I’ve been leading a somewhat wandering life, my adorable friend, for more than a month; that’s what’s prevented me from writing to you. I think I’m finally about to enjoy the peace that your negotiations and good efforts have brought me. At last Madame de Richelieu is about to be given an audience. She won’t leave your Chancellor alone until peace has been granted, and I hope that at last this outrageous persecution over an innocent book will cease. As for me, I don’t mind telling you I’ll have to be pretty philosophical to forget the disgraceful manner in which I’ve been treated in my own country. Only friends such as yourself, and those others who’ve served me so well, could persuade me to stay in France.
If I don’t return soon, would you like me to send you a rather distinctive tragedy [Alzire, ou les Américains] that I’ve completed in my solitude? It’s a very Christian play that may well do me some favours with the devout; I’ll be delighted with that, as long as it doesn’t put off the audience in the stalls. It’s an entirely new world [the Peru of the conquistadors] with entirely new morals. I’m positive it would go down a treat in Panama or Fernambouc [in Brazil]. God grant that it’s not hissed at in Paris …
Is it true that they’re talking about leaving me in peace? I beg you to let me know what people are saying. There’ll hardly be an individual who doesn’t take an interest—like an ass that carries a double load in wartime.
Adieu, I love you as you deserved to be loved
The solitary swan is floating on the River Marne at Joinville, not far from Cirey. Voltaire was in fact hiding at Cirey when he wrote this letter.