Saturday, April 04, 2015


Voltaire Overheard

Prince de Ligne, Mêlanges militaires, littéraires et sentimentaires, Tome X (Leopoldberg, 1796), p. 260 (on Voltaire; my translation):
Because I should relate everything I heard from this famous man, here is what I heard clearly one fine evening. After taking a walk in his garden, I climbed a large rock in order to see him in his bed, where he was writing with his window open. He let a huge fart, redolent of a bricklayer rather than of a witty gentleman. I undertook to run away as quick as I could, so he wouldn't hear me laugh.

Comme il faut que je dise tout ce que j'ai entendu de cet homme célèbre, voici ce que j'ouïs distinctement, pendant une belle nuit, qu'après m'être promené dans son jardin, je grimpai sur une grosse pierre pour le voir dans son lit, où il écrivoit, sa fenêtre ouverte. Il lâcha un gros pet, qui sentait plutôt le maçon que l'homme d'esprit, et je me mis à fuir de toutes mes forces, pour qu'il ne m'entendît pas rire.
I'm reminded of Boswell's words:
I remain firm and confident in my opinion, that minute particulars are frequently characteristick, and always amusing, when they relate to a distinguished man. I am therefore exceedingly unwilling that any thing, however slight, which my illustrious friend thought it worth his while to express, with any degree of point, should perish.
Hat tip: Ian Jackson.


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