The Confessions of Jean Jacques Rousseau, by Jean Jacques

That's French for "the ancient system," as in the ancient system of feudal privileges and the exercise of autocratic power over the peasants. The ancien regime never goes away, like vampires and dinosaur bones they are always hidden in the earth, exercising a mysterious influence. It is not paranoia to believe that the elites scheme against the common man. Inform yourself about their schemes here.

Re: The Confessions of Jean Jacques Rousseau, by Jean Jacque

Postby admin » Wed Aug 01, 2018 5:57 am

Part 1 of 3

BOOK V.

It was, I believe, in 1732, that I arrived at Chambery, as already related, and began my employment of registering land for the king. I was almost twenty-one, my mind well enough formed for my age, with respect to sense, but very deficient in point of judgment, and needing every instruction from those into whose hands I fell, to make me conduct myself with propriety; for a few years’ experience had not been able to cure me radically of my romantic ideas; and notwithstanding the ills I had sustained, I knew as little of the world, or mankind, as if I had never purchased instruction. I slept at home, that is, at the house of Madam de Warens; but it was not as at Annecy: here were no gardens, no brook, no landscape; the house was dark and dismal, and my apartment the most gloomy of the whole. The prospect a dead wall, an alley instead of a street, confined air, bad light, small rooms, iron bars, rats, and a rotten floor; an assemblage of circumstances that do not constitute a very agreeable habitation; but I was in the same house with my best friend, incessantly near her, at my desk, or in chamber, so that I could not perceive the gloominess of my own, or have time to think of it. It may appear whimsical that she should reside at Chambery on purpose to live in this disagreeable house; but it was a trait of contrivance which I ought not to pass over in silence. She had no great inclination for a journey to Turin, fearing that after the recent revolutions, and the agitation in which the court yet was, she should not be very favorably received there; but her affairs seemed to demand her presence, as she feared being forgotten or ill-treated, particularly as the Count de Saint-Laurent, Intendent-general of the Finances, was not in her interest. He had an old house in Chambery, ill-built, and standing in so disagreeable a situation that it was always untenanted; she hired, and settled in this house, a plan that succeeded much better than a journey to Turin would have done, for her pension was not suppressed, and the Count de Saint-Laurent was ever after one of her best friends.

Her household was much on the old footing; her faithful Claude Anet still remained with her. He was, as I have before mentioned, a peasant of Moutru, who in his childhood had gathered herbs in Jura for the purpose of making Swiss tea; she had taken him into her service for his knowledge of drugs, finding it convenient to have a herbalist among her domestics. Passionately fond of the study of plants, he became a real botanist, and had he not died young, might have acquired as much fame in that science as he deserved for being an honest man. Serious even to gravity, and older than myself, he was to me a kind of tutor, commanding respect, and preserving me from a number of follies, for I dared not forget myself before him. He commanded it likewise from his mistress, who knew his understanding, uprightness, and inviolable attachment to herself, and returned it. Claude Anet was of an uncommon temper. I never encountered a similar disposition: he was slow, deliberate, and circumspect in his conduct; cold in his manner; laconic and sententious in his discourse; yet of an impetuosity in his passions, which (though careful to conceal) preyed upon him inwardly, and urged him to the only folly he ever committed; that folly, indeed, was terrible, it was poisoning himself. This tragic scene passed soon after my arrival, and opened my eyes to the intimacy that subsisted between Claude Anet and his mistress, for had not the information come from her, I should never have suspected it; yet, surely, if attachment, fidelity, and zeal, could merit such a recompense, it was due to him, and what further proves him worthy such a distinction, he never once abused her confidence. They seldom disputed, and their disagreements ever ended amicably; one, indeed, was not so fortunate; his mistress, in a passion, said something affronting, which not being able to digest, he consulted only with despair, and finding a bottle of laudanum at hand, drank it off; then went peaceably to bed, expecting to awake no more. Madam de Warens herself was uneasy, agitated, wandering about the house and happily—finding the phial empty—guessed the rest. Her screams, while flying to his assistance, alarmed me; she confessed all, implored my help, and was fortunate enough, after repeated efforts, to make him throw up the laudanum. Witness of this scene, I could not but wonder at my stupidity in never having suspected the connection; but Claude Anet was so discreet, that a more penetrating observer might have been deceived. Their reconciliation affected me, and added respect to the esteem I before felt for him. From this time I became, in some measure, his pupil, nor did I find myself the worse for his instruction.

I could not learn, without pain, that she lived in greater intimacy with another than with myself: it was a situation I had not even thought of, but (which was very natural) it hurt me to see another in possession of it. Nevertheless, instead of feeling any aversion to the person who had this advantage over me, I found the attachment I felt for her actually extend to him. I desired her happiness above all things, and since he was concerned in her plan of felicity, I was content he should be happy likewise. Meantime he perfectly entered into the views of his mistress; conceived a sincere friendship for me, and without affecting the authority his situation might have entitled him to, he naturally possessed that which his superior judgment gave him over mine. I dared do nothing he disproved of, but he was sure to disapprove only what merited disapprobation: thus we lived in an union which rendered us mutually happy, and which death alone could dissolve.

One proof of the excellence of this amiable woman’s character, is, that all those who loved her, loved each other; even jealousy and rivalship submitting to the more powerful sentiment with which she inspired them, and I never saw any of those who surrounded her entertain the least ill will among themselves. Let the reader pause a moment on this encomium, and if he can recollect any other woman who deserves it, let him attach himself to her, if he would obtain happiness.

From my arrival at Chambery to my departure for Paris, 1741, included an interval of eight or nine years, during which time I have few adventures to relate; my life being as simple as it was agreeable. This uniformity was precisely what was most wanting to complete the formation of my character, which continual troubles had prevented from acquiring any degree of stability. It was during this pleasing interval, that my unconnected, unfinished education, gained consistence, and made me what I have unalterably remained amid the storms with which I have since been surrounded.

The progress was slow, almost imperceptible, and attended by few memorable circumstances; yet it deserves to be followed and investigated.

At first, I was wholly occupied with my business, the constraint of a desk left little opportunity for other thoughts, the small portion of time I was at liberty was passed with my dear Madam de Warens, and not having leisure to read, I felt no inclination for it; but when my business (by daily repetition) became familiar, and my mind was less occupied, study again became necessary, and (as my desires were ever irritated by any difficulty that opposed the indulgence of them) might once more have become a passion, as at my master’s, had not other inclinations interposed and diverted it.

Though our occupation did not demand a very profound skill in arithmetic, it sometimes required enough to puzzle me. To conquer this difficulty, I purchased books which treated on that science, and learned well, for I now studied alone. Practical arithmetic extends further than is usually supposed if you would attain exact precision. There are operations of extreme length in which I have sometimes seen good geometricians lose themselves. Reflection, assisted by practice, gives clear ideas, and enables you to devise shorter methods, these inventions flatter our self-complacency, while their exactitude satisfies our understanding, and renders a study pleasant, which is, of itself, heavy and unentertaining. At length I became so expert as not to be puzzled by any question that was solvable by arithmetical calculation; and even now, while everything I formerly knew fades daily on my memory, this acquirement, in a great measure remains, through an interval of thirty years. A few days ago, in a journey I made to Davenport, being with my host at an arithmetical lesson given his children, I did (with pleasure, and without errors) a most complicated work. While setting down my figures, methought I was still at Chambery, still in my days of happiness—how far had I to look back for them!

The colored plans of our geometricians had given me a taste for drawing: accordingly I bought colors, and began by attempting flowers and landscapes. It was unfortunate that I had not talents for this art, for my inclination was much disposed to it, and while surrounded with crayons, pencils, and colors, I could have passed whole months without wishing to leave them. This amusement engaged me so much that they were obliged to force me from it; and thus it is with every inclination I give into, it continues to augment, till at length it becomes so powerful, that I lose sight of everything except the favorite amusement. Years have not been able to cure me of that fault, nay, have not even diminished it; for while I am writing this, behold me, like an old dotard, infatuated with another, to me useless study, which I do not understand, and which even those who have devoted their youthful days to the acquisition of, are constrained to abandon, at the age I am beginning with it.

At that time, the study I am now speaking of would have been well placed, the opportunity was good, and I had some temptation to profit by it; for the satisfaction I saw in the eyes of Anet, when he came home loaded with new discovered plants, set me two or three times on the point of going to herbalize with him, and I am almost certain that had I gone once, I should have been caught, and perhaps at this day might have been an excellent botanist, for I know no study more congenial to my natural inclination, than that of plants; the life I have led for these ten years past, in the country, being little more than a continual herbalizing, though I must confess, without object, and without improvement; but at the time I am now speaking of I had no inclination for botany, nay, I even despised, and was disgusted at the idea, considering it only as a fit study for an apothecary. Madam de Warens was fond of it merely for this purpose, seeking none but common plants to use in her medical preparations; thus botany, chemistry, and anatomy were confounded in my idea under the general denomination of medicine, and served to furnish me with pleasant sarcasms the whole day, which procured me, from time to time, a box on the ear, applied by Madam de Warens. Besides this, a very contrary taste grew up with me, and by degrees absorbed all others; this was music. I was certainly born for that science, I loved it from my infancy, and it was the only inclination I have constantly adhered to; but it is astonishing that what nature seemed to have designed me for should have cost so much pains to learn, and that I should acquire it so slowly, that after a whole life spent in the practice of this art, I could never attain to sing with any certainty at sight. What rendered the study of music more agreeable to me at that time, was, being able to practise it with Madam de Warens. In other respects our tastes were widely different: this was a point of coincidence, which I loved to avail myself of. She had no more objection to this than myself. I knew at that time almost as much of it as she did, and after two or three efforts, we could make shift to decipher an air. Sometimes, when I saw her busy at her furnace, I have said, “Here now is a charming duet, which seems made for the very purpose of spoiling your drugs;” her answer would be, “If you make me burn them, I’ll make you eat them:” thus disputing, I drew her to the harpsichord; the furnace was presently forgotten, the extract of juniper or wormwood calcined (which I cannot recollect without transport), and these scenes usually ended by her smearing my face with the remains of them.

It may easily be conjectured that I had plenty of employment to fill up my leisure hours; one amusement, however, found room, that was well worth all the rest.

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We lived in such a confined dungeon, that it was necessary sometimes to breathe the open air; Anet, therefore, engaged Madam de Warens to hire a garden in the suburbs, both for this purpose and the convenience of rearing plants, etc.; to this garden was added a summer-house, which was furnished in the customary manner; we sometimes dined, and I frequently slept, there. Insensibly I became attached to this little retreat, decorated it with books and prints, spending part of my time in ornamenting it during the absence of Madam de Warens, that I might surprise her the more agreeably on her return. Sometimes I quitted this dear friend, that I might enjoy the uninterrupted pleasure of thinking on her; this was a caprice I can neither excuse nor fully explain, I only know this really was the case, and therefore I avow it. I remember Madam de Luxembourg told me one day in raillery, of a man who used to leave his mistress that he might enjoy the satisfaction of writing to her; I answered, I could have been this man; I might have added, That I had done the very same.

I did not, however, find it necessary to leave Madam de Warens that I might love her the more ardently, for I was ever as perfectly free with her as when alone; an advantage I never enjoyed with any other person, man or woman, however I might be attached to them; but she was so often surrounded by company who were far from pleasing me, that spite and weariness drove me to this asylum, where I could indulge the idea, without danger of being interrupted by impertinence. Thus, my time being divided between business, pleasure, and instruction, my life passed in the most absolute serenity. Europe was not equally tranquil: France and the emperor had mutually declared war, the King of Sardinia had entered into the quarrel, and a French army had filed off into Piedmont to awe the Milanese. Our division passed through Chambery, and, among others, the regiment of Champaigne, whose colonel was the Duke de la Trimouille, to whom I was presented. He promised many things, but doubtless never more thought of me. Our little garden was exactly at the end of the suburb by which the troops entered, so that I could fully satisfy my curiosity in seeing them pass, and I became as anxious for the success of the war as if it had nearly concerned me. Till now I had never troubled myself about politics, for the first time I began reading the gazettes, but with so much partiality on the side of France, that my heart beat with rapture on its most trifling advantages, and I was as much afflicted on a reverse of fortune, as if I had been particularly concerned.

Had this folly been transient, I should not, perhaps, have mentioned it, but it took such root in my heart (without any reasonable cause) that when I afterwards acted the anti-despot and proud republican at Paris, in spite of myself, I felt a secret predilection for the nation I declared servile, and for that government I affected to oppose. The pleasantest of all was that, ashamed of an inclination so contrary to my professed maxims, I dared not own it to any one, but rallied the French on their defeats, while my heart was more wounded than their own. I am certainly the first man, that, living with a people who treated him well, and whom he almost adored, put on, even in their own country, a borrowed air of despising them; yet my original inclination is so powerful, constant, disinterested, and invincible, that even since my quitting that kingdom, since its government, magistrates, and authors, have outvied each other in rancor against me, since it has become fashionable to load me with injustice and abuse, I have not been able to get rid of this folly, but notwithstanding their ill-treatment, love them in spite of myself.

I long sought the cause of this partiality, but was never able to find any, except in the occasion that gave it birth. A rising taste for literature attached me to French books, to their authors, and their country: at the very moment the French troops were passing Chambery, I was reading Brantome’s ‘Celebrated Captains’; my head was full of the Clissons, Bayards, Lautrecs, Colignys, Montmorenceys, and Trimouille, and I loved their descendants as the heirs of their merit and courage. In each regiment that passed by methought I saw those famous black bands who had formerly done so many noble exploits in Piedmont; in fine, I applied to these all the ideas I had gathered from books; my reading continued, which, still drawn from the same nation, nourished my affection for that country, till, at length, it became a blind passion, which nothing could overcome. I have had occasion to remark several times in the course of my travels, that this impression was not peculiar to me for France, but was more or less active in every country, for that part of the nation who were fond of literature, and cultivated learning; and it was this consideration that balanced in my mind the general hatred which the conceited air of the French is so apt to inspire. Their romances, more than their men, attract the women of all countries, and the celebrated dramatic pieces of France create a fondness in youth for their theaters; the reputation which that of Paris in particular has acquired, draws to it crowds of strangers, who return enthusiasts to their own country: in short, the excellence of their literature captivates the senses, and in the unfortunate war just ended, I have seen their authors and philosophers maintain the glory of France, so tarnished by its warriors.

I was, therefore, an ardent Frenchman; this rendered me a politician, and I attended in the public square, amid a throng of news-mongers, the arrival of the post, and, sillier than the ass in the fable, was very uneasy to know whose packsaddle I should next have the honor to carry, for it was then supposed we should belong to France, and that Savoy would be exchanged for Milan. I must confess, however, that I experienced some uneasiness, for had this war terminated unfortunately for the allies, the pension of Madam de Warens would have been in a dangerous situation; nevertheless, I had great confidence in my good friends, the French, and for once (in spite of the surprise of M. de Broglio) my confidence was not ill-founded—thanks to the King of Sardinia, whom I had never thought of.

While we were fighting in Italy, they were singing in France: the operas of Rameau began to make a noise there, and once more raise the credit of his theoretic works, which, from their obscurity, were within the compass of very few understandings. By chance I heard of his ‘Treatise on Harmony’, and had no rest till I purchased it. By another chance I fell sick; my illness was inflammatory, short and violent, but my convalescence was tedious, for I was unable to go abroad for a whole month. During this time I eagerly ran over my Treatise on Harmony, but it was so long, so diffuse, and so badly disposed, that I found it would require a considerable time to unravel it: accordingly I suspended my inclination, and recreated my sight with music.

The cantatas of Bernier were what I principally exercised myself with. These were never out of my mind; I learned four or five by heart, and among the rest, ‘The Sleeping Cupids’, which I have never seen since that time, though I still retain it almost entirely; as well as ‘Cupid Stung by a Bee’, a very pretty cantata by Clerambault, which I learned about the same time.

To complete me, there arrived a young organist from Valdoste, called the Abbe Palais, a good musician and an agreeable companion, who performed very well on the harpsichord; I got acquainted with him, and we soon became inseparable. He had been brought up by an Italian monk, who was a capital organist. He explained to me his principles of music, which I compared with Rameau; my head was filled with accompaniments, concords and harmony, but as it was necessary to accustom the ear to all this, I proposed to Madam de Warens having a little concert once a month, to which she consented.

Behold me then so full of this concert, that night or day I could think of nothing else, and it actually employed a great part of my time to select the music, assemble the musicians, look to the instruments, and write out the several parts. Madam de Warens sang; Father Cato (whom I have before mentioned, and shall have occasion to speak of again) sang likewise; a dancing-master named Roche, and his son, played on the violin; Canavas, a Piedmontese musician (who was employed like myself in the survey, and has since married at Paris), played on the violoncello; the Abbe Palais performed on the harpsichord, and I had the honor to conduct the whole. It may be supposed all this was charming; I cannot say it equalled my concert at Monsieur de Tretoren’s, but certainly it was not far behind it.

This little concert, given by Madam de Warens, the new convert, who lived (it was expressed) on the king’s charity, made the whole tribe of devotees murmur, but was a very agreeable amusement to several worthy people, at the head of whom it would not be easily surmised that I should place a monk; yet, though a monk, a man of considerable merit, and even of a very amiable disposition, whose subsequent misfortunes gave me the most lively concern, and whose idea, attached to that of my happy days, is yet dear to my memory. I speak of Father Cato, a Cordelier, who, in conjunction with the Count d’Ortan, had caused the music of poor Le Maitre to be seized at Lyons; which action was far from being the brightest trait in his history. He was a Bachelor of Sorbonne, had lived long in Paris among the great world, and was particularly caressed by the Marquis d’Antremont, then Ambassador from Sardinia. He was tall and well made; full faced, with very fine eyes, and black hair, which formed natural curls on each side of his forehead. His manner was at once noble, open, and modest; he presented himself with ease and good manners, having neither the hypocritical nor impudent behavior of a monk, or the forward assurance of a fashionable coxcomb, but the manners of a well-bred man, who, without blushing for his habit, set a value on himself, and ever felt in his proper situation when in good company. Though Father Cato was not deeply studied for a doctor, he was much so for a man of the world, and not being compelled to show his talents, he brought them forward so advantageously that they appeared greater than they really were. Having lived much in the world, he had rather attached himself to agreeable acquirements than to solid learning; had sense, made verses, spoke well, sang better, and aided his good voice by playing on the organ and harpsichord. So many pleasing qualities were not necessary to make his company sought after, and, accordingly, it was very much so, but this did not make him neglect the duties of his function: he was chosen (in spite of his jealous competitors) Definitor of his Province, or, according to them, one of the greatest pillars of their order.

Father Cato became acquainted with Madam de Warens at the Marquis of Antremont’s; he had heard of her concerts, wished to assist at them, and by his company rendered our meetings truly agreeable. We were soon attached to each other by our mutual taste for music, which in both was a most lively passion, with this difference, that he was really a musician, and myself a bungler. Sometimes assisted by Canavas and the Abbe Palais, we had music in his apartment; or on holidays at his organ, and frequently dined with him; for, what was very astonishing in a monk, he was generous, profuse, and loved good cheer, without the least tincture of greediness. After our concerts, he always used to stay to supper, and these evenings passed with the greatest gayety and good-humor; we conversed with the utmost freedom, and sang duets; I was perfectly at my ease, had sallies of wit and merriment; Father Cato was charming, Madam de Warens adorable, and the Abbe Palais, with his rough voice, was the butt of the company. Pleasing moments of sportive youth, how long since have ye fled!

As I shall have no more occasion to speak of poor Father Cato, I will here conclude in a few words his melancholy history. His brother monks, jealous, or rather exasperated to discover in him a merit and elegance of manners which favored nothing of monastic stupidity, conceived the most violent hatred to him, because he was not as despicable as themselves; the chiefs, therefore, combined against this worthy man, and set on the envious rabble of monks, who otherwise would not have dared to hazard the attack. He received a thousand indignities; they degraded him from his office, took away the apartment which he had furnished with elegant simplicity, and, at length, banished him, I know not whither: in short, these wretches overwhelmed him with so many evils, that his honest and proud soul sank under the pressure, and, after having been the delight of the most amiable societies, he died of grief, on a wretched bed, hid in some cell or dungeon, lamented by all worthy people of his acquaintance, who could find no fault in him, except his being a monk.

Accustomed to this manner of life for some time, I became so entirely attached to music that I could think of nothing else. I went to my business with disgust, the necessary confinement and assiduity appeared an insupportable punishment, which I at length wished to relinquish, that I might give myself up without reserve to my favorite amusement. It will be readily believed that this folly met with some opposition; to give up a creditable employment and fixed salary to run after uncertain scholars was too giddy a plan to be approved of by Madam de Warens, and even supposing my future success should prove as great as I flattered myself, it was fixing very humble limits to my ambition to think of reducing myself for life to the condition of a music-master. She, who formed for me the brightest projects, and no longer trusted implicitly to the judgment of M. d’Aubonne, seeing with concern that I was so seriously occupied with a talent which she thought frivolous, frequently repeated to me that provincial proverb, which does not hold quite so good in Paris,

“Qui biens chante et biens dance,
fait un metier qui peu avance.”

[He who can sweetly sing and featly dance,
His interests right little shall advance.]


On the other hand, she saw me hurried away by this irresistible passion, my taste for music having become a furor, and it was much to be feared that my employment, suffering by my distraction, might draw on me a discharge, which would be worse than a voluntary resignation. I represented to her; that this employment could not last long, that it was necessary I should have some permanent means of subsistence, and that it would be much better to complete by practice the acquisition of that art to which my inclination led me than to make fresh essays, which possibly might not succeed, since by this means, having passed the age most proper for improvement, I might be left without a single resource for gaining a livelihood: in short, I extorted her consent more by importunity and caresses than by any satisfactory reasons. Proud of my success, I immediately ran to thank M. Coccelli, Director-General of the Survey, as though I had performed the most heroic action, and quitted my employment without cause, reason, or pretext, with as much pleasure as I had accepted it two years before.

This step, ridiculous as it may appear, procured me a kind of consideration, which I found extremely useful. Some supposed I had resources which I did not possess; others, seeing me totally given up to music, judged of my abilities by the sacrifice I had made, and concluded that with such a passion for the art, I must possess it in a superior degree. In a nation of blind men, those with one eye are kings. I passed here for an excellent master, because all the rest were very bad ones. Possessing taste in singing, and being favored by my age and figure, I soon procured more scholars than were sufficient to compensate for the losses of my secretary’s pay. It is certain, that had it been reasonable to consider the pleasure of my situation only, it was impossible to pass more speedily from one extreme to the other. At our measuring, I was confined eight hours in the day to the most unentertaining employment, with yet more disagreeable company. Shut up in a melancholy counting-house, empoisoned by the smell and respiration of a number of clowns, the major part of whom were ill-combed and very dirty, what with attention, bad air, constraint and weariness, I was sometimes so far overcome as to occasion a vertigo. Instead of this, behold me admitted into the fashionable world, sought after in the first houses, and everywhere received with an air of satisfaction; amiable and gay young ladies awaiting my arrival, and welcoming me with pleasure; I see nothing but charming objects, smell nothing but roses and orange flowers; singing, chatting, laughter, and amusements, perpetually succeed each other. It must be allowed, that reckoning all these advantages, no hesitation was necessary in the choice; in fact, I was so content with mine, that I never once repented it; nor do I even now, when, free from the irrational motives that influenced me at that time, I weigh in the scale of reason every action of my life.

This is, perhaps, the only time that, listening to inclination, I was not deceived in my expectations. The easy access, obliging temper, and free humor of this country, rendered a commerce with the world agreeable, and the inclination I then felt for it, proves to me, that if I have a dislike for society, it is more their fault than mine. It is a pity the Savoyards are not rich: though, perhaps, it would be a still greater pity if they were so, for altogether they are the best, the most sociable people that I know, and if there is a little city in the world where the pleasures of life are experienced in an agreeable and friendly commerce, it is at Chambery. The gentry of the province who assemble there have only sufficient wealth to live and not enough to spoil them; they cannot give way to ambition, but follow, through necessity, the counsel of Cyneas, devoting their youth to a military employment, and returning home to grow old in peace; an arrangement over which honor and reason equally preside. The women are handsome, yet do not stand in need of beauty, since they possess all those qualifications which enhance its value and even supply the want of it. It is remarkable, that being obliged by my profession to see a number of young girls, I do not recollect one at Chambery but what was charming: it will be said I was disposed to find them so, and perhaps there may be some truth in the surmise. I cannot remember my young scholars without pleasure. Why, in naming the most amiable, cannot I recall them and myself also to that happy age in which our moments, pleasing as innocent, were passed with such happiness together? The first was Mademoiselle de Mallarede, my neighbor, and sister to a pupil of Monsieur Gaime. She was a fine clear brunette, lively and graceful, without giddiness; thin as girls of that age usually are; but her bright eyes, fine shape, and easy air, rendered her sufficiently pleasing with that degree of plumpness which would have given a heightening to her charms. I went there of mornings, when she was usually in her dishabille, her hair carelessly turned up, and, on my arrival, ornamented with a flower, which was taken off at my departure for her hair to be dressed. There is nothing I fear so much as a pretty woman in an elegant dishabille; I should dread them a hundred times less in full dress. Mademoiselle de Menthon, whom I attended in the afternoon, was ever so. She made an equally pleasing, but quite different impression on me. Her hair was flaxen, her person delicate, she was very timid and extremely fair, had a clear voice, capable of just modulation, but which she had not courage to employ to its full extent. She had the mark of a scald on her bosom, which a scanty piece of blue chenille did not entirely cover, this scar sometimes drew my attention, though not absolutely on its own account. Mademoiselle des Challes, another of my neighbors, was a woman grown, tall, well-formed, jolly, very pleasing though not a beauty, and might be quoted for her gracefulness, equal temper, and good humor. Her sister, Madam de Charly, the handsomest woman of Chambery, did not learn music, but I taught her daughter, who was yet young, but whose growing beauty promised to equal her mother’s, if she had not unfortunately been a little red-haired. I had likewise among my scholars a little French lady, whose name I have forgotten, but who merits a place in my list of preferences. She had adopted the slow drawling tone of the nuns, in which voice she would utter some very keen things, which did not in the least appear to correspond with her manner; but she was indolent, and could not generally take pains to show her wit, that being a favor she did not grant to every one. After a month or two of negligent attendance, this was an expedient she devised to make me more assiduous, for I could not easily persuade myself to be so. When with my scholars, I was fond enough of teaching, but could not bear the idea of being obliged to attend at a particular hour; constraint and subjection in every shape are to me insupportable, and alone sufficient to make me hate even pleasure itself.
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Re: The Confessions of Jean Jacques Rousseau, by Jean Jacque

Postby admin » Wed Aug 01, 2018 5:58 am

Part 2 of 3

I had some scholars likewise among the tradespeople, and, among others, one who was the indirect cause of a change of relationship, which (as I have promised to declare all) I must relate in its place. She was the daughter of a grocer, and was called Mademoiselle de Larnage, a perfect model for a Grecian statue, and whom I should quote for the handsomest girl I have ever seen, if true beauty could exist without life or soul. Her indolence, reserve, and insensibility were inconceivable; it was equally impossible to please or make her angry, and I am convinced that had any one formed a design upon her virtue, he might have succeeded, not through her inclination, but from her stupidity. Her mother, who would run no risk of this, did not leave her a single moment. In having her taught to sing and providing a young master, she had hoped to enliven her, but it all proved ineffectual. While the master was admiring the daughter, the mother was admiring the master, but this was equally lost labor. Madam de Larnage added to her natural vivacity that portion of sprightliness which should have belonged to the daughter. She was a little, ugly, lively trollop, with small twinkling ferret eyes, and marked with smallpox. On my arrival in the morning, I always found my coffee and cream ready, and the mother never failed to welcome me with a kiss on the lips, which I would willingly have returned the daughter, to see how she would have received it. All this was done with such an air of carelessness and simplicity, that even when M. de Larnage was present, her kisses and caresses were not omitted. He was a good quiet fellow, the true original of his daughter; nor did his wife endeavor to deceive him, because there was absolutely no occasion for it.

I received all these caresses with my usual stupidity, taking them only for marks of pure friendship, though they were sometimes troublesome; for the lively Madam Lard was displeased, if, during the day, I passed the shop without calling; it became necessary, therefore (when I had no time to spare), to go out of my way through another street, well knowing it was not so easy to quit her house as to enter it.

Madam Lard thought so much of me, that I could not avoid thinking something of her. Her attentions affected me greatly; and I spoke of them to Madam de Warens, without supposing any mystery in the matter, but had there been one I should equally have divulged it, for to have kept a secret of any kind from her would have been impossible. My heart lay as open to Madam de Warens as to Heaven. She did not understand the matter quite so simply as I had done, but saw advances where I only discovered friendship. She concluded that Madam Lard would make a point of not leaving me as great a fool as she found me, and, some way or other, contrive to make herself understood; but exclusive of the consideration that it was not just, that another should undertake the instruction of her pupil, she had motives more worthy of her, wishing to guard me against the snares to which my youth and inexperience exposed me. Meantime, a more dangerous temptation offered which I likewise escaped, but which proved to her that such a succession of dangers required every preservative she could possibly apply.

The Countess of Menthon, mother to one of my scholars, was a woman of great wit, and reckoned to possess, at least, an equal share of mischief, having (as was reported) caused a number of quarrels, and, among others, one that terminated fatally for the house of D’Antremont. Madam de Warens had seen enough of her to know her character: for having (very innocently) pleased some person to whom Madam de Menthon had pretensions, she found her guilty of the crime of this preference, though Madam de Warens had neither sought after nor accepted it, and from that moment endeavored to play her rival a number of ill turns, none of which succeeded. I shall relate one of the most whimsical, by way of specimen.

They were together in the country, with several gentlemen of the neighborhood, and among the rest the lover in question. Madam de Menthon took an opportunity to say to one of these gentlemen, that Madam de Warens was a prude, that she dressed ill, and particularly that she covered her neck like a tradeswoman. “O, for that matter,” replied the person she was speaking to (who was fond of a joke), “she has good reason, for I know she is marked with a great ugly rat on her bosom, so naturally, that it even appears to be running.” Hatred, as well as love, renders its votaries credulous. Madam de Menthon resolved to make use of this discovery, and one day, while Madam de Warens was at cards with this lady’s ungrateful favorite, she contrived, in passing behind her rival, almost to overset the chair she sat on, and at the same instant, very dexterously displaced her handkerchief; but instead of this hideous rat, the gentleman beheld a far different object, which it was not more easy to forget than to obtain a sight of, and which by no means answered the intentions of the lady.

I was not calculated to engross the attention of Madam de Menthon, who loved to be surrounded by brilliant company; notwithstanding she bestowed some attention on me, not for the sake of my person, which she certainly did not regard, but for the reputation of wit which I had acquired, and which might have rendered me convenient to her predominant inclination. She had a very lively passion for ridicule, and loved to write songs and lampoons on those who displeased her: had she found me possessed of sufficient talents to aid the fabrication of her verses, and complaisance enough to do so, we should presently have turned Chambery upside down; these libels would have been traced to their source, Madam de Menthon would have saved herself by sacrificing me, and I should have been cooped up in prison, perhaps, for the rest of my life, as a recompense for having figured away as the Apollo of the ladies. Fortunately, nothing of this kind happened; Madam de Menthon made me stay for dinner two or three days, to chat with me, and soon found I was too dull for her purpose. I felt this myself, and was humiliated at the discovery, envying the talents of my friend Venture; though I should rather have been obliged to my stupidity for keeping me out of the reach of danger. I remained, therefore, Madam de Menthon’s daughter’s singing-master, and nothing more! but I lived happily, and was ever well received at Chambery, which was a thousand times more desirable than passing for a wit with her, and for a serpent with everybody else.

However this might be, Madam de Warens conceived it necessary to guard me from the perils of youth by treating me as a man: this she immediately set about, but in the most extraordinary manner that any woman, in similar circumstances, ever devised. I all at once observed that her manner was graver, and her discourse more moral than usual. To the playful gayety with which she used to intermingle her instructions suddenly succeeded an uniformity of manner, neither familiar nor severe, but which seemed to prepare me for some explanation. After having vainly racked my brain for the reason of this change, I mentioned it to her; this she had expected and immediately proposed a walk to our garden the next day. Accordingly we went there the next morning; she had contrived that we should remain alone the whole day, which she employed in preparing me for those favors she meant to bestow; not as another woman would have done, by toying and folly, but by discourses full of sentiment and reason, rather tending to instruct than seduce, and which spoke more to my heart than to my senses. Meantime, however excellent and to the purpose these discourses might be, and though far enough from coldness or melancholy, I did not listen to them with all the attention they merited, nor fix them in my memory as I should have done at any other time. That air of preparation which she had adopted gave me a degree of inquietude; while she spoke (in spite of myself) I was thoughtful and absent, attending less to what she said than curious to know what she aimed at; and no sooner had I comprehended her design (which I could not easily do) than the novelty of the idea, which, during all the years I had passed with her, had never once entered my imagination, took such entire possession of me that I was no longer capable of minding what she said! I only thought of her; I heard her no longer.

Thinking to render young minds attentive to reason by proposing some highly interesting object as the result of it, is an error instructors frequently run into, and one which I have not avoided in my Umilius. The young pupil, struck with the object presented to him, is occupied only with that, and leaping lightly over your preliminary discourses, lights at once on the point, to which, in his idea, you lead him too tediously. To render him attentive, he must be prevented from seeing the whole of your design; and, in this particular, Madam de Warens did not act with sufficient precaution.

By a singularity which adhered to her systematic disposition, she took the vain precaution of proposing conditions; but the moment I knew the purchase, I no longer even heard them, but immediately consented to everything; and I doubt whether there is a man on the whole earth who would have been sincere or courageous enough to dispute terms, or one single woman who would have pardoned such a dispute. By a continuation of the same whimsicality, she attached a number of the gravest formalities to the acquisition of her favors, and gave me eight days to think of them, which I assured her I had no need of, though that assurance was far from a truth: for to complete this assemblage of singularities, I was very glad to have this intermission; so much had the novelty of these ideas struck me, and such disorder did I feel in mine, that it required time to arrange them.

It will be supposed, that these eight days appeared to me as many ages; on the contrary, I should have been very glad had the time been lengthened. I find it difficult to describe the state I found myself in; it was a strange chaos of fear and impatience, dreading what I desired, and studying some civil pretext to evade my happiness.

Let the warmth of my constitution be remembered, my age, and my heart intoxicated with love; let my tender attachment to her be supposed, which, far from having diminished, had daily gained additional strength; let it be considered that I was only happy when with her, that my heart was full, not only of her bounty, of her amiable disposition, but of her shape, of her person, of herself; in a word, conceive me united to her by every affinity that could possibly render her dear; nor let it be supposed, that, being ten or twelve years older than myself, she began to grow an old woman, or was so in my opinion. From the time the first sight of her had made such an impression on me, she had really altered very little, and, in my mind, not at all. To me she was ever charming, and was still thought so by everyone. She had got something jollier, but had the same fine eyes, the same clear complexion, the same features, the same beautiful light hair, the sane gayety, and even the same voice, whose youthful and silvery sound made so lively an impression on my heart, that, even to this day, I cannot hear a young woman’s voice, that is at all harmonious, without emotion. It will be seen, that in a more advanced age, the bare idea of some trifling favors I had to expect from the person I loved, inflamed me so far, that I could not support, with any degree of patience, the time necessary to traverse the short space that separated us; how then, by what miracle, when in the flower of my youth, had I so little impatience for a happiness I had never tasted but in idea? How could I see the moment advancing with more pain than pleasure? Why, instead of transports that should have intoxicated me with their deliciousness, did I experience only fears and repugnance? I have no doubt that if I could have avoided this happiness with any degree of decency, I should have relinquished it with all my heart. I have promised a number of extravagancies in the history of my attachment to her; this certainly is one that no idea could be formed of.

The reader (already disgusted) supposes, that being in the situation I have before described with Claude Anet, she was already degraded in my opinion by this participation of her favors, and that a sentiment of disesteem weakened those she had before inspired me with; but he is mistaken. ‘Tis true that this participation gave me a cruel uneasiness, as well from a very natural sentiment of delicacy, as because it appeared unworthy both of her and myself; but as to my sentiments for her, they were still the same, and I can solemnly aver, that I never loved her more tenderly than when I felt so little propensity to avail myself of her condescension. I was too well acquainted with the chastity of her heart and the iciness of her constitution, to suppose a moment that the gratification of the senses had any influence over her; I was well convinced that her only motive was to guard me from dangers, which appeared otherwise inevitable, by this extraordinary favor, which she did not consider in the same light that women usually do; as will presently be explained.

The habit of living a long time innocently together, far from weakening the first sentiments I felt for her, had contributed to strengthen them, giving a more lively, a more tender, but at the same time a less sensual, turn to my affection. Having ever accustomed myself to call her Mama (as formerly observed) and enjoying the familiarity of a son, it became natural to consider myself as such, and I am inclined to think this was the true reason of that insensibility with a person I so tenderly loved; for I can perfectly recollect that my emotions on first seeing her, though not more lively, were more voluptuous: At Annecy I was intoxicated, at Chambery I possessed my reason. I always loved her as passionately as possible, but I now loved her more for herself and less on my own account; or, at least, I rather sought for happiness than pleasure in her company. She was more to me than a sister, a mother, a friend, or even than a mistress, and for this very reason she was not a mistress; in a word, I loved her too much to desire her.

This day, more dreaded than hoped for, at length arrived. I have before observed, that I promised everything that was required of me, and I kept my word: my heart confirmed my engagements without desiring the fruits, though at length I obtained them. Was I happy? No: I felt I know not what invincible sadness which empoisoned my happiness, it seemed that I had committed an incest, and two or three times, pressing her eagerly in my arms, I deluged her bosom with my tears. On her part, as she had never sought pleasure, she had not the stings of remorse.

I repeat it, all her failings were the effect of her errors, never of her passions. She was well born, her heart was pure, her manners noble, her desires regular and virtuous, her taste delicate; she seemed formed for that elegant purity of manners which she ever loved, but never practised, because instead of listening to the dictates of her heart, she followed those of her reason, which led her astray: for when once corrupted by false principles it will ever run counter to its natural sentiments. Unhappily, she piqued herself on philosophy, and the morals she drew from thence clouded the genuine purity of her heart.

M. Tavel, her first lover, was also her instructor in this philosophy, and the principles he instilled into her mind were such as tended to seduce her. Finding her cold and impregnable on the side of her passions, and firmly attached to her husband and her duty, he attacked her by sophisms, endeavoring to prove that the list of duties she thought so sacred, was but a sort of catechism, fit only for children. That the kind of infidelity she thought so terrible, was, in itself, absolutely indifferent; that all the morality of conjugal faith consisted in opinion, the contentment of husbands being the only reasonable rule of duty in wives; consequently that concealed infidelities, doing no injury, could be no crime; in a word, he persuaded her that the sin consisted only in the scandal, that woman being really virtuous who took care to appear so. Thus the deceiver obtained his end in the subverting the reason of a girl; whose heart he found it impossible to corrupt, and received his punishment in a devouring jealousy, being persuaded she would treat him as he had prevailed on her to treat her husband.

I don’t know whether he was mistaken in this respect: the Minister Perret passed for his successor; all I know, is, that the coldness of temperament which it might have been supposed would have kept her from embracing this system, in the end prevented her from renouncing it. She could not conceive how so much importance should be given to what seemed to have none for her; nor could she honor with the name of virtue, an abstinence which would have cost her little.

She did not, therefore, give in to this false principle on her own account, but for the sake of others; and that from another maxim almost as false as the former, but more consonant to the generosity of her disposition.

She was persuaded that nothing could attach a man so truly to any woman as an unbounded freedom, and though she was only susceptible of friendship, this friendship was so tender, that she made use of every means which depended on her to secure the objects of it, and, which is very extraordinary, almost always succeeded: for she was so truly amiable, that an increase of intimacy was sure to discover additional reasons to love and respect her. Another thing worthy of remark is, that after her first folly, she only favored the unfortunate. Lovers in a more brilliant station lost their labor with her, but the man who at first attracted her pity, must have possessed very few good qualities if in the end he did not obtain her affection. Even when she made an unworthy choice, far from proceeding from base inclinations (which were strangers to her noble heart) it was the effect of a disposition too generous, humane, compassionate, and sensible, which she did not always govern with sufficient discernment.

If some false principles misled her, how many admirable ones did she not possess, which never forsook her! By how many virtues did she atone for her failings! if we can call by that name errors in which the senses had so little share. The man who in one particular deceived her so completely, had given her excellent instructions in a thousand others; and her passions, being far from turbulent, permitted her to follow the dictates. She ever acted wisely when her sophisms did not intervene, and her designs were laudable even in her failings. False principles might lead her to do ill, but she never did anything which she conceived to be wrong. She abhorred lying and duplicity, was just, equitable, humane, disinterested, true to her word, her friends, and those duties which she conceived to be such; incapable of hatred or revenge, and not even conceiving there was a merit in pardoning; in fine (to return to those qualities which were less excusable), though she did not properly value, she never made a vile commerce of her favors; she lavished, but never sold them, though continually reduced to expedients for a subsistence: and I dare assert, that if Socrates could esteem Aspasia, he would have respected Madam de Warens.

I am well aware that ascribing sensibility of heart with coldness of temperament to the same person, I shall generally, and with great appearance of reason, be accused of a contradiction. Perhaps Nature sported or blundered, and this combination ought not to have existed; I only know it did exist. All those who know Madam de Warens (a great number of whom are yet living) have had opportunities of knowing this was a fact; I dare even aver she had but one pleasure in the world, which was serving those she loved. Let every one argue on the point as he pleases, and gravely prove that this cannot be; my business is to declare the truth, and not to enforce a belief of it.

I became acquainted with the particulars I have just related, in those conversations which succeeded our union, and alone rendered it delicious. She was right when she concluded her complaisance would be useful to me; I derived great advantages from it in point of useful instruction. Hitherto she had used me as a child, she now began to treat me as a man, and entertain me with accounts of herself. Everything she said was so interesting, and I was so sensibly touched with it, that, reasoning with myself, I applied these confidential relations to my own improvement and received more instruction from them than from her teaching. When we truly feel that the heart speaks, our own opens to receive its instructions, nor can all the pompous morality of a pedagogue have half the effect that is produced by the tender, affectionate, and artless conversation of a sensible woman on him who loves her.

The intimacy in which I lived with Madam de Warens, having placed me more advantageously in her opinion than formerly, she began to think (notwithstanding my awkward manner) that I deserved cultivation for the polite world, and that if I could one day show myself there in an eligible situation, I should soon be able to make my way. In consequence of this idea, she set about forming not only my judgment, but my address, endeavoring to render me amiable, as well as estimable; and if it is true that success in this world is consistent with strict virtue (which, for my part, I do not believe), I am certain there is no other road than that she had taken, and wished to point out to me. For Madam de Warens knew mankind, and understood exquisitely well the art of treating all ranks, without falsehood, and without imprudence, neither deceiving nor provoking them; but this art was rather in her disposition than her precepts, she knew better how to practise than explain it, and I was of all the world the least calculated to become master of such an attainment; accordingly, the means employed for this purpose were nearly lost labor, as well as the pains she took to procure me a fencing and a dancing master.

Though very well made, I could never learn to dance a minuet; for being plagued with corns, I had acquired a habit of walking on my heels, which Roche, the dancing master, could never break me of. It was still worse at the fencing-school, where, after three months’ practice, I made but very little progress, and could never attempt fencing with any but my master. My wrist was not supple enough, nor my arm sufficiently firm to retain the foil, whenever he chose to make it fly out of my hand. Add to this, I had a mortal aversion both to the art itself and to the person who undertook to teach it to me, nor should I ever have imagined, that anyone could have been so proud of the science of sending men out of the world. To bring this vast genius within the compass of my comprehension, he explained himself by comparisons drawn from music, which he understood nothing of. He found striking analogies between a hit in ‘quarte’ or ‘tierce’ with the intervals of music which bears those names: when he made a feint he cried out, “take care of this ‘diesis’,” because anciently they called the ‘diesis’ a feint: and when he had made the foil fly from my hand, he would add, with a sneer, that this was a pause: in a word, I never in my life saw a more insupportable pedant.

I made, therefore, but little progress in my exercises, which I presently quitted from pure disgust; but I succeeded better in an art of a thousand times more value, namely, that of being content with my situation, and not desiring one more brilliant, for which I began to be persuaded that Nature had not designed me. Given up to the endeavor of rendering Madam de Warens happy, I was ever best pleased when in her company, and, notwithstanding my fondness for music, began to grudge the time I employed in giving lessons to my scholars.

I am ignorant whether Anet perceived the full extent of our union; but I am inclined to think he was no stranger to it. He was a young man of great penetration, and still greater discretion; who never belied his sentiments, but did not always speak them: without giving me the least hint that he was acquainted with our intimacy, he appeared by his conduct to be so; nor did this moderation proceed from baseness of soul, but, having entered entirely into the principles of his mistress, he could not reasonably disapprove of the natural consequences of them. Though as young as herself, he was so grave and thoughtful, that he looked on us as two children who required indulgence, and we regarded him as a respectable man, whose esteem we had to preserve. It was not until after she was unfaithful to Anet, that I learned the strength of her attachment to him. She was fully sensible that I only thought, felt, or lived for her; she let me see, therefore, how much she loved Anet, that I might love him likewise, and dwell less on her friendship, than on her esteem, for him, because this was the sentiment that I could most fully partake of. How often has she affected our hearts and made us embrace with tears, by assuring us that we were both necessary to her happiness! Let not women read this with an ill-natured smile; with the temperament she possessed, this necessity was not equivocal, it was only that of the heart.

Thus there was established, among us three, a union without example, perhaps, on the face of the earth. All our wishes, our cares, our very hearts, were for each other, and absolutely confined to this little circle. The habit of living together, and living exclusively from the rest of the world, became so strong, that if at our repasts one of the three was wanting, or a fourth person came in, everything seemed deranged; and, notwithstanding our particular attachments, even our tete-a-tete were less agreeable than our reunion. What banished every species of constraint from our little community, was a lively reciprocal confidence, and dulness or insipidity could find no place among us, because we were always fully employed. Madam de Warens always projecting, always busy, left us no time for idleness, though, indeed, we had each sufficient employment on our own account. It is my maxim, that idleness is as much the pest of society as of solitude. Nothing more contracts the mind, or engenders more tales, mischief, gossiping, and lies, than for people to be eternally shut up in the same apartment together, and reduced, from the want of employment, to the necessity of an incessant chat. When every one is busy (unless you have really something to say), you may continue silent; but if you have nothing to do, you must absolutely speak continually, and this, in my mind, is the most burdensome and the most dangerous constraint. I will go further, and maintain, that to render company harmless, as well as agreeable, it is necessary, not only that they should have something to do, but something that requires a degree of attention.

Knitting, for instance, is absolutely as bad as doing nothing; you must take as much pains to amuse a woman whose fingers are thus employed, as if she sat with her arms crossed; but let her embroider, and it is a different matter; she is then so far busied, that a few intervals of silence may be borne with. What is most disgusting and ridiculous, during these intermissions of conversation, is to see, perhaps, a dozen over-grown fellows, get up, sit down again, walk backwards and forwards, turn on their heels, play with the chimney ornaments, and rack their brains to maintain an inexhaustible chain of words: what a charming occupation! Such people, wherever they go, must be troublesome both to others and themselves. When I was at Motiers, I used to employ myself in making laces with my neighbors, and were I again to mix with the world, I would always carry a cup-and-ball in my pocket; I should sometimes play with it the whole day, that I might not be constrained to speak when I had nothing to discourse about; and I am persuaded, that if every one would do the same, mankind would be less mischievous, their company would become more rational, and, in my opinion, a vast deal more agreeable; in a word, let wits laugh if they please, but I maintain, that the only practical lesson of morality within the reach of the present age, is that of the cup-and-ball.

At Chambery they did not give us the trouble of studying expedients to avoid weariness, when by ourselves, for a troop of important visitors gave us too much by their company, to feel any when alone. The annoyance they formerly gave me had not diminished; all the difference was, that I now found less opportunity to abandon myself to my dissatisfaction. Poor Madam de Warens had not lost her old predilection for schemes and systems; on the contrary, the more she felt the pressure of her domestic necessities, the more she endeavored to extricate herself from them by visionary projects; and, in proportion to the decrease of her present resources, she contrived to enlarge, in idea, those of the future. Increase of years only strengthened this folly: as she lost her relish for the pleasures of the world and youth, she replaced it by an additional fondness for secrets and projects; her house was never clear of quacks, contrivers of new manufactures, alchemists, projects of all kinds and of all descriptions, whose discourses began by a distribution of millions and concluded by giving you to understand that they were in want of a crown-piece. No one went from her empty-handed; and what astonished me most was, how she could so long support such profusion, without exhausting the source or wearying her creditors.

Her principal project at the time I am now speaking of was that of establishing a Royal Physical Garden at Chambery, with a Demonstrator attached to it; it will be unnecessary to add for whom this office was designed. The situation of this city, in the midst of the Alps, was extremely favorable to botany, and as Madam de Warens was always for helping out one project with another, a College of Pharmacy was to be added, which really would have been a very useful foundation in so poor a country, where apothecaries are almost the only medical practitioners. The retreat of the chief physician, Grossi, to Chambery, on the demise of King Victor, seemed to favor this idea, or perhaps, first suggest it; however this may be, by flattery and attention she set about managing Grossi, who, in fact, was not very manageable, being the most caustic and brutal, for a man who had any pretensions to the quality of a gentleman, that ever I knew. The reader may judge for himself by two or three traits of character, which I shall add by way of specimen.

He assisted one day at a consultation with some other doctors, and among the rest, a young gentleman from Annecy, who was physician in ordinary to the sick person. This young man, being but indifferently taught for a doctor, was bold enough to differ in opinion from M. Grossi, who only answered him by asking him when he should return, which way he meant to take, and what conveyance he should make use of? The other, having satisfied Grossi in these particulars, asked him if there was anything he could serve him in? “Nothing, nothing,” answered he, “only I shall place myself at a window in your way, that I may have the pleasure of seeing an ass ride on horseback.” His avarice equalled his riches and want of feeling. One of his friends wanted to borrow some money of him, on good security. “My friend,” answered he, shaking him by the arm, and grinding his teeth, “Should St. Peter descend from heaven to borrow ten pistoles of me, and offer the Trinity as securities, I would not lend them.” One day, being invited to dinner with Count Picon, Governor of Savoy, who was very religious, he arrived before it was ready, and found his excellency busy with his devotions, who proposed to him the same employment; not knowing how to refuse, he knelt down with a frightful grimace, but had hardly recited two Ave-Marias, when, not being able to contain himself any longer, he rose hastily, snatched his hat and cane, and without speaking a word, was making toward the door; Count Picon ran after him, crying, “Monsieur Grossi! Monsieur Grossi! stop, there’s a most excellent ortolan on the spit for you.” “Monsieur le Count,” replied the other, turning his head, “though you should give me a roasted angel, I would not stay.” Such was M. Grossi, whom Madam de Warens undertook and succeeded in civilizing. Though his time was very much occupied, he accustomed himself to come frequently to her house, conceived a friendship for Anet, seemed to think him intelligent, spoke of him with esteem, and, what would not have been expected of such a brute, affected to treat him with respect, wishing to efface the impressions of the past; for though Anet was no longer on the footing of a domestic, it was known that he had been one, and nothing less than the countenance and example of the chief physician was necessary to set an example of respect which would not otherwise have been paid him. Thus Claude Anet, with a black coat, a well-dressed wig, a grave, decent behavior, a circumspect conduct, and a tolerable knowledge in medical and botanical matters, might reasonably have hoped to fill, with universal satisfaction, the place of public demonstrator, had the proposed establishment taken place. Grossi highly approved the plan, and only waited an opportunity to propose it to the administration, whenever a return of peace should permit them to think of useful institutions, and enable them to spare the necessary pecuniary supplies.

But this project, whose execution would probably have plunged me into botanical studies, for which I am inclined to think Nature designed me, failed through one of those unexpected strokes which frequently overthrow the best concerted plans. I was destined to become an example of human misery; and it might be said that Providence, who called me by degrees to these extraordinary trials, disconcerted every opportunity that could prevent my encountering them.

In an excursion which Anet made to the top of the mountain to seek for genipi, a scarce plant that grows only on the Alps, and which Monsieur Grossi had occasion for, unfortunately he heated himself so much, that he was seized with a pleurisy, which the genipi could not relieve, though said to be specific in that disorder; and, notwithstanding all the art of Grossi (who certainly was very skillful), and all the care of his good mistress and myself, he died the fifth day of his disorder, in the most cruel agonies. During his illness he had no exhortations but mine, bestowed with such transports of grief and zeal, that had he been in a state to understand them, they must have been some consolation to him. Thus I lost the firmest friend I ever had; a man estimable and extraordinary; in whom Nature supplied the defects of education, and who (though in a state of servitude) possessed all the virtues necessary to form a great man, which, perhaps, he would have shown himself, and been acknowledged, had he lived to fill the situation he seemed so perfectly adapted to.

The next day I spoke of him to Madam de Warens with the most sincere and lively affection; when, suddenly, in the midst of our conversation, the vile, ungrateful thought occurred, that I should inherit his wardrobe, and particularly a handsome black coat, which I thought very becoming. As I thought this, I consequently uttered it; for when with her, to think and to speak was the same thing. Nothing could have made her feel more forcibly the loss she had sustained, than this unworthy and odious observation; disinterestedness and greatness of soul being qualities that poor Anet had eminently possessed. The generous Madam de Warens turned from me, and (without any reply) burst into tears. Dear and precious tears! your reprehension was fully felt; ye ran into my very heart, washing from thence even the smallest traces of such despicable and unworthy sentiments, never to return.

This loss caused Madam de Warens as much inconvenience as sorrow, since from this moment her affairs were still more deranged. Anet was extremely exact, and kept everything in order; his vigilance was universally feared, and this set some bounds to that profusion they were too apt to run into; even Madam de Warens, to avoid his censure, kept her dissipation within bounds; his attachment was not sufficient, she wished to preserve his esteem, and avoid the just remonstrances he sometimes took the liberty to make her, by representing that she squandered the property of others as well as her own. I thought as he did, nay, I even sometimes expressed myself to the same effect, but had not an equal ascendancy over her, and my advice did not make the same impression. On his decease, I was obliged to occupy his place, for which I had as little inclination as abilities, and therefore filled it ill. I was not sufficiently careful, and so very timid, that though I frequently found fault to myself, I saw ill-management without taking courage to oppose it; besides, though I acquired an equal share of respect, I had not the same authority. I saw the disorder that prevailed, trembled at it, sometimes complained, but was never attended to. I was too young and lively to have any pretensions to the exercise of reason, and when I would have acted the reformer, Madam de Warens calling me her little Mentor, with two or three playful slaps on the cheek, reduced me to my natural thoughtlessness. Notwithstanding, an idea of the certain distress in which her ill-regulated expenses, sooner or later, must necessarily plunge her, made a stronger impression on me since I had become the inspector of her household, and had a better opportunity of calculating the inequality that subsisted between her income and her expenses. I even date from this period the beginning of that inclination to avarice which I have ever since been sensible of. I was never foolishly prodigal, except by intervals; but till then I was never concerned whether I had much or little money. I now began to pay more attention to this circumstance, taking care of my purse, and becoming mean from a laudable motive; for I only sought to insure Madam de Warens some resources against that catastrophe which I dreaded the approach of. I feared her creditors would seize her pension or that it might be discontinued and she reduced to want, when I foolishly imagined that the trifle I could save might be of essential service to her; but to accomplish this, it was necessary I should conceal what I meant to make a reserve of; for it would have been an awkward circumstance, while she was perpetually driven to expedients, to have her know that I hoarded money. Accordingly, I sought out some hiding-place, where I laid up a few louis, resolving to augment this stock from time to time, till a convenient opportunity to lay it at her feet; but I was so incautious in the choice of my repositories, that she always discovered them, and, to convince me that she did so, changed the louis I had concealed for a larger sum in different pieces of coin. Ashamed of these discoveries, I brought back to the common purse my little treasure, which she never failed to lay out in clothes, or other things for my use, such as a silver hilted sword, watch, etc. Being convinced that I should never succeed in accumulating money, and that what I could save would furnish but a very slender resource against the misfortune I dreaded, made me wish to place myself in such a situation that I might be enabled to provide for her, whenever she might chance to be reduced to want. Unhappily, seeking these resources on the side of my inclinations, I foolishly determined to consider music as my principal dependence; and ideas of harmony rising in my brain, I imagined, that if placed in a proper situation to profit by them, I should acquire celebrity, and presently become a modern Orpheus, whose mystic sounds would attract all the riches of Peru.
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Re: The Confessions of Jean Jacques Rousseau, by Jean Jacque

Postby admin » Wed Aug 01, 2018 5:58 am

Part 3 of 3

As I began to read music tolerably well, the question was, how I should learn composition? The difficulty lay in meeting with a good master, for, with the assistance of my Rameau alone, I despaired of ever being able to accomplish it; and, since the departure of M. le Maitre, there was nobody in Savoy who understood anything of the principles of harmony.

I am now about to relate another of those inconsequences, which my life is full of, and which have so frequently carried me directly from my designs, even when I thought myself immediately within reach of them. Venture had spoken to me in very high terms of the Abbe Blanchard, who had taught him composition; a deserving man, possessed of great talents, who was music-master to the cathedral at Besancon, and is now in that capacity at the Chapel of Versailles. I therefore determined to go to Besancon, and take some lessons from the Abbe Blanchard, and the idea appeared so rational to me, that I soon made Madam de Warens of the same opinion, who immediately set about the preparations for my journey, in the same style of profusion with which all her plans were executed. Thus this project for preventing a bankruptcy, and repairing in future the waste of dissipation, began by causing her to expend eight hundred livres; her ruin being accelerated that I might be put in a condition to prevent it. Foolish as this conduct may appear, the illusion was complete on my part, and even on hers, for I was persuaded I should labor for her emolument, and she thought she was highly promoting mine.

I expected to find Venture still at Annecy, and promised myself to obtain a recommendatory letter from him to the Abbe Blanchard; but he had left that place, and I was obliged to content myself in the room of it, with a mass in four parts of his composition, which he had left with me. With this slender recommendation I set out for Besancon by the way of Geneva, where I saw my relations; and through Nion, where I saw my father, who received me in his usual manner, and promised to forward my portmanteau, which, as I travelled on horseback, came after me. I arrived at Besancon, and was kindly received by the Abbe Blanchard, who promised me his instruction, and offered his services in any other particular. We had just set about our music, when I received a letter from my father, informing me that my portmanteau had been seized and confiscated at Rousses, a French barrier on the side of Switzerland. Alarmed at the news, I employed the acquaintance I had formed at Besancon, to learn the motive of this confiscation. Being certain there was nothing contraband among my baggage, I could not conceive on what pretext it could have been seized on; at length, however, I learned the rights of the story, which (as it is a very curious one) must not be omitted.

I became acquainted at Chambery with a very worthy old man, from Lyons, named Monsieur Duvivier, who had been employed at the Visa, under the regency, and for want of other business, now assisted at the Survey. He had lived in the polite world, possessed talents, was good-humored, and understood music. As we both wrote in the same chamber, we preferred each other’s acquaintance to that of the unlicked cubs that surrounded us. He had some correspondents at Paris, who furnished him with those little nothings, those daily novelties, which circulate one knows not why, and die one cares not when, without any one thinking of them longer than they are heard. As I sometimes took him to dine with Madam de Warens, he in some measure treated me with respect, and (wishing to render himself agreeable) endeavored to make me fond of these trifles, for which I naturally had such a distaste, that I never in my life read any of them. Unhappily one of these cursed papers happened to be in the waistcoat pocket of a new suit, which I had only worn two or three times to prevent its being seized by the commissioners of the customs. This paper contained an insipid Jansenist parody on that beautiful scene in Racine’s Mithridates: I had not read ten lines of it, but by forgetfulness left it in my pocket, and this caused all my necessaries to be confiscated. The commissioners at the head of the inventory of my portmanteau, set a most pompous verbal process, in which it was taken for granted that this most terrible writing came from Geneva for the sole purpose of being printed and distributed in France, and then ran into holy invectives against the enemies of God and the Church, and praised the pious vigilance of those who had prevented the execution of these most infernal machinations. They doubtless found also that my spirits smelt of heresy, for on the strength of this dreadful paper, they were all seized, and from that time I never received any account of my unfortunate portmanteau. The revenue officers whom I applied to for this purpose required so many instructions, informations, certificates, memorials, etc., etc., that, lost a thousand times in the perplexing labyrinth, I was glad to abandon them entirely. I feel a real regret for not having preserved this verbal process from the office of Rousses, for it was a piece calculated to hold a distinguished rank in the collection which is to accompany this Work.

The loss of my necessities immediately brought me back to Chambery, without having learned anything of the Abbe Blanchard. Reasoning with myself on the events of this journey, and seeing that misfortunes attended all my enterprises, I resolved to attach myself entirely to Madam de Warens, to share her fortune, and distress myself no longer about future events, which I could not regulate. She received me as if I had brought back treasures, replaced by degrees my little wardrobe, and though this misfortune fell heavy enough on us both, it was forgotten almost as suddenly as it arrived.

Though this mischance had rather dampened my musical ardor, I did not leave off studying my Rameau, and, by repeated efforts, was at length able to understand it, and to make some little attempts at composition, the success of which encouraged me to proceed. The Count de Bellegarde, son of the Marquis of Antremont, had returned from Dresden after the death of King Augustus. Having long resided at Paris, he was fond of music, and particularly that of Rameau. His brother, the Count of Nangis, played on the violin; the Countess la Tour, their sister, sung tolerably: this rendered music the fashion at Chambery, and a kind of public concert was established there, the direction of which was at first designed for me, but they soon discovered I was not competent to the undertaking, and it was otherwise arranged. Notwithstanding this, I continued writing a number of little pieces, in my own way, and, among others, a cantata, which gained great approbation; it could not, indeed, be called a finished piece, but the airs were written in a style of novelty, and produced a good effect, which was not expected from me. These gentlemen could not believe that, reading music so indifferently, it was possible I should compose any that was passable, and made no doubt that I had taken to myself the credit of some other person’s labors. Monsieur de Nangis, wishing to be assured of this, called on me one morning with a cantata of Clerambault’s which he had transposed as he said, to suit his voice, and to which another bass was necessary, the transposition having rendered that of Clerambault impracticable. I answered, it required considerable labor, and could not be done on the spot. Being convinced I only sought an excuse, he pressed me to write at least the bass to a recitative: I did so, not well, doubtless, because to attempt anything with success I must have both time and freedom, but I did it at least according to rule, and he being present, could not doubt but I understood the elements of composition. I did not, therefore, lose my scholars, though it hurt my pride that there should be a concert at Chambery in which I was not necessary.

About this time, peace being concluded, the French army repassed the Alps. Several officers came to visit Madam de Warens, and among others the Count de Lautrec, Colonel of the regiment of Orleans, since Plenipotentiary of Geneva, and afterwards Marshal of France, to whom she presented me. On her recommendation, he appeared to interest himself greatly in my behalf, promising a great deal, which he never remembered till the last year of his life, when I no longer stood in need of his assistance. The young Marquis of Sennecterre, whose father was then ambassador at Turin, passed through Chambery at the same time, and dined one day at M. de Menthon’s, when I happened to be among the guests. After dinner; the discourse turned on music, which the marquis understood extremely well. The opera of ‘Jephtha’ was then new; he mentioned this piece, it was brought him, and he made me tremble by proposing to execute it between us. He opened the book at that celebrated double chorus,

La Terra, l’Enfer, le Ciel meme,
Tout tremble devant le Seigneur!

[The Earth, and Hell, and Heaven itself,
tremble before the Lord!]


He said, “How many parts will you take? I will do these six.” I had not yet been accustomed to this trait of French vivacity, and though acquainted with divisions, could not comprehend how one man could undertake to perform six, or even two parts at the same time. Nothing has cost me more trouble in music than to skip lightly from one part to another, and have the eye at once on a whole division. By the manner in which I evaded this trial, he must have been inclined to believe I did not understand music, and perhaps it was to satisfy himself in this particular that he proposed my noting a song for Mademoiselle de Menthon, in such a manner that I could not avoid it. He sang this song, and I wrote from his voice, without giving him much trouble to repeat it. When finished he read my performance, and said (which was very true) that it was very correctly noted. He had observed my embarrassment, and now seemed to enhance the merit of this little success. In reality, I then understood music very well, and only wanted that quickness at first sight which I possess in no one particular, and which is only to be acquired in this art by long and constant practice. Be that as it may, I was fully sensible of his kindness in endeavoring to efface from the minds of others, and even from my own, the embarrassment I had experienced on this occasion. Twelve or fifteen years afterwards, meeting this gentleman at several houses in Paris, I was tempted to make him recollect this anecdote, and show him I still remembered it; but he had lost his sight since that time; I feared to give him pain by recalling to his memory how useful it formerly had been to him, and was therefore silent on that subject.

I now touch on the moment that binds my past existence to the present, some friendships of that period, prolonged to the present time, being very dear to me, have frequently made me regret that happy obscurity, when those who called themselves my friends were really so; loved me for myself, through pure good will, and not from the vanity of being acquainted with a conspicuous character, perhaps for the secret purpose of finding more occasions to injure him.

From this time I date my first acquaintance with my old friend Gauffecourt, who, notwithstanding every effort to disunite us, has still remained so.—Still remained so!—No, alas! I have just lost him!—but his affection terminated only with his life—death alone could put a period to our friendship. Monsieur de Gauffecourt was one of the most amiable men that ever existed; it was impossible to see him without affection, or to live with him without feeling a sincere attachment. In my life I never saw features more expressive of goodness and serenity, or that marked more feeling, more understanding, or inspired greater confidence. However reserved one might be, it was impossible even at first sight to avoid being as free with him as if he had been an acquaintance of twenty years; for myself, who find so much difficulty to be at ease among new faces, I was familiar with him in a moment. His manner, accent, and conversation, perfectly suited his features: the sound of his voice was clear, full and musical; it was an agreeable and expressive bass, which satisfied the ear, and sounded full upon the heart. It was impossible to possess a more equal and pleasing vivacity, or more real and unaffected gracefulness, more natural talents, or cultivated with greater taste; join to all these good qualities an affectionate heart, but loving rather too diffusively, and bestowing his favors with too little caution; serving his friends with zeal, or rather making himself the friend of every one he could serve, yet contriving very dexterously to manage his own affairs, while warmly pursuing the interests of others.

Gauffecourt was the son of a clock-maker, and would have been a clock-maker himself had not his person and desert called him to a superior situation. He became acquainted with M. de la Closure, the French Resident at Geneva, who conceived a friendship for him, and procured him some connections at Paris, which were useful, and through whose influence he obtained the privilege of furnishing the salts of Valais, which was worth twenty thousand livres a year. This very amply satisfied his wishes with respect to fortune, but with regard to women he was more difficult; he had to provide for his own happiness, and did what he supposed most conducive to it. What renders his character most remarkable, and does him the greatest honor, is, that though connected with all conditions, he was universally esteemed and sought after without being envied or hated by any one, and I really believe he passed through life without a single enemy.—Happy man!

He went every year to the baths of Aix, where the best company from the neighboring countries resorted, and being on terms of friendship with all the nobility of Savoy, came from Aix to Chambery to see the young Count de Bellegarde and his father the Marquis of Antremont. It was here Madam de Warens introduced me to him, and this acquaintance, which appeared at that time to end in nothing, after many years had elapsed, was renewed on an occasion which I should relate, when it became a real friendship. I apprehend I am sufficiently authorized in speaking of a man to whom I was so firmly attached, but I had no personal interest in what concerned him; he was so truly amiable, and born with so many natural good qualities that, for the honor of human nature, I should think it necessary to preserve his memory. This man, estimable as he certainly was, had, like other mortals, some failings, as will be seen hereafter; perhaps had it not been so, he would have been less amiable, since, to render him as interesting as possible, it was necessary he should sometimes act in such a manner as to require a small portion of indulgence.

Another connection of the same time, that is not yet extinguished, and continues to flatter me with the idea of temporal happiness, which it is so difficult to obliterate from the human heart, is Monsieur de Conzie, a Savoyard gentleman, then young and amiable, who had a fancy to learn music, or rather to be acquainted with the person who taught it. With great understanding and taste for polite acquirements, M. de Conzie possessed a mildness of disposition which rendered him extremely attractive, and my temper being somewhat similar, when it found a counterpart, our friendship was soon formed. The seeds of literature and philosophy, which began to ferment in my brain, and only waited for culture and emulation to spring up, found in him exactly what was wanting to render them prolific. M. de Conzie had no great inclination to music, and even this was useful to me, for the hours destined for lessons were passed anyhow rather than musically; we breakfasted, chatted, and read new publications, but not a word of music.

The correspondence between Voltaire and the Prince Royal of Prussia, then made a noise in the world, and these celebrated men were frequently the subject of our conversation, one of whom recently seated on a throne, already indicated what he would prove himself hereafter, while the other, as much disgraced as he is now admired, made us sincerely lament the misfortunes that seemed to pursue him, and which are so frequently the appendage of superior talents. The Prince of Prussia had not been happy in his youth, and it appeared that Voltaire was formed never to be so. The interest we took in both parties extended to all that concerned them, and nothing that Voltaire wrote escaped us. The inclination I felt for these performances inspired me with a desire to write elegantly, and caused me to endeavor to imitate the colorings of that author, with whom I was so much enchanted. Some time after, his philosophical letters (though certainly not his best work) greatly augmented my fondness for study; it was a rising inclination, which, from that time, has never been extinguished.

But the moment was not yet arrived when I should give into it entirely; my rambling disposition (rather contracted than eradicated) being kept alive by our manner of living at Madam de Warens, which was too unsettled for one of my solitary temper. The crowd of strangers who daily swarmed about her from all parts, and the certainty I was in that these people sought only to dupe her, each in his particular mode, rendered home disagreeable. Since I had succeeded Anet in the confidence of his mistress, I had strictly examined her circumstances, and saw their evil tendency with horror. I had remonstrated a hundred times, prayed, argued, conjured, but all to no purpose. I had thrown myself at her feet, and strongly represented the catastrophe that threatened her, had earnestly entreated that she would reform her expenses, and begin with myself, representing that it was better to suffer something while she was yet young, than by multiplying her debts and creditors, expose her old age to vexation and misery.

Sensible of the sincerity of my zeal, she was frequently affected, and would then make the finest promises in the world: but only let an artful schemer arrive, and in an instant all her good resolutions were forgotten. After a thousand proofs of the inefficacy of my remonstrances, what remained but to turn away my eyes from the ruin I could not prevent; and fly myself from the door I could not guard! I made therefore little journeys to Geneva and Lyons, which diverted my mind in some measure from this secret uneasiness, though it increased the cause by these additional expenses. I can truly aver that I should have acquiesed with pleasure in every retrenchment, had Madam de Warens really profited by it, but being persuaded that what I might refuse myself would be distributed among a set of interested villains, I took advantage of her easiness to partake with them, and, like the dog returning from the shambles, carried off a portion of that morsel which I could not protect.

Pretences were not wanting for all these journeys; even Madam de Warens would alone have supplied me with more than were necessary, having plenty of connections, negotiations, affairs, and commissions, which she wished to have executed by some trusty hand. In these cases she usually applied to me; I was always willing to go, and consequently found occasions enough to furnish out a rambling kind of life. These excursions procured me some good connections, which have since been agreeable or useful to me. Among others, I met at Lyons, with M. Perrichon, whose friendship I accuse myself with not having sufficiently cultivated, considering the kindness he had for me; and that of the good Parisot, which I shall speak of in its place, at Grenoble, that of Madam Deybens and Madam la Presidente de Bardonanche, a woman of great understanding, and who would have entertained a friendship for me had it been in my power to have seen her oftener; at Geneva, that of M. de Closure, the French Resident, who often spoke to me of my mother, the remembrance of whom neither death nor time had erased from his heart; likewise those of the two Barillots, the father, who was very amiable, a good companion, and one of the most worthy men I ever met, calling me his grandson. During the troubles of the republic, these two citizens took contrary sides, the son siding with the people, the father with the magistrates. When they took up arms in 1737, I was at Geneva, and saw the father and son quit the same house armed, the one going to the townhouse, the other to his quarters, almost certain to meet face to face in the course of two hours, and prepared to give or receive death from each other. This unnatural sight made so lively an impression on me, that I solemnly vowed never to interfere in any civil war, nor assist in deciding our internal dispute by arms, either personally or by my influence, should I ever enter into my rights as a citizen. I can bring proofs of having kept this oath on a very delicate occasion, and it will be confessed (at least I should suppose so) that this moderation was of some worth.

But I had not yet arrived at that fermentation of patriotism which the first sight of Geneva in arms has since excited in my heart, as may be conjectured by a very grave fact that will not tell to my advantage, which I forgot to put in its proper place, but which ought not to be omitted.

My uncle Bernard died at Carolina, where he had been employed some years in the building of Charles Town, which he had formed the plan of. My poor cousin, too, died in the Prussian service; thus my aunt lost, nearly at the same period, her son and husband. These losses reanimated in some measure her affection for the nearest relative she had remaining, which was myself. When I went to Geneva, I reckoned her house my home, and amused myself with rummaging and turning over the books and papers my uncle had left. Among them I found some curious ones, and some letters which they certainly little thought of. My aunt, who set no store by these dusty papers, would willingly have given the whole to me, but I contented myself with two or three books, with notes written by the Minister Bernard, my grandfather, and among the rest, the posthumous works of Rohault in quarto, the margins of which were full of excellent commentaries, which gave me an inclination to the mathematics. This book remained among those of Madam de Warens, and I have since lamented that I did not preserve it. To these I added five or six memorials in manuscript, and a printed one, composed by the famous Micheli Ducret, a man of considerable talents, being both learned and enlightened, but too much, perhaps, inclined to sedition, for which he was cruelly treated by the magistrates of Geneva, and lately died in the fortress of Arberg, where he had been confined many years, for being, as it was said, concerned in the conspiracy of Berne.

This memorial was a judicious critique on the extensive but ridiculous plan of fortification, which had been adopted at Geneva, though censured by every person of judgment in the art, who was unacquainted with the secret motives of the council, in the execution of this magnificent enterprise. Monsieur de Micheli, who had been excluded from the committee of fortification for having condemned this plan, thought that, as a citizen, and a member of the two hundred, he might give his advice, at large, and therefore, did so in this memorial, which he was imprudent enough to have printed, though he never published it, having only those copies struck off which were meant for the two hundred, and which were all intercepted at the post-house by order of the Senate.

[The grand council of Geneva in December, 1728, pronounced this
paper highly disrespectful to the councils, and injurious to the
committee of fortification.]


I found this memorial among my uncle’s papers, with the answer he had been ordered to make to it, and took both. This was soon after I had left my place at the survey, and I yet remained on good terms with the Counsellor de Coccelli, who had the management of it. Some time after, the director of the custom-house entreated me to stand godfather to his child, with Madam Coccelli, who was to be godmother: proud of being placed on such terms of equality with the counsellor, I wished to assume importance, and show myself worthy of that honor.

Full of this idea, I thought I could do nothing better than show him Micheli’s memorial, which was really a scarce piece, and would prove I was connected with people of consequence in Geneva, who were intrusted with the secrets of the state, yet by a kind of reserve which I should find it difficult to account for, I did not show him my uncle’s answer, perhaps, because it was manuscript, and nothing less than print was worthy to approach the counsellor. He understood, however, so well the importance of this paper, which I had the folly to put into his hands, that I could never after get it into my possession, and being convinced that every effort for that purpose would be ineffectual, I made a merit of my forbearance, transforming the theft into a present. I made no doubt that this writing (more curious, however, than useful) answered his purpose at the court of Turin, where probably he took care to be reimbursed in some way or other for the expense which the acquisition of it might be supposed to have cost him. Happily, of all future contingencies, the least probable, is, that ever the King of Sardina should besiege Geneva, but as that event is not absolutely impossible, I shall ever reproach my foolish vanity with having been the means of pointing out the greatest defects of that city to its most ancient enemy.

I passed two or three years in this manner, between music, study, projects, and journeys, floating incessantly from one object to another, and wishing to fix though I knew not on what, but insensibly inclining towards study. I was acquainted with men of letters, I had heard them speak of literature, and sometimes mingled in the conversation, yet rather adopted the jargon of books, than the knowledge they contained. In my excursions to Geneva, I frequently called on my good old friend Monsieur Simon, who greatly promoted my rising emulation by fresh news from the republic of letters, extracted from Baillet or Colomies. I frequently saw too, at Chambery, a Dominican professor of physic, a good kind of friar, whose name I have forgotten, who often made little chemical experiments which greatly amused me. In imitation of him, I attempted to make some sympathetic ink, and having for that purpose more than half filled a bottle with quicklime, orpiment, and water, the effervescence immediately became extremely violent; I ran to unstop the bottle, but had not time to effect it, for, during the attempt, it burst in my face like a bomb, and I swallowed so much of the orpiment and lime, that it nearly cost me my life. I remained blind for six weeks, and by the event of this experiment learned to meddle no more with experimental Chemistry while the elements were unknown to me.

This adventure happened very unluckily for my health, which, for some time past, had been visibly on the decline. This was rather extraordinary, as I was guilty of no kind of excess; nor could it have been expected from my make, for my chest, being well formed and rather capacious, seemed to give my lungs full liberty to play; yet I was short breathed, felt a very sensible oppression, sighed involuntarily, had palpitations of the heart, and spitting of blood, accompanied with a lingering fever, which I have never since entirely overcome. How is it possible to fall into such a state in the flower of one’s age, without any inward decay, or without having done anything to destroy health?

It is sometimes said, “the sword wears the scabbard,” this was truly the case with me: the violence of my passions both kept me alive and hastened my dissolution. What passions? will be asked: mere nothings: the most trivial objects in nature, but which affected me as forcibly as if the acquisition of a Helen, or the throne of the universe were at stake. My senses, for instance, were at ease with one woman, but my heart never was, and the necessities of love consumed me in the very bosom of happiness. I had a tender, respected and lovely friend, but I sighed for a mistress; my prolific fancy painted her as such, and gave her a thousand forms, for had I conceived that my endearments had been lavished on Madam de Warens, they would not have been less tender, though infinitely more tranquil. But is it possible for man to taste, in their utmost extent, the delights of love? I cannot tell, but I am persuaded my frail existence would have sunk under the weight of them.

I was, therefore, dying for love without an object, and this state, perhaps, is, of all others, the most dangerous. I was likewise uneasy, tormented at the bad state of poor Madam de Warens’ circumstances, and the imprudence of her conduct, which could not fail to bring them, in a short time, to total ruin. My tortured imagination (which ever paints misfortunes in the extremity) continually beheld this in its utmost excess, and in all the horror of its consequences. I already saw myself forced by want to quit her—to whom I had consecrated my future life, and without whom I could not hope for happiness: thus was my soul continually agitated, and hopes and fears devoured me alternately.

Music was a passion less turbulent, but not less consuming, from the ardor with which I attached myself to it, by the obstinate study of the obscure books of Rameau; by an invincible resolution to charge my memory with rules it could not contain; by continual application, and by long and immense compilations which I frequently passed whole nights in copying: but why dwell on these particularly, while every folly that took possession of my wandering brain, the most transient ideas of a single day, a journey, a concert, a supper, a walk, a novel to read, a play to see, things in the world the least premeditated in my pleasures or occupation became for me the most violent passions, which by their ridiculous impetuosity conveyed the most serious torments; even the imaginary misfortunes of Cleveland, read with avidity and frequent interruption, have, I am persuaded, disordered me more than my own.

There was a Genevese, named Bagueret, who had been employed under Peter the Great, of the court of Russia, one of the most worthless, senseless fellows I ever met with; full of projects as foolish as himself, which were to rain down millions on those who took part in them. This man, having come to Chambery on account of some suit depending before the senate, immediately got acquainted with Madam de Warens, and with great reason on his side, since for those imaginary treasures that cost him nothing, and which he bestowed with the utmost prodigality, he gained, in exchange, the unfortunate crown pieces one by one out of her pocket. I did not like him, and he plainly perceived this, for with me it is not a very difficult discovery, nor did he spare any sort of meanness to gain my good will, and among other things proposed teaching me to play at chess, which game he understood something of. I made an attempt, though almost against my inclination, and after several efforts, having learned the moves, my progress was so rapid, that before the end of the first sitting I gave him the rook, which in the beginning he had given me. Nothing more was necessary; behold me fascinated with chess! I buy a board, with the rest of the apparatus, and shutting myself up in my chamber, pass whole days and nights in studying all the varieties of the game, being determined by playing alone, without end or relaxation, to drive them into my head, right or wrong. After incredible efforts, during two or three months passed in this curious employment, I go to the coffee-house, thin, sallow, and almost stupid; I seat myself, and again attack M. Bagueret: he beats me, once, twice, twenty times; so many combinations were fermenting in my head, and my imagination was so stupefied, that all appeared confusion. I tried to exercise myself with Philidor’s or Stamina’s book of instructions, but I was still equally perplexed, and, after having exhausted myself with fatigue, was further to seek than ever, and whether I abandoned my chess for a time, or resolved to surmount every difficulty by unremitted practice, it was the same thing. I could never advance one step beyond the improvement of the first sitting, nay, I am convinced that had I studied it a thousand ages, I should have ended by being able to give Bagueret the rook and nothing more.

It will be said my time was well employed, and not a little of it passed in this occupation, nor did I quit my first essay till unable to persist in it, for on leaving my apartment I had the appearance of a corpse, and had I continued this course much longer I should certainly have been one.

Any one will allow that it would have been extraordinary, especially in the ardor of youth, that such a head should suffer the body to enjoy continued health; the alteration of mine had an effect on my temper, moderating the ardor of my chimerical fancies, for as I grew weaker they became more tranquil, and I even lost, in some measure, my rage for travelling. I was not seized with heaviness, but melancholy; vapors succeeded passions, languor became sorrow: I wept and sighed without cause, and felt my life ebbing away before I had enjoyed it. I only trembled to think of the situation in which I should leave my dear Madam de Warens; and I can truly say, that quitting her, and leaving her in these melancholy circumstances, was my only concern. At length I fell quite ill, and was nursed by her as never mother nursed a child. The care she took of me was of real utility to her affairs, since it diverted her mind from schemes, and kept projectors at a distance. How pleasing would death have been at that time, when, if I had not tasted many of the pleasures of life, I had felt but few of its misfortunes. My tranquil soul would have taken her flight, without having experienced those cruel ideas of the injustice of mankind which embitters both life and death. I should have enjoyed the sweet consolation that I still survived in the dearer part of myself: in the situation I then was, it could hardly be called death; and had I been divested of my uneasiness on her account, it would have appeared but a gentle sleep; yet even these disquietudes had such an affectionate and tender turn, that their bitterness was tempered by a pleasing sensibility. I said to her, “You are the depository of my whole being, act so that I may be happy.” Two or three times, when my disorder was most violent, I crept to her apartment to give her my advice respecting her future conduct; and I dare affirm these admonitions were both wise and equitable, in which the interest I took in her future concerns was strongly marked. As if tears had been both nourishment and medicine, I found myself the better for those I shed with her, while seated on her bed-side, and holding her hands between mine. The hours crept insensibly away in these nocturnal discourses; I returned to my chamber better than I had quitted it, being content and calmed by the promises she made, and the hopes with which she had inspired me: I slept on them with my heart at peace, and fully resigned to the dispensations of Providence. God grant, that after having had so many reasons to hate life, after being agitated with so many storms, after it has even become a burden, that death, which must terminate all, may be no more terrible than it would have been at that moment!

By inconceivable care and vigilance, she saved my life; and I am convinced she alone could have done this. I have little faith in the skill of physicians, but depend greatly on the assistance of real friends, and am persuaded that being easy in those particulars on which our happiness depends, is more salutary than any other application. If there is a sensation in life peculiarly delightful, we experienced it in being restored to each other; our mutual attachment did not increase, for that was impossible, but it became, I know not how, more exquisitely tender, fresh softness being added to its former simplicity. I became in a manner her work; we got into the habit, though without design, of being continually with each other, and enjoying, in some measure, our whole existence together, feeling reciprocally that we were not only necessary, but entirely sufficient for each other’s happiness. Accustomed to think of no subject foreign to ourselves, our happiness and all our desires were confined to that pleasing and singular union, which, perhaps, had no equal, which is not, as I have before observed, love, but a sentiment inexpressibly more intimate, neither depending on the senses, age, nor figure, but an assemblage of every endearing sensation that composes our rational existence and which can cease only with our being.

How was it that this delightful crisis did not secure our mutual felicity for the remainder of her life and mine? I have the consoling conviction that it was not my fault; nay, I am persuaded, she did not wilfully destroy it; the invincible peculiarity of my disposition was doomed soon to regain its empire; but this fatal return was not suddenly accomplished, there was, thank Heaven, a short but precious interval, that did not conclude by my fault, and which I cannot reproach myself with having employed amiss.

Though recovered from my dangerous illness, I did not regain my strength; my stomach was weak, some remains of the fever kept me in a languishing condition, and the only inclination I was sensible of, was to end my days near one so truly dear to me; to confirm her in those good resolutions she had formed; to convince her in what consisted the real charms of a happy life, and, as far as depended on me, to render hers so; but I foresaw that in a gloomy, melancholy house, the continual solitude of our tete-a-tetes would at length become too dull and monotonous: a remedy presented itself: Madam de Warens had prescribed milk for me, and insisted that I should take it in the country; I consented, provided she would accompany me; nothing more was necessary to gain her compliance, and whither we should go was all that remained to be determined on. Our garden (which I have before mentioned) was not properly in the country, being surrounded by houses and other gardens, and possessing none of those attractions so desirable in a rural retreat; besides, after the death of Anet, we had given up this place from economical principles, feeling no longer a desire to rear plants, and other views making us not regret the loss of that little retreat. Improving the distaste I found she began to imbibe for the town, I proposed to abandon it entirely, and settle ourselves in an agreeable solitude, in some small house, distant enough from the city to avoid the perpetual intrusion of her hangers-on. She followed my advice, and this plan, which her good angel and mine suggested, might fully have secured our happiness and tranquility till death had divided us—but this was not the state we were appointed to; Madam de Warens was destined to endure all the sorrows of indigence and poverty, after having passed the former part of her life in abundance, that she might learn to quit it with the less regret; and myself, by an assemblage of misfortunes of all kinds, was to become a striking example to those who, inspired with a love of justice and the public good, and trusting too implicitly to their own innocence, shall openly dare to assert truth to mankind, unsupported by cabals, or without having previously formed parties to protect them.

An unhappy fear furnished some objections to our plan: she did not dare to quit her ill-contrived house, for fear of displeasing the proprietor. “Your proposed retirement is charming,” said she, “and much to my taste, but we are necessitated to remain here, for, on quitting this dungeon, I hazard losing the very means of life, and when these fail us in the woods, we must again return to seek them in the city. That we may have the least possible cause for being reduced to this necessity, let us not leave this house entirely, but pay a small pension to the Count of Saint-Laurent, that he may continue mine. Let us seek some little habitation, far enough from the town to be at peace, yet near enough to return when it may appear convenient.”

This mode was finally adopted; and after some small search, we fixed at Charmettes, on an estate belonging to M. de Conzie, at a very small distance from Chambery; but as retired and solitary as if it had been a hundred leagues off. The spot we had concluded on was a valley between two tolerably high hills, which ran north and south; at the bottom, among the trees and pebbles, ran a rivulet, and above the declivity, on either side, were scattered a number of houses, forming altogether a beautiful retreat for those who love a peaceful romantic asylum. After having examined two or three of these houses, we chose that which we thought the most pleasing, which was the property of a gentleman of the army, called M. Noiret. This house was in good condition, before it a garden, forming a terrace; below that on the declivity an orchard, and on the ascent, behind the house, a vineyard: a little wood of chestnut trees opposite; a fountain just by, and higher up the hill, meadows for the cattle; in short, all that could be thought necessary for the country retirement we proposed to establish. To the best of my remembrance, we took possession of it toward the latter end of the summer of 1736. I was delighted on going to sleep there—“Oh!” said I, to this dear friend, embracing her with tears of tenderness and delight, “this is the abode of happiness and innocence; if we do not find them here together it will be in vain to seek them elsewhere.”
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Re: The Confessions of Jean Jacques Rousseau, by Jean Jacque

Postby admin » Wed Aug 01, 2018 5:59 am

Part 1 of 3

BOOK VI.

Hoc erat in votis: Modus agri non ita magnus
Hortus ubi, et tecto vicinus aqua fons;
Et paulum sylvae super his foret.


I cannot add, ‘auctius acque di melius fecere’; but no matter, the former is enough for my purpose; I had no occasion to have any property there, it was sufficient that I enjoyed it; for I have long since both said and felt, that the proprietor and possessor are two very different people, even leaving husbands and lovers out of the question.

At this moment began the short happiness of my life, those peaceful and rapid moments, which have given me a right to say, I have lived. Precious and ever-regretted moments! Ah! recommence your delightful course; pass more slowly through my memory, if possible, than you actually did in your fugitive succession. How shall I prolong, according to my inclination, this recital at once so pleasing and simple? How shall I continue to relate the same occurrences, without wearying my readers with the repetition, any more than I was satiated with the enjoyment? Again, if all this consisted of facts, actions, or words, I could somehow or other convey an idea of it; but how shall I describe what was neither said nor done, nor even thought, but enjoyed, felt, without being able to particularize any other object of my happiness than the bare idea? I rose with the sun, and was happy; I walked, and was happy; I saw Madam de Warens, and was happy; I quitted her, and still was happy!—Whether I rambled through the woods, over the hills, or strolled along the valley; read, was idle, worked in the garden, or gathered fruits, happiness continually accompanied me; it was fixed on no particular object, it was within me, nor could I depart from it a single moment.

Nothing that passed during that charming epocha, nothing that I did, said, or thought, has escaped my memory. The time that preceded or followed it, I only recollect by intervals, unequally and confused; but here I remember all as distinctly as if it existed at this moment. Imagination, which in my youth was perpetually anticipating the future, but now takes a retrograde course, makes some amends by these charming recollections for the deprivation of hope, which I have lost forever. I no longer see anything in the future that can tempt my wishes, it is a recollection of the past alone that can flatter me, and the remembrance of the period I am now describing is so true and lively, that it sometimes makes me happy, even in spite of my misfortunes.

Of these recollections I shall relate one example, which may give some idea of their force and precision. The first day we went to sleep at Charmettes, the way being up-hill, and Madam de Warens rather heavy, she was carried in a chair, while I followed on foot. Fearing the chairmen would be fatigued, she got out about half-way, designing to walk the rest of it. As we passed along, she saw something blue in the hedge, and said, “There’s some periwinkle in flower yet!” I had never seen any before, nor did I stop to examine this: my sight is too short to distinguish plants on the ground, and I only cast a look at this as I passed: an interval of near thirty years had elapsed before I saw any more periwinkle, at least before I observed it, when being at Cressier in 1764, with my friend, M. du Peyrou, we went up a small mountain, on the summit of which there is a level spot, called, with reason, ‘Belle-vue’, I was then beginning to herbalize;—walking and looking among the bushes, I exclaimed with rapture, “Ah, there’s some periwinkle!” Du Peyrou, who perceived my transport, was ignorant of the cause, but will some day be informed: I hope, on reading this. The reader may judge by this impression, made by so small an incident, what an effect must have been produced by every occurrence of that time.

Meantime, the air of the country did not restore my health; I was languishing and became more so; I could not endure milk, and was obliged to discontinue the use of it. Water was at this time the fashionable remedy for every complaint; accordingly I entered on a course of it, and so indiscreetly, that it almost released me, not only from my illness but also from my life. The water I drank was rather hard and difficult to pass, as water from mountains generally is; in short, I managed so well, that in the course of two months I totally ruined my stomach, which until that time had been very good, and no longer digesting anything properly, had no reason to expect a cure. At this time an accident happened, as singular in itself as in its subsequent consequences, which can only terminate with my existence.

One morning, being no worse than usual, while putting up the leaf of a small table, I felt a sudden and almost inconceivable revolution throughout my whole frame. I know not how to describe it better than as a kind of tempest, which suddenly rose in my blood, and spread in a moment over every part of my body. My arteries began beating so violently that I not only felt their motion, but even heard it, particularly that of the carotids, attended by a loud noise in my ears, which was of three, or rather four, distinct kinds. For instance, first a grave hollow buzzing; then a more distinct murmur, like the running of water; then an extremely sharp hissing, attended by the beating I before mentioned, and whose throbs I could easily count, without feeling my pulse, or putting a hand to any part of my body. This internal tumult was so violent that it has injured my auricular organs, and rendered me, from that time, not entirely deaf, but hard of hearing.

My surprise and fear may easily be conceived; imagining it was the stroke of death, I went to bed, and the physician being sent for, trembling with apprehension, I related my case; judging it past all cure. I believe the doctor was of the same opinion; however he performed his office, running over a long string of causes and effects beyond my comprehension, after which, in consequence of this sublime theory, he set about, ‘in anima vili’, the experimental part of his art, but the means he was pleased to adopt in order to effect a cure were so troublesome, disgusting, and followed by so little effect, that I soon discontinued it, and after some weeks, finding I was neither better nor worse, left my bed, and returned to my usual method of living; but the beating of my arteries and the buzzing in my ears has never quitted me a moment during the thirty years’ time which has elapsed since that time.

Till now, I had been a great sleeper, but a total privation of repose, with other alarming symptoms which have accompanied it, even to this time, persuaded me I had but a short time to live. This idea tranquillized me for a time: I became less anxious about a cure, and being persuaded I could not prolong life, determined to employ the remainder of it as usefully as possible. This was practicable by a particular indulgence of Nature, which, in this melancholy state, exempted me from sufferings which it might have been supposed I should have experienced. I was incommoded by the noise, but felt no pain, nor was it accompanied by any habitual inconvenience, except nocturnal wakefulness, and at all times a shortness of breath, which is not violent enough to be called an asthma, but was troublesome when I attempted to run, or use any degree of exertion.

This accident, which seemed to threaten the dissolution of my body, only killed my passions, and I have reason to thank Heaven for the happy effect produced by it on my soul. I can truly say, I only began to live when I considered myself as entering the grave; for, estimating at their real value those things I was quitting; I began to employ myself on nobler objects, namely by anticipating those I hoped shortly to have the contemplation of, and which I had hitherto too much neglected. I had often made light of religion, but was never totally devoid of it; consequently, it cost me less pain to employ my thoughts on that subject, which is generally thought melancholy, though highly pleasing to those who make it an object of hope and consolation; Madam de Warens, therefore, was more useful to me on this occasion than all the theologians in the world would have been.

She, who brought everything into a system, had not failed to do as much by religion; and this system was composed of ideas that bore no affinity to each other. Some were extremely good, and others very ridiculous, being made up of sentiments proceeding from her disposition, and prejudices derived from education. Men, in general, make God like themselves; the virtuous make Him good, and the profligate make Him wicked; ill-tempered and bilious devotees see nothing but hell, because they would willingly damn all mankind; while loving and gentle souls disbelieve it altogether; and one of the astonishments I could never overcome, is to see the good Fenelon speak of it in his Telemachus as if he really gave credit to it; but I hope he lied in that particular, for however strict he might be in regard to truth, a bishop absolutely must lie sometimes. Madam de Warens spoke truth with me, and that soul, made up without gall, who could not imagine a revengeful and ever angry God, saw only clemency and forgiveness, where devotees bestowed inflexible justice, and eternal punishment.

She frequently said there would be no justice in the Supreme Being should He be strictly just to us; because, not having bestowed what was necessary to render us essentially good, it would be requiring more than he had given. The most whimsical idea was, that not believing in hell, she was firmly persuaded of the reality of purgatory. This arose from her not knowing what to do with the wicked, being loathed to damn them utterly, nor yet caring to place them with the good till they had become so; and we must really allow, that both in this world and the next, the wicked are very troublesome company.

It is clearly seen that the doctrine of original sin and the redemption of mankind is destroyed by this system; consequently that the basis of the Christian dispensation, as generally received, is shaken, and that the Catholic faith cannot subsist with these principles; Madam de Warens, notwithstanding, was a good Catholic, or at least pretended to be one, and certainly desired to become such, but it appeared to her that the Scriptures were too literally and harshly explained, supposing that all we read of everlasting torments were figurative threatenings, and the death of Jesus Christ an example of charity, truly divine, which should teach mankind to love God and each other; in a word, faithful to the religion she had embraced, she acquiesced in all its professions of faith, but on a discussion of each particular article, it was plain she thought diametrically opposite to that church whose doctrines she professed to believe. In these cases she exhibited simplicity of art, a frankness more eloquent than sophistry, which frequently embarrassed her confessor; for she disguised nothing from him. “I am a good Catholic,” she would say, “and will ever remain so; I adopt with all the powers of my soul the decisions of our holy Mother Church; I am not mistress of my faith, but I am of my will, which I submit to you without reserve; I will endeavor to believe all,—what can you require more?”

Had there been no Christian morality established, I am persuaded she would have lived as if regulated by its principles, so perfectly did they seem to accord with her disposition. She did everything that was required; and she would have done the same had there been no such requisition: but all this morality was subordinate to the principles of M. Tavel, or rather she pretended to see nothing in religion that contradicted them; thus she would have favored twenty lovers in a day, without any idea of a crime, her conscience being no more moved in that particular than her passions. I know that a number of devotees are not more scrupulous, but the difference is, they are seduced by constitution, she was blinded by her sophisms. In the midst of conversations the most affecting, I might say the most edifying, she would touch on this subject, without any change of air or manner, and without being sensible of any contradiction in her opinions; so much was she persuaded that our restrictions on that head are merely political, and that any person of sense might interpret, apply, or make exceptions to them, without any danger of offending the Almighty.

Though I was far enough from being of the same opinion in this particular, I confess I dared not combat hers; indeed, as I was situated, it would have been putting myself in rather awkward circumstances, since I could only have sought to establish my opinion for others, myself being an exception. Besides, I entertained but little hopes of making her alter hers, which never had any great influence on her conduct, and at the time I am speaking of none; but I have promised faithfully to describe her principles, and I will perform my engagement—I now return to myself.

Finding in her all those ideas I had occasion for to secure me from the fears of death and its future consequences, I drew confidence and security from this source; my attachment became warmer than ever, and I would willingly have transmitted to her my whole existence, which seemed ready to abandon me. From this redoubled attachment, a persuasion that I had but a short time to live, and profound security on my future state, arose an habitual and even pleasing serenity, which, calming every passion that extends our hopes and fears, made me enjoy without inquietude or concern the few days which I imagined remained for me. What contributed to render them still snore agreeable was an endeavor to encourage her rising taste for the country, by every amusement I could possibly devise, wishing to attach her to her garden, poultry, pigeons, and cows: I amused myself with them and these little occupations, which employed my time without injuring my tranquillity, were more serviceable than a milk diet, or all the remedies bestowed on my poor shattered machine, even to effecting the utmost possible reestablishment of it.

The vintage and gathering in our fruit employed the remainder of the year; we became more and more attached to a rustic life, and the society of our honest neighbors. We saw the approach of winter with regret, and returned to the city as if going into exile. To me this return was particularly gloomy, who never expected to see the return of spring, and thought I took an everlasting leave of Charmettes. I did not quit it without kissing the very earth and trees, casting back many a wishful look as I went towards Chambery.

Having left my scholars for so long a time, and lost my relish for the amusements of the town, I seldom went out, conversing only with Madam de Warens and a Monsieur Salomon, who had lately become our physician. He was an honest man, of good understanding, a great Cartesian, spoke tolerably well on the system of the world, and his agreeable and instructive conversations were more serviceable than his prescriptions. I could never bear that foolish trivial mode of conversation which is so generally adopted; but useful instructive discourse has always given me great pleasure, nor was I ever backward to join in it. I was much pleased with that of M. Salomon; it appeared to me, that when in his company, I anticipated the acquisition of that sublime knowledge which my soul would enjoy when freed from its mortal fetters. The inclination I had for him extended to the subjects which he treated on, and I began to look after books which might better enable me to understand his discourse. Those which mingled devotion with science were most agreeable to me, particularly Port Royal’s Oratory, and I began to read or rather to devour them. One fell into my hands written by Father Lami, called ‘Entretiens sur les Sciences’, which was a kind of introduction to the knowledge of those books it treated of. I read it over a hundred times, and resolved to make this my guide; in short, I found (notwithstanding my ill state of health) that I was irresistibly drawn towards study, and though looking on each day as the last of my life, read with as much avidity as if certain I was to live forever.

I was assured that reading would injure me; but on the contrary, I am rather inclined to think it was serviceable, not only to my soul, but also to my body; for this application, which soon became delightful, diverted my thoughts from my disorders, and I soon found myself much less affected by them. It is certain, however, that nothing gave me absolute ease, but having no longer any acute pain, I became accustomed to languishment and wakefulness; to thinking instead of acting; in short, I looked on the gradual and slow decay of my body as inevitably progressive and only to be terminated by death.

This opinion not only detached me from all the vain cares of life, but delivered me from the importunity of medicine, to which hitherto, I had been forced to submit, though contrary to my inclination. Salomon, convinced that his drugs were unavailing, spared me the disagreeable task of taking them, and contented himself with amusing the grief of my poor Madam de Warens by some of those harmless preparations, which serve to flatter the hopes of the patient and keep up the credit of the doctor. I discontinued the strict regimen I had latterly observed, resumed the use of wine, and lived in every respect like a man in perfect health, as far as my strength would permit, only being careful to run into no excess; I even began to go out and visit my acquaintance, particularly M. de Conzie, whose conversation was extremely pleasing to me. Whether it struck me as heroic to study to my last hour, or that some hopes of life yet lingered in the bottom of my heart, I cannot tell, but the apparent certainty of death, far from relaxing my inclination for improvement, seemed to animate it, and I hastened to acquire knowledge for the other world, as if convinced I should only possess that portion I could carry with me. I took a liking to the shop of a bookseller, whose name was Bouchard, which was frequented by some men of letters, and as the spring (whose return I had never expected to see again) was approaching, furnished myself with some books for Charmettes, in case I should have the happiness to return there.

I had that happiness, and enjoyed it to the utmost extent. The rapture with which I saw the trees put out their first bud, is inexpressible! The return of spring seemed to me like rising from the grave into paradise. The snow was hardly off the ground when we left our dungeon and returned to Charmettes, to enjoy the first warblings of the nightingale. I now thought no more of dying, and it is really singular, that from this time I never experienced any dangerous illness in the country. I have suffered greatly, but never kept my bed, and have often said to those about me, on finding myself worse than ordinary, “Should you see me at the point of death, carry me under the shade of an oak, and I promise you I shall recover.”

Though weak, I resumed my country occupations, as far as my strength would permit, and conceived a real grief at not being able to manage our garden without help; for I could not take five or six strokes with the spade without being out of breath and overcome with perspiration; when I stooped the beating redoubled, and the blood flew with such violence to my head, that I was instantly obliged to stand upright. Being therefore confined to less fatiguing employments, I busied myself about the dove-house, and was so pleased with it that I sometimes passed several hours there without feeling a moment’s weariness. The pigeon is very timid and difficult to tame, yet I inspired mine with so much confidence that they followed me everywhere, letting me catch them at pleasure, nor could I appear in the garden without having two or three on my arms or head in an instant, and notwithstanding the pleasure I took in them, their company became so troublesome that I was obliged to lessen the familiarity. I have ever taken great pleasure in taming animals, particularly those that are wild and fearful. It appeared delightful to me, to inspire them with a confidence which I took care never to abuse, wishing them to love me freely.

I have already mentioned that I purchased some books: I did not forget to read them, but in a manner more proper to fatigue than instruct me. I imagined that to read a book profitably, it was necessary to be acquainted with every branch of knowledge it even mentioned; far from thinking that the author did not do this himself, but drew assistance from other books, as he might see occasion. Full of this silly idea, I was stopped every moment, obliged to run from one book to another, and sometimes, before I could reach the tenth page of what I was studying, found it necessary to turn over a whole library. I was so attached to this ridiculous method, that I lost a prodigious deal of time and had bewildered my head to such a degree, that I was hardly capable of doing, seeing or comprehending anything. I fortunately perceived, at length, that I was in the wrong road, which would entangle me in an inextricable labyrinth, and quitted it before I was irrevocably lost.

When a person has any real taste for the sciences, the first thing he perceives in the pursuit of them is that connection by which they mutually attract, assist, and enlighten each other, and that it is impossible to attain one without the assistance of the rest. Though the human understanding cannot grasp all, and one must ever be regarded as the principal object, yet if the rest are totally neglected, the favorite study is generally obscure; I was convinced that my resolution to improve was good and useful in itself, but that it was necessary I should change my method; I, therefore, had recourse to the encyclopaedia. I began by a distribution of the general mass of human knowledge into its various branches, but soon discovered that I must pursue a contrary course, that I must take each separately, and trace it to that point where it united with the rest: thus I returned to the general synthetical method, but returned thither with a conviction that I was going right. Meditation supplied the want of knowledge, and a very natural reflection gave strength to my resolutions, which was, that whether I lived or died, I had no time to lose; for having learned but little before the age of five-and-twenty, and then resolving to learn everything, was engaging to employ the future time profitably. I was ignorant at what point accident or death might put a period to my endeavors, and resolved at all events to acquire with the utmost expedition some idea of every species of knowledge, as well to try my natural disposition, as to judge for myself what most deserved cultivation.

In the execution of my plan, I experienced another advantage which I had never thought of; this was, spending a great deal of time profitably. Nature certainly never meant me for study, since attentive application fatigues me so much, that I find it impossible to employ myself half an hour together intently on any one subject; particularly while following another person’s ideas, for it has frequently happened that I have pursued my own for a much longer period with success. After reading a few pages of an author with close application, my understanding is bewildered, and should I obstinately continue, I tire myself to no purpose, a stupefaction seizes me, and I am no longer conscious of what I read; but in a succession of various subjects, one relieves me from the fatigue of the other, and without finding respite necessary, I can follow them with pleasure.

I took advantage of this observation in the plan of my studies, taking care to intermingle them in such a manner that I was never weary: it is true that domestic and rural concerns furnished many pleasing relaxations; but as my eagerness for improvement increased, I contrived to find opportunities for my studies, frequently employing myself about two things at the same time, without reflecting that both were consequently neglected.

In relating so many trifling details, which delight me, but frequently tire my reader, I make use of the caution to suppress a great number, though, perhaps, he would have no idea of this, if I did not take care to inform him of it: for example, I recollect with pleasure all the different methods I adopted for the distribution of my time, in such a manner as to produce the utmost profit and pleasure. I may say, that the portion of my life which I passed in this retirement, though in continual ill-health, was that in which I was least idle and least wearied. Two or three months were thus employed in discovering the bent of my genius; meantime, I enjoyed, in the finest season of the year, and in a spot it rendered delightful, the charms of a life whose worth I was so highly sensible of, in such a society, as free as it was charming; if a union so perfect, and the extensive knowledge I purposed to acquire, can be called society. It seemed to me as if I already possessed the improvements I was only in pursuit of: or rather better, since the pleasure of learning constituted a great part of my happiness.

I must pass over these particulars, which were to me the height of enjoyment, but are too trivial to bear repeating: indeed, true happiness is indescribable, it is only to be felt, and this consciousness of felicity is proportionately more, the less able we are to describe it; because it does not absolutely result from a concourse of favorable incidents, but is an affection of the mind itself. I am frequently guilty of repetitions, but should be infinitely more so, did I repeat the same thing as often as it recurs with pleasure to my mind. When at length my variable mode of life was reduced to a more uniform course, the following was nearly the distribution of time which I adopted: I rose every morning before the sun, and passed through a neighboring orchard into a pleasant path, which, running by a vineyard, led towards Chambery. While walking, I offered up my prayers, not by a vain motion of the lips, but a sincere elevation of my heart, to the Great Author of delightful nature, whose beauties were so charmingly spread out before me! I never love to pray in a chamber; it seems to me that the walls and all the little workmanship of man interposed between God and myself: I love to contemplate Him in his works, which elevate my soul, and raise my thoughts to Him. My prayers were pure, I can affirm it, and therefore worthy to be heard:—I asked for myself and her from whom my thoughts were never divided, only an innocent and quiet life, exempt from vice, sorrow and want; I prayed that we might die the death of the just, and partake of their lot hereafter: for the rest, it was rather admiration and contemplation than request, being satisfied that the best means to obtain what is necessary from the Giver of every perfect good, is rather to deserve than to solicit. Returning from my walk, I lengthened the way by taking a roundabout path, still contemplating with earnestness and delight the beautiful scenes with which I was surrounded, those only objects that never fatigue either the eye or the heart. As I approached our habitation, I looked forward to see if Madam de Warens was stirring, and when I perceived her shutters open, I even ran with joy towards the house: if they were yet shut I went into the garden to wait their opening, amusing myself, meantime, by a retrospection of what I had read the preceding evening, or in gardening. The moment the shutter drew back I hastened to embrace her, frequently half asleep; and this salute, pure as it was affectionate, even from its innocence, possessed a charm which the senses can never bestow. We usually breakfasted on milk-coffee; this was the time of day when we had most leisure, and when we chatted with the greatest freedom. These sittings, which were usually pretty long, have given me a fondness for breakfasts, and I infinitely prefer those of England, or Switzerland, which are considered as a meal, at which all the family assemble, than those of France, where they breakfast alone in their several apartments, or more frequently have none at all. After an hour or two passed in discourse, I went to my study till dinner; beginning with some philosophical work, such as the logic of Port-Royal, Locke’s Essays, Mallebranche, Leibnitz, Descartes, etc. I soon found that these authors perpetually contradict each other, and formed the chimerical project of reconciling them, which cost me much labor and loss of time, bewildering my head without any profit. At length (renouncing this idea) I adopted one infinitely more profitable, to which I attribute all the progress I have since made, notwithstanding the defects of my capacity; for ‘tis certain I had very little for study. On reading each author, I acquired a habit of following all his ideas, without suffering my own or those of any other writer to interfere with them, or entering into any dispute on their utility. I said to myself, “I will begin by laying up a stock of ideas, true or false, but clearly conceived, till my understanding shall be sufficiently furnished to enable me to compare and make choice of those that are most estimable.” I am sensible this method is not without its inconveniences, but it succeeded in furnishing me with a fund of instruction. Having passed some years in thinking after others, without reflection, and almost without reasoning, I found myself possessed of sufficient materials to set about thinking on my own account, and when journeys of business deprived me of the opportunities of consulting books, I amused myself with recollecting and comparing what I had read, weighing every opinion on the balance of reason, and frequently judging my masters. Though it was late before I began to exercise my judicial faculties, I have not discovered that they had lost their vigor, and on publishing my own ideas, have never been accused of being a servile disciple or of swearing ‘in verba magistri’.

From these studies I passed to the elements of geometry, for I never went further, forcing my weak memory to retain them by going the same ground a hundred and a hundred times over. I did not admire Euclid, who rather seeks a chain of demonstration than a connection of ideas: I preferred the geometry of Father Lama, who from that time became one of my favorite authors, and whose works I yet read with pleasure. Algebra followed, and Father Lama was still my guide: when I made some progress, I perused Father Reynaud’s Science of Calculation, and then his Analysis Demonstrated; but I never went far enough thoroughly to understand the application of algebra to geometry. I was not pleased with this method of performing operations by rule without knowing what I was about: resolving geometrical problems by the help of equations seemed like playing a tune by turning round a handle. The first time I found by calculation that the square of a binocular figure was composed of the square of each of its parts, and double the product of one by the other; though convinced that my multiplication was right, I could not be satisfied till I had made and examined the figure: not but I admire algebra when applied to abstract quantities, but when used to demonstrate dimensions, I wished to see the operation, and unless explained by lines, could not rightly comprehend it.

After this came Latin: it was my most painful study, and in which I never made great progress. I began by Port-Royal’s Rudiments, but without success; I lost myself in a crowd of rules; and in studying the last forgot all that preceded it. A study of words is not calculated for a man without memory, and it was principally an endeavor to make my memory more retentive, that urged me obstinately to persist in this study, which at length I was obliged to relinquish. As I understood enough to read an easy author by the aid of a dictionary, I followed that method, and found it succeed tolerably well. I likewise applied myself to translation, not by writing, but mentally, and by exercise and perseverance attained to read Latin authors easily, but have never been able to speak or write that language, which has frequently embarrassed me when I have found myself (I know not by what means) enrolled among men of letters.

Another inconvenience that arose from this manner of learning is, that I never understood prosody, much less the rules of versification; yet, anxious to understand the harmony of the language, both in prose and verse, I have made many efforts to obtain it, but am convinced, that without a master it is almost impossible. Having learned the composition of the hexameter, which is the easiest of all verses, I had the patience to measure out the greater part of Virgil into feet and quantity, and whenever I was dubious whether a syllable was long or short, immediately consulted my Virgil. It may easily be conceived that I ran into many errors in consequence of those licenses permitted by the rules of versification; and it is certain, that if there is an advantage in studying alone, there are also great inconveniences and inconceivable labor, as I have experienced more than any one.
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Re: The Confessions of Jean Jacques Rousseau, by Jean Jacque

Postby admin » Wed Aug 01, 2018 6:00 am

Part 2 of 3

At twelve I quitted my books, and if dinner was not ready, paid my friends, the pigeons, a visit, or worked in the garden till it was, and when I heard myself called, ran very willingly, and with a good appetite to partake of it, for it is very remarkable, that let me be ever so indisposed my appetite never fails. We dined very agreeably, chatting till Madam de Warens could eat. Two or three times a week, when it was fine, we drank our coffee in a cool shady arbor behind the house, that I had decorated with hops, and which was very refreshing during the heat; we usually passed an hour in viewing our flowers and vegetables, or in conversation relative to our manner of life, which greatly increased the pleasure of it. I had another little family at the end of the garden; these were several hives of bees, which I never failed to visit once a day, and was frequently accompanied by Madam de Warens. I was greatly interested in their labor, and amused myself seeing them return to the hives, their little thighs so loaded with the precious store that they could hardly walk. At first, curiosity made me indiscreet, and they stung me several times, but afterwards, we were so well acquainted, that let me approach as near as I would, they never molested me, though the hives were full and the bees ready to swarm. At these times I have been surrounded, having them on my hands and face without apprehending any danger. All animals are distrustful of man, and with reason, but when once assured he does not mean to injure them, their confidence becomes so great that he must be worse than a barbarian who abuses it.

After this I returned to my books; but my afternoon employment ought rather to bear the name of recreation and amusement, than labor or study. I have never been able to bear application after dinner, and in general any kind of attention is painful to me during the heat of the day. I employed myself, ‘tis true, but without restraint or rule, and read without studying. What I most attended to at these times, was history and geography, and as these did not require intense application, made as much progress in them as my weak memory would permit. I had an inclination to study Father Petau, and launched into the gloom of chronology, but was disgusted at the critical part, which I found had neither bottom nor banks; this made me prefer the more exact measurement of time by the course of the celestial bodies. I should even have contracted a fondness for astronomy, had I been in possession of instruments, but was obliged to content myself with some of the elements of that art, learned from books, and a few rude observations made with a telescope, sufficient only to give me a general idea of the situation of the heavenly bodies; for my short sight is insufficient to distinguish the stars without the help of a glass.

I recollect an adventure on this subject, the remembrance of which has often diverted me. I had bought a celestial planisphere to study the constellations by, and, having fixed it on a frame, when the nights were fine and the sky clear, I went into the garden; and fixing the frame on four sticks, something higher than myself, which I drove into the ground, turned the planisphere downwards, and contrived to light it by means of a candle (which I put in a pail to prevent the wind from blowing it out) and then placed in the centre of the above-mentioned four supporters; this done, I examined the stars with my glass, and from time to time referring to my planisphere, endeavored to distinguish the various constellations. I think I have before observed that our garden was on a terrace, and lay open to the road. One night, some country people passing very late, saw me in a most grotesque habit, busily employed in these observations: the light, which struck directly on the planisphere, proceeding from a cause they could not divine (the candle being concealed by the sides of the pail), the four stakes supporting a large paper, marked over with various uncouth figures, with the motion of the telescope, which they saw turning backwards and forwards, gave the whole an air of conjuration that struck them with horror and amazement. My figure was by no means calculated to dispel their fears; a flapped hat put on over my nightcap, and a short cloak about my shoulder (which Madam de Warens had obliged me to put on) presented in their idea the image of a real sorcerer. Being near midnight, they made no doubt but this was the beginning of some diabolical assembly, and having no curiosity to pry further into these mysteries, they fled with all possible speed, awakened their neighbors, and described this most dreadful vision. The story spread so fast that the next day the whole neighborhood was informed that a nocturnal assembly of witches was held in the garden that belonged to Monsieur Noiret, and I am ignorant what might have been the consequence of this rumor if one of the countrymen who had been witness to my conjurations had not the same day carried his complaint to two Jesuits, who frequently came to visit us, and who, without knowing the foundation of the story, undeceived and satisfied them. These Jesuits told us the whole affair, and I acquainted them with the cause of it, which altogether furnished us with a hearty laugh. However, I resolved for the future to make my observations without light, and consult my planisphere in the house. Those who have read Venetian magic, in the ‘Letters from the Mountain’, may find that I long since had the reputation of being a conjurer.

Such was the life I led at Charmettes when I had no rural employments, for they ever had the preference, and in those that did not exceed my strength, I worked like a peasant; but my extreme weakness left me little except the will; besides, as I have before observed, I wished to do two things at once, and therefore did neither well. I obstinately persisted in forcing my memory to retain a great deal by heart, and for that purpose, I always carried some book with me, which, while at work, I studied with inconceivable labor. I was continually repeating something, and am really amazed that the fatigue of these vain and continual efforts did not render me entirely stupid. I must have learned and relearned the Eclogues of Virgil twenty times over, though at this time I cannot recollect a single line of them. I have lost or spoiled a great number of books by a custom I had of carrying them with me into the dove-house, the garden, orchard or vineyard, when, being busy about something else, I laid my book at the foot of a tree, on the hedge, or the first place that came to hand, and frequently left them there, finding them a fortnight after, perhaps, rotted to pieces, or eaten by the ants or snails; and this ardor for learning became so far a madness that it rendered me almost stupid, and I was perpetually muttering some passage or other to myself.

The writings of Port-Royal, and those of the Oratory, being what I most read, had made me half a Jansenist, and, notwithstanding all my confidence, their harsh theology sometimes alarmed me. A dread of hell, which till then I had never much apprehended, by little and little disturbed my security, and had not Madam de Warens tranquillized my soul, would at length have been too much for me. My confessor, who was hers likewise, contributed all in his power to keep up my hopes. This was a Jesuit, named Father Hemet; a good and wise old man, whose memory I shall ever hold in veneration. Though a Jesuit, he had the simplicity of a child, and his manners, less relaxed than gentle, were precisely what was necessary to balance the melancholy impressions made on me by Jansenism. This good man and his companion, Father Coppier, came frequently to visit us at Charmette, though the road was very rough and tedious for men of their age. These visits were very comfortable to me, which may the Almighty return to their souls, for they were so old that I cannot suppose them yet living. I sometimes went to see them at Chambery, became acquainted at their convent, and had free access to the library. The remembrance of that happy time is so connected with the idea of those Jesuits, that I love one on account of the other, and though I have ever thought their doctrines dangerous, could never find myself in a disposition to hate them cordially.

I should like to know whether there ever passed such childish notions in the hearts of other men as sometimes do in mine. In the midst of my studies, and of a life as innocent as man could lead, notwithstanding every persuasion to the contrary, the dread of hell frequently tormented me. I asked myself, “What state am I in? Should I die at this instant, must I be damned?” According to my Jansenists the matter was indubitable, but according to my conscience it appeared quite the contrary: terrified and floating in this cruel uncertainty, I had recourse to the most laughable expedient to resolve my doubts, for which I would willingly shut up any man as a lunatic should I see him practise the same folly. One day, meditating on this melancholy subject, I exercised myself in throwing stones at the trunks of trees, with my usual dexterity, that is to say, without hitting any of them. In the height of this charming exercise, it entered my mind to make a kind of prognostic, that might calm my inquietude; I said, “I will throw this stone at the tree facing me; if I hit my mark, I will consider it as a sign of salvation; if I miss, as a token of damnation.” While I said this, I threw the stone with a trembling hand and beating breast but so happily that it struck the body of the tree, which truly was not a difficult matter, for I had taken care to choose one that was very large and very near me. From that moment I never doubted my salvation: I know not on recollecting this trait, whether I ought to laugh or shudder at myself. Ye great geniuses, who surely laugh at my folly, congratulate yourselves on your superior wisdom, but insult not my unhappiness, for I swear to you that I feel it most sensibly.

These troubles, these alarms, inseparable, perhaps, from devotion, were only at intervals; in general, I was tranquil, and the impression made on my soul by the idea of approaching death, was less that of melancholy than a peaceful languor, which even had its pleasures. I have found among my old papers a kind of congratulation and exhortation which I made to myself on dying at an age when I had the courage to meet death with serenity, without having experienced any great evils, either of body or mind. How much justice was there in the thought! A preconception of what I had to suffer made me fear to live, and it seemed that I dreaded the fate which must attend my future days. I have never been so near wisdom as during this period, when I felt no great remorse for the past, nor tormenting fear for the future; the reigning sentiment of my soul being the enjoyment of the present. Serious people usually possess a lively sensuality, which makes them highly enjoy those innocent pleasures that are allowed them. Worldlings (I know not why) impute this to them as a crime: or rather, I well know the cause of this imputation, it is because they envy others the enjoyment of those simple and pure delights which they have lost the relish of. I had these inclinations, and found it charming to gratify them in security of conscience. My yet inexperienced heart gave in to all with the calm happiness of a child, or rather (if I dare use the expression) with the raptures of an angel; for in reality these pure delights are as serene as those of paradise. Dinners on the grass at Montagnole, suppers in our arbor, gathering in the fruits, the vintage, a social meeting with our neighbors; all these were so many holidays, in which Madam de Warens took as much pleasure as myself. Solitary walks afforded yet purer pleasure, because in them our hearts expanded with greater freedom: one particularly remains in my memory; it was on a St. Louis’ day, whose name Madam de Warens bore: we set out together early and unattended, after having heard a mass at break of day in a chapel adjoining our house, from a Carmelite, who attended for that purpose. As I proposed walking over the hills opposite our dwelling, which we had not yet visited, we sent our provisions on before; the excursion being to last the whole day. Madam de Warens, though rather corpulent, did not walk ill, and we rambled from hill to hill and wood to wood, sometimes in the sun, but oftener in the shade, resting from time to time, and regardless how the hours stole away; speaking of ourselves, of our union, of the gentleness of our fate, and offering up prayers for its duration, which were never heard. Everything conspired to augment our happiness: it had rained for several days previous to this, there was no dust, the brooks were full and rapid, a gentle breeze agitated the leaves, the air was pure, the horizon free from clouds, serenity reigned in the sky as in our hearts. Our dinner was prepared at a peasant’s house, and shared with him and his family, whose benedictions we received. These poor Savoyards are the worthiest of people! After dinner we regained the shade, and while I was picking up bits of dried sticks, to boil our coffee, Madam de Warens amused herself with herbalizing among the bushes, and with the flowers I had gathered for her in my way. She made me remark in their construction a thousand natural beauties, which greatly amused me, and which ought to have given me a taste for botany; but the time was not yet come, and my attention was arrested by too many other studies. Besides this, an idea struck me, which diverted my thoughts from flowers and plants: the situation of my mind at that moment, all that we had said or done that day, every object that had struck me, brought to my remembrance the kind of waking dream I had at Annecy seven or eight years before, and which I have given an account of in its place. The similarity was so striking that it affected me even to tears: in a transport of tenderness I embraced Madam de Warens. “My dearest friend,” said I, “this day has long since been promised me: I can see nothing beyond it: my happiness, by your means, is at its height; may it never decrease; may it continue as long as I am sensible of its value—then it can only finish with my life.”

Thus happily passed my days, and the more happily as I perceived nothing that could disturb or bring them to a conclusion; not that the cause of my former uneasiness had absolutely ceased, but I saw it take another course, which I directed with my utmost care to useful objects, that the remedy might accompany the evil. Madam de Warens naturally loved the country, and this taste did not cool while with me. By little and little she contracted a fondness for rustic employments, wished to make the most of her land, and had in that particular a knowledge which she practised with pleasure.

Not satisfied with what belonged to the house, she hired first a field, then a meadow, transferring her enterprising humor to the objects of agriculture, and instead of remaining unemployed in the house, was in the way of becoming a complete farmer. I was not greatly pleased to see this passion increase, and endeavored all I could to oppose it; for I was certain she would be deceived, and that her liberal extravagant disposition would infallibly carry her expenses beyond her profits; however, I consoled myself by thinking the produce could not be useless, and would at least help her to live. Of all the projects she could form, this appeared the least ruinous: without regarding it, therefore, in the light she did, as a profitable scheme, I considered it as a perpetual employment, which would keep her from more ruinous enterprises, and out of the reach of impostors. With this idea, I ardently wished to recover my health and strength, that I might superintend her affairs, overlook her laborers, or, rather, be the principal one myself. The exercise this naturally obliged me to take, with the relaxation it procured me from books and study, was serviceable to my health.

The winter following, Barillot returning from Italy, brought me some books; and among others, the ‘Bontempi’ and ‘la Cartella per Musica’, of Father Banchieri; these gave me a taste for the history of music and for the theoretical researches of that pleasing art. Barillot remained some time with us, and as I had been of age some months, I determined to go to Geneva the following spring, and demand my mother’s inheritance, or at least that part which belonged to me, till it could be ascertained what had become of my brother. This plan was executed as it had been resolved: I went to Geneva; my father met me there, for he had occasionally visited Geneva a long time since, without its being particularly noticed, though the decree that had been pronounced against him had never been reversed; but being esteemed for his courage, and respected for his probity, the situation of his affairs was pretended to be forgotten; or perhaps, the magistrates, employed with the great project that broke out some little time after, were not willing to alarm the citizens by recalling to their memory, at an improper time, this instance of their former partiality.

I apprehended that I should meet with difficulties, on account of having changed my religion, but none occurred; the laws of Geneva being less harsh in that particular than those of Berne, where, whoever changes his religion, not only loses his freedom, but his property. My rights, however, were not disputed: but I found my patrimony, I know not how, reduced to very little, and though it was known almost to a certainty that my brother was dead, yet, as there was no legal proof, I could not lay claim to his share, which I left without regret to my father, who enjoyed it as long as he lived. No sooner were the necessary formalities adjusted, and I had received my money, some of which I expended in books, than I flew with the remainder to Madam de Warens; my heart beat with joy during the journey, and the moment in which I gave the money into her hands, was to me a thousand times more delightful than that which gave it into mine. She received this with a simplicity common to great souls, who, doing similar actions without effort, see them without admiration; indeed it was almost all expended for my use, for it would have been employed in the same manner had it come from any other quarter.

My health was not yet re-established; I decayed visibly, was pale as death, and reduced to an absolute skeleton; the beating of my arteries was extreme, my palpitations were frequent: I was sensible of a continual oppression, and my weakness became at length so great, that I could scarcely move or step without danger of suffocation, stoop without vertigoes, or lift even the smallest weight, which reduced me to the most tormenting inaction for a man so naturally stirring as myself. It is certain my disorder was in a great measure hypochondriacal. The vapors is a malady common to people in fortunate situations: the tears I frequently shed, without reason; the lively alarms I felt on the falling of a leaf, or the fluttering of a bird; inequality of humor in the calm of a most pleasing life; lassitude which made me weary even of happiness, and carried sensibility to extravagance, were an instance of this. We are so little formed for felicity, that when the soul and body do not suffer together, they must necessarily endure separate inconveniences, the good state of the one being almost always injurious to the happiness of the other. Had all the pleasure of life courted me, my weakened frame would not have permitted the enjoyment of them, without my being able to particularize the real seat of my complaint; yet in the decline of life; after having encountered very serious and real evils, my body seemed to regain its strength, as if on purpose to encounter additional misfortunes; and, at the moment I write this, though infirm, near sixty, and overwhelmed with every kind of sorrow, I feel more ability to suffer than I ever possessed for enjoyment when in the very flower of my age, and in the bosom of real happiness.

To complete me, I had mingled a little physiology among my other readings: I set about studying anatomy, and considering the multitude, movement, and wonderful construction of the various parts that composed the human machine; my apprehensions were instantly increased, I expected to feel mine deranged twenty times a day, and far from being surprised to find myself dying, was astonished that I yet existed! I could not read the description of any malady without thinking it mine, and, had I not been already indisposed, I am certain I should have become so from this study. Finding in every disease symptoms similar to mine, I fancied I had them all, and, at length, gained one more troublesome than any I yet suffered, which I had thought myself delivered from; this was, a violent inclination to seek a cure; which it is very difficult to suppress, when once a person begins reading physical books. By searching, reflecting, and comparing, I became persuaded that the foundation of my complaint was a polypus at the heart, and Doctor Salomon appeared to coincide with the idea. Reasonably this opinion should have confirmed my former resolution of considering myself past cure; this, however, was not the case; on the contrary; I exerted every power of my understanding in search of a remedy for a polypus, resolving to undertake this marvellous cure.

In a journey which Anet had made to Montpelier, to see the physical garden there, and visit Monsieur Sauvages, the demonstrator, he had been informed that Monsieur Fizes had cured a polypus similar to that I fancied myself afflicted with: Madam de Warens, recollecting this circumstance, mentioned it to me, and nothing more was necessary to inspire me with a desire to consult Monsieur Fizes. The hope of recovery gave me courage and strength to undertake the journey; the money from Geneva furnished the means; Madam de Warens, far from dissuading, entreated me to go: behold me, therefore, without further ceremony, set out for Montpelier!—but it was not necessary to go so far to find the cure I was in search of.

Finding the motion of the horse too fatiguing, I had hired a chaise at Grenoble, and on entering Moirans, five or six other chaises arrived in a rank after mine. The greater part of these were in the train of a new married lady called Madam du Colombier; with her was a Madam de Larnage, not so young or handsome as the former, yet not less amiable. The bride was to stop at Romans, but the other lady was to pursue her route as far as Saint-Andiol, near the bridge du St. Esprit. With my natural timidity it will not be conjectured that I was very ready at forming an acquaintance with these fine ladies, and the company that attended them; but travelling the same road, lodging at the same inns, and being obliged to eat at the same table, the acquaintance seemed unavoidable, as any backwardness on my part would have got me the character of a very unsociable being: it was formed then, and even sooner than I desired, for all this bustle was by no means convenient to a person in ill health, particularly to one of my humor. Curiosity renders these vixens extremely insinuating; they accomplish their design of becoming acquainted with a man by endeavoring to turn his brain, and this was precisely what happened to me. Madam du Colombier was too much surrounded by her young gallants to have any opportunity of paying much attention to me; besides, it was not worthwhile, as we were to separate in so short a time; but Madam de Larnage (less attended to than her young friend) had to provide herself for the remainder of the journey; behold me, then, attacked by Madam de Larnage, and adieu to poor Jean Jacques, or rather farewell to fever, vapors, and polypus; all completely vanished when in her presence. The ill state of my health was the first subject of our conversation; they saw I was indisposed, knew I was going to Montpelier, but my air and manner certainly did not exhibit the appearance of a libertine, since it was clear by what followed they did not suspect I was going there for a reason that carries many that road.

In the morning they sent to inquire after my health and invite me to take chocolate with them, and when I made my appearance asked how I had passed the night. Once, according to my praiseworthy custom of speaking without thought, I replied, “I did not know,” which answer naturally made them conclude I was a fool: but, on questioning me further; the examination turned out so far to my advantage, that I rather rose in their opinion, and I once heard Madam du Colombier say to her friend, “He is amiable, but not sufficiently acquainted with the world.” These words were a great encouragement, and assisted me in rendering myself agreeable.

As we became more familiar, it was natural to give each other some little account of whence we came and who we were: this embarrassed me greatly, for I was sensible that in good company and among women of spirit, the very name of a new convert would utterly undo me. I know not by what whimsicality I resolved to pass for an Englishman; however, in consequence of that determination I gave myself out for a Jacobite, and was readily believed. They called me Monsieur Dudding, which was the name I assumed with my new character, and a cursed Marquis Torignan, who was one of the company, an invalid like myself, and both old and ill-tempered,took it in his head to begin a long conversation with me. He spoke of King James, of the Pretender, and the old court of St. Germain’s; I sat on thorns the whole time, for I was totally unacquainted with all these except what little I had picked up in the account of Earl Hamilton, and from the gazettes; however, I made such fortunate use of the little I did know as to extricate myself from this dilemma, happy in not being questioned on the English language, which I did not know a single word of.

The company were all very agreeable; we looked forward to the moment of separation with regret, and therefore made snails’ journeys. We arrived one Sunday at St. Marcelein’s; Madam de Larnage would go to mass; I accompanied her, and had nearly ruined all my affairs, for by my modest reserved countenance during the service, she concluded me a bigot, and conceived a very indifferent opinion of me, as I learned from her own account two days after. It required a great deal of gallantry on my part to efface this ill impression, or rather Madam de Larnage (who was not easily disheartened) determined to risk the first advances, and see how I should behave. She made several, but far from being presuming on my figure, I thought she was making sport of me: full of this ridiculous idea there was no folly I was not guilty of.

Madam de Larnage persisted in such caressing behavior, that a much wiser man than myself could hardly have taken it seriously. The more obvious her advances were, the more I was confirmed in my mistake, and what increased my torment, I found I was really in love with her. I frequently said to myself, and sometimes to her, sighing, “Ah! why is not all this real? then should I be the most fortunate of men.” I am inclined to think my stupidity did but increase her resolution, and make her determined to get the better of it.

We left Madam du Colombier at Romans; after which Madam de Larnage, the Marquis de Torignan, and myself continued our route slowly, and in the most agreeable manner. The marquis, though indisposed, and rather ill-humored, was an agreeable companion, but was not best pleased at seeing the lady bestow all her attentions on me, while he passed unregarded; for Madam de Larnage took so little care to conceal her inclination, that he perceived it sooner than I did, and his sarcasms must have given me that confidence I could not presume to take from the kindness of the lady, if by a surmise, which no one but myself could have blundered on, I had not imagined they perfectly understood each other, and were agreed to turn my passion into ridicule. This foolish idea completed my stupidity, making me act the most ridiculous part, while, had I listened to the feelings of my heart, I might have been performing one far more brilliant. I am astonished that Madam de Larnage was not disgusted at my folly, and did not discard me with disdain; but she plainly perceived there was more bashfulness than indifference in my composition.

We arrived at Valence to dinner, and according to our usual custom passed the remainder of the day there. We lodged out of the city, at the St. James, an inn I shall never forget. After dinner, Madam de Larnage proposed a walk; she knew the marquis was no walker, consequently, this was an excellent plan for a tete-a-tete, which she was predetermined to make the most of. While we were walking round the city by the side of the moats, I entered on a long history of my complaint, to which she answered in so tender an accent, frequently pressing my arm, which she held to her heart, that it required all my stupidity not to be convinced of the sincerity of her attachment. I have already observed that she was amiable; love rendered her charming, adding all the loveliness of youth: and she managed her advances with so much art, that they were sufficient to have seduced the most insensible: I was, therefore, in very uneasy circumstances, and frequently on the point of making a declaration; but the dread of offending her, and the still greater of being laughed at, ridiculed, made table-talk, and complimented on my enterprise by the satirical marquis, had such unconquerable power over me, that, though ashamed of my ridiculous bashfulness, I could not take courage to surmount it. I had ended the history of my complaints, which I felt the ridiculousness of at this time; and not knowing how to look, or what to say, continued silent, giving the finest opportunity in the world for that ridicule I so much dreaded. Happily, Madam de Larnage took a more favorable resolution, and suddenly interrupted this silence by throwing her arms round my neck, while, at the same instant, her lips spoke too plainly on mine to be any longer misunderstood. This was reposing that confidence in me the want of which has almost always prevented me from appearing myself: for once I was at ease, my heart, eyes and tongue, spoke freely what I felt; never did I make better reparation for my mistakes, and if this little conquest had cost Madam de Larnage some difficulties, I have reason to believe she did not regret them.

Was I to live a hundred years, I should never forget this charming woman. I say charming, for though neither young nor beautiful, she was neither old nor ugly, having nothing in her appearance that could prevent her wit and accomplishments from producing all their effects. It was possible to see her without falling in love, but those she favored could not fail to adore her; which proves, in my opinion, that she was not generally so prodigal of her favors. It is true, her inclination for me was so sudden and lively, that it scarce appears excusable; though from the short, but charming interval I passed with her, I have reason to think her heart was more influenced than her passions.

Our good intelligence did not escape the penetration of the marquis; not that he discontinued his usual raillery; on the contrary, he treated me as a sighing, hopeless swain, languishing under the rigors of his mistress; not a word, smile, or look escaped him by which I could imagine he suspected my happiness; and I should have thought him completely deceived, had not Madam de Larnage, who was more clear-sighted than myself, assured me of the contrary; but he was a well-bred man, and it was impossible to behave with more attention or greater civility, than he constantly paid me (notwithstanding his satirical sallies), especially after my success, which, as he was unacquainted with my stupidity, he perhaps gave me the honor of achieving. It has already been seen that he was mistaken in this particular; but no matter, I profited by his error, for being conscious that the laugh was on my side, I took all his sallies in good part, and sometimes parried them with tolerable success; for, proud of the reputation of wit which Madam de Larnage had thought fit to discover in me, I no longer appeared the same man.

We were both in a country and season of plenty, and had everywhere excellent cheer, thanks to the good cares of the marquis; though I would willingly have relinquished this advantage to have been more satisfied with the situation of our chambers; but he always sent his footman on to provide them; and whether of his own accord, or by the order of his master, the rogue always took care that the marquis’ chamber should be close by Madam de Larnage’s, while mine was at the further end of the house: but that made no great difference, or perhaps it rendered our rendezvous the more charming; this happiness lasted four or five days, during which time I was intoxicated with delight, which I tasted pure and serene without any alloy; an advantage I could never boast before; and, I may add, it is owing to Madam de Larnage that I did not go out of the world without having tasted real pleasure.

If the sentiment I felt for her was not precisely love, it was at least a very tender return of what she testified for me; our meetings were so delightful, that they possessed all the sweets of love; without that kind of delirium which affects the brain, and even tends to diminish our happiness. I never experienced true love but once in my life, and that was not with Madam de Larnage, neither did I feel that affection for her which I had been sensible of, and yet continued to possess, for Madam de Warens; but for this very reason, our tete-a-tetes were a hundred times more delightful. When with Madam de Warens, my felicity was always disturbed by a secret sadness, a compunction of heart, which I found it impossible to surmount. Instead of being delighted at the acquisition of so much happiness, I could not help reproaching myself for contributing to render her I loved unworthy: on the contrary, with Madam de Lamage, I was proud of my happiness, and gave in to it without repugnance, while my triumph redoubled every other charm.

I do not recollect exactly where we quitted the marquis, who resided in this country, but I know we were alone on our arrival at Montelimar, where Madam de Larnage made her chambermaid get into my chaise, and accommodate me with a seat in hers. It will easily be believed, that travelling in this manner was by no means displeasing to me, and that I should be very much puzzled to give any account of the country we passed through. She had some business at Montelimar, which detained her there two or three days; during this time she quitted me but one quarter of an hour, for a visit she could not avoid, which embarrassed her with a number of invitations she had no inclination to accept, and therefore excused herself by pleading some indisposition; though she took care this should not prevent our walking together every day, in the most charming country, and under the finest sky imaginable. Oh! these three days! what reason have I to regret them! Never did such happiness return again.

The amours of a journey cannot be very durable: it was necessary we should part, and I must confess it was almost time; not that I was weary of my happiness, but I might as well have been. We endeavored to comfort each other for the pain of parting, by forming plans for our reunion; and it was concluded, that after staying five or six weeks at Montpelier (which would give Madam de Larnage time to prepare for my reception in such a manner as to prevent scandal) I should return to Saint-Andiol, and spend the winter under her direction. She gave me ample instruction on what it was necessary I should know, on what it would be proper to say; and how I should conduct myself. She spoke much and earnestly on the care of my health, conjured me to consult skilful physicians, and be attentive and exact in following their prescriptions whatever they might happen to be. I believe her concern was sincere, for she loved me, and gave proofs of her affection less equivocal than the prodigality of her favors; for judging by my mode of travelling, that I was not in very affluent circumstances (though not rich herself), on our parting, she would have had me share the contents of her purse, which she had brought pretty well furnished from Grenoble, and it was with great difficulty I could make her put up with a denial. In a word, we parted; my heart full of her idea, and leaving in hers (if I am not mistaken) a firm attachment to me.

While pursuing the remainder of my journey, remembrance ran over everything that had passed from the commencement of it, and I was well satisfied at finding myself alone in a comfortable chaise, where I could ruminate at ease on the pleasures I had enjoyed, and those which awaited my return. I only thought of Saint-Andiol; of the life I was to lead there; I saw nothing but Madam de Larnage, or what related to her; the whole universe besides was nothing to me—even Madam de Warens was forgotten!—I set about combining all the details by which Madam de Larnage had endeavored to give me in advance an idea of her house, of the neighborhood, of her connections, and manner of life, finding everything charming.
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Re: The Confessions of Jean Jacques Rousseau, by Jean Jacque

Postby admin » Wed Aug 01, 2018 6:00 am

Part 3 of 3

She had a daughter, whom she had often described in the warmest terms of maternal affection: this daughter was fifteen, lively, charming, and of an amiable disposition. Madam de Larnage promised me her friendship; I had not forgotten that promise, and was curious to know how Mademoiselle de Larnage would treat her mother’s ‘bon ami’. These were the subjects of my reveries from the bridge of St. Esprit to Remoulin: I had been advised to visit the Pont-du-Gard; hitherto I had seen none of the remaining monuments of Roman magnificence, and I expected to find this worthy the hands by which it was constructed; for once, the reality surpassed my expectation; this was the only time in my life it ever did so, and the Romans alone could have produced that effect. The view of this noble and sublime work, struck me the more forcibly, from being in the midst of a desert, where silence and solitude render the majestic edifice more striking, and admiration more lively, for though called a bridge it is nothing more than an aqueduct. One cannot help exclaiming, what strength could have transported these enormous stones so far from any quarry? And what motive could have united the labors of so many millions of men, in a place that no one inhabited? I remained here whole hours, in the most ravishing contemplation, and returned pensive and thoughtful to my inn. This reverie was by no means favorable to Madam de Larnage; she had taken care to forewarn me against the girls of Montpelier, but not against the Pont-du-Gard—it is impossible to provide for every contingency.

On my arrival at Nismes, I went to see the amphitheatre, which is a far more magnificent work than even the Pont-du-Gard, yet it made a much less impression on me, perhaps, because my admiration had been already exhausted on the former object; or that the situation of the latter, in the midst of a city, was less proper to excite it. This vast and superb circus is surrounded by small dirty houses, while yet smaller and dirtier fill up the area, in such a manner that the whole produces an unequal and confused effect, in which regret and indignation stifle pleasure and surprise. The amphitheatre at Verona is a vast deal smaller, and less beautiful than that at Nismes, but preserved with all possible care and neatness, by which means alone it made a much stronger and more agreeable impression on me. The French pay no regard to these things, respect no monument of antiquity; ever eager to undertake, they never finish, nor preserve anything that is already finished to their hands.

I was so much better, and had gained such an appetite by exercise, that I stopped a whole day at Pont-du-Lunel, for the sake of good entertainment and company, this being deservedly esteemed at that time the best inn in Europe; for those who kept it, knowing how to make its fortunate situation turn to advantage, took care to provide both abundance and variety. It was really curious to find in a lonely country-house, a table every day furnished with sea and fresh-water fish, excellent game, and choice wines, served up with all the attention and care, which are only to be expected among the great or opulent, and all this for thirty five sous each person: but the Pont-du-Lunel did not long remain on this footing, for the proprietor, presuming too much on its reputation, at length lost it entirely.

During this journey, I really forgot my complaints, but recollected them again on my arrival at Montpelier. My vapors were absolutely gone, but every other complaint remained, and though custom had rendered them less troublesome, they were still sufficient to make any one who had been suddenly seized with them, suppose himself attacked by some mortal disease. In effect they were rather alarming than painful, and made the mind suffer more than the body, though it apparently threatened the latter with destruction. While my attention was called off by the vivacity of my passions, I paid no attention to my health; but as my complaints were not altogether imaginary, I thought of them seriously when the tumult had subsided. Recollecting the salutary advice of Madam de Larnage, and the cause of my journey, I consulted the most famous practitioners, particularly Monsieur Fizes; and through superabundance of precaution boarded at a doctor’s who was an Irishman, and named Fitz-Morris.

This person boarded a number of young gentlemen who were studying physic; and what rendered his house very commodious for an invalid, he contented himself with a moderate pension for provisions, lodging, etc., and took nothing of his boarders for attendance as a physician. He even undertook to execute the orders of M. Fizes, and endeavored to re-establish my health. He certainly acquitted himself very well in this employment; as to regimen, indigestions were not to be gained at his table; and though I am not much hurt at privations of that kind, the objects of comparison were so near, that I could not help thinking with myself sometimes, that M. de Torignan was a much better provider than M. Fitz-Morris; notwithstanding, as there was no danger of dying with hunger, and all the youths were gay and good-humored, I believe this manner of living was really serviceable, and prevented my falling into those languors I had latterly been so subject to. I passed the morning in taking medicines, particularly, I know not what kind of waters, but believe they were those of Vals, and in writing to Madam de Larnage: for the correspondence was regularly kept up, and Rousseau kindly undertook to receive these letters for his good friend Dudding. At noon I took a walk to the Canourgue, with some of our young boarders, who were all very good lads; after this we assembled for dinner; when this was over, an affair of importance employed the greater part of us till night; this was going a little way out of town to take our afternoon’s collation, and make up two or three parties at mall, or mallet. As I had neither strength nor skill, I did not play myself but I betted on the game, and, interested for the success of my wager, followed the players and their balls over rough and stony roads, procuring by this means both an agreeable and salutary exercise. We took our afternoon’s refreshment at an inn out of the city. I need not observe that these meetings were extremely merry, but should not omit that they were equally innocent, though the girls of the house were very pretty. M. Fitz-Morris (who was a great mall player himself) was our president; and I must observe, notwithstanding the imputation of wildness that is generally bestowed on students, that I found more virtuous dispositions among these youths than could easily be found among an equal number of men: they were rather noisy than fond of wine, and more merry than libertine.

I accustomed myself so much to this mode of life, and it accorded so entirely with my humor, that I should have been very well content with a continuance of it. Several of my fellow-boarders were Irish, from whom I endeavored to learn some English words, as a precaution for Saint-Andiol. The time now drew near for my departure; every letter Madam de Larnage wrote, she entreated me not to delay it, and at length I prepared to obey her.

I was convinced that the physicians (who understood nothing of my disorder) looked on my complaint as imaginary, and treated me accordingly, with their waters and whey. In this respect physicians and philosophers differ widely from theologians; admitting the truth only of what they can explain, and making their knowledge the measure of possibilities. These gentlemen understood nothing of my illness, therefore concluded I could not be ill; and who would presume to doubt the profound skill of a physician? I plainly saw they only meant to amuse, and make me swallow my money; and judging their substitute at Saint-Andiol would do me quite as much service, and be infinitely more agreeable, I resolved to give her the preference; full, therefore, of this wise resolution, I quitted Montpelier.

I set off towards the end of November, after a stay of six weeks or two months in that city, where I left a dozen louis, without either my health or understanding being the better for it, except from a short course of anatomy begun under M. Fitz-Morris, which I was soon obliged to abandon, from the horrid stench of the bodies he dissected, which I found it impossible to endure.

Not thoroughly satisfied in my own mind on the rectitude of this expedition, as I advanced towards the Bridge of St. Esprit (which was equally the road to Saint-Andiol and to Chambery) I began to reflect on Madam de Warens, the remembrance of whose letters, though less frequent than those from Madam de Larnage, awakened in my heart a remorse that passion had stifled in the first part of my journey, but which became so lively on my return, that, setting just estimate on the love of pleasure, I found myself in such a situation of mind that I could listen wholly to the voice of reason. Besides, in continuing to act the part of an adventurer, I might be less fortunate than I had been in the beginning; for it was only necessary that in all Saint-Andiol there should be one person who had been in England, or who knew the English or anything of their language, to prove me an impostor. The family of Madam de Larnage might not be pleased with me, and would, perhaps, treat me unpolitely; her daughter too made me uneasy, for, spite of myself, I thought more of her than was necessary. I trembled lest I should fall in love with this girl, and that very fear had already half done the business. Was I going, in return for the mother’s kindness, to seek the ruin of the daughter? To sow dissension, dishonor, scandal, and hell itself, in her family? The very idea struck me with horror, and I took the firmest resolution to combat and vanquish this unhappy attachment, should I be so unfortunate as to experience it. But why expose myself to this danger? How miserable must the situation be to live with the mother, whom I should be weary of, and sigh for the daughter, without daring to make known my affection! What necessity was there to seek this situation, and expose myself to misfortunes, affronts and remorse, for the sake of pleasures whose greatest charm was already exhausted? For I was sensible this attachment had lost its first vivacity. With these thoughts were mingled reflections relative to my situation and duty to that good and generous friend, who already loaded with debts, would become more so from the foolish expenses I was running into, and whom I was deceiving so unworthily. This reproach at length became so keen that it triumphed over every temptation, and on approaching the bridge of St. Esprit I formed the resolution to burn my whole magazine of letters from Saint-Andiol, and continue my journey right forward to Chambery.

I executed this resolution courageously, with some sighs I confess, but with the heart-felt satisfaction, which I enjoyed for the first time in my life, of saying, “I merit my own esteem, and know how to prefer duty to pleasure.” This was the first real obligation I owed my books, since these had taught me to reflect and compare. After the virtuous principles I had so lately adopted, after all the rules of wisdom and honor I had proposed to myself, and felt so proud to follow, the shame of possessing so little stability, and contradicting so egregiously my own maxims, triumphed over the allurements of pleasure. Perhaps, after all, pride had as much share in my resolution as virtue; but if this pride is not virtue itself, its effects are so similar that we are pardonable in deceiving ourselves.

One advantage resulting from good actions is that they elevate the soul to a disposition of attempting still better; for such is human weakness, that we must place among our good deeds an abstinence from those crimes we are tempted to commit. No sooner was my resolution confirmed than I became another man, or rather, I became what I was before I had erred, and saw in its true colors what the intoxication of the moment had either concealed or disguised. Full of worthy sentiments and wise resolutions, I continued my journey, intending to regulate my future conduct by the laws of virtue, and dedicate myself without reserve to that best of friends, to whom I vowed as much fidelity in future as I felt real attachment. The sincerity of this return to virtue appeared to promise a better destiny; but mine, alas! was fixed, and already begun: even at the very moment when my heart, full of good and virtuous sentiments, was contemplating only innocence and happiness through life, I touched on the fatal period that was to draw after it the long chain of my misfortunes!

My impatience to arrive at Chambery had made me use more diligence than I meant to do. I had sent a letter from Valence, mentioning the day and hour I should arrive, but I had gained half a day on this calculation, which time I passed at Chaparillan, that I might arrive exactly at the time I mentioned. I wished to enjoy to its full extent the pleasure of seeing her, and preferred deferring this happiness a little, that expectancy might increase the value of it. This precaution had always succeeded; hitherto my arrival had caused a little holiday; I expected no less this time, and these preparations, so dear to me, would have been well worth the trouble of contriving them.

I arrived then exactly at the hour, and while at a considerable distance, looked forward with an expectancy of seeing her on the road to meet me. The beating of my heart increased as I drew near the house; at length I arrived, quite out of breath; for I had left my chaise in the town. I see no one in the garden, at the door, or at the windows; I am seized with terror, fearful that some accident has happened. I enter; all is quiet; the laborers are eating their luncheon in the kitchen, and far from observing any preparation, the servants seem surprised to see me, not knowing I was expected. I go up-stairs, at length see her!—that dear friend! so tenderly, truly, and entirely beloved. I instantly ran towards her, and threw myself at her feet. “Ah! child!” said she, “art thou returned then!” embracing me at the same time. “Have you had a good journey? How do you do?” This reception amused me for some moments. I then asked, whether she had received my letter? she answered “Yes.”—“I should have thought not,” replied I; and the information concluded there. A young man was with her at this time. I recollected having seen him in the house before my departure, but at present he seemed established there; in short, he was so; I found my place already supplied!

This young man came from the country of Vaud; his father, named Vintzenried, was keeper of the prison, or, as he expressed himself, Captain of the Castle of Chillon. This son of the captain was a journeyman peruke-maker, and gained his living in that capacity when he first presented himself to Madam de Warens, who received him kindly, as she did all comers, particularly those from her own country. He was a tall, fair, silly youth; well enough made, with an unmeaning face, and a mind of the same description, speaking always like the beau in a comedy, and mingling the manners and customs of his former situation with a long history of his gallantry and success; naming, according to his account, not above half the marchionesses who had favored him and pretending never to have dressed the head of a pretty woman, without having likewise decorated her husband’s; vain, foolish, ignorant and insolent; such was the worthy substitute taken in my absence, and the companion offered me on my return!

O! if souls disengaged from their terrestrial bonds, yet view from the bosom of eternal light what passes here below, pardon, dear and respectable shade, that I show no more favor to your failings than my own, but equally unveil both. I ought and will be just to you as to myself; but how much less will you lose by this resolution than I shall! How much do your amiable and gentle disposition, your inexhaustible goodness of heart, your frankness and other amiable virtues, compensate for your foibles, if a subversion of reason alone can be called such. You had errors, but not vices; your conduct was reprehensible, but your heart was ever pure.

The new-comer had shown himself zealous and exact in all her little commissions, which were ever numerous, and he diligently overlooked the laborers. As noisy and insolent as I was quiet and forbearing, he was seen or rather heard at the plough, in the hay-loft, wood-house, stable, farm-yard, at the same instant. He neglected the gardening, this labor being too peaceful and moderate; his chief pleasure was to load or drive the cart, to saw or cleave wood; he was never seen without a hatchet or pick-axe in his hand, running, knocking and hallooing with all his might. I know not how many men’s labor he performed, but he certainly made noise enough for ten or a dozen at least. All this bustle imposed on poor Madam de Warens; she thought this young man a treasure, and, willing to attach him to herself, employed the means she imagined necessary for that purpose, not forgetting what she most depended on, the surrender of her person.

Those who have thus far read this work should be able to form some judgment of my heart; its sentiments were the most constant and sincere, particularly those which had brought me back to Chambery; what a sudden and complete overthrow was this to my whole being! but to judge fully of this, the reader must place himself for a moment in my situation. I saw all the future felicity I had promised myself vanish in a moment; all the charming ideas I had indulged so affectionately, disappear entirely; and I, who even from childhood had not been able to consider my existence for a moment as separate from hers, for the first time saw myself utterly alone. This moment was dreadful, and those that succeeded it were ever gloomy. I was yet young, but the pleasing sentiments of enjoyment and hope, which enliven youth, were extinguished. From that hour my existence seemed half annihilated. I contemplated in advance the melancholy remains of an insipid life, and if at any time an image of happiness glanced through my mind, it was not that which appeared natural to me, and I felt that even should I obtain it I must still be wretched.

I was so dull of apprehension, and my confidence in her was so great, that, notwithstanding the familiar tone of the new-comer, which I looked on as an effect of the easy disposition of Madam de Warens, which rendered her free with everyone, I never should have suspected his real situation had not she herself informed me of it; but she hastened to make this avowal with a freedom calculated to inflame me with resentment, could my heart have turned to that point. Speaking of this connection as quite immaterial with respect to herself, she reproached me with negligence in the care of the family, and mentioned my frequent absence, as though she had been in haste to supply my place. “Ah!” said I, my heart bursting with the most poignant grief, “what do you dare to inform me of? Is this the reward of an attachment like mine? Have you so many times preserved my life, for the sole purpose of taking from me all that could render it desirable? Your infidelity will bring me to the grave, but you will regret my loss!” She answered with a tranquillity sufficient to distract me, that I talked like a child; that people did not die from such slight causes; that our friendship need be no less sincere, nor we any less intimate, for that her tender attachment to me could neither diminish nor end but with herself; in a word she gave me to understand that my happiness need not suffer any decrease from the good fortune of this new favorite.

Never did the purity, truth and force of my attachment to her appear more evident; never did I feel the sincerity and honesty of my soul more forcibly, than at that moment. I threw myself at her feet, embracing her knees with torrents of tears. “No, madam,” replied I, with the most violent agitation, “I love you too much to disgrace you thus far, and too truly to share you; the regret that accompanied the first acquisition of your favors has continued to increase with my affection. I cannot preserve them by so violent an augmentation of it. You shall ever have my adoration: be worthy of it; to me that is more necessary than all you can bestow. It is to you, O my dearest friend! that I resign my rights; it is to the union of our hearts that I sacrifice my pleasure; rather would I perish a thousand times than thus degrade her I love.”

I preserved this resolution with a constancy worthy, I may say, of the sentiment that gave it birth. From this moment I saw this beloved woman but with the eyes of a real son. It should be remarked here, that this resolve did not meet her private approbation, as I too well perceived; yet she never employed the least art to make me renounce it either by insinuating proposals, caresses, or any of those means which women so well know how to employ without exposing themselves to violent censure, and which seldom fail to succeed. Reduced to seek a fate independent of hers, and not able to devise one, I passed to the other extreme, placing my happiness so absolutely in her, that I became almost regardless of myself. The ardent desire to see her happy, at any rate, absorbed all my affections; it was in vain she endeavored to separate her felicity from mine, I felt I had a part in it, spite of every impediment.

Thus those virtues whose seeds in my heart begun to spring up with my misfortunes: they had been cultivated by study, and only waited the fermentation of adversity to become prolific. The first-fruit of this disinterested disposition was to put from my heart every sentiment of hatred and envy against him who had supplanted me. I even sincerely wished to attach myself to this young man; to form and educate him; to make him sensible of his happiness, and, if possible, render him worthy of it; in a word, to do for him what Anet had formerly done for me. But the similarity of dispositions was wanting. More insinuating and enlightened than Anet, I possessed neither his coolness, fortitude, nor commanding strength of character, which I must have had in order to succeed. Neither did the young man possess those qualities which Anet found in me; such as gentleness, gratitude, and above all, the knowledge of a want of his instructions, and an ardent desire to render them useful. All these were wanting; the person I wished to improve, saw in me nothing but an importunate, chattering pedant: while on the contrary he admired his own importance in the house, measuring the services he thought he rendered by the noise he made, and looking on his saws, hatchets, and pick-axes, as infinitely more useful than all my old books: and, perhaps, in this particular, he might not be altogether blamable; but he gave himself a number of airs sufficient to make anyone die with laughter. With the peasants he assumed the airs of a country gentleman; presently he did as much with me, and at length with Madam de Warens herself. His name, Vintzenried, did not appear noble enough, he therefore changed it to that of Monsieur de Courtilles, and by the latter appellation he was known at Chambery, and in Maurienne, where he married.

At length this illustrious personage gave himself such airs of consequence, that he was everything in the house, and myself nothing. When I had the misfortune to displease him, he scolded Madam de Warens, and a fear of exposing her to his brutality rendered me subservient to all his whims, so that every time he cleaved wood (an office which he performed with singular pride) it was necessary I should be an idle spectator and admirer of his prowess. This lad was not, however, of a bad disposition; he loved Madam de Warens, indeed it was impossible to do otherwise; nor had he any aversion even to me, and when he happened to be out of his airs would listen to our admonitions, and frankly own he was a fool; yet notwithstanding these acknowledgements his follies continued in the same proportion. His knowledge was so contracted, and his inclinations so mean, that it was useless to reason, and almost impossible to be pleased with him. Not content with a most charming woman, he amused himself with an old red-haired, toothless waiting-maid, whose unwelcome service Madam de Warens had the patience to endure, though it was absolutely disgusting. I soon perceived this new inclination, and was exasperated at it; but I saw something else, which affected me yet more, and made a deeper impression on me than anything had hitherto done; this was a visible coldness in the behavior of Madam de Warens towards me.

The privation I had imposed on myself, and which she affected to approve, is one of those affronts which women scarcely ever forgive. Take the most sensible, the most philosophic female, one the least attached to pleasure, and slighting her favors, if within your reach, will be found the most unpardonable crime, even though she may care nothing for the man. This rule is certainly without exception; since a sympathy so natural and ardent was impaired in her, by an abstinence founded only on virtue, attachment and esteem, I no longer found with her that union of hearts which constituted all the happiness of mine; she seldom sought me but when we had occasion to complain of this new-comer, for when they were agreed, I enjoyed but little of her confidence, and, at length, was scarcely ever consulted in her affairs. She seemed pleased, indeed, with my company, but had I passed whole days without seeing her she would hardly have missed me.

Insensibly, I found myself desolate and alone in that house where I had formerly been the very soul; where, if I may so express myself, I had enjoyed a double life, and by degrees, I accustomed myself to disregard everything that passed, and even those who dwelt there. To avoid continual mortifications, I shut myself up with my books, or else wept and sighed unnoticed in the woods. This life soon became insupportable; I felt that the presence of a woman so dear to me, while estranged from her heart, increased my unhappiness, and was persuaded, that, ceasing to see her, I should feel myself less cruelly separated.

I resolved, therefore, to quit the house, mentioned it to her, and she, far from opposing my resolution, approved it. She had an acquaintance at Grenoble, called Madam de Deybens, whose husband was on terms of friendship with Monsieur Malby, chief Provost of Lyons. M. Deybens proposed my educating M. Malby’s children; I accepted this offer, and departed for Lyons without causing, and almost without feeling, the least regret at a separation, the bare idea of which, a few months before, would have given us both the most excruciating torments.

I had almost as much knowledge as was necessary for a tutor, and flattered myself that my method would be unexceptionable; but the year I passed at M. Malby’s was sufficient to undeceive me in that particular. The natural gentleness of my disposition seemed calculated for the employment, if hastiness had not been mingled with it. While things went favorably, and I saw the pains (which I did not spare) succeed, I was an angel; but a devil when they went contrary. If my pupils did not understand me, I was hasty, and when they showed any symptoms of an untoward disposition, I was so provoked that I could have killed them; which behavior was not likely to render them either good or wise. I had two under my care, and they were of very different tempers. St. Marie, who was between eight and nine years old, had a good person and quick apprehension, was giddy, lively, playful and mischievous; but his mischief was ever good-humored. The younger one, named Condillac, appeared stupid and fretful, was headstrong as a mule, and seemed incapable of instruction. It may be supposed that between both I did not want employment, yet with patience and temper I might have succeeded; but wanting both, I did nothing worth mentioning, and my pupils profited very little. I could only make use of three means, which are very weak, and often pernicious with children; namely, sentiment, reasoning, passion. I sometimes exerted myself so much with St. Marie, that I could not refrain from tears, and wished to excite similar sensations in him; as if it was reasonable to suppose a child could be susceptible to such emotions. Sometimes I exhausted myself in reasoning, as if persuaded he could comprehend me; and as he frequently formed very subtle arguments, concluded he must be reasonable, because he bid fair to be so good a logician.

The little Condillac was still more embarrassing; for he neither understood, answered, nor was concerned at anything; he was of an obstinacy beyond belief, and was never happier than when he had succeeded in putting me in a rage; then, indeed, he was the philosopher, and I the child. I was conscious of all my faults, studied the tempers of my pupils, and became acquainted with them; but where was the use of seeing the evil, without being able to apply a remedy? My penetration was unavailing, since it never prevented any mischief; and everything I undertook failed, because all I did to effect my designs was precisely what I ought not to have done.

I was not more fortunate in what had only reference to myself, than in what concerned my pupils. Madam Deybens, in recommending me to her friend Madam de Malby, had requested her to form my manners, and endeavor to give me an air of the world. She took some pains on this account, wishing to teach me how to do the honors of the house; but I was so awkward, bashful, and stupid, that she found it necessary to stop there. This, however, did not prevent me from falling in love with her, according to my usual custom; I even behaved in such a manner, that she could not avoid observing it; but I never durst declare my passion; and as the lady never seemed in a humor to make advances, I soon became weary of my sighs and ogling, being convinced they answered no manner of purpose.

I had quite lost my inclination for little thieveries while with Madam de Warens; indeed, as everything belonged to me, there was nothing to steal; besides, the elevated notions I had imbibed ought to have rendered me in future above such meanness, and generally speaking they certainly did so; but this rather proceeded from my having learned to conquer temptations, than having succeeded in rooting out the propensity, and I should even now greatly dread stealing, as in my infancy, were I yet subject to the same inclinations. I had a proof of this at M. Malby’s, when, though surrounded by a number of little things that I could easily have pilfered, and which appeared no temptation, I took it into my head to covert some white Arbois wine, some glasses of which I had drank at table, and thought delicious. It happened to be rather thick, and as I fancied myself an excellent finer of wine, I mentioned my skill, and this was accordingly trusted to my care, but in attempting to mend, I spoiled it, though to the sight only, for it remained equally agreeable to the taste. Profiting by this opportunity, I furnished myself from time to time with a few bottles to drink in my own apartment; but unluckily, I could never drink without eating; the difficulty lay therefore, in procuring bread. It was impossible to make a reserve of this article, and to have it brought by the footman was discovering myself, and insulting the master of the house; I could not bear to purchase it myself; how could a fine gentleman, with a sword at his side, enter a baker’s shop to buy a small loaf of bread? it was utterly impossible. At length I recollected the thoughtless saying of a great princess, who, on being informed that the country people had no bread, replied, “Then let them eat pastry!” Yet even this resource was attended with a difficulty. I sometimes went out alone for this very purpose, running over the whole city, and passing thirty pastry cook’s shops, without daring to enter any one of them. In the first place, it was necessary there should be only one person in the shop, and that person’s physiognomy must be so encouraging as to give me confidence to pass the threshold; but when once the dear little cake was procured, and I shut up in my chamber with that and a bottle of wine, taken cautiously from the bottom of a cupboard, how much did I enjoy drinking my wine, and reading a few pages of a novel; for when I have no company I always wish to read while eating; it seems a substitute for society, and I dispatch alternately a page and a morsel; ‘tis indeed, as if my book dined with me.

I was neither dissolute nor sottish, never in my whole life having been intoxicated with liquor; my little thefts were not very indiscreet, yet they were discovered; the bottles betrayed me, and though no notice was taken of it, I had no longer the management of the cellar. In all this Monsieur Malby conducted himself with prudence and politeness, being really a very deserving man, who, under a manner as harsh as his employment, concealed a real gentleness of disposition and uncommon goodness of heart: he was judicious, equitable, and (what would not be expected from an officer of the Marechausse) very humane.

Sensible of his indulgence, I became greatly attached to him, which made my stay at Lyons longer than it would otherwise have been; but at length, disgusted with an employment which I was not calculated for, and a situation of great confinement, consequently disagreeable to me, after a year’s trial, during which time I spared no pains to fulfill my engagement, I determined to quit my pupils; being convinced I should never succeed in educating them properly. Monsieur Malby saw this as clearly as myself, though I am inclined to think he would never have dismissed me had I not spared him the trouble, which was an excess of condescension in this particular, that I certainly cannot justify.

What rendered my situation yet more insupportable was the comparison I was continually drawing between the life I now led and that which I had quitted; the remembrance of my dear Charmettes, my garden, trees, fountain and orchard, but, above all, the company of her who was born to give life and soul to every other enjoyment. On calling to mind our pleasures and innocent life, I was seized with such oppressions and heaviness of heart, as deprived me of the power of performing anything as it should be. A hundred times was I tempted instantly to set off on foot to my dear Madam de Warens, being persuaded that could I once more see her, I should be content to die that moment: in fine, I could no longer resist the tender emotions which recalled me back to her, whatever it might cost me. I accused myself of not having been sufficiently patient, complaisant and kind; concluding I might yet live happily with her on the terms of tender friendship, and by showing more for her than I had hitherto done. I formed the finest projects in the world, burned to execute them, left all, renounced everything, departed, fled, and arriving in all the transports of my early youth, found myself once more at her feet. Alas! I should have died there with joy, had I found in her reception, in her embrace, or in her heart, one-quarter of what I had formerly found there, and which I yet found the undiminished warmth of.

Fearful illusions of transitory things, how often dost thou torment us in vain! She received me with that excellence of heart which could only die with her; but I sought the influence there which could never be recalled, and had hardly been half an hour with her before I was once more convinced that my former happiness had vanished forever, and that I was in the same melancholy situation which I had been obliged to fly from; yet without being able to accuse any person with my unhappiness, for Courtilles really was not to blame, appearing to see my return with more pleasure than dissatisfaction. But how could I bear to be a secondary person with her to whom I had been everything, and who could never cease being such to me? How could I live an alien in that house where I had been the child? The sight of every object that had been witness to my former happiness, rendered the comparison yet more distressing; I should have suffered less in any other habitation, for this incessantly recalled such pleasing remembrances, that it was irritating the recollection of my loss.

Consumed with vain regrets, given up to the most gloomy melancholy, I resumed the custom of remaining alone, except at meals; shut up with my books, I sought to give some useful diversion to my ideas, and feeling the imminent danger of want, which I had so long dreaded, I sought means to prepare for and receive it, when Madam de Warens should have no other resource. I had placed her household on a footing not to become worse; but since my departure everything had been altered. He who now managed her affairs was a spendthrift, and wished to make a great appearance; such as keeping a good horse with elegant trappings; loved to appear gay in the eyes of the neighbors, and was perpetually undertaking something he did not understand. Her pension was taken up in advance, her rent was in arrears, debts of every kind continued to accumulate; I could plainly foresee that her pension would be seized, and perhaps suppressed; in short, I expected nothing but ruin and misfortune, and the moment appeared to approach so rapidly that I already felt all its horrors.

My closet was my only amusement, and after a tedious search for remedies for the sufferings of my mind, I determined to seek some against the evil of distressing circumstances, which I daily expected would fall upon us, and returning to my old chimeras, behold me once more building castles in the air to relieve this dear friend from the cruel extremities into which I saw her ready to fall. I did not believe myself wise enough to shine in the republic of letters, or to stand any chance of making a fortune by that means; a new idea, therefore, inspired me with that confidence, which the mediocrity of my talents could not impart.

In ceasing to teach music I had not abandoned the thoughts of it; on the contrary, I had studied the theory sufficiently to consider myself well informed on the subject. When reflecting on the trouble it had cost me to read music, and the great difficulty I yet experienced in singing at sight, I began to think the fault might as well arise from the manner of noting as from my own dulness, being sensible it was an art which most people find difficult to understand. By examining the formation of the signs, I was convinced they were frequently very ill devised. I had before thought of marking the gamut by figures, to prevent the trouble of having lines to draw, on noting the plainest air; but had been stopped by the difficulty of the octaves, and by the distinction of measure and quantity: this idea returned again to my mind, and on a careful revision of it, I found the difficulties by no means insurmountable. I pursued it successfully, and was at length able to note any music whatever by figures, with the greatest exactitude and simplicity. From this moment I supposed my fortune made, and in the ardor of sharing it with her to whom I owed everything, thought only of going to Paris, not doubting that on presenting my project to the Academy, it would be adopted with rapture. I had brought some money from Lyons; I augmented this stock by the sale of my books, and in the course of a fortnight my resolution was both formed and executed: in short, full of the magnificent ideas it had inspired, and which were common to me on every occasion, I departed from Savoy with my new system of music, as I had formerly done from Turin with my heron-fountain.

Such have been the errors and faults of my youth; I have related the history of them with a fidelity which my heart approves; if my riper years were dignified with some virtues, I should have related them with the same frankness; it was my intention to have done this, but I must forego this pleasing task and stop here. Time, which renders justice to the characters of most men, may withdraw the veil; and should my memory reach posterity, they may one day discover what I had to say—they will then understand why I am now silent.
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Re: The Confessions of Jean Jacques Rousseau, by Jean Jacque

Postby admin » Wed Aug 01, 2018 6:04 am

Part 1 of 4

BOOK VII.

After two years’ silence and patience, and notwithstanding my resolutions, I again take up my pen: Reader, suspend your judgment as to the reasons which force me to such a step: of these you can be no judge until you shall have read my book.

My peaceful youth has been seen to pass away calmly and agreeably without any great disappointments or remarkable prosperity. This mediocrity was mostly owing to my ardent yet feeble nature, less prompt in undertaking than easy to discourage; quitting repose for violent agitations, but returning to it from lassitude and inclinations, and which, placing me in an idle and tranquil state for which alone I felt I was born, at a distance from the paths of great virtues and still further from those of great vices, never permitted me to arrive at anything great, either good or bad. What a different account will I soon have to give of myself! Fate, which for thirty years forced my inclinations, for thirty others has seemed to oppose them; and this continued opposition, between my situation and inclinations, will appear to have been the source of enormous faults, unheard of misfortunes, and every virtue except that fortitude which alone can do honor to adversity.

The history of the first part of my life was written from memory, and is consequently full of errors. As I am obliged to write the second part from memory also, the errors in it will probably be still more numerous. The agreeable remembrance of the finest portion of my years, passed with so much tranquillity and innocence, has left in my heart a thousand charming impressions which I love incessantly to call to my recollection. It will soon appear how different from these those of the rest of my life have been. To recall them to my mind would be to renew their bitterness. Far from increasing that of my situation by these sorrowful reflections, I repel them as much as possible, and in this endeavor often succeed so well as to be unable to find them at will. This facility of forgetting my misfortunes is a consolation which Heaven has reserved to me in the midst of those which fate has one day to accumulate upon my head. My memory, which presents to me no objects but such as are agreeable, is the happy counterpoise of my terrified imagination, by which I foresee nothing but a cruel futurity.

All the papers I had collected to aid my recollection, and guide me in this undertaking, are no longer in my possession, nor can I ever again hope to regain them.

I have but one faithful guide on which I can depend: this is the chain of the sentiments by which the succession of my existence has been marked, and by these the events which have been either the cause or the effect of the manner of it. I easily forget my misfortunes, but I cannot forget my faults, and still less my virtuous sentiments. The remembrance of these is too dear to me ever to suffer them to be effaced from my mind. I may omit facts, transpose events, and fall into some errors of dates; but I cannot be deceived in what I have felt, nor in that which from sentiment I have done; and to relate this is the chief end of my present work. The real object of my confessions is to communicate an exact knowledge of what I interiorly am and have been in every situation of my life. I have promised the history of my mind, and to write it faithfully I have no need of other memoirs: to enter into my own heart, as I have hitherto done, will alone be sufficient.

There is, however, and very happily, an interval of six or seven years, relative to which I have exact references, in a collection of letters copied from the originals, in the hands of M. du Peyrou. This collection, which concludes in 1760, comprehends the whole time of my residence at the hermitage, and my great quarrel with those who called themselves my friends; that memorable epocha of my life, and the source of all my other misfortunes. With respect to more recent original letters which may remain in my possession, and are but few in number, instead of transcribing them at the end of this collection, too voluminous to enable me to deceive the vigilance of my Arguses, I will copy them into the work whenever they appear to furnish any explanation, be this either for or against myself; for I am not under the least apprehension lest the reader should forget I make my confession, and be induced to believe I make my apology; but he cannot expect I shall conceal the truth when it testifies in my favor.

The second part, it is likewise to be remembered, contains nothing in common with the first, except truth; nor has any other advantage over it, but the importance of the facts; in everything else, it is inferior to the former. I wrote the first with pleasure, with satisfaction, and at my ease, at Wootton, or in the castle Trie: everything I had to recollect was a new enjoyment. I returned to my closet with an increased pleasure, and, without constraint, gave that turn to my descriptions which most flattered my imagination.

At present my head and memory are become so weak as to render me almost incapable of every kind of application: my present undertaking is the result of constraint, and a heart full of sorrow. I have nothing to treat of but misfortunes, treacheries, perfidies, and circumstances equally afflicting. I would give the world, could I bury in the obscurity of time every thing I have to say, and which, in spite of myself, I am obliged to relate. I am, at the same time, under the necessity of being mysterious and subtle, of endeavoring to impose and of descending to things the most foreign to my nature. The ceiling under which I write has eyes; the walls of my chamber have ears. Surrounded by spies and by vigilant and malevolent inspectors, disturbed, and my attention diverted, I hastily commit to paper a few broken sentences, which I have scarcely time to read, and still less to correct. I know that, notwithstanding the barriers which are multiplied around me, my enemies are afraid truth should escape by some little opening. What means can I take to introduce it to the world? This, however, I attempt with but few hopes of success. The reader will judge whether or not such a situation furnishes the means of agreeable descriptions, or of giving them a seductive coloring! I therefore inform such as may undertake to read this work, that nothing can secure them from weariness in the prosecution of their task, unless it be the desire of becoming more fully acquainted with a man whom they already know, and a sincere love of justice and truth.

In my first part I brought down my narrative to my departure with infinite regret for Paris, leaving my heart at Charmettes, and, there building my last castle in the air, intending some day to return to the feet of mamma, restored to herself, with the treasures I should have acquired, and depending upon my system of music as upon a certain fortune.

I made some stay at Lyons to visit my acquaintance, procure letters of recommendation to Paris, and to sell my books of geometry which I had brought with me. I was well received by all whom I knew. M. and Madam de Malby seemed pleased to see me again, and several times invited me to dinner. At their house I became acquainted with the Abbe de Malby, as I had already done with the Abbe de Condillac, both of whom were on a visit to their brother. The Abbe de Malby gave me letters to Paris; among others, one to M. de Pontenelle, and another to the Comte de Caylus. These were very agreeable acquaintances, especially the first, to whose friendship for me his death only put a period, and from whom, in our private conversations, I received advice which I ought to have more exactly followed.

I likewise saw M. Bordes, with whom I had been long acquainted, and who had frequently obliged me with the greatest cordiality and the most real pleasure. He it was who enabled me to sell my books; and he also gave me from himself good recommendations to Paris. I again saw the intendant for whose acquaintance I was indebted to M. Bordes, and who introduced me to the Duke de Richelieu, who was then passing through Lyons. M. Pallu presented me. The Duke received me well, and invited me to come and see him at Paris; I did so several times; although this great acquaintance, of which I shall frequently have occasion to speak, was never of the most trifling utility to me.

I visited the musician David, who, in one of my former journeys, and in my distress, had rendered me service. He had either lent or given me a cap and a pair of stockings, which I have never returned, nor has he ever asked me for them, although we have since that time frequently seen each other. I, however, made him a present, something like an equivalent. I would say more upon this subject, were what I have owned in question; but I have to speak of what I have done, which, unfortunately, is far from being the same thing.

I also saw the noble and generous Perrichon, and not without feeling the effects of his accustomed munificence; for he made me the same present he had previously done to the elegant Bernard, by paying for my place in the diligence. I visited the surgeon Parisot, the best and most benevolent of men; as also his beloved Godefroi, who had lived with him ten years, and whose merit chiefly consisted in her gentle manners and goodness of heart. It was impossible to see this woman without pleasure, or to leave her without regret. Nothing better shows the inclinations of a man, than the nature of his attachments.

[Unless he be deceived in his choice, or that she, to whom he
attaches himself, changes her character by an extraordinary
concurrence of causes, which is not absolutely impossible. Were
this consequence to be admitted without modification, Socrates must
be judged of by his wife Xantippe, and Dion by his friend Calippus,
which would be the most false and iniquitous judgment ever made.
However, let no injurious application be here made to my wife. She
is weak and more easily deceived than I at first imagined, but by
her pure and excellent character she is worthy of all my esteem.]


Those who had once seen the gentle Godefroi, immediately knew the good and amiable Parisot.

I was much obliged to all these good people, but I afterwards neglected them all; not from ingratitude, but from that invincible indolence which so often assumes its appearance. The remembrance of their services has never been effaced from my mind, nor the impression they made from my heart; but I could more easily have proved my gratitude, than assiduously have shown them the exterior of that sentiment. Exactitude in correspondence is what I never could observe; the moment I began to relax, the shame and embarrassment of repairing my fault made me aggravate it, and I entirely desist from writing; I have, therefore, been silent, and appeared to forget them. Parisot and Perrichon took not the least notice of my negligence, and I ever found them the same. But, twenty years afterwards it will be seen, in M. Bordes, to what a degree the self-love of a wit can make him carry his vengeance when he feels himself neglected.

Before I leave Lyons, I must not forget an amiable person, whom I again saw with more pleasure than ever, and who left in my heart the most tender remembrance. This was Mademoiselle Serre, of whom I have spoken in my first part; I renewed my acquaintance with her whilst I was at M. de Malby’s.

Being this time more at leisure, I saw her more frequently, and she made the most sensible impressions on my heart. I had some reason to believe her own was not unfavorable to my pretensions; but she honored me with her confidence so far as to remove from me all temptation to allure her partiality.

She had no fortune, and in this respect exactly resembled myself; our situations were too similar to permit us to become united; and with the views I then had, I was far from thinking of marriage. She gave me to understand that a young merchant, one M. Geneve, seemed to wish to obtain her hand. I saw him once or twice at her lodgings; he appeared to me to be an honest man, and this was his general character. Persuaded she would be happy with him, I was desirous he should marry her, which he afterwards did; and that I might not disturb their innocent love, I hastened my departure; offering up, for the happiness of that charming woman, prayers, which, here below were not long heard. Alas! her time was very short, for I afterwards heard she died in the second or third year after her marriage. My mind, during the journey, was wholly absorbed in tender regret. I felt, and since that time, when these circumstances have been present to my recollection, have frequently done the same; that although the sacrifices made to virtue and our duty may sometimes be painful, we are well rewarded by the agreeable remembrance they leave deeply engraven in our hearts.

I this time saw Paris in as favorable a point of view as it had appeared to me in an unfavorable one at my first journey; not that my ideas of its brilliancy arose from the splendor of my lodgings; for in consequence of an address given me by M. Bordes, I resided at the Hotel St. Quentin, Rue des Cordiers, near the Sorbonne; a vile street, a miserable hotel, and a wretched apartment: but nevertheless a house in which several men of merit, such as Gresset, Bordes, Abbe Malby, Condillac, and several others, of whom unfortunately I found not one, had taken up their quarters; but I there met with M. Bonnefond, a man unacquainted with the world, lame, litigious, and who affected to be a purist. To him I owe the acquaintance of M. Roguin, at present the oldest friend I have and by whose means I became acquainted with Diderot, of whom I shall soon have occasion to say a good deal.

I arrived at Paris in the autumn of 1741, with fifteen louis in my purse, and with my comedy of Narcissus and my musical project in my pocket. These composed my whole stock; consequently I had not much time to lose before I attempted to turn the latter to some advantage. I therefore immediately thought of making use of my recommendations.

A young man who arrives at Paris, with a tolerable figure, and announces himself by his talents, is sure to be well received. This was my good fortune, which procured me some pleasure without leading to anything solid. Of all the persons to whom I was recommended, three only were useful to me. M. Damesin, a gentleman of Savoy, at that time equerry, and I believe favorite, of the Princess of Carignan; M. de Boze, Secretary of the Academy of Inscriptions, and keeper of the medals of the king’s cabinet; and Father Castel, a Jesuit, author of the ‘Clavecin oculaire’.—[ocular harpsichord.]

All these recommendations, except that to M. Damesin, were given me by the Abbe de Malby.

M. Damesin provided me with that which was most needful, by means of two persons with whom he brought me acquainted. One was M. Gase, ‘president a mortier’ of the parliament of Bordeaux, and who played very well upon the violin; the other, the Abbe de Leon, who then lodged in the Sorbonne, a young nobleman; extremely amiable, who died in the flower of his age, after having, for a few moments, made a figure in the world under the name of the Chevalier de Rohan. Both these gentlemen had an inclination to learn composition. In this I gave them lessons for a few months, by which means my decreasing purse received some little aid. The Abbe Leon conceived a friendship for me, and wished me to become his secretary; but he was far from being rich, and all the salary he could offer me was eight hundred livres, which, with infinite regret, I refused; since it was insufficient to defray the expenses of my lodging, food, and clothing.

I was well received by M. de Boze. He had a thirst for knowledge, of which he possessed not a little, but was somewhat pedantic. Madam de Boze much resembled him; she was lively and affected. I sometimes dined with them, and it is impossible to be more awkward than I was in her presence. Her easy manner intimidated me, and rendered mine more remarkable. When she presented me a plate, I modestly put forward my fork to take one of the least bits of what she offered me, which made her give the plate to her servant, turning her head aside that I might not see her laugh. She had not the least suspicion that in the head of the rustic with whom she was so diverted there was some small portion of wit. M. de Boze presented me to M. de Reaumur, his friend, who came to dine with him every Friday, the day on which the Academy of Sciences met. He mentioned to him my project, and the desire I had of having it examined by the academy. M. de Reaumur consented to make the proposal, and his offer was accepted. On the day appointed I was introduced and presented by M. de Reaumur, and on the same day, August 22d, 1742, I had the honor to read to the academy the memoir I had prepared for that purpose. Although this illustrious assembly might certainly well be expected to inspire me with awe, I was less intimidated on this occasion than I had been in the presence of Madam de Boze, and I got tolerably well through my reading and the answers I was obliged to give. The memoir was well received, and acquired me some compliments by which I was equally surprised and flattered, imagining that before such an assembly, whoever was not a member of it could not have commonsense. The persons appointed to examine my system were M. Mairan, M. Hellot, and M. de Fouchy, all three men of merit, but not one of them understood music, at least not enough of composition to enable them to judge of my project.

During my conference with these gentlemen, I was convinced with no less certainty than surprise, that if men of learning have sometimes fewer prejudices than others, they more tenaciously retain those they have. However weak or false most of their objections were, and although I answered them with great timidity, and I confess, in bad terms, yet with decisive reasons, I never once made myself understood, or gave them any explanation in the least satisfactory. I was constantly surprised at the facility with which, by the aid of a few sonorous phrases, they refuted, without having comprehended me. They had learned, I know not where, that a monk of the name of Souhaitti had formerly invented a mode of noting the gamut by ciphers: a sufficient proof that my system was not new. This might, perhaps, be the case; for although I had never heard of Father Souhaitti, and notwithstanding his manner of writing the seven notes without attending to the octaves was not, under any point of view, worthy of entering into competition with my simple and commodious invention for easily noting by ciphers every possible kind of music, keys, rests, octaves, measure, time, and length of note; things on which Souhaitti had never thought: it was nevertheless true, that with respect to the elementary expression of the seven notes, he was the first inventor.

But besides their giving to this primitive invention more importance than was due to it, they went still further, and, whenever they spoke of the fundamental principles of the system, talked nonsense. The greatest advantage of my scheme was to supersede transpositions and keys, so that the same piece of music was noted and transposed at will by means of the change of a single initial letter at the head of the air. These gentlemen had heard from the music-masters of Paris that the method of executing by transposition was a bad one; and on this authority converted the most evident advantage of my system into an invincible objection against it, and affirmed that my mode of notation was good for vocal music, but bad for instrumental; instead of concluding as they ought to have done, that it was good for vocal, and still better for instrumental. On their report the academy granted me a certificate full of fine compliments, amidst which it appeared that in reality it judged my system to be neither new nor useful. I did not think proper to ornament with such a paper the work entitled ‘Dissertation sur la musique moderne’, by which I appealed to the public.

I had reason to remark on this occasion that, even with a narrow understanding, the sole but profound knowledge of a thing is preferable for the purpose of judging of it, to all the lights resulting from a cultivation of the sciences, when to these a particular study of that in question has not been joined. The only solid objection to my system was made by Rameau. I had scarcely explained it to him before he discovered its weak part. “Your signs,” said he, “are very good inasmuch as they clearly and simply determine the length of notes, exactly represent intervals, and show the simple in the double note, which the common notation does not do; but they are objectionable on account of their requiring an operation of the mind, which cannot always accompany the rapidity of execution. The position of our notes,” continued he, “is described to the eye without the concurrence of this operation. If two notes, one very high and the other very low, be joined by a series of intermediate ones, I see at the first glance the progress from one to the other by conjoined degrees; but in your system, to perceive this series, I must necessarily run over your ciphers one after the other; the glance of the eye is here useless.” The objection appeared to me insurmountable, and I instantly assented to it. Although it be simple and striking, nothing can suggest it but great knowledge and practice of the art, and it is by no means astonishing that not one of the academicians should have thought of it. But what creates much surprise is, that these men of great learning, and who are supposed to possess so much knowledge, should so little know that each ought to confine his judgment to that which relates to the study with which he has been conversant.

My frequent visits to the literati appointed to examine my system and the other academicians gave me an opportunity of becoming acquainted with the most distinguished men of letters in Paris, and by this means the acquaintance that would have been the consequence of my sudden admission amongst them, which afterwards came to pass, was already established. With respect to the present moment, absorbed in my new system of music, I obstinately adhered to my intention of effecting a revolution in the art, and by that means of acquiring a celebrity which, in the fine arts, is in Paris mostly accompanied by fortune. I shut myself in my chamber and labored three or four months with inexpressible ardor, in forming into a work for the public eye, the memoir I had read before the academy. The difficulty was to find a bookseller to take my manuscript; and this on account of the necessary expenses for new characters, and because booksellers give not their money by handfuls to young authors; although to me it seemed but just my work should render me the bread I had eaten while employed in its composition.

Bonnefond introduced me to Quillau the father, with whom I agreed to divide the profits, without reckoning the privilege, of which I paid the whole expense. Such were the future proceedings of this Quillau that I lost the expenses of my privilege, never having received a farthing from that edition; which, probably, had but very middling success, although the Abbe des Fontaines promised to give it celebrity, and, notwithstanding the other journalists, had spoken of it very favorably.

The greatest obstacle to making the experiment of my system was the fear, in case of its not being received, of losing the time necessary to learn it. To this I answered, that my notes rendered the ideas so clear, that to learn music by means of the ordinary characters, time would be gained by beginning with mine. To prove this by experience, I taught music gratis to a young American lady, Mademoiselle des Roulins, with whom M. Roguin had brought me acquainted. In three months she read every kind of music, by means of my notation, and sung at sight better than I did myself, any piece that was not too difficult. This success was convincing, but not known; any other person would have filled the journals with the detail, but with some talents for discovering useful things, I never have possessed that of setting them off to advantage.

Thus was my airy castle again overthrown; but this time I was thirty years of age, and in Paris, where it is impossible to live for a trifle. The resolution I took upon this occasion will astonish none but those by whom the first part of these memoirs has not been read with attention. I had just made great and fruitless efforts, and was in need of relaxation. Instead of sinking with despair I gave myself up quietly to my indolence and to the care of Providence; and the better to wait for its assistance with patience, I lay down a frugal plan for the slow expenditure of a few louis, which still remained in my possession, regulating the expense of my supine pleasures without retrenching it; going to the coffee-house but every other day, and to the theatre but twice a week. With respect to the expenses of girls of easy virtue, I had no retrenchment to make; never having in the whole course of my life applied so much as a farthing to that use except once, of which I shall soon have occasion to speak. The security, voluptuousness, and confidence with which I gave myself up to this indolent and solitary life, which I had not the means of continuing for three months, is one of the singularities of my life, and the oddities of my disposition. The extreme desire I had the public should think of me was precisely what discouraged me from showing myself; and the necessity of paying visits rendered them to such a degree insupportable, that I ceased visiting the academicians and other men of letters, with whom I had cultivated an acquaintance. Marivaux, the Abbe Malby, and Fontenelle, were almost the only persons whom I sometimes went to see. To the first I showed my comedy of Narcissus. He was pleased with it, and had the goodness to make in it some improvements. Diderot, younger than these, was much about my own age. He was fond of music, and knew it theoretically; we conversed together, and he communicated to me some of his literary projects. This soon formed betwixt us a more intimate connection, which lasted fifteen years, and which probably would still exist were not I, unfortunately, and by his own fault, of the same profession with himself.

It would be impossible to imagine in what manner I employed this short and precious interval which still remained to me, before circumstances forced me to beg my bread:—in learning by memory passages from the poets which I had learned and forgotten a hundred times. Every morning at ten o’clock, I went to walk in the Luxembourg with a Virgil and a Rousseau in my pocket, and there, until the hour of dinner, I passed away the time in restoring to my memory a sacred ode or a bucolic, without being discouraged by forgetting, by the study of the morning, what I had learned the evening before. I recollected that after the defeat of Nicias at Syracuse the captive Athenians obtained a livelihood by reciting the poems of Homer. The use I made of this erudition to ward off misery was to exercise my happy memory by learning all the poets by rote.

I had another expedient, not less solid, in the game of chess, to which I regularly dedicated, at Maugis, the evenings on which I did not go to the theatre. I became acquainted with M. de Legal, M. Husson, Philidor, and all the great chess players of the day, without making the least improvement in the game. However, I had no doubt but, in the end, I should become superior to them all, and this, in my own opinion, was a sufficient resource. The same manner of reasoning served me in every folly to which I felt myself inclined. I said to myself: whoever excels in anything is sure to acquire a distinguished reception in society. Let us therefore excel, no matter in what, I shall certainly be sought after; opportunities will present themselves, and my own merit will do the rest. This childishness was not the sophism of my reason; it was that of my indolence. Dismayed at the great and rapid efforts which would have been necessary to call forth my endeavors, I strove to flatter my idleness, and by arguments suitable to the purpose, veiled from my own eyes the shame of such a state.

I thus calmly waited for the moment when I was to be without money; and had not Father Castel, whom I sometimes went to see in my way to the coffee-house, roused me from my lethargy, I believe I should have seen myself reduced to my last farthing without the least emotion. Father Castel was a madman, but a good man upon the whole; he was sorry to see me thus impoverish myself to no purpose. “Since musicians and the learned,” said he, “do not sing by your scale, change the string, and apply to the women. You will perhaps succeed better with them. I have spoken of you to Madam de Beuzenval; go to her from me; she is a good woman who will be glad to see the countryman of her son and husband. You will find at her house Madam de Broglie, her daughter, who is a woman of wit. Madam Dupin is another to whom I also have mentioned you; carry her your work; she is desirous of seeing you, and will receive you well. No thing is done in Paris without the women. They are the curves, of which the wise are the asymptotes; they incessantly approach each other, but never touch.”

After having from day to day delayed these very disagreeable steps, I at length took courage, and called upon Madam de Beuzenval. She received me with kindness; and Madam de Broglio entering the chamber, she said to her: “Daughter, this is M. Rousseau, of whom Father Castel has spoken to us.” Madam de Broglie complimented me upon my work, and going to her harpsichord proved to me she had already given it some attention. Perceiving it to be about one o’clock, I prepared to take my leave. Madam de Beuzenval said to me: “You are at a great distance from the quarter of the town in which you reside; stay and dine here.” I did not want asking a second time. A quarter of an hour afterwards, I understood, by a word, that the dinner to which she had invited me was that of her servants’ hall. Madam de Beuzenval was a very good kind of woman, but of a confined understanding, and too full of her illustrious Polish nobility: she had no idea of the respect due to talents. On this occasion, likewise, she judged me by my manner rather than by my dress, which, although very plain, was very neat, and by no means announced a man to dine with servants. I had too long forgotten the way to the place where they eat to be inclined to take it again. Without suffering my anger to appear, I told Madam de Beuzenval that I had an affair of a trifling nature which I had just recollected obliged me to return home, and I immediately prepared to depart. Madam de Broglie approached her mother, and whispered in her ear a few words which had their effect. Madam de Beuzenval rose to prevent me from going, and said, “I expect that you will do us the honor to dine with us.” In this case I thought to show pride would be a mark of folly, and I determined to stay. The goodness of Madam de Broglie had besides made an impression upon me, and rendered her interesting in my eyes. I was very glad to dine with her, and hoped, that when she knew me better, she would not regret having procured me that honor. The President de Lamoignon, very intimate in the family, dined there also. He, as well as Madam de Broglie, was a master of all the modish and fashionable small talk jargon of Paris. Poor Jean Jacques was unable to make a figure in this way. I had sense enough not to pretend to it, and was silent. Happy would it have been for me, had I always possessed the same wisdom; I should not be in the abyss into which I am now fallen. I was vexed at my own stupidity, and at being unable to justify to Madam de Broglie what she had done in my favor.

After dinner I thought of my ordinary resource. I had in my pocket an epistle in verse, written to Parisot during my residence at Lyons. This fragment was not without some fire, which I increased by my manner of reading, and made them all three shed tears. Whether it was vanity, or really the truth, I thought the eyes of Madam de Broglie seemed to say to her mother: “Well, mamma, was I wrong in telling you this man was fitter to dine with us than with your women?” Until then my heart had been rather burdened, but after this revenge I felt myself satisfied. Madam de Broglie, carrying her favorable opinion of me rather too far, thought I should immediately acquire fame in Paris, and become a favorite with fine ladies. To guide my inexperience she gave me the confessions of the Count de ——-. “This book,” said she, “is a Mentor, of which you will stand in need in the great world. You will do well by sometimes consulting it.” I kept the book upwards of twenty years with a sentiment of gratitude to her from whose hand I had received it, although I frequently laughed at the opinion the lady seemed to have of my merit in gallantry. From the moment I had read the work, I was desirous of acquiring the friendship of the author. My inclination led me right; he is the only real friend I ever possessed amongst men of letters.

[I have so long been of the same opinion, and so perfectly convinced
of its being well founded, that since my return to Paris I confided
to him the manuscript of my confessions. The suspicious J. J.
never suspected perfidy and falsehood until he had been their
victim.]


From this time I thought I might depend on the services of Madam the Baroness of Beuzenval, and the Marchioness of Broglie, and that they would not long leave me without resource. In this I was not deceived. But I must now speak of my first visit to Madam Dupin, which produced more lasting consequences.

Madam Dupin was, as every one in Paris knows, the daughter of Samuel Bernard and Madam Fontaine. There were three sisters, who might be called the three graces. Madam de la Touche who played a little prank, and went to England with the Duke of Kingston. Madam Darby, the eldest of the three; the friend, the only sincere friend of the Prince of Conti; an adorable woman, as well by her sweetness and the goodness of her charming character, as by her agreeable wit and incessant cheerfulness. Lastly, Madam Dupin, more beautiful than either of her sisters, and the only one who has not been reproached with some levity of conduct.

She was the reward of the hospitality of M. Dupin, to whom her mother gave her in marriage with the place of farmer general and an immense fortune, in return for the good reception he had given her in his province. When I saw her for the first time, she was still one of the finest women in Paris. She received me at her toilette, her arms were uncovered, her hair dishevelled, and her combing-cloth ill-arranged. This scene was new to me; it was too powerful for my poor head, I became confused, my senses wandered; in short, I was violently smitten by Madam Dupin.

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My confusion was not prejudicial to me; she did not perceive it. She kindly received the book and the author; spoke with information of my plan, sung, accompanied herself on the harpsichord, kept me to dinner, and placed me at table by her side. Less than this would have turned my brain; I became mad. She permitted me to visit her, and I abused the permission. I went to see her almost every day, and dined with her twice or thrice a week. I burned with inclination to speak, but never dared attempt it. Several circumstances increased my natural timidity. Permission to visit in an opulent family was a door open to fortune, and in my situation I was unwilling to run the risk of shutting it against myself.

Madam Dupin, amiable as she was, was serious and unanimated; I found nothing in her manners sufficiently alluring to embolden me. Her house, at that time, as brilliant as any other in Paris, was frequented by societies the less numerous, as the persons by whom they were composed were chosen on account of some distinguished merit. She was fond of seeing every one who had claims to a marked superiority; the great men of letters, and fine women. No person was seen in her circle but dukes, ambassadors, and blue ribbons. The Princess of Rohan, the Countess of Forcalquier, Madam de Mirepoix, Madam de Brignole, and Lady Hervey, passed for her intimate friends. The Abbes de Fontenelle, de Saint Pierre, and Saltier, M. de Fourmont, M. de Berms, M. de Buffon, and M. de Voltaire, were of her circle and her dinners. If her reserved manner did not attract many young people, her society inspired the greater awe, as it was composed of graver persons, and the poor Jean-Jacques had no reason to flatter himself he should be able to take a distinguished part in the midst of such superior talents. I therefore had not courage to speak; but no longer able to contain myself, I took a resolution to write. For the first two days she said not a word to me upon the subject. On the third day, she returned me my letter, accompanying it with a few exhortations which froze my blood. I attempted to speak, but my words expired upon my lips; my sudden passion was extinguished with my hopes, and after a declaration in form I continued to live with her upon the same terms as before, without so much as speaking to her even by the language of the eyes.

I thought my folly was forgotten, but I was deceived. M. de Francueil, son to M. Dupin, and son-in-law to Madam Dupin, was much the same with herself and me. He had wit, a good person, and might have pretensions. This was said to be the case, and probably proceeded from his mother-in-law’s having given him an ugly wife of a mild disposition, with whom, as well as with her husband, she lived upon the best of terms. M. de Francueil was fond of talents in others, and cultivated those he possessed. Music, which he understood very well, was a means of producing a connection between us. I frequently saw him, and he soon gained my friendship. He, however, suddenly gave me to understand that Madam Dupin thought my visits too frequent, and begged me to discontinue them. Such a compliment would have been proper when she returned my letter; but eight or ten days afterwards, and without any new cause, it appeared to me ill-timed. This rendered my situation the more singular, as M. and Madam de Francueil still continued to give me the same good reception as before.

I however made the intervals between my visits longer, and I should entirely have ceased calling on them, had not Madam Dupin, by another unexpected caprice, sent to desire I would for a few days take care of her son, who changing his preceptor, remained alone during that interval. I passed eight days in such torments as nothing but the pleasure of obeying Madam Dupin could render supportable: I would not have undertaken to pass eight other days like them had Madam Dupin given me herself for the recompense.

M. de Francueil conceived a friendship for me, and I studied with him. We began together a course of chemistry at Rouelles. That I might be nearer at hand, I left my hotel at Quentin, and went to lodge at the Tennis Court, Rue Verdelet, which leads into the Rue Platiere, where M. Dupin lived. There, in consequence of a cold neglected, I contracted an inflammation of the lungs that had liked to have carried me off. In my younger days I frequently suffered from inflammatory disorders, pleurisies, and especially quinsies, to which I was very subject, and which frequently brought me near enough to death to familiarize me to its image.
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Re: The Confessions of Jean Jacques Rousseau, by Jean Jacque

Postby admin » Wed Aug 01, 2018 6:04 am

Part 2 of 4

During my convalescence I had leisure to reflect upon my situation, and to lament my timidity, weakness and indolence; these, notwithstanding the fire with which I found myself inflamed, left me to languish in an inactivity of mind, continually on the verge of misery. The evening preceding the day on which I was taken ill, I went to an opera by Royer; the name I have forgotten. Notwithstanding my prejudice in favor of the talents of others, which has ever made me distrustful of my own, I still thought the music feeble, and devoid of animation and invention. I sometimes had the vanity to flatter myself: I think I could do better than that. But the terrible idea I had formed of the composition of an opera, and the importance I heard men of the profession affix to such an undertaking, instantly discouraged me, and made me blush at having so much as thought of it. Besides, where was I to find a person to write the words, and one who would give himself the trouble of turning the poetry to my liking? These ideas of music and the opera had possession of my mind during my illness, and in the delirium of my fever I composed songs, duets, and choruses. I am certain I composed two or three little pieces, ‘di prima infenzione’, perhaps worthy of the admiration of masters, could they have heard them executed. Oh, could an account be taken of the dreams of a man in a fever, what great and sublime things would sometimes proceed from his delirium!

These subjects of music and opera still engaged my attention during my convalescence, but my ideas were less energetic. Long and frequent meditations, and which were often involuntary, and made such an impression upon my mind that I resolved to attempt both words and music. This was not the first time I had undertaken so difficult a task. Whilst I was at Chambery I had composed an opera entitled ‘Iphis and Anaxarete’, which I had the good sense to throw into the fire. At Lyons I had composed another, entitled ‘La Decouverte du Nouveau Monde’, which, after having read it to M. Bordes, the Abbes Malby, Trublet, and others, had met the same fate, notwithstanding I had set the prologue and the first act to music, and although David, after examining the composition, had told me there were passages in it worthy of Buononcini.

Before I began the work I took time to consider of my plan. In a heroic ballet I proposed three different subjects, in three acts, detached from each other, set to music of a different character, taking for each subject the amours of a poet. I entitled this opera Les Muses Galantes. My first act, in music strongly characterized, was Tasso; the second in tender harmony, Ovid; and the third, entitled Anacreon, was to partake of the gayety of the dithyrambus. I tried my skill on the first act, and applied to it with an ardor which, for the first time, made me feel the delightful sensation produced by the creative power of composition. One evening, as I entered the opera, feeling myself strongly incited and overpowered by my ideas, I put my money again into my pocket, returned to my apartment, locked the door, and, having close drawn all the curtains, that every ray of light might be excluded, I went to bed, abandoning myself entirely to this musical and poetical ‘oestrum’, and in seven or eight hours rapidly composed the greatest part of an act. I can truly say my love for the Princess of Ferrara (for I was Tasso for the moment) and my noble and lofty sentiment with respect to her unjust brother, procured me a night a hundred times more delicious than one passed in the arms of the princess would have been. In the morning but a very little of what I had done remained in my head, but this little, almost effaced by sleep and lassitude, still sufficiently evinced the energy of the pieces of which it was the scattered remains.

I this time did, not proceed far with my undertaking, being interrupted by other affairs. Whilst I attached myself to the family of Dupin, Madam de Beuzenval and Madam de Broglie, whom I continued to visit, had not forgotten me. The Count de Montaigu, captain in the guards, had just been appointed ambassador to Venice. He was an ambassador made by Barjac, to whom he assiduously paid his court. His brother, the Chevalier de Montaigu, ‘gentilhomme de la manche’ to the dauphin, was acquainted with these ladies, and with the Abbe Alary of the French academy, whom I sometimes visited. Madam de Broglie having heard the ambassador was seeking a secretary, proposed me to him. A conference was opened between us. I asked a salary of fifty guineas, a trifle for an employment which required me to make some appearance. The ambassador was unwilling to give more than a thousand livres, leaving me to make the journey at my own expense. The proposal was ridiculous. We could not agree, and M. de Francueil, who used all his efforts to prevent my departure, prevailed.

I stayed, and M. de Montaigu set out on his journey, taking with him another secretary, one M. Follau, who had been recommended to him by the office of foreign affairs. They no sooner arrived at Venice than they quarrelled. Follau perceiving he had to do with a madman, left him there, and M. de Montaigu having nobody with him, except a young abbe of the name of Binis, who wrote under the secretary, and was unfit to succeed him, had recourse to me. The chevalier, his brother, a man of wit, by giving me to understand there were advantages annexed to the place of secretary, prevailed upon me to accept the thousand livres. I was paid twenty louis in advance for my journey, and immediately departed.

At Lyons I would most willingly have taken the road to Mount Cenis, to see my poor mamma. But I went down the Rhone, and embarked at Toulon, as well on account of the war, and from a motive of economy, as to obtain a passport from M. de Mirepoix, who then commanded in Provence, and to whom I was recommended. M. de Montaigu not being able to do without me, wrote letter after letter, desiring I would hasten my journey; this, however, an accident considerably prolonged.

It was at the time of the plague at Messina, and the English fleet had anchored there, and visited the Felucca, on board of which I was, and this circumstance subjected us, on our arrival, after a long and difficult voyage, to a quarantine of one-and-twenty days.

The passengers had the choice of performing it on board or in the Lazaretto, which we were told was not yet furnished. They all chose the Felucca. The insupportable heat, the closeness of the vessel, the impossibility of walking in it, and the vermin with which it swarmed, made me at all risks prefer the Lazaretto. I was therefore conducted to a large building of two stories, quite empty, in which I found neither window, bed, table, nor chair, not so much as even a joint-stool or bundle of straw. My night sack and my two trunks being brought me, I was shut in by great doors with huge locks, and remained at full liberty to walk at my ease from chamber to chamber and story to story, everywhere finding the same solitude and nakedness.

This, however, did not induce me to repent that I had preferred the Lazaretto to the Felucca; and, like another Robinson Crusoe, I began to arrange myself for my one-and twenty days, just as I should have done for my whole life. In the first place, I had the amusement of destroying the vermin I had caught in the Felucca. As soon as I had got clear of these, by means of changing my clothes and linen, I proceeded to furnish the chamber I had chosen. I made a good mattress with my waistcoats and shirts; my napkins I converted, by sewing them together, into sheets; my robe de chambre into a counterpane; and my cloak into a pillow. I made myself a seat with one of my trunks laid flat, and a table with the other. I took out some writing paper and an inkstand, and distributed, in the manner of a library, a dozen books which I had with me. In a word, I so well arranged my few movables, that except curtains and windows, I was almost as commodiously lodged in this Lazeretto, absolutely empty as it was, as I had been at the Tennis Court in the Rue Verdelet. My dinners were served with no small degree of pomp; they were escorted by two grenadiers with bayonets fixed; the staircase was my dining-room, the landing-place my table, and the steps served me for a seat; and as soon as my dinner was served up a little bell was rung to inform me I might sit down to table.

Between my repasts, when I did not either read or write or work at the furnishing of my apartment, I went to walk in the burying-ground of the Protestants, which served me as a courtyard. From this place I ascended to a lanthorn which looked into the harbor, and from which I could see the ships come in and go out. In this manner I passed fourteen days, and should have thus passed the whole time of the quarantine without the least weariness had not M. Joinville, envoy from France, to whom I found means to send a letter, vinegared, perfumed, and half burnt, procured eight days of the time to be taken off: these I went and spent at his house, where I confess I found myself better lodged than in the Lazaretto. He was extremely civil to me. Dupont, his secretary, was a good creature: he introduced me, as well at Genoa as in the country, to several families, the company of which I found very entertaining and agreeable; and I formed with him an acquaintance and a correspondence which we kept up for a considerable length of time. I continued my journey, very agreeably, through Lombardy. I saw Milan, Verona, Brescie, and Padua, and at length arrived at Venice, where I was impatiently expected by the ambassador.

I found there piles of despatches, from the court and from other ambassadors, the ciphered part of which he had not been able to read, although he had all the ciphers necessary for that purpose, never having been employed in any office, nor even seen the cipher of a minister. I was at first apprehensive of meeting with some embarrassment; but I found nothing could be more easy, and in less than a week I had deciphered the whole, which certainly was not worth the trouble; for not to mention the little activity required in the embassy of Venice, it was not to such a man as M. de Montaigu that government would confide a negotiation of even the most trifling importance. Until my arrival he had been much embarrassed, neither knowing how to dictate nor to write legibly. I was very useful to him, of which he was sensible; and he treated me well. To this he was also induced by another motive. Since the time of M. de Froulay, his predecessor, whose head became deranged, the consul from France, M. le Blond, had been charged with the affairs of the embassy, and after the arrival of M. de Montaigu, continued to manage them until he had put him into the track. M. de Montaigu, hurt at this discharge of his duty by another, although he himself was incapable of it, became disgusted with the consul, and as soon as I arrived deprived him of the functions of secretary to the embassy to give them to me. They were inseparable from the title, and he told me to take it. As long as I remained with him he never sent any person except myself under this title to the senate, or to conference, and upon the whole it was natural enough he should prefer having for secretary to the embassy a man attached to him, to a consul or a clerk of office named by the court.

This rendered my situation very agreeable, and prevented his gentlemen, who were Italians, as well as his pages, and most of his suite from disputing precedence with me in his house. I made an advantageous use of the authority annexed to the title he had conferred upon me, by maintaining his right of protection, that is, the freedom of his neighborhood, against the attempts several times made to infringe it; a privilege which his Venetian officers took no care to defend. But I never permitted banditti to take refuge there, although this would have produced me advantages of which his excellency would not have disdained to partake. He thought proper, however, to claim a part of those of the secretaryship, which is called the chancery. It was in time of war, and there were many passports issued. For each of these passports a sequin was paid to the secretary who made it out and countersigned it. All my predecessors had been paid this sequin by Frenchmen and others without distinction. I thought this unjust, and although I was not a Frenchman, I abolished it in favor of the French; but I so rigorously demanded my right from persons of every other nation, that the Marquis de Scotti, brother to the favorite of the Queen of Spain, having asked for a passport without taking notice of the sequin: I sent to demand it; a boldness which the vindictive Italian did not forget. As soon as the new regulation I had made, relative to passports, was known, none but pretended Frenchmen, who in a gibberish the most mispronounced, called themselves Provencals, Picards, or Burgundians, came to demand them. My ear being very fine, I was not thus made a dupe, and I am almost persuaded that not a single Italian ever cheated me of my sequin, and that not one Frenchman ever paid it. I was foolish enough to tell M. de Montaigu, who was ignorant of everything that passed, what I had done. The word sequin made him open his ears, and without giving me his opinion of the abolition of that tax upon the French, he pretended I ought to account with him for the others, promising me at the same time equivalent advantages. More filled with indignation at this meanness, than concern for my own interest, I rejected his proposal. He insisted, and I grew warm. “No, sir,” said I, with some heat, “your excellency may keep what belongs to you, but do not take from me that which is mine; I will not suffer you to touch a penny of the perquisites arising from passports.” Perceiving he could gain nothing by these means he had recourse to others, and blushed not to tell me that since I had appropriated to myself the profits of the chancery, it was but just I should pay the expenses. I was unwilling to dispute upon this subject, and from that time I furnished at my own expense, ink, paper, wax, wax-candle, tape, and even a new seal, for which he never reimbursed me to the amount of a farthing. This, however, did not prevent my giving a small part of the produce of the passports to the Abbe de Binis, a good creature, and who was far from pretending to have the least right to any such thing. If he was obliging to me my politeness to him was an equivalent, and we always lived together on the best of terms.

On the first trial I made of his talents in my official functions, I found him less troublesome than I expected he would have been, considering he was a man without experience, in the service of an ambassador who possessed no more than himself, and whose ignorance and obstinacy constantly counteracted everything with which common-sense and some information inspired me for his service and that of the king. The next thing the ambassador did was to connect himself with the Marquis Mari, ambassador from Spain, an ingenious and artful man, who, had he wished so to do, might have led him by the nose, yet on account of the union of the interests of the two crowns he generally gave him good advice, which might have been of essential service, had not the other, by joining his own opinion, counteracted it in the execution. The only business they had to conduct in concert with each other was to engage the Venetians to maintain their neutrality. These did not neglect to give the strongest assurances of their fidelity to their engagement at the same time that they publicly furnished ammunition to the Austrian troops, and even recruits under pretense of desertion. M. de Montaigu, who I believe wished to render himself agreeable to the republic, failed not on his part, notwithstanding my representation to make me assure the government in all my despatches, that the Venetians would never violate an article of the neutrality. The obstinacy and stupidity of this poor wretch made me write and act extravagantly: I was obliged to be the agent of his folly, because he would have it so, but he sometimes rendered my employment insupportable and the functions of it almost impracticable. For example, he insisted on the greatest part of his despatches to the king, and of those to the minister, being written in cipher, although neither of them contained anything that required that precaution. I represented to him that between the Friday, the day the despatches from the court arrived, and Saturday, on which ours were sent off, there was not sufficient time to write so much in cipher, and carry on the considerable correspondence with which I was charged for the same courier. He found an admirable expedient, which was to prepare on Thursday the answer to the despatches we were expected to receive on the next day. This appeared to him so happily imagined, that notwithstanding all I could say on the impossibility of the thing, and the absurdity of attempting its execution, I was obliged to comply during the whole time I afterwards remained with him, after having made notes of the few loose words he spoke to me in the course of the week, and of some trivial circumstances which I collected by hurrying from place to place. Provided with these materials I never once failed carrying to him on the Thursday morning a rough draft of the despatches which were to be sent off on Saturday, excepting the few additions and corrections I hastily made in answer to the letters which arrived on the Friday, and to which ours served for answer. He had another custom, diverting enough and which made his correspondence ridiculous beyond imagination. He sent back all information to its respective source, instead of making it follow its course. To M. Amelot he transmitted the news of the court; to M. Maurepas, that of Paris; to M. d’ Havrincourt, the news from Sweden; to M. de Chetardie, that from Petersbourg; and sometimes to each of those the news they had respectively sent to him, and which I was employed to dress up in terms different from those in which it was conveyed to us. As he read nothing of what I laid before him, except the despatches for the court, and signed those to other ambassadors without reading them, this left me more at liberty to give what turn I thought proper to the latter, and in these therefore I made the articles of information cross each other. But it was impossible for me to do the same by despatches of importance; and I thought myself happy when M. de Montaigu did not take it into his head to cram into them an impromptu of a few lines after his manner. This obliged me to return, and hastily transcribe the whole despatch decorated with his new nonsense, and honor it with the cipher, without which he would have refused his signature. I was frequently almost tempted, for the sake of his reputation, to cipher something different from what he had written, but feeling that nothing could authorize such a deception, I left him to answer for his own folly, satisfying myself with having spoken to him with freedom, and discharged at my own peril the duties of my station. This is what I always did with an uprightness, a zeal and courage, which merited on his part a very different recompense from that which in the end I received from him. It was time I should once be what Heaven, which had endowed me with a happy disposition, what the education that had been given me by the best of women, and that I had given myself, had prepared me for, and I became so. Left to my own reflections, without a friend or advice, without experience, and in a foreign country, in the service of a foreign nation, surrounded by a crowd of knaves, who, for their own interest, and to avoid the scandal of good example, endeavored to prevail upon me to imitate them; far from yielding to their solicitations, I served France well, to which I owed nothing, and the ambassador still better, as it was right and just I should do to the utmost of my power. Irreproachable in a post, sufficiently exposed to censure, I merited and obtained the esteem of the republic, that of all the ambassadors with whom we were in correspondence, and the affection of the French who resided at Venice, not even excepting the consul, whom with regret I supplanted in the functions which I knew belonged to him, and which occasioned me more embarrassment than they afforded me satisfaction.

M. de Montaigu, confiding without reserve to the Marquis Mari, who did not thoroughly understand his duty, neglected it to such a degree that without me the French who were at Venice would not have perceived that an ambassador from their nation resided there. Always put off without being heard when they stood in need of his protection, they became disgusted and no longer appeared in his company or at his table, to which indeed he never invited them. I frequently did from myself what it was his duty to have done; I rendered to the French, who applied to me, all the services in my power. In any other country I should have done more, but, on account of my employment, not being able to see persons in place, I was often obliged to apply to the consul, and the consul, who was settled in the country with his family, had many persons to oblige, which prevented him from acting as he otherwise would have done. However, perceiving him unwilling and afraid to speak, I ventured hazardous measures, which sometimes succeeded. I recollect one which still makes me laugh. No person would suspect it was to me the lovers of the theatre at Paris, owe Coralline and her sister Camille, nothing however, can be more true. Veronese, their father, had engaged himself with his children in the Italian company, and after having received two thousand livres for the expenses of his journey, instead of setting out for France, quietly continued at Venice, and accepted an engagement in the theatre of Saint Luke, to which Coralline, a child as she still was, drew great numbers of people. The Duke de Greves, as first gentleman of the chamber, wrote to the ambassador to claim the father and the daughter. M. de Montaigu when he gave me the letter, confined his instructions to saying, ‘voyez cela’, examine and pay attention to this. I went to M. Blond to beg he would speak to the patrician, to whom the theatre belonged, and who, I believe, was named Zustinian, that he might discharge Veronese, who had engaged in the name of the king. Le Blond, to whom the commission was not very agreeable, executed it badly.

Zustinian answered vaguely, and Veronese was not discharged. I was piqued at this. It was during the carnival, and having taken the bahute and a mask, I set out for the palace Zustinian. Those who saw my gondola arrive with the livery of the ambassador, were lost in astonishment. Venice had never seen such a thing. I entered, and caused myself to be announced by the name of ‘Una Siora Maschera’. As soon as I was introduced I took off my mask and told my name. The senator turned pale and appeared stupefied with surprise. “Sir;” said I to him in Venetian, “it is with much regret I importune your excellency with this visit; but you have in your theatre of Saint Luke, a man of the name of Veronese, who is engaged in the service of the king, and whom you have been requested, but in vain, to give up: I come to claim him in the name of his majesty.” My short harangue was effectual. I had no sooner left the palace than Zustinian ran to communicate the adventure to the state inquisitors, by whom he was severely reprehended. Veronese was discharged the same day. I sent him word that if he did not set off within a week I would have him arrested. He did not wait for my giving him this intimation a second time.

On another occasion I relieved from difficulty solely by my own means, and almost without the assistance of any other person, the captain of a merchant-ship. This was one Captain Olivet, from Marseilles; the name of the vessel I have forgotten. His men had quarreled with the Sclavonians in the service of the republic, some violence had been committed, and the vessel was under so severe an embargo that nobody except the master was suffered to go on board or leave it without permission. He applied to the ambassador, who would hear nothing he had to say. He afterwards went to the consul, who told him it was not an affair of commerce, and that he could not interfere in it. Not knowing what further steps to take he applied to me. I told M. de Montaigu he ought to permit me to lay before the senate a memoir on the subject. I do not recollect whether or not he consented, or that I presented the memoir; but I perfectly remember that if I did it was ineffectual, and the embargo still continuing, I took another method, which succeeded. I inserted a relation of the affairs in one of our letters to M. de Maurepas, though I had difficulty in prevailing upon M. de Montaigne to suffer the article to pass.

I knew that our despatches, although their contents were insignificant, were opened at Venice. Of this I had a proof by finding the articles they contained, verbatim in the gazette, a treachery of which I had in vain attempted to prevail upon the ambassador to complain. My object in speaking of the affair in the letter was to turn the curiosity of the ministers of the republic to advantage, to inspire them with some apprehensions, and to induce the state to release the vessel: for had it been necessary to this effect to wait for an answer from the court, the captain would have been ruined before it could have arrived. I did still more, I went alongside the vessel to make inquiries of the ship’s company. I took with me the Abbe Patizel, chancellor of the consulship, who would rather have been excused, so much were these poor creatures afraid of displeasing the Senate. As I could not go on board, on account of the order from the states, I remained in my gondola, and there took the depositions successively, interrogating each of the mariners, and directing my questions in such a manner as to produce answers which might be to their advantage. I wished to prevail upon Patizel to put the questions and take depositions himself, which in fact was more his business than mine; but to this he would not consent; he never once opened his mouth and refused to sign the depositions after me. This step, somewhat bold, was however, successful, and the vessel was released long before an answer came from the minister. The captain wished to make me a present; but without being angry with him on that account, I tapped him on the shoulder, saying, “Captain Olivet, can you imagine that he who does not receive from the French his perquisite for passports, which he found his established right, is a man likely to sell them the king’s protection?” He, however, insisted on giving me a dinner on board his vessel, which I accepted, and took with me the secretary to the Spanish embassy, M. Carrio, a man of wit and amiable manners, to partake of it: he has since been secretary to the Spanish embassy at Paris and charge des affaires. I had formed an intimate connection with him after the example of our ambassadors.

Happy should I have been, if, when in the most disinterested manner I did all the service I could, I had known how to introduce sufficient order into all these little details, that I might not have served others at my own expense. But in employments similar to that I held, in which the most trifling faults are of consequence, my whole attention was engaged in avoiding all such mistakes as might be detrimental to my service. I conducted, till the last moment, everything relative to my immediate duty, with the greatest order and exactness. Excepting a few errors which a forced precipitation made me commit in ciphering, and of which the clerks of M. Amelot once complained, neither the ambassador nor any other person had ever the least reason to reproach me with negligence in any one of my functions. This is remarkable in a man so negligent as I am. But my memory sometimes failed me, and I was not sufficiently careful in the private affairs with which I was charged; however, a love of justice always made me take the loss on myself, and this voluntarily, before anybody thought of complaining. I will mention but one circumstance of this nature; it relates to my departure from Venice, and I afterwards felt the effects of it in Paris.

Our cook, whose name was Rousselot, had brought from France an old note for two hundred livres, which a hairdresser, a friend of his, had received from a noble Venetian of the name of Zanetto Nani, who had had wigs of him to that amount. Rousselot brought me the note, begging I would endeavor to obtain payment of some part of it, by way of accommodation. I knew, and he knew it also, that the constant custom of noble Venetians was, when once returned to their country, never to pay the debts they had contracted abroad. When means are taken to force them to payment, the wretched creditor finds so many delays, and incurs such enormous expenses, that he becomes disgusted and concludes by giving up his debtor accepting the most trifling composition. I begged M. le Blond to speak to Zanetto. The Venetian acknowledged the note, but did not agree to payment. After a long dispute he at length promised three sequins; but when Le Blond carried him the note even these were not ready, and it was necessary to wait. In this interval happened my quarrel with the ambassador and I quitted his service. I had left the papers of the embassy in the greatest order, but the note of Rousselot was not to be found. M. le Blond assured me he had given it me back. I knew him to be too honest a man to have the least doubt of the matter; but it was impossible for me to recollect what I had done with it. As Zanetto had acknowledged the debt, I desired M. le Blond to endeavor to obtain from him the three sequins on giving him a receipt for the amount, or to prevail upon him to renew the note by way of duplicate. Zanetto, knowing the note to be lost, would not agree to either. I offered Rousselot the three sequins from my own purse, as a discharge of the debt. He refused them, and said I might settle the matter with the creditor at Paris, of whom he gave me the address. The hair-dresser, having been informed of what had passed, would either have his note or the whole sum for which it was given. What, in my indignation, would I have given to have found this vexatious paper! I paid the two hundred livres, and that in my greatest distress. In this manner the loss of the note produced to the creditor the payment of the whole sum, whereas had it, unfortunately for him, been found, he would have had some difficulty in recovering even the ten crowns, which his excellency, Zanetto Nani, had promised to pay.

The talents I thought I felt in myself for my employment made me discharge the functions of it with satisfaction, and except the society of my friend de Carrio, that of the virtuous Altuna, of whom I shall soon have an occasion to speak, the innocent recreations of the place Saint Mark, of the theatre, and of a few visits which we, for the most part, made together, my only pleasure was in the duties of my station. Although these were not considerable, especially with the aid of the Abbe de Binis, yet as the correspondence was very extensive and there was a war, I was a good deal employed. I applied to business the greatest part of every morning, and on the days previous to the departure of the courier, in the evenings, and sometimes till midnight. The rest of my time I gave to the study of the political professions I had entered upon, and in which I hoped, from my successful beginning, to be advantageously employed. In fact I was in favor with every one; the ambassador himself spoke highly of my services, and never complained of anything I did for him; his dissatisfaction proceeded from my having insisted on quitting him, in consequence of the useless complaints I had frequently made on several occasions. The ambassadors and ministers of the king with whom we were in correspondence complimented him on the merit of his secretary, in a manner by which he ought to have been flattered, but which in his poor head produced quite a contrary effect. He received one in particular relative to an affair of importance, for which he never pardoned me.

He was so incapable of bearing the least constraint, that on the Saturday, the day of the despatches for most of the courts, he could not contain himself, and wait till the business was done before he went out, and incessantly pressing me to hasten the despatches to the king and ministers, he signed them with precipitation, and immediately went I know not where, leaving most of the other letters without signing; this obliged me, when these contained nothing but news, to convert them into journals; but when affairs which related to the king were in question it was necessary somebody should sign, and I did it. This once happened relative to some important advice we had just received from M. Vincent, charge des affaires from the king, at Vienna. The Prince Lobkowitz was then marching to Naples, and Count Gages had just made the most memorable retreat, the finest military manoeuvre of the whole century, of which Europe has not sufficiently spoken. The despatch informed us that a man, whose person M. Vincent described, had set out from Vienna, and was to pass by Venice, in his way into Abruzzo, where he was secretly to stir up the people at the approach of the Austrians.

In the absence of M. le Comte de Montaigu, who did not give himself the least concern about anything, I forwarded this advice to the Marquis de l’Hopital, so apropos, that it is perhaps to the poor Jean Jacques, so abused and laughed at, that the house of Bourbon owes the preservation of the kingdom of Naples.

The Marquis de l’Hopital, when he thanked his colleague, as it was proper he should do, spoke to him of his secretary, and mentioned the service he had just rendered to the common cause. The Comte de Montaigu, who in that affair had to reproach himself with negligence, thought he perceived in the compliment paid him by M. de l’Hopital, something like a reproach, and spoke of it to me with signs of ill-humor. I found it necessary to act in the same manner with the Count de Castellane, ambassador at Constantinople, as I had done with the Marquis de l’Hopital, although in things of less importance. As there was no other conveyance to Constantinople than by couriers, sent from time to time by the senate to its Bailli, advice of their departure was given to the ambassador of France, that he might write by them to his colleague, if he thought proper so to do. This advice was commonly sent a day or two beforehand; but M. de Montaigu was held in so little respect, that merely for the sake of form he was sent to, a couple of hours before the couriers set off. This frequently obliged me to write the despatch in his absence. M. de Castellane, in his answer made honorable mention of me; M. de Jonville, at Genoa, did the same, and these instances of their regard and esteem became new grievances.

I acknowledge I did not neglect any opportunity of making myself known; but I never sought one improperly, and in serving well I thought I had a right to aspire to the natural return for essential services; the esteem of those capable of judging of, and rewarding them. I will not say whether or not my exactness in discharging the duties of my employment was a just subject of complaint from the ambassador; but I cannot refrain from declaring that it was the sole grievance he ever mentioned previous to our separation.

His house, which he had never put on a good footing, was constantly filled with rabble; the French were ill-treated in it, and the ascendancy was given to the Italians; of these even, the more honest part, they who had long been in the service of the embassy, were indecently discharged, his first gentleman in particular, whom he had taken from the Comte de Froulay, and who, if I remember right, was called Comte de Peati, or something very like that name. The second gentleman, chosen by M. de Montaigu, was an outlaw highwayman from Mantua, called Dominic Vitali, to whom the ambassador intrusted the care of his house, and who had by means of flattery and sordid economy, obtained his confidence, and became his favorite to the great prejudice of the few honest people he still had about him, and of the secretary who was at their head. The countenance of an upright man always gives inquietude to knaves. Nothing more was necessary to make Vitali conceive a hatred against me: but for this sentiment there was still another cause which rendered it more cruel. Of this I must give an account, that I may be condemned if I am found in the wrong.

The ambassador had, according to custom, a box at each of the theaters. Every day at dinner he named the theater to which it was his intention to go: I chose after him, and the gentlemen disposed of the other boxes. When I went out I took the key of the box I had chosen. One day, Vitali not being in the way, I ordered the footman who attended on me, to bring me the key to a house which I named to him. Vitali, instead of sending the key, said he had disposed of it. I was the more enraged at this as the footman delivered his message in public. In the evening Vitali wished to make me some apology, to which however I would not listen. “To-morrow, sir,” said I to him, “you will come at such an hour and apologize to me in the house where I received the affront, and in the presence of the persons who were witnesses to it; or after to-morrow, whatever may be the consequences, either you or I will leave the house.” This firmness intimidated him. He came to the house at the hour appointed, and made me a public apology, with a meanness worthy of himself. But he afterwards took his measures at leisure, and at the same time that he cringed to me in public, he secretly acted in so vile a manner, that although unable to prevail on the ambassador to give me my dismission, he laid me under the necessity of resolving to leave him.

A wretch like him, certainly, could not know me, but he knew enough of my character to make it serviceable to his purposes. He knew I was mild to an excess, and patient in bearing involuntary wrongs; but haughty and impatient when insulted with premeditated offences; loving decency and dignity in things in which these were requisite, and not more exact in requiring the respect due to myself, than attentive in rendering that which I owed to others. In this he undertook to disgust me, and in this he succeeded. He turned the house upside down, and destroyed the order and subordination I had endeavored to establish in it. A house without a woman stands in need of rather a severe discipline to preserve that modesty which is inseparable from dignity. He soon converted ours into a place of filthy debauch and scandalous licentiousness, the haunt of knaves and debauchees. He procured for second gentleman to his excellency, in the place of him whom he got discharged, another pimp like himself, who kept a house of ill-fame, at the Cross of Malta; and the indecency of these two rascals was equalled by nothing but their insolence. Except the bed-chamber of the ambassador, which, however, was not in very good order, there was not a corner in the whole house supportable to an modest man.

As his excellency did not sup, the gentleman and myself had a private table, at which the Abbe Binis and the pages also ate. In the most paltry ale-house people are served with more cleanliness and decency, have cleaner linen, and a table better supplied. We had but one little and very filthy candle, pewter plates, and iron forks.
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Re: The Confessions of Jean Jacques Rousseau, by Jean Jacque

Postby admin » Wed Aug 01, 2018 6:05 am

Part 3 of 4

I could have overlooked what passed in secret, but I was deprived of my gondola. I was the only secretary to an ambassador, who was obliged to hire one or go on foot, and the livery of his excellency no longer accompanied me, except when I went to the senate. Besides, everything which passed in the house was known in the city. All those who were in the service of the other ambassadors loudly exclaimed; Dominic, the only cause of all, exclaimed louder than anybody, well knowing the indecency with which we were treated was more affecting to me than to any other person. Though I was the only one in the house who said nothing of the matter abroad, I complained loudly of it to the ambassador, as well as of himself, who, secretly excited by the wretch, entirely devoted to his will, daily made me suffer some new affront. Obliged to spend a good deal to keep up a footing with those in the same situation with myself, and to make are appearance proper to my employment, I could not touch a farthing of my salary, and when I asked him for money, he spoke of his esteem for me, and his confidence, as if either of these could have filled my purse, and provided for everything.

These two banditti at length quite turned the head of their master, who naturally had not a good one, and ruined him by a continual traffic, and by bargains, of which he was the dupe, whilst they persuaded him they were greatly in his favor. They persuaded him to take upon the Brenta, a Palazzo, at twice the rent it was worth, and divided the surplus with the proprietor. The apartments were inlaid with mosaic, and ornamented with columns and pilasters, in the taste of the country. M. de Montaigu, had all these superbly masked by fir wainscoting, for no other reason than because at Paris apartments were thus fitted up. It was for a similar reason that he only, of all the ambassadors who were at Venice, took from his pages their swords, and from his footmen their canes. Such was the man, who, perhaps from the same motive took a dislike to me on account of my serving him faithfully.

I patiently endured his disdain, his brutality, and ill-treatment, as long as, perceiving them accompanied by ill-humor, I thought they had in them no portion of hatred; but the moment I saw the design formed of depriving me of the honor I merited by my faithful services, I resolved to resign my employment. The first mark I received of his ill will was relative to a dinner he was to give to the Duke of Modena and his family, who were at Venice, and at which he signified to me I should not be present. I answered, piqued, but not angry, that having the honor daily to dine at his table, if the Duke of Modena, when he came, required I should not appear at it, my duty as well as the dignity of his excellency would not suffer me to consent to such a request. “How;” said he passionately, “my secretary, who is not a gentleman, pretends to dine with a sovereign when my gentlemen do not!” “Yes, sir,” replied I, “the post with which your excellency has honored me, as long as I discharge the functions of it, so far ennobles me that my rank is superior to that of your gentlemen or of the persons calling themselves such; and I am admitted where they cannot appear. You cannot but know that on the day on which you shall make your public entry, I am called to the ceremony by etiquette; and by an immemorial custom, to follow you in a dress of ceremony, and afterwards to dine with you at the palace of St. Mark; and I know not why a man who has a right and is to eat in public with the doge and the senate of Venice should not eat in private with the Duke of Modena.” Though this argument was unanswerable, it did not convince the ambassador; but we had no occasion to renew the dispute, as the Duke of Modena did not come to dine with him.

From that moment he did everything in his power to make things disagreeable to me; and endeavored unjustly to deprive me of my rights, by taking from me the pecuniary advantages annexed to my employment, to give them to his dear Vitali; and I am convinced that had he dared to send him to the senate, in my place, he would have done it. He commonly employed the Abbe Binis in his closet, to write his private letters: he made use of him to write to M. de Maurepas an account of the affair of Captain Olivet, in which, far from taking the least notice of me, the only person who gave himself any concern about the matter, he deprived me of the honor of the depositions, of which he sent him a duplicate, for the purpose of attributing them to Patizel, who had not opened his mouth. He wished to mortify me, and please his favorite; but had no desire to dismiss me his service. He perceived it would be more difficult to find me a successor, than M. Follau, who had already made him known to the world. An Italian secretary was absolutely necessary to him, on account of the answers from the senate; one who could write all his despatches, and conduct his affairs, without his giving himself the least trouble about anything; a person who, to the merit of serving him well, could join the baseness of being the toad-eater of his gentlemen, without honor, merit, or principles. He wished to retain, and humble me, by keeping me far from my country, and his own, without money to return to either, and in which he would, perhaps, had succeeded, had he began with more moderation: but Vitali, who had other views, and wished to force me to extremities, carried his point. The moment I perceived, I lost all my trouble, that the ambassador imputed to me my services as so many crimes, instead of being satisfied with them; that with him I had nothing to expect, but things disagreeable at home, and injustice abroad; and that, in the general disesteem into which he was fallen, his ill offices might be prejudicial to me, without the possibility of my being served by his good ones; I took my resolution, and asked him for my dismission, leaving him sufficient time to provide himself with another secretary. Without answering yes or no, he continued to treat me in the same manner, as if nothing had been said. Perceiving things to remain in the same state, and that he took no measures to procure himself a new secretary, I wrote to his brother, and, explaining to him my motives, begged he would obtain my dismission from his excellency, adding that whether I received it or not, I could not possibly remain with him. I waited a long time without any answer, and began to be embarrassed: but at length the ambassador received a letter from his brother, which must have remonstrated with him in very plain terms; for although he was extremely subject to ferocious rage, I never saw him so violent as on this occasion. After torrents of unsufferable reproaches, not knowing what more to say, he accused me of having sold his ciphers. I burst into a loud laughter, and asked him, in a sneering manner, if he thought there was in Venice a man who would be fool enough to give half a crown for them all. He threatened to call his servants to throw me out of the window. Until then I had been very composed; but on this threat, anger and indignation seized me in my turn. I sprang to the door, and after having turned a button which fastened it within: “No, count,” said I, returning to him with a grave step, “Your servants shall have nothing to do with this affair; please to let it be settled between ourselves.” My action and manner instantly made him calm; fear and surprise were marked in his countenance. The moment I saw his fury abated, I bid him adieu in a very few words, and without waiting for his answer, went to the door, opened it, and passed slowly across the antechamber, through the midst of his people, who rose according to custom, and who, I am of opinion, would rather have lent their assistance against him than me. Without going back to my apartment, I descended the stairs, and immediately went out of the palace never more to enter it.

I hastened immediately to M. le Blond and related to him what had happened. Knowing the man, he was but little surprised. He kept me to dinner. This dinner, although without preparation, was splendid. All the French of consequence who were at Venice, partook of it. The ambassador had not a single person. The consul related my case to the company. The cry was general, and by no means in favor of his excellency. He had not settled my account, nor paid me a farthing, and being reduced to the few louis I had in my pocket, I was extremely embarrassed about my return to France. Every purse was opened to me. I took twenty sequins from that of M. le Blond, and as many from that of M. St. Cyr, with whom, next to M. le Blond, I was the most intimately connected. I returned thanks to the rest; and, till my departure, went to lodge at the house of the chancellor of the consulship, to prove to the public, the nation was not an accomplice in the injustice of the ambassador.

His excellency, furious at seeing me taken notice of in my misfortune, at the same time that, notwithstanding his being an ambassador, nobody went near his house, quite lost his senses and behaved like a madman. He forgot himself so far as to present a memoir to the senate to get me arrested. On being informed of this by the Abbe de Binis, I resolved to remain a fortnight longer, instead of setting off the next day as I had intended. My conduct had been known and approved of by everybody; I was universally esteemed. The senate did not deign to return an answer to the extravagant memoir of the ambassador, but sent me word I might remain in Venice as long as I thought proper, without making myself uneasy about the attempts of a madman. I continued to see my friends: I went to take leave of the ambassador from Spain, who received me well, and of the Comte de Finochietti, minister from Naples, whom I did not find at home. I wrote him a letter and received from his excellency the most polite and obliging answer. At length I took my departure, leaving behind me, notwithstanding my embarrassment, no other debts than the two sums I had borrowed, and of which I have just spoken; and an account of fifty crowns with a shopkeeper, of the name of Morandi, which Carrio promised to pay, and which I have never reimbursed him, although we have frequently met since that time; but with respect to the two sums of money, I returned them very exactly the moment I had it in my power.

I cannot take leave of Venice without saying something of the celebrated amusements of that city, or at least of the little part of them of which I partook during my residence there. It has been seen how little in my youth I ran after the pleasures of that age, or those that are so called. My inclinations did not change at Venice, but my occupations, which moreover would have prevented this, rendered more agreeable to me the simple recreations I permitted myself. The first and most pleasing of all was the society of men of merit. M. le Blond, de St. Cyr, Carrio Altuna, and a Forlinian gentleman, whose name I am very sorry to have forgotten, and whom I never call to my recollection without emotion: he was the man of all I ever knew whose heart most resembled my own. We were connected with two or three Englishmen of great wit and information, and, like ourselves, passionately fond of music. All these gentlemen had their wives, female friends, or mistresses: the latter were most of them women of talents, at whose apartments there were balls and concerts. There was but little play; a lively turn, talents, and the theatres rendered this amusement incipid. Play is the resource of none but men whose time hangs heavy on their hands. I had brought with me from Paris the prejudice of that city against Italian music; but I had also received from nature a sensibility and niceness of distinction which prejudice cannot withstand. I soon contracted that passion for Italian music with which it inspires all those who are capable of feeling its excellence. In listening to barcaroles, I found I had not yet known what singing was, and I soon became so fond of the opera that, tired of babbling, eating, and playing in the boxes when I wished to listen, I frequently withdrew from the company to another part of the theater. There, quite alone, shut up in my box, I abandoned myself, notwithstanding the length of the representation, to the pleasure of enjoying it at ease unto the conclusion. One evening at the theatre of Saint Chrysostom, I fell into a more profound sleep than I should have done in my bed. The loud and brilliant airs did not disturb my repose. But who can explain the delicious sensations given me by the soft harmony of the angelic music, by which I was charmed from sleep; what an awaking! what ravishment! what ecstasy, when at the same instant I opened my ears and eyes! My first idea was to believe I was in paradise. The ravishing air, which I still recollect and shall never forget, began with these words:

Conservami la bella,
Che si m’accende il cor.


I was desirous of having it; I had and kept it for a time; but it was not the same thing upon paper as in my head. The notes were the same but the thing was different. This divine composition can never be executed but in my mind, in the same manner as it was the evening on which it woke me from sleep.

A kind of music far superior, in my opinion, to that of operas, and which in all Italy has not its equal, nor perhaps in the whole world, is that of the ‘scuole’. The ‘scuole’ are houses of charity, established for the education of young girls without fortune, to whom the republic afterwards gives a portion either in marriage or for the cloister. Amongst talents cultivated in these young girls, music is in the first rank. Every Sunday at the church of each of the four ‘scuole’, during vespers, motettos or anthems with full choruses, accompanied by a great orchestra, and composed and directed by the best masters in Italy, are sung in the galleries by girls only; not one of whom is more than twenty years of age. I have not an idea of anything so voluptuous and affecting as this music; the richness of the art, the exquisite taste of the vocal part, the excellence of the voices, the justness of the execution, everything in these delightful concerts concurs to produce an impression which certainly is not the mode, but from which I am of opinion no heart is secure. Carrio and I never failed being present at these vespers of the ‘Mendicanti’, and we were not alone. The church was always full of the lovers of the art, and even the actors of the opera came there to form their tastes after these excellent models. What vexed me was the iron grate, which suffered nothing to escape but sounds, and concealed from me the angels of which they were worthy. I talked of nothing else. One day I spoke of it at Le Blond’s; “If you are so desirous,” said he, “to see those little girls, it will be an easy matter to satisfy your wishes. I am one of the administrators of the house, I will give you a collation with them.” I did not let him rest until he had fulfilled his promise. In entering the saloon, which contained these beauties I so much sighed to see, I felt a trembling of love which I had never before experienced. M. le Blond presented to me one after the other, these celebrated female singers, of whom the names and voices were all with which I was acquainted. Come, Sophia,—she was horrid. Come, Cattina,—she had but one eye. Come, Bettina,—the small-pox had entirely disfigured her. Scarcely one of them was without some striking defect.

Le Blond laughed at my surprise; however, two or three of them appeared tolerable; these never sung but in the choruses; I was almost in despair. During the collation we endeavored to excite them, and they soon became enlivened; ugliness does not exclude the graces, and I found they possessed them. I said to myself, they cannot sing in this manner without intelligence and sensibility, they must have both; in fine, my manner of seeing them changed to such a degree that I left the house almost in love with each of these ugly faces. I had scarcely courage enough to return to vespers. But after having seen the girls, the danger was lessened. I still found their singing delightful; and their voices so much embellished their persons that, in spite of my eyes, I obstinately continued to think them beautiful.

Music in Italy is accompanied with so trifling an expense, that it is not worth while for such as have a taste for it to deny themselves the pleasure it affords. I hired a harpsichord, and, for half a crown, I had at my apartment four or five symphonists, with whom I practised once a week in executing such airs, etc., as had given me most pleasure at the opera. I also had some symphonies performed from my ‘Muses Galantes’. Whether these pleased the performers, or the ballet-master of St. John Chrysostom wished to flatter me, he desired to have two of them; and I had afterwards the pleasure of hearing these executed by that admirable orchestra. They were danced to by a little Bettina, pretty and amiable, and kept by a Spaniard, M. Fagoaga, a friend of ours with whom we often went to spend the evening. But apropos of girls of easy virtue: it is not in Venice that a man abstains from them. Have you nothing to confess, somebody will ask me, upon this subject? Yes: I have something to say upon it, and I will proceed to the confession with the same ingenuousness with which I have made my former ones.

I always had a disinclination to girls of pleasure, but at Venice those were all I had within my reach; most of the houses being shut against me on account of my place. The daughters of M. le Blond were very amiable, but difficult of access; and I had too much respect for the father and mother ever once to have the least desire for them.

I should have had a much stronger inclination to a young lady named Mademoiselle de Cataneo, daughter to the agent from the King of Prussia, but Carrio was in love with her: there was even between them some question of marriage. He was in easy circumstances, and I had no fortune: his salary was a hundred louis (guineas) a year, and mine amounted to no more than a thousand livres (about forty pounds sterling) and, besides my being unwilling to oppose a friend, I knew that in all places, and especially at Venice, with a purse so ill furnished as mine was, gallantry was out of the question. I had not lost the pernicious custom of deceiving my wants. Too busily employed forcibly to feel those proceeding from the climate, I lived upwards of a year in that city as chastely as I had done in Paris, and at the end of eighteen months I quitted it without having approached the sex, except twice by means of the singular opportunities of which I am going to speak.

The first was procured me by that honest gentleman, Vitali, some time after the formal apology I obliged him to make me. The conversation at the table turned on the amusements of Venice. These gentlemen reproached me with my indifference with regard to the most delightful of them all; at the same time extolling the gracefulness and elegant manners of the women of easy virtue of Venice; and adding that they were superior to all others of the same description in any other part of the world. Dominic said I must make the acquaintance of the most amiable of them all; and he offered to take me to her apartments, and assured me I should be pleased with her. I laughed at this obliging offer: and Count Piati, a man in years and venerable, observed to me, with more candor than I should have expected from an Italian, that he thought me too prudent to suffer myself to be taken to such a place by my enemy. In fact I had no inclination to do it: but notwithstanding this, by an incoherence I cannot myself comprehend, I at length was prevailed upon to go, contrary to my inclination, the sentiment of my heart, my reason, and even my will; solely from weakness, and being ashamed to show an appearance to the least mistrust; and besides, as the expression of the country is, ‘per non parer troppo cogliono’—[Not to appear too great a blockhead.]—The ‘Padoana’ whom we went to visit was pretty, she was even handsome, but her beauty was not of that kind that pleased me. Dominic left me with her, I sent for Sorbetti, and asked her to sing. In about half an hour I wished to take my leave, after having put a ducat on the table, but this by a singular scruple she refused until she had deserved it, and I from as singular a folly consented to remove her doubts. I returned to the palace so fully persuaded that I should feel the consequences of this step, that the first thing I did was to send for the king’s surgeon to ask him for ptisans. Nothing can equal the uneasiness of mind I suffered for three weeks, without its being justified by any real inconvenience or apparent sign. I could not believe it was possible to withdraw with impunity from the arms of the ‘padoana’. The surgeon himself had the greatest difficulty in removing my apprehensions; nor could he do this by any other means than by persuading me I was formed in such a manner as not to be easily infected: and although in the experiment I exposed myself less than any other man would have done, my health in that respect never having suffered the least inconvenience, in my opinion a proof the surgeon was right. However, this has never made me imprudent, and if in fact I have received such an advantage from nature I can safely assert I have never abused it.

My second adventure, although likewise with a common girl, was of a nature very different, as well in its origin as in its effects; I have already said that Captain Olivet gave me a dinner on board his vessel, and that I took with me the secretary of the Spanish embassy. I expected a salute of cannon.

The ship’s company was drawn up to receive us, but not so much as a priming was burnt, at which I was mortified, on account of Carrio, whom I perceived to be rather piqued at the neglect. A salute of cannon was given on board merchant-ships to people of less consequence than we were; I besides thought I deserved some distinguished mark of respect from the captain. I could not conceal my thoughts, because this at all times was impossible to me, and although the dinner was a very good one, and Olivet did the honors of it perfectly well, I began it in an ill humor, eating but little, and speaking still less. At the first health, at least, I expected a volley; nothing. Carrio, who read what passed within, me, laughed at hearing me grumble like a child. Before dinner was half over I saw a gondola approach the vessel. “Bless me, sir,” said the captain, “take care of yourself, the enemy approaches.” I asked him what he meant, and he answered jocosely. The gondola made the ship’s side, and I observed a gay young damsel come on board very lightly, and coquettishly dressed, and who at three steps was in the cabin, seated by my side, before I had time to perceive a cover was laid for her. She was equally charming and lively, a brunette, not more than twenty years of age. She spoke nothing but Italian, and her accent alone was sufficient to turn my head. As she ate and chattered she cast her eyes upon me; steadfastly looked at me for a moment, and then exclaimed, “Good Virgin! Ah, my dear Bremond, what an age it is since I saw thee!” Then she threw herself into my arms, sealed her lips to mine, and pressed me almost to strangling. Her large black eyes, like those of the beauties of the East, darted fiery shafts into my heart, and although the surprise at first stupefied my senses, voluptuousness made a rapid progress within, and this to such a degree that the beautiful seducer herself was, notwithstanding the spectators, obliged to restrain my ardor, for I was intoxicated, or rather become furious. When she perceived she had made the impression she desired, she became more moderate in her caresses, but not in her vivacity, and when she thought proper to explain to us the real or false cause of all her petulance, she said I resembled M. de Bremond, director of the customs of Tuscany, to such a degree as to be mistaken for him; that she had turned this M. de Bremond’s head, and would do it again; that she had quitted him because he was a fool; that she took me in his place; that she would love me because it pleased her so to do, for which reason I must love her as long as it was agreeable to her, and when she thought proper to send me about my business, I must be patient as her dear Bremond had been. What was said was done. She took possession of me as of a man that belonged to her, gave me her gloves to keep, her fan, her ‘cinda’, and her coif, and ordered me to go here or there, to do this or that, and I instantly obeyed her. She told me to go and send away her gondola, because she chose to make use of mine, and I immediately sent it away; she bid me to move from my place, and pray Carrio to sit down in it, because she had something to say to him; and I did as she desired. They chatted a good while together, but spoke low, and I did not interrupt them. She called me, and I approached her. “Hark thee, Zanetto,” said she to me, “I will not be loved in the French manner; this indeed will not be well. In the first moment of lassitude, get thee gone: but stay not by the way, I caution thee.” After dinner we went to see the glass manufactory at Murano. She bought a great number of little curiosities; for which she left me to pay without the least ceremony. But she everywhere gave away little trinkets to a much greater amount than of the things we had purchased. By the indifference with which she threw away her money, I perceived she annexed to it but little value. When she insisted upon a payment, I am of opinion it was more from a motive of vanity than avarice. She was flattered by the price her admirers set upon her favors.

In the evening we conducted her to her apartments. As we conversed together, I perceived a couple of pistols upon her toilette. “Ah! Ah!” said I, taking one of them up, “this is a patchbox of a new construction: may I ask what is its use? I know you have other arms which give more fire than those upon your table.” After a few pleasantries of the same kind, she said to us, with an ingenuousness which rendered her still more charming, “When I am complaisant to persons whom I do not love, I make them pay for the weariness they cause me; nothing can be more just; but if I suffer their caresses, I will not bear their insults; nor miss the first who shall be wanting to me in respect.”

At taking leave of her, I made another appointment for the next day. I did not make her wait. I found her in ‘vestito di confidenza’, in an undress more than wanton, unknown to northern countries, and which I will not amuse myself in describing, although I recollect it perfectly well. I shall only remark that her ruffles and collar were edged with silk network ornamented with rose-colored pompons. This, in my eyes, much enlivened a beautiful complexion. I afterwards found it to be the mode at Venice, and the effect is so charming that I am surprised it has never been introduced in France. I had no idea of the transports which awaited me. I have spoken of Madam de Larnage with the transport which the remembrance of her still sometimes gives me; but how old, ugly and cold she appeared, compared with my Zulietta! Do not attempt to form to yourself an idea of the charms and graces of this enchanting girl, you will be far too short of truth. Young virgins in cloisters are not so fresh: the beauties of the seraglio are less animated: the houris of paradise less engaging. Never was so sweet an enjoyment offered to the heart and senses of a mortal. Ah! had I at least been capable of fully tasting of it for a single moment! I had tasted of it, but without a charm. I enfeebled all its delights: I destroyed them as at will. No; Nature has not made me capable of enjoyment. She has infused into my wretched head the poison of that ineffable happiness, the desire of which she first placed in my heart.

If there be a circumstance in my life, which describes my nature, it is that which I am going to relate. The forcible manner in which I at this moment recollect the object of my book, will here make me hold in contempt the false delicacy which would prevent me from fulfilling it. Whoever you may be who are desirous of knowing a man, have the courage to read the two or three following pages, and you will become fully acquainted with J. J. Rousseau.

I entered the chamber of a woman of easy virtue, as the sanctuary of love and beauty: and in her person, I thought I saw the divinity. I should have been inclined to think that without respect and esteem it was impossible to feel anything like that which she made me experience. Scarcely had I, in her first familiarities, discovered the force of her charms and caresses, before I wished, for fear of losing the fruit of them, to gather it beforehand. Suddenly, instead of the flame which consumed me, I felt a mortal cold run through all my veins; my legs failed me; and ready to faint away, I sat down and wept like a child.

Who would guess the cause of my tears, and what, at this moment, passed within me? I said to myself: the object in my power is the masterpiece of love; her wit and person equally approach perfection; she is as good and generous as she is amiable and beautiful. Yet she is a miserable prostitute, abandoned to the public. The captain of a merchantship disposed of her at will; she has thrown herself into my arms, although she knows I have nothing; and my merit with which she cannot be acquainted, can be to her no inducement. In this there is something inconceivable. Either my heart deceives me, fascinates my senses, and makes me the dupe of an unworthy slut, or some secret defect, of which I am ignorant, destroys the effect of her charms, and renders her odious in the eyes of those by whom her charms would otherwise be disputed. I endeavored, by an extraordinary effort of mind, to discover this defect, but it did not so much as strike me that even the consequences to be apprehended, might possibly have some influence. The clearness of her skin, the brilliancy of her complexion, her white teeth, sweet breath, and the appearance of neatness about her person, so far removed from me this idea, that, still in doubt relative to my situation after the affair of the ‘padoana’, I rather apprehended I was not sufficiently in health for her: and I am firmly persuaded I was not deceived in my opinion. These reflections, so apropos, agitated me to such a degree as to make me shed tears. Zuliette, to whom the scene was quite novel, was struck speechless for a moment. But having made a turn in her chamber, and passing before her glass, she comprehended, and my eyes confirmed her opinion, that disgust had no part in what had happened. It was not difficult for her to recover me and dispel this shamefacedness.

But, at the moment in which I was ready to faint upon a bosom, which for the first time seemed to suffer the impression of the hand and lips of a man, I perceived she had a withered ‘teton’. I struck my forehead: I examined, and thought I perceived this teton was not formed like the other. I immediately began to consider how it was possible to have such a defect, and persuaded of its proceeding from some great natural vice, I was clearly convinced, that, instead of the most charming person of whom I could form to myself an idea, I had in my arms a species of a monster, the refuse of nature, of men and of love. I carried my stupidity so far as to speak to her of the discovery I had made. She, at first, took what I said jocosely; and in her frolicsome humor, did and said things which made me die of love. But perceiving an inquietude I could not conceal, she at length reddened, adjusted her dress, raised herself up, and without saying a word, went and placed herself at a window. I attempted to place myself by her side: she withdrew to a sofa, rose from it the next moment, and fanning herself as she walked about the chamber, said to me in a reserved and disdainful tone of voice, “Zanetto, ‘lascia le donne, a studia la matematica.”—[Leave women and study mathematics.]

Before I took leave I requested her to appoint another rendezvous for the next day, which she postponed for three days, adding, with a satirical smile, that I must needs be in want of repose. I was very ill at ease during the interval; my heart was full of her charms and graces; I felt my extravagance, and reproached myself with it, regretting the loss of the moments I had so ill employed, and which, had I chosen, I might have rendered more agreeable than any in my whole life; waiting with the most burning impatience for the moment in which I might repair the loss, and yet, notwithstanding all my reasoning upon what I had discovered, anxious to reconcile the perfections of this adorable girl with the indignity of her situation. I ran, I flew to her apartment at the hour appointed. I know not whether or not her ardor would have been more satisfied with this visit, her pride at least would have been flattered by it, and I already rejoiced at the idea of my convincing her, in every respect, that I knew how to repair the wrongs I had done. She spared me this justification. The gondolier whom I had sent to her apartment brought me for answer that she had set off, the evening before, for Florence. If I had not felt all the love I had for her person when this was in my possession, I felt it in the most cruel manner on losing her. Amiable and charming as she was in my eyes, I could not console myself for the loss of her; but this I have never been able to do relative to the contemptuous idea which at her departure she must have had of me.

These are my two narratives. The eighteen months I passed at Venice furnished me with no other of the same kind, except a simple prospect at most. Carrio was a gallant. Tired of visiting girls engaged to others, he took a fancy to have one to himself, and, as we were inseparable, he proposed to me an arrangement common enough at Venice, which was to keep one girl for us both. To this I consented. The question was, to find one who was safe. He was so industrious in his researches that he found out a little girl from eleven to twelve years of age, whom her infamous mother was endeavoring to sell, and I went with Carrio to see her. The sight of the child moved me to the most lively compassion. She was fair and as gentle as a lamb. Nobody would have taken her for an Italian. Living is very cheap in Venice; we gave a little money to the mother, and provided for the subsistence of her daughter. She had a voice, and to procure her some resource we gave her a spinnet, and a singing-master. All these expenses did not cost each of us more than two sequins a month, and we contrived to save a much greater sum in other matters; but as we were obliged to wait until she became of a riper age, this was sowing a long time before we could possibly reap. However, satisfied with passing our evenings, chatting and innocently playing with the child, we perhaps enjoyed greater pleasure than if we had received the last favors. So true is it that men are more attached to women by a certain pleasure they have in living with them, than by any kind of libertinism. My heart became insensibly attached to the little Anzoletta, but my attachment was paternal, in which the senses had so little share, that in proportion as the former increased, to have connected it with the latter would have been less possible; and I felt I should have experienced, at approaching this little creature when become nubile, the same horror with which the abominable crime of incest would have inspired me. I perceived the sentiments of Carrio take, unobserved by himself, exactly the same turn. We thus prepared for ourselves, without intending it, pleasure not less delicious, but very different from that of which we first had an idea; and I am fully persuaded that however beautiful the poor child might have become, far from being the corrupters of her innocence we should have been the protectors of it. The circumstance which shortly afterwards befell me deprived me of the happiness of taking a part in this good work, and my only merit in the affair was the inclination of my heart.

I will now return to my journey.

My first intentions after leaving M. de Montaigu, was to retire to Geneva, until time and more favorable circumstances should have removed the obstacles which prevented my union with my poor mamma; but the quarrel between me and M. de Montaigu being become public, and he having had the folly to write about it to the court, I resolved to go there to give an account of my conduct and complain of that of a madman. I communicated my intention, from Venice, to M. du Theil, charged per interim with foreign affairs after the death of M. Amelot. I set off as soon as my letter, and took my route through Bergamo, Como, and Domo D’Oscela, and crossing Saint Plomb. At Sion, M. de Chaignon, charge des affaires from France, showed me great civility; at Geneva M. de la Closure treated me with the same polite attention. I there renewed my acquaintance with M. de Gauffecourt, from whom I had some money to receive. I had passed through Nion without going to see my father: not that this was a matter of indifference to me, but because I was unwilling to appear before my mother-in-law, after the disaster which had befallen me, certain of being condemned by her without being heard. The bookseller, Du Villard, an old friend of my father’s, reproached me severely with this neglect. I gave him my reasons for it, and to repair my fault, without exposing myself to meet my mother-in-law, I took a chaise and we went together to Nion and stopped at a public house. Du Villard went to fetch my father, who came running to embrace me. We supped together, and, after passing an evening very agreeable to the wishes of my heart, I returned the next morning to Geneva with Du Villard, for whom I have ever since retained a sentiment of gratitude in return for the service he did me on this occasion.

Lyons was a little out of my direct road, but I was determined to pass through that city in order to convince myself of a knavish trick played me by M. de Montaigu. I had sent me from Paris a little box containing a waistcoat, embroidered with gold, a few pairs of ruffles, and six pairs of white silk stockings; nothing more. Upon a proposition made me by M. de Montaigu, I ordered this box to be added to his baggage. In the apothecary’s bill he offered me in payment of my salary, and which he wrote out himself, he stated the weight of this box, which he called a bale, at eleven hundred pounds, and charged me with the carriage of it at an enormous rate. By the cares of M. Boy de la Tour, to whom I was recommended by M. Roquin, his uncle, it was proved from the registers of the customs of Lyons and Marseilles, that the said bale weighed no more than forty-five pounds, and had paid carriage according to that weight. I joined this authentic extract to the memoir of M, de Montaigu, and provided with these papers and others containing stronger facts, I returned to Paris, very impatient to make use of them. During the whole of this long journey I had little adventures; at Como, in Valais, and elsewhere. I there saw many curious things, amongst others the Boroma islands, which are worthy of being described. But I am pressed by time, and surrounded by spies. I am obliged to write in haste, and very imperfectly, a work which requires the leisure and tranquility I do not enjoy. If ever providence in its goodness grants me days more calm, I shall destine them to new modelling this work, should I be able to do it, or at least to giving a supplement, of which I perceive it stands in the greatest need.—[I have given up this project.]

The news of my quarrel had reached Paris before me and on my arrival I found the people in all the offices, and the public in general, scandalized at the follies of the ambassador.

Notwithstanding this, the public talk at Venice, and the unanswerable proof I exhibited, I could not obtain even the shadow of justice. Far from obtaining satisfaction or reparation, I was left at the discretion of the ambassador for my salary, and this for no other reason than because, not being a Frenchman, I had no right to national protection, and that it was a private affair between him and myself. Everybody agreed I was insulted, injured, and unfortunate; that the ambassador was mad, cruel, and iniquitous, and that the whole of the affair dishonored him forever. But what of this! He was the ambassador, and I was nothing more than the secretary.

Order, or that which is so called, was in opposition to my obtaining justice, and of this the least shadow was not granted me. I supposed that, by loudly complaining, and by publicly treating this madman in the manner he deserved, I should at length be told to hold my tongue; this was what I wished for, and I was fully determined not to obey until I had obtained redress. But at that time there was no minister for foreign affairs. I was suffered to exclaim, nay, even encouraged to do it, and joined with; but the affair still remained in the same state, until, tired of being in the right without obtaining justice, my courage at length failed me, and let the whole drop.

The only person by whom I was ill received, and from whom I should have least expected such an injustice, was Madam de Beuzenval. Full of the prerogatives of rank and nobility, she could not conceive it was possible an ambassador could ever be in the wrong with respect to his secretary. The reception she gave me was conformable to this prejudice. I was so piqued at it that, immediately after leaving her, I wrote her perhaps one of the strongest and most violent letters that ever came from my pen, and since that time I never once returned to her house. I was better received by Father Castel; but, in the midst of his Jesuitical wheedling I perceived him faithfully to follow one of the great maxims of his society, which is to sacrifice the weak to the powerful. The strong conviction I felt of the justice of my cause, and my natural greatness of mind did not suffer me patiently to endure this partiality. I ceased visiting Father Castel, and on that account, going to the college of the Jesuits, where I knew nobody but himself. Besides the intriguing and tyrannical spirit of his brethren, so different from the cordiality of the good Father Hemet, gave me such a disgust for their conversation that I have never since been acquainted with, nor seen anyone of them except Father Berthier, whom I saw twice or thrice at M. Dupin’s, in conjunction with whom he labored with all his might at the refutation of Montesquieu.

That I may not return to the subject, I will conclude what I have to say of M. de Montaigu. I had told him in our quarrels that a secretary was not what he wanted, but an attorney’s clerk. He took the hint, and the person whom he procured to succeed me was a real attorney, who in less than a year robbed him of twenty or thirty thousand livres. He discharged him, and sent him to prison, dismissed his gentleman with disgrace, and, in wretchedness, got himself everywhere into quarrels, received affronts which a footman would not have put up with, and, after numerous follies, was recalled, and sent from the capital. It is very probable that among the reprimands he received at court, his affair with me was not forgotten. At least, a little time after his return he sent his maitre d’ hotel, to settle my account, and give me some money. I was in want of it at that moment; my debts at Venice, debts of honor, if ever there were any, lay heavy upon my mind. I made use of the means which offered to discharge them, as well as the note of Zanetto Nani. I received what was offered me, paid all my debts, and remained as before, without a farthing in my pocket, but relieved from a weight which had become insupportable. From that time I never heard speak of M. de Montaigu until his death, with which I became acquainted by means of the Gazette. The peace of God be with that poor man! He was as fit for the functions of an ambassador as in my infancy I had been for those of Grapignan.—However, it was in his power to have honorably supported himself by my services, and rapidly to have advanced me in a career to which the Comte de Gauvon had destined me in my youth, and of the functions of which I had in a more advanced age rendered myself capable.

The justice and inutility of my complaints, left in my mind seeds of indignation against our foolish civil institutions, by which the welfare of the public and real justice are always sacrificed to I know not what appearance of order, and which does nothing more than add the sanction of public authority to the oppression of the weak, and the iniquity of the powerful. Two things prevented these seeds from putting forth at that time as they afterwards did: one was, myself being in question in the affair, and private interest, whence nothing great or noble ever proceeded, could not draw from my heart the divine soarings, which the most pure love, only of that which is just and sublime, can produce. The other was the charm of friendship which tempered and calmed my wrath by the ascendancy of a more pleasing sentiment. I had become acquainted at Venice with a Biscayan, a friend of my friend Carrio’s, and worthy of being that of every honest man. This amiable young man, born with every talent and virtue, had just made the tour of Italy to gain a taste for the fine arts, and, imagining he had nothing more to acquire, intended to return by the most direct road to his own country. I told him the arts were nothing more than a relaxation to a genius like his, fit to cultivate the sciences; and to give him a taste for these, I advised him to make a journey to Paris and reside there for six months. He took my advice, and went to Paris. He was there and expected me when I arrived. His lodging was too considerable for him, and he offered me the half of it, which I instantly accepted. I found him absorbed in the study of the sublimest sciences. Nothing was above his reach. He digested everything with a prodigious rapidity. How cordially did he thank me for having procured him this food for his mind, which was tormented by a thirst after knowledge, without his being aware of it! What a treasure of light and virtue I found in the vigorous mind of this young man! I felt he was the friend I wanted. We soon became intimate. Our tastes were not the same, and we constantly disputed. Both opinionated, we never could agree about anything. Nevertheless we could not separate; and, notwithstanding our reciprocal and incessant contradiction, we neither of us wished the other to be different from what he was.

Ignacio Emanuel de Altuna was one of those rare beings whom only Spain produces, and of whom she produces too few for her glory. He had not the violent national passions common in his own country. The idea of vengeance could no more enter his head, than the desire of it could proceed from his heart. His mind was too great to be vindictive, and I have frequently heard him say, with the greatest coolness, that no mortal could offend him. He was gallant, without being tender. He played with women as with so many pretty children. He amused himself with the mistresses of his friends, but I never knew him to have one of his own, nor the least desire for it. The emanations from the virtue with which his heart was stored, never permitted the fire of the passions to excite sensual desires.
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Re: The Confessions of Jean Jacques Rousseau, by Jean Jacque

Postby admin » Wed Aug 01, 2018 6:05 am

Part 4 of 4

After his travels he married, died young, and left children; and, I am as convinced as of my existence, that his wife was the first and only woman with whom he ever tasted of the pleasures of love.

Externally he was devout, like a Spaniard, but in his heart he had the piety of an angel. Except myself, he is the only man I ever saw whose principles were not intolerant. He never in his life asked any person his opinion in matters of religion. It was not of the least consequence to him whether his friend was a Jew, a Protestant, a Turk, a Bigot, or an Atheist, provided he was an honest man. Obstinate and headstrong in matters of indifference, but the moment religion was in question, even the moral part, he collected himself, was silent, or simply said: “I am charged with the care of myself, only.” It is astonishing so much elevation of mind should be compatible with a spirit of detail carried to minuteness. He previously divided the employment of the day by hours, quarters and minutes; and so scrupulously adhered to this distribution, that had the clock struck while he was reading a phrase, he would have shut his book without finishing it. His portions of time thus laid out, were some of them set apart to studies of one kind, and others to those of another: he had some for reflection, conversation, divine service, the reading of Locke, for his rosary, for visits, music and painting; and neither pleasure, temptation, nor complaisance, could interrupt this order: a duty he might have had to discharge was the only thing that could have done it. When he gave me a list of his distribution, that I might conform myself thereto, I first laughed, and then shed tears of admiration. He never constrained anybody nor suffered constraint: he was rather rough with people, who from politeness, attempted to put it upon him. He was passionate without being sullen. I have often seen him warm, but never saw him really angry with any person. Nothing could be more cheerful than his temper: he knew how to pass and receive a joke; raillery was one of his distinguished talents, and with which he possessed that of pointed wit and repartee. When he was animated, he was noisy and heard at a great distance; but whilst he loudly inveighed, a smile was spread over his countenance, and in the midst of his warmth he used some diverting expression which made all his hearers break out into a loud laugh. He had no more of the Spanish complexion than of the phlegm of that country. His skin was white, his cheeks finely colored, and his hair of a light chestnut. He was tall and well made; his body was well formed for the residence of his mind.

This wise-hearted as well as wise-headed man, knew mankind, and was my friend; this was my only answer to such as are not so. We were so intimately united, that our intention was to pass our days together. In a few years I was to go to Ascoytia to live with him at his estate; every part of the project was arranged the eve of his departure; nothing was left undetermined, except that which depends not upon men in the best concerted plans, posterior events. My disasters, his marriage, and finally, his death, separated us forever. Some men would be tempted to say, that nothing succeeds except the dark conspiracies of the wicked, and that the innocent intentions of the good are seldom or never accomplished. I had felt the inconvenience of dependence, and took a resolution never again to expose myself to it; having seen the projects of ambition, which circumstances had induced me to form, overturned in their birth. Discouraged in the career I had so well begun, from which, however, I had just been expelled, I resolved never more to attach myself to any person, but to remain in an independent state, turning my talents to the best advantage: of these I at length began to feel the extent, and that I had hitherto had too modest an opinion of them. I again took up my opera, which I had laid aside to go to Venice; and that I might be less interrupted after the departure of Altuna, I returned to my old hotel St. Quentin; which, in a solitary part of the town, and not far from the Luxembourg, was more proper for my purpose than noisy Rue St. Honor.

There the only consolation which Heaven suffered me to taste in my misery, and the only one which rendered it supportable, awaited me. This was not a trancient acquaintance; I must enter into some detail relative to the manner in which it was made.

We had a new landlady from Orleans; she took for a needlewoman a girl from her own country, of between twenty-two and twenty-three years of age, and who, as well as the hostess, ate at our table. This girl, named Theresa le Vasseur, was of a good family; her father was an officer in the mint of Orleans, and her mother a shopkeeper; they had many children. The function of the mint of Orleans being suppressed, the father found himself without employment; and the mother having suffered losses, was reduced to narrow circumstances. She quitted her business and came to Paris with her husband and daughter, who, by her industry, maintained all the three.

The first time I saw this girl at table, I was struck with her modesty; and still more so with her lively yet charming look, which, with respect to the impression it made upon me, was never equalled. Beside M. de Bonnefond, the company was composed of several Irish priests, Gascons and others of much the same description. Our hostess herself had not made the best possible use of her time, and I was the only person at the table who spoke and behaved with decency. Allurements were thrown out to the young girl. I took her part, and the joke was then turned against me. Had I had no natural inclination to the poor girl, compassion and contradiction would have produced it in me: I was always a great friend to decency in manners and conversation, especially in the fair sex. I openly declared myself her champion, and perceived she was not insensible of my attention; her looks, animated by the gratitude she dared not express by words, were for this reason still more penetrating.

She was very timid, and I was as much so as herself. The connection which this disposition common to both seemed to remove to a distance, was however rapidly formed. Our landlady perceiving its progress, became furious, and her brutality forwarded my affair with the young girl, who, having no person in the house except myself to give her the least support, was sorry to see me go from home, and sighed for the return of her protector. The affinity our hearts bore to each other, and the similarity of our dispositions, had soon their ordinary effect. She thought she saw in me an honest man, and in this she was not deceived. I thought I perceived in her a woman of great sensibility, simple in her manners, and devoid of all coquetry:—I was no more deceived in her than she in me. I began by declaring to her that I would never either abandon or marry her. Love, esteem, artless sincerity were the ministers of my triumph, and it was because her heart was tender and virtuous, that I was happy without being presuming.

The apprehensions she was under of my not finding in her that for which I sought, retarded my happiness more than every other circumstance. I perceived her disconcerted and confused before she yielded her consent, wishing to be understood and not daring to explain herself. Far from suspecting the real cause of her embarrassment, I falsely imagined it to proceed from another motive, a supposition highly insulting to her morals, and thinking she gave me to understand my health might be exposed to danger, I fell into so perplexed a state that, although it was no restraint upon me, it poisoned my happiness during several days. As we did not understand each other, our conversations upon this subject were so many enigmas more than ridiculous. She was upon the point of believing I was absolutely mad; and I on my part was as near not knowing what else to think of her. At last we came to an explanation; she confessed to me with tears the only fault of the kind of her whole life, immediately after she became nubile; the fruit of her ignorance and the address of her seducer. The moment I comprehended what she meant, I gave a shout of joy. “A Hymen!” exclaimed I; “sought for at Paris, and at twenty years of age! Ah my Theresa! I am happy in possessing thee, virtuous and healthy as thou art, and in not finding that for which I never sought.”

At first amusement was my only object; I perceived I had gone further and had given myself a companion. A little intimate connection with this excellent girl, and a few reflections upon my situation, made me discover that, while thinking of nothing more than my pleasures, I had done a great deal towards my happiness. In the place of extinguished ambition, a life of sentiment, which had entire possession of my heart, was necessary to me. In a word, I wanted a successor to mamma: since I was never again to live with her, it was necessary some person should live with her pupil, and a person, too, in whom I might find that simplicity and docility of mind and heart which she had found in me. It was, moreover, necessary that the happiness of domestic life should indemnify me for the splendid career I had just renounced. When I was quite alone there was a void in my heart, which wanted nothing more than another heart to fill it up. Fate had deprived me of this, or at least in part alienated me from that for which by nature I was formed. From that moment I was alone, for there never was for me the least thing intermediate between everything and nothing. I found in Theresa the supplement of which I stood in need; by means of her I lived as happily as I possibly could do, according to the course of events.

I at first attempted to improve her mind. In this my pains were useless. Her mind is as nature formed it: it was not susceptible of cultivation. I do not blush in acknowledging she never knew how to read well, although she writes tolerably. When I went to lodge in the Rue Neuve des Petits Champs, opposite to my windows at the Hotel de Ponchartrain, there was a sun-dial, on which for a whole month I used all my efforts to teach her to know the hours; yet, she scarcely knows them at present. She never could enumerate the twelve months of the year in order, and cannot distinguish one numeral from another, notwithstanding all the trouble I took endeavoring to teach them to her. She neither knows how to count money, nor to reckon the price of anything. The word which when she speaks, presents itself to her mind, is frequently opposite to that of which she means to make use. I formerly made a dictionary of her phrases, to amuse M. de Luxembourg, and her ‘qui pro quos’ often became celebrated among those with whom I was most intimate. But this person, so confined in her intellects, and, if the world pleases, so stupid, can give excellent advice in cases of difficulty. In Switzerland, in England and in France, she frequently saw what I had not myself perceived; she has often given me the best advice I could possibly follow; she has rescued me from dangers into which I had blindly precipitated myself, and in the presence of princes and the great, her sentiments, good sense, answers, and conduct have acquired her universal esteem, and myself the most sincere congratulations on her merit. With persons whom we love, sentiment fortifies the mind as well as the heart; and they who are thus attached, have little need of searching for ideas elsewhere.

I lived with my Theresa as agreeably as with the finest genius in the world. Her mother, proud of having been brought up under the Marchioness of Monpipeau, attempted to be witty, wished to direct the judgment of her daughter, and by her knavish cunning destroyed the simplicity of our intercourse.

The fatigue of this opportunity made me in some degree surmount the foolish shame which prevented me from appearing with Theresa in public; and we took short country walks, tete-a-tete, and partook of little collations, which, to me, were delicious. I perceived she loved me sincerely, and this increased my tenderness. This charming intimacy left me nothing to wish; futurity no longer gave me the least concern, or at most appeared only as the present moment prolonged: I had no other desire than that of insuring its duration.

This attachment rendered all other dissipation superfluous and insipid to me. As I only went out for the purpose of going to the apartment of Theresa, her place of residence almost became my own. My retirement was so favorable to the work I had undertaken, that, in less than three months, my opera was entirely finished, both words and music, except a few accompaniments, and fillings up which still remained to be added. This maneuvering business was very fatiguing to me. I proposed it to Philidor, offering him at the same time a part of the profits. He came twice, and did something to the middle parts in the act of Ovid; but he could not confine himself to an assiduous application by the allurement of advantages which were distant and uncertain. He did not come a third time, and I finished the work myself.

My opera completed, the next thing was to make something of it: this was by much the more difficult task of the two. A man living in solitude in Paris will never succeed in anything. I was on the point of making my way by means of M. de la Popliniere, to whom Gauffecourt, at my return to Geneva, had introduced me. M. de la Popliniere was the Mecaenas of Rameau; Madam de la Popliniere his very humble scholar. Rameau was said to govern in that house. Judging that he would with pleasure protect the work of one of his disciples, I wished to show him what I had done. He refused to examine it; saying he could not read score, it was too fatiguing to him. M. de la Popliniere, to obviate this difficulty, said he might hear it; and offered me to send for musicians to execute certain detached pieces. I wished for nothing better. Rameau consented with an ill grace, incessantly repeating that the composition of a man not regularly bred to the science, and who had learned music without a master, must certainly be very fine! I hastened to copy into parts five or six select passages. Ten symphonies were procured, and Albert, Berard, and Mademoiselle Bourbonnais undertook the vocal part. Rameau, the moment he heard the overture, was purposely extravagant in his eulogium, by which he intended it should be understood it could not be my composition. He showed signs of impatience at every passage: but after a counter tenor song, the air of which was noble and harmonious, with a brilliant accompaniment, he could no longer contain himself; he apostrophised me with a brutality at which everybody was shocked, maintaining that a part of what he had heard was by a man experienced in the art, and the rest by some ignorant person who did not so much as understand music. It is true my composition, unequal and without rule, was sometimes sublime, and at others insipid, as that of a person who forms himself in an art by the soarings of his own genius, unsupported by science, must necessarily be. Rameau pretended to see nothing in me but a contemptible pilferer, without talents or taste. The rest of the company, among whom I must distinguish the master of the house, were of a different opinion. M. de Richelieu, who at that time frequently visited M. and Madam de la Popliniere, heard them speak of my work, and wished to hear the whole of it, with an intention, if it pleased him, to have it performed at court. The opera was executed with full choruses, and by a great orchestra, at the expense of the king, at M. de Bonneval’s intendant of the Menus; Francoeur directed the band. The effect was surprising: the duke never ceased to exclaim and applaud; and, at the end of one of the choruses, in the act of Tasso, he arose and came to me, and, pressing my hand, said: “M. Rousseau, this is transporting harmony. I never heard anything finer. I will get this performed at Versailles.”

Madam de la Poliniere, who was present, said not a word. Rameau, although invited, refused to come. The next day, Madam de la Popliniere received me at her toilette very ungraciously, affected to undervalue my piece, and told me, that although a little false glitter had at first dazzled M. de Richelieu, he had recovered from his error, and she advised me not to place the least dependence upon my opera. The duke arrived soon after, and spoke to me in quite a different language. He said very flattering things of my talents, and seemed as much disposed as ever to have my composition performed before the king. “There is nothing,” said he, “but the act of Tasso which cannot pass at court: you must write another.” Upon this single word I shut myself up in my apartment; and in three weeks produced, in the place of Tasso, another act, the subject of which was Hesiod inspired by the muses. In this I found the secret of introducing a part of the history of my talents, and of the jealousy with which Rameau had been pleased to honor me. There was in the new act an elevation less gigantic and better supported than in the act of Tasso. The music was as noble and the composition better; and had the other two acts been equal to this, the whole piece would have supported a representation to advantage. But whilst I was endeavoring to give it the last finishing, another undertaking suspended the completion of that I had in my hand. In the winter which succeeded the battle of Fontenoi, there were many galas at Versailles, and several operas performed at the theater of the little stables. Among the number of the latter was the dramatic piece of Voltaire, entitled ‘La Princesse de Navarre’, the music by Rameau, the name of which has just been changed to that of ‘Fetes de Ramire’. This new subject required several changes to be made in the divertissements, as well in the poetry as in the music.

A person capable of both was now sought after. Voltaire was in Lorraine, and Rameau also; both of whom were employed on the opera of the Temple of Glory, and could not give their attention to this. M. de Richelieu thought of me, and sent to desire I would undertake the alterations; and, that I might the better examine what there was to do, he gave me separately the poem and the music. In the first place, I would not touch the words without the consent of the author, to whom I wrote upon the subject a very polite and respectful letter, such a one as was proper; and received from him the following answer:

“SIR: In you two talents, which hitherto have always been separated, are united. These are two good reasons for me to esteem and to endeavor to love you. I am sorry, on your account, you should employ these talents in a work which is so little worthy of them. A few months ago the Duke de Richelieu commanded me to make, absolutely in the twinkling of an eye, a little and bad sketch of a few insipid and imperfect scenes to be adapted to divertissements which are not of a nature to be joined with them. I obeyed with the greatest exactness. I wrote very fast, and very ill. I sent this wretched production to M. de Richelieu, imagining he would make no use of it, or that I should have it again to make the necessary corrections. Happily it is in your hands, and you are at full liberty to do with it whatever you please: I have entirely lost sight of the thing. I doubt not but you will have corrected all the faults which cannot but abound in so hasty a composition of such a very simple sketch, and am persuaded you will have supplied whatever was wanting.

“I remember that, among other stupid inattentions, no account is given in the scenes which connect the divertissements of the manner in which the Princess Grenadine immediately passes from a prison to a garden or palace. As it is not a magician but a Spanish nobleman who gives her the gala, I am of opinion nothing should be effected by enchantment.

“I beg, sir, you will examine this part, of which I have but a confused idea.

“You will likewise consider, whether or not it be necessary the prison should be opened, and the princess conveyed from it to a fine palace, gilt and varnished, and prepared for her. I know all this is wretched, and that it is beneath a thinking being to make a serious affair of such trifles; but, since we must displease as little as possible, it is necessary we should conform to reason, even in a bad divertissement of an opera.

“I depend wholly upon you and M. Ballot, and soon expect to have the honor of returning you my thanks, and assuring you how much I am, etc.”

There is nothing surprising in the great politeness of this letter, compared with the almost crude ones which he has since written to me. He thought I was in great favor with Madam Richelieu; and the courtly suppleness, which everyone knows to be the character of this author, obliged him to be extremely polite to a new comer, until he become better acquainted with the measure of the favor and patronage he enjoyed.

Authorized by M. de Voltaire, and not under the necessity of giving myself the least concern about M. Rameau, who endeavored to injure me, I set to work, and in two months my undertaking was finished. With respect to the poetry, it was confined to a mere trifle; I aimed at nothing more than to prevent the difference of style from being perceived, and had the vanity to think I had succeeded. The musical part was longer and more laborious. Besides my having to compose several preparatory pieces, and, amongst others, the overture, all the recitative, with which I was charged, was extremely difficult on account of the necessity there was of connecting, in a few verses, and by very rapid modulations, symphonies and choruses, in keys very different from each other; for I was determined neither to change nor transpose any of the airs, that Rameau might not accuse me of having disfigured them. I succeeded in the recitative; it was well accented, full of energy and excellent modulation. The idea of two men of superior talents, with whom I was associated, had elevated my genius, and I can assert, that in this barren and inglorious task, of which the public could have no knowledge, I was for the most part equal to my models.

The piece, in the state to which I had brought it, was rehearsed in the great theatre of the opera. Of the three authors who had contributed to the production, I was the only one present. Voltaire was not in Paris, and Rameau either did not come, or concealed himself. The words of the first monologue were very mournful; they began with:

O Mort! viens terminer les malheurs de ma vie.

[O Death! hasten to terminate the misfortunes of my life.]


To these, suitable music was necessary. It was, however, upon this that Madam de la Popliniere founded her censure; accusing me, with much bitterness, of having composed a funeral anthem. M. de Richelieu very judiciously began by informing himself who was the author of the poetry of this monologue; I presented him the manuscript he had sent me, which proved it was by Voltaire. “In that case,” said the duke, “Voltaire alone is to blame.” During the rehearsal, everything I had done was disapproved by Madam de la Popliniere, and approved of by M. de Richelieu; but I had afterwards to do with too powerful an adversary. It was signified to me that several parts of my composition wanted revising, and that on this it was necessary I should consult M. Rameau; my heart was wounded by such a conclusion, instead of the eulogium I expected, and which certainly I merited, and I returned to my apartment overwhelmed with grief, exhausted with fatigue, and consumed by chagrin. I was immediately taken ill, and confined to my chamber for upwards of six weeks.

Rameau, who was charged with the alterations indicated by Madam de la Popliniere, sent to ask me for the overture of my great opera, to substitute it to that I had just composed. Happily I perceived the trick he intended to play me, and refused him the overture. As the performance was to be in five or six days, he had not time to make one, and was obliged to leave that I had prepared. It was in the Italian taste, and in a style at that time quite new in France. It gave satisfaction, and I learned from M. de Valmalette, maitre d’hotel to the king, and son-in-law to M. Mussard, my relation and friend, that the connoisseurs were highly satisfied with my work, and that the public had not distinguished it from that of Rameau. However, he and Madam de la Popliniere took measures to prevent any person from knowing I had any concern in the matter. In the books distributed to the audience, and in which the authors are always named, Voltaire was the only person mentioned, and Rameau preferred the suppression of his own name to seeing it associated with mine.

As soon as I was in a situation to leave my room, I wished to wait upon M. de Richelieu, but it was too late; he had just set off for Dunkirk, where he was to command the expedition destined to Scotland. At his return, said I to myself, to authorize my idleness, it will be too late for my purpose, not having seen him since that time. I lost the honor of mywork and the emoluments it should have produced me, besides considering my time, trouble, grief, and vexation, my illness, and the money this cost me, without ever receiving the least benefit, or rather, recompense. However, I always thought M. de Richelieu was disposed to serve me, and that he had a favorable opinion of my talents; but my misfortune, and Madam de la Popliniere, prevented the effect of his good wishes.

I could not divine the reason of the aversion this lady had to me. I had always endeavored to make myself agreeable to her, and regularly paid her my court. Gauffecourt explained to me the causes of her dislike: “The first,” said he, “is her friendship for Rameau, of whom she is the declared panegyrist, and who will not suffer a competitor; the next is an original sin, which ruins you in her estimation, and which she will never forgive; you are a Genevese.” Upon this he told me the Abbe Hubert, who was from the same city, and the sincere friend of M. de la Popliniere, had used all his efforts to prevent him from marrying this lady, with whose character and temper he was very well acquainted; and that after the marriage she had vowed him an implacable hatred, as well as all the Genevese. “Although La Popliniere has a friendship for you, do not,” said he, “depend upon his protection: he is still in love with his wife: she hates you, and is vindictive and artful; you will never do anything in that house.” All this I took for granted.

The same Gauffecourt rendered me much about this time, a service of which I stood in the greatest need. I had just lost my virtuous father, who was about sixty years of age. I felt this loss less severely than I should have done at any other time, when the embarrassments of my situation had less engaged my attention. During his life-time I had never claimed what remained of the property of my mother, and of which he received the little interest. His death removed all my scruples upon this subject. But the want of a legal proof of the death of my brother created a difficulty which Gauffecourt undertook to remove, and this he effected by means of the good offices of the advocate De Lolme. As I stood in need of the little resource, and the event being doubtful, I waited for a definitive account with the greatest anxiety.

One evening on entering my apartment I found a letter, which I knew to contain the information I wanted, and I took it up with an impatient trembling, of which I was inwardly ashamed. What? said I to myself, with disdain, shall Jean Jacques thus suffer himself to be subdued by interest and curiosity? I immediately laid the letter again upon the chimney-piece. I undressed myself, went to bed with great composure, slept better than ordinary, and rose in the morning at a late hour, without thinking more of my letter. As I dressed myself, it caught my eye; I broke the seal very leisurely, and found under the envelope a bill of exchange. I felt a variety of pleasing sensations at the same time: but I can assert, upon my honor, that the most lively of them all was that proceeding from having known how to be master of myself.

I could mention twenty such circumstances in my life, but I am too much pressed for time to say everything. I sent a small part of this money to my poor mamma; regretting, with my eyes suffused with tears, the happy time when I should have laid it all at her feet. All her letters contained evident marks of her distress. She sent me piles of recipes, and numerous secrets, with which she pretended I might make my fortune and her own. The idea of her wretchedness already affected her heart and contracted her mind. The little I sent her fell a prey to the knaves by whom she was surrounded; she received not the least advantage from anything. The idea of dividing what was necessary to my own subsistence with these wretches disgusted me, especially after the vain attempt I had made to deliver her from them, and of which I shall have occasion to speak. Time slipped away, and with it the little money I had; we were two, or indeed, four persons; or, to speak still more correctly, seven or eight. Although Theresa was disinterested to a degree of which there are but few examples, her mother was not so. She was no sooner a little relieved from her necessities by my cares, than she sent for her whole family to partake of the fruits of them. Her sisters, sons, daughters, all except her eldest daughter, married to the director of the coaches of Augers, came to Paris. Everything I did for Theresa, her mother diverted from its original destination in favor of these people who were starving. I had not to do with an avaricious person; and, not being under the influence of an unruly passion, I was not guilty of follies. Satisfied with genteelly supporting Theresa without luxury, and unexposed to pressing wants, I readily consented to let all the earnings of her industry go to the profit of her mother; and to this even I did not confine myself; but, by a fatality by which I was pursued, whilst mamma was a prey to the rascals about her Theresa was the same to her family; and I could not do anything on either side for the benefit of her to whom the succor I gave was destined. It was odd enough the youngest child of M. de la Vasseur, the only one who had not received a marriage portion from her parents, should provide for their subsistence; and that, after having a long time been beaten by her brothers, sisters, and even her nieces, the poor girl should be plundered by them all, without being more able to defend herself from their thefts than from their blows. One of her nieces, named Gorton le Duc, was of a mild and amiable character; although spoiled by the lessons and examples of the others. As I frequently saw them together, I gave them names, which they afterwards gave to each other; I called the niece my niece, and the aunt my aunt; they both called me uncle. Hence the name of aunt, by which I continued to call Theresa, and which my friends sometimes jocosely repeated. It will be judged that in such a situation I had not a moment to lose, before I attempted to extricate myself. Imagining M. de Richelieu had forgotten me, and having no more hopes from the court, I made some attempts to get my opera brought out at Paris; but I met with difficulties which could not immediately be removed, and my situation became daily more painful. I presented my little comedy of Narcisse to the Italians; it was received, and I had the freedom of the theatre, which gave much pleasure. But this was all; I could never get my piece performed, and, tired of paying my court to players, I gave myself no more trouble about them. At length I had recourse to the last expedient which remained to me, and the only one of which I ought to have made use. While frequenting the house of M. de la Popliniere, I had neglected the family of Dupin. The two ladies, although related, were not on good terms, and never saw each other. There was not the least intercourse between the two families, and Thieriot was the only person who visited both. He was desired to endeavor to bring me again to M. Dupin’s. M. de Francueil was then studying natural history and chemistry, and collecting a cabinet. I believe he aspired to become a member of the Academy of Sciences; to this effect he intended to write a book, and judged I might be of use to him in the undertaking. Madam de Dupin, who, on her part, had another work in contemplation, had much the same views in respect to me. They wished to have me in common as a kind of secretary, and this was the reason of the invitations of Thieriot.

I required that M. de Francueil should previously employ his interest with that of Jelyote to get my work rehearsed at the opera-house; to this he consented. The Muses Galantes were several times rehearsed, first at the Magazine, and afterwards in the great theatre. The audience was very numerous at the great rehearsal, and several parts of the composition were highly applauded. However, during this rehearsal, very ill-conducted by Rebel, I felt the piece would not be received; and that, before it could appear, great alterations were necessary. I therefore withdrew it without saying a word, or exposing myself to a refusal; but I plainly perceived, by several indications, that the work, had it been perfect, could not have succeeded. M. de Francueil had promised me to get it rehearsed, but not that it should be received. He exactly kept his word. I thought I perceived on this occasion, as well as many others, that neither Madam Dupin nor himself were willing I should acquire a certain reputation in the world, lest, after the publication of their books, it should be supposed they had grafted their talents upon mine. Yet as Madam Dupin always supposed those I had to be very moderate, and never employed me except it was to write what she dictated, or in researches of pure erudition, the reproach, with respect to her, would have been unjust.

This last failure of success completed my discouragement. I abandoned every prospect of fame and advancement; and, without further troubling my head about real or imaginary talents, with which I had so little success, I dedicated my whole time and cares to procure myself and Theresa a subsistence in the manner most pleasing to those to whom it should be agreeable to provide for it. I therefore entirely attached myself to Madam Dupin and M. de Francueil. This did not place me in a very opulent situation; for with eight or nine hundred livres, which I had the first two years, I had scarcely enough to provide for my primary wants; being obliged to live in their neighborhood, a dear part of the town, in a furnished lodging, and having to pay for another lodging at the extremity of Paris, at the very top of the Rue Saint Jacques, to which, let the weather be as it would, I went almost every evening to supper. I soon got into the track of my new occupations, and conceived a taste for them. I attached myself to the study of chemistry, and attended several courses of it with M. de Francueil at M. Rouelle’s, and we began to scribble over paper upon that science, of which we scarcely possessed the elements. In 1717, we went to pass the autumn in Tourraine, at the castle of Chenonceaux, a royal mansion upon the Cher, built by Henry the II, for Diana of Poitiers, of whom the ciphers are still seen, and which is now in the possession of M. Dupin, a farmer general. We amused ourselves very agreeably in this beautiful place, and lived very well: I became as fat there as a monk. Music was a favorite relaxation. I composed several trios full of harmony, and of which I may perhaps speak in my supplement if ever I should write one. Theatrical performances were another resource. I wrote a comedy in fifteen days, entitled ‘l’Engagement Temeraire’,—[The Rash Engagement]—which will be found amongst my papers; it has no other merit than that of being lively. I composed several other little things: amongst others a poem entitled, ‘l’Aliee de Sylvie’, from the name of an alley in the park upon the bank of the Cher; and this without discontinuing my chemical studies, or interrupting what I had to do for Madam Dupin.

Whilst I was increasing my corpulency at Chenonceaux, that of my poor Theresa was augmented at Paris in another manner, and at my return I found the work I had put upon the frame in greater forwardness than I had expected. This, on account of my situation, would have thrown me into the greatest embarrassment, had not one of my messmates furnished me with the only resource which could relieve me from it. This is one of those essential narratives which I cannot give with too much simplicity; because, in making an improper use of their names, I should either excuse or inculpate myself, both of which in this place are entirely out of the question.

During the residence of Altuna at Paris, instead of going to eat at a ‘Traiteurs’, he and I commonly ate in the neighborhood, almost opposite the cul de sac of the opera, at the house of a Madam la Selle, the wife of a tailor, who gave but very ordinary dinners, but whose table was much frequented on account of the safe company which generally resorted to it; no person was received without being introduced by one of those who used the house. The commander, De Graville, an old debauchee, with much wit and politeness, but obscene in conversation, lodged at the house, and brought to it a set of riotous and extravagant young men; officers in the guards and mousquetaires. The Commander de Nonant, chevalier to all the girls of the opera, was the daily oracle, who conveyed to us the news of this motley crew. M. du Plessis, a lieutenant-colonel, retired from the service, an old man of great goodness and wisdom; and M. Ancelet, an officer in the mousquetaires, kept the young people in a certain kind of order.

[It was to this M. Ancelet I gave a little comedy, after my own
manner entitled ‘les Prisouniers de Guerre’, which I wrote after the
disasters of the French in Bavaria and Bohemia: I dared not either
avow this comedy or show it, and this for the singular reason that
neither the King of France nor the French were ever better spoken of
nor praised with more sincerity of heart than in my piece though
written by a professed republican, I dared not declare myself the
panegyrist of a nation, whose maxims were exactly the reverse of my
own. More grieved at the misfortunes of France than the French
themselves I was afraid the public would construe into flattery and
mean complaisance the marks of a sincere attachment, of which in my
first part I have mentioned the date and the cause, and which I was
ashamed to show.]


This table was also frequented by commercial people, financiers and contractors, but extremely polite, and such as were distinguished amongst those of the same profession. M. de Besse, M. de Forcade, and others whose names I have forgotten, in short, well-dressed people of every description were seen there; except abbes and men of the long robe, not one of whom I ever met in the house, and it was agreed not to introduce men of either of these professions. This table, sufficiently resorted to, was very cheerful without being noisy, and many of the guests were waggish, without descending to vulgarity. The old commander with all his smutty stories, with respect to the substance, never lost sight of the politeness of the old court; nor did any indecent expression, which even women would not have pardoned him, escape his lips. His manner served as a rule to every person at table; all the young men related their adventures of gallantry with equal grace and freedom, and these narratives were the more complete, as the seraglio was at the door; the entry which led to it was the same; for there was a communication between this and the shop of Le Duchapt, a celebrated milliner, who at that time had several very pretty girls, with whom our young people went to chat before or after dinner. I should thus have amused myself as well as the rest, had I been less modest: I had only to go in as they did, but this I never had courage enough to do. With respect to Madam de Selle, I often went to eat at her house after the departure of Altuna. I learned a great number of amusing anecdotes, and by degrees I adopted, thank God, not the morals, but the maxims I found to be established there. Honest men injured, husbands deceived, women seduced, were the most ordinary topics, and he who had best filled the foundling hospital was always the most applauded. I caught the manners I daily had before my eyes: I formed my manner of thinking upon that I observed to be the reigning one amongst amiable, and upon the whole, very honest people. I said to myself, since it is the custom of the country, they who live here may adopt it; this is the expedient for which I sought. I cheerfully determined upon it without the least scruple, and the only one I had to overcome was that of Theresa, whom, with the greatest imaginable difficulty, I persuaded to adopt this only means of saving her honor. Her mother, who was moreover apprehensive of a new embarrassment by an increase of family, came to my aid, and she at length suffered herself to be prevailed upon. We made choice of a midwife, a safe and prudent woman, Mademoiselle Gouin, who lived at the Point Saint Eustache, and when the time came, Theresa was conducted to her house by her mother.

I went thither several times to see her, and gave her a cipher which I had made double upon two cards; one of them was put into the linen of the child, and by the midwife deposited with the infant in the office of the foundling hospital according to the customary form. The year following, a similar inconvenience was remedied by the same expedient, excepting the cipher, which was forgotten: no more reflection on my part, nor approbation on that of the mother; she obeyed with trembling. All the vicissitudes which this fatal conduct has produced in my manner of thinking, as well as in my destiny, will be successively seen. For the present, we will confine ourselves to this first period; its cruel and unforeseen consequences will but too frequently oblige me to refer to it.

I here mark that of my first acquaintance with Madam D’Epinay, whose name will frequently appear in these memoirs. She was a Mademoiselle D’ Esclavelles, and had lately been married to M. D’Epinay, son of M. de Lalive de Bellegarde, a farmer general. She understood music, and a passion for the art produced between these three persons the greatest intimacy. Madam Francueil introduced me to Madam D’Epinay, and we sometimes supped together at her house. She was amiable, had wit and talent, and was certainly a desirable acquaintance; but she had a female friend, a Mademoiselle d’Ette, who was said to have much malignancy in her disposition; she lived with the Chevalier de Valory, whose temper was far from being one of the best. I am of opinion, an acquaintance with these two persons was prejudicial to Madam D’Epinay, to whom, with a disposition which required the greatest attention from those about her, nature had given very excellent qualities to regulate or counterbalance her extravagant pretensions. M. de Francueil inspired her with a part of the friendship he had conceived for me, and told me of the connection between them, of which, for that reason, I would not now speak, were it not become so public as not to be concealed from M. D’Epinay himself.

M. de Francueil confided to me secrets of a very singular nature relative to this lady, of which she herself never spoke to me, nor so much as suspected my having a knowledge; for I never opened my lips to her upon the subject, nor will I ever do it to any person. The confidence all parties had in my prudence rendered my situation very embarrassing, especially with Madam de Francueil, whose knowledge of me was sufficient to remove from her all suspicion on my account, although I was connected with her rival. I did everything I could to console this poor woman, whose husband certainly did not return the affection she had for him. I listened to these three persons separately; I kept all their secrets so faithfully that not one of the three ever drew from me those of the two others, and this, without concealing from either of the women my attachment to each of them. Madam de Francueil, who frequently wished to make me an agent, received refusals in form, and Madam D’Epinay, once desiring me to charge myself with a letter to M. de Francueil received the same mortification, accompanied by a very express declaration, that if ever she wished to drive me forever from the house, she had only a second time to make me a like proposition.

In justice to Madam D’Epinay, I must say, that far from being offended with me she spoke of my conduct to M. de Francueil in terms of the highest approbation, and continued to receive me as well, and as politely as ever. It was thus, amidst the heart-burnings of three persons to whom I was obliged to behave with the greatest circumspection, on whom I in some measure depended, and for whom I had conceived an attachment, that by conducting myself with mildness and complaisance, although accompanied with the greatest firmness, I preserved unto the last not only their friendship, but their esteem and confidence. Notwithstanding my absurdities and awkwardness, Madam D’Epinay would have me make one of the party to the Chevrette, a country-house, near Saint Denis, belonging to M. de Bellegarde. There was a theatre, in which performances were not unfrequent. I had a part given me, which I studied for six months without intermission, and in which, on the evening of the representation, I was obliged to be prompted from the beginning to the end. After this experiment no second proposal of the kind was ever made to me.

My acquaintance with M. D’Epinay procured me that of her sister-in-law, Mademoiselle de Bellegarde, who soon afterwards became Countess of Houdetot. The first time I saw her she was upon the point of marriage; when she conversed with me a long time, with that charming familiarity which was natural to her. I thought her very amiable, but I was far from perceiving that this young person would lead me, although innocently, into the abyss in which I still remain.

Although I have not spoken of Diderot since my return from Venice, no more than of my friend M. Roguin, I did not neglect either of them, especially the former, with whom I daily became more intimate. He had a Nannette, as well as I a Theresa; this was between us another conformity of circumstances. But my Theresa, as fine a woman as his Nannette, was of a mild and amiable character, which might gain and fix the affections of a worthy man; whereas Nannette was a vixen, a troublesome prater, and had no qualities in the eyes of others which in any measure compensated for her want of education. However he married her, which was well done of him, if he had given a promise to that effect. I, for my part, not having entered into any such engagement, was not in the least haste to imitate him.

I was also connected with the Abbe de Condillac, who had acquired no more literary fame than myself, but in whom there was every appearance of his becoming what he now is. I was perhaps the first who discovered the extent of his abilities, and esteemed them as they deserved. He on his part seemed satisfied with me, and, whilst shut up in my chamber in the Rue Jean Saint Denis, near the opera-house, I composed my act of Hesiod, he sometimes came to dine with me tete-a-tete. We sent for our dinner, and paid share and share alike. He was at that time employed on his Essay on the Origin of Human Knowledge, which was his first work. When this was finished, the difficulty was to find a bookseller who would take it. The booksellers of Paris are shy of every author at his beginning, and metaphysics, not much then in vogue, were no very inviting subject. I spoke to Diderot of Condillac and his work, and I afterwards brought them acquainted with each other. They were worthy of each other’s esteem, and were presently on the most friendly terms. Diderot persuaded the bookseller, Durand, to take the manuscript from the abbe, and this great metaphysician received for his first work, and almost as a favor, a hundred crowns, which perhaps he would not have obtained without my assistance. As we lived in a quarter of the town very distant from each other, we all assembled once a week at the Palais Royal, and went to dine at the Hotel du Panier Fleuri. These little weekly dinners must have been extremely pleasing to Diderot; for he who failed in almost all his appointments never missed one of these. At our little meeting I formed the plan of a periodical paper, entitled ‘le Persifleur’—[The Jeerer]—which Diderot and I were alternately to write. I sketched out the first sheet, and this brought me acquainted with D’Alembert, to whom Diderot had mentioned it. Unforeseen events frustrated our intention, and the project was carried no further.

These two authors had just undertaken the ‘Dictionnaire Encyclopedique’, which at first was intended to be nothing more than a kind of translation of Chambers, something like that of the Medical Dictionary of James, which Diderot had just finished. Diderot was desirous I should do something in this second undertaking, and proposed to me the musical part, which I accepted. This I executed in great haste, and consequently very ill, in the three months he had given me, as well as all the authors who were engaged in the work. But I was the only person in readiness at the time prescribed. I gave him my manuscript, which I had copied by a lackey, belonging to M. de Francueil, of the name of Dupont, who wrote very well. I paid him ten crowns out of my own pocket, and these have never been reimbursed me. Diderot had promised me a retribution on the part of the booksellers, of which he has never since spoken to me nor I to him.

This undertaking of the ‘Encyclopedie’ was interrupted by his imprisonment. The ‘Pensees Philosophiques’ drew upon him some temporary inconvenience which had no disagreeable consequences. He did not come off so easily on account of the ‘Lettre sur les Aveugles’, in which there was nothing reprehensible, but some personal attacks with which Madam du Pre St. Maur, and M. de Raumur were displeased: for this he was confined in the dungeon of Vincennes. Nothing can describe the anguish I felt on account of the misfortunes of my friend. My wretched imagination, which always sees everything in the worst light, was terrified. I imagined him to be confined for the remainder of his life. I was almost distracted with the thought. I wrote to Madam de Pompadour, beseeching her to release him or obtain an order to shut me up in the same dungeon. I received no answer to my letter: this was too reasonable to be efficacious, and I do not flatter myself that it contributed to the alleviation which, some time afterwards, was granted to the severities of the confinement of poor Diderot. Had this continued for any length of time with the same rigor, I verily believe I should have died in despair at the foot of the hated dungeon. However, if my letter produced but little effect, I did not on account of it attribute to myself much merit, for I mentioned it but to very few people, and never to Diderot himself.
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