|Related to The Tory Lover|
Supplementary Material for The Tory Lover by Sarah Orne Jewett
James Parton, Life of Voltaire
From Volume 1- Chapters 4-6.
Boston: Houghton, Mifflin, 1881.
CHAPTER IV. HIS CHILDHOOD.
FRANÇOIS-MARIE, the last born of a weakly and declining mother, was abandoned to the care of a nurse, who had charge of him in an upper room of the paternal abode. He had at first but the feeblest breath of life, and the family did not expect to rear him. Every morning, for several months, the nurse came down-stairs to tell his mother that the child was dying, and every day the Abbé de Châteauneuf, godfather of the infant and familiar friend of its parents, went upstairs to discuss with the nurse some new expedient for saving its life. So reports the abbé Duvernet, who heard from an old friend of Voltaire all that he usually told of his earliest days. It was not till the child had languished the greater part of a year that he began to mend sufficiently to give his parents hopes of saving him. Gradually from that time he gained strength, and became at length a healthy and active child, though never robust.
It fared otherwise with the mother, who, so far as we know, contributed nothing to the formation of this boy except the friends whom she attracted to her home and who continued to frequent it when she was no more. She lingered seven years after his birth, dying July 13, 1701, aged forty.
His father, a busy, thriving man, occupied with his office, his clients, and his growing capital, appears to have concerned himself no more about the boy than busy fathers usually did about their young children. He must have been a liberal and agreeable man, if only to keep about him the learned and gifted persons whom his wife may have originally drawn. But, so far as we know, he taught his son nothing but the art of thriving, and this he did without intending it. Such knowledge pervaded the air of the notary's home, and the boy inhaled it unconsciously. Annuities, reversions, estates, revenues, interest, shares, bonds, mortgages, all of which the son came to understand and handle better than any other literary man of any age, were the stuff out of which his father's business and fortune were made. The old man little thought what an accomplished notary his younger son was learning to be, when he disturbed the clerks assiduously copying in the notarial office, and played with the rolls of parchment. He caught the secret of all that exact and patient industry, though it disgusted him.
Of his sister we know little more than that she was his favorite in the small household, as far as a sister of sixteen might be to a boy of seven. She was married young to one of the numerous officers of the Chamber of Accounts, and became the mother of four children, descendants of whom are still living in France, and have even figured in French politics within living memory. One of her grandsons, M. d'Hornoi, was a member of the House of Deputies in 1827. Her children and grandchildren supplied the sole legitimate domestic element in Voltaire's life, and connected him with his country's social system. To this boy of seven, left motherless, she could be only the good elder sister; not always patient with his whims, not capable of directing his mind, and much absorbed, doubtless, as girls naturally are, with the opening romance of her own life.
Her brother Armand, who was seventeen years of age at the death of their mother, had already imbibed at the seminary of St. Magloire, in Paris, extreme and gloomy views of religion, which he held through life. He touched Voltaire only to repel him. "My Jansenist of a brother," he frequently calls Armand, -- a term equivalent to Roman Catholic Calvinist. Credulous, superstitious, austere, devout, Armand passed his days, as many worthy people did in that age, and do in this age, in making virtue odious and repulsive. The contrast which he presents to his brother is not unusual in religious communities, but is seldom so complete and striking as in this instance. It recalls to mind that incongruous brother of John Milton, the long-forgotten Christopher Milton; extreme tory and High Churchman, partisan most zealous of the three Stuarts, knighted and raised to the bench by James II. Armand Arouet carried his credulity to the point of writing a work defending the Convulsionist miracles, which is said to exist among the Voltaire manuscripts at Petersburgh; and Duvernet assures us that in 1786 there could still be seen, above the pulpit of the church in which Voltaire was baptized, a votive offering, placed there by Armand Arouet in expiation of his brother's unbelief.
This elder brother, then, had little to do with forming the motherless child, except to make him recoil with loathing and contempt from whatever savored of the serious and the elevated.
Among the frequenters of the Arouet home were three persons who enjoyed the ecclesiastical title of abbé without possessing other ecclesiastical quality. In old Paris there were many such, most of them younger sons of noble families, who had taken nominally a course of theology, in case anything good should fall in their way which a secular abbé could enjoy, -- a canonicate, or a portion of the revenues of a veritable abbey. In the olden time, it seems, the monks were accustomed to place their convent under the protection of a powerful lord, by electing him their abbé and assigning him a part of their income. From the chief of a great house to a younger son of the same was a natural transition; and hence the swarm of abbés, in semi-clerical garb, more or less endowed with clerical revenue, who figured in French society of that century, -- gentlemen of leisure, scholars by profession, and much given as a class to the more decorous audacities of unbelief. The French are not particular in the matter of titles. In the course of time any man in France who had a tincture of the ecclesiastic in him might style himself abbé, -- a word that, after all, only means father.
The Abbé Rochebrune was one of these, described by Voltaire himself, in after years, as an agreeable poet, and still known to collectors as the author of a cantata upon the story of Orpheus, which was set to music by Clérambault, a noted composer and organist of Paris. This cantata was performed at court before Louis XIV., with great applause, at a time when such compositions were in the highest vogue.
Nicholas Gédoyn, another of the abbés, was a more important and more interesting person. Like Rochebrune, he was the scion of an ancient race, a circumstance that gave him a canonicate and a revenue from two abbeys while he was still in the prime of manhood. He had a passion for the classic authors of antiquity, and published free translations of Quintilian and Pausanias, which remained for two generations popular works in France, and are still read. He was one of that antique race of scholars who could not go anywhere without their pocket Horace. He loved his Horace, and wrote a "Conversation" upon him. The titles of his works show the bent of his mind: "Life of Epaminondas," "Roman Urbanity," "The Pleasures of the Table among the Greeks," "Apology for Translations," "The Ancients and the Moderns," "The Judgments of Photius upon the Greek Orators." He also wrote a treatise upon the "Education of Children," that explains in part the warm interest which we know he took in the education of the little François Arouet, whom he influenced powerfully and decisively. Jesuit, canon, and abbé as he was, he was as much pagan as Christian; or, as Voltaire more politely expresses it, in his list of the authors of Louis XIV.'s time: "The Abbé Gédoyn was so warmly enamored of the authors of antiquity that he willingly pardoned their religion in consideration of the beauties of their works and their mythology." The genial abbé had little love of modern authors. He thought the human mind had lapsed and narrowed under Christianity, and that great poetry and great eloquence had passed away with the mythology of the Greeks. Milton's "Paradise Lost" seemed to him a "barbarous poem, of a fanaticism dismal and disgusting, in which the Devil howled without ceasing against the Messiah."
This amiable and enthusiastic scholar, nourished and limited by the literature of the past, loved the child, associated familiarly with him all through his forming years, and breathed into him that love of the ancient models which his works so remarkably exhibit. Gédoyn, like Rochebrune, was interested in music. He goes so far as to say that the moderns cannot in the least appreciate the poems of Pindar because the music is lost to which they were sung.
[There is an error in the original text - an apparent omission at this point.]
again, for this abbé has a place in the catalogue of French writers only as the author of a "Treatise upon the Music of the Ancients." The particular tie which bound these abbés together was probably their common regard for Ninon de Lenclos, whose father was an amateur lutist of celebrity and learning, and she was well skilled in the instruments of the time. They were all members of the elegant and distinguished circle which gathered round Ninon in her old age, one charm of whose abode was the excellent music furnished by herself and her guests. The little Arouet had no ear for music, but he had an ear very susceptible and attentive to other lessons taught him by his abbés.
Châteauneuf loved the French classics as much as Gédoyn loved the Greek and Roman; Racine was his favorite among the French poets, who always remained Voltaire's. "Sixty years ago," wrote Voltaire in 1766, "the Abbé de Châteauneuf said to me, 'My child, let the world talk as it will, Racine will gain every day, and Corneille lose.'"
This last lover of Ninon was brother to the Marquis de Châteauneuf, a person of note in the diplomacy of the time, ambassador to Holland and to Turkey at a later day. The abbé was a gay, decorous, and genial man of the world, known in all agreeable circles, and, as St. Simon records, "welcome in the best." In particular, he frequented the opulent and elegant abode of the Abbé de Chaulieu, poet and epicure, who drew thirty thousand francs a year from the revenues of country abbeys, which he spent in Paris, entertaining princes, poets, and literary churchmen. This luxurious ecclesiastic lived near the Arouets, and his house was the door through which the youngest of them was to make his way to the elevated social spheres.
But it was the Abbé Châteauneuf who was the child's first instructor. In his character of godfather, he had promised to see that the boy was duly instructed in religion, and reared in accordance with the laws and usages of the Catholic Church. Voltaire told his intimate friends how his godfather fulfilled this vow. He first made the child read and repeat the rhymed fables of La Fontaine, -- new works then, the author having survived till this boy was half a year old. Duvernet mentions a piece by another hand, which, he says, the boy knew by heart when he was three years of age, -- "La Moïsade," a fugitive poem then in great vogue among these gay abbés, who lived upon the revenues of a church which they despised and undermined.
We need not believe that the boy knew this piece by heart at three years of age; but it was among the pieces of verse which he first heard and longest remembered. Such productions, common as they afterwards were, had in 1697 the combined charm of novelty and danger. They circulated in manuscript from hand to hand, and from circle to circle; grave men and famous women copied them into their diaries, where they may still be read, together with those satires and squibs which caused the government of the Bourbons to be described as a despotism tempered by epigrams. This "Moïsade" is a short poem in the deistical taste; its main purport being that all of religion is a device of interested men, excepting alone the doctrine of a Supreme Being. Moses, according to this poet, availed himself of the credulity of the ignorant multitude in order to secure obedience to good laws. It concludes thus:--
"Men vain and fanatical receive, without difficulty, the most chimerical fables. A little word about eternity renders them benign and peaceful; and thus the whole of a stupefied people are reduced to kiss the ligatures that strangle them. By such arts Moses knew how to fix the restless spirit of the Hebrews, and took captive their credulity by ranging his politic laws under the standard of the Divinity. He pretended to have seen upon a distant mountain celestial visions. He gave those rustics to understand that God, in his splendor and majesty, had appeared before his dazzled eyes. Authentic tables he showed them, containing God's will. He supported by pathetic tones a tale so well invented, and the entire people was enchanted with those magnificent fooleries. Cunning falsehood passing for truth established the authority of that legislator, and gave currency to the politic errors by which the world was infected."
Such was the lesson taught the infant Arouet through the instrumentality of his godfather; and probably the whole Arouet household and circle approved it, except his brother Armand. Such was the tone of the circle of abbés, poets and placemen who lived in the neighborhood, and had to do with the formation of. this most susceptible boy, from his infancy to mature age.
There was such a stir in matters religious during the ten years spent at his father's house that so eager and intelligent a boy as he was could not have failed to know something of it. In writing certain passages, half a century later, of his "Age of Louis XIV.," he may have drawn upon his own recollections as a little child. It was about 1702, as he therein records, that a strong feeling arose within the church itself against the filthy relics with which every altar then reeked. Readers who have chanced to see the old English ballad of Cromwell's time, called "A Journey into France," may have supposed that its list of the relics in Notre Dame of Paris was a mere invention of a "natural enemy." Besides a sleeve and a slipper of the Virgin Mary, the poet enumerates among "the sights of Nostre Dame," --
"Her Breasts, her Milk, her very Gown
Which she did weare in Bethlem town,
When in the Inne she lay;
Yet all the world knows that 's a fable,
For so good Cloaths ne'r lay in stable,
Upon a lock of Hay.
"There is one of the Crosses Nails,
Which whoso sees his bonnet vailes,
And if he will, may kneel:
Some say, 't is false, 't was never so,
Yet, feeling it, thus much I know,
It is as true as Steel."
This catalogue of disgust was probably not invented by the poet, for we know that offensive objects, similarly described, were actually exhibited in the chief church of France when François-Marie Arouet was a child in his father's house, near by. It was in 1702, when he was eight years of age, he tells us, that there arose in France a bishop -- Gaston-Louis de Noailles -- who was brave enough to take from his metropolitan church, at Chalons on the Marne, a relic which had been adored for ages as the navel of Jesus Christ. This bishop had the courage to throw away the monstrous thing.
"All Chalons murmured against the bishop. Presidents, counselors, placemen, royal treasurers, merchants, men of note, canons, priests, protested unanimously, in legal form, against the enterprise of the bishop, demanding the return of the navel, and supporting their demand by referring to the robe of Jesus Christ preserved at Argenteuil, his handkerchief at Turin and at Laon, one of the nails of the cross at St. Denis, and so many other relics which we preserve and despise, and which do so much wrong to the religion that we revere. But the wise firmness of the bishop carried the day at last over the credulity of the people."'
This movement had indeed originated some years before with Jean de Launoi, a famous and learned doctor of Paris, who made such effective war against the falsities of the Roman calendar as to acquire the name of Saint Expeller (Dénicheur de Saints). He had the mania to scrutinize the historical claims of popular saints, and, if he found the testimony insufficient, erased them from his list. "He is terrible alike to heaven and earth," says a writer of that day, "for he has tumbled more saints out of Paradise than any ten Popes have put there." A witty priest remarked that whenever Doctor de Launoi came into his parish he made profound reverences to him, for fear he should take away his St. Roch. A country magnate begged him not to harm St. Yon, the patron saint of one of his villages. "How shall I do him any harm," said the Dénicheur, "since I have not the honor to know him?" On another occasion he declared that he did not turn out of heaven the blessed whom God had placed there, but only those whom ignorance and error had slipped in. He held "a Monday" at his house for the discussion of saintly claims and traditions, when he made such havoc of favorite saints, male and female, and turned into ridicule so many pious and romantic fictions, that Louis XIV. asked him to discontinue those assemblies. Witty and gay churchmen laughed at his honest zeal; the king feared it; and so the beginning of reform within the church could not go far.
All this was "in the air" while Voltaire was a little boy at his father's house; and during the whole forming period of his life he lived in the very thick of it. He had also an elder brother in Paris, who made conscientious living ridiculous and offensive.
CHAPTER V. AT SCHOOL.
THE boy remained at home three years after his mother's death, with his father, sister, and elder brother, instructed in a desultory way by the Abbé Châteauneuf. The family lived liberally and with some elegance, enjoying, as documents attest, a large garden, a summer residence in a suburban village, with a farm adjacent, horses, vehicles, books, an ample income, consideration, and a circle of agreeable friends, whom these alone never command. "I wrote verses from my cradle," Voltaire remarks more than once, and Duvernet adds that Armand Arouet also wrote them, even while both were boys at home. The family, he says, used to amuse themselves by pitting the brothers against one another in verse-making, and the verses of the younger were so good as at first to please and afterwards to alarm his father, who was a man of judgment, and dreaded the development of so unprofitable a talent.
Maître Arouet, like a true French father, had a scheme of life for each of his sons. The elder, as a matter of course, would follow his father's business of notary, and succeed by inheritance to his father's offices. For his younger son he cherished more ambitious views: he designed to make a solicitor or an advocate of him. A notary, in such practice as he enjoyed, would be almost a sufficient patron to a young advocate, and it would be both convenient and advantageous to have a lawyer in the family. We still hear of solicitors in London, in large practice, bringing up a son or a nephew as a barrister, because it is solicitors who choose barristers for their clients. There were also places open to the legal profession in France, procurable by purchase, by interest, or by a blending of the two, which led to the higher magistracy, if not to the court and cabinet of the king.
This father, it is evident, had set his heart upon seeing his younger son enter a career in which he could push him on to fortune with advantage to himself; and to this end he took precisely the course which an opulent father of his rank would adopt at the present time: he sent him to the great school of the day, -- the Eton of France, -- the Jesuit Collège Louis-le-Grand, attended then by two thousand boys of the most distinguished families in the kingdom. This school, which still exists upon its ancient site in the Rue St. Jacques, in the heart of old Paris, presented almost every attraction which could weigh with a fond or an ambitious parent. The Jesuits were in the highest credit with king, court, and hierarchy, and this school was among their most cherished and important institutions. Years before, when Louis XIV. visited it in state to witness a play performed by the pupils, he let fall an expression which gave it the name it bore, and brought it into the highest fashion. A spectator said, "Everything is admirable here." The king, hearing the remark, responded, "Certainly, it is my college." The next morning, before the dawn of day, the old name of "Collège of Clermont" had disappeared from the gate-way, and in its stead was placed a new name, "Collège Louis-le-Grand."
The urbane and scholarly Jesuits held this king in firm possession. That plain-spoken lady, Madame, mother of the Regent, tells us in her Memoirs that the priests had made the king believe all men damned except those whom Jesuits had instructed. If any one about the court, she adds, wished to ruin a man, he had only to call him a Huguenot or a Jansenist, and his business was done. Her son, the Duke of Orleans, desired to take a gentleman into his service who had been accused of Jansenism. "Why, nephew," said the king, "do you think of such a thing as receiving a Jansenist into your service?" The prince replied, "I can positively assure your majesty that he is no Jansenist. It is rather to be feared that he does not even believe in God." "Oh," said the king, "if that 's all, and you give me your word he 's no Jansenist, take him." It is doubtful if Maître Arouet thought better of the Jansenists than the king, since his son Armand had come from their teaching a narrow and cheerless devotee.
It was in the autumn of 1704, a few weeks after the battle of Blenheim, that François-Marie Arouet, aged ten years, was placed in this famous school. His home was within an easy walk of the miscellaneous aggregation of buildings belonging to the college in the Rue St. Jacques, on the southern side of the Seine; but his father, left a widower three years before, had given away his only daughter in marriage, and therefore entered his son among the boarders, five hundred in number.
The child was not turned loose among this great crowd of boys, to make his way as best he could. There were privileges which wealth could buy, and Maître Arouet provided for his son one of the most valuable of these. The price of board and tuition was four hundred francs a year; which entitled the pupil to no special care or comfort. A prince, or indeed any man who chose to pay the extra cost, could establish his son in a private room, and provide him with a servant and tutor; and there were usually thirty or forty boys in the college thus favored. The private rooms were in such request that it was necessary to speak for one of them years before it was wanted. There were thirty or forty larger rooms for groups of five, six, or seven pupils, each group under the care of a préfet, a priest, who served them as father and tutor, aiding them in their lessons, and keeping them from harm. It was in one of these groups that Maître Arouet placed his child, under the care of Father Thoulier, a young priest (twenty-two in 1704) of noted family and attainments. What better could a generous father do for a promising, motherless boy of ten in the Paris of 1704? Clad in a scholar's modest frock and cap, brown-haired, bright-eyed, not robust, already practiced in gay mockery of things revered, François Arouet took his place in that swarm of French boys of the Collège Louis-le-Grand. There he remained for seven years, and it was his only school.
We must think of it simply as a boys' school, not a college; a humming, bustling hive of boys, given to mischief, and liable to the most primitive punishments when detected in the same. It was while Voltaire was a pupil that the Duke de Boufflers and the Marquis d'Argenson conspired with other boys to blow a pop-gun volley of peas at the nose of the unpopular professor, Father Lejay, and were condemned to be flogged for the outrage. The marquis, a boy of seventeen, the son of a king's minister, managed to escape; but the younger duke, though he was named "Governor of Flanders" and colonel of a regiment, was obliged to submit to the punishment. Voltaire, too, speaks of his préfet giving him and his comrades some slaps sur les fesses by way of amusement." The discipline, however, was far from being severe, and there was evidently a friendly sympathy between pupils and teachers, which, in the case of Voltaire, survived school-days.
In no important particular did this school differ from a Jesuit school of the present moment, such as we may visit in Rome, Vienna, Montreal, New York. Sixty years after leaving it, Voltaire recalled to mind the picture, twelve feet square, which adorned one of its halls, of St. Ignatius and St. Xavier going to heaven in a resplendent chariot drawn by four white horses, the Father Eternal visible on high, wearing a beautiful white beard flowing to his waist, the Virgin and her Son by his side, the Holy Spirit beneath in the form of a dove, and a choir of angels waiting with joined hands and bowed heads to receive the illustrious fathers of the order. He remembered, too, that if any one in France had presumed to ridicule this childish legend, the reverend Père la Chaise, confessor of the king, would have had the scoffer in the Bastille with promptitude. Just such pictures still hang in many a school, and the general view of the universe intended to be inculcated by them is not materially changed. But the Bastille is gone, and the power of Père la Chaise is diminished.
The boy took his place in the lowest class, the sixth, and began his Rosa, la Rose, in the crabbed old "Rudimenta" of Despautères, written in Latin, and stuffed with needless difficulties of the good old-fashioned kind. At many schools a better book was used, written in French, and every way more suitable; but no Jesuit of that generation would adopt it because it was written by the Fathers of Port Royal, odious Jansenists! In Greek he was given a little book of easy sentences, by Jean Stobée, a compiler who lived in the fourth century; and this was followed, in his second year, by a selection of Æsop's Fables. Early in the course he was set to reading the Latin poems of Father Commire, who put into such hexameters as he could command the stories of Jonah, Daniel, and the Immaculate Conception, for the edification of youth; also, some pompous eulogies of the Virgin Mary. And so he worked his way up through all the classes, meeting every day similar incongruities, at the recollection of which he laughed all his life: Epictetus one hour, and St. Basil's Homilies the next; now Lucian, now St. Chrysostom; Virgil in the morning, Commire in the afternoon; Cicero alternating with Father Lejay's Latin Life of Joseph; Sallust followed by a Psalm of David, in what he calls "kitchen Latin;" the college course being that wondrous mixture of the two Romes -- Cicero's Rome and the Pope's Rome, both imperial -- which for ages constituted polite education. The teachers were amiable and worthy gentlemen, who did the best they knew for their pupils. It merely happened that they now had a pupil in whom the ingredients would not mix.
The most gifted boy, in the most favorable circumstances, can only make a fair beginning of education from ten to seventeen. Voltaire, at the end of his course, could not have entered such universities as Oxford, Cambridge, Berlin, and Harvard are now. He may have had Latin enough, but not half enough Greek; no modern language but his own; scarcely any tincture of mathematics; no modern history; no science; not even a tolerable outline of geography. The school-books still held to the ancient theory that rivers were formed by the ocean running into deep caverns under the mountains; and if any of the fathers had yet heard of the new astronomy of Professor Isaac Newton (adopted at Oxford in 1704, Voltaire's first year at school), they had heard of it only to reject it as heresy. He did not learn the most remarkable events even of French history, unless he learned them out of class. "I did not," he intimates, "know that Francis I. was taken prisoner at Pavia, nor where Pavia was; the very land of my birth was unknown to me. I knew neither the constitution nor the interests of my country; not a word of mathematics, not a word of sound philosophy. I learned Latin and nonsense."
We have a work upon education by Jouvency, a Jesuit father of that generation, in which no mention is made of geography, history, mathematics, or science. Much Latin, little Greek, and plenty of what Voltaire called nonsense (sottises) made up the mental diet of the pupils of the Collège Louis-le-Grand.
The main strength of the worthy fathers was expended in teaching their pupils to use words with effect and grace. The nonsense (les sottises) was a necessity of their time and vocation. Grave and learned men could still gravely and learnedly discourse upon the grades of angels, the precise difference between a "throne" and a "dominion," the language employed by Adam and Eve, the parents of Melchisedech, and the spot whence Enoch had been translated to heaven. Boys could not escape such sottises; but in a fashionable school of the learned and courtly Jesuits they were taught with more of formality and routine than among Jansenist orders, who were rude enough to take such things seriously.
Literary skill was what this boy acquired at school, and scarcely any other good thing. He studied and loved Virgil, his "idol and master." He studied and loved Horace, the model of much of his maturest verse. He loved to recall, in later years, the happy hour when, as a school-boy, he came upon that passage of Cicero's oration on behalf of the poet Archias, which has been a favorite sentence with school-boys for many a century: "Studies nourish youth, cheer old age, adorn prosperity, console adversity, delight at home, are no impediment abroad, remain with us through the night, accompany us when we travel, and go with us into the country." In a letter to Madame du Châtelet, written in the first warmth of their affection, he speaks of having often repeated to her those words, which, he says, he early adopted as his own. He speaks more than once, in his letters, of his boyish sensibility to the charms of poetry, -- his first passion and his last. Hebrew he mentions having tried in vain to learn. In a letter of 1767, in repudiating the doctrine of the natural equality of minds, he adduces his own incapacities: "As early as my twelfth year I was aware of the prodigious number of things for which I had no talent. I knew that my organism was not formed to go very far in mathematics. I have proved that [I] have no capacity for music. God has said to each man, Thus far shalt thou go, and no farther. I had some natural power to acquire modern languages; none for the Oriental. We cannot all do all things."
His teachers seemed chosen to nourish his reigning tastes. Father Thoulier, his tutor, known afterwards as Abbé d'Olivet was one of the most enthusiastic and accomplished Latinists in Europe, his translations of Cicero remaining classic to this day in France. He spent a long life in the study of Roman literature, his love for which had originally drawn him into the order, against the wishes of his family. "Read Cicero! Read Cicero!" he exclaimed in a public address; and these words, as one of his biographers remarks, were the moral of his life. He could almost have added, "Read nothing but Cicero!" He was a familiar, genial teacher, whom Voltaire, half a century later, used to address as "my dear Cicero;" and the abbé would return the compliment by telling his pupil that be was tired of men, and passed his days "with a Virgil, a Terence, a Molière, a Voltaire." In his latest years he became a kind of literary bigot, vaunting his favorite authors and reviling the favorites of others. He was in the ardor and buoyancy of youth when he breathed into this susceptible boy the love of Cicero, and gave him familiar slaps by way of amusement.
But the préfet only saw him safely to the door of the classrooms. His chief professor of Latin was Father Porée, whose labor of love was to write Latin plays for the boys to perform, some of which are still occasionally presented in French schools. M. Pierron declares that he shall not to his dying day forget the "prodigious ennui" that he endured in reading these productions, characterized, as he remarks, by inanity of conception, absence of interest, puerility of style, and jests in bad taste. They were, however, sufficient for their purpose, and gave the author a great reputation. He was a handsome, imposing, fluent, and agreeable man, who knew how to hold his classes attentive, and to adorn the platform on state occasions. Voltaire speaks of Father Porée with respect and fondness thirty years after leaving school, when his old master was at the head of the college.
It was Father Porée who said of the boy that "he loved to weigh in his little scales the great interests of Europe;" which calls to mind a remark of his own, written half a century later: "In my infancy I knew a canon of Péronne, aged ninety-two, who was reared by one of the most infuriate commoners of The League. He always said [in speaking of the assassin of Henry IV.], 'the late Monsieur de Ravaillac.'" Being at a Jesuit college, he could not fail to hear something, from time to time, of the wondrous attempts of the Jesuits in Canada, made familiar to modern readers through the works of Dr. Francis Parkman. He even knew a M. Brébeuf, grand-nephew of that Father Brébeuf, martyr, bravest of the brave, whom Dr. Parkman has so nobly delineated in his "Jesuits in North America." Voltaire heard from M. Brébeuf an anecdote that may have come from the missionary's lips: "He told me that his grand-uncle, the Jesuit, having converted a pretty little Canadian boy, the tribe, much offended, roasted the child, ate him, and gave a choice portion [une fesse] to the reverend Father Bréeuf, who, to get out of the scrape, said it was a fast with him that day."
From such slight indications as these we can infer that, little as the fathers may have formally taught him of modern history, he was not inattentive to the events of his time, and gained some knowledge of the heroic ages of France.
A comrade of Porée was Father Tournemine, an inmate of the Collège Louis-le-Grand, though not officially connected with it. He conducted a monthly magazine for the Jesuits, a kind of repository of historical memoirs and pious miscellany. He was a doting lover of such literature as he liked, a man of the world, a genial, easy companion to young and old, and held in high esteem in the college as literary ornament and arbiter. Between this editor and young Arouet there grew an attachment which lasted many years beyond the college course of the boy, and influenced both their lives. "While his comrades," says Duvernet, "strengthened their constitutions, though thinking only of amusing themselves, in games, races, and other bodily exercises, Voltaire withdrew from the playground to go and strengthen his mind in conversation with Fathers Tournemine and Porée, with whom he passed most of his leisure; and he was accustomed to say to those who rallied him upon his indifference to the pleasures natural to his age, 'Every one jumps and every one amuses himself in his own way.'"
It so chanced that Tournemine was as strenuous a partisan of Corneille as Abbé Châteauneuf was of Racine, whom the Jesuits held to be a Jansenist, and therefore neither poet nor Christian. "In my infancy," says Voltaire, in his edition of Corneille, "Father Tournemine, a Jesuit, an extreme partisan of Corneille, and an enemy of Racine, whom he deemed a Jansenist, made me remark this passage [Agesilaus to Lysander], which he preferred to all the pieces of Racine." The passage amply justifies the remark which the commentator adds: "Thus prejudice corrupts the taste, as it perverts the judgment, in all the concerns of life." Nevertheless, that very prejudice of the amiable Jesuit may have served the pupil as a provocative; and we can easily fancy this boy defending his favorite dramatist against the attacks of the fathers, aiming at them the arguments he had heard at home from his mentor, Abbé Châteauneuf.
In a large school there must be, of course, the unpopular teacher, who is not always the least worthy one. Father Lejay, professor of rhetoric of many years' standing, filled this "rôle" in the Collège Louis-le-Grand. He was a strict, zealous, disagreeable formalist; "a good Jesuit," devoted to his order, who composed and compiled many large volumes, still to be seen in French libraries; a dull, plodding, ambitious man, with an ingredient in his composition of that quality which has given to the word Jesuit its peculiar meaning in modern languages. He wrote a book of pious sentences for Every Day of the Week, and a discourse upon the "Triumph of Religion under Louis XIV." He translated and annotated the "Roman Antiquities" of Denys of Halicarnassus, compiled a vast work upon rhetoric, wrote upon the "Duties of a Christian with Regard to Faith and Conduct," wrote tragedies and comedies in Latin and in French, which were played at the college by the boys, with the "success" that invariably attends such performances. These dramas of the professor of rhetoric, which are described by a French explorer as among the curiosities of inanity, reveal the interesting fact that Father Lejay had a particular antipathy to "philosophers," and knew very well how to flatter Louis XIV. by abusing them. He was indeed much given to politic flattery, each of his works being dedicated to some great man of the hour whom his order or himself was interested to conciliate.
Plays were often performed at this school. One of the first comedies presented after the entrance of François Arouet was Lejay's "Damocles," in which the friend of Dionysius is held up to scorn as a "philosopher," and the tyrant is presented to the admiration of the auditors as an ancient Louis XIV. Damocles is remarkable for the flowing amplitude of his beard, in which his foolish soul delights, and his favorite saying is, "Nations will never be happy until kings become philosophers, or philosophers kings." The king says, at length, "Very well, be it so; reign in my place." Damocles reigns. He commits every imbecile folly which the crude mind of Father Lejay could imagine or boys laugh at. The people rise against the "philosopher," and recall Dionysius, who tears the royal mantle from Damocles, and dooms him to lose his noble beard, more precious to him than life. The crowning scene is the last, in which a barber, with abundant ceremony and endless comic incident, cuts off the beard, amid applause that shook the solid walls of the college. It was only with Father Lejay that the young Arouet was not in pleasant accord during the seven years of his school life. The anecdote of their collision, vaguely related by Duvernet, came doubtless from Voltaire himself, even to some of the words which Duvernet employs in telling it: -
"Among the professors, who were very much attached to him, Father Lejay, a man of mediocre ability, vain, jealous, and held in little esteem by his colleagues, was the only one whose good-will Voltaire could not win. He was professor of eloquence, and, like most of those who plume themselves upon that gift, he was very little eloquent. He was regarded as the Cotin of orators. Voltaire had with him some literary discussions the master felt himself humiliated by his pupil, and this was the source of that antipathy which Father Lejay had for Voltaire, -- a feeling which he could not conquer, nor even disguise. One day, the pupil, exasperated by the professor, gave him a retort of a certain kind, which ought not to have been provoked, and which it had been discreet in the instructor not to notice. Father Lejay, in his rage, descends from his platform, runs to him, seizes him by the collar, and, rudely shaking him, cries out several times, 'Wretch! You will one day be the standard-bearer of deism in France!'"
Such a scene would not, in that age, have injured the audacious boy in the opinion of his comrades. It might even have made him the hero of a day; for it was of this period that Madame of Orleans wrote, when she entered in her diary, "Religious belief is so completely extinct in this country that one seldom meets a young man who does not wish to pass himself off as an atheist. But the oddest part of it is that the very person who professes atheism in Paris plays the saint at court."
CHAPTER VI. THE SCHOOL POET.
ALL things pressed this boy toward the path he was to follow. Every influence to which he was subjected, whether within or without the college, stimulated the development of his peculiar aptitudes.
In the France of Louis XIV. there were five illustrious names that did not belong to men of rank in church or state, and they were all the names of poets: Corneille, Racine, Molière, Boileau, and J. B. Rousseau. These alone of the commoners of France could be supposed worthy to be guests at great houses, and sit with princes in the king's presence. These five: Corneille, a lawyer's son; Racine and Boileau, sons of small placemen; Molière, the son of a Paris upholsterer; J. B. Rousseau, the child of the Arouet family's shoemaker. The boy Rousseau may have carried home shoes to the notary's house; but the proudest head in France was proud to bow to Rousseau the poet. The diaries of that generation attest the estimation in which the verse-making art was held, and the great number of persons who tried their hands at it. Verse was the one road to glory open to nameless youth, the career of arms being an exlusive preserve of feudal rank.
We have seen that the professors with whom this lad had most to do wrote plays in prose and in verse. The performance of those works on the great days of the school year absorbed such an amount of time and toil that we might suppose the college a training-school of actors. There was the little drama and the grand drama: the first consisting of farces and burlesques, in Latin or in French, or in both; the second of tragedies, in Latin. The little drama was presented in one of the college halls a few days before the end of the school year, and was witnessed only by the inmates[;] the plays being short, the comic effects simple, and the mounting inexpensive. The grand drama, reserved for the final day, when the prizes were given, -- the solemn day of judgment of a French school, -- was given in the great court of the college, converted for the occasion into a vast tent. The play was usually in five acts, and "entire months" were employed in drilling the young performers, rehearsing the play, and preparing the scenes. The stage was set up at the further end of the court, opposite the great gate-way, and the interior was all gay with banners, flags, streamers, tapestry, emblems, devices, and mottoes. The families of the pupils were invited, and places of honor were reserved for the chiefs of the Jesuit order, for bishops and archbishops, and for members of the royal family; the king himself being sometimes present. The five-act Latin play, on some subject of classic antiquity, was the prelude to the great event of the occasion, the distribution of the prizes; and as the performers were generally the boys who were to receive prizes, it was a day of intoxicating glory to them, the applause bestowed upon the actor being renewed and emphasized when he stood up to receive the public recognition of a year's good conduct. On some occasions there was a mock trial, and the reading of poems composed by the pupils. The acting of charades was also a part of the school festivities, and they were performed very much as we do them now at holiday times, although with more formality.
If these provocatives to literature were not sufficient, there were Literary Societies in the institution, not unlike those of American colleges at the present time. These were styled in the Jesuit schools of that period "Academies;" and, as the Jesuits invented them, no reader needs to be told that the sessions were presided over by one of the father professors. In other respects, there was no material difference between the Academy for which François Arouet composed and declaimed and any Gamma-Delta society of an American college of the present time. The members debated, read poems of their own composition, declaimed those of others, and did all those acts and things which readers remember as part of their own joyous school experience. The tradition of the college is that the violent scene with Father Lejay, just related, occurred not in class, as Duvernet has it, but during a debate in the Academy, Lejay presiding.
Thus stimulated to productivity young Arouet soon became, and to the end of his course remained, the prodigy of the Collège Louis-le-Grand. Some of his early spurts of verse have been preserved. Father Porée, being surprised one day by the end of the hour, and having no time to dictate a theme, hastily said, as the bell summoned the class away, "Make Nero speak at the moment when he is about to kill himself." The boy handed in these lines: --
"De la mort d'une mère exécrable complice,
Si je meurs de ma main, je l'ai bien mérité;
Et, n'ayant jamais fait qu'actes de cruanté,
J'ai voulu, me tuant, en faire un de justice."
On another occasion, in the same class, he amused himself by throwing up and catching a snuff-box. Father Porée took it from him, and required him to redeem it by composing some verses. He produced the following: --
SUR UNE TABATIÈRE CONFISQUÉE.
Adieu, ma pauvre tabatière;
Adieu, je ne te verrai plus;
Ni soins, ni larmes, ni prière,
Ne te rendront à moi; mes efforts sont perdus.
Adieu, ma pauvre tabatière;
Adieu, doux fruit de mes écus!
S'il faut à prix d'argent te racheter encore,
J'irai plutôt vider les trésors de Plutus.
Mais ce n'est pas ce dieu que l'on veut que j'implore;
Pour te revoir, hélas! il faut prier Phébus.
Qu'on oppose entre nous une forte barrière!
Me demander des vers! hélas! je n'en puis plus.
Adieu, ma pauvre tabatière;
Adieu, je ne te verrai plus.
Other light verses, composed in his earlier school years, have been preserved; but these will suffice to show that, while still a child, he had a degree of the literary tact of which he was afterwards a master. As if to make amends to Father Lejay, he translated into French verse a Latin poem of that professor, of a hundred lines or more, upon Sainte Geneviève, always a very popular saint in Paris, even to this day. The poem is of the purest orthodoxy. A more popular effort among his comrades was a translation into four French lines of an old Latin stanza upon bell-ringers, in which the poet gives utterance to a desire, common to students, that the rope held in the hand of the ringer might be twisted around his neck.
It is not possible to fix the date of these poems, but we are sure of one thing: before he was eleven years of age, and before he had been at school a year, he was recognized and shown as a wonder of precocious talent. We are sure of this, because it was in the character of a wondrous boy-poet that Abbé Châteauneuf presented him to a personage still more wondrous, Mademoiselle Ninon de Lenclos, then in her ninetieth year, but still the centre of a brilliant circle. She died in October, 1705, when François Arouet was not quite eleven years of age. Ladies of the highest rank, we are assured, paid court to this anomalous being, and besought her, even in extreme old age, to "form" their sons by permitting them to frequent her evening parties. An uncomely young dandy having boasted that he had been "formed" by her, she said, "I am like God, who repented that he had made man." Molière consulted her upon his comedies, and caught from her conversation some traits of his masterpiece, Tartuffe. She lived in elegance and luxury all her days, courted by the courted, admired by the admired, envied by the envied, sung by poets, loved by priests, reprobated, so far as we can perceive, by no one.
And who was Ninon de Lenclos? She was a country beauty, the child of gentle parents: her mother a good Catholic; her father a "philosopher" of the sect of Epicurus, who taught her early that there ought not to be one moral law for the male of our species, and another for the female. She believed him, and inferred that there was no moral law for either. At seventeen she became the mistress of the Cardinal de Richelieu, who gave her a pension for life of two thousand francs a year, a competence at that period, upon which she set up in the vocation of Épicurienne. Ninon was "an honest man," says a French writer, "because she only had one lover at a time." But she changed them so suddenly that she was unable herself to decide a claim to the paternity of one of her children, and the two contestants decided the matter by a cast of the dice. The boy who thus won a father rose to high rank in the French navy, and died in battle.
An anecdote more astounding is related of her by Voltaire, who doubtless heard it from the Abbé de Châteauneuf. Near the gate St. Antoine there was a restaurant, much frequented by "honest people," like Mademoiselle de Lenclos and her abbé. One evening, after supper there, a young man of nineteen, who had been one of the party, met her in the garden, and made such importunate love to her that she was obliged to tell him that she was his mother. The young man, who had come to the place on horseback, took a pistol from his holsters and shot himself dead in the garden. This tragic event made her "a little more serious," but it did not change her way of life, nor lower her in the regard of her friends.
She was a strict observer of the proprieties of life, took such care of her fortune as to quadruple the income her first lover assigned her, and gradually drew around her the most agreeable and distinguished people in the kingdom, -- ladies as well as men. For seventy years she held her ground: admired at first for her beauty, grace, and hereditary musical gifts; admired later for her "prudence," her "judgment," her good nature, her social talents, and her sure taste in literature. She is said to have held in contempt and abhorrence certain foibles occasionally noticed in other women, such as falsehood, jealousy, malice, and ill-temper. Friendship she deemed a precious and sacred thing; but as to love, she looked upon it, says Voltaire, as a mere pastime, imposing no moral obligations; and it was her boast that her lovers remained her friends and the friends of one another. The father of the young man who shot himself abandoned Madame de Maintenon (afterwards the king's wife) to pay court to Ninon, and yet madame remained her friend, and pressed her to come and live in the palace, and help amuse her unamusable old king. She used to say that she had never offered but one prayer,
"May God, make me an honest man, but never an honest woman."
All this being scarcely conceivable by us, it were of no avail to enlarge upon it. To feel the full force of the contrast between the social laws of two contemporary communities, both called Christian, we have only to reflect that this was the period assigned by Hawthorne to the incidents of the "Scarlet Letter."
She was "as dry as a mummy" when the little poet was taken to see her, -- "a wrinkled, decrepit creature, who had nothing upon her bones but a yellow skin that was turning black." He gives this account of their meeting:
"I had written some verses, which were of no value, but seemed very good for my age. Mademoiselle de Lenclos had formerly known my mother, who was much attached to the Abbé de Châteauneuf; and thus it was found a pleasant thing to take me to see her. The abbé was master of her house; it was he who had finished the amorous history of that singular person. He was one of those men who do not require the attraction of youth in women; and the charms of her society had upon him the effect of beauty. She made him languish two or three days; and the abbé having asked her why she had held out so long, she replied that she had wished to wait until her birthday for so beautiful a gala; and on that day she was just seventy. She did not carry the jest very far, and the Abbé de Châteauneuf remained her intimate friend. For my part, I was presented to her a little later; she was then eighty-five [eighty-nine]. It pleased her to put me in her will; she left me two thousand francs to buy books with. Her death occurred soon after my visit."
This legacy, which, as Voltaire more than once records, was punctually paid, confirms the version of the Abbé Duvernet, who says that the aged Ninon was delighted with the boy. Her house, in the Rue des Tournelles, was, he assures us, "a school of good breeding, and the rendezvous of philosophers and wits, whom she knew how to please and interest even in her decrepitude." All pleased her in the lad, -- his confidence, his repartees, and, above all, his information. She questioned him upon the topic of the day, -- the deadly feud between the sincere, austere Jansenists and the politic, scholarly Jesuits, then approaching its climax in the destruction of Port Royal. Doubtless he had his little say upon that subject, and spoke in the "decided tone" which the abbé mentions. Ninon, he remarks, "saw in him the germ of a great man; and it was to warm that germ into life that she left him the legacy to buy books, -- a gift at once the most flattering and the most useful to a young man whose sole passion was to instruct himself."
The legacy was indeed most flattering. What a stimulus to a susceptible boy of eleven, already conscious of his powers, and living in the midst of a society who assumed that the composition of good French verse was among the most glorious of all possible feats of the mind! The next year, being in the fifth class, he began a tragedy upon the story, told in Livy, of Amulius, king of Alba, the wicked uncle of those babes in the woods, Romulus and Remus. He called his play "Amulius and Numitor." He kept it many years among his papers, but threw it at length into the fire.
While still in the fifth class his fame reached the court. An invalid soldier, who had served under the immediate command of the king's only son and heir, came to the college one day, and asked the regent to write for him a petition in verse to the prince for aid in his sickness and poverty. The regent referred him to Arouet, who wrote twenty lines for him in half an hour. He made the old soldier address the prince as "the worthy son of the greatest of kings," his love, the people's hopes, who, without reigning over France, reigned over the hearts of the French." "Will you permit me," ran the petition, "to present a new year's gift to you, who only receive them from the hand of the gods? At your birth, they say, Mars gave you valor, Minerva wisdom, Apollo beauty; but a god more powerful, whom in my anguish I implore, designed to bestow new year gifts upon me in giving you liberality." The petition brought a few golden louis to the soldier, and made some little noise at Versailles and Paris. It is said also to have renewed the alarm of his father, lest so much flattery bestowed upon a casual exertion of his son's talents should lure him from the path which leads to rich clients and liberal fees. This versified petition was the best of his school poems that has been preserved, and was really turned with much elegance and ingenuity. For a boy of twelve to devise a compliment for Louis XIV. or his race, after half a century of incense, that should attract a moment's attention from king or court must certainly be accounted a kind of triumph.
He did not neglect the ordinary studies of the school. At the close of his sixth year, in August, 1710, on the day of the distribution of prizes, he enjoyed extraordinary honors. Prize after prize, crown after crown (if we may believe tradition), was awarded him, until he was covered with crowns and staggered under the weight of his prize books. Among the guests in the grand pavilion was the poet J. B. Rousseau, then in the prime of manhood, the lustre of his fame undimmed. The name of François-Marie Arouet caught his ear, and he asked one of the fathers if the lad was the son of Maître Arouet, of the Chamber of Accounts, whom he knew. The professor said he was, and that he had shown for some years a marvelous talent for poetry. Then the professor took the boy by the hand, all covered with crowns and laden with glory, and presented him to the poet. Rousseau kissed him on both cheeks, as the French do at such times, congratulated him warmly upon the honors he had received, and foretold for him a brilliant future. The scholar, with equal enthusiasm, threw his arms around the poet's neck, amid the emotion and applause of the assembly.
And so he went on, triumphantly and happily, to the end of his seven years' course; a good scholar, a favorite of his teachers, admired by all his companions, and by some of them beloved. His friends at school remained his friends as long as they lived, and some of them lived to witness and to solace his last days. The warmest, tenderest, and longest friendships of his life were formed at the Collège Louis-le-Grand, and his instructors followed his career with interest and pride, despite the human foibles and the French faults that marred it. There is no question that his life at school was happy and honorable, and both in a high degree. He made the most of his chances there, such as they were.
These seven years, so brilliant and so fortunate for him in the safe seclusion of a school, were the darkest France had known since the time of Jeanne Darc [D'Arc]; for it was then that the French people had to pay large installments of the penalty of enduring for half a century an ignorant and incompetent king. The defeat of Blenheim, in Arouet's first year at school, was followed by that of Ramilies in 1706, while he was writing his tragedy upon the bad uncle of Romulus and Remus. Defeat followed defeat, until in 1709 occurred the crowning disaster of Malplaquet. There were times, as this boy remembered, when Paris itself dreaded the victor's approach; and he never forgot the famine of 1709, when, besides the catastrophe of Malplaquet, the olives failed, the fruit trees were nipped by frost, the harvest was ruined, the British fleet captured the grain ships coming from the East, and the cold of the winter was extreme. His father had to pay a hundred francs extra for him at the college that year, and yet he had to eat brown bread. Probably he meant oaten bread, which Madame de Maintenon set the example of eating at Versailles. The king sent to the mint that year four hundred thousand francs' worth of gold plate, and there was a general melting of silver plate from great houses.
The old king had his share of sorrow and humiliation. It was in April, 1711, young Arouet's last year at school, that the series of deaths began in the royal family, the mere recollection of which, many years after, brought tears to susceptible French eyes. The king's only son, the dauphin, died of small-pox in that month. The next February his son, the new dauphin, died; and, three weeks after, his son, leaving to France only a boy of two years, "within two fingers of death," who became Louis XV. Paris saw father, mother, and son all borne to the tomb in the same hearse. The hardest hearts, the wisest heads, forgave the stricken king for the woes unnumbered he had brought upon his country through his subservience to priests. Our young student, when he came, half a century later, to treat of these events, in his "Age of Louis XIV.," wrote, "This time of desolation left in the hearts of men an impression so profound that, during the minority of Louis XV., I knew several persons who could not speak of these losses without tears."
He remembered, also, that at the period when Marlborough seemed about to come thundering at the gates of Paris, the minds of men were distracted by what seem to us trifling religious disputes. But at that time nothing was trifling that savored of religion, for behind it all there was the dungeon, the torture-chamber, the bayonet, the axe, the wheel, the fagot[.] He remembered that, about the time when he was crowned and applauded in the presence of Rousseau, a Jewess and her daugbter were burned at Lisbon for some trivial act of eating lamb at the season when priests said meat must not be eaten. The story circulated in the school that the girl was ravishingly beautiful, but he declares that it was not her beauty that drew the tears from his eyes when he heard the tale.
And at that very time, perhaps at the moment when the young poet heard his name called in the splendid pavilion, the light of victory may have gleamed in the eyes of every Jesuit in Paris on account of the destruction of the convent of Port Royal, near Versailles. The fundamental article of religion with Louis XIV. was the royal authority, and hence he regarded heresy as rebellion. Long he hesitated before proceeding to extremities with the Jansenist ladies of Port Royal in the Fields, so renowned were they for piety and good works, so revered by the solid men of Paris. But his confessor, Tellier, gave him no peace, and the bewildered old king sent a confidential servant of his household to the convent to see what manner of persons its inmates were. "By my faith, sire," said the man on his return, "I saw there nothing but saints, male and female." The king sighed, and said nothing. The confessor, divining his thought, assured him that there was nothing in the world so dangerous as the virtues with which the poison of heresy was frequently covered. The fatal order was given. The ladies were distributed among the convents of the kingdom, and their abode was utterly destroyed, so that not one stone remained upon another.
Young Arouet could not escape a knowledge of these events, so dear to every Jesuit. In the very street in which his college was situated there was the Abbey of Port Royal of Paris, a kindred establishment to the one near Versailles. He lived close to these events, and was old enough to feel the infinite frivolity of the dispute which a priest could use as a pretext for such atrocities. During his last year at school, 1711, he may have seen men digging up the bones of the eminent persons buried near the destroyed convent, and conveying them to a village church-yard near by; and, during his whole school life, the soldiers of the king were hunting Protestants in the mountains of Cévennes for magistrates to break upon the wheel, to hang upon gibbets, to put to the torture, and burn at the stake.
Musarum Deliciæ, London, 1656.
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Siècle de Louis XIV., chap. xxxv.
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88 Œuvres de Voltaire, 261.
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55 Œuvres de Voltaire, 280.
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54 Œuvres de Voltaire, 209[.]
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5 Œuvres de Voltaire, 112.
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2 Lettres Inédites de Voltaire, 560.
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One of the Latin plays of Father Porée was performed at Boston, Mass., at the Commencement of Boston College, June 27, 1877. It was called Philedonus, or the Romance of a Poor Young Man, the argument of which was given thus:
While pursuing his studies in Paris, Philedonus neglects his religious duties, and yields to the fascinations of the luxurious capital. Learning that his friend, Erastus, is dangerously ill, Philedonus becomes the victim of melancholy, and no longer listens to the voice of the tempter. Through the salutary influence of a heavenly vision, in which his mother and a guardian angel appear, and partially arouse the long-dormant energies of his better nature, the student resolves to commend. Various circumstances -- among others the dying curse of Erastus -- strengthen the good resclutions of Philedonus, who at length escapes from then toils of parasites plotting to effect his ruin, reforms his companions, and returns to his home in Italy.
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Voltaire et ses Maîtres, page 77.
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58 Œuvres de Voltaire, 7.
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37 Œuvres de Voltaire, 146.
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67 Œuvres de Voltaire; 301.
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Voltaire et ses Maîtres, page 108.
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A pompous and arrogant court preacher of Louis XIII.'s time, satirized by Boileau and Molière.
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Voltaire et ses Maîtres, page 28, etc.
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Of the death of a mother the execrable accomplice, if I die by my own hand, I have deserved it well; and, having until now done only acts of cruelty, I have wished, in killing myself, to do one of justice.
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UPON A CONFISCATED SNUFF-BOX.
Adieu, my poor snuff-box; adieu, I shall never see thee more; nor pains, nor tears, nor prayer will give thee back to me; my efforts are lost. Adieu, my poor snuff-box; adieu, sweet fruit of my crowns. If money was the price of thy redemption, I would rather go and empty the treasury of Plutus. But it is not that god whom I am required to implore. To get a sight of thee again, I must, alas! address a prayer to Phœbus. What an obstacle is interposed between us! To ask verses of me! Alas! I can produce no more of them. Adieu, my poor snuff-box; I shall never see thee more.
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63 Œuvres de Voltaire, 163.
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26 Œuvres de Voltaire, 376.
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Mémoires Secrets, par Duclos.
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Edited by Terry Heller, Coe College
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