Friedrich Grimm 1755

The Death of Montesquieu

Source: Maurice Tourneux, editor, Correspondance littéraire, philosophique et critique,” Vol I. Paris, Garnier Frères, 1877;
Translated: for by Mitchell Abidor;
CopyLeft: Creative Commons (Attribute & ShareAlike) 2011.

Paris, February 15, 1755

Charles de Secondat, baron de Montesquieu, died in Paris on the 10th of this month after having honored humanity with his admirable writings and a life honest and irreproachable throughout its sixty-five years. If it weren’t sweeter to forget our wrongs and close our eyes on the evils we can’t cure we would say, to the shame of the nation, that this great man, to whom France will owe all the happy effects that will result from the revolution in our ideas his works carried out, left life without the public’s having noticed it. His funeral cortege included few people: of all the gens de lettres only M. Diderot was there. Louis XV honored himself by showing marks of esteem to the dying sage and sending the Duke de Nivernois to learn of his condition. But if we had deserved being the contemporaries of so great a man, then leaving behind our vain and frivolous pleasures we would all have cried over his grave and the nation in mourning would have given Europe the example of the homage an enlightened and sensitive people render genius and virtue.