Voltaire (1694-1778), French author and philosopher, wrote this passionate letter to his sweetheart while in prison. At the age of nineteen Voltaire was sent as an attache to the French Ambassador to the Netherlands. It was there that he fell in love with Olympe Dunover, the poor daughter of a lower-class women. Their relationship was not approved of by either the ambassador of Olympe’s mother and Voltaire was soon imprisoned to keep them apart.
Shortly after, Voltaire managed to escape by climbing out of the window.
The Hague 1713
I am a prisoner here in the name of the King; they can take my life, but not the love that I feel for you. Yes, my adorable mistress, to-night I shall see you, and if I had to put my head on the block to do it.
For heaven’s sake, do not speak to me in such disastrous terms as you write; you must live and be cautious; beware of madame your mother as of your worst enemy. What do I say? Beware of everybody; trust no one; keep yourself in readiness, as soon as the moon is visible; I shall leave the hotel incognito, take a carriage or a chaise, we shall drive like the wind to Sheveningen; I shall take paper and ink with me; we shall write our letters.
If you love me, reassure yourself; and call all your strength and presence of mind to your aid; do not let your mother notice anything, try to have your pictures, and be assured that the menace of the greatest tortures will not prevent me to serve you. No, nothing has the power to part me from you; our love is based upon virtue, and will last as long as our lives. Adieu, there is nothing that I will not brave for your sake; you deserve much more than that. Adieu, my dear heart!
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