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time：2023-12-01 15:31:46 Source: Originally writtenedit：reading
"Lasted, I find, for above a year. From Spring, 1746, till towards Autumn, 1747: Voltaire's feelings being--Haha, so exquisite, all the while!--Well, reader, I can judge how amusing it was to high and low. And yet Phoebus Apollo going about as mere Cowherd of Admetus, and exposed to amuse the populace by his duels with dogs that have bitten him? It is certain Voltaire was a fool, not to be more cautious of getting into gutter-quarrels; not to have a thicker skin, in fact."
PROCES-TRAVENOL escorting one's Triumphal Entry; what an adjunct! Always so: always in your utmost radiance of sunshine a shadow; and in your softest outburst of Lydian or Spheral symphonies something of eating Care! Then too, in the Court-circle itself, "is Trajan pleased," or are all things well? Readers have heard of that "TRAJAN EST-IL CONTENT?" It occurred Winter, 1745 (27th November, 1745, a date worth marking), while things were still in the flush of early hope. That evening, our TEMPLE DE LA GLOIRE (Temple of Glory) had just been acted for the first time, in honor of him we may call "Trajan," returning from a "Fontenoy and Seven Cities captured:" [Seven of them; or even eight of a kind: Tournay, Ghent, Bruges, Nieuport, Dendermond, Ath, Ostend; and nothing lost but Cape Breton and one's Codfishery.]--
"Reviens, divin Trajan, vainqueur doux et terrible; Le monde est mon rival, tous les coeurs sont a toi; Mais est-il un coeur plus sensible, Et qui t'adore plus que moi?" [TEMPLE DE LA GLOIRE, Acte iv. (
An allegoric Dramatic Piece; naturally very admirable at Versailles. Issuing radiant from Fall of the Curtain, Voltaire had the farther honor to see his Majesty pass out; Majesty escorted by Richelieu, one's old friend in a sense: "Is Trajan pleased?" whispered Voltaire to his Richelieu; overheard by Trajan,--who answered in words nothing, but in a visible glance of the eyes did answer, "Impertinent Lackey!"--Trajan being a man unready with speech; and disliking trouble with the people whom he paid for keeping his boots in polish. O my winged Voltaire, to what dunghill Bubbly-Jocks (COQS D'INDE) you do stoop with homage, constrained by their appearance of mere size!--
Evidently no perfect footing at Court, after all. And then the Pompadour, could she, Head-Butterfly of the Universe, be an anchor that would hold, if gales rose? Rather she is herself somewhat of a gale, of a continual liability to gales; unstable as the wind! Voltaire did his best to be useful, as Court Poet, as director of Private Theatricals;--above all, to soothe, to flatter Pompadour; and never neglected this evident duty. But, by degrees, the envious Lackey-people made cabals; turned the Divine Butterfly into comparative indifference for Voltaire; into preference of a Crebillon's poor faded Pieces: "Suitabler these, Madame, for the Private Theatricals of a Most Christian Majesty." Think what a stab; crueler than daggers through one's heart: "Crebillon?" M. de Voltaire said nothing; looked nothing, in those sacred circles; and never ceased outwardly his worship, and assiduous tuning, of the Pompadour: but he felt--as only Phoebus Apollo in the like case can! "Away!" growled he to himself, when this atrocity had culminated. And, in effect, is, since the end of 1746 or so, pretty much withdrawn from the Versailles Olympus; and has set, privately in the distance (now at Cirey, now at Paris, in our PETIT PALAIS there), with his whole will and fire, to do Crebillon's dead Dramas into living oues of his own. Dead CATILINA of Crebillon into ROME SAUVEE of Voltaire, and the other samples of dead into living,--that stupid old Crebillon himself and the whole Universe may judge, and even Pompadour feel a remorse!--Readers shall fancy these things; and that the world is coming back to its old poor drab color with M. de Voltaire; his divine Emilie and he rubbing along on the old confused terms. One face-to-face peep of them readers shall now have; and that is to be enough, or more than enough:--
VOLTAIRE AND THE DIVINE EMILIE APPEAR SUDDENLY, ONE NIGHT, AT SCEAUX.
About the middle of August, 1747, King Friedrich, I find, was at home;--not in his new SANS-SOUCI by any means, but running to and fro; busy with his Musterings, "grand review, and mimic attack on Bornstadt, near Berlin;" INVALIDEN-HAUS (Military Hospital) getting built; Silesian Reviews just ahead; and, for the present, much festivity and moving about, to Charlottenburg, to Berlin and the different Palaces; Wilhelmina, "August 15th," having come to see him; of which fine visit, especially of Wilhelmina's thoughts on it,--why have the envious Fates left us nothing!
While all this is astir in Berlin and neighborhood, there is, among the innumerable other visits in this world, one going on near Paris, in the Mansion or Palace of Sceaux, which has by chance become memorable. A visit by Voltaire and his divine Emilie, direct from Paris, I suppose, and rather on the sudden. Which has had the luck to have a LETTER written on it, by one of those rare creatures, a seeing Witness, who can make others see and believe. The seeing Witness is little Madame de Staal (by no means Necker's Daughter, but a much cleverer), known as one of the sharpest female heads; she from the spot reports it to Madame du Deffand, who also is known to readers. There is such a glimpse afforded here into the actuality of old things and remarkable human creatures, that Friedrich himself would be happy to read the Letter.
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