Wednesday, September 17, 2008

only a guinea

Voltaire to Dean Swift

At the Sign of the White Peruke,
Covent Garden, London,
December 14, 1727.

You will be surprised, sir, to receive from a French traveller an Essay*, in English, on the Civil Wars of France--which form the subject of the Henriade. I beg your indulgence for one of your admirers, who, through your writings, has become so fond of the English language that he has the temerity to write in it himself.

You will see, by the Preface, that I have had certain designs on you, and have ventured there to speak of you, for the honour of your country and the good of mine: do not forbid me to adorn my work with your name.

Let me have the satisfaction of speaking of you now, as posterity most certainly will.

Might I ask you, at the same time, to use your influence in Ireland to procure me a few subscribers to the Henriade which, for want of such assistance, has not yet appeared? The subscription is only a guinea, payable in advance. I am, sir, with the profoundest esteem, your very humble and obedient servant,

*An Essay Upon the Civil Wars of France, Extracted from Various Manuscripts (London, 1727) with dedication to Jonathan Swift.

-from Voltaire in his Letters: Being a Selection from His Correspondence / translated with a preface and forewords by S. G. Tallentyre (New York: G. P. Putnam's, 1919] pp. 21-22.

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