Giacomo Casanova

Casanova's visit to Les Délices is found in Volume VI, Chapter 10 of the Story of My Life.

Monsieur de Voltaire; my discussions with the great man; A scene at his house in connection with Ariosto; The Duke of Villars; Argument at Voltaire 's.

"THIS," I said to him, "is the happiest moment of my life. At last I see my master; it is twenty years, Monsieur, since I became your pupil. "

"Honor me with another twenty, and then promise to bring me my wages. "

"I promise; but, on your side, promise to wait for me. "

"I give you my word for it, and only death--not I--will break my word. "

A general laugh greeted this first Voltairean sally. It was in the nature of things. The function of such laughter is to encourage one disputant, always at the expense of the other; and he to whom the laughers give their suffrage is always sure to win; they constitute a claque which operates in good society too. I expected as much, but I hoped that my turn would come to let fly at him. Two newly arrived Englishmen are introduced. He rises, saying:

"These gentlemen are English. I wish I were."

A poor compliment, for it forced them to answer that they wished they were French, and perhaps they did not want to lie, or they should be ashamed to tell the truth. A man of honor, I think, has the right to put his own country above all others.

No sooner has he sat down again than he returns to me, saying politely, but still with a laugh, that as a Venetian I must certainly know Count Algarotti.

"I know him, but not by virtue of being a Venetian, for seven eighths of my dear fellow countrymen are unaware that he exists. "

"I should have said 'as a man of letters.' "

" I know him from having spent two months with him at Padua seven years ago; and I admired him principally because I discovered that he admired you. "

"We are good friends; but to deserve the esteem of all who know him he does not need to admire anyone."

" If he had not begun by admiring, he would not have achieved fame. Admiring Newton, he succeeded in making it possible for ladies to talk about light."

" Did he really succeed? "

"Not as well as Monsieur de Fontenelle in his Pluralité des mondes; but he can be said to have succeeded. "

"That is true. If you see him in Bologna, be so good as to tell him that I am awaiting his letters on Russia. He can send them to me in care of the banker Bianchi in Milan. I am told that Italians do not like his Italian."

"I can well believe it: his style, in all his Italian writings, is his alone; it is infected with gallicisms; we think it pitiful. "

"But do not French turns of expression make your language more beautiful? "

"They make it intolerable, just as a French stuffed with Italian expressions would be, even if it were written by you. " task; his Latin has been said to be tainted with Patavinity."

" The Abate Lazzarini told me, when I was beginning to write, that he preferred Livy to Sallust. "

"The Abate Lazzarini, author of the tragedy Ulisse il giovane? You must have been very young, and I wish I had known him; but I knew the Abate Conti, who had been Newton's friend and whose four tragedies cover the whole of Roman history. "

" I, too, knew and admired him. When I was with those great men, I congratulated myself on being young; today, here with you, I feel as if I dated from day before yesterday, but it does not humiliate me; I wish I were the youngest member of the human family. "

"You would be better off than if you were the oldest. May I ask to what branch of literature you have devoted yourself? "

"To none; but perhaps the time will come. In the meanwhile I read as much as I can, and I indulge myself in studying humanity by traveling. "

" That is the way to know it, but the book is too big. The easier method is to read history. "

"History lies; one is not certain of the facts; it is boring; and studying the world on the run amuses me. Horace, whom I know by heart, is my guidebook, and I find him everywhere. "

"Algarotti knows all of him by heart too. You are certainly fond of poetry? "

" It is my passion. "

" Have you written many sonnets? "

"Ten or twelve which I like, and two or three thousand which I may not even have reread. "

" The Italians are mad about sonnets. "

"Yes--provided one can call it madness to wish to bestow on a given thought a harmonious measure capable of putting it in the best light. The sonnet is difficult, Monsieur de Voltaire, for we may neither extend the thought for the sake of the fourteen lines nor shorten it. "

"It is the bed of the tyrant Procrustes. That is why you have so few good ones. We have not one, but that is the fault of our language. "

"And of the French genius, too, I believe, which supposes that expanding a thought makes it lose all its brilliance and force. "

" And you are not of that opinion?"

"I beg your pardon, it is a matter of the nature of the thought. A witticism, for example, is not enough for a sonnet. "

" Which Italian poet do you love best ?"

"Ariosto; and I cannot say that I love him better than the rest, for he is the only one I love. Yet I have read them all. When, fifteen years ago, I read your strictures on him, I at once said that you would retract when you had read him. "

"I am grateful to you for thinking I had not read him. I had read him; but, being young, having an inadequate knowledge of your language, and being prejudiced by the Italian writers who worship your Tasso, I unfortunately published an opinion which I sincerely thought was my own. It was not. I worship your Ariosto. "

"I breathe again. So have an excommunication pronounced on the book in which you ridiculed him."

"All my books are excommunicated already; but I will now give you good proof of my retraction. "

It was then that Voltaire astonished me. He recited by heart the two great passages in the thirty-fourth and thirty-fifth cantos of the divine poet in which he tells of Astolpho's conversation with St. John the Apostle, never skipping a line, never pronouncing a word except in accordance with strict prosody; he pointed out their beauties to me, with reflections which only a truly great man could make. One could have expected nothing more from the greatest of all the Italian commentators. I listened to him without breathing, without once blinking my eyes, hoping in vain to catch him in a mistake; turning to the company, I said that I was overwhelmed with astonishment, and that I would inform all Italy of my wonder and the reason for it.

"All Europe," he replied, "shall be informed by me of the most humble amends which I owe to the greatest genius she has produced. "

Insatiable for praise, the next day he gave me his translation of Ariosto's stanza: Quindi avvien che tra principi e signori. Here it is:

Les papes, les césars apaisant leur querelle
Jurent sur l'Évangile une paix éternelle;
Vous les voyez demain l'un de l'autre ennemis;
C'était pour se tromper qu'ils s'étaient réunis:
Nul serment n'est gardé, nul accord n'est sincère;
Quand la bouche a parlé, le coeur dit le contraire.
Du ciel qu'ils attestaient ils bravaient le courroux,
L'intérêt est le dieu qui les gouverne tous.

At the end of Monsieur de Voltaire's recitation, which brought him the applause of all present, though not one of them understood Italian, Madame Denis, his niece, asked me if the famous passage her uncle had declaimed was one of the finest in the great poet.

"Yes, Madame, but not the very finest. "

" Then judgment has been handed down as to the very finest? "

"Certainly--otherwise Signor Lodovico would not have received his apotheosis. "

" I did not know he had been beatified. "

At that all the laughers, with Voltaire at their head, were on Madame Denis's side--I alone excepted, who remained perfecily serious. Voltaire, nettled by my gravity:

"I know," he said, "why you do not laugh. You claim that it is by virtue of a superhuman passage that he was called 'divine. ' "

" Precisely. "

" What passage is it?"

"The last thirty-six stanzas of the twenty-third canto, which give a technical description of the way Orlando went mad. Since the beginning of the world no one has known how a person goes mad except Ariosto, who was able to write it, and who toward the end of his life went mad too. Those stanzas, I am certain, have made you shudder; they inspire horror. "

"I remember them; they make love terrible. I cannot wait to read them again. "

"Perhaps Monsieur will be so kind as to recite them to us," said Madame Denis, with a sly glance at her uncle.

"Why not, Madame, if you will have the goodness to listen. "

"Then you have taken the trouble to learn them by heart?"

"As I have read Ariosto through two or three times a year ever since I was fifteen years old, he has fixed himself in my memory from beginning to end with no effort on my part and, as it were, despite me, except for his genealogies and his historical passages, which tire the mind without touching the heart. Only Horace has remained imprinted entire in my soul, despite the often too prosaic verses in his Epistles. "

"We can allow you Horace," added Voltaire; "but Ariosto is a great deal, for it is a matter of forty-six long cantos."

" Say fifty-one. "

Voltaire remained silent.

"Come, come," said Madame Denis, "let us have the thirty-six stanzas which make one shudder and which earned their author the appellation of 'divine.'"

I thereupon recited them, but not in the style of declamation which we use in Italy. To please, Ariosto has no need to be thrown into relief by a monotonous singsong on the part of the person who delivers him. The French are right in finding this singsong intolerable. I recited them as if they were prose, animating them by voice, eyes, and the varying intonation necessary to express feeling. My audience saw and felt feeling expressed. They saw and felt the effort I made to hold back my tears, and they wept; but when I came to the stanza:

Poichè allargare il freno al dolor puote
Che resta solo senza altrui rispetto
Giù dagli occhi ripando per le gote
Sparge un fiume di lacrime sul petto

("Because he who is alone, with no one to consider, may give the reins to his grief, from his eyes he pours a stream of tears which flow down his cheeks to his breast"),

my tears burst from my eyes so impetuously and abundantly that everyone present shed tears too, Madame Denis shuddered, and Voltaire ran to embrace me; but he could not interrupt me, for Orlando, to go completely mad, had to discover that he was in the same bed as that in which Angelica had lately lain in the arms of the too fortunate Medoro, which happened in the following stanza. My plaintive and mournful tone gave place to the tone of terror inspired by the madness whose prodigious force drove him to ravages such as only an earthquake or Iightning could cause. At the end of my recitation I somberly received the congratulations of the entire company. Voltaire exclaimed:

"It is what I have always said: to draw tears, one must weep oneself; but to weep, one must feel, and then the tears come from the soul. "

He embraced me, he thanked me, and he promised to recite the same stanzas to me the next day and to weep as I had done. He kept his word.

Pursuing the subject of Ariosto, Madame Denis said it was astonishing that Rome had not put him on the Index. Voltaire replied that, on the contrary, Leo X had issued a bull excommunicating all who dared to condemn him. The two great families of Este and Medici found it to their interest to support him:

"But for that," he added, "the one line on Constantine's donation of Rome to Sylvester, which says that it puzza forte ('stinks strongly'), would have been enough to bring an interdict on the poem. "

I said that, begging his pardon, the line which had caused even more of an outcry was the one in which Ariosto throws doubt on the resurrection of the whole human race at the end of the world.

"Speaking of the hermit who tried to prevent Rodomonte from capturing Isabella, Zertino's widow," I said, "Ariosto describes the African as tiring of his preaching, seizing him, and throwing him so far that he breaks him to pieces against a rock, where he is instantly killed and remains in a sleep such

Che al novissimo di forse fia desto.
('That he perhaps may wake on the last day.')


"That forse ('perhaps'), which the poet inserted only as a rhetorical ornament, caused an outcry which would have made the poet laugh heartily. "

"It is a pity," said Madame Denis, "that Ariosto did not abstain from his hyperboles. "

"Be quiet, my niece; they are all deliberate and all of the greatest beauty. "

We talked on other subjects, all of them literary, and the conversation finally turned to L'Écossaise, which had been acted at Soleure. The whole story was known. Voltaire told me that if I would act in his house he would write Monsieur de Chavigny to persuade Madame . . . to come and act Lindane and that he would take the part of Monrose. I declined, telling him that Madame . . . was at Basel and that in any case I had to leave the following day. At that he protested vehemently, roused the whole company against me, and maintained that my visit became an insult if I did not stay for at least a week. I replied that, having come to Geneva only for him, I had nothing else to do there.

" Did you come here to talk to me or to hear me talk! "

" Principally to hear you talk. "

" Then stay here three days at least, come to dine with me every day, and we will talk. "

I said I would do so, and then took my leave to go to my inn, for I had a great deal of writing to do.


The next morning young Fox came to my room with the two Englishmen whom I had seen at Monsieur de Voltaire's. They proposed a game of quinze with stakes of two louis, and, having lost fifty louis in less than an hour, I stopped. We made a tour of Geneva and at dinnertime went to "les Délices." The Duke of Villars had just arrived there to consult Tronchin, who had kept him alive by his art for ten years.

During dinner I said nothing; but afterward Voltaire made me talk about the Venetian government, knowing that I must bear it a grudge. I disappointed his expectation; I attempted to prove that there is no country on earth in which one can enjoy greater freedom. Seeing that the subject was not to my liking, he took me out to his garden, which he told me he had created. The principal walk ended at a stream; he said it was the Rhone, which he was sending to France. He made me admire the fine view of Geneva and the Dent Blanche, which is the highest of the Alps.

Deliberately turning the conversation to Italian literature, he began talking away on the subject with great wit and erudition, but always ending with an erroneous judgment. I did not contradict him. He spoke of Homer, Dante, and Petrarch, and everyone knows what he thought of those great geniuses. His inability to refrain from writing what he thought harmed him. I only said that if these authors had not deserved the esteem of all who studied them they would not have been given the high place they held.

The Duke of Villars and the famous physician Tronchin joined us. Tronchin--tall, well built, handsome, polished, eloquent though not talkative, a learned natural scientist, a wit, a physician, favorite pupil of Boerhaave, and without either the jargon or the charlatanism of the pillars of the Faculty--captivated me. His principal medicine was only diet; but to prescribe it he had to be a great philosopher. It was he who cured a consumptive of venereal disease by the mercury which he gave him in the milk of a she-ass which he had subjected to thirty rubbings by the strong arms of three or four porters. I write this because I have been told it, but I find it hard to believe.

The person of the Duke of Villars caught all my attention. Examining his bearing and his face, I thought I saw a woman of seventy dressed as a man, thin, emaciated, weak, but who in her youth might have been beautiful. His blotched cheeks were covered with rouge, his lips with carmine, his eyebrows were blackened, his teeth were false, as was the hair which was glued to his head by quantities of pomade scented with ambergris, and in his top buttonhole was a large bouquet which came up to his chin. He affected grace in his gestures, and he spoke in a soft voice which made it difficult to understand what he said. Withal he was very polite, affable, and mannered in the style of the Regency. I have been told that when he was young he loved women, but that in his old age he assumed the modest role of wife to three or four handsome minions, each of whom in turn enjoyed the honor of sleeping with him. The Duke was the Governor of Provence. His whole back was gangrened, and according to the laws of nature he should have died ten years earlier; but Tronchin kept him alive by diet, feeding the sores, which if they had not been fed would have died and taken the Duke with them. This is truly to live by art.

I went with Voltaire to his bedroom, where he changed his wig and the bonnet he wore over it to keep from catching cold. On a large table I saw the Summa of St. Thomas and some Italian poets, among them the Secchia rapita of Tassoni.

"It is," he said, "the only tragicomic poem which Italy possesses. Tassoni was a monk, a wit, and a learned genius as a poet. "

" The rest perhaps--but not learned, for, ridiculing the Copernican system, he says that, following it, one could not arrive at the theory either of lunations or of eclipses."

" Where does he say anything so stupid?"

"In his discorsi academici."

" I haven't them, but I will get them. "

He wrote down the title.

"But Tassoni, " he went on, " criticized your Petrarch very well."

"And thereby disgraced his taste and his reading, as did Muratori. "

" Here he is. Admit that his erudition is immense. "

"Est ubi peccat" ("He is sometimes wrong'').

He opened a door, and I saw an archive of nearly a hundred bulky packages.

"That," he said, "is my correspondence. You see nearly fifty thousand letters, which I have answered."

"Have you copies of your answers?"

"Of most of them. It is the duty of a valet whom I keep for no other purpose. "

"I know printers who would give a great deal of money to possess themselves of this treasure."

"Beware of printers when you are ready to give some thing to the public, if you have not already began."

"I will begin when I am old."

And in this connection I quoted a macaronic verse of Merlin Cocai.

"What is that?"

"It is a verse from a famous poem in twenty-four cantos."


"And what is more, worthy to be; but to appreciate it one must know the Mantuan dialect."

" I shall understand it. Have it sent me. "

" I will present it to you tomorrow."

" I shall be obliged to you. "

We were fetched from there, and we spent two hours in conversation with the company, in which the great, brilliant poet kept everyone amused, always applauded though satirical and often caustic, but always laughing and never failing to raise a laugh. He maintained a princely establishment, and only at his house did one find choice fare. He was then sixty-six years of age and had an income of a hundred and twenty thousand livres. They who said and say that he became rich only by cheating the booksellers are mistaken. On the contrary, the booksellers cheated him badly, except the Cramers, whose fortune he made. He gave them all his works for nothing, and thus it was that they circulated so widely. At the time I was there he gave them la Princesse de Babylone, a charming tale which he wrote in three days.


The next day I wrote Monsieur de Voltaire an epistle in blank verse, which cost me more trouble than if I had rhymed it. I sent it to him with Teofilo Folengo's poem; and I made a great mistake in sending it, for I should have known he would not like it. I then went to Mr. Fox's, where the two Englishmen offered me my revenge. I lost a hundred louis. After dinner they left for Lausanne.

At noon I went to Monsieur de Voltaire's, who was not visible, but Madame Denis made up to me for it. She had a sound intelligence, excellent taste, learning without pretension, and a great dislike for the King of Prussia. She asked me for news of my beautiful housekeeper, and she was very glad to hear that the Ambassador's major-domo had married her. She asked me to tell her how I had escaped from the Leads, and I promised to satisfy her request some other day.

Monsieur de Voltaire did not come to the table. He did not appear until about five o'clock, carrying a letter.

"Do you know," he asked me, "the Marchese Albergati Capacelli, Senator of Bologna, and Count Paradisi?"

" I do not know Paradisi, but I know Signor Albergati by sight and reputation; he is not a Senator but a 'Forty,' born in Bologna, where the Forty are fifty."

"Heaven preserve us! What a riddle!"

"Do you know him?"

"No; but he sends me Goldoni's plays, Bologna sausages, the translation of my Tancrède, and he is coming to see me."

"He will not come, he is not so foolish. "

"What do you mean by that, Though it is true that coming to see me is foolish."

"I am talking about Albergati. He knows he would be the loser by it, for he enjoys the idea you may have of him. He is sure that if he comes to visit you, you will see his nothingness or his whole bag of tricks, and good-by illusion! In other respects he is a worthy gentleman with an income of six thousand zecchini and theatromania. He is a good actor and the author of prose comedies which are not funny."

"You paint a pretty picture of him. But how can he be both forty and fifty?"

"As noon at Basel is eleven o'clock."

"I understand--just as your Council of Ten numbers seventeen."

" Even so. But the accursed Forty of Bologna are another matter."

" Why accursed?"

"Because they are not answerable to the Exchequer, and so they commit all the crimes they please and go to reside outside the State, where they still live on their revenues."

"That's a blessing, not a curse; but let us continue. No doubt the Marchese Albergati is a man of letters."

"He writes well, for he knows his language; but he bores his reader because he enjoys the sound of his own voice and he is diffuse. And he has nothing in his head. "

"He is an actor, you said."

"Excellent when he plays something of his own, especially in the part of the lover."

"Is he handsome?"

"On the stage, but not in ordinary life. His facè has no expression."

"But his plays are liked?"

"Not at all. They would be booed if people understood them."

"And what do you say of Goldoni?"

"He is our Molière."

" Why does he call himself poet to the Duke of Parma?"

"To give himself a title, for the Duke knows nothing about it. He also calls himself an advocate, but he is one only in posse. He is a good writer of comedies, and that is all. I am his friend, and everyone in Venice knows it. In society he does not shine, he is as insipid and sweet as marshmallow."

"So someone wrote me. He is poor, and he wants to leave Venice. The owners of the theaters where his plays are performed must not like that."

"There was talk of giving him a pension; but the decision went against it. It was thought that if he had a pension he would stop working. "

"Cuma refused Homer a pension for fear that all blind people would demand one."

We spent the day very pleasantly. He thanked me for the Macaroniconand promised to read it. He introduced a Jesuit whom he had in his service, saying that his name was Adam but that he was not the first of men; and I was told that, amusing himself playing backgammon with him, when he lost he often threw the dice and the dicebox in his face.



After sleeping soundly for ten hours I felt fit to go and enjoy Monsieur de Voltaire's charming company; but the great man was pleased on that day to indulge in raillery, ill-humored jests, and sarcasm. He knew that I was to leave the next day.

He began at table by saying that he thanked me for my present of Merlin Cocai, certainly made with good intentions, but that he did not thank me for the praise I had bestowed on the poem, since I had been the cause of his wasting four hours reading nonsense. My hair stood on end, but I controlled myself. I replied quite calmly that on another occasion he might find it worthy of the greater praise which he himself could bestow. I cited several examples of the inadequacy of a first reading.

"True enough--but as for your Merlin, I leave him to you. I have put him beside Chapelain's La Pucelle."

" Which pleases all competent critics, despite its versification. It is a good poem, and Chapelain was a poet; his genius has not escaped me."

My statement could not but offend him, and I should have known it after he told me that he would put the Macaronicon I had given him beside La Pucelle. I knew, too, that a filthy poem by the same name, which was widely circulated, was supposed to be by him; but since he disavowed it I thought he would conceal the pain which my frankness must have caused him; but not a bit of it--he contradicted me sharply and I became no less sharp. I told him that Chapelain had the merit of making his subject agreeable without currying the favor of his readers by filth and impiety.

" Such, " I said, "is the opinion of my master Monsieur de Crébillon."

"You cite a great judge. But in what is my confrère Crétillon your master?"

"He taught me to speak French in less than two years. To show him my gratitude I translated his Rhadamiste into Italian Alexandrine verse. I am the first Italian who dared to adapt that meter to our language."

" The first, if you will pardon me, was my friend Pier Jacopo Martelli."

"Pardon me."

"Why, I have his works, printed at Bologna, in my room. "

"You can only have read verses of fourteen syllables without alternating masculine and feminine rhyme. Yet he believed he was imitating Alexandrines, and his preface made me laugh. Perhaps you did not read it."

"Monsieur, I have a passion for reading prefaces. Martelli proves that to Italian ears his verses sound the same as Alexandrines do to the French."

"He is egregiously wrong, and I ask you to be the judge. Your masculine verse has only twelve syllables and your feminine thirteen; all Martelli's verses have fourteen, except those which end in a long syllable, which at the end of a verse always counts as two. Observe that Martelli's first hemistich is always and forever of seven syllables, whereas in the French Alexandrine it is forever and always of six. Either your friend Pier Jacopo was deaf or he had a bad ear."

"Then in the theory of your verse you follow all our rules?"

"All of them, despite the difficulty; for nearly all our words end in a short syllable."

"And how was your new meter received?"

"It was not liked, because no one knew the way to recite my verses; but when I delivered them myself in our literary circles I triumphed."

"Oo you remember a passage from your Rhadamiste?"

"As many as you please."

I then recited to him the same scene which I had recited to Crébillon in blank verse ten years earlier, and he seemed impressed. He said that the difficulty was not perceptible, and it was the greatest compliment he could pay me. In his turn he recited a passage from his Tancrède, which I believe he had not then published and which was later rightly judged a masterpiece.

We should have ended on good terms, but a line of Horace which I quoted to applaud one of his ideas led him to say that Horace was a great master of the drama because of his precepts, which would never grow stale.

"You break only one of them," I said, "but you break it like a grest man."

" Which one?"

"You do not write contentus paucis lectoribus ('satisfied with a few readers')."

" If Horace had had to fight superstition he would have written for everyone, as I do."

"You might, it seems to me, spare yourself the trouble of fighting it, for you will never succeed in destroying it, and even if you did, pray tell me with what you would fill its place."

"I like that! When I deliver the human race from a ferocious monster which devours it, can I be asked what I will put in its place'"

"It does not devour it; on the contrary, it is necessary to its existence. "

"Loving the human race, I should wish to see it happy as I am, free; and superstition cannot be combined with freedom. What makes you think that servitude can make a people happy?"

"Then you would wish to see sovereignty in the people?"

"God forbid! One alone must govern."

"Then superstition is necessary, for without it the people will never obey the monarch."

"No monarch--for the name makes me see despotism, which I must hate as I do servitude. "

"Then what would you have? If you want the ruler to be one man, I can only consider him a monarch."

"I want him to command a free people, then he will be its leader, and he cannot be called a monarch, for he can never be arbitrary. "

"Addison tells you that such a monarch, such a leader, is not among possible beings. I am for Hobbes. Between two evils, one must choose the lesser. A people without superstition would be philosophical and philosophers will never obey. The people can be happy ouly if they are cursed, downtrodden, kept in chains. "

"If you have read me you will have found the proofs by which I demonstrate that superstition is the enemy of kings. "

"If I have read you ! I have read and reread you--and especially when I am not of your opinion. Your first passion is love of humanity. Est ubi peccas ('You are some times wrong'). That love blinds you. Love humanity, but you can ouly love it as it is. It is incapable of the benefits you would lavish upon it; and, giving them, you would only make it more unhappy and more wicked. Leave it the monster which devours it; the monster is dear to it. I never laughed so much as when I saw Don Quixote having a very hard time defending himself from the galley slaves to whom he had just magnanimously given their freedom."

"Are you Venetians free?"

"As free as it is possible to be under an aristocratic government. The freedom we have is not as great as that which the English enjoy, but we are content. My imprisonment, for example, was an outright act of despotism; but knowing that I had myself abused my freedom, at certain moments I considered that they had been right to imprison me without the usual formalities."

"At that rate no one is free in Venice."

"Possibly; but grant that, to be free, it is enough to believe that one is so."

"I will not so easily grant it. Even the aristocrats who are members of the government are not free--for example, they cannot travel without permission."

"It is a law to which they deliberately subjected themselves in order to preserve their power. Would you say that a Bernese is not free because he is subject to the sumptuary laws? It is he himself who is the law maker. "

It was to change the subject that he asked me where I had come from.

"From Roche. I should have been very sorry to leave Switzerland without seeing the famous Haller. I am paying homage to my learned contemporaries--and you will be the savory at the end of the feast."

"You must have enjoyed Monsieur Haller."

"I spent three excellent days with him."

"I congratulate you. One should go down on one's knees to that great man."

"I think so too; you do him justice, and for his sake I regret that he is not so fair to you. "

"So! Then possibly we are both mistaken."

At this answer, whose whole merit is in its quickness, all the company applauded.

There was no more talk of literature, and I played a silent part until, Monsieur de Voltaire having withdrawn, I went up to Madame Denis and asked her if ske had any commissions for me in Rome.

I left rather well pleased that on this last day I had reduced the gladiator to reason. But I was left with a grudge against him which for ten years made me criticize everything I read, old or new, which the great man had given or was giving the public. I repent of it now, despite the fact that when I read what I published against him I find that my censures were based on sound reasoning. I should have kept quiet, respected him, and doubted my own judgments. I should have reflected that but for the raillery with which he offended me on the third day I should have thought him sublime in every thing. This reflection alone should have kept me silent, but an angry man always believes he is right. Reading me, posterity will number me among the Zoiluses, and the very humble amends I make him today will perhaps not be read.

I spent part of the night and the next day writing down the three conversations I had with him, which I have now copied in abridged form.

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