Sämtliche schriften und briefe series I, volume 22
Deutsche Akademie der Wissenschaften (ed)
pp 377-378

Date: 17 April 1703

Translated from the French

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[A I 22, p377]

                                                                      From Marienburg, 17 April 1703

     I cannot demonstrate to you enough the immense obligations I have to you by the honour of your excellent and marvellous letter, which I have read and reread several times with admiration for your profound doctrine and for your extraordinary mind in finding this way of explaining the ancient characters of the Chinese which the Chinese themselves have forgotten. Your 0 and your 1 will be eternal monuments of your mind, and posterity will not have enough praise to celebrate them, as well as your broken lines which afford so many rays and illuminations to the world of letters, not only in China but also in the whole of Europe. Finally, you are an illustrious man and new conqueror of things unknown. And if Columbus and Amerigo Vespucci have the glory of having made discoveries of new lands in the west, you have made a greater one in having given the east such uncommon knowledge. I do not mean to flatter you here, for you are above all vanity. And vanity is above my nature. But I want only to give you here a glimpse of the esteem that everyone owes you, restraining myself to speculate more at my leisure on your writing, which I take to be a treasure and which I passed on to the king, who took very great pleasure in seeing the fine discovery you made. His Majesty, having made me read in his presence the whole of this wonderful project concerning the Education of the Prince,1 wanted to know my view on it. I have said so many good things about it to him and heaped so much praise on it that he is confirmed in the great esteem owed to your excellent mind and profound judgement. Certainly you have understood whole volumes in a few words, and you have not omitted anything of what the most perfect morals and the [A I 22, p378] choicest politics could wish for, and of what the sciences and the arts more worthy of a sovereign could imagine. I am not telling you the tenth part of what I said to the king in your praise, in all mathematics, in history, chronology, geography and other areas in which your fine works make you a very noted figure in the present century and the one just finished. I am not flattering, and I tell you only what I think. I would be very glad to know the effect your discovery makes on China, and I have no doubt that this wise and great Emperor will do you proper justice there, as well as all the Jesuit fathers, among whom I would like you to give me some news about the state of Father Claude Philippe Grimaldi, namely whether he is alive, and if he has been believed Bishop of Perking, as has been written. He was my schoolboy and pupil. And he often wrote to me, even after his return to China or, better, to Goa. But my great distractions prevented me from maintaining communication. I beg you to give my very humble address to Her Majesty the Queen, and my respects to Mr Dombrezinski, and to Mr Jacquelot, Mr l'Enfant, and generally to all your learned and illustrious persons. I write in haste and am


1. That is, Leibniz's "Lettre sur l'education d'un prince" (1685-86), A IV 3, 542-557.

© Lloyd Strickland 2020