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[87] which lasted half a century, and have been the model of all such gatherings ever since. There Corneille read his tragedies before their public representation, and Bossuet preached there his first sermon. Out of the conversations at the Hotel de Rambouillet, in the desire to create something a little more solid, grew the meetings of literary men which Cardinal Richelieu organized into the French Academy. Though this was wholly a masculine body, its first prize was awarded to an essay by a woman, Mademoiselle De Scudery, and its great work, the French Dictionary, was initiated by a literary body of some eight hundred ladies, known as the Precieuses, and afterwards satirized by Moliere. They had two aims — to drive out indelicate expressions, in which for a time they succeeded, and to reform French spelling so that words should be spelled as they were pronounced. At one of their literary meetings Madame Leroi told M. Leclerc, then secretary of the Academy, that all French spelling needed to be simplified, and he accordingly took a pen, while the ladies proceeded to make out a long list of words, which is still preserved, anticipating the very changes that at last, under Voltaire, came to be generally accepted, and determined the modern French orthography. Alas! English spelling still awaits the eight hundred women who shall bring it back to common-sense.

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F. M. A. Voltaire (1)
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