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imsuspecting traveljer in the street, besiege the doors of railroad
cars, and thrust their many-colored ware/ under his nose on the
gangway plank and deck of every steamboat. The titles are full
of promise ; the price is trifling, '' pnly twenty-five cents ;" the
day is long^ and you have np company ; you must be very defective
in a taste .for literature, if you fail ta. buy. Literature ! we may
well exclaim, borrowing an apostrophe of Madame Roland, Lite-
rature ! what monstrous stuff is vended in thy name !

Think of the busy compilers, translators, and transmogrifiers, the
Gildt)ns, Cibbers, and Oldmixons of our time, who furnish market-
able matter, for a consideration, to the grand caterers for the pub-
lic. Think of the presses that thunder night and day, pouring out
an incessant stream of the lowest and most corrupting grade of fic-
tion J think of the depots^ by the synagogues and at the cor-
ners of the streets, with their calls for enterprising young men as
agents and pedlars,lo whom is guaranteed the exclusive possession
of a certain district, and the prospect of making a fortune, if indus-
trious 3 think of the lads who come up like frogs over the face of
the whole land, slavering this spume of Lucifer, " half froth, half
yenona," and we get some idea of the prodigious mass of influence
at work 16 debase and corrupt society. The only , relief to the
mind under the painful impression thi^ view ^ves, is reflecting on
the energy with which the Church of Christ is availing herself of
the same powerful enginery. The idea of a cheap portable litera-
ture for the people belongs, according to Voltaire's own sagacious
remark, origmally to Christianity. Had it been necessary to the
propagation of the Gospel, that complete copies of the Scriptures,
or even of the New Testament, should be circulated, or none^ we
1 Vide Dean Swift, vol. xvii. Conditipn of Edmand Curll, &c.


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466 VoUaire. [July,

may almost agree with him that the attempt to plant the Church
would have failed. It was the small, separate treatises, each of
which contained enlightening and saving truth in adequate mea-
sure for the time being — the " petits livres portatifs^^ which the wis-
dom of God provided, which found their way by a thousand chan-
nelsamong the people, where no large or expensive book could
possibly have passed. With the revival of Christianit}^, Luther
brought out this weapon irom the apostolic armory, and wielded it,
as we know, with prodigious effect. It is now for ever incoij>o-
rated into the disciplina of the Church, as an arm of the service,
second in efficiency to nothing but the voice of the living preacher ;
and so we may add to the points of comparisoii suggested by Cole-
ridge, as an interesting external feature of resemblance between
Luther and Voltaire, that each stands at the head of a revived lite-
rature for the people ; the one a savor of life unto life, and the other
of death unto death.

All the works of Voltaire thus briefly catalogued, except the
first, are brought out under false names. The anonyittous author
of the Philosophical Dictiona^ quotes with eulogy, the author of
the Essay Sur les Mceurs. The Pyrrhonism oiHistory iB by a
*« Bachelor in Theology. '^ The Bible at last Explained, is the
work of ^uatre savans Theoloffiens. The " Confession of Faith of
the Tbeists" is " translated from the German,^' Tho Dim et hs
Hammes is by the Rev. Dr. Obern. Even his " Roinans^^ and
^^ Facities^^ were disguised in the same way. His chosen method '
of making war on morals and religion was ambush, treachery, and
assassination. Dearly as he loved the praise of i^e exploit, be
shunned the danger. He would stab, but in the dark. Nothing
threw him into a greater state of excitement than to have publicity
given to his name^ in connexion with any of his indecent or infidel
Works. An edifying instance of this occurs in the memoirs of Ma-
dame de Grafigny, which we wUl quote, hereafter. Lord Brovghjim
mentions the manner in which be disowns the authorskip of Can-
dide^ a novelette, designed to satirize' optimist views of the world,'
and which, so far at least as religion is concerned, can scatidalii^o
nobody who believes in the corruption of human nature, Witk
much greater vehemence of falsehood, he disownfi even to B' Alem-
bert, any connexion with the Philosophical Dictionary. *' I
swear" (he writes, under date of 2d October, 1764), *^ that I am
not the author of thi^ infamous thing. You must do me the essen-
tial service to affirm, that this book which I disown, is nottnine*
* The brethren' must not be exposed, by such suspicions, lo ca-
lumny and persecution. The book is divine with some exceptions ;
" mais je jure par Sabaoth et Adonai quia non sum auctor hujus libri»
II ne pent aroir itk ^crit que par un saint inspire du diable ; car 3
y a du moral, et de I'infemal."
The tame system of warfare he frequently recommends to D^AI-

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1947.] VoUaire. 467

embert himself, and others of the ^^ initialled." Stab, he says, but
don't write your name on the poniard. "Frappez, mais cachez
Yotre main.'' ^' Dieu vous maintienne,mon cher destructeur, dans
la noble resolution ou vous etes, de faire main basse sur les fana-
tiques, eu fesant patte de velours."

The letter from which this last extract is taken, ends with the
^ dreadful expression,^so well known as the watch -word of thcf conspira-
tors against religion and social order. Crush the wretch ! The same
phrase occurs passim, in other pdrts of the. correspondence, both
witb D'Alembert and Frederick, and,iiMfe than all, Damilaville.
It is frequently found at the close of Voltaire's letters in an abbre-
yiqted form, thus : ecr IHnf*..; and it is. somewhat remarkable, as
if they shrunk with a sort of fear, from speaking or writing out the
blasphemy, that even when the verb occurs at length, the noun is,
'With scarce an exception, <;ontracted. It imparts^ an additional
horror to the impiety of these relentless persecutors of Christ, if
.there were fears Mngering in the depths of their souls (as we must be-
lieve) , whidh made them often shudder at the extremes to which they

* were proceeding. Even if we do not regard the expression Vin-
A ^^wnei as applicable to Christ personally, but to the Gospel or the

Church, the malignity it di^lays rs scarcely less shocking.
Throiighout the whole correspondence, Voltaire appear* the mas-
ter conspimtor and fiend; prompting ^is subordinates to keep up a
war of extermination against;^^ fanaticism," rebuking their coldness
and divisions, rallyingthem to the assault when they shrank, and set-
ting an example of the most daring impiety for their encouragement
and imitation. He strides before them, like Mezentius, contemptor
dtrvm, before the Latin host ; or Satan towering on thecloudy van of
^ battle* ^^ Au milieu de toute votre'gait^ (to D'Alembert, 30 Jan.,
1764) , tftohez toujotirs cPecraser Vinf,.. ; notre principale occupation
dans cette vie doit etre de combattre ce monstr^." ^^ Je voudrais (23
Jun£, 1760) que vous ecrassiez Vmi.^ ; c'jest la le grand point y il
faut la rednire a I'etat ou elle est en Anrietecre ; c'est le plus grand
* service qu'on puisse rendre au genre humain;" and so over and

• over asain^ to Damilaville, to the Maiquis D^Ar^ens, to Helvetius,
and «&er» of the initiated, Ecr. lHnf.\. ; ^' CuTtiv^z la vigne du
Seigneur, et 6crasez Pwf... tant que vous pourrez ;" ^* Ecr. Vinf... je
IMS en conjare."

We will not shock the readers of this article by quoting worse
expressions of a similar kind. The ihind of Voltaire clung to the
idea of overUirowing Christianity with thjB tenacity of monomania.
He seems to find it impossible to finish a letter to any of the
adepts, without givine vent to the burning hate i^inst relijgion,
that consumed him. Mockeries of the incarnation, of the trinity,
of any .fact or statement of the Gospel that comes in his way ; con-
temptuous abuseofibe Apostles and ministers of the Gospel, break
out upon the surfeice of a correspondence, inimitable otherwise for

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468 VoUaire. [July,

its vivacity, variety, and wit, like the gushing up of uether fire in
the forests and by the flowers. If suppressed through the body of
the letter, it is ulmost sure to be vented in his customary savage
war-who!pp at the close.

Our readers, we imagine, will find it rather difficult to sympa-
thize fully in the philosophical equanimity with which the author
of Lives of Men of Letters, &c., regards this correspondence. He
thinks it '^ impossible not to have our admiration excited, as well
as to take a lively interest ia the zeal and untiring activity which
the aged philosopher displayed in encouraging his young corres-
pondents." As to " admiration," and ^Mively interest," we must
be permitted to hesitate. One,md.y bQ willing toxcmfess a certain
sort of admiration for Catiline or JeSerson in me relation they sus-
tained to the young men whom they made it their business to pervert
and ruin ; but the predominant feeling is of so very different a cha-
racter, that we should neyer think of putting admiration foremost.
We believe that most persons will know of but one word pro-
perly descriptive of the tone of sentiment on religious things per-
vading these letters. If this is not blasphemy, we shall be at a loss
where to look for rt. Lord Brougham, however, has provided a
shield broad enough, in his opinion, to protect his subject against
this charge. Voltaire, it seems, was so thoroughly corrupted as
to be beyond the reach of blasphemy.

"It is evident, that, strictly speaking, blasphemy can only be
. committed by a person who believes in the existence and attri-
butes of the Deity whom he impugns, either by ridicule or by rea-
soning. An atheist is wholly incapable of the crime. When be
heaps epithets of abuse on the Creator, or turns his attributes into
ridicule, he is assailing or scoffing at an empty name ; at a being
whom he believes to have no existence. In like manner, if a Deist,
one who disbelieves in our Savior being either the Son of God, or
sent by God as his prophet upon earth, shall argue against his ini-
racles, or ridicule his mission or his person, he commits no blas-
phemy ; for he fibmly believes that Chiist was a man like himself,-
and that he derived no authority from the Deity. Berth the atheist
and the deist are free from all guilt of .blasphemy ; that is, of all
guilt towards the Deity or towards Christ.'^

This is positive enough. It has quite the air of an opinioR in
the case of Religion and Decency versus the Whole Company of
Scoffers, pronounced from the woolsack; — judgment for the de-
fendants. There are, however, two qualifications to the' opu-
nion, viz. First, that the defendants shall be bona fide atheists and
deists, and not mere sceptics; and second, that they shall be athe-
ists and deists on good and sufficient grounds ; that is^ ^^after ap-
plying their facultifes to the iiiqtiiry with that sober attention, thai
conscientious diligence, which ^^<i immense importance demands of
all rational creaturef^."

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itAl.] yoitaure. 469

These qualifications set the matter quite right again. They are
certainly broad enough, in our view, tb conyict of blasphemy
every scoffer at the Lord and his Anointed, in the whole diabolic
succession. We are perfectly satisfied that the blasphemer never
lived who could claipi the benefit of these exceptions ; who " had
applied his faculties to the inquiry'^ into the divine origin of Chris-
tiaaity, ^< with that sober attention, that conscientious diligence
which its immense iiQportance demands,*^ and who, oh the ground
of such examination, stood forth a scoffer, with no shadow of doubt
or fear upon his spirit. Grod never made a rational creature whose
faculties, so applied, could lead him to such a result. And yet,
strange as it may seem, Lord Brougham regards Voltaire as having
fully come up to the terms of these two exemptions; Voltaire,
whoee infidelity began almost in his boyhood;* whose warfare
against the Son of God partook throughout of that passion and
hate which imply fear ; and who died with remorse and horror,
calling upon the name of Christ.

This is doubtless a most ingenious calculus, by which the inno-
cence of a reviler of Christ is made to increase in the direct ratio
erf his guilt ; by which the more he is able to pervert his judgment,
and silence his conscience, "and the more his insulted Maker gives
him up to strongs delusion to believe a lie, because he received not
the love of the truth, the more he brightens under the process into
a ptate, quoad hoc^ of righteousness. This is blasphemy made easy;
a system admirably adapted to encourage beginners to proceed on
till they arrive at the stature of perfect men *^in Beelzebub.'*
Voltaire's sin, according to this method, in knocking at Christ, —
the sin of Condorcet, Hehetius, and Diderot, we suppose, pari
rationed in mocking at God, is of precisely the same character with
Elijah's in mocking at Baal. Had Elijah believed Baal to be
divme, or even suspected he possibly might be^ it would have
been very profane^ to intimate that he was perhaps asleep, or ab-
sent on a journey. But having become perfectly satisfied, by
sober attention and conscientious diligence, that Baal was vanity
and a lie, the ridicule was sanctified by its subserviency to truth.
We have only to suppose the French atheists to have reached an
equal confidence of unbelief, and Saul also is among the prophets.

> It 13 worth notice, as standing near the fountain of Voltliire's pikssionate hatred of
Christian itj and its ministers, tt^t bis first literary effort was an nnsuccessful compe-
tition for a prize before the Academy, where his successful rival was a clergyman.
A man whose infidelity becomes settled at eighteen or t'yrenty, cannot jxjssibly have
met the reonirement of Lord Brougham's second role. lird Brougham himself
states that vollaire came very early under the influence of the Abb6 de Chateauneaf,
^* ^- * " a of foe ' ' * * ..!....-


fessor, the Jesuit Le Jay, *' unfortunate young man 1 you will one day come to be tbe

met the reonirement of Lord Brougham's second rule. Lird Brougham himself
" at Voltaire cai * ... - - ^.

, " a pers

an (that i

to the obi

rebuke I

suit Le Jay, " unfortunate young man 1 you will one day <
standard-bearer of infidelity," Lord Brougham merely says, that " the story, if true,

this association Tthat of Ninon de L*Enclo8 and her circle), Voltaire, then a boy, be-
came inured to tne oblivion both of his law-bpoks and of his religious principles."^ In

of Louis "■ ■ • •• •*

irou will o
^ ly savs, th

shows how early he had begun to think for himself."


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470 VoUaire. [July,

We certainly regret that sentiments so loose and unsound ^ould
ever have been reconunended by so high an authority. We are
ready to do full jiistice to the yalue of Lord Brougham^ labors in
the field of natural theology ; and are disposed to rejoice with him
in the " heartfelt satisfaction" he expresses at the intimated con-
version of certain persons, by the influence of his writings. But
the very liberal forip of Christianity which his lordship represents,
makes us hesitate. We would rather first ascertain just what it
was they were converted to^ '

But Voltaire, we are assured, was no atheist. " He was a sin-
cere believer in the existence and attributes of the Deity." " Not
one irreverent expression is to be found in all hianucnberless writ-
ings towards the Deity in whoni he believed." ^^ He has consecrated
some of his noblest poetry to celebrate the powers of the Godhead."
All this we have no objections to admit. It would have been hard'
indeed if the High Priest of Ashdod had blasphemed his qw»
Dagon. Taking full license to cut and carve among the attributes
of Jehovah, — shreddii^ away his providence here and his justice
there, and reducing him to an. imbecile kind of Dieu Patefnelj it,
would have been monstrous if he had then made ridiculous verses
about him. We never heard of anybody wicked enough to set
about deliberately tummg into laughter "the' Deity in whom he
believed." Voltaure had sufficient literary foil at hand, to afilbrd
gilding handsomely the image he had set up* It ^ost him little to
write a theistical homily or a devotional couplet. Epicurtis, the
aim ami tendency of whose writings, like Voltaire's, was wholly
to eradicate a sense of reVigion-^radicitu^ eveltere neKgidnem— ^had'
done the same tbin^. At etiam de sanctitate, de pietate adversus
Deos libros scripsit Epicurus. At qiio modo in his loquitur 1 Ut
Coruncanium, aut Sca^volam, pontifices maximos teaudire dicas ;
nan eum qui stistulerit onmemjundiius religionem.}

Lord Brougham greatly overvalues thissort of <iheap tribute to
religion. It is not worth mentioning as constituting any grade of
comparative innocence between Voltage and Vanini. Amon^ a
bana of Italian or Spanish' cut-throats, we have no better opinion
of the captain, who falls on his knees and beats his brestst before
an image of the Virgin, than of the lieutenant who laughs at the
service and the God. Voltaire standing at the head of the con-
spiracy, enlisting recruits, disciplining, organizing, cheering to the
assault, putting the torch and the dagger into the hand of his
"brethren in Beelzebuth,*^ appears to us, we must say, a much
blacker devil then Condorcet or Diderot^ This " martial meta^

fhot"" is quite after his otvn taste; *^ Je vous assure," he writes lo
)amilaville (19th Nov., 1767) , " que dans un pen il n'y aura que
la canaille sou^ les etendardsde nos ennemis; la victoire se de-
clare pour nods de tous cotes. Aliens, brave Diderot, intrepide
» Dft Nat Deor., 1, 115.

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1847.] VoUaire. 471

d'AJembert, joignez vous a mon cher DamilaYille, courez sus aux
fanatiques et aux fripons.*^

It is not worth while for us to attempt anything like a connected
'notice of Voltaire^S life. We shall touch only on a few points
, which seem necessary, in order to give a more correct view of his
character than is contained in the work before us.

In 1728 Voltaire, then thirty-four years of age, returned from a
two years' residence in En^Iand^ where he had made acquaintance
personally, or by their writings, with the infidel and licentious
wits, who had shed so bright, yet so disastrous a lustre on the
reign of Queen Anne. Pope and Congreve he knew personally ;
Swift and Bolingbroke he learned to read and admire; the influ-
ence of the Dean of St. Patrick's is easily perceptible in his. lighter
writings and correspondence.^ Not long after his return began
bis intimacy with the celebrated Madame du Chatelet. His ^^ me-
moirs" open with a brief account of this liaison. ^^ t was ready to
quit Paris in disgust with it3 crowds of fops, and multitudes of
wretched books, printed dvec approbation du Roiy when I met in
1733, a young lady whose views harmonized entirely with my
own ; and who had ipesolved to quit the tumult of the world, and
retire for some years into the country for the improvement of
her mind. This was Madame la Marquise du Chatelet. Her
father, the Baton de Breteuil, had caused- her to be thoroughly in-
structed in the Latin language^; she had by heart the finest pas-
sages of Horace, Virgil, and Lucretius, and was at home in the
philosophical works of Cicero. Her prevailing ta^te, however,
was for matheipatical and metaphysical studies. Seldom have »o
much taste apd judgment be^n found united to such a passion for
knowledge. She was, at the same time, fbnd of the world, and
cultivated all the accomplishments and graces suitable to her age
and sex. AH this she quitted, however, to bury herself in a dilapi-
dated chateau on the bprders of Champagne." He proceeds to
mention the repairs and improvements effected in the chateau of
Cire^ ; the addition he himself made to it, of a suite of apartments
furnished with every luxury^ which became for the next fifteen
years or more, his pnncipal residence, and the sort of society which^
allured by the odor of philosophy, resorted to the chateau.

^' In this delicious retreat (he continues), we thought only of
mutual improvement, without caring what the rest of the world
were doing. Our chief attention was for a long time turned to
Leibnitz and Kewton. Madame du Chatelet was then attached to
the philosophy of Leibnitz, and developed apart of his svstem in
a well written treatise. We cultivated, however, all the fine arts.

> It is a bitter retnaik of Voltaire's, that two of the writers who hare done most to
encourage others in scoffing at religion and the decencies of tiffe^ wer€ dergfwun,
Rabelais and Dean SwiA.

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472 Voltaire. [July,

I composed there, Mzire^ Mero]^y &c. I worked, at her desire,
upon an Essay on Universal History, from the reign of Charle-
magne to our own time. I began with Charlemagne, because Bos-
suet had ended there ; I would not venture to meddle with any-
thing handled by that great wrjter. She, however, was far from
satisfied with his History ; she admitted the eloquenccof its style;
but was indignant that almost the whoU work should relate to a
people so contemptible as tKe Jews. After passing six years in
this retreat, occupied with science and the arts, it became neces-
sary for us to visit Brussels, where the family of du Chatelet had
an important lawsuit depending. I had the satisfaction of arbi-
trating the dispute, which had been going on at a ruinous , expense
for sixty years, and of securing for the Marquis the payment of
two hundred and twenty thousand livres in ready money.''

This is one of the very few instances in which any mention
occurs of the respectable oJd husband of this metaphysical young
woman. He seems to have been a mere nobody in his own house;
thrust aside with scarce any semblance of respect by our male and
female philosopher. Whether he would haye had philosophy
enough J^ submit to this sort of thing under other cireumst^inces,
we cannot tell ; but he w;as poor ; nis lawsuit had emptied his
pockets, and Voltaire had freely advanced him the, means of re-
pairing his chateau, and keeping up the establishment. Forty
thousand frailcs of borrowed money was a strong argument for a
charitable construction of the attentions lavished on Madame la

It IS rather more diflBcult for us to understand how Lord Broug-
ham, with no isuch inducement, should persuade himself to pass
the whole thing oflF platonic. The Abelard of this liaison, profli-

fate, unbelieving, and domesticated in the chateau; the Eloi$e,
andsome, passionate, and ** above all vulga-r jprejudices ;*' and the
** bon homme,'' bribed to nod or be missing, indicate too clearly
its character.

It is a question of some interest,. how Voltaire became possessed
of so considerable means. His patrimony was but trifling, Ninon
de L'Enclos left him two thousand franco to buy books with.
This constitutes, until the time of his visit to England, his whole
visible means of support. The Commentaire Historique^ at the
close of his works, states that while there, a large subscription for
the Henriade was raised, headed by George I. and the Princess of
Wales ; and that on returning to France in 1728, he made a suc-
cessful venture with these means in a Government lottery. In
his own memoirs, he says nothing either of the subscription or the
lottery; but intimates rather mysteriously, that, finding he must
be either hammer or anvil, he hammered out his own fortunes by
speculating dexterously in the funds.
There is an anecdote given by the Abb6 Baruel which may

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1847.] VoUaire. 478

possibly cast some light on the subject ; and which is at least as
well authenticated as the anonymous story of the lottery. The
Abbe declares he learned it from men who knew VoUaire well in
the earlier part of his life. Voltaire had an elder brother, it seems,
the Abbe Arouet, who was a zealous Jansenist' and a man of for-
tune. He detested the imrpieties of Fran9ois, and openly said he
would not leave him a halfpenny! . But his health was failing ;
he could not last long, and Voltaire had not relinquished all hope
of the inheritance. He turns Jji^nsenist and acts the devotee.
On a sudden he appears in the Jansenistical garb,, and becomes
indefatigable in his attentions at church. Choosing the same
hours for devotion as the Abbe Arouet, he would be found pros-

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