Shakespeare and Voltaire

By Thomas R. Lounsbury | Go to book overview

CHAPTER XVIII
THE WRATH OF VOLTAIRE

MONTHS seem to have passed before the two volumes of Le Tourneur's translation came into the hands of Voltaire. In his published correspondence the first letter in regard to it bears the date of the nineteenth of July. If all this time he was ignorant of what had occasioned so much discussion at Paris, the exchange of news that took place between the French capital and Ferney must have been peculiarly imperfect and unsatisfactory. The subscription for the proposed translation had in fact been going on since the early part of 1775; and it is almost impossible to believe that some inkling of the nature of the undertaking had not reached his ears. There was so much finesse, not to call it trickery, in all of Voltaire's proceedings, that too much reliance need not be placed by the reader upon dates which the writer feels himself compelled to follow.1

In July certainly he had the two volumes, and had read the prefatory matter. His indignation was aroused

____________________
1
In Grimm Correspondance littéraire, tome ix. p. 117 ff., under June, 1776, several pages of the 'Letter to the French Academy,' read August 25, are given: and Voltaire's letter to D'Argental, dated July 19, in Voltaire's Correspondence, is spoken of as having been forwarded the preceding month. I am unable to explain the discrepancy in the dates, save on the theory that those in Grimm's Correspondence have been wrongly given.

-355-

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