Not surprisingly after his treatment in France, Voltaire was impressed by the English way of doing things. Freedom of speech, freedom of religion. A constitutional monarchy. He wrote a book about his experiences as soon as he got home after three years in exile.
Letters Concerning the English Nation went down very well with the English, but caused a scandal in France. Voltaire advocated freedom of worship and a constitutional monarchy along English lines, but succeeded only in outraging the French establishment. His book was banned and he was forced to go into exile again.
This is the old courtyard of the Royal Exchange, where men of all religions or none mixed freely in Voltaire’s time. Business in the City of London is done by computer nowadays, so the old trading floor has been turned into an upmarket restaurant. After a series of reconstructions, only the Turkish paving stones remain from the original 16th century building.
In 1764, a family of foreign musicians came in here to witness the Royal Exchange in action. They were just as amazed as Voltaire at what they saw. The family’s father noted that the courtyard was even bigger than the one at the Mirabell Palace in Salzburg.
Every available space was full of traders doing business. Even the Royal Exchange’s trade directory was ‘the thickness of two fingers’. The family was deeply impressed.
HISTORIC LONDON: X MARKS THE SPOT. Question 89. The youngest member of this musical family enjoyed his stay in London so much that he exulted in British military victories for the rest of his life. He sometimes even described himself as a dyed-in-the-wool Englishman. Who was he?
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