Meantime, what a relief to Kaiser Karl, in such wreck of Bohemian Kingdoms and Castles in Spain, to have got his own Munchen and Country in hand again; with the prospect of quitting furnished- lodgings, and seeing the color of real money! April next, he actually goes to Munchen, where we catch a glimpse of him. ["17th April, 1743," Montijos &c. accompanying (Adelung, iii. B, 119, 120).] This same October, the Reich, after endless debatings on the question, "Help our Kaiser, or not help?" [Ib. iii A, 289.] has voted him fifty ROMER-MONATE ("Romish-months," still so termed, though there is NOT now any marching of the Kaiser to Rome on business); meaning fifty of the known QUOTAS, due from all and sundry in such case,--which would amount to about 300,000 pounds (could it, or the half of it, be collected from so wide a Parish), and would prove a sensible relief to the poor man.
VOLTAIRE HAS BEEN ON VISIT AT AACHEN, IN THE INTERIM,-- HIS THIRD VISIT TO KING FRIEDRICH.
King Priedrich had come to the Baths of Aachen, August 25th; the Maillebois Army of Redemption being then, to the last man of it, five days across the Rhine on its high errand, which has since proved futile. Friedrich left Aachen, taking leave of his Voltaire, who had been lodging with him for a week by special invitation, September 9th; and witnessed the later struggles and final inability of Maillebois to redeem, not at Aix, but at Berlin, amid the ordinary course of his employments there. We promised something of Voltaire's new visit, his Third to Friedrich. Here is what little we have,--if the lively reader will exert his fancy on it.
Voltaire and his Du Chatelet had been to Cirey, and thence been at Paris through this Spring and Summer, 1742;--engaged in what to Voltaire and Paris was a great thing, though a pacific one: The getting of MAHOMET brought upon the boards. August 9th, precisely while the first vanguard of the Army of Redemption got across the Rhine at Dusseldorf, Voltaire's Tragedy of MAHOMET came on the stage.
August 9th, llth, 13th, Paris City was in transports of various kinds; never were such crowds of Audience, lifting a man to the immortal gods,--though a part too, majority by count of heads, were dragging him to Tartarus again. "Exquisite, unparalleled!" exclaimed good judges (as Fleury himself had anticipated, on examining the Piece):--"Infamous, irreligious, accursed!" vociferously exclaimed the bad judges; Reverend Desfontaines (of Sodom, so Voltaire persists to define him), Reverend Desfontaines and others giving cue; hugely vociferous, these latter, hugely in majority by count of heads. And there was such a bellowing and such a shrieking, judicious Fleury, or Maurepas under him, had to suggest, "Let an actor fall sick; let M. de Voltaire volunteer to withdraw his Piece; otherwise--!" And so it had to be: Actor fell sick on the 14th (Playbills sorry to retract their MAHOMET on the 14th); and--in fact, it was not for nine years coming, and after Dedication to the Pope, and other exquisite manoeuvres and unexpected turns of fate, that MAHOMET could be acted a fourth time in Paris, and thereafter AD LIBITUM down to this day. [
Such tempest in a teapot is not unexampled, nay rather is very frequent, in that Anarchic Republic called of Letters. Confess, reader, that you too would have needed some patience in M. de Voltaire's place; with such a Heaven's own Inspiration of a MAHOMET in your hands, and such a terrestrial Doggery at your heels. Suppose the bitterest of your barking curs were a Reverend Desfontaines of Sodom, whom you yourself had saved from the gibbet once, and again and again from starving? It is positively a great Anarchy, and Fountain of Anarchies, all that, if you will consider; and it will have results under the sun. You cannot help it, say you; there is no shutting up of a Reverend Desfontaines, which would be so salutary to himself and to us all? No:--and when human reverence (daily going, in such ways) is quite gone from the world; and your lowest blockhead and scoundrel (usually one entity) shall have perfect freedom to spit in the face of your highest sage and hero,--what a remarkably Free World shall we be!
Voltaire, keeping good silence as to all this, and minded for Brussels again, receives the King of Prussia's invitation; lays it at his Eminency Fleury's feet; will not accept, unless his Eminency and my own King of France (possibly to their advantage, if one might hint such a thing!) will permit it. [Ib. lxxii. 555 (Letter to Fleury, "Paris, Aug. 22d").] "By all means; go, and"--The rest is in dumb-show; meaning, "Try to pump him for us!" Under such omens, Voltaire and his divine Emilie return to their Honsbruck Lawsuit: "Silent Brussels, how preferable to Paris and its mad cries!" Voltaire, leaving the divine Emilie at Brussels, September 2d, sets out for Aix,--Aix attainable within the day. He is back at Brussels late in the evening, September 9th:--how he had fared, and what extent of pumping there was, learn from the following Excerpts, which are all dated the morrow after his return:--
THREE LETTERS OF VOLTAIRE, DATED BRUSSELS, 10th SEPT. 1742.