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literary correspondence with several men of learning, whom I had not an opportunity of personally consulting. 1. In the perusal of Livy (xxx. 44) I had been stopped by a sentence in a speech of Hannibal, which cannot be reconciled by any torture with his character or argument. The commentators dissemble, or confess their perplexity. It occurred to me, that the change of a single letter, by substituting otio instead of odio, might restore a clear and consistent
but I wished to weigh my emendation in scales less partial than my own. I addressed myself to M. Crevier, the successor of Rollin, and a professor in the university of Paris, who had published a large and valuable edition of Livy. His answer was speedy and polite; he praised my ingenuity, and adopted my conjecture. 2. I maintained a Latin correspondence, at first anonymous, and afterwards in my own name, with professor Breitinger of Zurich, the learned editor of a Septuagint Bible. In our frequent letters we discussed many questions of antiquity, many passages of the Latin classics. I proposed my interpretations and amendments. His censures, for he did not spare my boldness of conjecture, were sharp and strong ; and I was encouraged by the consciousness of my strength, when I could stand in free debate against a critic of such eminence and erudition. 3. I corresponded on similar topics with the celebrated professor Matthew Gesner, of the university of Gottingen; and he accepted, as courteously as the two former, the invitation of an unknown youth. But his abilities might possibly be decayed; his elaborate letters were feeble and prolix; and when I asked his proper direction, the vain old man covered half a sheet of paper with the foolish enumeration of his titles and offices. 4. These professors of Paris, Zurich, and Gottingen, were strangers, whom I presumed to address on the credit of their name; but Mr Allamand, minister at Bex, was my personal friend, with whom I maintained a more free and interesting correspondence. He was a
master of language, of science, and, above all, of dispute ; and his acute and flexible logic could support with equal address, and perhaps with equal indifference, the adverse sides of every possible question. His spirit was active, but his pen had been indolent. Mr Allamand had exposed himself to much scandal and reproach by an anonymous letter (1745) to the Protestants of France; in which he labours to persuade them that public worship is the exclusive right and duty of the state, and that their numerous assemblies of dissenters and rebels were not authorised by the law or the gospel. His style is animated, his arguments specious ; and if the Papist may seem to lurk under the mask of a Protestant, the philosopher is concealed under the disguise of a Papist.
After some trials in France and Holland, which were defeated by his fortune or his character, a genius, that might have enlightened or deluded the world, was buried in a country living, unknown to fame, and discontented with 'mankind. Est sacrificulus in pago, et rusticos decipit. As often as ate or ecclesiastical business called him to Lausanne, I enjoyed the pleasure and benefit of his conversation, and we were mutually flattered by our attention to each other. respondence, in his absence, chiefly turned on Locke's inetaphysics—which he attacked, and I defended; the origin of ideas, the principles of evidence, and the doctrine of liberty.
And found no end, in wandering mazes lost. By fencing with so skilful a master I acquired some dexterity in the use of my philosophic weapons ; but I was still the slave of education and prejudice. He had some measures to keep; and I much suspect that he never shewed me the true colours of his secret scepticism.
Before I was recalled from Switzerland, I had the satisfaction of seeing the most extraordinary man of the age; a poet, an historian, a philosopher, who has
filled thirty quartos of prose and verse with his various productions, often excellent, and always entertaining. Need I add the name of Voltaire? After forfeiting, by his own misconduct, the friendship of the first of kings, he retired, at the age of sixty, with a plentiful fortune, to a free and beautiful country, and resided two winters (1757 and 1758) in the town or neighbourhood of Lausanne. My desire of beholding Voltaire, whom I then rated above his real magnitude, was easily gratified. He received me with civility as an English youth, but I cannot boast of any peculiar notice or distinction: Virgilium vidi tantum.
The ode which he composed on his first arrival on the banks of the Leman lake, O maison d'Aristippe ! O jardin d'Epicure! &c., had been imparted as a secret to the gentleman by whom I was introduced. He allowed me to read it twice ; I knew it by heart; and as my discretion was not equal to my memory, the author was soon displeased by the circulation of a copy. In writing this trivial anecdote, I wished to observe whether my memory was impaired; and I have the comfort of finding that every line of the poem is still engraved in fresh and indelible characters. The highest gratification which I derived from Voltaire's residence at Lausanne, was the uncommon circumstance of hearing a great poet declaim his own productions on the stage. He had formed a company of gentlemen and ladies, some of whom were not destitute of talents. A decent theatre was framed at Monrepos, a country-house at the end of a suburb; dresses and scenes were provided at the expense of the actors;
and the author directed the rehearsals with the zeal and attention of paternal love. In two successive winters his tragedies of Zaire, Alzire, Zulime, and his sentimental comedy of the Enfant Prodigue, were played at the theatre of Monrepos. Voltaire represented the characters best adapted to his years—Lusignan, Alvarez, Benassar, Euphemon.
His declamation was fashioned to the pomp and cadence of the old stage; and he expressed the enthusiasm of poetry, rather than the feelings of nature. My ardour, which soon became conspicuous, seldom failed of procuring me a ticket. The habits of pleasure fortified my taste for the French theatre, and that taste has perhaps abated my idolatry for the gigantic genius of Shakspeare, which is inculcated from our infancy as the first duty of an Englishman. The wit and philosophy of Voltaire, his table and theatre, refined in a visible degree the manners of Lausanne ; and, however addicted to study, I enjoyed my share of the amusements of society. After the representation of Monrepos I sometimes supped with the actors. I was now familiar in some, and acquainted in many houses; and my evenings were generally devoted to cards and conversation, either in private parties of numerous assemblies.
I hesitate, from the apprehension of ridicule, when I approach the delicate subject of my early love. By this word I do not mean the polite attention, the gallantry, without hope or design, which has originated in the spirit of chivalry, and is interwoven with the texture of French manners. I understand by this passion the union of desire, friendship, and tenderness, which is inflamed by a single female, which prefers her to the rest of her sex, and which seeks her possession as the supreme or the sole happiness of our being. I need not blush at recollecting the object of my choice; and though my love was disappointed of success, I am rather proud that I was once capable of feeling such a pure and exalted sentiment. The personal attractions of mademoiselle Susan Curchod were embellished by the virtues and talents of the mind. Her fortune was humble, but her family was respectable. Her mother, a native of France, had preferred her religion to her country. The profession of her father did not extinguish the moderation and philosophy of his temper, and he lived content, with a
small satary and laborious duty, in the obscure lot of minister of Crassy, in the mountains that separate the Pays de Vaud from the county of Burgundy.* In the solitude of a sequestered village he bestowed a liberal and even learned education on his only daughter. She surpassed his hopes by her proficiency in the sciences and languages; and in her short visits to some relations at Lausanne, the wit, the beauty, and erudition, of mademoiselle Curchod were the theme of universal applause. The report of such a prodigy awakened my curiosity; I saw and loved. I found her learned without pedantry, lively in conversation, pure in sentiment, and elegant in manners ; and the first sudden emotion was fortified by the
* EXTRACTS FROM THE JOURNAL. March 1757. I wrote some critical observations upon
Plautus. March 8th. I wrote a long dissertation on some lines
of Virgil. June. I saw mademoiselle Curchod - Omnia vincit
amor, et nos cedamus amori. August. I went to Crassy, and staid two days. Sept. 15th. I went to Geneva. Oct. 15th. I came back to Lausanne, having passed
through Crassy. Nov. 1st. I went to visit M. de Watteville at Loin, and
saw mademoiselle Curchod in my way
through Rolle. Nov. 17th. I went to Crassy, and staid there six days. Jan. 1758. In the three first months of this year I read
Ovid's Metamorphoses, finished the conic sections with M. de Traytorrens, and went as far as the infinite series; I likewise read sir Isaac Newton's Chronology, and wrote
my critical observations upon it. Jan. 22d. I saw Alzire acted by the society at Mon
Voltaire acted Alvarez; D'Hermanches, Zamore; de St Cierge, Gusman; M. de Gentil, Monteze; and madame Denys Alzire.