Thursday, September 18, 2008

she bids me

Voltaire to Mme. la Comtesse de la Neuville

[In 1734 Voltaire, in order to avoid arrest consequent on the appearance of his English Letters went to the Chateau of Cirey-sur-Blaise in Champagne, a country house of the Marquis and Marquise du Chatelet. The Marquise, one of the most brilliantly accomplished women of her generation--perhaps of any generation--was for fifteen years Voltaire's mistress, and for that fifteen years Cirey was his home.]


It seems an age since I have seen you. Mme. du Chatelet fully intended coming to call on you directly after she arrived at Cirey: but she has turned gardener and architect. She puts windows where I have put doors: she alters staircases into fireplaces, and fireplaces into staircases: she has limes planted where I had settled on elms: she has changed what I had made a vegetable plot into a flower garden. Indoors, she has done the work of a good fairy. Rags are bewitched into tapestry: she has found out the secret of furnishing Cirey out of nothing. She will be engrossed in these occupations for several days longer. I hope to have the honour of acting as her post-boy to Neuville, having been her garden-boy here. She bids me assure you and Mme. de Champbonin how anxious she is to see you. You may be sure I am not less impatient.
-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. 35-38.

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