The habit of absolute rule, always dangerous, was peculiarly corrupting when it penetrated every department of daily life, and when no external interference checked individual caprice in its action on the feelings and fortunes of inferiors.
Voltaire was not humble enough to be a mere butt, as many of Frederick's led poets were; he was not enough of a gentleman to hold his own place with dignity and discretion; he was constantly jealous both of his equals in age and reputation, such as Maupertuis, and of his juniors and inferiors, such as Baculard D'Arnaud.
It is doubtful whether his last and fatal visit to Paris was due to his own wish or to the instigation of his niece, Madame Denis; but this lady - a woman of disagreeable temper, especially to her inferiors - appears to have been rather hardly treated by Voltaire's earlier, and sometimes by his later, biographers.
Thus Plato remarks: "I see that the state in which the law is above the rulers, and the rulers are the inferiors of the law, has salvation."
Against these may be set the vices of pride, ostentation, love of bloodshed, contempt of inferiors, and loose manners.