"LOUISE-ULRIQUE; ANNE-AMELIE [which latter adds anxiously as Postscript, Ulrique having written hitherto],
"P.S. I most humbly beg Your Majesty not to speak of this to the Queen-Mother, as perhaps she would not approve of the step we are now taking." [
Poor little souls; bankruptcy just imminent! I have no doubt Friedrich came handsomely forward on this grave occasion, though Dryasdust has not the grace to give me the least information.-- "Frederic Baron Trenck," loud-sounding Phantasm once famous in the world, now gone to the Nurseries as mythical, was of this Carnival 1742-43; and of the next, and NOT of the next again! A tall actuality in that time; swaggering about in sumptuous Life-guard uniform, in his mess-rooms and assembly-rooms; much in love with himself, the fool. And I rather think, in spite of his dog insinuations, neither Princess had heard of him till twenty years hence, in a very different phasis of his life! The empty, noisy, quasi-tragic fellow;--sounds throughout quasi-tragically, like an empty barrel; well-built, longing to be FILLED. And it is scandalously false, what loud Trenck insinuates, what stupid Thiebault (always stupid, incorrect, and the prey of stupidities) confirms, as to this matter,--fit only for the Nurseries, till it cease altogether.
VOLTAIRE, AT PARIS, IS MADE IMMORTAL BY A KISS.
Voltaire and the divine Emilie are home to Cirey again; that of Brussels, with the Royal Aachen Excursion, has been only an interlude. They returned, by slow stages, visit after visit, in October last,--some slake occurring, I suppose, in that interminable Honsbruck Lawsuit; and much business, not to speak of ennui, urging them back. They are now latterly in Paris itself, safe in their own "little palace (PETIT PALAIS) at the point of the Isle;" little jewel of a house on the Isle St. Louis, which they are warming again, after long absence in Brussels and the barbarous countries. They have returned hither, on sufferance, on good behavior; multitudes of small interests, small to us, great to them,--death of old Fleury, hopeful changes of Ministry, not to speak of theatricals and the like,--giving opportunity and invitation. Madame, we observe, is marrying her Daughter: the happy man a Duke of Montenero, ill-built Neapolitan, complexion rhubarb, and face consisting much of nose. [Letter of Voltaire, in
As to Voltaire, he has, as usual, Plays to get acted,--if he can. MAHOMET, no; MORT DE CESAR, yes OR no; for the Authorities are shy, in spite of the Public. One Play Voltaire did get acted, with a success,--think of it, reader! The exquisite Tragedy MEROPE, perhaps now hardly known to you; of which you shall hear anon.
But Plays are not all. Old Pleury being dead, there is again a Vacancy in the Academy; place among the sacred Forty,--vacant for Voltaire, if he can get it. Voltaire attaches endless importance to this place; beautiful as a feather in one's cap; useful also to the solitary Ishmael of Literature, who will now in a certain sense have Thirty-nine Comrades, and at least one fixed House-of-Call in this world. In fine, nothing can be more ardent than the wish of M. de Voltaire for these supreme felicities. To be of the Forty, to get his Plays acted,--oh, then were the Saturnian Kingdoms come; and a man might sing IO TRIUMPHE, and take his ease in the Creation, more or less! Stealthily, as if on shoes of felt,--as if on paws of velvet, with eyes luminous, tail bushy,--he walks warily, all energies compressively summoned, towards that high goal. Hush, steady! May you soon catch that bit of savory red- herring, then; worthiest of the human feline tribe!--As to the Play MEROPE, here is the notable passage:
"PARIS, WEDNESDAY, 20th FEBRUARY, 1743. First night of MEROPE; which raised the Paris Public into transports, so that they knew not what to do, to express their feelings. 'Author! M. de Voltaire! Author!' shouted they; summoning the Author, what is now so common, but was then an unheard-of originality. 'Author! Author!' Author, poor blushing creature, lay squatted somewhere, and durst not come; was ferreted out; produced in the Lady Villars's Box,--Dowager MARECHALE DE VILLARS, and her Son's Wife DUCHESSE DE VILLARS, being there; known friends of Voltaire's. Between these Two he stands ducking some kind of bow; uncertain, embarrassed what to do; with a Theatre all in rapturous delirium round him,--uncertain it too, but not embarrassed. 'Kiss him! MADAME LA DUCHESSE DE VILLARS, EMBRASSEZ VOLTAIRE!' Yes, kiss him, fair Duchess, in the name of France! shout all mortals;--and the younger Lady has to do it; does it with a charming grace; urged by Madame la Marechale her mother-in-law. [Duvernet (T. J. D. V.),