Manuscript held by G. W. Leibniz Bibliothek, Hanover
Shelfmark LBr II, 2, Bl. 5-6

Date: 18 March 1705

Translated from the French

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[LBr II, 2, Bl. 5r]

     To Madam, Princess of Ansbach

                                                                                      Hanover, 18 March 1705


     I had the pleasure to learn of Your Serene Highness's restoration to health by the honour of your own letter, when I was hit with the news of a more dangerous relapse and of the desperate state, little different from agony, which it was said you were in. In addition, Madam, you had said farewell to the Queen, which alarmed me greatly. I was in a state of anguish, and nevertheless I supported myself by the hope one always has as long as the afflicted person draws breath, when I was overwhelmed from another side by a most unexpected and crushing blow. I heard of the Queen's death before having known that she was truly sick.1 For a cold and diarrhoea are not counted. At the same time I was made to fear, with reason, for the life of Madam the Electress.2 So there, the three persons in the world among those of your sex whom I not only honoured infinitely along with all other reasonable and informed people, but also whom I cherished the most, and whose goodness gave me and promised to me [LBr II, 2, Bl. 5v] the greatest satisfaction in the world, suddenly became the object of the most burning pain and of the most acute apprehension. Not only was the sadness etched on my face for a long time, but I even found myself completely changed and ready to fall ill. The King himself noticed it, for I was still in Berlin, not having been able to follow the Queen at the outset. Finally I breathed again in some way, having learned that youthfulness, or rather providence, had saved Your Highness, and that Madam the Electress had recovered.
     Having finally arrived in Hanover two weeks ago, I learned two things which gave me a great deal of consolation; first, that the Queen died a peaceful death, as Monsignor the Elector told me that she herself said to him: ich sterbe eines gemächlichen Todes;3 second, that she died with a wonderfully serene mind and with great feelings of a soul at peace, resigned to the orders of supreme providence. I consider this to be very important, and I believe that Your Serene Highness, after having been kind enough at Lutzenburg to want to understand and not to dismiss my opinions on true piety, which requires this resignation, will allow me to say a little more about it.
     I am convinced, not by flighty conjectures, that everything is ordered by a substance whose power and wisdom are supreme and of an infinite perfection, so that, if in the present state we were able to understand the order God has placed in things, we would see that nothing better could be wished for, not only in general, but even in [LBr II, 2, Bl. 6r] particular for all those who share the view I have just mentioned, that is, who have a true love of God as well as the complete confidence one ought to have in his goodness. And this is what Holy Scripture teaches us, in accordance with reason, in saying that God makes everything turn to the good for those who love him.4 Now it is quite clear that love is nothing other than the state in which one finds one's pleasure in the perfections of the object loved. And this is what happens in those who recognize and appreciate these divine perfections and the proportion, justice, and accomplished beauty in everything which is pleasing to God. If we were already sufficiently perceptive to see this wonderful beauty of things, it would be a knowledge which would constitute the pleasure of our blessedness; but as this beauty is currently hidden from our eyes, and we even sense a thousand things which disturb us (things which in the poorly educated cause the temptation to weaknesses and scandal), our love of God and our hope are still only based in faith, that is, in an assurance of reason which is not yet accompanied by anything obvious or verified by sense-experience. And in this, Madam, consist the three Christian virtues of faith, hope, and love, taken in their general sense. They constitute the essence of the piety Jesus Christ taught us admirably well, in accordance with supreme reason, and to which our reason hardly reaches without divine grace, although there is nothing so reasonable. I often conversed with the Queen about this great principle of piety, contentment, and blessedness. It seemed to me that she approved of it, [LBr II, 2, Bl. 6v] and even that her wonderful penetration enabled her to conceive it better than I was able to express it. This resignation of a mind which was calm and satisfied with her God shone forth in her words and even in her eyes and gestures until the last moment of her life. I imagine, Madam, that Mrs de Bulau and Miss de Pöllnitz, to whom you have written letters which have demonstrated your piety, your grief and your noble spirit, will have informed you of what happened. Nevertheless I thought that what has given me some consolation could have a similar effect on Your Serene Highness.


1. Leibniz is referring here to Queen Sophie Charlotte, who died on 1 February 1705.
2. Electress Sophie.
3. "I die a gentle death."
4. An allusion to Romans 8.28.

© Lloyd Strickland 2006. Revised 2019