May 22, 2014 - Sale 2351

Sale 2351 - Lot 228

Price Realized: $ 7,500
?Final Price Realized includes Buyer’s Premium added to Hammer Price
Estimate: $ 4,000 - $ 6,000
"MY [RELIGIOUS] DEVOTION HAS CAUSED CONSIDERABLE COMMENT IN THE WORLD" VOLTAIRE, FRANÇOIS MARIE AROUET DE. Letter Signed, "Voltaire," to an unnamed recipient ("Sir"), in French, stating that a letter Voltaire wrote to the King of Prussia in 1767 did not contain the exaggerated language suggested by the recipient, and asking him to read the enclosed letters on the subject and to forward them to the Duke of Grafton [not present]. 2 pages, small 4to, with integral blank; minor scattered foxing; in double-sided frame with a portrait on each side. Ferney, 30 October 1769

Additional Details

"Please accept . . . my warmest thanks for acquainting me with the letter I wrote to the King of Prussia. It has been two years since I have written him; and, as my devotion has caused considerable comment in the world, it could well be thought that the letter [attributed to me] is from me, and that in the quality of being a good Christian, I reproach him for lack of piety. Everyone in Geneva has counseled me to repudiate that writing in the public papers.
"Permit me . . . to send you the letter I wrote on this subject to the Duke of Grafton; . . . you will see that there is less verbiage in my disavowal than one attributes to me . . . .
"The English extend a bit too far the liberty of the press; they are always excessive in those things of which we do not have enough. . . ."
On January 5, 1767, Voltaire wrote a lengthy letter to the King of Prussia, concluding with notorious remarks on the Christianity of his day: "A . . . prince, with money, troops, and laws, can perfectly well govern without the aid of religion . . . ; but the stupid people would soon make one for themselves, and as long as there are fools . . . there will be religions. Ours is assuredly the most ridiculous, the most absurd, and the most bloody that has ever infected the world. Your majesty would make an eternal service to mankind by destroying this infamous superstition."