Front Page Titles (by Subject) LETTER XXIX.: To the Grand Prior Solar, Ambassador from Malta, at Rome. - Complete Works, vol. 4 Familiar Letters; Miscellaneous Pieces; The Temple of Gnidus; A Defence of the Spirit of Laws
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LETTER XXIX.: To the Grand Prior Solar, Ambassador from Malta, at Rome. - Charles Louis de Secondat, Baron de Montesquieu, Complete Works, vol. 4 Familiar Letters; Miscellaneous Pieces; The Temple of Gnidus; A Defence of the Spirit of Laws 
The Complete Works of M. de Montesquieu (London: T. Evans, 1777), 4 vols. Vol. 4.
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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.
[* ]He was then a Marquis only; but after his embassy to England, was created a Duke and Peer of France.
[* ]When M. de Solar had read the Spirit of Laws for the first time, he said, “that is a Book will cause great revolutions in the minds of the French,” and this among others is a striking proof of the soundness of his judgment.
[* ]Author of the life of Charlemaine, and of several works written for the theatre.