be written… . It is the history of the human understanding, written by a man of genius for the use of intelligent men… . Free from religious, philosophical, political, and national prejudices beyond any historian I have ever met with, he relates all those matters as truly and as impartially as certain regards, which must always be observed, will allow him.105

Amid his literary labors Voltaire fretted over his insecurity at Frederick’s court. One day in August, 1751, La Mettrie, the jolly materialist who often read to the King, reported to Voltaire their host’s remark: “I need him [Voltaire] another year at most [as polisher of the royal French]; one squeezes the orange, and throws away the peel.”106 Some have doubted the authenticity of the remark; it was not like Frederick to be so confidential, and it was not impossible for La Mettrie to wish Voltaire off the scene. “I have done all that I could not to believe La Mettrie,” Voltaire wrote to Mme. Denis on September 2; “but still, I don’t know.” And to her on October 29: “I keep dreaming about that orange peel… . He who was falling from a bell tower and, finding himself at ease in the air, said, ’Good, provided this lasts,’ resembles me quite.”107

There was another Frenchman in Germany who entered into the comedy. Of two Frenchmen in the same court, said Frederick, one must perish.108 Maupertuis, head of the Berlin Academy, was next in honor to Voltaire alone among the guests at Sanssouci; each was irked by that proximity; and perhaps Voltaire had not forgotten that Mme. du Châtelet had been fond of Maupertuis. In April, 1751, Voltaire gave a dinner party; Maupertuis was invited and came. “Your book Sur le Bonheur has given me great pleasure,” said Voltaire, “a few obscurities excepted, of which we will talk together some evening.” “Obscurities? There may be such for you, monsieur,” scowled Maupertuis. Voltaire laid a hand on the scientist’s shoulder. “Monsieur le Président,” he said, “I esteem you; you are brave, you want war. We will have it, but meanwhile let us eat the King’s roast meat.”109 “Maupertuis,” he wrote to d’Argental (May 4), “is not of very engaging ways. He takes my dimensions harshly with his quadrant; it is said that there enters something of envy into his data.… A somewhat surly gentleman, not too sociable.” And on July 24, 1752, to niece Denis: “Maupertuis has discreetly set the rumor going that I found the King’s Works very bad; that I said to someone, on verses of the King coming in, ’Will he never tire, then, of sending me his dirty linen to wash?’”110 It is not certain that Maupertuis had conveyed this rumor to Frederick; Voltaire thought it certain, and resolved on war.

One of Maupertuis’ contributions to science was the “principle of least action”—that all effects in the world of motion tend to be achieved by the least force sufficient for the result. Samuel Koenig, who owed his membership in the Berlin Academy to Maupertuis, came upon what purported to be a copy of an unpublished letter of Leibniz, in which this principle seemed to be anticipated. He wrote an article about his discovery, but before publishing it he submitted it to Maupertuis, offering to suppress it if the president objected. Maupertuis, perhaps after too hurried a perusal, consented to the publication. Koenig had the article printed in the March, 1751, issue of the Leipzig Acta eruditorum. It caused a stir. Maupertuis asked Koenig to submit Leibniz’ letter to the Academy; Koenig replied that he had seen only a copy of it among the papers of his friend Henzi, who had been hanged in 1749; he had made a copy of this copy, and now sent it to Maupertuis, who again demanded the original. Koenig confessed that this could not now be found, since Henzi’s papers had been scattered after his death. Maupertuis submitted the matter to the Academy (October 7, 1751); the secretary sent to Koenig a peremptory order to produce the original. He could not. On April 13, 1752, the Academy pronounced the supposed letter of Leibniz a forgery. Maupertuis did not attend this session, being ill with consumptive spitting of blood.111 Koenig sent in his resignation from the Academy, and issued an Appeal to the Public (September, 1752).

Koenig had once spent two years at Cirey as the guest of Voltaire and Mme. du Châtelet. Voltaire decided to strike a blow for his former friend at a present enemy. In the quarterly review Bibliothèque raisonnée for September 18 there appeared a “Réponse d’un académicien de Berlin à un académicien de Paris,” restating the case for Koenig, and concluding that

the Sieur Maupertuis has been convicted, in the face of Scientific Europe, not only of plagiarism and blunder, but of having abused his place to suppress free discussion, and to persecute an honest man… . Several members of our Academy have protested against so crying a procedure, and would leave the Academy, were it not for fear of displeasing the King.112

The article was unsigned, but Frederick knew Voltaire’s feline touch. Instead of hurling a royal thunderbolt, he wrote a reply in which the “Réponse” was described as “malicious, cowardly, and infamous,” and its author was branded “a shameless impostor,” an “ugly brigand,” a “concocter of stupid libels.”113 This too was anonymous, but the title page bore the Prussian arms with the eagle, the scepter, and the crown.

Voltaire’s pride was piqued. He could never let an enemy have the last word, and perhaps he had made up his mind to break with the King. “I have no scepter,” he wrote to Mme. Denis (October 18, 1752), “but I have a pen.” He took full advantage of the fact that Maupertuis had just published (Dresden, 1752) a series of Lettres in which it was suggested that a hole be bored into the earth, if possible to the center, in order to study its composition; that one of the Pyramids of Egypt be blown up, to discover the secrets of their purpose and design; that a city be built where only Latin would be spoken, so that students might go there for a year or two and learn that language as they had learned their own; that a doctor be paid only after curing the patient; that an adequate dose of opium might enable a man to foresee the future; and that proper care of the body might enable us to prolong life indefinitely.114 Voltaire seized upon these Lettres as easy game, carefully ignoring any item of good sense in them and any hints of humor, and tossed the rest joyously upon the horns of his wit. So, in November, 1752, he composed his famous Diatribe of Dr. Akakia, Physician and Ordinary to the Pope.

Diatribe then meant a dissertation; akakia is Greek for “guileless simplicity.” The supposed physician began in apparent innocence by doubting that so great a man as the president of the Berlin Academy had written so absurd a book. After all, “nothing is more common in the present age than for young and ignorant authors to usher into the world, under well-known names, works unworthy of the supposed writers.” These Lettres must be such an imposture; it was impossible that the learned president should have written such nonsense. Dr. Akakia protested especially against paying physicians only for cures—a proposal that might have struck a sympathetic chord in Voltaire’s aching breast, but: “Does a client deprive a lawyer of his just fee because he has lost his cause? A physician promises his assistance, not a cure. He does all that lies in his power, and is paid accordingly.” How would a member of the Academy like it if a certain number of ducats were to be subtracted from his annual salary for every error he has made, for every absurdity that he has uttered, during the year? And the doctor proceeded to detail what Voltaire considered to be errors or absurdities in Maupertuis’ works.115

It was not so brilliant a satire as commonly supposed; much of it is repetitious, and some of the fault-finding is trivial and ungenerous; we conceal our venom more politely in these days. But Voltaire was so pleased with his performance that he could not resist the added delight of seeing it in print. He sent a manuscript of it to a printer in The Hague. Meanwhile he showed another manuscript to the King. Frederick, who privately agreed that Maupertuis was sometimes insufferably conceited, enjoyed the skit (or so we are told), but forbade Voltaire to publish it; obviously, the dignity and prestige of the Berlin Academy were involved. Voltaire allowed him to keep the manuscript, but the satire was nevertheless published in Holland. Soon thirty thousand copies were flying about Paris, Brussels, The Hague, Berlin. One reached Frederick. He expressed his anger in such terms that Voltaire fled to a private lodging in the capital. On December 24, 1752, he saw from his window the public burning of the Diatribe by the official executioner of the state. On January 1, 1753, he remitted to Frederick his gold key as a chamberlain, and his Cross of Merit.

Now he was really ill. Erysipelas burned his brow, dysentery tortured his bowels, fever consumed him. He took to his bed on February 2 and stayed there for two weeks, having, said a visitor, “all the appearance of a skeleton.”116 Frederick, relenting, sent his own physician to attend the poet. When he improved, Voltaire wrote to the King asking permission to visit Plombiéres, whose waters might heal his erysipelas. Frederick bade his secretary reply (March 16) “that he can leave this service whenever he wishes; that he has no need to employ the pretext of the waters of Plombiéres; but that he will have the goodness, before setting out, to return to me … the volume of poems that I confided to him.”117 On the eighteenth the King invited Voltaire to reoccupy his old apartment in Sanssouci. Voltaire came, remained eight days, and apparently made his peace with the King—but kept the royal poems. On March 26 he bade Frederick au revoir, both pretending that the separation was to be temporary. “Take care of your health above all,” said the King, “and don’t forget that I expect to see you again after the waters… . Bon voyage!”118 They never saw each other again.

So ended this historic friendship, but the ridiculous enmities went on. Voltaire, with secretary and baggage, rolled on in his own coach to safety in Saxon Leipzig. There, pleading weakness, he tarried three weeks, adding to the Diatribe. On April 6 he received a letter from Maupertuis:

The gazettes say you are detained sick at Leipzig; private information assures me that you are stopping there only to have new libels printed… . I have never done anything against you, never written anything, never said anything. I have ever found it unworthy of me to reply one word to the impertinences which you have hitherto spread abroad … But if it is true that your intention is to attack me again, and to attack me by personalities, … I declare to you that … my health is sufficiently good to find you wherever you may be, and to wreak upon you vengeance the most complete.119

Voltaire nevertheless printed the embellished Diatribe, and with it Maupertuis’ letter. The pamphlet, now swollen to fifty pages, became the gossip of palaces and courts in Germany and France. Wilhelmine wrote from Bayreuth to Frederick (April 24, 1753) confessing that she had not been able to keep from laughing over the piece. Maupertuis did not carry out his threat, nor did he, as some supposed, die of unimplemented rage and grief; he survived Dr. Akakia by six years, and died at Basel in 1759 of tuberculosis.

On April 19 Voltaire moved on to Gotha. There he put up at the public inn, but the Duke and Duchess of Saxe-Gotha soon persuaded him to come and stay in their palace. As the little court went in for culture, the Duchess gathered notables and literati, and Voltaire read to them from his works, even from the rollicking La Pucelle. Then on to Frankfurt-am-Main, where Nemesis overtook him.

Seeing that Voltaire continued the war against Maupertuis, Frederick wondered whether the irresponsible poet might give to the world the poems that Frederick had composed, and of which a privately printed copy was still in Voltaire’s possession—poems some risqué, some ridiculing Christianity, some speaking with more wit than respect of living sovereigns, and therefore liable to alienate useful powers. He sent to Freytag, Prussian resident at Frankfurt, orders to detain Voltaire until the impish skeleton should surrender the royal poems and various decorations given him by the King during the honeymoon. Frankfurt was a “free city,” but so dependent upon Frederick’s good will that it did not dare interfere with these orders; moreover, Voltaire was still technically in the service of, and on a leave of absence from, the Prussian King. On June 1 Freytag went to the Golden Lion, where Voltaire had arrived the night before, and politely asked for the insignia and the poetry. Voltaire allowed the resident to examine his luggage and take the royal decorations; but as for the royal poems, they were probably in a box that had been forwarded to Hamburg. Freytag ordered him kept under watch until the box could be brought from Hamburg. On June 9 the fuming philosopher was consoled by the arrival of Mme. Denis, who helped him express his rage. She was appalled by his emaciation. “I knew that man [Frederick] would be the death of you!” On June 18 the box arrived; the volume of poetry was found and surrendered; but on the same day a new directive from Potsdam ordered Freytag to maintain the status quo till further orders came. Voltaire, his patience quite at an end, tried to escape; on June 20, leaving his baggage with his niece, he and his secretary secretly fled from Frankfurt.

Before they could reach the limits of the municipal jurisdiction they were overtaken by Freytag, who brought them to the city and lodged them as prisoners in the Goat Inn, for (according to Freytag) “the landlord of the Golden Lion was unwilling to have Voltaire any longer in his house, on account of his incredible parsimony.”120 All of Voltaire’s money was now taken from him by his captors; also his watch, some jewels that he wore, and his snuffbox—which was soon restored to him on his plea that it was indispensable to his life. On June 21 a letter arrived from Frederick ordering Voltaire’s release, but Freytag thought that strict duty required him to send the King notice that Voltaire had tried to escape; should he still be allowed to go? On July 5 Frederick answered yes; after thirty-five days of detention Voltaire was freed. On July 7 he left Frankfurt for Mainz. Mme. Denis returned to Paris, hoping to secure permission for Voltaire to enter France.

The news of his arrest had spread, and now, wherever he went, he was feted and acclaimed, for Frederick was not popular except with Wilhelmine, and Voltaire was still, with all his deviltry, the greatest living poet, dramatist, and historian. After three weeks in Mainz he moved on, with the suite of a prince, to Mannheim and Strasbourg (August 15 to October 2), where he feasted his soul with the thought that he was on French soil. Then on to Colmar (October 2), where Wilhelmine, en route to Montpellier, visited and comforted him “with bounties.” His strength revived enough to inspire some gallant letters to Mme. Denis, who had complained of a swelling in her thighs:

Eh, mon Dieu, my dear child, what are your legs and mine trying to say? If they were together they would be well [elles se porteraient bien]… . Your thighs were not made to suffer. These lovely thighs so soon to be kissed are now shamefully treated [Queste belle cossie tantot bacciate sono oggi indignamente trattate].121

In a humbler mood he wrote to Mme. de Pompadour invoking her influence with Louis XV to allow him to return to Paris. But meanwhile a pirate printer in The Hague published a garbled Abrégé de l’histoire générale, an abridgment of Voltaire’s unfinishedEssai sur l’histoire générale, or Essai sur les moeurs; it contained some sharp animadversions on Christianity; it sold rapidly in Paris; Louis XV informed Pompadour, “I do not wish Voltaire to come to Paris.”122 The Jesuits in Colmar called for his expulsion from that city. He tried to appease his ecclesiastical enemies by taking the Sacrament at Easter; the sole result was that his friends joined with the Jesuits in calling him a hypocrite. “Behold Voltaire, who knows not where to lay his head,” commented Montesquieu, and he added, “Le bon esprit is worth more than le bel esprit.”123

The homeless philosopher desperately thought of leaving Europe and settling in Philadelphia; he admired the spirit of Penn and the work of Franklin, who had just united lightning and electricity; “if the sea did not make me unsupportably sick, it is among the Quakers of Pennsylvania that I would finish the remainder of my life.”124 On June 8, 1754, he left Colmar, and found asylum in the Benedictine Abbey of Senones in Lorraine. There the learned Dom Augustin Calmet was abbot and the library had twelve thousand volumes; for three weeks, amid the monks, Voltaire found peace. On July 2 he moved on to Plombiéres, and at last drank its waters. Mme. Denis joined him there, and henceforth remained the mistress at least of his household. He resumed his wandering, went back to Colmar, found it uncomfortable, passed on to Dijon for a night, then to Lyons for a month (November 11 to December 10). For a week he was the guest of his old friend and debtor the Due de Richelieu; then, perhaps fearing to compromise him, he moved to the Palais-Royal Hotel. He attended the Academy of Lyons, and received all its honors. Some of his plays were produced in the local theater, and his spirit was heartened by the applause. He thought of settling in Lyons, but Archbishop Tencin objected,125 and Voltaire departed. He knew that at any moment he might be arrested if he remained in France.

Late in 1754, or early in 1755, he crossed over the Jura Mountains into Switzerland.


I. Italics added.

II. The subsequent references are to the English translation, here warmly recommended, by Richard Aldington: The Letters of Voltaire and Frederick the Great (New York, 1927).

If you find an error please notify us in the comments. Thank you!