Lot 703: LS in French, signed "Voltaire," one page both sides, 6.25 x 7.75, February 26, 1775. Letter to a gentleman, in full (translated): "An old man who is fed up has been somewhat encouraged upon receiving your excellent treatise. I admire the goodness of your heart as well as your eloquence, for I suppose it is thanks to you that I have this masterpiece. I see that you have forgiven me for having an opinion contrary to your own. You have sensed how much I must have been afflicted formerly, and how much I am still, and will be until the last moment of my life, by useless cruelty of which one cannot think without the services rendered by those who have committed it, and I have gotten everything confused. This is how passions are created. My greatest passions today at the gratitude that I owe you, Sir, and the regret of not having been able to hear you. I place at your feet the work of a young man who at first had given me some hope, but he did not keep his promises." In fine condition, with light intersecting folds and mild show-through from writing to opposing sides.
'Nature renders men eloquent under the influence of great interests or passions,' wrote Voltaire in his 1764 Dictionnaire Philosophique, one of his last major works, which represented a lifetime of contemplation. What many would dash off as an obligatory note of thanks for a piece of writing received, Voltaire turns into a beautifully written letter, both praising the recipient's eloquence and offering his own. "I admire the goodness of your heart as well as your eloquence, for I suppose it is thanks to you that I have this masterpiece. I see that you have forgiven me for having an opinion contrary to your own," he writes, continuing on to humble himself as he commends his recipient. A delightful letter from the "old man who is fed up," living out his final years in his quiet chateau in Ferney, France.
RR Auction's Fine Autographs & Artifacts
Friday, 23rd October 2015
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