but of all the centuries from Noah's flood downwards. We have Lives of Voltaire by friend and by foe: Condorcet, Duvernet, Lepan, have each given us a whole ; portions, documents, and all manner of authentic or spurious contri. butions have been supplied by innumerable hands; of which we mention only the labors of his various secretaries : Col. lini's, published some twenty years ago, and now these two massive octavos from Longchamp and Wagnière. To say nothing of the Baron de Grimm's Collections, unparalleled in more than one respect; or of the six-and-thirty volumes of scurrilous eavesdropping, long since printed under the title of Mémoires de Bachaumont; or of the daily and hourly attacks and defences that appeared separately in his lifetime, and all the judicial pieces, whether in the style of apotheosis or of excommunication, that have seen the light since then ; a mass of fugitive writings, the very

diamond edition of which might fill whole libraries. The peculiar talent of the French in all narrative, at least in all anecdotic, departments, rendering most of these works extremely readable, still further favored their circulation, both at home and abroad : so that now, in most countries, Voltaire has been read of and talked of, till his name and life have grown familiar like those of a village acquaintance. In England, at least, where for almost a century the study of foreign literature has, we may say, confined itself to that of the French, with a slight intermixture from the elder Italians, Voltaire's writings, and such writings as treated of him, were little likely to want readers. We suppose, there is no literary era, not even any domestic one, concerning which Englishmen in general have such information, at least have gathered so many anecdotes and opinions, as concerning this of Voltaire. Nor have native additions to the stock been wanting, and these of a due variety in purport and kind : maledictions, expostulations, and dreadful death-scenes paint


ed like Spanish Sanbenitos, by weak well-meaning persons of the hostile class ; eulogies, generally of a gayer sort, by open or secret friends: all this has been long and extensively carried on among us.

There is even an English Life of Voltaire ;

nay, we remember to have seen portions of his writings cited, in terrorem, and with criticisms, in some pamphlet, " by a country gentleman,' either on the Education of the People, or else on the question of Preserving the Game.

With the Age of the Press,' and such manifestations of it on this subject, we are far from quarrelling. We have read great part of these thousand-and-first “Memoirs on Voltaire,' by Longchamp and Wagnière, not without satisfaction ; and can cheerfully look forward to still other Memoirs' following in their train. Nothing can be more in the course of nature than the wish to satisfy one's self with knowledge of all sorts about any distinguished person, especially of our own era ; the true study of his character, his spiritual individuality, and peculiar manner of existence, is full of instruction for all mankind : even that of his looks, sayings, habitudes, and indifferent actions, were not the records of them generally lies, is rather to be commended ; nay, are not such lies themselves, when they keep within bounds, and the subject of them has been dead for some time, equal to snipe-shooting, or Colburn-Novels, at least little inferior, in the great art of getting done with life, or,

* 6

By Frank Hall Standish, Esq.' (London, 1821); a work, which we can recommend only to such as feel themselves in extreme want of information on this subject, and except in their own language, unable to acquire any. It is written very badly, though with sincer. ity, and not without considerable indications of talent; to all appearance, by a minor; many of whose statements and opinions (for he seems an inquiring, honest-hearted, rather decisive character) must have begun to astonish even himself, several years ago.

as it is technically called, killing time? For our own part, we say,

would that every Johnson in the world had his veridical Boswell, or leash of Boswells! We could then tolerate his Hawkins also, though not veridical. With regard to Voltaire, in particular, it seems to us not only innocent but profitable, that the whole truth regarding him should be well understood. Surely, the biography of such a man, who, to say no more of him, spent his best efforts, and as many still think, successfully, in assaulting the Christian religion, must be a matter of considerable import : what he did, and what he could not do; how he did it, or attempted it, that is, with what degree of strength, clearness, especially with what moral intents, what theories and feelings on man and man's life, are questions that will bear some discussing. To Voltaire individually, for the last fifty-one years, the discussion has been indifferent enough; and to us it is a discussion not on one remarkable person only, and chiefly for the curious or studious, but involving considerations of highest moment to all men, and inquiries which the utmost compass of our philosophy will be unable to embrace.

Here, accordingly, we are about to offer some further observations on this quæstio vexata ; not without hope that the reader may accept them in good part. Doubtless, when we look at the whole bearings of the matter, there seems little prospect of any unanimity respecting it, either now, or within a calculable period : it is probable that many will continue, for a long time, to speak of this universal genius,' this apostle of Reason,' and · father of sound Philosophy;' and many again of this monster of impiety,' this sophist,' and atheist,' and 'ape-demon;' or, like the late Dr. Clarke of Cambridge, dismiss him more briefly with information that he is a driveller :' neither is it essential that these two parties should, on the spur of the instant, reconcile themselves herein. Nevertheless, truth is better than error, were it only on Hannibal's vinegar.' It may be expected that men's opinions concerning Voltaire, which is of some moment, and concerning Voltairism, which is of almost boundless moment, will, if they cannot meet, gradually at every new comparison approach towards meeting ; and what is still more desirable, towards meeting somewhere nearer the truth than they actually stand.

With honest wishes to promote such approximation, there is one condition, which, above all others, in this inquiry, we must beg the reader to impose on himself: the duty of fairness towards Voltaire, of Tolerance towards him, as towards all men.

This, truly, is a duty, which we have the happiness to hear daily inculcated ; yet which, it has been well said, no mortal is at bottom disposed to practise. Nevertheless, if we really desire to understand the truth on any subject, not merely, as is much more common, to confirm our already existing opinions, and gratify this and the other pitiful claim of vanity or malice in respect of it, tolerance may be regarded as the most indispensable of all prerequisites ; the condition, indeed, by which alone any real progress in the question becomes possible. In respect of our fellow-men, and all real insight into their characters, this is especially true. No character, we may affirm, was ever rightly understood, till it had first been regarded with a certain feeling, not of tolerance only, but of sympathy. For here, more than in any other case, it is verified that the heart sees farther than the head. Let us be sure, our enemy is not that hateful being we are too apt to paint him. His vices and basenesses lie combined in far other order before his own mind, than before ours; and under colors which palliate them, nay, perhaps, exhibit them as virtues. Were he the wretch of our imagining, his life would be a burden to himself; for it is not by bread alone that the basest mortal lives ; a certain approval of conscience is equally essen


tial even to physical existence; is the fine all-pervading cement by which that wondrous union, a Self, is held together. Since the man, therefore, is not in Bedlam, and has not shot or hanged himself, let us take comfort, and conclude that he is one of two things : either a vicious dog, in man's guise, to be muzzled, and mourned over, and greatly marvelled at; or a real man, and, consequently, not without moral worth, which is to be enlightened, and so far approved of. But to judge rightly of his character, we must learn to look at it, not less with his eyes, than with our own; we must learn to pity him, to see him as a fellowcreature, in a word, to love him, or his real spiritual nature will ever be mistaken by us. In interpreting Voltaire, accordingly, it will be needful to bear some things carefully in mind, and to keep many other things as carefully in abey

Let us forget that our opinions were ever assailed by him, or ever defended; that we have to thank him, or upbraid him, for pain or for pleasure ; let us forget that we are Deists, or Millenarians, Bishops, or Radical Reformers, and remember only that we are men. This is a European subject, or there never was one ; and must, if we would in the least comprehend it, be looked at neither from the parish belfry, nor any Peterloo platform; but, if possible, from some natural and infinitely higher point of vision.

It is a remarkable fact, that throughout the last fifty years of his life, Voltaire was seldom or never named, even by his detractors, without the epithet 'great' being appended to him; so that, had the syllables suited such a junction, as they did in the happier case of Charle-Magne, we might almost have expected that, not Voltaire, but Voltaire-cegrand-homme would be his designation with posterity. However, posterity is much more stinted in its allowances on that score ; and a multitude of things remain to be adjusted, and questions of very dubious issue to be gone into, before

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