The Man of Forty Crowns by Voltaire

The Man of Forty Crowns


Kobo ebook | May 19, 2016 | French

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An old man, who is forever pitying the present times, and extolling the past, was saying to me: "Friend, France is not so rich as it was under Henry IV."

"And why?"

"Because the lands are not so well cultivated; because hands are wanting for the cultivation; and because the day-laborer having raised the price of his work, many land-owners let their inheritances lie fallow."

"Whence comes this scarcity of hands?"

"From this, that whoever finds in himself anything of a spirit of industry, takes up the trade of embroiderer, chaser, watchmaker, silk-weaver, attorney, or divine. It is also because the revocation of the Edict of Nantes has left a great void in the kingdom; because nuns and beggars of all kinds have greatly multiplied; because the people in general avoid as much as possible the hard labor of cultivation, for which we are born by God's destination, and which we have rendered ignominious by our own opinions; so very wise are we!

"Another cause of our poverty lies in our new wants. We pay our neighbors four millions of livres on one article, and five or six upon another; such, for example, as a stinking powder for stuffing up our noses, brought from America. Our coffee, tea, chocolate, cochineal, indigo, spices, cost us above sixty millions a year. All these were unknown to us in the reign of Henry IV., except the spices, of which, however, the consumption was not so great as it is now. We burn a hundred times more wax-lights than were burnt then, and get more than half of the wax from foreign countries, because we neglect our own hives. We see a hundred times more diamonds in the ears, round the necks, and on the hands of our city ladies of Paris, and other great towns, than were worn by all the ladies of Henry IV.'s court, the queen included. Almost all the superfluities are necessarily paid for with ready specie.

Title:The Man of Forty CrownsFormat:Kobo ebookPublished:May 19, 2016Publisher:CPLanguage:French

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