Voltaire 1754

Voltaire to Richard Rolt: “My Soul is Free Everywhere”

Source: Swann Galleries, auction sale 2296, November 30, 2012;
Translated: from the original letter, by Mitchell Abidor;
CopyLeft: Creative Commons (Attribute & ShareAlike) marxists.org 2012.

In this letter written in English to the British writer Richard Rolt (1724/5[?]- 1770), which does not appear in the authoritative edition of Voltaire’s correspondence, Voltaire speaks of his love of English liberty. Though capitalizations have been corrected, all other spelling and grammatical errors are as in the original.

Our commercium epistolirum is much like a correspondence in the West Indies; letters come once in four months. I received but lately yr kind epistle, dated October 13. It was sent to Paris from Roterdam, and convey'd to my niece. But she was at that very time like to dye. The barbarous and incredible usage she had met with at Francforth had thrown her into a dangerous sickness. That abominable treatment which draws an eternal shame upon its authors is the only misfortune you must lament for with me. There is sure no unhappiness at all in withdrawing from perfidious men. Misfortune lyes on those who violate the laws of mankind. I praise no more the gewgaws you speak of, than the barren sand of the country where I played once with the niknaks.

You may enlist me amongst your subscribers,* as well as in the rank of yr friends. I like yr works, and yr way of thinking. If I could enjoy a more lovable state of health I would come over to breath the air of liberty in England. But my soul is free everywhere. I'll continue for some time in Alzace where I have some lands, and here I live more happy than in courts. T'is true, I am gentleman of the most chr. king’s chamber, but less proud of that title, than pleas'd with the name of yr friend.

And so I am truly tr faithfull serv.

Colmar in Alzace
20 February 1754

* to a collection of poems Mr Rolt was to have published [in a different hand]