|C.D. Warner, et al., comp. The Library of the Worlds Best Literature.|
An Anthology in Thirty Volumes. 1917.
|By Voltaire (16941778)|
From the Correspondence
To Madame du Deffand
|I OWE life and health to the course I have taken. If I dared I would believe myself wise, so happy am I. I have lived only since the day I chose my retreat; every other kind of life would now be insupportable to me. Paris is necessary to you; to me it would be deadly: every one must remain in his element. I am very sorry that mine is incompatible with yours, and it is assuredly my only affliction. You wished also to try the country: it is not suitable to you. The taste for proprietorship and labor is absolutely necessary when you live in the country. I have very extensive possessions, which I cultivate. I make more account of your drawing-room than of my grain-fields and my pastures; but it was my destiny to end my career between drills, cows, and Genevese.|| 1|
A VAST rustic house, with wagons loaded with the spoils of the fields, coming and going by four great gateways. The pillars of oak which sustain the whole frame are placed at equal distances upon pedestals of stone; long stables are seen on the right and on the left. Fifty cows, properly fastened, occupy one side, with their calves; the horses and oxen are on the other side: their fodder falls into their racks from immense mows above. The floors where the grain is threshed are in the middle; and you know that all the animals lodged in their several places in this great edifice have a lively sense that the forage, the hay, the oats, which it contains, belong to them of right. To the south of these beautiful monuments of agriculture are the poultry-yards and sheepfolds; to the north are the presses, store-rooms, fruit-houses; to the east are the abodes of the manager and thirty servants; toward the west extend large meadows, pastured and fertilized by all the animals, companions of the labor of man. The trees of the orchard, loaded with fruits, small and great, are still another source of wealth. Four or five hundred beehives are set up near a little stream which waters this orchard. The bees give to the possessor a considerable harvest of honey and wax, without his troubling himself with all the fables which are told of that industrious creature; without endeavoring in vain to learn whether that nation lives under the rule of a pretended queen who presents her subjects with sixty to eighty thousand children. There are some avenues of mulberry-trees as far as the eye can reach, the leaves of which nourish those precious worms which are not less useful than the bees. A part of this vast inclosure is formed by an impenetrable rampart of hawthorn, neatly clipped, which rejoices the senses of smell and sight.