ISSN 2271-1813




[Carnet rédigé en anglais datant du séjour de Voltaire en Angleterre. L’original, de la main de Voltaire, se trouve dans sa bibliothèque à Saint-Pétersbourg (t. IX, f. 86-103). Il est présenté ici à partir de l’édition donnée en 1929 par Norman L. Torrey, avec la restitution de trois notes omises. Publié par Th. Besterman sous le titre de «Small Leningrad notebook».]


[1] England is meeting of all religions, as the Royal exchange is the rendez vous of all foreigners.

[2] When I see Christians, cursing Jews, methings I see children beating their fathers.

[3] Jewish relligion is mother of Christyanity, and grand mother of the mahometism.

[4] One greatest error among christians is about the holy ghost. Formerly when a man was made a Lawyer in Jerusalem, he was so by these words, receive the holy ghost. Now one make use of the same words in making a priest.

[5] T’is a meer fancy to believe the character of a priest is indelible. A lay man is made a clergy man only by designation. T’is an office wich can be revoked, and which was revoked effectually in the old ages of christianity, when a priest wanted church and fonction.

[6] Go and teach all nations; this was said to all christians, before the distinction of clergy and layty.

[7] For to get some authority over others one must make oneself as unlike them, as one can: t’is a sure way of dazling the eys of the crowd. So the priests appears in longue gown etc.

[8] To have Lowis of gold and crowns, and to rekon in imaginary [52]livres is a contrivance of the Kings and banquiers to get monney.

[9] It seems that one doth deal in England with the quakers as with the Peers of the realm, wich give their verdict upon their honour, not upon their oath.

[10] Theatre in England is without decency etc.

[11] Dryden about Relligion

The common cry is ever relligion’s test
The Turk’s at Constantinople best
Idols in India, Popery at Rome
And our own worship only true at home
And true but for the time, tis hard to know
How long we please it shall continue so
This side today, and that tomorrow burns
So all are God a’mighty in their turns.

[12]                 to prove religion true
If either wit, or sufferings could suffice
All faiths afford the constant, and the wise.
And yet ev’n they by education sway’d
In age deffend what infancy obey’d.

[13] God bless Kate, our sovereign’s mate
And the royal house of Lisbone.
But the devil take Hide
And Bishop beside
Who made her bone his bone.

[14] Verses of Sir Johan Denham upon Thames

O could I flow like thee and make thy stream
My great exemple as it is my theam;
Tho deep, yet clair, tho gentle yet not dull,
Strong without rage, without o’reflowing, full.

[15] Of Mr. Popp upon M-stress Poltney

With scornful mien, and various toss of hair
Fantastick, vain and insolently fair,
Grandeur intoxicates her guiddy brain.
She speaks ambitions, and she moves disdain.
Far other carriage graced her virgin life
But Gombley’s daughter’s lost in Poltneis’ wife.
O cou’d they Sire renowned in glas produce
One faithful miror for his daughter’s use
Wherein she might her haughty errors trace
And by reflexion learn to mind her face,
Her wonted sweetness to her form restore,
Be what she was, and charm mankind once more.


[16] To Mr. Popp by Unknown Hand

Artibus et bello nostrae quondam aemula terrae
Anglia terra fuit; vicistis marte Britanni
Captivosque duces francos duxistis in urbem.
Et dedecus nostrum Poppus nunc versibus implet,
Gallica musa silet, miratur et invidet illi
(cum ducibus nunc victa iacet, nunc Anglia plaude)
Anglia aeternos nunc est habitura
aeternos (Poppi manibus latura triumphos
. . . . . . . . . . . . .

[17] Dryden

Our thoughtless sex is caught by outward form
And empty noyse, and loves itself in man.

[18] In England everybody is publik-spirited ? in France everybody is concerned in his own interest only. An English man is full of taughts, French all in miens, compliments, sweet words and curious of engaging outside, overflowing in words, obsequious with pride, and very much self concerned under the appearance of a pleasant modesty. The English is sparing of words, openly proud and unconcerned. He gives the most quick birth, as he can, to his taughts, for fear of loosing his time.

[19] Is nothing more hard then to be quallified for e ? society.

[20] We arrive to the same mark by different ways. A chartusian fryar kneels and prostrates himself all along before me, a Quacker speacks to me allwyais covered. Both do so, for to follow the gospel, in the most vigorous sense.


[21] Let M. of V. and Prince E. travel one in Germania and the other in France, if they will enjoy their reputation.

[22] We have begun in France to write pretty well, before we have begun to think. English on the contrary. Is not one thought whorthy of remark in Voiture or Malherbe.

[23] Malboroug despised French because he had conquerd em. Law dispisd em also because he had cheated them.

[24] Thanksgiving of Mr. Popp

Thank Prudent Anna’s providential reign
For Peace and Plenty, both of coin and Grain,
Thank the scoth peers, for their ferm, unbought union,
Thank the bishops for their occasional communion,
Thank the stock jobbers for their thriving trade,
Thank just Godolphin that yours debts are pay’d.
Thank Malborough Zeal that scorn’d the profer’d treatty,
But thank Eugene the french man did not beat you.
Thank you own selfs. Still, you are taxed and sham’d,
But thank the Almighty if you are not damn’d.

[25] We are commonly unconcerned and careless of all things which deserve our search, and our admiration, but for to make amends we admire the most common objects, and the less whorthy of attention of a wise man. How very few are wise enough to admire the daily birth of light and the new creation of all things wich born every day with light; the everlasting regulation of stars, the perpetual miracle of generation, effects of loadstone, of lime [56]burned with water. How very few could fix their eys upon these usual prodiges, whereof the use is so trivial, and the cause so absconded. But we see attentively and we admire, a rope danser, a mountebanck, a preecher, a french marquis, a coch in sex.

[26] Thank Prudent Anna’s providential reign
For Peace and Plenty, both of Coin, and grain.
Thank the Scoth peers....

[27] Thirty and one of july a thousand seven hundred twenty and six. I saw floating islands nyer St. Omer.

[28] In june of the present yer Mylord Duc was turnd out, Force dead, in july.

[29] An yong mathematician blind from his birth, being asked by King Charles the second, wether there was in the world two men who had the same number of hairs upon their heads, he answered positively, there were, and he proved it peremptorily. T’is doubtless, said he, there are more many heads on the earth than hairs upon a single head. To clair the matter, I suppose there were a million of men. The first of them hath for exemple a single hair on [57]his head, the second two, the thirdh tree etc. T’is certain the utmost could not have a million of hairs; therefore he would have only just the same quantity as one of his precedents. Consequently t’is plain, there are surely two men upon the earth who have the same number of hairs, and great deall more then two men, Because the number of heads exceeds infinitely that of hairs in a single person.

[30] There was a parson in France, who for to saunter away the time, was playing one day in the morning, at piquet, with his own whore. In the mean time, some good contrymen, and great many devotious women were at a loss round about the altar, in order to communicate, and waiting upon their kneels, for their parson. The clerc of the church comes in a great hurry to his master. Make haste, sais he, good sir, come to administer god to your people. The parson rises on a sudden, leaves off the game, kiss his whore, takes up his wafers box, but by mistake, he puts in its som counters of ivory of the same figure, wherewith he plai’d, and he runs to the altar. As he was distributing god in wafers, to the people, he gives to one old woman, an ivory counter instead of a wafer. This old jade, after having receiv’d her portion of god, sneaks into a secret part of the church to pray, and to collect herself. She wonders at first that she can’t swallow up the host. She endeavours to chaw it, but in vain. At last she goes to the priest in the vestry. Good ser, sais she, I believe you gave me god the father, so he is tough, and hard.

[31] Errors like straw upon the surface flow,
He who would search for pearls must dive bellow.


[32] A famous critick having gathered together all the faults of an eminent poet, made a present of them to Apollo, who receiv’d them very graciously, and resolv’d to make the author a suitable return, for the trouble he had been at, in collecting them. In order to this he set before him a sack of wheat, as it had been threshed out of the sheaf. He then bid him to pick out the chaff from among the corn, and lay it a side by itself. The critick applied himself to the task with geat industry, and pleasure, and after having made the due separation, was presented by Apollo with the chaff, for his pains.

[33] Harley the nation’s great support
Returning home one day from court
Surveyed a parson niar Whitehall
Cheapning old authors on a stall.
The priest was pretty well in case
And shewd some humour in his face,
Look’d with an easy careless mien
A perfect stranger to the spleen.
Of size that might a pupil fill
But more inclining to sit still....

[34] Out of Criticism of Mr. Popp

With tyranny then superstition joyned
As that the body, this enslave the mind.
Much was believ’d, but little understood
And to be dull, was constru’d to be good.
A second deluge Learning thus o’er run
And the monks finish’d what the goths begun....


[35] Of the same in the Rape of the lock
Clarissa’s Speech

But since alas frail beauty must decay,
Curl’d or uncurl’d since locks will turn to grey,
Since painted, or no painted, all shall fade
And she who scorns a man shall dye a maid,
What then remains, but well our powr to use
And keep good humour still whate’er we lose.

[36] Of Mr. Gay, from Ovid..

Both take their stations and the piece prepare
And order ever’y slender thread with care;
The web enwraps the beam, the reed divides,
While trhough the widning space the shuttle glides,
Which their swift hands receive, then pois’d with lead
The swinging stricks close th’inserted thread.

[37] Rape of the Lock

While fish in streams or birds delight in air
Or in coach and sex the british fair
As long, as Atalantis shall be read
Or the small pillow, grace a lady’s bed.

[38] The Same

Some thought it mounted to the lunar sphere
Since all things lost on earth, are treasured there.
There hero’s wits are kept in pounderous vases
And beaus in snuff boxes, and tweser-cases,
There broken vows and death bed alms are found
And lovers hearts, with ends of riband bound,
The courtier’s promises and sick man’s prayers,
The smiles of harlots, and the tears of heirs,
Cages for gnats, and chains to yoak a flea,
Dry’d butterflies, and tomes of casuistry.

[39] 1726 in the month of August

An officer of the guards, who was a relation to mylord Peterborough an of the same name, eight and twenty yars old, rich and healthy but cloyd with life, for som private reasons shot himself. Before he perform’d this business, he setled all his other affairs in the best way he could, paid his debts, sent som present to his friends, wrote to his relations, composed som verses not after the manner of Petronius, but like an english man with strenght and force. The two late verses were:

But the truest lodanum of all
Is resolution and a ball.

As soon he made up all his letters, he stood up riht over against a locking glass and shot himself.


[40] Rara est concordia fratrum

Seldom brothers agrée together. T’is for this reason sovereigns of Europe are stiled brothers to each other. They pursue, they deceive, they betray, the hate one another like true brothers, and after having fight with the utmost fury and having lay wast respectively their kingdoms, they take a solemn mourning upon the death one of another.

[41] I think oft. of Mr. B. and Mr. p. There are both virtuous and learned; of equal wit and understanding, but quite contrary in their wais. P loves retirement and silence, virtuous and learned for himself. B more communicatif diffuses everiwhere his virtue and his knowledge. B is a dark lanthorn; tho’ it is illuminated within, it affords no manner of light, or advantage to such, as stood by it. The other is an ordinary lamp, which consumes and wastes itself for the benefit of every passenger.

[42] M. B. was as great whoremaster as great statesman. He was in the bloom of his youth, and of his whoring too, when queen Anna made him secretary of war. A swarm of strumpets were walking in St. James park, when a sudden rumor was spred, h. st. was raised to that place which is worth five thousand pounds a year. All the whores cried out with joy, god bless us, five thousand pounds all among us.

[43] Verses of the Earl of Rochester extempore

Here is the health to our pleasant witty king
Whose word no man relies on,
Who never said a foolish thing
Or ever did a wise one.


[44] Nature, purity, perspicuity, simplicity never walk in the clouds. They are obvious to all capacities and where they are not evident, they don’t exist. Ignorant divines suported by more ignorant men are the founders of all relligions, men of wit, founders of heresies, men of understanding laugh at both.

[45] They say, Cromwell was nothing less than an enthusiast. He was so far from being a fanatik that he rul’d all who were so. He had a quick sighted sagacity, a firm understanding, an irresistible eloquence, a courage above all mankind, a profound knowledge of the world. He did not aim at first at the supreme power, but he was carried on by degree’s to the trhone, making alwais the best use of the least circumstances. His humour was severe but sometimes he indulged privately to some mirth with his private friends.

One day he was drinking friendly in his closet with St. Jean, Milton, and Waller. In the mean time, the deputies of the clergy came to make some representations. He bid them stay in the parlor, saying he was retired with god. His custom was to consult god, or to seem to consult him upon all occasions and that roguery was called to seek the lord while the priests stay’d without, and Cromwell was tipling within. One of the compani endeavouring to draw out a cork of a bottle, the scrue fell down on the floor, and every body look’d for it. Cromwell himself was searching it up and down. Those priests, said he, those scoundrels fancy that we are seeking for the lord and we look only for the cork scrue.

[46] Meer bashfulness without merit, is awkward, merit without modesti insolent, but modest merit has a double claim to acceptance and generally meets with as many patrons as beholders.


[47] Description of the Palace of the Spleen
out of the fourth canto of the
Rape of the Lock

No chearful breeze this sullen region knows,
The dreaded east is all the wind that blows.
Here in a grotto sheltered close from air
And screen’d in shades from day’s detested glare
She sighs for ever on her pensive bed,
Pain at her side, and megrim at her head.
Two handmaids wait the trhone, alike in place
But differing far, in figure, and in face.
Here stood ill nature, like an ancient maid
Her wrinkled form in black and white array’d,
With stores of prayers for morning nights and noons
Her hand is fill’d, her bosom with lampoons.
There affectation with a sickly mien.
Shows in her cheek the roses of eighteen
Practisd to lisp, and hang the head a side,
Faints into airs, and languishes with pride.
The priest continues what the nurse began
As thus the child imposes on the man.

[48] Waller ab Reason

Our passions gone, and reason in her throne,
Amaz’d we see the mischief we have done.
After a tempest, wen the winds are laid
The calm sea wonders at the wrecks it made.


[49] Milton
For Eloquence the soul, song charms the sense

[50] Beneath this Sacred Hearse
Lays the subject of all verse
Sidneys Sister, Pembrokes Mother,
Death e’re thou has kill’d another
Learn’d and good and Fam’d as She
Time Shall Throw a Dart at thee.

[51] A Wish to M.s Patty Blount
By M.ster Pope

Oh be thou blest with all that Heav’n can send,
Long life, long health, long pleasure, and a friend,
Noth with those Toys, the woman world admire,
Riches that vex and vanities that tire.
May joy, and ease, may affluence, and content
And the glad conscience of a life well spent
Calm every thought, and quicken every grace,
Glow in thy heart and sparkle in thy face.
May day improve on day and year, on year,
Without a sigh, a trouble, or a tear,
And when that death does that fair face destroy
Die by some sudden extasie of joy.
In some soft dream, may thy mild soul remove
And be thy latest gasp a sigh of love.


[52] Tale of a Tub

Where there is not liberty of conscience, there is seldom liberty of trade, the same tyranny encroaching upon the commerce as upon Relligion. In the Commonwealths and other free contrys one may see in a see port, as many relligions as shipps. The same god is there differently whorship’d by jews, mahometans, heathens, catholiques, quackers, anabaptistes, which write strenuously one against another, but deal together freely and with trust and peace; like good players who after having humour’s their parts and fought one against another upon the stage, spend the rest of their time in drinking together.

[53] Mistrs. XX is like Titus the emperor. When by chance she haht made no person happy in a day, she cries out at night, o count, I have lost this day.

[54] Mr. Bluet told me this day 20 July that he was married to fortunes daughter, who is misfortune.

[55] A man was burnt alive in Paris for saying he was the Pope’s son. A merry fellow said upon that account, Deus est mortis quia filium dei se fecit.

[56] Here lies a j. under this stone,
Have a care of thine arse and begone.

[57] From the rubishes of the roman empire, several great kingdoms are formed, and grounded upon its ruines. In the same manner, italian tongue, the french, the spanish arose from the ruines of the roman language.

[58] Plutark tells us in Cesar’s life he numbered the citizens in Rome [66]and their number amounted to no more than an hundred and twenty thousand which was but of three hundred and fourty thousand before the civil wars ? whow that thinness of people may be reconciled with the prodigious populousness mentioned by other authors, t’is hard to know. They talk of four millions in Augustus time.

[59] Berenice, Andromache, the Gamester, Cid, Pompee translated.

[60] Questions

If there are two men upon the face of the earth who have exactly the same number of hairs.

If a man born blind who had a notion of square and round by the action of feeling, could distinguish a circle from a square upon the first recovery of his sight.

[61] Cromwell built nothing ? there is no monument remaining of him. His body together with those of Ireton and Bradsaw were taken out of their coffins at Westminster, and drawn upon hurdles to Tyburn, where they were hanged by the neck for some hours, their head chopt of afterwards and perched on Westminster all by January 1661 a year after the restoration.

[62] Three plagues in London under Elizabeth, Charles the first, and Charles the second.

[63] Mr. Shipping sent to the Tower for having said that the Kings speech was calculated for the meridian of Germany, rather than that of London.

[64] In Rimer upon english stage I have found this song of Federik Barberousse in the twelfth century.

Plas my cavalier frances
e la donna catalana
e l’ovrar Gynues,
lou kantar provensales
e la dansa trivizana
e la corps arragonez,
les mans e cara d’angles
e lou donzel de Thuscana.

[65] A lord of Bukurst wrought a play before Shakespear, whose subject was Godorbuk king. There the two sons of the king quarrell, the elder kills the younger, the queen provoked kills the elder, and then to make a clear stage, the people rise and dispatch the old Godorbuck.

[66] Quaere Roma triumphante de authore Flavio.

[67] Quaere if St. Lowis pawned the eucharist, if Joinville confessed him.

[68] Mr. Lock’s reasonableness of christian relligion is really a new relligion.

[69] One of the french prophets having boasted that at any apointed Day, he would raise a dead body from his grave, the government [68]sent guards to the place apointed, to keep of the rabble, and to keep all things in quiet that the play could be acted without disturbance.

[70] Brandon’s Motto

Cloth of gold do not despise
If thou art match’d with cloth of frize,
Cloth of frize Be not to bold
If thou art match’d with cloth of gold.

[71] The phallium of the Egyptians was a potent prick, always standing, which was carried about with great reverence.

[72] Herodotus tells us that it was lawful in Egypt nor in Greece to proceed to the act of copulation in sacred places, but among other nations it was esteemed highly decent to fuck in temples, it being the best way of honouring divinity, to obey orders in its presence.

[73] In Lapland the season they are the most afraid of is the summer. The fly in June with their herds of rhendeers toward the most bleak parts of the country buried in eternal snow.

[74] Musick restored by the french and flemish in Europe before the italians knew any thought of it. Gaudimele under Francis the first composed the noels, and Roland Lasse florished under Henry the third, and Henry 4.

[75] A king is in England a necessary thing to preserve the spirit of liberty, as a post to a fencer to coerce himself.

[76] Allegory, like a glass in which some thing is contained, but eazily seen.


[77] The pope gave leave to a catholick woman of marrying count Shumberg la Lippe, who had another wive, madame de la Lippe mother to the present count la Lippe.

[78] The same army that had cut of Charles the first and Lawd was ready to make an arbitrary King of Charles 2, and a pope of the arbs. of Cant.

[79] Colonel Hawker leading King Ch––s from Wr to with, and the king telling him he was accountable to god alone, faith, said he, I think they will send you thither to present yr accounts.

[80] How words differ from their etimologi

Hagiea gost
idiospenchant sot
baptismimmersion etc
are δελος illustre haredelle
Διαβολος acusator
Νικο Δεμος victor populorum