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From Legends of the Bastille by Frantz Funck-Brentano, with an Introduction by Victorien Sardou, Authorised Translation by George Maidment, London :  Downey & Co. Limited; 1899; pp. 147-167.




SPEAKING of men of letters in France under the ancien régime, Michelet calls them “the martyrs of thought”; he adds :  “The world thinks, France speaks. And that is precisely why the Bastille of France, the Bastille of Paris — I would rather say, the prison-house of thought — was, among all bastilles, execrable, infamous, and accursed.” In the course of the article devoted to the Bastille in the Grande Encyclopédie, M. Fernand Bournon writes :  “After Louis XIV. and throughout the eighteenth century, the Bastille was especially employed to repress, though it could not stifle, that generous and majestic movement (the glory of the human spirit) towards ideas of emancipation and enfranchisement; it was the epoch when philosophers, publicists, pamphleteers, the very booksellers, were imprisoned there in large numbers.” And to substantiate this eloquent apostrophe, M. Bournon cites the names of Voltaire, La Beaumelle, the Abbé Morellet, Marmontel, and Linguet, imprisoned in the Bastille; and of Diderot and the Marquis de Mirabeau placed in the château of Vincennes.


Let us recall the story of these poor victims in turn, and trace the history of their martyrdom.


The most illustrious and the earliest in date of the writers mentioned by M. Bournon is Voltaire. He was sent to the Bastille on two different occasions. His first imprisonment began on May 17, 1717. At that date the poet was only twenty-two years of age and of no reputation; he did not even bear the name of Voltaire, which he only took after his discharge from the Bastille on April 14, 1718. The cause of his detention was not “the generous and majestic movement towards ideas of enfranchisement which is the glory of the human spirit,” but some scurrilities which, to speak plainly, brought him what he deserved :  coarse verses against the Regent and his daughter, and public utterances still coarser still. Many authors state that Voltaire. was imprisoned for writing the J’ai vu, a satire against the government of Louis XIV., each stanza of which ended with the line: —

J’ai vu ces maux, et je n’ai pas vingt ans.1

This is a mistake. Voltaire was imprisoned for having written the Puero regnante, some verses on the Regent and his daughter, the Duchess of Berry, which it would be impossible to translate. To these he added observations whose reproduction would be equally impossible. At the Bastille Voltaire underwent examinations in the usual way, in the course of which he lied with impudence; 149 after that he was allowed considerable liberty. “It was at the Bastille,” wrote Condorcet, “that the young poet made the first draft of his poem, La Ligue, corrected his tragedy of Œdipe, and composed some very lively lines on the ill-luck of being there.”

The following are the most respectable lines of this production: —

So one fine faultless morning in the spring,
When Whitsun splendour brighten’d everything,
A strange commotion startled me from sleep.
          .          .          .          .          .          .
At last I reach’d my chamber in the keep.
A clownish turnkey, with an unctuous smile,
Of my new lodging ’gan to praise the style :
“What ease, what charms, what comforts here are yours!
For never Phœbus in his daily course
Will blind you here with his too brilliant rays;
Within these ten-foot walls you’ll spend your days
In cool sequester’d blithefulness always.”
Then bidding me admire my cloistral cell —
The triple doors, the triple locks as well,
The bolts, the bars, the gratings all around —
“’Tis but,” says he, “to keep you safe and sound!”
          .          .          .          .          .          .
Behold me, then, lodged in this woful place,
Cribb’d, cabin’d, and confined in narrow space;
Sleepless by night, and starving half the day;
No joys, no friend, no mistress — wellaway!2

When Voltaire was set at liberty, the regent, whom, as we have just said, he had reviled, made him a very handsome offer of his protection. The poet’s reply is well known :  ‘My lord, I thank your royal highness for being so good as to continue to charge yourself with my 150 board, but I beseech you no longer to charge yourself with my lodging.” The young writer thus obtained from the Regent a pension of 400 crowns, which later on the latter augmented to 2000 livres.

Voltaire was sent to the Bastille a second time in April, 1726. For this new detention there was no justification whatever. He had had a violent quarrel, one evening at the Opera, with the Chevalier de Rohan-Chabot. On another occasion at the Comédie Française, the poet and the nobleman had a warm altercation in the box of Mdlle. Lecouvreur. Rohan raised his stick, Voltaire put his hand on his sword, and the actress fainted. Some days later “the gallant chevalier, assisted by half a dozen ruffians, behind whom he courageously posted himself” gave our poet a thrashing in broad daylight. When relating the adventure later, the Chevalier said pleasantly :  “I commanded the squad.” From that moment Voltaire sought his revenge. “The police reports reveal curious details of the loose, erratic, and feverish life he lived between the insult and his arrest,” writes the careful biographer of Voltaire, Desnoiresterres. From one of these police reports we see that the young writer established relations with soldiers of the guard :  several notorious bullies were constantly about him. A relative who attempted to calm him found him more irritated and violent in his language than ever. It appears certain that he was meditating some act of violence, which indeed would not have been without justification. But the Cardinal de Rohan contrived that he should be arrested 151 on the night of April 17, 1726, and placed in the Bastille.

Speaking of this new imprisonment Marshal de Villars writes :  “The public, disposed to find fault all round, came to the conclusion on this occasion that everybody was in the wrong :  Voltaire for having offended the Chevalier de Rohan, the latter for having dared to commit a capital offence in causing a citizen to be beaten, the government for not having punished a notorious crime, and for having sent the injured party to the Bastille to pacify the injurer.” Nevertheless, we read in the report of Hérault, the lieutenant of police :  “The Sieur de Voltaire was found armed with pocket pistols, and his family, when informed of the matter, unanimously and universally applauded the wisdom of an order which saves this young man the ill effects of some new piece of folly and the worthy people who compose his family the vexation of sharing his shame.”

Voltaire remained at the Bastille for twelve days :  he was permitted to have a servant of his own choice to wait on him, who was boarded at the king’s expense; as for himself, he took his meals whenever he pleased at the governor’s table, going out of the Bastille, as the governor’s residence stood outside the prison. Relatives and friends came to see him; his friend Thiériot dined with him; he was given pens, paper, books, whatever he desired in order to divert himself. “Using and abusing these opportunities,” writes Desnoiresterres, “Voltaire believed that he could give audience to all 152 Paris. He wrote to those of his friends who had not shown a sense of their duty, exhorting them to give him proof they were alive.” “I have been accustomed to all misfortunes,” he wrote to Thiériot, “but not yet to that of being utterly abandoned by you. Madame de Bernières, Madame du Deffand, the Chevalier des Alleurs really ought to come and see me. They only have to ask permission of M. Hérault or M. de Maurepas.” At the time of the poet’s entrance to the Bastille, the lieutenant of police had written to the governor :  “The Sieur de Voltaire is of a genius that requires humouring. His Serene Highness has approved of my writing to tell you that the king’s intention is that you should secure for him mild treatment and the internal liberty of the Bastille, so far as these do not jeopardize the security of his detention.” The warrant setting him at liberty was signed on April 26.


In M. Bournon’s list La Beaumelle comes second. The circumstances under which he was put into the Bastille were as follows. After having fallen out at Berlin with Voltaire, whom he had compared to a monkey, La Beaumelle returned to Paris, whence he had been exiled. There he got printed a new edition of Voltaire’s Age of Louis XIV., unknown to the author, and interpolated therein odes insulting to the house of Orleans. “La Beaumelle,” exclaimed Voltaire, “is the first who dared to print another man’s work in his lifetime. This miserable 153 Erostrates of the Age of Louis XIV. has discovered the secret of changing into an infamous libel, for fifteen ducats, a work undertaken for the glory of the nation.”

La Beaumelle became an inmate of the Bastille in April, 1753, and remained there for six months. Writing on May 18, 1753, to M. Roques, Voltaire said that “there was scarcely any country where he would not inevitably have been punished sooner or later, and I know from a certain source that there are two courts where they would have inflicted a chastisement more signal than that which he is undergoing here.”

It was not long before La Beaumelle issued his edition of Notes towards the History of Madame de Maintenon and that of the past century, with nine volumes of correspondence. He had fabricated letters which he attributed to Madame de Saint-Géran and Madame de Frontenac, and published a correspondence of Madame de Maintenon which M. Geffroy, in a work recognized as authoritative, regards as full of barefaced falsehoods and foul and scurrilous inventions. He had inserted in his work the following phrase :  “The court of Vienna has been long accused of having poisoners always in its pay.”

It must be observed that La Beaumelle’s publication owed its great vogue to special circumstances. The author’s reputation abroad, the very title of the book, lent it great importance; and France, then engaged in the Seven Years’ War, found it necessary to keep in Austria’s good graces. La Beaumelle was conveyed to 154 the Bastille a second time. The lieutenant of police, Berryer, put him through the usual examination. La Beaumelle was a man of the world, so witty that in the course of their quarrels he drove Voltaire himself to despair. He showed himself such in his examination. “La Beaumelle,” said Berryer to him, “this is wit you are giving me when what I ask of you is plain sense.” On his expressing a wish for a companion, he was placed with the Abbé d’Estrades. The officers of the château had all his manuscripts brought from his house, so that he might continue his literary work. He had at the Bastille a library of 600 volumes, ranged on shelves which the governor ordered to be made for him. He there finished a translation of the Annals of Tacitus and the Odes of Horace. He had permission to write to his relatives and friends, and to receive visits from them; he had the liberty of walking in the castle garden, of breeding birds in his room, and of having brought from outside all the luxuries to which he was partial. The principal secretary of the lieutenant of police, Duval, reports the following incident :  “Danry (the famous Latude) and Allègre (his companion in confinement and ere long in escape) found means to open a correspondence with all the prisoners in the Bastille. They lifted a stone in a closet of the chapel, and put their letters underneath it. La Beaumelle pretended to be a woman in his letters to Allègre, and as he was a man of parts and Allègre was of keen sensibility and an excellent writer, the latter fell madly in love with La Beaumelle, to such 155 a degree that, though they mutually agreed to burn their letters, Allègre preserved those of his fancied mistress, which he had not the heart to give to the flames; with the result that, the letters being discovered at an inspection of his room, he was put in the cells for some time. The prisoner amused himself also by composing verses which he recited at the top of his voice. This gave much concern to the officers of the garrison, and Chevalier, the major, wrote to the lieutenant of the police on the matter :  “The Sieur de la Beaumelle seems to have gone clean out of his mind; he seems to be a maniac; he amuses himself by declaiming verses in his room for a part of the day :  for the rest of the time he is quiet.

This second detention lasted from August, 1756, till August, 1757.


We come to the Abbé Morellet, a man of fine and fascinating mind, one of the best of the Encyclopædists, who died in 1819 a member of the Institute and the object of general esteem. He was arrested on June 11, 1760, for having had printed and distributed, without privilege or permission, a pamphlet entitled :  Preface to the Philosopher’s Comedy; or, the vision of Charles Pallisot.3 These are the terms in which, later on, Morellet himself judged his pamphlet :  “I must here make my confession. 156 In this work, I went far beyond the limits of a literary pleasantry regarding the Sieur Palissot, and to-day I am not without remorse for my fault.” And further, as J. J. Rousseau, in whose favour the pamphlet had been in part composed, had to acknowledge, the Abbé “very impudently” insulted a young and pretty woman, Madame de Robecq, who was dying of decline, spitting blood, and did actually die a few days later.

The arrest of Morellet was demanded by Malesherbes, then censor of the press, one of the most general and liberal spirits of the time, the inspirer of the famous remonstrances of the Court of Taxation against lettres de cachet — the man who, as M. H. Monin testifies, “being elected” censor of the press, protected philosophers and men of letters, and by his personal efforts facilitated the publication of the Encyclopædia.” Speaking of the Preface to the Comedy, Malesherbes writes to Gabriel de Sartine, lieutenant-general of police :  “It is an outrageous pamphlet, not only against Palissot, but against respectable persons whose very condition should shelter them against such insults. I beg you, sir, to be good enough to put a stop to this scandal. I believe it to be a matter of public importance that the punishment should be very severe, and that this punishment should not stop at the Bastille or the For-l’Evêque,4 because a very wide distinction must be drawn between the delinquencies 157 of men of letters tearing each other to pieces and the insolence of those who attack persons of the highest consideration in the State. I do not think that Bicêtre would be too severe for these last. If you have to ask M. de Saint-Florentin for the royal authority for your proceedings, I hope you will be good enough to inform him of the request I am making.”

It will be observed that, on Malesherbes’ showing, the Bastille would not suffice to punish the Preface to the Comedy, nor even the For-l’Evéque; he asks for the most stringent of the prisons, Bicêtre. Before long, it is true, this excellent man returned to milder sentiments. An imprisonment at Bicêtre, he wrote, would be infamous. Saint-Florentin and Sartine were not hard to convince. Morellet was taken to the Bastille. “The warrant for his arrest,” wrote one of his agents to Malesherbes, “was executed this morning by Inspector D’Hémery with all the amenities possible in so unpleasant a business. D’Hémery knows the Abbé Morellet, and has spoken of him in the most favourable terms.”

When he entered the Bastille the Abbé calculated that his imprisonment would last six months, and after acknowledging that he at that time viewed his detention without great distress, he adds :  “I am bound to say, to lower the too high opinion that may be formed of me and my courage, that I was marvellously sustained by a thought which rendered my little virtue more easy. I saw some literary glory illumining the walls of my prison; persecuted, I must be better known. The men of letters 158 whom I had avenged, and the philosophy for which I was a martyr, would lay the foundation of my reputation. The men of the world, who love satire, would receive me better than ever. A career was opening before me, and I should be able to pursue it at greater advantage. These six months at the Bastille would be an excellent recommendation, and would infallibly make my fortune.”

The Abbé remained at the Bastille, not six months, but six weeks, “which slipped away,” he observes “— I chuckle still as I think of them — very pleasantly for me.” He spent his time in reading romances, and, with admirable humour, in writing a Treatise on the Liberty of the Press. Afterwards the good Abbé informs us that the hopes which he had indulged were not deceived. On issuing from the Bastille he was a made man. Little known two months before, he now met everywhere with the reception he desired. The doors of the salons of Madame de Boufflers, Madame Necker, the Baron d’Holbach, flew open before him; women pitied him and admired him, and men followed their example. Why have we not to-day a Bastille to facilitate the career of writers of talent!


To Marmontel his stay at the royal prison appears as pleasant as the Abbé Morellet had found his. He had amused himself by reciting at Madame Geoffrin’s a mordant satire in which the Duke d’Aumont, first groom of the stole to the king, was cruelly hit. The duke 159 expostulated; Marmontel wrote to him declaring that he was not the author of the satire; but the nobleman stood his ground.

“I am helpless,” said the Count de Saint-Florentin, who countersigned the lettre de cachet, to Marmontel; “the Duke d’Aumont accuses you, and is determined to have you punished. It is a satisfaction he demands in recompense for his services and the services of his ancestors. The king has been pleased to grant him his wish. So you will go and find M. de Sartine; I am addressing to him the king’s order; you will tell him that it was from my hand you received it.”

“I went to find M. de Sartine,’ writes Marmontel, “and I found with him the police officer who was to accompany me. M. de Sartine was intending that he should go to the Bastille in a separate carriage; but I myself declined this obliging offer, and we arrived at the Bastille, my introducer and myself, in the same hack. . . . The governor, M. d’Abadie, asked me if I wished my servant to be left with me. . . . They made a cursory inspection of my packets and books, and then sent me up to a large room furnished with two beds, two tables, a low cupboard, and three cane chairs. It was cold, but a jailer made us a good fire and brought me wood in abundance. At the same time they gave me pens, ink, and paper, on condition of my accounting for the use I made of them and the number of sheets they allowed me.

“The jailer came back to ask if I was satisfied with 160 my bed. After examining it I replied that the mattresses were bad and the coverlets dirty. In a minute all was changed. They sent to ask me what was my dinner hour. I replied, ‘the same as everybody’s.’ The Bastille had a library :  the governor sent me the catalogue, giving me free choice among the books. I merely thanked him for myself, but my servant asked for the romances of Prévost, and they were brought to him.”

Let us go on with Marmontel’s story. “For my part,” he says, “I had the means of escape from ennui. Having been for a long time impatient of the contempt shown by men of letters for Lucan’s poem, which they had not read, and only knew in the barbarous fustian of Brébeuf’s version, I had resolved to translate it more becomingly and faithfully into prose; and this work, which would occupy me without fatiguing my brain, was the best possible employment for the solitary leisure of my prison. So I had brought the Pharsalia with me, and, to understand it better, I had been careful to bring with it the Commentaries of Cæsar. Behold me then at the corner of a good fire, pondering the quarrel of Cæsar and Pompey, and forgetting my own with the Duke d’Aumont. And there was Bury too (Marmontel’s servant) as philosophical as myself, amusing himself by making our beds placed at two opposite corners of my room, which was at this moment lit up by the beams of a fine winter sun, in spite of the bars of two strong iron gratings which permitted me a view of the Suburb Saint-Antoine.


“Two hours later, the noise of the bolts of the two doors which shut me in startled me from my profound musings, and the two jailers, loaded with a dinner I believed to be mine, came in and served it in silence. One put down in front of the fire three little dishes covered with plates of common earthenware; the other laid on that one of the two tables which was clear a tablecloth rather coarse, indeed, but white. I saw him place on the table a very fair set of things, a pewter spoon and fork, good household bread, and a bottle of wine. Their duty done, the jailers retired, and the two doors were shut again with the same noise of locks and bolts.

“Then Bury invited me to take my place, and served my soup. It was a Friday. The soup, made without meat, was a purée of white beans, with the freshest butter, and a dish of the same beans was the first that Bury served me with. I found all this excellent. The dish of cod he gave me for second course was better still. It was served with a dash of garlic, which gave it a delicacy of taste and odour which would have flattered the taste of the daintiest Gascon. The wine was not first-rate, but passable; no sweets; of course one must expect to be deprived of something. On the whole, I thought that dinner in prison was not half bad.

“As I was rising from table, and Bury was about to sit down — for there was enough for his dinner in what was left — lo and behold! in came my two jailers again, with pyramids of dishes in their hands. At this display of fine linen, fine china-ware, spoon and fork of silver, we 162 recognized our mistake; but we made not the ghost of a sign, and when our jailers, having laid down their burden, had retired, ‘Sir,” said Bury, ‘you have just eaten my dinner, you will quite agree to my having my turn and eating yours.’ ‘That’s fair,’ I replied, and the walls of my room were astonished, I fancy, at the sound of laughter.

“This dinner was not vegetarian; here are the details :  an excellent soup, a juicy beef-steak, a boiled capon’s leg streaming with gravy and melting in one’s mouth, a little dish of artichokes fried in pickle, a dish of spinach, a very fine William pear, fresh-cut grapes, a bottle of old burgundy, and best Mocha coffee; this was Bury’s dinner, with the exception of the coffee and the fruit, which he insisted on reserving for me.

“After dinner the governor came to see me, and asked me if I found the fare sufficient, assuring me that I should be served from his table, that he would take care to cut my portions himself, and that no one should touch my food but himself. He suggested a fowl for my supper; I thanked him and told him that what was left of the fruit from my dinner would suffice. The reader has just seen what my ordinary fare was at the Bastille, and from this he may infer with what mildness, or rather reluctance, they brought themselves to visit on me the wrath of the Duke d’Aumont.

“Every day I had a visit from the governor. As he had some smack of literature and even of Latin, he took 163 some interest in following my work, in fact, enjoyed it; but soon, tearing himself away from these little dissipations, he said, ‘Adieu, I am going to console men who are more unfortunate than you.’ ”

Such was the imprisonment of Marmontel. It lasted for eleven days.


Linguet, advocate and journalist, was arrested for a breach of the press laws and for slander. He was a man of considerable ability, but little character. Attorney-general Cruppi has devoted to the story of Linguet a work as extensive as it is eloquent. He has a wealth of indulgence for his hero; yet, despite the goodwill he shows for him and endeavours to impart to the reader, his book reveals between the lines that Linguet was worthy of little esteem, and that his professional brethren were justified in removing his name from the roll of the advocates of Paris.

Linguet’s captivity lasted for two years. He has left a description of it in his Memoirs on the Bastille, which made a great noise, and of which the success had endured down to our own day. His book, like everything which came from his pen, is written in a fluent style, with spirit and brilliance; the facts cited are for the most part correct, but the author, aiming at making a sensation, has cleverly presented them in a light which distorts their real character. “There are means,” says Madame de Staal, “of so distributing light and shade on 164 the facts one is exhibiting, as to alter their appearance without altering the groundwork.” Take, for instance, the description that Linguet gives of his belongings while in the Bastille :  “Two worm-eaten mattresses, a cane chair the seat of which was only held to it by strings, a folding table, a jug for water, two earthenware pots, one of them for drinking, and two stone slabs to make a fire on.” A contemporary could say of Linguet’s Memoirs, “It is the longest lie that ever was printed.” And yet, if we take the facts themselves which are related by the clever journalist, and disengage them from the deceitful mirage in which he has enwrapped them, we do not see that his life in the Bastille was so wretched as he endeavours to make us believe. He is forced to acknowledge that his food was always most abundant, adding, it is true, that that was because they wished to poison him! He owed his life, he is convinced, “only to the obstinate tenacity of his constitution.” He marked, nevertheless, on the menu for the day, which was sent up every morning by the Bastille cook, the dishes he fancied; and later on he had his room furnished after his own heart. He still enjoyed, moreover, enough liberty to write during his imprisonment a work entitled, The Trials of Three Kings, Louis XVI., Charles III., and George III., which appeared in London in 1781. Let us recall once more the famous saying of Linguet to the wig-maker of the Bastille on the first day that he presented himself to trim the prisoner’s beard :  “To whom have I the honour of speaking?” “I am, 165 sir, the barber to the Bastille.” “Gad, then, why don’t you raze it?”

In June, 1792, some years after his liberation, Linguet was prosecuted a second time for breach of the press laws. The revolutionary tribunal condemned him to death. As he mounted the steps of the scaffold, the ardent pamphleteer thought, mayhap, with bitterly ironical regret, of that Bastille whose destruction he had so clamorously demanded.


We have still to speak of Diderot and the Marquis de Mirabeau, who were not incarcerated at the Bastille, but at Vincennes, not in the castle keep, but in the château itself, which constituted a separate place of imprisonment. They placed in the château only prisoners guilty of minor offences, who were sentenced to a temporary detention, and to whom they wished to show some consideration. This was, as we have just said, the abode of Diderot and the Marquis de Mirabeau. Diderot was arrested on July 24, 1749. His last book, Letters on the Blind for the Use of those Who Can See, contained theories which appeared to have but little title to the description of “moral.” But in the course of his examination he stoutly denied that he was its author, as also he denied the authorship of the Thoughts of a Philosopher he had published some years before. The lieutenant of police gave instructions to the governor of Vincennes that, short of being set at liberty, Diderot was to be granted all 166 possible comforts — allowed to walk in the garden and park; “that the king’s desire was, in consideration of the literary work on which he was engaged (the Encyclopædia), to permit him to communicate freely with persons from without who might come for that purpose or on family business.” And so Diderot received a visit from his wife and walked with her in the wood; Rousseau and D’Alembert spent their afternoons with him, and, as in the “good old days” of Plato and Socrates, our philosophers chatted of metaphysics and love, seated on the green grass under the shade of mighty oaks. The booksellers and printers who had undertaken the publication of the Encyclopædia were, as we have seen, in constant communication with Diderot at Vincennes; he corrected in prison the proofs of the publication, which the court looked on with no favourable eye. And we know, too, that at night, with the secret complicity of the governor, our philosopher cleared the park walls to hurry to a fair lady at Paris, one Madame de Puysieux, whom he loved with a passion by no means platonic; ere the sun was up, the jailers found him safely back under lock and key. This irksome captivity lasted little more than three months.


The imprisonment of Mirabeau lasted only ten days. The lettre de cachet had been obtained by the clique of financiers, who took fright at the audacious conceptions of the Theory of Taxation. “I fancy I deserved my 167 Punishment,” wrote the Marquis, “like the ass in the fable, for a clumsy and misplaced zeal.” In regard to the arrest, Madam d’Epinay sent word to Voltaire :  “Never before was a man arrested as this one was. The officer said to him, ‘Sir, my orders do not state I am to hurry you :  to-morrow will do, if you haven’t time to-day.’ ‘No, sir, one cannot be too prompt in obeying the king’s orders, I am quite ready.’ And off he went with a bag crammed with books and papers.” At Vincennes the Marquis had a servant with him. His wife came to see him. The king spent for his support fifteen livres a day, more than twenty-five shillings of our money. He was liberated on December 24, 1760. His brother, Bailie Mirabeau, speaking of this detention, wrote to him of “a week’s imprisonment in which you were shown every possible consideration.”

We have exhausted M. Bournon’s list of the writers who were victims of arbitrary authority. Such are the “martyrs” for whom that excellent historian, and Michelet and others, have shown the most affecting compassion. The foregoing facts do not call for comment. Men of letters were the spoilt children of the eighteenth century much more than of our own, and never has an absolute government shown a toleration equal to that of the monarchy under the ancien régime towards writers whose doctrines, as events have proved, tended directly to its destruction.


1  “I have seen these ills, and I am not twenty yet.”

2  These verses were, of course, in Latin. — T.

3  Palissot was a dramatist and critic who in his comedy Les Philosophes had bitterly attacked Rousseau, Diderot, and the Encyclopædists generally. — T.

3  The old prison of Paris. It was the debtors’ prison, famous also for the number of actors who were imprisoned there under the ancien régime. It was demolished in 1780. — T.

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