- Familiar Letters. By President De Montesquieu.
- Letter I.: To Father Cerati * of the Congregation of the Orators of Saint Philip At Rome.
- Letter II.: To the Same.
- Letter III.: To Monsieur L’abbé Venuti * , At Clerac.
- Letter IV.: To the Abbé Nicolini * , At Florence.
- Letter V.: To Mr. Cerati, At Pisa.
- Letter VI.: To Abbé Venuti At Clerac.
- Letter VII.: To Abbé De Guasco, At Turin.
- Letter VIII.: To the Count of Guasco, Colonel of Foot.
- Letter IX.: To the Abbé De Guasco.
- Letter X.: To the Same.
- Letter XI.: To the Same.
- Letter XII.: To the Countess De Pontac.
- Letter XIII.: To Mr. Cerati.
- Letter XIV.: To Abbé De Guasco At Clerac.
- Letter XV.: To the Same.
- Letter XVI.: To the Same.
- Letter XVII.: To the Same.
- Letter XVIII.: To the Same.
- Letter XIX.: To the Same Abbé De Guasco.
- Letter XX.: To the Same.
- Letter XXI.: To Mr. Cerati.
- Letter XXII.: To Abbé De Guasco, At Aix.
- Letter XXIII.
- Letter XXIV.: To the Same.
- Letter XXV.: To the Same.
- Letter XXVI.: To the Same.
- Letter XXVII.: To Mr. Cerati.
- Letter XXVIII.: To Prince Charles Edward.
- Letter XXIX.: To the Grand Prior Solar, Ambassador From Malta, At Rome.
- Letter XXX.: To the Abbé and Count De Guasco, At Paris.
- Letter XXXI.: To Mr. Cerati.
- Letter XXXII.: To Abbé Venuti.
- Letter XXXIII.: To the Abbé Count De Guasco.
- Letter XXXIV.: To the Abbé Venuti, At Bourdeaux.
- Letter XXXV.: To Mr. Cerati.
- Letter XXXVI.: To Abbé Venuti.
- Letter XXXVII.: To Abbé Venuti.
- Letter XXXVIII: To the Abbé Count De Guasco.
- Letter XXXIX.: To Abbé De Guasco.
- Letter Xl.: to the Same.
- Letter Xli.: to the Same.
- Letter Xlii.: to the Same, At Bourdeaux.
- Letter Xliii.: to the Same.
- Letter Xliv.: to the Same Abbé De Guasco.
- Letter Xlv.: to the Same At Vienna.
- Letter Xlvi.: to the Same Abbé De Guasco At Vienna.
- Letter Xlvii.: to the Same, At Verona.
- Letter Xlviii.: to the Same.
- Letter Xlix.: to the Same, At Naples.
- Letter L.: to the Same.
- Letter Li.: to Mr. Cerati.
- Letter Lii.: to the Abbé Marquis Nicolini.
- Letter Liii.: to Abbé Count De Guasco.
- Letter Liv.: to the Same.
- Letter Lv.: to the Auditor Bertolini, At Florence.
- Letter Lvi.: to Abbé Count De Guasco.
- Letter Lvii.: a Billet to the Same.
- Letter Lviii.: to the Grand Prior Solar, At Turin.
- Letter Lix.: the Fragment of a Letter From M. De Montesquieu, to the King of Poland, Duke of Lorraine, to Solicit His Majesty For a Place In the Academy of Nantz.
- Letter Lx.: Fragment of the King of Poland’s Answer, to the Foregoing Letter.
- Letter Lxi.: to M. De Solignac, Secretary to the Literary Society At Nantz.
- Letter Lxii.: From M. De Montesquieu. to the Author of a Short View of the Philosophical Works of Lord Bolingbroke.
- Letter Lxiii.: to the Dutchess of Aiguillon.
- Letter Lxiv.: From the Dutchess of Aiguillon, to Abbé De Guasco.
- Letter Lxv.: an Article Taken From a Letter of Baron Secondat De Montesquieu, to the Abbé Count De Guasco.
- Letter Lxvi.: Article of a Letter to the Same.
- Miscellaneous Pieces of M. De Secondat, Baron De Montesquieu.
- An Oration Pronounced the 24th of January, 1728. By President Montesquieu: When He Was Received Into the French Academy, In the Room of the Late M. De Sacy.
- An Essay Upon Taste, In Subjects of Nature, and of Art.
- Of the Pleasures of the Soul.
- Of the Mental Faculties * .
- Of Curiosity.
- Of the Pleasures of Order.
- Of the Pleasures of Variety.
- Of the Pleasures of Symmetry.
- Of Contrasts.
- Of the Pleasures of Surprize.
- Of Different Causes That Produce Sensation.
- Of Sensibility.
- Of Delicacy.
- Of the Je Ne Scais Quoi.
- The Progression of Surprize.
- Of Beauties Which Result From an Embarrassment of the Soul.
- The Temple of Gnidus.
- The Preface.
- Canto I.
- Canto II.
- Canto III.
- Canto IV.
- Canto V.
- Canto VI.
- Canto VII.
- Cupid Distressed.
- The Analysis of the Spirit of Laws. By M. D’alembert.
- A Defence of the Spirit of Laws. to Which Are Added, Some Explanations.
- Part I.
- Part II.
- The General Idea.
- Of the Counsels of Religion.
- Of Polygamy.
- On Climate.
- Of Toleration.
- Of Celibacy.
- A Particular Error Committed By the Critic.
- Of Marriage.
- Of Usury.
- “of Maritime Usury.
- Part III.: Some Explanations of the Spirit of Laws.
by PRESIDENT DE MONTESQUIEU.
To Father Cerati of the Congregation of the Orators of Saint Philip at Rome.
I HAD the honour of writing to you by the last post, my reverend father; and now write to you again by this. I take a pleasure in doing every thing that may recal to your memory, a friendship which is to me so dear. I add to what I wrote to you concerning a certain affair . . . . that if M. de Fouquet exacts more than the sum I seemed to fix you upon giving, you may enlarge it, and give more, and do in regard to every other condition, what may not appear obviously unreasonable. I know the Chevalier Lambert, a famous banker here, who tells me that there is a correspondence between him and Belloni. I shall forward immediately through his hands, whatever sum you may have agreed upon; for M. Fouquet’s will seems to me to be so whiffling and indeterminate, as to induce me to think that it is not worth while to proceed to any contract, until his fixed resolution be previously known .
I am now in a country that but very little resembles that rest of Europe. We have not as yet been informed of the contents of the treaty with Spain. It is taken for granted that it has made no change in the quadruple alliance, excepting that the six thousand men which are to go into Italy to pay their court to Don Carlos, must consist of Spanish, but not of neutral troops.
There fly about here every day, as you must have heard, all forts of indecent and licentious printed papers. About a fortnight or three weeks ago I was extremely irritated at one, declaring that my Lord Cardinal of Rohan had caused to be brought from Germany, with great care and expence for the use of the people of his diocese, a machine, so constructed, that one might play at dice withal, shake them and throw them without receiving any impressive direction from the hand of a gamester, who before this invention might glide them out smoothly, or volly them off impetuously, just as he pleased, or occasion suited, by the energy of a most illicit knack, which established a fraudulent practice in what had been invented merely for a recreation of the mind. I own to you I am of opinion that so ridiculous a pleasantry could be started by none other but by an heretic or jansenist.
If there should appear in Italy any new printed work worthy of being read, pray do not keep it a secret from me. I have the honour to be with every degree of tenderness and friendship.
London, Dec. 21, 1729.
To the Same.
FATHER Cerati, you are my benefactor.—Like Orpheus, you make rocks to follow you. I have informed Abbé Duval , that I do not mean he should abuse the politeness of Mr. Fouquet, but that he should continue his pursuit, and that whatever might be the result, should in a friendly manner be shared between them both.
Rome is then at last delivered from the mean tyranny of Benevento, and the reins of pontifical supremacy are no longer guided by such vile hands. All those upstart coxcombs, S. Marie at their head, have disappeared, and are retired to their native cottages, there to entertain their kindred with recitals of their former insolence. Coscia has nothing now left but his money and his gout. Let all those of the Benevento party be hanged who have robbed; in order that the prophecy may be accomplished on their chief, Vox in Rama audita est; Rachel plorans filios suos, noluit consolari, quia non sunt.
Give us a Pope with a sword like St. Paul, but not with a rosary like St. Dominick, or with a knapsack like St. Francis.—Arouse from your lethargy—exoriare aliquis. Are you not ashamed to shew us still the old chair of St. Peter with a broken back, and all over worm-eaten? Are people to look upon your coffer, in which, forsooth, are such magazines of spiritual treasure as on a quackish box of orvietan or mithridat? To say the truth, you make a fine use of your infallibility by employing it to prove that Quenel’s book is worth nothing; but you do not presume to exert it in deciding that the Emperor’s pretensions upon Parma and Placentia are groundless. Your triple crown resembles very much to the laurel one, which Cæsar put on to cover his baldness. Present my acts of adoration to Cardinal de Polignac. I was three days ago received a member of the Royal Society of London; where there was mention made of a letter from Mr. Thomas Dhisam to his brother, desiring to know the sentiments of that learned body concerning the astronomical discoveries of M. Bianchini. Embrace on my behalf, if you please, Abbé, the dear Abbé Nicolini.—I salute you, dear father, with all my heart.
London, March 1, 1730.
To Monsieur L’Abbé Venuti , at Clerac.
I HAVE received, Sir, the honour of your letter, with much more pleasure than I should have thought, on being made to know that L’Abbé Cherac, whom I already held very high in my estimation, is brother of the Chevalier Venuti, with whom I contracted a friendship at Florence, and through whose kind offices I was honoured with a place in the academy of Cortona. I earnestly supplicate that you will entertain for me sentiments congenial with those of your brother. I have learnt by letter from M. Campagne, the elegant present you have entrusted him with for me; and that lays me under the greatest obligation to you. Mr. Baritaut had already made me read a part of this work; and what pleased me infinitely in your dissertations, was to discover wit and learning united, so rare a phænomenon in the literary world!
You are the cause, Sir, that the academy of Bourdeaux presses me so violently to obtain an arret of the grand council for creating twenty associates, instead of twenty pupils. The great desire she has of boasting your enrolment on her list; and the difficulty arising on the other hand from all the associates places being filled, instigates her with the desire of seeing new places created. The affairs of Cardinal de Polignac, and others, have proved an obstacle to this arret’s being not yet obtained. I write however to the gentlemen of the academy, about removing this impediment, and that you deserve, if the door be shut, to favour your entrance, a breach should be made. I hope, Sir, that next year, in case I should return to my provincial residence, I shall have the honour of seeing you at Clerac, and of inviting you to Bourdeaux. I shall cherish every opportunity that may contribute to encrease our acquaintance; no body can be more respectfully your’s than I am.
P. S. When you write to your brother the Chevalier Venuti, be so good as to relate to him a thousand things on my behalf. His excellent qualities are ever present in my mind’s eye.
To the Abbé Nicolini , at Florence.
I HAVE received with a sincere joy the letter you have been pleased to honour me with, dear and illustrious Abbé. You are one of those men who can never be forgotten, and impress an indelible stamp on remembrance. My heart, my soul, all all are yours, dearest Abbé.
You inform me of two very agreeable articles; the one is that we are to see the noble Cerati in France, and the other is, that the Marchioness Feroni has not forgotten me. I pray you will be so good as to cement with the one and the other, that friendship they have been so kind as to honour me with, and of which I would fain be thought worthy. I cannot help being vain about one article, nay of boasting, that although born on this side of the Alps, I have been as much charmed by her manifold excellencies as any of you, who drew your first breath on the other side.
I am now at Bourdeaux about a month, and propose continuing there three or four months longer, where I should be inconsolable were that to prevent the pleasure of seeing my dearest Cerati; but in that case, I must dare to presume on his coming to visit me at Bourdeaux. He there would see his friend, and through that occasion, enjoy a better view of France, in which there is nothing worth the seeing but Paris, and the distant provinces, because the latter have not as yet been devoured by the former; he then must shape his way along the two sides of a square, instead of proceeding on it’s diagonal line, and conveniently take in a view of our more beautiful provinces, which are those bordering on the ocean, and Mediterranean.
What think you now of the English? Behold how they cover all the seas. They are like an immense whale, et latum sub pectore possidet æquor. The queen of Spain has taught Europe a grand secret, to wit, that the Indies, which were believed to be attached to her by an hundred thousand chains, holds to the Spanish crown but by a weak and very slender thread. Adieu dear and illustrious Abbé, grant to me the same cordial sentiments with which my bosom glows for you. I am with every mark of respect.
Bourdeaux, March 6, 1740.
To Mr. Cerati, at Pisa.
YOUR letter, Sir, came very late to hand. It is dated January the 10th, and I did not receive it till the 5th of May, at Bourdeaux, where I have been for a month past, and shall continue for three or four months longer. Promise to me, nay swear, that if I am not in Paris when you shall pass through that city, you will come and see me at Bourdeaux, and make that your way in returning to Italy. I have already observed to Nicolini, that there is nothing more in it than in pursuing the two sides of a parallelogram, instead of following the diagonal line; by which direction the beautiful part of France is to be seen; but if on the contrary you should chuse traversing by the midway of the kingdom, you then can see Paris only, but not your friend. However, observe, that this is meant in case I should not be at Paris when you shall be there; but whether absent from or present in that metropolis, I shall take care of all due honours being paid to a person so deserving, and that is, by the introducing you on our Mount Parnassus. If you should incline for visiting England, let me know it, that I may give you letters for several of my friends there. In fine, I flatter myself with the pleasing hope, that you will from time to time let me hear from you during your voyage, and inform me by letter, how you proceed. My address is either at Bourdeaux or at Paris, St. Dominic street. You are going to enjoy the most agreeable tour that can be made. In regard to finances, if at Paris, I shall be your mentor. In that surprising city, you will see crowds of meritorious people trudging on foot, and the gaudy carriages occupied for the most part by worthless coxcombs. Cardinal de Polignac has judged right in not going to the conclave, and in leaving this affair of ecclesiastic intrigue to be determined by others: he is however in a very good state of health, and that is the most important of affairs both to himself, and his friends. You will find him as amiable as ever, though he is not now in the fashion. Farewel illustrious Sir, and be persuaded that I not only now am, but ever shall, while life endures, be actuated by the most affectionate sentiments for your welfare. As much as the world in general esteems, so do I love your merit; and in whatever realm you may be stationed, you will be ever present to my thoughts. I have the honour of being with the most profound respect and esteem.
To Abbé Venuti at Clerac.
I HAVE but just time, Sir, to write to you a world or two. Some of your friends have applied to me to speak to Madame de Tencin about certain letters that have been written against you . But as I am altogether in the dark concerning this affair, and am absolutely ignorant whether they mean the first letters, or any new ones: be so good then as to clear up this matter. Communicate to me what you desire I should say to the cardinal, whose arrival here is expected soon; for you may believe me to be, without any reserve, your openly avowed and very respectful friend.
Paris, April 17, 1742.
To Abbé de Guasco, at Turin.
I AM very glad to learn, my dear friend, that the letter which I gave you for our ambassador has rendered Turin agreeable to you, and made it to compensate in some manner for the harsh treatment you had met with from the Marquis d’Ormea . I was very certain that Mr. de Sennectere and his lady would be very well pleased with your acquaintance, and that from the moment they should be made to know, who you are, they would receive you with open arms. I commission you, Sir, to assure them how gratefully sensible I am of the very obliging regard with which they have honoured my recommendation. I also congratulate you on the pleasure which you will have in travelling with the Count of Egmond. He is indeed one of my friends, and one of the nobility for whom I have the greatest esteem. I accept of the appointment to sup with you at his house, on your return from Naples. But I am very apprehensive, that if the war continues, I must go, and pass my time obscurely at la Brede. The commerce of Guienne will in consequence be soon at its last gasp, because our wines will remain in our cellars, and in that article you know consist all our riches. I foresee that the provisional treaty between the courts of Turin and Vienna will deprive us of the Commander de Solar, and in that case I shall regret Paris less. Say a thousand things for me to the Marquis de Breil. Humanity will be under a lasting obligation to that gentleman for the excellent education which he has given to his royal highness the Duke of Savoy, of whom I often hear most noble instances. I own I am not free from the tincture of a pleasing vanity on this head, by enjoying a completion of that laudable idea which I had formed of this excellent man, when I had the honour of knowing him at Vienna. I ardently wish for your return to Paris, before my departure from it, till when I reserve to myself the satisfaction of letting you into the secret of the temple of Gnidus . Endeavour to settle your family affairs in the best manner you can, and assign over to a more favourable time all thoughts of a due reparation for ministerial wrongs done to your house. It is in your own upright principles, your prudent conduct, and laudable occupations that you are to seek, at the present time for arms, consolation, and resources. The Marquis d’Ormea is not a man to flinch: and on maturely considering the situation of affairs at your court now, there would be but little attention paid to your representations. The ambassador salutes you; his eyes begin to be opened, and to see his female friend in a point of light, to which I have somewhat contributed, and am not displeased with myself for so doing: because this made him out an ugly and dishonourable figure,—adieu.—
To the Count of Guasco, Colonel of Foot.
I WAS charmed, my dear Count, on receiving a proof of your kind remembrance, in the letter which your brother sent to me. Madam de Tencin and other persons to whom I have paid your compliments, have commissioned me to assure you with what acknowledging sensibility they have been accepted. I am sorry that it is not in my power to satisfy your curiosity concerning the letters, of the lady our friend. It is a secret that I am under a promise of not revealing.
The confidence with which you are pleased to honour me, demands, that I declare frankly my mind on the interesting subject of your letter. I am not to conceal from you that I have communicated it to Commander de Solar, whom you are to look upon as one of your friends. We both concur in opinion, that the offers made by M. de Belle-Isle, in order to attach you and your brother to the service of France, are by no means acceptable. After the advantageous reports that have been made of you to him in M. de la Chetardie’s letters, it is inconceivable how he could flatter himself with the notion of retaining you, by the proposal of a rank inferior to that you have had under other banners. I do not know upon what is founded the report that in France, the military ranks in other countries are not deemed as equivalent to hers. Such a maxim would be neither just nor polite, and must deprive us of many good officers. I think you have been perfectly right to refuse joining in his expedition, till you should have previous and solid assurances from the court of those conditions, it would not be unseemly in you to comply with. But as you appear to be quite determined on the negative side; it were useless to trouble you with any more reflections upon the subject.
The proposals from the Prussian ambassador about raising a foreign regiment, deserve a more serious attention, so that they may seem fair to jump in amicably with your finances. But one must calculate for futurity, as well as for the present. What assurance have you, that on the conclusion of a peace, the regiment may not be reformed, and in such a case what retribution are you to hope in lieu of the pecuniary advances that you must inevitably have made. Besides, in the point of interest, that court cannot be dealt with too cautiously.
In regard to the insinuated advantages that may accrue to you from passing over to the service of the new emperor; you are a more competent judge than I can pretend to be, for to decide solidly on the affair, and too prudent to let yourself be dazzled by any false glare. For my part, being not as yet thoroughly convinced of the stability of the new political German system, I should not incline to found my hopes on a precarious, or perhaps, transitory fortune. From what I have said, you must perceive that I cannot but approve of the engagements offered to you, from the Austrian service. Moreover your first inclinations were turned that way, and the example held out to you by so many of your countrymen, prove that service to be congenial to your nation. The adverse strokes of fortune with which the court of Vienna is now afflicted, I look upon but as temporary disasters. Because a great and long established power, that has a natural and intrinsic energy to supply it with resources, cannot be overturned and reduced in a hurry. Notwithstanding whatever mishaps may have befallen it, the military service will be always there upon a more solid foundation, than in a newly raised and too rapidly spreading state. It is more than an even bett, that the court of Turin will make one common cause with that of Vienna. Consequently the motives, which in quitting Piedmont hindred you from entering into the Austrian service, are ceased in the present circumstances. Nay, I do not see a better opportunity for your sneering at, and triumphing over the insolent enmity of the Marquis d’Ormea, than by serving a court in alliance with his, and where too, considering what has been formerly transacted, he must have no great credit . But you are prudent and cautious, therefore I submit entirely to your own judgment those conjectures of mine, which a sincere desire for your welfare, as well as the discussion and candour of reason, have equally given birth to. I shall learn with pleasure your final resolution, and am with every assurance of respect.
To the Abbé de Guasco.
THE Abbé Venuti has informed me, dear Sir, of the great affliction you have suffered for the loss of your deceased friend, Prince Cantimir; as well as of the intended project to make a tour into our southern provinces for the recovery of your health. Whithersoever you go, you will find friends to fill up the place of him you have lost. But, alas, Russia will not so readily supply an ambassador of equal merit with the late Prince Cantimir. I join with Abbé Venuti in urging the execution of your project. The air, the grapes, the wine produced on the banks of the Garonne; and, above all, the native pleasantry of the Gascoons, are excellent antidotes against melancholy. I exult in the idea of conducting you to my country seat, at la Brede, where, to say the truth, you will see but an old gothic castle, yet with an exterior pleasingly decorated, and of which I took the idea in England. Now, Sir, as you are a gentleman of taste, I mean to consult you about those articles I intend adding to it. But there is a more important subject which I propose consulting you upon, and that is my grand work , that now advances with gigantic strides, since I am no longer harrassed with parisian invitations to toilsome dinners and fatiguing suppers. I with much satisfaction observe my stomach to be better in consequence; and I hope that the sober course of life, which you shall lead with me, will prove the most powerful specific against all your present ills. I expect your arrival here in the approaching autumn, and long most fervently to embrace you.
Bourdeaux, August, 1744.
To the Same.
WE shall set out, my learned friend, on Monday next; I rely upon your making one of the party.—Altho’ I cannot make room for you in my post-chaise, because I am to take Madame de Montesquieu with me; I shall furnish you with horses. One of them moves as easily as a boat on a smooth canal, or as a Venetian gondola, or as a bird that skims through the air. Exercise on horseback is said to be very good for ailments of the breast. The celebrated Sydenham, England’s Hippocrates, recommends it highly. And we have had among us a great physician, who, through a persevering zeal for the superior efficacy of his remedy, died on horseback. We shall sojourn at la Brede until St. Martin’s Festival.—There we will study, will walk, will plant trees, will lay out meadows—Adieu, dear Abbé, I embrace you with all my heart.
Bourdeaux, September 30th, 1745.
To the Same.
I SHALL be in town the day after to-morrow. Accept not of any invitation to dine on Friday next, for I have engaged for your going to President Barbot’s. You must be there precisely at ten o’clock in the morning, as we are to begin a reading of the grand work which you have heard of. We propose also to continue the reading after dinner. There will be none other present but you, my son, and the president. You will have an uncontrolled liberty to judge and to censure .
I have sent your anacreontic production to my daughter. It is a charming piece, and must prove very flattering to her. I have read also your new year’s gift or epistle in the Petrarch-manner, to Madam de Pontac . It is enriched with most pleasing ideas. Why, my dear Abbé, you are a poet, and yet by your conduct it seems as if you do not know it.—Adieu.
La Brede, Feb. 10, 1745.
To the Countess de Pontac.
From Clerac to Bourdeaux.
YOU are most obligingly amiable, madam, to have taken the trouble of writing on the marriage of my daughter . Both she and I are most devotedly your’s. We both most gratefully entreat a continuation of that kindness on your part, which is an honour to us. I have been told that the jurats have sent an embroidered velvet purse filled with jettons or counters, to Abbé Venuti. I did not think them capable even of such an act of politeness. There is nothing important in such a present but its being that of a great city. In Italy, perhaps, such a tributary compliment might give an additional consequence to his fame; but it is already too well established to need any such assistance.
You will be so good as to tell Abbé de Guasco, that I cannot comprehend what kind of echoes they are that could convey to the Mercury of Paris the verses which had been composed in the wood of la Brede. I am very angry not to have known it earlier, because I should have given this sonnet as a part of my daughter’s dowry. I have the honour to be, madam, with the most profound respect.
To Mr. Cerati.
I FIND, Sir, by your letter that you are safely arrived at Pisa. Since you say nothing about your eyes, I am induced to think that they are become better, and gather new strength every day. I wish it most devoutly, in order that you may pass through life agreeably, both for your own satisfaction and the happiness of your friends. You strenuously advise me to publish.—I as ardently advise you to do the same, and to favour the world with those admirable reflections which you must have made in the different regions that you have seen and examined. There are numbers of people who pay for posthorses and run through provinces; there are but few travellers, and scarcely one such as you. Tell Abbé Nicolini that he is indebted to us a journey to France, and how sincerely I am his friend.
How proud should I be to have you both at my country seat at la Brede, there to enjoy such conversations as the triflingness and folly of Paris so rarely admit of. I have informed Abbé Venuti that his medals are sold. I have with me Abbé de Guasco, who proves a faithful companion. He has commissioned me to present his compliments to you.
Italy must certainly be a charming place, since so many powers are so desirous of having it. There are now no less than five armies struggling for a possession of the tempting prize. In our province of Guienne no such thing happens; for there indeed no other armies are to be seen but armies of men of business, that strive truly to make a conquest of it in their way, and which they more effectually do, than Count de Gages can compleat his intended success. I suppose many sneering remarks are now made on the huge periwig of Marquis d’Ormea. I shall not go to Paris for a year to come at soonest. I have no money to support me in a city that delights in devouring the provinces, and pretends to supply us with all sorts of pleasure, by making us forget what true life is. During the two years elapsed that I am retreated hither, I have closely applied myself to the work you mention . But my life advances, and the work recoils, on account of its immensity. You may rely on your being among the first that shall receive news of its final completion. I am informed that the paper I write on begins to fail me. I therefore conclude, and present you with a thousand embraces.
Bourdeaux, Jan. 16, 1745.
To Abbé de Guasco at Clerac.
YOU have guessed right; for within these three days I have done the work of three months; so that if you come this way in the month of April, I shall be able to furnish you with the commission you are so desirous of executing for me in Holland, and according to the plan we have agreed upon. I am now thoroughly instructed in what I have to do. Out of thirty articles I will give you twenty-fix, and while you are working at them on your part, I will prepare to send to you the other four. Father Desmolets told me, that he has found a bookseller to deal with you for your manuscript copy of Satires ; but no body will bid for your learned dissertation, because there is a certainty of a good sale for every work bearing the name of Satires, but scarce any hope of selling learned dissertations.—Your Censor is dead, but that is a loss I can easily put up with, since the attacked author is still alive. It but ill becomes you, Sir, to reproach me for not having sent any news to you, especially who have never made the least mention to me of the marriage of Mademoiselle Mimi, nor of my vintage at Clerac, which must certainly turn out less profitable this year than it otherwise would, on account of the vast havock you make among the grapes of my vineyard. Lord Morthon’s affair is not like to turn out so dangerous, as was at first thought by the public, exasperated against the English by the present war. Father Desmolets has had no bickerings with those of his congregation; inasmuch as he does not wear a wig . He complains of your sending him too many commissions. I apply to you the porcupine’s motto, cominus, eminus.—Father Desmolets declares, that you have more affairs upon your hands, than if you were going to make the conquest of Provence.—Pray observe, Sir, it is he says it, not I.—While you are at Clerac be careful of three things; to preserve your eyes, to defend yourself from the gallantry of M. de la Mire, and to avoid quotations from St. Austin in your controversial disputes. I envy Madame de Montesquieu the happiness she will enjoy on seeing you again.—Adieu—and imagine I embrace you.
To the Same.
I DO not know what tour the letter may have made which you directed to me at Barege.—It came to hand but within these few days. I have been shocked to hear the tumultuous behaviour of M. le Chevalier D’****. This pretended Governor of Barege is a ridiculous man. The cordonbleu (blue ribband) must have caused strange revolutions in his head. When I shall see him in Paris, I will not fail asking him if you have made a great progress in politics by reading his Gazettes. I have related here the groundless quarrel he started against you, and at the same time seriously observed how extraordinary it was, that a man, born in the States of Sardinia, should be so anxiously disquieted on that monarch’s having the small pox, or being attached through two brothers to the court of Vienna, should appear so deeply afflicted by any mishaps that befall it. Learn from me, my good friend, that certain lordly personages are never to be disputed with after dinner. You acted according to the dictates of prudence, in writing to him the next morning. Your letter is worthy of you, and I am charmed to hear of his being disarmed by it. You have now ample cause to exult in having triumphed over one of our Lieutenant-Generals, without the aid of any person, and that on the anniversary day of St. Lewis too.
Let me know if you are to accompany Madame de Montesquieu to Clerac, because my work advances; but if you should take the opposite road, let me know whither I can forward to you the part that is soon to be ready. I hope that your ambitious and aspiring trip to the Pike in the south, will turn out of more happy event than your hunting after the amiantus, or your fishing for trouts in the lake of the Pyrenean Mountains. I observe, my good Sir, that difficult enterprizes have great charms for you; and that you are more impelled thereto by mental curiosity, than by bodily strength. Remember that your eyes are but little better than mine. Leave it then to my son, who has good ones, to clamber up to the tops of mountains, there to make researches for the extending of natural history. But preserve yours for necessary things alone. If you have been looked upon as a dangerous politician, because you love to read Gazettes; you now run the risk of passing for a sorcerer, if you be seen climbing to the summits of craggy rocks. Farewell.
Paris, August, 1746.
To the Same.
I HAVE read, learned Sir, your dissertation upon pleasure, and am certain that I shall adorn your head with a second laurel crown from my garden, if you be at la Brede, as I hope you will, when the academy shall have decided in your favour. The subject is beautiful, vast, interesting, and you have treated it in a masterly manner. I am pleased to see you in idea hunting on my ground,--You!--and who would not be so on seeing such a sportsman?
There are two articles in your dissertation which I wish you would clear up. The first is, that according as the text now stands, one might be induced to believe, you rank Carthage after the second Punic war, as among the autonomous cities subject to the Roman empire. You must very well know, that she then continued to be a free state, and intirely independant. The second objection relates to what you say concerning the title of Eleutherian; you indicate no difference between the towns that took this title, and those which took that of Autonomous. You have touched but slightly on an affair, which merits to be seriously cleared up. You cannot be ignorant that there are solemn debates upon this subject, and that in the sense of many learned men, Eleutherian signifies something more than Autonomous. I advise you to consider this affair attentively, and on its account to give some additional matter to your dissertation. I have had a berlin made on purpose, that you may be carried with more ease and convenience to Clerac, a place you love so much. We shall have no more disputes about usury, and that will gain you two hours a day. My meadows want you, and the smart lively servant never ceases to say, “O now if the Abbé were here.” I answer for that lad’s being very docile to your instructions; he will make as many trenches to carry off the water as you please. Let me know if I may flatter myself with the hope of your coming along the Guienne; because in that case I may now profit of an opportunity that presents itself of sending directly my manuscript to the printer .
In order to enjoy you myself, I release you from your promise, and the readier, since the impression of the work is not now to be made in Holland, much less in England, because she being an enemy we are to carry on no exchange of commerce with her, but that of cannon-balls. The Piedmontese are by no means in the same predicament, because we are not to look upon ourselves as in a state of warfare with each other; and if we besiege their forts, and they make our battalion prisoners there is no harm meant on either side; and it is done only by way of military amusement. Therefore you can have no cogent reasons for leaving us. You will be always received as a friend in Guienne. I thank you for having spoken of me to the Serenissimo, and am much flattered with his obliging remembrance of my having paid my court to him at Modena. I will send you one of my books, which you request, for him. You will find herewith subjoined the notes, but rather obscuring than elucidating , which are sent to you by the chapter of Cominges. You must be very simple, and unexperienced, my dear Abbé, to imagine that the members of a chapter ever give themselves the trouble of making literary researches; it is not I, but my brother who is dean of a chapter, that gives you the friendly advice of addressing yourself to better hands. Let not that however retard your history of Clement V. ; you have promised it to our academy; return and you will work much more at your ease upon the tomb of this pope . I desire that you will not omit the article of Brunissende , for I apprehend that you are too timorous to treat of this affair, and therefore desire no more than your dispatching it in a note. Your researches will make you read the works of learned men; and a touch of gallantry will make you read the works of those who are not. I have sent your medal to Bourdeaux, with orders to deliver it to M. Tourni, that he may forward it to the intendant of Languedoc. My dear Sir, this affair is attended with two difficulties, the one is to come at the medal; and the other, that the medal should come to you. Adieu, I respect you, I sigh for you, and in the mean time present the friendly effusions of my heart.
To the Same.
MY dear Abbé, I have hitherto spoken to you but of vague matters, but now I come to things of a more precise nature. I am anxious to publish my work as soon as possible. I shall begin to-morrow to give the last hand to the first volume, that is to the first thirteen books, and I think you may receive them in about five or six weeks. As I have very strong reasons to have nothing to do in this affair with Holland, and much less with England, I intreat that I may be let to know if you persevere in the resolution, to make the tour of Switzerland before you visit the two other countries: because in that case you must depart immediately from the delightful climate of Languedoc. I shall send my packet to Lyons, which you will find ready as you pass through that city. I leave you to your own free choice, Geneva, Soleure, or Basle. While you are continuing your voyage, and the printing of the first volume, being commenced and proceeded on, I shall apply myself closely to a completion of the second volume; and that I shall forward to you according to your directions when you shall please to send them. This will consist of ten books, and the following of seven. They will be volumes in 4to. I wait for your answer upon this subject, and to be sure of your setting off directly, without your stopping at either right or left. I most ardently wish that my work may be honoured with a god-father such as you. Adieu, my dear friend, and think that I embrace you.
Paris, December 6, 1746.
To the Same.
MY letter to which I have received your answer, has produced a quite different effect from what I expected; it has expedited, it seems, your departure, instead (as I relied on) of making you tarry, to receive some news of my manuscript having been sent off; that was at least the literal and spiritual sense of my letter. But having heard since that time of the Austrian army’s passing the Var, I began to reflect that you were a Piedmontese, that therefore it must be very disagreeable to a man who thinks only of his favourite books, his chosen studies, and not at all of the affairs of princes, to be in a strange country during such circumstances as the present, and that therefore you might take it into your head to repair to your own country, and the more so, if the report be true that your friend the Marquis d’Ormea is dead or out of favour . I told our common friend Gendron, the disagreeable situation into which such an event must have plunged you, and he is quite of the same opinion with me. We hoped indeed that at the conclusion of a peace, you might enjoy with more tranquility the sweets of France, a country which you love, and where you are much beloved. Perhaps, my dear friend, I have pushed my scruples too far on a certain article; but in that I rely upon your prudence and wisdom. Moreover, in the present situation of affairs, I do not think it proper for me, to send my book to be printed; and the more so, because I am uncertain what part you will take. If you think of remaining in France, I doubt not but you will revisit the Garonne, and write another dissertation, in order to obtain a new premium from the academy of inscriptions. In that you will imitate the Abbé le Beuf (or Ox) without being so heavy an ox as he. Farewell, I embrace you with all my heart.
Paris, December 24, 1746.
To the same Abbé de Guasco.
YOU have been true to your word, Sir; sent me the extract of my letter: wherein are some articles of no value. I had written to you that I should send you a part of my work, but on the condition, that on receipt thereof, you should not be amused from it by any other pursuits; now, Sir, what is the nature of your proceeding relative to this contract? Why truly without waiting for the arrival of, you have wantonly set out on your several excursionary tours of curiosity. My opinion is, that when the system of the metempsychosis takes place in you, your next appearance on our globe, will be in the person of a profest traveller—I advise you to get yourself cured of this folly.—But from such whims let us now turn to matters of more importance.
In three months hence, you shall receive from me fifteen or twenty books, that need only to be read anew, and copied again; by which means, of five parts you will have received three, which are to constitute the first volume: I then shall proceed to work upon the second volume, which you may expect to receive about two or three months after. If you have no excursions, either literary or gallant to make in Languedoc, you would do well to resume your post of confessor to Mademoiselle de Montesquieu, or that of penitent to the Bishop of Agen.
But whatever may be your destination, and in whatever place you will point out to me, I shall send to you at the end of April, the first volume.—If you think it may be necessary to have a passport from our court, let me be your last resource, because in my opinion, it is better to employ the interest of Mr. Le Nain, or Mr. de Tourni.—What I say is not an evasive pretext, from rendering you all the service I can, but from a certain knowledge that intendants have more power in that quarter, than a president who does not act in office. I embrace you with all my heart.
Paris, February 20, 1747.
To the Same.
I HAVE spoken to M. de Boze, who sent me off in an aukward, and unpolite manner, saying forsooth, that he did not meddle in such business, and that the proper persons to be applied to were Mr. Freret , and the Count de Maurepas. He sarcastically observed, that it was the common phrenzy of all those who had obtained a premium, to think they ought to be forthwith admitted as members of the academy. In my opinion he has somebody else in view. I spoke on the same day to Mr. Du Clos, who seems to be very well inclined, but then remember he is but one of the last. There is no way of securing Mr. de Maurepas’ interest, but through the Dutchess of Aiguillon your favourite muse. If I propose it to her, it is morally certain that she will do nothing in the affair. But if you write to her yourself, she will speak to me upon the subject, then I shall say such things as will make her your sanguine patroness. If you should win another premium, that would smooth all difficulties. Father Desmolets told me, that you are at work; so am I: but my work goes on heavy.
The Chevalier Caldwell has informed me by letter, that you were tempted to accompany him into Egypt, to which I made answer that it was, no doubt with a design of seeing your brethren the mummies. His adventure at Toulouse is very laughable . It seems that in this city, the folks are as fanatically mad in political as religious affairs.
Present my respectful compliments to the first president M. Bon. The first physical production I had ever seen, was a treatise upon Spiders, written by him. I have always looked upon him as one of the most learned personages in France. His example first inspired me with a noble emulation, seeing that he had joined such a consummate knowledge of his own profession, with that of other callings. Assure him of my sincere thanks for all the marks of kindness, with which he was pleased to favour me. I had also the honour of knowing Mr. Le Nain , at La Rochelle, to which place I went to see the Count of Matignon. I pray you will call up anew to his memory, the sincerity of my respect towards him. It is reported here, that by his prudent and œconomical dispositions, he has banished the enemy from Provence. Your bill of exchange is not yet arrived, but only a letter of advice. You see, Sir, what it is to have a quick and lively feeling; you have sent Mr. Jude almost breathless for a thing, that he might have proceeded in quest of, with all his wonted and solemn gravity. Adieu! I embrace you with all my heart.
Paris, March 1, 1747.
To Mr. Cerati.
I HAVE received, Sir, my illustrious friend being at Paris, the letter for which I am obliged to your friendship. You do not make any mention of your health, and I should be glad to have a better guarantee for it than mere negative proofs. You have inserted one article in your letter, which I have read over several times with a glowing pleasure, and which is that where you say, you feel a strong desire of passing two years in Paris, and that from thence you might probably stretch as far as Bourdeaux. These are very agreeable ideas; and on my part I have formed the project of going some time or other to Pisa, in order to correct my work with you; and where can I meet with a sounder judgment than yours? The war has so perplexed me, that I have been obliged to pass three years and a half on my estate, in the country: thence I returned to Paris. But if the war should seem likely to continue much longer, I will betake me again to my rural retreat, and there shut myself up snugly in my philosophical shell, until the return of peace. It seems indeed to me, that all the princes of Europe are desirous of a peace; if so, they are pacific. No, not they—for there cannot be any pacific princes, but those who are willing to sacrifice something for the sake of peace; as no man can be called generous, who cannot on a proper occasion yield up a part of his interest; and no man can be deemed charitable who does not know when to give. To dispute too rigorously about matters of interest and property, is the spunge of every virtue. You do not make any mention of your eyes; mine are precisely in the same situation, as when you left me. I have at last discovered that a cataract is formed on the good eye, which Mr. Gendron, my Fabius Maximus, tells me is of a benign disposition; and that he will soon open the window-shutter. However, I have desired that the operation may be put off until next spring; for which reason I shall pass the winter here.—To mend the matter, that excellent man, our good friend Gendron, is in very good health, and we frequently say to each other, “Have you lately received any news from M. Cerati?”—He is as gay as ever, and reasons as well.——
Apropos, I had like to have forgotten to inform you, that on my arrival at Paris, I found that city happily delivered from the presence of the greatest fool, coxcomb, and most disagreeable pest of society that I had ever known. His voyage to England, has procured to me four or five months quiet breathing in Paris; and most luckily for me since his return hither, I have seen him but once, and that on the night before my departure for the country, with the most devout and zealous wish of never seeing him more.—You must very well know, that by this sketch, I can mean no other person but the Marquis de Loc-Maria, whose unparalleled faculty of tiring is more than sufficient to torture, not only the human race, but to add to the sufferings of those in hell, in purgatory, and make even the inhabitants of Paradise unhappy.
The work you know, is to make its appearance in five volumes, to which hereafter may be added a sixth by way of supplement; of which whenever it may happen, you shall have early notice. I am quite broken down with fatigue; I now propose enjoying the sweets of rest the remainder of my life. Adieu, dear Sir, I hope you will always preserve a warm place for me in your remembrance: And on my side I shall ever think on you with the tenderest sentiments of friendship, therefore conclude with all possible respect.
To Abbé de Guasco, at Aix.
VICTORIOUS Abbé I announce to you, your success in having obtained a second triumph at the Academy. I have not made any mention of your affairs to Madame D’Aiguillon, that lady having set off with lightning-speed for Bourdeaux: Her thoughts are now all engrossed about her freehold affair; to which every other consideration must give way for the present, even that of the most valued friends.
I manifest to you at the same time, that at the beginning of the next month, the work in question will be ready to be copied. I am almost of a mind to publish it in twelves, which I shall send to you. It will amount to five distinct volumes in the copy. Be pleased to let me know what address I am to write on your packet; I expect an answer from you before it can be finished, wherefore you are not to let slip any time before you write to me, and let me know where you shall be all the month of June. I am glad to hear that your health meliorates; for your quincey had alarmed me much. Adieu, dear Sir.
Paris, May 4, 1747.
I AM on the wing, as well as you, my dear friend, and ready to set off for Lorraine with Madame de Mirepoix; I address this letter to Mr. le Nain. There must have been something wrongly expressed in my letter to him. I meant only to say, there was every appearance of your becoming a member of the academy, but not that you were actually one. I make no doubt of a place being granted to you on your being presented to the academy, in consequence of this second victory. I thought I had already informed you of my having sent your second medal to the care of Mr. Dalnet at Bourdeaux, and he being worth two or three millions of currency in our French livres, I thought I could not have made a better choice to deposit your treasure with. Your letter has quite confounded and put me out of my bias, seeing you to be thus involved in a variety of undertakings that would require an age for their completion; and that besides, one does not know where certainly to find you, in the circle of ten or twelve cities or towns, whose names you have recited; seeing also that in those places where I was obliged to apply for the printing of my work, on account of the present war, you might not find all the conveniencies necessary; I have seized on an occasion that has presented itself to me, and that I thought would prove more agreeable to you than to break the chain of your intended voyages. My wish of preference is, that you would take the road to Bourdeaux. If you can be there next autumn, or in the spring following, I shall see you with the greatest pleasure. I rely upon your accepting an apartment in my house, and promise that I shall not treat with my usual familiarity, a gentleman who has triumphed twice in the academy. Farewell dear Abbé; I embrace you a thousand times.
Paris, May 30, 1747.
To the Same.
I HAD the honour of writing to you, my dear Abbé, whose letter tells me nothing but what is very true, in mentioning the difficulties which you should meet with in this affair, besides the several voyages, commenced, projected, and to be put in execution; and that consideration has made me to profit of a very favourable opportunity that presented itself, and which rescues you from a great deal of trouble.
I am now to tell you, that for the present I thought proper to retrench the chapter on the Stadtholdership. In the now-critical situation of affairs, it might undergo the disgrace of an unfavourable reception in France . And I am resolved to decline every cause for altercation or chicanery. But that shall be no hindrance of my giving it to you hereafter for the Italian translation which you have undertaken to perform, as soon as my book is printed, I will take care that you shall have one of the first copies. You will find it much more commodious to translate from the printed, than the manuscript copy.
I have been whelmed with civilities, acts of politeness, and honours done to me at the court of Lorraine. I have enjoyed most delightful moments, in conversation with King Stanislaus. It is very probable that I shall be at Bourdeaux before the end of August. In the interval, until my return you should go and visit Madame de Montesquieu at Clerac. I shall not fail sending to you the two copies of the new edition of my romances which I have promised to you; one for his Serene Highness, and the other for M. le Nain. Farewell, I embrace you with all my heart.
To the Same.
I ASK pardon for having amused you with false hopes of my return. Particular business by which I am detained in Paris, has hindered me from departing hence as soon as I had intended, I am now ever on the wing here, like yourself, but shall nevertheless be at Bourdeaux in the beginning of March. In the mean time I must pray you to present compliments for me, and make my court to the most amiable Countess de Pontac, at whose mansion I believe you reside at present, and from which seat of inchantment, I hope, you will deign to come to Bourdeaux, where we will dispute upon politics, on divinity, and I will send my book to M. le Nain. There can be no harm in sending a romance to a counsellor of state . But for heads like yours, there must be provided a more solid entertainment, such as is to be found in the thoughts of a Pascal, although the eighteen or twenty ladies placed to your account in Languedoc and Provence (as I have been informed by Prince Wurtemburg) must have greatly changed, and rendered you less incredulous, concerning adventures of gallantry. Your case will not be unlike to that of the hermit, whose damnation the devil effectuated by shewing him a little shoe. I always perceived in you a tendency for elegant desires, and am sure that in your religious worship, you often felt a mutinous rebel in your heart. But let that pass, you must be studious to divest yourself at Bourdeaux. I will recommend you to the care of my daughter-in-law for that purpose.
I saw Mr. de Boze the other day, and had a long conversation with him about you. When next you shall make your appearance in this part of the world, you will be admitted a member of the academy, through the great gate (that is in a distinguished manner.) Yet, nevertheless my advice to you, is to write another dissertation upon the subject that is proposed for the premium of next year, and as this not only is connected with the one you have already treated , but that you are also a perfect master of the series of the several preceding reigns, you will meet with far less difficulties in your present researches. If the memoirs which I had composed on the history of Lewis XI. had not been burnt , I could have supplied you with some materials for this subject.
If you are so lucky as to be adjudged a third premium, you then will not want the recommendatory assistance of any person, and your reception will in consequence be the more glorious. You will have as much leisure time as you please at Clerac and la Brede, where you will not be distracted by either voyages or ladies. You will be quite at home in writing this work, therefore you can execute it with much more ease to yourself, than any other person can. Adieu, I present you with a thousand embraces.
Paris, October 19, 1747.
To the Same.
ALL I can tell you is, that I intend to set out as soon as possible for Bourdeaux, and that I hope to have the pleasure of seeing you there. I own that I owe you my thanks for the two little dogs of Bengal, of the same race with those of Don Philip, which you are to bring me. But as my thanks ought to be proportioned to the beauty of the dogs, I must wait to have seen them before I can appreciate the words of my compliment. It is not however for blind fellows like you and me to suit them properly, I leave that to my huntsman, who in such subjects is a very intelligent mortal, as you well know, and consequently a better judge than either of us can pretend to be.
I have sent my romance to M. le Nain, and I think it is not a little extraordinary to have a theologist to be the chief panegyrist of so frivolous a work. I am about sending a copy of the new edition of the Rise and Fall of the Romans to Prince Edward, who on sending his manifesto to me, observed it was proper a correspondence should be kept up among authors, and that therefore he requested my works.
I am rendering you all the service I can here.—I have spoken of you to the Countess de Sennectere, who declares herself to be greatly your friend; I did not design to speak of you to the mother, for mothers are with you musty articles, and that have but very little place in your affections. Pray present a number of compliments for me to the Countess de Pontac: whatever you may say in behalf of the daughter, I hold still for the mother. I am not so falsely delicate in this article as you are.
Inform Abbé Venuti that I have spoken to the Abbé de St. Cyr, who says he will attempt another effort with the Bishop of Mirèpoix. I never knew a man who held in higher estimation those who administer only the offices of religion, or in less those who prove it .
Mr. Lomellini has told me, that during your stay in Languedoc, you were become a citizen of St. Marino , and one of the most illustrious senators of that republic. I laughed heartily at the news. It could not truly be that qualification which inspired M. de Belleisle with so violent a desire of having you along with him on the banks of the Var, because he knew very well that you were the native of another country; and I think you did very wisely in not accepting of his invitation: Heaven knows what various interpretation would be started upon such a voyage into your own country.
I ardently wish I may find you at Bourdeaux on my return thither, and the more so as I want to have your friendly opinion in an affair that concerns me personally. My son will not take upon him the charge of President de Mortier, which I had long destined to be his lot in life.—I therefore must either sell, or resume the place myself. It is upon this alternative that we must have some conference, before I come to a final determination. I expect from you your sincere opinion after that I shall have candidly displayed to you, the reasons for, or against either side of the question: contrive matters so, as that you may not be long waited for.—Adieu.
Paris, March 28th, 1748.
To Mr. Cerati.
I HAVE received, Sir, not only with pleasure, but with infinite joy, your favour thro’ the channel of Prince de Craon; but as in the letter there is no mention made of your health, and that you write nevertheless, I naturally conclude it to be good, an advantage in which I am so much interested. Mr. Gendron is not dead; and I hope you will see him again at Paris, walking in his garden, with his little cane, and not breaking out into any expressions of admiration, either in behalf of the Jesuits or physicians. But to speak seriously, it is a happiness for society, that so excellent a man is still alive. What a loss should you and I have in his death.—He always begins a conversation with me in those words, “have you received any news from M. Cerati?”
Abbé de Guasco is returned from his tour of Languedoc, or Provence.—You have known him a virtuous man; but like Solomon and David, he too is lost. The Prince of Wurtemburg has informed me, that there are twenty-one ladies enrolled upon his list. He says, indeed, it is better that number should be ascribed to him than but one; and perhaps he is in the right. But in the midst of his vagrant gallantries, he fails not to carry off premiums at the academy; he obtained the one of last year; and has lately succeeded in winning that of the present. In about a fortnight I must quit Paris, and spend four or five months at my provincial dwelling. I shall take Abbé de Guasco with me to la Brede, that he may perform due penance there, for the late irregularities of his life. Madam Geofrin’s house is frequented by the best company, she is very desirous that you and I should encrease the number.—You will oblige me much, by paying my respectful compliments and court to the prince de Craon, and assure him that I should deem it one of the most brilliant incidents of my life, could I have the happiness of being for some time near him. In the interim, I have the honour of paying my court to one of an exalted character, and nearly of a similar stamp, I mean the prince de Beauvais. Believe me he has the proper stuff in him, and the materials requisite for constituting a great man. I plume myself on forming a just and precious judgment of those who are destined to run the career of glory, nor have I been much mistaken.
In regard of my work, I will let you into the secret. It is actually printing in a foreign country; this fact I continue to tell you in great secrecy. There will be two volumes in quarto, of which one is printed, but will not be published until the other is ready. Immediately on the fixed time for publication, I will send you a set, as an homage due to you from my estate. I have almost exhausted myself for three months past, in endeavouring to finish a short tract, I mean to add to them, and that will form a book, on the origin and revolution of our civil laws in France.—Although the reading of it would not take up more than three hours time; yet, I assure you, I have been obliged to work so hard upon this interesting matter, that it has made my hairs become white. In order that my work were complete in all points, it would be necessary that I should give two additional books on the feudal laws. I think I have made some elucidating discoveries upon a topic the most obscure in literary researches, but which nevertheless affords a more magnificent subject. If I can be left quiet for three months, I think I may be able to put a finishing hand to these two desirable books, if not, my work must go forth without them.
The favour that your friend M. de Hein does me often, to come and pass the morning with me, is not of the most obliging nature, because it proves prejudicial to my work, both by the badness of the corrupt French which he speaks, and the irksome prolixity of his details. He has been just now with me, to know if I had received any news from you. He takes up my time unmercifully in complaining of an old malady which he has long laboured under, to wit, a difficulty of making urine; and says, that M. le Dran has not been able as yet to cure him. With le Dran he seems to be as little satisfied as with the Stadtholder.—Pray let me always have some share in your friendship, nor ever absolutely consign to oblivion, a man who loves and honours you.
Paris, March 28, 1748.
To Prince Charles Edward.
MOST illustrious Prince, I was at first afraid lest that I should be charged with vanity for the liberty I had taken to present you with my work. But to whom, with more propriety, can the Roman heroes be presented than to him who makes them to revive in his person. I have the honour of being with infinite respect.—
To the Grand Prior Solar, Ambassador from Malta, at Rome.
SIR, and most noble commander, your letter has becalmed my soul with peace, that before its arrival was perplexed with a multitude of little trifling affairs. If I were with you at Rome, I should think of nothing but content and diversity of pleasures; and in the catalogue of my pleasures would I insert all your persecutions of me. I assure you, that if my stars should incline me to undertake any more voyages, I will go to Rome, and there challenge you to the fulfilling of your promise. I will insist on having a small chamber in your house. Rome (antica e moderna) hath always delighted me. What an intensity of pleasure must it be to meet one’s friends at Rome! I must inform you that Marquis de Breil has not forgotten me. He was at Nice with M. de Serilly. They both have written to me a most agreeable letter, imagine to yourself, what a refined satisfaction it must be to receive marks of friendship from a man whom I revere. I have replied to him, that if my abode were on the banks of the Rhone instead of the Garonne, I should not have tarried to pay him a visit at Nice. It is no matter of surprise to me, that you are in love with Rome, for, had I eyes, I should as lieve reside in Rome as at Paris. But as Rome’s merit consists chiefly in externals, there is a too constant privation of its excellencies for those who have not eyes.
The departure of the Marquis de Mirepoix, and of the Duke of Richmond is deferred. The Paris report is, that it has been caused by the king of England’s not chusing to send a titled personage to the court of France, unless one of the same rank were also sent to his. But that is not the fact, because the high birth of M. de Mirepoix exempts him from the necessity of a title ; and that the late Emperor Charles the Sixth, who had sent Prince Lichlenstein his ambassador to France, did not, through a groundless delicacy, make any objection to M. de Mirepoix’s being ambassador at Vienna. The true reason of the matter lies here; the Duke of Richmond is not satisfied with the sum of money that is intended to be given to him for the support of his embassy: moreover, the Duchess of Richmond is sick; and the Duke who adores, would not willingly quit her or cross the sea without her.
Our political agents here whisper, that the treaty between Spain and England goes on very lamely. They have not come to any agreement as yet about the principal point that caused the war, and which is the mode to be followed, in carrying on a commerce with America, or the 90,000l. sterling as an indemnification for the prizes taken. It is moreover reported, that in the Spanish ports all the vexations, delays, and difficulties that can be thrown in the way of the English shipping, are daily practised. Is it not curious for you to observe a provincial correspondent dealing out such fine articles of news, for which in your ecclesiastic way either of preconisation or congregation, you will hardly be able to pay me with an equivalent? The trade of Bourdeaux begins to revive, and the English have been ambitious enough to drink some of my wine this year. Our commerce notwithstanding cannot be thoroughly established, but through the means of the American isles, because our dealing with them is its principal branch. I am very much pleased to know that you like the Spirit of Laws. The eulogiums given by the general run of mankind, might flatter my vanity, but yours enhances my pride; as must all those given by a man distinguished for the soundness of his judgment . It must be owned that the subject is beautiful, is great, and I had often reason to fear lest it should become too great for me. I may indeed say that I have employed all my life in working upon it; for scarce had I quitted college, and that very young, when the books of law were put into my hands. I wanted to discover the spirit of them, I made continual researches, but to little or no purpose. It is now about twenty years ago since I first seized on my principles; they are very simple, and any other person who should have worked as much on the subject as I had, might in all probability have made more of it. But I can with truth declare, that this work had like to cost me my life. Henceforwards I mean to enjoy hours of repose, and to work no more.
I think your happiness must be compleat in having the Duke de Nivernois at Rome. That noble Lord honoured me formerly with some marks of kindness; he was then but amiable. My pride is hurt at the loss of not being near him, as he advances so laudably in the paths of reason. He has in his suite a man of merit, founded on great talents, and that is M. de la Bruere . I owe him my thanks, which I entreat that you will pay to him for me, when you shall next see him at the Duke de Nivernois’.
You seem not to desire the complimentary appellation of your Excellence; nor to have the trouble of saying, why the Devil does he plague me with your Excellence? notwithstanding the objection, I have the honour of embracing you a thousand times.
Paris, March 7, 1749.
To the Abbé and Count de Guasco, at Paris.
IN order to prove, illustrious Abbé, how much you were in the wrong to quit me, and for how short a time I can exist without you, I hereby give notice that I am to set out to-morrow for Paris in quest of you. For since your departure I feel such an irksomeness diffused over my mind, as makes me to think I am incapacitated either for enjoying myself, or doing any thing with satisfaction to myself. It was very weak in you not to have paid a visit to the archbishop , since you stopt for some time at Tours. Perhaps he was the only person you ought to have seen; you would have met with a most agreeable reception. You should also have made a short trip on the left to Verret, where the Duke and Dutchess of Aiguillon would have applauded your politeness for so doing; and surely that was a matter of more importance than going to the Abbey of Marmoutier, where there was nothing to be seen but Gothic works, and old dusty papers that must have hurt your eyes by poring on them. The anecdote of your Irish friend at Nantz, afforded me no small diversion. It was very natural for a banker to imagine, that when a travelling gentleman spoke to him about academies, he meant those of gaming, and not of literature; besides, as a money-dealing man, he had nothing to gain by the transactions of the latter. Thus the vicar sees in a dream the steeple of his parish-church, and his servant maid her master’s breeches. I knew very well that you had given sufficient proofs of your being a rambler, but till now had never surmised your having qualifications to be a courier. M. Stuart says you have quite exhausted him with fatigue. The next time that you embark your person, be so good as to embark your chaise, because people cannot labour so easily against the current of a river, as they can fall down with it. I hope that you are not in a hurry to visit England; it would be very unkind of you not to wait for a person who undertakes a journey of an hundred and fifty leagues to see you. I propose being at Paris about the 17th. You have time enough to remove to the Rue des Rosiers, for you must not be lodged too far from me.
Bourdeaux, July 2, 1749.
A Billet to the Same.
M. d’Estouteville , my dear Abbé, persecutes me to prevail on you to grant him a fixed hour every evening, in order to finish the reading and correction of his translation of Dante. He promises to be implicitly amenable to all the alterations you shall think necessary for him to make.
He solicits your indulgence only for his preface . You are not ignorant that he has a very particular style, from which he will not depart, even when he speaks to ministers . Let me know what answer I am to make to him. Remember he is to call on you every evening, until the lecture of his translation shall be finished.
To Mr. Cerati.
AS I was going on a tour into the country, I met with the Messieurs de Saint Palaye, who spoke to me of Mr. Cerati. I constantly questioned them about Mr. Cerati. One article displeased me much, and that is my not being in Rome with the great man, whom they spoke to me of with so much warmth. They informed me that you were in very good health. I return thanks to the air of Rome, and congratulate with all your friends on the happy occasion. M. de Buffon has just published three volumes, which are to be followed by twelve more. The three first contain but general ideas; the twelve other are to contain a description of the curiosities in the king’s garden. M. de Buffon has among the learned in this country a great number of enemies, and their preponderating judgments, will, I dread bear down the balance against him for some time. I, for my part, who find many excellent things in the work, shall wait with discretion and modesty, for the decision of the learned in foreign countries. I have not however as yet met with any person who does not allow that there is a great deal of useful matter in the work.
Mr. de Maupertuis, who has believed all his life, and given perhaps convincing proofs that he was not happy, has just published a treatise upon Happiness. It is the production of a man of wit, fraught both with sound reasoning and gracefulness of style. In consequence of my work on The Spirit of Laws, I hear some dissatisfied drones humming and buzzing about my years; but while the bees extract a little honey from it I am satisfied—What you write to me about it gives me infinite pleasure; for what is more agreeable than to be approved of by the persons whom we love. Deign, Sir, to accept the tribute of my most respectful sentiments.
Paris, Nov. 11, 1749.
To Abbé Venuti.
I OUGHT to thank you my dear Abbé for the fine book which the Marquis Venuti has made me a present of. I have not as yet read it, because it is at my book-binder’s; I do not doubt that it is worthy of the name it bears. I wish you a very happy year. If you are not at Bourdeaux on my return thither, I shall not only be very much displeased, but conclude also that the academy must have lost its wit, and its learning. Present my most respectful compliments to the countess , and embrace her on my behalf, while I myself, without proxy, embrace you, who are not altogether so amiable.
Paris, January 17, 1750.
To the Abbé Count de Guasco.
MY dear Count I had already learned from Lord Albemarle that you were not drowned in crossing over from Calais to Dover, and the kind reception which you met with in London. You will be still more happy in your acquaintance with the duke of Richmond, Lord Chesterfield, and Lord Granville. I am sure that on their sides, they will seek every occasion of having you as much with them as they can. Speak often and much to them of me. But I do not insist upon your toasting so often when you dine at the duke of Richmond’s. Assure Lord Chesterfield that nothing can flatter me so much as his approbation, and that since he honours my work with a third reading, he will be the better able to tell me what parts of it want to be corrected or altered. How useful and instructive to me would his observations and criticism prove!
You, Sir, ought to be very vainglorious for having your work perused by a monarch, and who approves all you have said concerning England. I cannot hope for such high and mighty suffrages; and of all mankind, kings are perhaps the last that will read, and what is not improbable, perhaps they will not even look into the book. There is however one sovereign in this world who has read it, and I have been informed by Mr. de Maupertuis, that he said there were some places concerning which he differed in opinion; my answer to Maupertuis was, that I would lay a wager, I could put my finger on those places. I must also tell you, Sir, that the Duke de Savoi has begun a second reading. I am very much pleased with what you tell me about the approbation of the English; and I hope that the translator of The Spirit of Laws will acquit himself as well, as did the translator of The Persian Letters. You have done very right (notwithstanding Miss Pit’s advice to the contrary) to deliver your recommendatory letters to Lord Bath. You have nothing to do with the disputes of party, as a travelling stranger is not to take on with any, but to see every body. I am not surprized at the acts of friendship you meet with from those you had known in Paris, and am persuaded that the longer you continue in London, the more you will receive. But it is to be hoped, Sir, the kind proceedings of the English, will not make you forget your friends in France, at the head of whom, you know I pride myself to be. In order that you may be well received here on your return, I will communicate to all my acquaintance that article of your letter, where you say that in England the men are more than men, but the women less women than in any other country. Since the Prince of Wales deigns to honour me with his remembrance, present my most respectful sentiments to him, and with all humility. Your friend embraces you.
Paris, March 12, 1750.
To the Abbé Venuti, at Bourdeaux.
I AM much chagrined, my dear Abbé, to hear that you are going to Italy, and what is still worse, that you are not pleased with us: although by all I can gather there has been no deficiency in paying every mark of regard that is so legitimately due to exalted merit like yours. I wish however you may be satisfied with your voyage to Italy; and I could wish also, that after this course of pilgrimage were over, you might be passed to some state of a more happy transmigration, and more adequate to your personal desert. If you can withdraw your dissertation from the hands of President Barbot, which he keeps in as safe custody, as if it were one of the sybilline books, I can make it turn out to your advantage; but your letter gives me no room to hope. Present my compliments to the Countess , and to Madame du Plessis . If you continue your journey entirely by land you will see the Commander de Solar at Turin, who will come thither from Rome. Adieu. Let nothing abate your hitherto friendly sentiments for me; and believe that in whatever part of the world I shall be, you will always have a sincere and faithful friend.
Paris, May 18, 1750.
To Mr. Cerati.
I ENTREAT, Sir, that you will permit me the honour of recommending Mr. Fordyce to you, professor of the university of Edinburgh, who is very estimable on account of his learning, and many useful productions; among others of that of education. This worthy professor has been very obliging to me, and honours me with his friendship, wherefore I reiterate the request that my recommendation of him may be agreeable to you. I pray you will introduce this learned gentleman to Abbé Nicolini, whom I take this opportunity of saluting. We have lost that most worthy man Mr. Gendron. I am much afflicted at the sad event, and am sure that you will be so too. He had an excellent physical, as well as moral head. And I remember what a number of good things used to spring from it. I supplicate that you will always love me, as much as I love; or rather, as I honour and admire you. Our friend Abbé de Guasco, now become a celebrated traveller, is in my apartment, and commissions me to present you with a thousand compliments. He is just come from England.
Paris, October 23, 1750.
To Abbé Venuti.
I HAVE not as yet thanked you my dear Abbé, for the distinguished place you have allotted to me in your triumph . You are Petrarch, and I nothing of consequence. Mr. Tercier has written to me to thank you in his name for the copy which I had sent to him; and to assure you that M. Puysieux had received his with the greatest satisfaction . As there have appeared here as yet but very few copies, I shall not be able for some time to let you know the success of the work among us. I have heard it well spoken of, and it seems to me to be of the true poetic turn.
- —Et te fecere Poetam
I cannot accustom myself dear Abbé to think you are no longer at Bourdeaux. You have left a number of friends there, that sincerely regret your separation from them; and I am one of those who feel the most upon that occasion. Write to me sometimes. I shall execute your commands in regard to Stuart, and the collection of dissertations. You act very candidly with him; and I think he ought to be highly pleased with your generosity. I shall see Mr. Curne. Abbé le Beuf (or ox) shall to be spoken to, and if he be not a Beuf (or ox) he must perceive that there is but very little to be corrected in your dissertation.
The President Barbot should find for you the dissertation that is lost like a needle in the bundle of hay, or learned lumber with which his vast and chaostic cabinet is crammed. It was very ridiculous to have been guilty of any incivility to Madame de Pontac, by boasting so much an increase of the rent which we shall not touch; and while too we have so badly managed the affairs of the academy . Send to me what you propose adding to the dissertations which I have. Farewell my dear Abbé, I salute and embrace you with all my heart.
Paris, October 20, 1750.
To Abbé Venuti.
MY dear Abbé, do not flatter yourself with the vain hope of receiving a letter from the triumphant pen of Abbé de Guasco. If you were indeed a discarded minister of foreign affairs , he might repair to your house with the kind intention of comforting you. The good man’s occupation now is to run his eye over all the new pamphlets, and other fugitive publications—or with a most obliging prodigality to accommodate his bad stomach to all the invitations which he receives from foreign ambassadors. He nevertheless ruins his breast in the service of his Cantimir, and of his Clement the Fifth. For notwithstanding all the trouble he takes to animate Cantimir, it will always be deemed a cold, and uninteresting work. But the fault was in his late Excellence, not in our friend —.
There is now no likelihood of my going to England; there is a much stronger probability of my retiring to La Brede. I am now writing a letter of congratulation to president De la Lane on his reception at the academy. Bonardi, who is president of that academy, has been to visit and give me a detail of all the dinners he has been at since his return among all the fashionable wits who give dinners, with the genealogy of each invited to dinner . He tells me that he has addressed his first letter to the newly adopted associate. And I am of opinion that you will think this was quite according to rule. I observe that our academy is converting itself into a society of Free Masons, with this difference that there is neither drinking nor singing, but there is much building. Mr. de Tourni is our King Hiram; he will furnish us with workmen, but I doubt that he will supply us with cedar.
I believe the Prince de Craon is actually at Vienna, but he will soon be in Lorraine, and if you will send me your letter, I will forward it to him. I must now tell you some news from Italy concerning The Spirit of Laws. The Duke de Nivernois wrote about three weeks ago to Mr. de Forqualquier, in such a commendatory manner, as that it would be impossible for me to repeat without blushing. About two days ago he received another from him, wherein he is informed that as soon as the work appeared at Turin, the king of Sardinia read it; I cannot even dare to repeat what he has said on the subject. Let the following fact be sufficient; he gave it to his son the Duke de Savoi to peruse, and that prince has read it twice—Mr. de Breille informs me that his royal pupil has declared he will study it during life.—There must, to be sure, appear a great deal of coxcombry in me to tell you this anecdote. But as it is of public notoriety, why may you not learn it from me as well as from any body else. You must now naturally conclude, that I have the most implicit reliance in the judgment of Italian princes.—Marquis de Breille assures me that his Royal Highness the Duke de Sovoi is blessed with an exalted genius, lively conception, and solid judgement to a wonderful degree.
Huart, the bookseller, is very desirous of having the translation of the beginning of the Temple of Gnidus into Latin verse by Doctor Clancy to join with the Italian translation , and theoriginal. Now try which you can get for me, either an amanuensis copy of those verses, or a consent from the academy to oblige me with a printed one, which I shall speedily return.
But a-propos the Portrait of Madame de Mirepoix is extolled to the highest degree both at Paris and Versailles. I have no way contributed towards its good fortune in the city of Bourdeaux, so far on the contrary, that I had dispatched thither Abbé de Guasco to malignly criticise it. Now you who are the wit of all wits, ought to translate it, which translation I would send to Madame de Mirepoix actually in London. I have not a copy of it, but either the President Barbot, or M. du Pin has. You know very well it was but a stroke of fancy hit out at Luneville, as a momentary amusement for the king of Poland.
I had forgotten to observe to you, that there is a compensation of all things in this world. I have already informed you of the favourable judgments in Italy relative to The Spirit of Laws. There is soon to appear in Paris a large and formidable criticism on that work, written by M. Dupin, a farmer general; so I am now to be summoned before the tribunal of tax-gatherers, and excisemen, as I had been sometime ago before the journalists of Trevoux. Farewell, my dear Abbé, this letter is in the Bonardi manner . I salute and I embrace you with all my heart.
Do not however be the dupe of the translation which I desire; for if your mind does not impel you kindly; it is not worth the while that you should mispend a quarter of an hour’s time in thinking about it.
To the Abbé Count de Guasco.
IT is a great happiness my dear Abbé to have a well formed mind; but it is also a degree of prudence to never let it be the dupe of another man’s cunning. The intendant may say what he pleases, but he can never justify the having broken his word to the academy, and having led its members into an error through his false promises. I am not at all surprized, that, become conscious of the wrong he had done to the corps, he labours so strenuously to exculpate himself. But you Sir, who have been an eye witness of the whole transaction, are not to suffer yourself to be imposed upon by excuses that intrinsically are of as little value as his promises. For my part, I am too well satisfied in giving up to him his friendship, to desire any more of it. For of what avail is the friendship of a man in place, who is always actuated by diffidence: and can think nothing right but what falls in with hls own system; who knows not how to do the least favour, or to render any essential service. Let me be far removed from the occasion of asking him any, either for myself, or others. And by that desireable situation I shall be delivered from many importunities.
Dulcis inexpertis cultura potentis amici: Expertus metui.
It is prudent to shun every woman, who is nothing but a coquette, because she practically deceives by giving false hopes. These are my last words upon the subject. I flatter myself that the Duchess coincides with my reason: for which the affair of her freehold will go on neither better nor worse.
I am flatteringly pleased with Abbé Oliva’s friendly remembrance of me. I frequently call to mind, and with a refined satisfaction, the delightful moments I enjoyed in the literary society set on foot by this learned Italian, who nobly soars above all the prejudices of his country, and which rendezvous no other motive but the despotic and turbulent spirit of father Tournemine could have made me to decline frequenting, where there was so much improvement to be met, and that I could have profited by. The dissolution of those little private academies where every article is debated with a due spirit of freedom, proves a great loss to men of letters; and I assure you that you have reason to lament that of father Desmoletz being proscribed . I insist upon your writing to me, before you leave Turin, and demand another letter from you on your arrival there. Adieu.
Paris, December 5, 1750.
To Abbé de Guasco.
MY dear Abbé and Count, I have received at La Brede, where I now am, and wish you to be, your letter dated from Turin. The Marquis de St. Germain, who interests himself warmly in every thing that concerns you, had already informed me of the distinguished manner in which you were received at your court, and the justice that has been done to you. How comfortable must it be for a whole people to see their sovereign making adequate amends for the injuries which a wicked minister had caused him to inflict on a deserving subject. I conceive too with joy, that through the aid of time, merit will always pierce, and make itself known to intelligent princes, who give themselves the trouble of seeing every thing with their own eyes.
The good offices which the Marquis de St. Germain has rendered you by his letters, enhances the esteem which I had already for his various deserts. I compliment you sincerely on your being invested with the title of Count, and it would add much to my satisfaction on this occasion, were I to hear also of your being invested with an Abbotship, which would be no more than a proper reparation for the injuries which you have received. However, my dear Abbé, I hope you will not yet yield to any temptation of quitting us. You must be convinced that we do justice to your merit in France, and that you have many friends there. It would then be ingratitude in you to leave us for a short gale of court-favour. You will permit me, I hope, to quiet myself on this article by the old maxim, “That no man is a prophet in his own country.”
I have had Lord Hyde with me here. He is now gone from Paris to Verret, to visit our amiable Duchess; from thence he means to shape his course to Richlieu, to see the marshal; afterwards to Bourdeaux, then to la Brede, and is to close his journey at Aiguillon: whither the Duke has dispatched orders that all the honours of his castle should be paid to him; so that he meets every where with all the zealous efforts of obliging courtesy, that are due to his high birth, and personal merit. My Lord Hyde professes a great regard for, and would be very glad to meet you, at la Brede.
You have aroused and tickled my vanity in the tenderest point by your information, that his royal highness has been so kind as to remember me. Present that excellent Prince with my respects approaching to adoration.—Now that Europe is so intermixed, and that there is so general a communication among all the parts, it may with truth be said, he who causes the happiness of one contributes to that of the rest, and so the spreading circle of happiness reaches from realm to realm.
While I am indulging my thoughts in visionary scenes, I am cheared with the pleasing prospects, that I may possibly revisit Turin, and there pay my court to your most amiable prince.
Assure Marquis de Breille, and the grand Prior, that while I breathe I shall be always theirs, and most devotedly. On my first seeing them at Vienna, I formed a resolution of being honoured with their friendship, which I soon obtained. I learn from Madam de St. Maure, that you are now at Piedmont in a new Herculaneum ; where, after having scraped up the earth for about eight days, you found nothing but a brazen grasshopper. It is beyond a doubt that the gentlemen, called Antiquarians, are very great quacks. I have received no letters, nor any account whatsoever from Abbé Venuti, since his departure from Bourdeaux. He had some symptoms of friendship for me before he was made a priest and a provost. Let me know if you intend returning to Paris. For my part, I shall pass the winter, and part of the spring, where I am. The province is ruined, and in the case of such a public calamity, every body ought to stay at home. I am informed from Paris, that the luxury there is enormous. We have lost what we had of that folly here, which was indeed no great matter.
Were you to see la Brede in its present flourishing condition, I believe you would not be displeased with it. Your advice has been followed, and the alterations in consequence have called forth every latent charm. In short, it is a beautiful and sprightly butterfly, that has triumphantly extricated itself from the sluggish state of inert nymph-existence. Adieu, my friend, I salute and embrace you a thousand times.
To the Same.
WHAT you have marked to me in your billet of yesterday cannot determine me to renounce my adopted principle . When at your return I shall know what you have heard concerning the two parliamentary counsellors in question; I may perhaps be able to judge if it be worth my while to give any farther illustration of those points that seem to have shocked their delicacy. I am of opinion that they only echo the censure of the ecclesiastic news-writers, whose idle declamations should never be attended to by ingenuous minds. As for the plan which the little minister of Wirtemburg wishes I had followed in a work, whose title is, The Spirit of Laws, tell that pragmatic gentleman, my intention was to compose my own work, not his. Adieu.
From Paris to Fountainbleau.
To the Same.
WHILE you my friend fly through the sublime regions of the air, I only crawl upon earth, as it were; and that is the reason of our not meeting. From the moment that I was at liberty to leave Paris, I set out for this place, where I had some considerable affairs to transact. I am now going to Clerac, I have hastened my journey hither a month sooner than I had intended, in order to meet the Duke d’Aiguillon , and bring matters to a conclusion, because his agents have puzzled things more than they have contributed to clear them. I have sent the pipe of wine to Lord Elibank which you asked for his Lordship. He is to pay me for it what he pleases, with this proviso, that in proportion as he shall abate of the price, he will favour me with an increase of his friendship, which I shall esteem a most invaluable present. Pray let him know, that he may keep it as long as he pleases, even to the extended term of fifteen years, if he should fancy so to do; but it must not be mixed with any other wines. He may be assured that he has it in the same state of purity in which I received it from the deity. It has not passed through the adulterating hands of wine-merchants.
At your return from Italy, my dear Abbé, why should you not be desirous of passing through Bourdeaux, of seeing your friends there, and the castle of la Brede, which I have so greatly embellished since your having seen it? It is now the most beautiful country retreat that I know of any where.
Sunt mihi cœlicolæ, sunt cætera numina fauni.
At length I enjoy those pleasant meadows which you were wont to torment me so much about. Your prophecy is verified; the success has by far surpassed my expectation, and my sprightly country-valet often exclaims in his incorrect provincial jargon, Boudri bien que M. l’Abbé Guasco his aco. I wish with all my heart, that Mr. l’Abbé Guasco was here.
I have seen the countess; she has made a deplorable marriage; I pity her much. The too-ardent desire of being rich, in the end but too often presents us with a blank. The Chevalier Citron hath also made a great match of the same taste, in the islands, which has produced to him for his wife’s dowry, seven hogsheads of sugar. It is true indeed, he has made a voyage to the islands, and the result may be a broken heart. Farewell, I embrace you with all my soul.
De la Brede, March 16, 1752.
To the Same, at Bourdeaux.
MY dear Count, I own that you are admirable for bringing about are-union of three friends, who have not seen each other for several years, being separated by the sea; but among whom you have now opened a new commercial intercourse. Mr. Michel and I did not absolutely lose sight of each other. But M. d’Ayrolles, whom I had the honour of knowing at Brussels, had entirely forgotten me.
I have no more of last year’s wine, but I will preserve an hogshead of this year’s vintage for each of you. I have already notified to you, that I proposed being at Paris in the month of September, and as you are to be there at the same time, I shall bring with me the merchant’s answer to Abbé de la Porte. The person in question is not a mere nominal merchant, as you may imagine, but one in reality, and a young man of this city who is author of that performance.
You must know, my dear Abbé, that I have received very large commissions from England, for the wine of this year , and I am in hopes that our province will soon recover from its late misfortunes. I pity the poor Flemings, who have nothing now to eat but oysters, and without butter.
I am induced to think that the system is altered in regard to the barrier places, and that England is at last convinced they could serve to no other purpose but to determine the Dutch to continue in peace; while other powers shall be in war. The English think also that the Low Countries are rendered stronger by the addition of twelve hundred thousand florins than they should be, while garrisoned only by the Dutch troops, who defend them so badly. Moreover, the queen of Hungary is now persuaded that the giving her a peace in Flanders, was done with no other intent but to enable the enemy to transfer the seat of war to another place. I should not be at all surprized, if on the first occasion, the system of the ballance of power, and of certain political alliances in Europe were to undergo a total change; for which many reasons can be assigned; and we will talk them all over at our case in the months of September and October. I have received a very fine letter from Abbé Venuti; who, after a continued silence of two years without reason, has now broke it with as little.
La Brede, June 27, 1752.
To the Same.
THRICE welcome my dear Count, I regret very much my not having been at Paris to receive you. I am told that my house-keeper, Mrs. Betty, took you for a ghost, and screamed out so outrageously on seeing you, that all the neighbours were frighted from their sleep. I thank you for the kind manner in which you have received the person I protect. I shall be at Paris in the month of September. If you shall be returned from your residence before my arrival there, I hope you will honour my apartment with the welcome inmateship of your breviary. But I think that I shall be at Paris before you. You are indeed an extraordinary man; for scarcely had you drunk of the waters drawn from the cisterns of Tournay, but you have been sent as a deputy from that very Tournay. Such an event has never happened to any canon before.
I must tell you that the theological society of Sorbonne, but little satisfied with the applause which they have received on the account of their deputies, have nominated others to re-examine the affair . I am very easy upon that article; they can but repeat what the ecclesiastical news-scribbler hath already advanced; and I will tell to them what I have already declared to him; to wit, that their cause is not rendered a whit the stronger by the aid of him, nor his by the assistance of them. Reason must ultimately decide the matter; my book is a book of politics, and not a book of divinity; and the ill-grounded objections spring from their own heads, but not from my work.
As for Voltaire, he has too much wit to understand me. He reads no books but those he writes, and then he approves or censures his own progeny, as the whim takes him. I thank you for father Gerdil’s criticism, it is the performance of a man who really deserves to understand, and afterwards to criticize my work. I should be very glad, my dear friend, to see you again at Paris; then you would talk to me about all Europe, and I should discourse with you about my rural villa at la Brede, as well as about my castle that is now made fitting to receive for a guest, the personage who has taken a philosophical survey of almost every country.
- Et maris et terræ, numeroque carnetis arenæ
- Mensorem ——
Madame de Montesquieu, the dean of St. Surin, and myself, are actually at Baron, a house situated between two seas, and which you have not seen. My son is at Clerac, which I have ceded to him for his domaine, and added Montesquieu. In a few days I propose going to Nisor, where the abbey of my brother is; we shall pass through Toulouse, where I intend paying my respects to Clemence Isaure , whose ladyship you so very well know. If you shall win the academic prize there, let me know it. I will take up your medal en passant, (if you gain one) seeing that you cannot any longer, have the resource of intendants. You should have a man solely employed in collecting the medals you so frequently win. If agreeable to you, I propose, when at Toulouse, paying a visit to Madame Montegu , your inspiring muse; but upon this condition, that I shall not like you be obliged to converse with her in poetical language.
I have to tell you for news, that the jurats are now filling up all the excavations which they had made before the academy. If the Dutch had defended Bergen-op-zoom, as well as our intendant has defended his trenches, we should not have had a peace as yet. It is a terrible thing to have a litigable suit with an intendant. But in such a case it is a very agreeable thing to get the better of an intendant. If you have any manner of connection or acquaintance with M. de Larrey at the Hague, speak to him of the warm friendship we formerly had for each other. I am highly pleased to hear of the credit and estimation, in which he is held at the Stadt-holder’s court. He merits every degree of confidence with which he may be honoured. I embrace you, my dear friend, with all my heart.
From Raymond in Gascony, August 8, 1752.
To the Same Abbé de Guasco.
YOUR letter, my dear count, informs me, that you are at Paris. I am astonished at my not being there too. The journey which I had been obliged to make to the abbey of Nisor, in company with my brother, and that lasted very near a month, has quite disconcerted all my measures; wherefore, upon calculating, I find, that I cannot be at Paris before the end of this month, or in the beginning of the next; for I am absolutely bent on seeing, and passing some weeks with you before your departure. It was very weak in you, my dear Abbé, that in consequence of your conjecturing I could not arrive so soon, you did not take possession of my apartment below stairs. I send orders to Mrs. Betty to receive you there, although she needs not any on that article. And I entreat that without farther ceremony, you will encamp yourself there. You think of going to Vienna; where, alas, within the course of two and twenty years since I have been there; I am inclined to believe I have lost all my acquaintance.
Prince Eugene was alive when I was there, and that great man made me to enjoy many happy hours with him . The Counts de Kinski, the Prince of Lichtenstein, the Marquis de Prié, the Count de Harak and all his family, which I had the honour of seeing at Naples, when he was Viceroy there, favoured me likewise with many marks of their kindness: all the rest are dead, and I believe I shall soon follow them. However, if you can make those who are alive remember me, you will do me a great pleasure. You are going to figure upon a new theatre, where I am sure you will acquit yourself as well as you have done every where else. The Germans are a good people, but somewhat suspicious. Be upon your guard, for they are diffident of the Italians, whom they look upon as a race of mortals too subtle for them; but they know likewise that the Italians are not useless to their interest, and therefore are too prudent to do without them.
You were much in the wrong, not to have come by la Brede, as you returned from Italy. I may now fafely say, that it is one of the most agreeable places in France, its castle excepted. So easily sports nature there, as in her Robe de Chamber, and as at her uprising from the flowery couch of gentle slumber. I have received from England an answer about the wine you made me send to Lord Elibank. He gives a most favourable account of it. I have received a commission for fifteen pipes more; which will enable me to finish my rustic house. The success of my work in that country, contributes I perceive, not a little to the success of my wine. My son will not fail to execute that commission. As for a certain person in question, he multiplies his injuries by the reciting acknowledgment he makes. He becomes more exasperated every day, and I become more calm in regard to him. He is for ever dead to me.
The Dean, who is now in my chamber, sends you a thousand compliments, and you are one of the canons in this world whom he honours the most. He, I, my wife, and children, esteem and love you, as if one of our family. I shall be highly pleased to begin an acquaintance with the Count de Sartiranne . When at Paris, it must be your business to give a favourable impression of me. I pray you will present my most affectionate compliments, to such of my friends as you shall see. But if you go to Montigni, it is there you must pour out the warmest effusions of my heart. You gentlemen of Italy, being remarkable for the pathetic; display, on this occasion, all the power in that walk with which nature has blest you. Make the utmost exertion of it to the Dutchess of Aiguillon, and Madam du pre de St. Maure; convince the latter of my most sincere attachment to her . I am of Lord Elibank’s opinion as to the truth of the picture which you made of her.
I must consult you upon an affair, and for this very good reason, that I have always found your advice prove advantageous to me. The ecclesiastical news-writer, has attributed to me in his paper, dated the fourth of June, a pamphlet which I have seen but very lately, and is called A Sequel of the defence of the Spirit of Laws, composed by a protestant, an able writer, and a man who has a great deal of wit . The ecclesiastical scribbler hath ascribed it to me with the sinister view of abusing me in the most atrocious terms. I have not thought proper to make any reply, 1st, through contempt; 2. because all those who are acquainted with the present train of literary affairs, know that I am not the author; so that the whole infamy of this charge recoils upon the calumniating caitiff. I do not know what may be the fashionable mode of thinking now in Paris, or whether, in case that this hackney-publication of scandal may have made the least impression upon any honest minds, to think me author of a composition, which certainly no Roman Catholic could write; would it be right for me, I say, to give a short answer, in a page or two, cum gran salis. If you should not deem it absolutely necessary, I renounce the very idea, as there is nothing I hate more than to make myself talked of. I should be glad to know if there be any relativeness between that business, and the Sorbonne affair. Sequestered as I am now in the country, I am ignorant of most things, and pleased with my ignorance. All this Sir, is between you and me. Let there not be any escape from you of my having written to you on the subject; because I have adopted it as a principle not to be desirous of re-entering the lists with contemptible adversaries. As I have found myself right for doing what you had desired me to do, when you so eagerly pressed me to write my defence; I shall undertake nothing about this matter, but in consequence of your answer.
Huart wants to give a new edition of the Persian Letters, but there are some exceptionable Juvenilia , that I would fain retouch first; although there is nothing so just, as that a Turk should see things, think, and speak, as a Turk, not as a Christian: and to this truth a great many readers of the Persian Letters do not make a proper attention.
I perceive that poor Clement the Fifth will fall a second time into oblivion, and that you are going to abandon the affairs of Philip le Bel, in order to take up with those of the present century. The history of my country and the republic of letters will be great losers, but the political world will gain considerably by such a manœuvre. Do not fail writing to me from Vienna: and do not forget to manage a continuation of your brother’s friendship to me. He is one of those military characters , which I look upon as predestined for bold enterprizes, and heroic actions. Farewell my dear Abbé, I embrace you with all my heart.
La Brede, October 4, 1752.
To the Same at Vienna.
I HAVE received my dear Count your letter from Vienna, dated December 28. I am much afflicted at the loss of those who had honoured me with their friendship. The Prince Lichtenstein yet remains; whom I entreat you will address with all your powers of eloquence in my behalf. I have received some obliging marks of friendly regard from M. Duval, the Emperor’s librarian. This man does great honour to Lorain his native country . Be sure also, to say something for me to Mr. Van Sweiten, for I sincerely admire that celebrated Esculapius . I saw yesterday Mr. and Madame de Senectére. You know that I now no longer see any persons, but the fathers and the mothers in those families where I visit. We spoke a great deal about you. He seems to have a very sanguine friendship for you.
I have commenced an acquaintance with —— all I can say to you of him is, that he is a magnificent nobleman, and thoroughly satisfied with his own parts; but he is not our Marquis de Saint Germain, nor is he an ambassador from Piedmont . Many of those diplomatic heads are in too great a hurry to form a judgment of us; they ought first to study us a little longer. I should be very desirous of seeing the narratives relating to our internal affairs, as sent by certain ambassadors to their respective courts. Some indulgence must be made to ministers who are often imbibed with principles of arbitrary power for their not having precise notions upon certain articles, and for dealing in Apophthegms, to make up, as it were, for their deficiency of reason .
Sorbonne is always on the watch from some new attack against me; her bedoctered sons have been now two years at work, without knowing where to begin. If they provoke me to a retort, I believe I shall complete their interment . I should however be sorry to be forced to that necessity, because I love peace above all things.
It is now a fortnight since the Abbé Bonardi has sent to me a large packet to put in my letter for you; but as I very well know that it contains nothing but old rhapsodies which you would not read, I resolved on sparing you the postage, by keeping the letter until your return, or that you shall write to me to forward it to you, in case it should contain any thing else besides the news of the streets.
I have read with a great deal of pleasure, all that you write to me upon your own account. The obliging expressions of the empress to you do honour to her discernment, and the effects of the good opinion which she manifested to you, will do her still more honour. We have read here the answer of the king of England to the king of Prussia. It is looked upon (among us) as unanswerable. Now, you who are a doctor of the right of nations, may candidly judge of this affair in your own private opinion.
You have done very right in passing through Luneville. I judge from the satisfaction I had myself in making the like vogage, of that which you must have felt from the gracious reception of you by King Stanislaus. He insisted upon my promise of making another trip into Loraine. What an inexpressible joy if we both should meet there, at your return from Germany. The pressing manner with which the king solicits you in his gracious letter to touch once more at Loraine, should prevail upon you to take that road. And you are now you see, once more brothers in Apollo , wherefore in that quality I give you an hearty hug.
Paris, March 5, 1753.
To the same Abbé de Guasco at Vienna.
I FEEL the cogency of your reasons, my dear Count, for not engaging yourself too hastily, but upon mature deliberation in this affair; yet I fancy that the contrary reasons for detaining you may preponderate, and that your patriotic spirit will yield to them. I now observe, and with pleasure, that what I had heard of the great care taken in the education of the archdukes, is incontrovertibly true. It is not enough to place near their persons merely learned men; no, they ought to be men of more elevated views, and who have a thorough knowledge of the world, and I believe, without any design of alarming your modesty, that through the energy of such requisites, nobody has a stronger claim to preference than you. The department of the study of history is one of the most important for a prince. But then he must be taught to consider it as a philosopher. It is very difficult for one of the regulars, who are men of a pedantic cast, and from their religious situation in life habituated in prejudices, to unfold it in this point of light, and especially where an occasion presents itself of debating upon times, both critical and interesting for the empire. If the court can take the thorn out of the department that is proposed to you, I am too great a friend to the interest of mankind not to advise you to bound over any difficulties that may seem to thwart your proceeding in this affair. With certain precautions the climate of Vienna may be rendered not more unfriendly to your eyes, than was that of Flanders, unless you prefer beer to tokay wine. Notwithstanding the established ceremonial of court etiquettes , I am convinced there is too much good sense in the court of Vienna to lose so valuable a man, for the sake of adhering to such unimportant trifles: and in this article I found an implicit reliance in the superior views of Maria Theresa. You may observe that I do not glance in the least to the brilliant fortune you may make there, because I know that it is not the object that concerns you most. I beg you will not conceal your resolution from me, nor the decision of the court, for whose sake I am as much interested as for yours.
If you continue in a free state, I advise you to persevere in prosecuting the enterprize you mentioned to me. A canon ought to be better qualified than a profane writer for treating on The Spirit of Ecclesiastical Laws. Your plan is very excellent, yet I think repose preferable to it; and therefore assign this career of glory to your indefatigable zeal. Adieu.
To the Same, at Verona.
MY dear Sir, your titles encrease so fast, and to such a number, that I doubt if I can remember them.—Let me see—Count de Claviéres, Canon of Tournay, Knight of an Imperial Cross , Member of the Academy of Inscriptions, Fellow of the Royal Societies of London, Berlin, and of so many others, even down to the humble Academy of Bourdeaux—you deserve all these honours and still greater.
I am glad you have succeeded in the negociation for your chapter. It is a happiness for them to possess such a man as you, and they were right in deputing you to the court to transact their business, instead of detaining you at home to sing and drink; for I am certain that you negotiate as well as you sing badly and drink but poorly. I am sorry, however, for the miscarriage of that affair which regards you personally. You are not the only loser in consequence; but then you have your liberty, and let me tell you, that is no small article. This strict adherence to the court etiquette can produce no compensation for the loss incurred thereby—I strongly surmise there are other latent reasons besides that of the etiquette, and which the example of other courts might have encouraged to dispense with on the present occasion. When certain persons have rooted themselves about the throne of majesty, they never fail in studying reasons for the removal of able men, whom they should dread as too clear-sighted inspectors of their conduct. Moreover, you are not a bel esprit from the country of Liege, or of Luxemburg— as to the rest, I put my fingers on my lips.
Your letter has been delivered to me at la Brede where I now am. Like a complete rustic, I walk about from morning to night; and make many out of door fine improvements.
You are then set out for enchanting Italy. I suppose the gallery of Florence will detain you for a long time; independently of which, that city in my time, was a charming place to reside in; and what proved one of the most agreeable sights to me there, was to see the first minister of the Grand Duke seated before his door on a little wooden chair, in a short tight coat, with a straw hat on his head. Happy country said I to myself, where the first minister lives in so very simple a manner; and so totally disengaged from all the perplexing intrigues of a court life.
You will see the Marchioness de Feroni there, and Abbé Nicolini; mention me to them: embrace as a proxy for me the noble Cerati at Pisa. As for Turin, you know who are the objects of my esteem there, namely our Grand Prior, the Marquisses de Breil, and de Saint Germain. If any lucky occasion should offer itself, present my very dutiful respect to his most serene highness. If you write to the Count de Cobetuzel, at Bruxelles, I pray you to thank him for me, and to tell him how much I feel myself honoured with his favourable judgment in what concerns me. When there shall be ministers of state like him, then there may be hopes that the taste for literature will be revived in the Austrian states, and then you will hear no more of those groundless and erroneous propositions, at which you have been so much scandalized .
I believe I shall be in Paris at the time when you will come thither. I propose writing to the dutchess of d’Aiguillon to let her know how mortified you are at her having forgotten you. But my dear Abbé, the ladies do not remember all the knights who declare themselves their admirers without their having atchieved any exploits of knight errantry. I should be glad to have you eight days at la Brede, after your return from Rome; there would we talk of delicate Italy, and the stronger Germany.
Behold Voltaire unhous’d, and seeming not to know where he may rest his head , ut eadem tellus quæ modo victori defuerat, deesset ad sepulturam. Sound sense is a better implement to work with than brilliancy of wit.
You will be so good as to pay my court to the duke of Nivernois, when you shall see him in Rome. I do not think that you want any particular letter of recommendation to him; you are his brother academician; he knows you; however, if you should think one necessary, let me know it. Adieu.
La Brede, September 28, 1753.
To the Same.
I ARRIVED the night before last here from Bourdeaux; I have seen no body as yet, and am more desirous of writing to you, than of receiving or paying any visit whatsoever. I shall see Huart , and if he has not fulfilled your orders, will insist upon his executing them forthwith. You have greater credit with him than I have. I only give him words, you give him money.
It is very flattering for me that the Auditor Bertolini has found my book good enough for him to take the pains of making it better, and that he has relished my principles. I entreat that on the first opportunity you will procure for me a copy of Bertolini’s work. Nothing can be better written than his preface. All that he says there is just, except the encomiums. Say all the kind things you can for me to Abbé Nicolini. I hope dear Abbé, you will come to Paris this winter, and to the titles of Germany, and Italy join those of France. If you pass through Turin, you know my illustrious friends there, to whom pray speak of me, as I embrace you with all my heart.
Paris, December 26, 1754.
To the Same, at Naples.
I HAVE been in Paris for some time, my dear Count. I begin by informing you, that our book man-midwife, Huart, has just been with me. He has given me very good reasons for having fretted you, and said that he will without loss of time forward your memorial, and an account to you of the sum due to him.
You have a box filled with the flowers of erudition, which you scatter plentifully on all the countries you pass through. It must be very flattering to you to have appeared with honour before the pope; for he is the pope of the learned; and the learned can do nothing better than to chuse for their head, the man who is head of the church. The offers that have been made, would have proved strong temptations to any other person but you, who do not let yourself be easily tempted, not even by the strong appearances of a fortune; although by your manly sentiments you should have already made one. The laudable acts you tell me of Count de Firmian , are not quite new to me. It is your duty to procure me the honour of his acquaintance; it is also your business to bring it about; and if you do not, it was very wicked in you to tell me so many fine things of him. I do not remember to have known at Rome the Father Contucci . The only Jesuit whom I knew there was the Father Vitri , who used to dine often at Cardinal Polignac’s. He was a man of much seeming importance; he made antique medals, and articles of faith. I have a right to expect that ere long you will write me a letter dated from the Herculaneum, where methinks I see you scouring through all the subterraneous regions. We receive various accounts from it. The articles you shall communicate, I will look upon as so many informations from a grave author. Do not be apprehensive of disgusting me with details, however plain or minute they may be.
I am entirely of your opinion concerning the Disputes with Malta . The order nevertheless, is perhaps one of the most respectable institutions in the universe, and that which contributes most to keep up the true spirit of honour and courage throughout the nations where it has diffused itself. Was it not a bold act in you to address to me, a Capuchin Friar? Were you not afraid lest I should read to him the Persian Letter against the Capuchins?
I shall be in the month of August at la Brede. O rus quando ego te Aspiciam; I am no longer fit for this metropolis, I must therefore renounce the leading of a city-life. If you should return by the southern provinces of France, you will find your old laboratory; and in return will give me some new hints about improving my woods, and my meadows. The great extent of my heaths present a fair opportunity to you of exercising your zeal for agriculture. Moreover, I hope that you have not forgotten your being proprietor of an hundred acres of heath, where you may dig up the earth, plant and fow as much as you please. Adieu, I embrace you with all my heart.
Paris, April 9, 1754.
To the Same.
MY dear Abbé, you must have received the letter I had written to you at Naples, and the one since addressed to you at Rome. I now no longer know in what part of the world you are. But as one of your letters marked August 13, I. 54, is dated from Bologna, and announces to me your approaching return to Paris, I address this letter to you at Turin, at your friend’s the Marquis de Barol.
I begin by thanking you for not having forgotten the wine of Roche-Maurin, and promise you that all due attention shall be paid in executing Lord Pembroke’s commission. It is to my friends, but especially to you, who are at any time worth ten others, that I owe the spreading reputation which my wine has acquired through Europe for these three or four years past. As to payment, that is an article, thank God, I am never in a hurry about. You have not told me if Lord Pembroke, who speaks to you of my wine, remembers my person. It is now about two years since I took leave of him, full of esteem and veneration for his excellent qualities. You do not take the least notice of M. de Cloire who was with him, a man of merit, very intelligent, and whom I should be very glad to see again. It would afford me the highest pleasure, if your affairs could permit your coming from Turin to Bourdeaux. Now you, who see every thing, why not be desirous of seeing again la Brede, and your friends who are all ready to receive you with acclamations, and repeated Io Pæans. But perhaps I shall see you in Paris—Take notice, you are to look no where for a lodging, but in my house; and the more so now that Mrs. Boyer, your Hostess heretofore, is deceased. When I shall have heard that you are arrived at Paris, then will I hasten my departure hence.
What the Pope has told you about the letter from Lewis XIV , to Clement XI, is indeed a curious anecdote. The confessor doubtless had not more difficulty to prevail on the king to promise that he would command a retractation to be made of the four propositions of the clergy; than he met with in making him promise to the Pope, that his bull should be received without contradiction. But kings cannot always make good their promises: because they often promise through too great a reliance on the supposed fidelity of designing men, who advise them according to their own interested views. Farewell my dear Count, I salute and embrace you a thousand times.
La Brede, November 3, 1754.
To Mr. Cerati.
I BEGIN by embracing you in every form. I have the honour of presenting to you a M. de la Condamine, member of the academy of science in Paris. You know his fame, but it is still better to know his person; and therefore it is that I present him to you, because in my sense you are all Italy to me. Do not forget I entreat you, the man who loves, honours, and esteems you more than any other person in this world.
Bourdeaux, December 1, 1754.
To the Abbé Marquis Nicolini.
PERMIT me, dear Abbé, to remind you of a former friend. I recommend to you M. de la Condamine, shall say nothing more to you of him, than that he is one of my friends; his great fame will tell you many other things, but his presence still more. My dear Abbé, I shall love you until death.
Bourdeaux, December 1, 1754.
To Abbé Count de Guasco.
WELCOME my dear Count. I do not doubt but my house-keeper has taken care to have your bed well warmed— Wearied as you must have been by running post day and night, and your several trips to Fontainbleau. All these little attentions are necessary, in order to recover you from your late fatigue. You are not to leave my apartment, nor Paris, before my arrival there, unless your business to that city were only to give me the disagreeable information that I shall not see you more. I find you are bent upon going to Flanders. I would there were as sufficient reasons for your tarrying with us, besides those of friendship. But, I perceive, that our bishops will no longer stand in need of any better co-operators, than the D****.
Could you have believed, that a lacquey metamorphosed into a fanatical priest, and preserving always the mean sentiments of his original state, should nevertheless start up to figure as one of the dignitaries in a certain chapter. I have many things to communicate if I see you in Paris, as I hope I shall; for you certainly cannot be angry with, and punish a friend, who sets out on a chace after you, from the moment he gets intelligence where you may be found.
I am very glad that his royal Highness the Duke of Savoy, has deigned to accept the dedication of your Italian Translation; which by the rebound is most flattering to me, on finding that my work is to make its appearance in Italy, under such illustrious and lucky auspices. I have just finished the reading of your translation, and I have throughout observed that all my thoughts are rendered with as much perspicuity as justness. Your dedication is very well imagined, but I am not a sufficient master of the Italian to be able to pronounce accurately on the merits of so elegant a stile.
I think that both the project, and the plan of your treatise upon the Statutes, are interesting and beautiful. My curiosity is all awake to see it. Farewell.
La Brede, December 2, 1754.
To the Same.
ON account of the uncertainty I am in, whether you will wait for me or not, I write to you once more, before my departure. You are a canon of Tournay; and I cultivate meadows; I shall want fifty pounds weight of the seed of the Flanders trefoil, which may be sent to me from Dunkirk by Bourdeaux. I hope you will be so kind as to charge some friend of yours at Tournay with this commission, for which I shall pay you as a gentleman, or what is much better as a merchant, and when you come to la Brede, you shall see your trefoil bloom in all its glory. Remember, Sir, that all my meadows are of your creation; they are children whose education you are still to superintend. I shall certainly see you soon, but that must not hinder you from telling agreeable accounts of the Pretender to Mrs. Betty . She will be the more careful of you in consequence. I will notify to you by a letter on purpose the day of my arrival, which at present is unknown to me. But were I not to write, and should appear before you without any previous information given; in such a case I say, you can readily move your night-sack, your breviary, and your medals, into my son’s apartment. When next you see Madame Dupreé de St. Maure, ask that lady if she has received a letter from me. Present my respects to her, and to Mr. de Trudaine our very valuable friend. Abbé, once more I say, wait for me.
Since you are of opinion that I should write to the Auditor Bertolini, I inclose a letter to you, for him. I embrace you with all my heart.
La Brede, December 5, 1754.
To the Auditor Bertolini, at Florence.
I HAVE read two articles in your preface, Sir, with which I am greatly pleased; and take up my pen to certify it to you: and although I have seen them through the medium of self-love, being decorated thereby as for a triumphant festival, yet I think I should not have espied so many beauties, if they had not a real existence. There is one place in particular, which I pray you will retrench, that is concerning the English; and where you say, that I have given a more striking picture of their form of government than any given by their own authors. If the English find this to be so, from the more intimate acquaintance which they must have from their own books, we may be sure, that they will be generous enough to declare it; therefore let us renounce that affair to their decision. I cannot refrain from telling you, Sir, how much I was astonished at your being so thorough a master of our language. I have many thanks to pay you, Sir, for your apology in my behalf, that proceeded from your having understood my work so well, against people who so perversely, or so little understand it, and concerning whom one might safely lay a wager, that they had never read it; I am otherwise very well pleased, and congratulate myself, that some passages in my work, have furnished you with an occasion of making the great queen’s eulogium. I have the honour, Sir, of being with the most genuine sentiments of respect and esteem, your, &c.
La Brede, December 5, 1754.
To Abbé Count de Guasco.
EVERY thing duly considered, I cannot as yet resolve on giving my romance of Arsaces to be printed . The triumph of connubial love in the eastern parts of the world, is of so different a complexion from our manners, as that there is no great likelihood of its being well received in France. I will bring this manuscript with me to town, there we will read it together. I propose likewise to lend it to some friends for their critical inspection.
As to my several voyages, I assure you that I mean to arrange them on the first leisure time that I shall have; and we will consult in Paris about the properest mode of exhibiting them . There are too many persons yet living, of whom I make mention in this intended publication. I jump not implicitly in with the system of those, who advised M. de Fontenelle, to empty the sack before his demise. The printing of his comedies pursuant to that advice, has not added in the least to his reputation.
Since you sometimes plume yourself on being an antiquarian, I do not perceive that there can be any inconvenience in giving your collection this title, The Gallery of the political Portraits of this Age, and I, who am no antiquarian, should prefer it to that of The Gallery of Statues. You think perhaps that such a work can be calculated only for the age to come, to which one may be useful without incurring any risk of danger; for as you justly observe, the characters and personal qualities of statesmen and ministers having so great an influence on all public affairs as well as political events, the entrance of their sanctuary might prove perilous to uninitiated and profane medlers. Farewell.
La Brede, December 8, 1754.
A Billet to the Same.
YOU were present yesterday at the dispute I had with Mr. de Mairan concerning the Chinese . I am afraid I have been too warm upon that matter, and I should have been very much hurt to have given that excellent man any cause of uneasiness. If you dine to day at M. Trudain’s, you will probably meet him there; and should you, I pray sound him a little in order to know if he has taken any thing I said in an unfriendly part. According as you shall report, I will take such measures towards him as cannot fail of convincing him, that I had no unkind intention, and that I entertain the highest regard for his merit and friendship.
To the Grand Prior Solar, at Turin.
ALL your excellence can urge is in vain, I do not find the excusatory reasons which you advance with so much art, are a sufficient plea for the scarceness of your writing; therefore will not pardon it, but be revenged on your neglect, by addressing you in a ceremonious manner.
I must first tell you as an article of news, that a counsellor of our parliament has been sent into exile for having lent his pen to the dressing up of a remonstrance, which the body thought it their duty to present to his majesty. But what is most extraordinary, not to say incredible, in this affair, is that the sentence of exile was inflicted, without the remonstrance having been read.
Abbé de Guasco is returned from his tour to London, with which he is highly satisfied. He talks with the highest encomiums of M. and Madame de Mirepoix to whom you recommended him. He says they are greatly beloved in that city. Our Abbé is highly enraptured with the success of inoculation; and to become master of the practice, gave himself the trouble of attending a course.—He brought himself into a scrape the other day, by venturing to praise that salutary measure in the presence of the Dutchess de Maine at Sceaux. He was treated as all other apostles have been at their first daring to preach of truths unknown.
The dutchess became quite furious on the occasion, declaring it was quite obvious to every body, that he had contracted the ferocity of the English during his short stay in their island, that it was scandalously shameful for a man of his sacred character to speak in behalf of a practice so repugnant to humanity. I doubt much that his apostolic zeal in favour of inoculation, will contribute towards the making of his fortune in Paris. How could he take it into his head I wonder, to think that an Asiatic custom passing through the hands of the English into Europe, and recommended to us by a stranger, could ever succeed, or be thought useful among the natives of France, who overweeningly in our own behalf, believe ourselves to be specially invested from above, with the exclusive privilege of instituting new fashions, and establishing the bon ton in every thing.
The Abbé is intent on a journey to Italy in the next spring. He desires me to assure you that he pleases himself before hand with the idea of seeing you at Turin. I wish I could partake of this happiness in company with him. But I believe that my old castle and my vats will soon call me to the country; for since the peace my wine becomes more and more in vogue amongst the English, nay much more so than even my book. I pray you will speak for me in the tenderest terms to the Marquis de Breille, and that you will soon communicate to me some news concerning the two persons whom I love and respect the most in the city of Turin.
The Fragment of a Letter from M. de Montesquieu, to the King of Poland, Duke of Lorraine, to solicit his Majesty for a place in the Academy of Nantz.
IT is your majesty’s goodness in my behalf, that your academy is to form an opinion of whatever my pretensions to merit may be. From your royal vouching who doubt my being possest of a great deal. A laudable zeal impels me to seize on every occasion that may draw me nearer to the sphere of your royal influence: and when I reflect on the many great qualities that centre in your majesty, admiration would fain extort expressions from which respect commands me to with-hold.
Fragment of the King of Poland’s Answer, to the foregoing Letter.
HOW can I do otherwise, Sir, but think most favourably of the future progress of my literary society, from the moment of its having inspired you with a desire of being admitted. A name so distinguished in the republic of letters as yours is, and a merit still greater than that name, must prove very flattering to the academy; and whatever circumstance or incident is so to her, affords a real pleasure to me. I have lately been present at one of the private meetings. Your letter to me which I ordered to be read, caused a general joy; whose animating sentiments they are soon to communicate to you. This joy would still be greater, could the society flatter themselves with the pleasure of possessing you now and then. Such a happiness of which the members know well the value, would be an additional one to me, who should be highly and truly pleased to see you again at my court. My sentiments in regard to you, are invariably the same, and I shall never cease to be most sincerely yours. Sir, your very affectionate
stanislaus, king .
To M. de Solignac, Secretary to the Literary Society at Nantz.
I DO not know any better method of returning my thanks to your literary society, than by paying a tributary homage before I am called upon for one, and by discharging the duty of an academician from the moment of my having been nominated. In this tract I make a monarch speak, whose great qualities had raised him to the throne of Asia, and on whom the same very great qualities had brought the severest reverses of fortune. I paint him as the father of the country, as the love, and the delight of the people. I thought this subject was better suited to your society than to any other, and to whose members I pray you will present my most respectful compliments.
Paris, April 4, 1751.
From M. de Montesquieu.
To the Author of a short View of the Philosophical Works of Lord Bolingbroke.
[Extracted from an English Gazette of August 16.]
I MOST thankfully acknowledge the receipt of two performances which you have been so obliging as to send me, as well as the letter which you have honoured me with, concerning the Posthumous Works of Lord Bolingbroke; but as this letter relates to me more particularly than the works that accompany it, in which all those who are endowed with any reason have an equal share, it must affect me with a particular pleasure.
I have read some of Lord Bolingbroke’s Works, and if I may be allowed to speak my sentiments thereon, he certainly has a great deal of fire; but he seems to me to employ it commonly against things, whereas he should employ it only in painting the very things. In those posthumous works of which you give me a very clear idea; he seems to have prepared a continual matter of triumph for you. He who attacks revealed religion, attacks but revealed religion; but he who attacks natural religion, attacks all the religions in the world. If men are taught that they are not to curbed by one bridle, yet they may think themselves restrainable by another; but how much more pernicious is it to teach them that they are not to own any.
It cannot be deemed impossible to attack a revealed religion, because it is founded upon particular facts; and that facts, from their nature, may be even liable to adispute. But it is not so with natural religion, it is derived from the essence of man, which cannot be disputed, and from the interior sentiments of man which also cannot be disputed. To this assertion I think it not improper to add the following question; What can be the motive now for attacking revealed religion in England, where it has been so effectually purged of all destructive prejudices, as that it can do no hurt, but on the contrary produce an infinite deal of good?
I am very sensible, that a man in Spain or Portugal, who is condemned to be burnt, or fears to be burnt, because he does not believe in certain articles of faith, depending or not depending upon a revealed religion, has very just reason for attacking it; because by so doing, he may conceive some hopes of contributing to his own natural safety. But the same argument cannot be made use of in England, where every man who attacks revealed religion, attacks it without any view of an accruing interest. Because this opponent, even through success, with all the cogent apparatus of reason on his side, must overturn usual practices, good in themselves, to establish in their place a merely speculative truth. I have been charmed with your work, Sir, &c. montesquieu.
To the Dutchess of Aiguillon.
I HAVE received, madam, the very obliging letter, with which you were pleased to honour me, as I was setting out from la Brede to Paris. I shall remain however, seven or eight days at Bourdeaux for the settling of a law suit I have there. The motive of my departure hence is not to wait on the faculty of Sorbonne, but on you. I quit la Brede with regret, and the more so, because I learn from every quarter, that Paris at this time is very dull. I have received within these three or four days a very original letter; it is from a burgher of Paris, who owes me some money; he prays me to wait for his payment until the return of parliament; my answer to him was, that he might have fixed upon a more certain time.
The small-pox is a terrible pest to human society; it is a second death, added to that to which we are all destined by nature. The smiling pictures which Homer draws of dying persons, as of the flower that falls under the reaper’s hook, cannot be applied to the death caused by this horrid malady.
I should have had the honour of sending you those chapters you were pleased to desire, but from your information since, that you were no longer in the place, where you should have liked to shew them—I propose however, carrying them with me to town. You shall correct them, and tell me in one place without reserve, “I don’t like that passage,” and in another, “You should have expressed yourself thus”—I beseech you, madam, that you will deign graciously to receive the most respectful sentiments of montesquieu.
La Brede, December 3, 1753.
From the Dutchess of Aiguillon, to Abbé de Guasco.
I HAVE not courage enough, Sir, to relate to you the malady, and much less the death of M. de Montesquieu. Neither the assistance of physicians, nor tender care of friends could save so valuable a man. I judge of your affliction by my own, “Quis desiderio sit pudor tam Cari capitis”—The anxiety of the public during his malady, the universal regret of all ranks of people, his majesty’s declaration that the loss of such a man was irreparable , refiect great honour on his memory, but afford no consolation to his friends. Heaven, how I feel for the fatal event! The impression of such an affecting spectacle, and the deep-felt grief in consequence, can be effaced only by the help of time—But the loss of a man, like him, to society, must be for ever lamented by all those who had the happiness of knowing his merit. I did not quit him till he became quite senseless , and that was about eighteen hours before his death; Madam du Preé was equally attentive to a dying friend. The Chevalier de Jaucour did not leave him till the very last moment, just as he expired. I am, most worthy Abbé, your devoted servant, &c.
De Pontchartain, February, 17, 1755.
An article taken from a Letter of Baron Secondat de Montesquieu, to the Abbé Count de Guasco.
I COULD not read your letter from Florence dated the 8th of February, without a mixed sense of the highest pleasure, and of the warmest gratitude. I have long known by reputation, Marquis Nicolini, and the nobly born Cerati. I have heard my father speak of them an hundred times, in the most affectionate terms, and which painted in the most lively manner, that mutual sympathy which glowed between their souls and his. I chearfully accept of your offer , and theirs; they are too honourable to the memory of my father, not to accede to them with all due respect, and tenderness of gratitude.
Some academicians I know, will contribute with pleasure towards the expence. But we can lay no very great stress upon such assistance. I even cannot take upon me to say how far their generosity might stretch on this occasion. I do not know whether we Frenchmen may be chargeable with too much vanity, if we think that our sculptors are equally excellent with those of Italy. A bargain however, was actually made with M. le Moine, who is a most generous and disinterested man.
The French academy, having desired to have a portrait of my father, and the most famous painters of Paris, having refused to undertake the task, on account of the obvious difficulty against succeeding, from the assistance only of a medal that was struck off by some English artists. Notwithstanding this impediment, Mr. le Moine, has most obligingly offered his service, to assist a young painter with the help of a large medallion, which he has been so kind as to make a very strong resemblance of the small medal. Now, M. le Moine from having imprinted on his mind the figure of my father, will be better enabled than any other artist, to execute a bust of him in marble. He has moreover preserved the model he has made, which he has shewn to several persons who knew my father intimately, and who have pointed out to him whatever faults were remaining in his former efforts, which certainly is another reason for his succeeding in a work of consequence.
Bourdeaux, March 25, 1765.
Article of a Letter to the Same.
I perceive that you have not received the letter I had the honour of writing to you from Paris, in which I have amply explained myself concerning the Bust for the author of The Spirit of Laws—The Prince of Beauvau having been appointed commander of Guienne in 1765, seemed dcsirous of obtaining a seat in the academy of Bourdeaux; which was immediately offered to him, and he accepted of. He prayed the Academicians would have no objection to his presenting them with a marble bust of the author of The Spirit of Laws, to be placed in their Assembly Room, which request was assented to with the warmest gratitude. M. le Moine is now at work upon this Bust, and it will soon be finished.
If your noble friend Mr. Cerati, and the Marquis Nicolini might be desirous of becoming foreign associates to the academy of Bourdeaux; I should glory in proposing them, through the principles of esteem and gratitude—I am not ignorant that a thousand advantages and recommendatory things may be said in their behalf; for my father never used to speak to me of them but with the most friendly and respectful sentiments—Now, as I do not exactly remember all he has said to me on their account, I shall be enabled to speak better of them through your instructions, which pray do not fail communicating to me: moreover, as an old member of our Academy, you are in duty bound to interest yourself in whatever may contribute to its glory.
end of the familiar letters.