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Rousseau - Volumes I. and II.
by John Morley
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ROUSSEAU

BY

JOHN MORLEY

VOLUMES I. and II.



London MACMILLAN AND CO., LIMITED NEW YORK: THE MACMILLAN COMPANY 1905

All rights reserved

First printed in this form 1886 Reprinted 1888, 1891, 1896, 1900, 1905



VOL. I.



NOTE TO THE FIRST EDITION.

This work differs from its companion volume in offering something more like a continuous personal history than was necessary in the case of such a man as Voltaire, the story of whose life may be found in more than one English book of repute. Of Rousseau there is, I believe, no full biographical account in our literature, and even France has nothing more complete under this head than Musset-Pathay's Histoire de la Vie et des Ouvrages de J.J. Rousseau (1821). This, though a meritorious piece of labour, is extremely crude and formless in composition and arrangement, and the interpreting portions are devoid of interest.

The edition of Rousseau's works to which the references have been made is that by M. Auguis, in twenty-seven volumes, published in 1825 by Dalibon. In 1865 M. Streckeisen-Moultou published from the originals, which had been deposited in the library of Neuchatel by Du Peyrou, the letters addressed to Rousseau by various correspondents. These two interesting volumes, which are entitled Rousseau, ses Amis et ses Ennemis, are mostly referred to under the name of their editor.

February, 1873.

* * * * *

The second edition in 1878 was revised; some portions were considerably shortened, and a few additional footnotes inserted. No further changes have been made in the present edition.

January, 1886.



CONTENTS OF VOL. I.

CHAPTER I.

PRELIMINARY. PAGE

The Revolution 1 Rousseau its most direct speculative precursor 2 His distinction among revolutionists 4 His personality 5

CHAPTER II.

YOUTH.

Birth and descent 8 Predispositions 10 First lessons 11 At M. Lambercier's 15 Early disclosure of sensitive temperament 19 Return to Geneva 20 Two apprenticeships 26 Flight from Geneva 30 Savoyard proselytisers 31 Rousseau sent to Anncey, and thence to Turin 34 Conversion to Catholicism 35 Takes service with Madame de Vercellis 39 Then with the Count de Gouvon 42 Returns to vagabondage 43 And to Madame de Warens 45

CHAPTER III.

SAVOY.

Influence of women upon Rousseau 46 Account of Madame de Warens 48 Rousseau takes up his abode with her 54 His delight in life with her 54 The seminarists 57 To Lyons 58 Wanderings to Freiburg, Neuchatel, and elsewhere 60 Through the east of France 62 Influence of these wanderings upon him 67 Chamberi 69 Household of Madame de Warens 70 Les Charmettes 73 Account of his feeling for nature 79 His intellectual incapacity at this time 83 Temperament 84 Literary interests, and method 85 Joyful days with his benefactress 90 To Montpellier: end of an episode 92 Dates 94

CHAPTER IV.

THERESA LE VASSEUR.

Tutorship at Lyons 95 Goes to Paris in search of fortune 97 His appearance at this time 98 Made secretary to the ambassador at Venice 100 His journey thither and life there 103 Return to Paris 106 Theresa Le Vasseur 107 Character of their union 110 Rousseau's conduct towards her 113 Their later estrangements 115 Rousseau's scanty means 119 Puts away his five children 120 His apologies for the crime 122 Their futility 126 Attempts to recover the children 128 Rousseau never married to Theresa 129 Contrast between outer and inner life 130

CHAPTER V.

THE DISCOURSES.

Local academies in France 132 Circumstances of the composition of the first Discourse 133 How far the paradox was original 135 His visions for thirteen years 136 Summary of the first Discourse 138-145 Obligations to Montaigne 145 And to the Greeks 145 Semi-Socratic manner 147 Objections to the Discourse 148 Ways of stating its positive side 149 Dangers of exaggerating this positive side 151 Its excess 152 Second Discourse 154 Ideas of the time upon the state of nature 155 Their influence upon Rousseau 156 Morelly, as his predecessor 156 Summary of the second Discourse 159-170 Criticism of its method 171 Objection from its want of evidence 172 Other objections to its account of primitive nature 173 Takes uniformity of process for granted 176 In what the importance of the second Discourse consisted 177 Its protest against the mockery of civilisation 179 The equality of man, how true, and how false 180 This doctrine in France, and in America 182 Rousseau's Discourses, a reaction against the historic method 183 Mably, and socialism 184

CHAPTER VI.

PARIS.

Influence of Geneva upon Rousseau 187 Two sides of his temperament 191 Uncongenial characteristics of Parisian society 191 His associates 195 Circumstances of a sudden moral reform 196 Arising from his violent repugnance for the manners of the time 202 His assumption of a seeming cynicism 207 Protests against atheism 209 The Village Soothsayer at Fontainebleau 212 Two anedotes of his moral singularity 214 Revisits Geneva 216 End of Madame de Warens 217 Rousseau's re-conversion to Protestantism 220 The religious opinions then current in Geneva 223 Turretini and other rationalisers 226 Effect upon Rousseau 227 Thinks of taking up his abode in Geneva 227 Madame d'Epinay offers him the Hermitage 229 Retires thither against the protests of his friends 231

CHAPTER VII.

THE HERMITAGE.

Distinction between the old and the new anchorite 234 Rousseau's first days at the Hermitage 235 Rural delirium 237 Dislike of society 242 Meditates work on Sensitive Morality 243 Arranges the papers of the Abbe de Saint Pierre 244 His remarks on them 246 Violent mental crisis 247 First conception of the New Heloisa 250 A scene of high morals 254 Madame d'Houdetot 255 Erotic mania becomes intensified 256 Interviews with Madame d'Houdetot 258 Saint Lambert interposes 262 Rousseau's letter to Saint Lambert 264 Its profound falsity 265 Saint Lambert's reply 267 Final relations with him and with Madame d'Houdetot 268 Sources of Rousseau's irritability 270 Relations with Diderot 273 With Madame d'Epinay 276 With Grimm 279 Grimm's natural want of sympathy with Rousseau 282 Madame d'Epinay's journey to Geneva 284 Occasion of Rousseau's breach with Grimm 285 And with Madame d'Epinay 288 Leaves the Hermitage 289

CHAPTER VIII.

MUSIC.

General character of Rousseau's aim in music 291 As composer 292 Contest on the comparative merits of French and Italian music 293 Rousseau's Letter on French Music 293 His scheme of musical notation 296 Its chief element 298 Its practical value 299 His mistake 300 Two minor objections 300

CHAPTER IX.

VOLTAIRE AND D'ALEMBERT.

Position of Voltaire 302 General differences between him and Rousseau 303 Rousseau not the profounder of the two 305 But he had a spiritual element 305 Their early relations 308 Voltaire's poem on the Earthquake of Lisbon 309 Rousseau's wonder that he should have written it 310 His letter to Voltaire upon it 311 Points to the advantages of the savage state 312 Reproduces Pope's general position 313 Not an answer to the position taken by Voltaire 314 Confesses the question insoluble, but still argues 316 Curious close of the letter 318 Their subsequent relations 319 D'Alembert's article on Geneva 321 The church and the theatre 322 Jeremy Collier: Bossuet 323 Rousseau's contention on stage plays 324 Rude handling of commonplace 325 The true answer to Rousseau as to theory of dramatic morality 326 His arguments relatively to Geneva 327 Their meaning 328 Criticism on the Misanthrope 328 Rousseau's contrast between Paris and an imaginary Geneva 329 Attack on love as a poetic theme 332 This letter, the mark of his schism from the party of the philosophers 336



JEAN JACQUES ROUSSEAU

Born 1712 Fled from Geneva March, 1728 Changes religion at Turin April, " With Madame de Warens, including various intervals, until April, 1740 Goes to Paris with musical schemes 1741 Secretary at Venice Spring, 1743

Paris, first as secretary to M. Francueil, then { 1744 as composer, and copyist { to { 1756 The Hermitage April 9, 1756 Montmorency Dec. 15, 1757 Yverdun June 14, 1762 Motiers-Travers July 10, 1762 Isle of St. Peter Sept., 1765 Strasburg Nov., " Paris December, " Arrives in England Jan. 13, 1766 Leaves Dover May 22, 1767 Fleury June, " Trye July, " Dauphiny Aug., 1768 Paris June, 1770 Death July 2, 1778

PRINCIPAL WRITINGS.

Discourse on the Influence of Learning and Art PUBLISHED 1750 Discourse on Inequality " 1754 Letter to D'Alembert " 1758 New Heloisa (began 1757, finished in winter of 1759-60) " 1761 Social Contract " 1762 Emilius " 1762 Letters from the Mountain " 1764 Confessions (written 1766-70) { Pt. I 1781 { Pt. II 1788 Reveries (written 1777-78).

Comme dans les etangs assoupis sous les bois, Dans plus d'une ame on voit deux choses a la fois: Le ciel, qui teint les eaux a peine remuees Avec tous ses rayons et toutes ses nuees; Et la vase, fond morne, affreux, sombre et dormant, Ou des reptiles noirs fourmillent vaguement. HUGO.



ROUSSEAU.



CHAPTER I.

PRELIMINARY.

Christianity is the name for a great variety of changes which took place during the first centuries of our era, in men's ways of thinking and feeling about their spiritual relations to unseen powers, about their moral relations to one another, about the basis and type of social union. So the Revolution is now the accepted name for a set of changes which began faintly to take a definite practical shape first in America, and then in France, towards the end of the eighteenth century; they had been directly prepared by a small number of energetic thinkers, whose speculations represented, as always, the prolongation of some old lines of thought in obedience to the impulse of new social and intellectual conditions. While one movement supplied the energy and the principles which extricated civilisation from the ruins of the Roman empire, the other supplies the energy and the principles which already once, between the Seven Years' War and the assembly of the States General, saved human progress in face of the political fatuity of England and the political nullity of France; and they are now, amid the distraction of the various representatives of an obsolete ordering, the only forces to be trusted at once for multiplying the achievements of human intelligence stimulated by human sympathy, and for diffusing their beneficent results with an ampler hand and more far-scattering arm. Faith in a divine power, devout obedience to its supposed will, hope of ecstatic, unspeakable reward, these were the springs of the old movement. Undivided love of our fellows, steadfast faith in human nature, steadfast search after justice, firm aspiration towards improvement, and generous contentment in the hope that others may reap whatever reward may be, these are the springs of the new.

There is no given set of practical maxims agreed to by all members of the revolutionary schools for achieving the work of release from the pressure of an antiquated social condition, any more than there is one set of doctrines and one kind of discipline accepted by all Protestants. Voltaire was a revolutionist in one sense, Diderot in another, and Rousseau in a third, just as in the practical order, Lafayette, Danton, Robespierre, represented three different aspirations and as many methods. Rousseau was the most directly revolutionary of all the speculative precursors, and he was the first to apply his mind boldly to those of the social conditions which the revolution is concerned by one solution or another to modify. How far his direct influence was disastrous in consequence of a mischievous method, we shall have to examine. It was so various that no single answer can comprehend an exhaustive judgment. His writings produced that glow of enthusiastic feeling in France, which led to the all-important assistance rendered by that country to the American colonists in a struggle so momentous for mankind. It was from his writings that the Americans took the ideas and the phrases of their great charter, thus uniting the native principles of their own direct Protestantism with principles that were strictly derivative from the Protestantism of Geneva. Again, it was his work more than that of any other one man, that France arose from the deadly decay which had laid hold of her whole social and political system, and found that irresistible energy which warded off dissolution within and partition from without. We shall see, further, that besides being the first immediately revolutionary thinker in politics, he was the most stirring of reactionists in religion. His influence formed not only Robespierre and Paine, but Chateaubriand, not only Jacobinism, but the Catholicism of the Restoration. Thus he did more than any one else at once to give direction to the first episodes of revolution, and force to the first episode of reaction.

There are some teachers whose distinction is neither correct thought, nor an eye for the exigencies of practical organisation, but simply depth and fervour of the moral sentiment, bringing with it the indefinable gift of touching many hearts with love of virtue and the things of the spirit. The Christian organisations which saved western society from dissolution owe all to St. Paul, Hildebrand, Luther, Calvin; but the spiritual life of the west during all these generations has burnt with the pure flame first lighted by the sublime mystic of the Galilean hills. Aristotle acquired for men much knowledge and many instruments for gaining more; but it is Plato, his master, who moves the soul with love of truth and enthusiasm for excellence. There is peril in all such leaders of souls, inasmuch as they incline men to substitute warmth for light, and to be content with aspiration where they need direction. Yet no movement goes far which does not count one of them in the number of its chiefs. Rousseau took this place among those who prepared the first act of that revolutionary drama, whose fifth act is still dark to us.

At the heart of the Revolution, like a torrid stream flowing undiscernible amid the waters of a tumbling sea, is a new way of understanding life. The social changes desired by the various assailants of the old order are only the expression of a deeper change in moral idea, and the drift of the new moral idea is to make life simpler. This in a sense is at the bottom of all great religious and moral movements, and the Revolution emphatically belongs to the latter class. Like such movements in the breast of the individual, those which stir an epoch have their principle in the same craving for disentanglement of life. This impulse to shake off intricacies is the mark of revolutionary generations, and it was the starting-point of all Rousseau's mental habits, and of the work in which they expressed themselves. His mind moved outwards from this centre, and hence the fact that he dealt principally with government and education, the two great agencies which, in an old civilisation with a thousand roots and feelers, surround external life and internal character with complexity. Simplification of religion by clearing away the overgrowth of errors, simplification of social relations by equality, of literature and art by constant return to nature, of manners by industrious homeliness and thrift,—this is the revolutionary process and ideal, and this is the secret of Rousseau's hold over a generation that was lost amid the broken maze of fallen systems.

* * * * *

The personality of Rousseau has most equivocal and repulsive sides. It has deservedly fared ill in the esteem of the saner and more rational of those who have judged him, and there is none in the history of famous men and our spiritual fathers that begat us, who make more constant demands on the patience or pity of those who study his life. Yet in no other instance is the common eagerness to condense all predication about a character into a single unqualified proposition so fatally inadequate. If it is indispensable that we should be for ever describing, naming, classifying, at least it is well, in speaking of such a nature as his, to enlarge the vocabulary beyond the pedantic formulas of unreal ethics, and to be as sure as we know how to make ourselves, that each of the sympathies and faculties which together compose our power of spiritual observation, is in a condition of free and patient energy. Any less open and liberal method, which limits our sentiments to absolute approval or disapproval, and fixes the standard either at the balance of common qualities which constitutes mediocrity, or at the balance of uncommon qualities which is divinity as in a Shakespeare, must leave in a cloud of blank incomprehensibleness those singular spirits who come from time to time to quicken the germs of strange thought and shake the quietness of the earth.

We may forget much in our story that is grievous or hateful, in reflecting that if any man now deems a day basely passed in which he has given no thought to the hard life of garret and hovel, to the forlorn children and trampled women of wide squalid wildernesses in cities, it was Rousseau who first in our modern time sounded a new trumpet note for one more of the great battles of humanity. He makes the poor very proud, it was truly said. Some of his contemporaries followed the same vein of thought, as we shall see, and he was only continuing work which others had prepared. But he alone had the gift of the golden mouth. It was in Rousseau that polite Europe first hearkened to strange voices and faint reverberation from out of the vague and cavernous shadow in which the common people move. Science has to feel the way towards light and solution, to prepare, to organise. But the race owes something to one who helped to state the problem, writing up in letters of flame at the brutal feast of kings and the rich that civilisation is as yet only a mockery, and did furthermore inspire a generation of men and women with the stern resolve that they would rather perish than live on in a world where such things can be.



CHAPTER II.

YOUTH.

Jean Jacques Rousseau was born at Geneva, June 28, 1712. He was of old French stock. His ancestors had removed from Paris to the famous city of refuge as far back as 1529, a little while before Farel came thither to establish the principles of the Reformation, and seven years before the first visit of the more extraordinary man who made Geneva the mother city of a new interpretation of Christianity, as Rome was the mother city of the old. Three generations in a direct line separated Jean Jacques from Didier Rousseau, the son of a Paris bookseller, and the first emigrant.[1] Thus Protestant tradition in the Rousseau family dates from the appearance of Protestantism in Europe, and seems to have exerted the same kind of influence upon them as it did, in conjunction with the rest of the surrounding circumstances, upon the other citizens of the ideal state of the Reformation. It is computed by the historians that out of three thousand families who composed the population of Geneva towards the end of the seventeenth century, there were hardly fifty who before the Reformation had acquired the position of burgess-ship. The curious set of conditions which thus planted a colony of foreigners in the midst of a free polity, with a new doctrine and newer discipline, introduced into Europe a fresh type of character and manners. People declared they could recognise in the men of Geneva neither French vivacity, nor Italian subtlety and clearness, nor Swiss gravity. They had a zeal for religion, a vigorous energy in government, a passion for freedom, a devotion to ingenious industries, which marked them with a stamp unlike that of any other community.[2] Towards the close of the seventeenth century some of the old austerity and rudeness was sensibly modified under the influence of the great neighbouring monarchy. One striking illustration of this tendency was the rapid decline of the Savoyard patois in popular use. The movement had not gone far enough when Rousseau was born, to take away from the manners and spirit of his country their special quality and individual note.

The mother of Jean Jacques, who seems to have been a simple, cheerful, and tender woman, was the daughter of a Genevan minister; her maiden name, Bernard. The birth of her son was fatal to her, and the most touching and pathetic of all the many shapes of death was the fit beginning of a life preappointed to nearly unlifting cloud. "I cost my mother her life," he wrote, "and my birth was the first of my woes."[3] Destiny thus touches us with magical finger, long before consciousness awakens to the forces that have been set to work in our personality, launching us into the universe with country, forefathers, and physical predispositions, all fixed without choice of ours. Rousseau was born dying, and though he survived this first crisis by the affectionate care of one of his father's sisters, yet his constitution remained infirm and disordered.

Inborn tendencies, as we perceive on every side, are far from having unlimited irresistible mastery, if they meet early encounter from some wise and patient external will. The father of Rousseau was unfortunately cast in the same mould as his mother, and the child's own morbid sensibility was stimulated and deepened by the excessive sensibility of his first companion. Isaac Rousseau, in many of his traits, was a reversion to an old French type. In all the Genevese there was an underlying tendency of this kind. "Under a phlegmatic and cool air," wrote Rousseau, when warning his countrymen against the inflammatory effects of the drama, "the Genevese hide an ardent and sensitive character, that is more easily moved than controlled."[4] And some of the episodes in their history during the eighteenth century might be taken for scenes from the turbulent dramas of Paris. But Isaac Rousseau's restlessness, his eager emotion, his quick and punctilious sense of personal dignity, his heedlessness of ordered affairs, were not common in Geneva, fortunately for the stability of her society and the prosperity of her citizens. This disorder of spirit descended in modified form to the son; it was inevitable that he should be indirectly affected by it. Before he was seven years old he had learnt from his father to indulge a passion for the reading of romances. The child and the man passed whole nights in a fictitious world, reading to one another in turn, absorbed by vivid interest in imaginary situations, until the morning note of the birds recalled them to a sense of the conditions of more actual life, and made the elder cry out in confusion that he was the more childish of the two.

The effect of this was to raise passion to a premature exaltation in the young brain. "I had no idea of real things," he said, "though all the sentiments were already familiar to me. Nothing had come to me by conception, everything by sensation. These confused emotions, striking me one after another, did not warp a reason that I did not yet possess, but they gradually shaped in me a reason of another cast and temper, and gave me bizarre and romantic ideas of human life, of which neither reflection nor experience has ever been able wholly to cure me."[5] Thus these first lessons, which have such tremendous influence over all that follow, had the direct and fatal effect in Rousseau's case of deadening that sense of the actual relations of things to one another in the objective world, which is the master-key and prime law of sanity.

In time the library of romances came to an end (1719), and Jean Jacques and his father fell back on the more solid and moderated fiction of history and biography. The romances had been the possession of the mother; the more serious books were inherited from the old minister, her father. Such books as Nani's History of Venice, and Le Sueur's History of the Church and the Empire, made less impression on the young Rousseau than the admirable Plutarch; and he used to read to his father during the hours of work, and read over again to himself during all hours, those stories of free and indomitable souls which are so proper to kindle the glow of generous fire. Plutarch was dear to him to the end of his life; he read him in the late days when he had almost ceased to read, and he always declared Plutarch to be nearly the only author to whom he had never gone without profit."[6] "I think I see my father now," he wrote when he had begun to make his mark in Paris, "living by the work of his hands, and nourishing his soul on the sublimest truths. I see Tacitus, Plutarch, and Grotius, lying before him along with the tools of his craft. I see at his side a cherished son receiving instruction from the best of fathers, alas, with but too little fruit."[7] This did little to implant the needed impressions of the actual world. Rousseau's first training continued to be in an excessive degree the exact reverse of our common method; this stirs the imagination too little, and shuts the young too narrowly within the strait pen of present and visible reality. The reader of Plutarch at the age of ten actually conceived himself a Greek or a Roman, and became the personage whose strokes of constancy and intrepidity transported him with sympathetic ecstasy, made his eyes sparkle, and raised his voice to heroic pitch. Listeners were even alarmed one day as he told the tale of Scaevola at table, to see him imitatively thrust forth his arm over a hot chafing-dish.[8]

Rousseau had one brother, on whom the spirit of the father came down in ample measure, just as the sensibility of the mother descended upon Jean Jacques. He passed through a boyhood of revolt, and finally ran away into Germany, where he was lost from sight and knowledge of his kinsmen for ever. Jean Jacques was thus left virtually an only child,[9] and he commemorates the homely tenderness and care with which his early years were surrounded. Except in the hours which he passed in reading by the side of his father, he was always with his aunt, in the self-satisfying curiosity of childhood watching her at work with the needle and busy about affairs of the house, or else listening to her with contented interest, as she sang the simple airs of the common people. The impression of this kind and cheerful figure was stamped on his memory to the end; her tone of voice, her dress, the quaint fashion of her hair. The constant recollection of her shows, among many other signs, how he cherished that conception of the true unity of a man's life, which places it in a closely-linked chain of active memories, and which most of us lose in wasteful dispersion of sentiment and poor fragmentariness of days. When the years came in which he might well say, I have no pleasure in them, and after a manhood of distress and suspicion and diseased sorrows had come to dim those blameless times, he could still often surprise himself unconsciously humming the tune of one of his aunt's old songs, with many tears in his eyes.[10]

This affectionate schooling came suddenly to an end. Isaac Rousseau in the course of a quarrel in which he had involved himself, believed that he saw unfairness in the operation of the law, for the offender had kinsfolk in the Great Council. He resolved to leave his country rather than give way, in circumstances which compromised his personal honour and the free justice of the republic. So his house was broken up, and his son was sent to school at the neighbouring village of Bossey (1722), under the care of a minister, "there to learn along with Latin all the medley of sorry stuff with which, under the name of education, they accompany Latin."[11] Rousseau tells us nothing of the course of his intellectual instruction here, but he marks his two years' sojourn under the roof of M. Lambercier by two forward steps in that fateful acquaintance with good and evil, which is so much more important than literary knowledge. Upon one of these fruits of the tree of nascent experience, men usually keep strict silence. Rousseau is the only person that ever lived who proclaimed to the whole world as a part of his own biography the ignoble circumstances of the birth of sensuality in boyhood. Nobody else ever asked us to listen while he told of the playmate with which unwarned youth takes its heedless pleasure, which waxes and strengthens with years, until the man suddenly awakens to find the playmate grown into a master, grotesque and foul, whose unclean grip is not to be shaken off, and who poisons the air with the goatish fume of the satyr. It is on this side that the unspoken plays so decisive a part, that most of the spoken seems but as dust in the balance; it is here that the flesh spreads gross clouds over the firmament of the spirit. Thinking of it, we flee from talk about the high matters of will and conscience, of purity of heart and the diviner mind, and hurry to the physician. Manhood commonly saves itself by its own innate healthiness, though the decent apron bequeathed to us in the old legend of the fall, the thick veil of a more than legendary reserve, prevents us from really measuring the actual waste of delicacy and the finer forces. Rousseau, most unhappily for himself, lacked this innate healthiness; he never shook off the demon which would be so ridiculous, if it did not hide such terrible power. With a moral courage, that it needs hardly less moral courage in the critic firmly to refrain from calling cynical or shameless, he has told the whole story of this lifelong depravation. In the present state of knowledge, which in the region of the human character the false shamefacedness of science, aided and abetted by the mutilating hand of religious asceticism, has kept crude and imperfect, there is nothing very profitable to be said on all this. When the great art of life has been more systematically conceived in the long processes of time and endeavour, and when more bold, ffective, and far-reaching advance has been made in defining those pathological manifestations which deserve to be seriously studied, as distinguished from those of a minor sort which are barely worth registering, then we should know better how to speak, or how to be silent, in the present most unwelcome instance. As it is, we perhaps do best in chronicling the fact and passing on. The harmless young are allowed to play without monition or watching among the deep open graves of temperament; and Rousseau, telling the tale of his inmost experience, unlike the physician and the moralist who love decorous surfaces of things, did not spare himself nor others a glimpse of the ignominies to which the body condemns its high tenant, the soul.[12]

The second piece of experience which he acquired at Bossey was the knowledge of injustice and wrongful suffering as things actual and existent. Circumstances brought him under suspicion of having broken the teeth of a comb which did not belong to him. He was innocent, and not even the most terrible punishment could wring from him an untrue confession of guilt. The root of his constancy was not in an abhorrence of falsehood, which is exceptional in youth, and for which he takes no credit, but in a furious and invincible resentment against the violent pressure that was unjustly put upon him. "Picture a character, timid and docile in ordinary life, but ardent, impetuous, indomitable in its passions; a child always governed by the voice of reason, always treated with equity, gentleness, and consideration, who had not even the idea of injustice, and who for the first time experiences an injustice so terrible, from the very people whom he most cherishes and respects! What a confusion of ideas, what disorder of sentiments, what revolution in heart, in brain, in every part of his moral and intellectual being!" He had not learnt, any more than other children, either to put himself in the place of his elders, or to consider the strength of the apparent case against him. All that he felt was the rigour of a frightful chastisement for an offence of which he was innocent. And the association of ideas was permanent. "This first sentiment of violence and injustice has remained so deeply engraved in my soul, that all the ideas relating to it bring my first emotion back to me; and this sentiment, though only relative to myself in its origin, has taken such consistency, and become so disengaged from all personal interest, that my heart is inflamed at the sight or story of any wrongful action, just as much as if its effect fell on my own person. When I read of the cruelties of some ferocious tyrant, or the subtle atrocities of some villain of a priest, I would fain start on the instant to poniard such wretches, though I were to perish a hundred times for the deed.... This movement may be natural to me, and I believe it is so; but the profound recollection of the first injustice I suffered was too long and too fast bound up with it, not to have strengthened it enormously."[13]

To men who belong to the silent and phlegmatic races like our own, all this may possibly strike on the ear like a false or strained note. Yet a tranquil appeal to the real history of one's own strongest impressions may disclose their roots in facts of childish experience, which remoteness of time has gradually emptied of the burning colour they once had. This childish discovery of the existence in his own world of that injustice which he had only seen through a glass very darkly in the imaginary world of his reading, was for Rousseau the angry dismissal from the primitive Eden, which in one shape and at one time or another overtakes all men. "Here," he says, "was the term of the serenity of my childish days. From this moment I ceased to enjoy a pure happiness, and I feel even at this day that the reminiscence of the delights of my infancy here comes to an end.... Even the country lost in our eyes that charm of sweetness and simplicity which goes to the heart; it seemed sombre and deserted, and was as if covered by a veil, hiding its beauties from our sight. We no longer tended our little gardens, our plants, our flowers. We went no more lightly to scratch the earth, shouting for joy as we discovered the germ of the seed we had sown."

Whatever may be the degree of literal truth in the Confessions, the whole course of Rousseau's life forbids us to pass this passionate description by as overcharged or exaggerated. We are conscious in it of a constitutional infirmity. We perceive an absence of healthy power of reaction against moral shock. Such shocks are experienced in many unavoidable forms by all save the dullest natures, when they first come into contact with the sharp tooth of outer circumstance. Indeed, a man must be either miraculously happy in his experiences, or exceptionally obtuse in observing and feeling, or else be the creature of base and cynical ideals, if life does not to the end continue to bring many a repetition of that first day of incredulous bewilderment. But the urgent demands for material activity quickly recall the mass of men to normal relations with their fellows and the outer world. A vehement objective temperament, like Voltaire's, is instantly roused by one of these penetrative stimuli into angry and tenacious resistance. A proud and collected soul, like Goethe's, loftily follows its own inner aims, without taking any heed of the perturbations that arise from want of self-collection in a world still spelling its rudiments. A sensitive and depressed spirit, like Rousseau's or Cowper's, finds itself without any of these reacting kinds of force, and the first stroke of cruelty or oppression is the going out of a divine light.

Leaving Bossey, Rousseau returned to Geneva, and passed two or three years with his uncle, losing his time for the most part, but learning something of drawing and something of Euclid, for the former of which he showed special inclination.[14] It was a question whether he was to be made a watchmaker, a lawyer, or a minister. His own preference, as his after-life might have led us to suppose, was in favour of the last of the three; "for I thought it a fine thing," he says, "to preach." The uncle was a man of pleasure, and as often happens in such circumstances, his love of pleasure had the effect of turning his wife into a pietist. Their son was Rousseau's constant comrade. "Our friendship filled our hearts so amply, that if we were only together, the simplest amusements were a delight." They made kites, cages, bows and arrows, drums, houses; they spoiled the tools of their grandfather, in trying to make watches like him. In the same cheerful imitative spirit, which is the main feature in childhood when it is not disturbed by excess of literary teaching, after Geneva had been visited by an Italian showman with a troop of marionettes, they made puppets and composed comedies for them; and when one day the uncle read aloud an elegant sermon, they abandoned their comedies, and turned with blithe energy to exhortation. They had glimpses of the rougher side of life in the biting mockeries of some schoolboys of the neighbourhood. These ended in appeal to the god of youthful war, who pronounced so plainly for the bigger battalions, that the release of their enemies from school was the signal for the quick retreat of our pair within doors. All this is an old story in every biography written or unwritten. It seldom fails to touch us, either in the way of sympathetic reminiscence, or if life should have gone somewhat too hardly with a man, then in the way of irony, which is not less real and poetic than the eironeia of a Greek dramatist, for being concerned with more unheroic creatures.

And this rough play of the streets always seemed to Rousseau a manlier schooling than the effeminate tendencies which he thought he noticed in Genevese youth in after years. "In my time," he says admiringly, "children were brought up in rustic fashion and had no complexion to keep.... Timid and modest before the old, they were bold, haughty, combative among themselves; they had no curled locks to be careful of; they defied one another at wrestling, running, boxing. They returned home sweating, out of breath, torn; they were true blackguards, if you will, but they made men who have zeal in their heart to serve their country and blood to shed for her. May we be able to say as much one day of our fine little gentlemen, and may these men at fifteen not turn out children at thirty."[15]

Two incidents of this period remain to us, described in Rousseau's own words, and as they reveal a certain sweetness in which his life unhappily did not afterwards greatly abound, it may help our equitable balance of impressions about him to reproduce them. Every Sunday he used to spend the day at Paquis at Mr. Fazy's, who had married one of his aunts, and who carried on the production of printed calicoes. "One day I was in the drying-room, watching the rollers of the hot press; their brightness pleased my eye; I was tempted to lay my fingers on them, and I was moving them up and down with much satisfaction along the smooth cylinder, when young Fazy placed himself in the wheel and gave it a half-quarter turn so adroitly, that I had just the ends of my two longest fingers caught, but this was enough to crush the tips and tear the nails. I raised a piercing cry; Fazy instantly turned back the wheel, and the blood gushed from my fingers. In the extremity of consternation he hastened to me, embraced me, and besought me to cease my cries, or he would be undone. In the height of my own pain, I was touched by his; I instantly fell silent, we ran to the pond, where he helped me to wash my fingers and to staunch the blood with moss. He entreated me with tears not to accuse him; I promised him that I would not, and I kept my word so well that twenty years after no one knew the origin of the scar. I was kept in bed for more than three weeks, and for more than two months was unable to use my hand. But I persisted that a large stone had fallen and crushed my fingers."[16]

The other story is of the same tenour, though there is a new touch of sensibility in its concluding words. "I was playing at ball at Plain Palais, with one of my comrades named Plince. We began to quarrel over the game; we fought, and in the fight he dealt me on my bare head a stroke so well directed, that with a stronger arm it would have dashed my brains out. I fell to the ground, and there never was agitation like that of this poor lad, as he saw the blood in my hair. He thought he had killed me. He threw himself upon me, and clasped me eagerly in his arms, while his tears poured down his cheeks, and he uttered shrill cries. I returned his embrace with all my force, weeping like him, in a state of confused emotion which was not without a kind of sweetness. Then he tried to stop the blood which kept flowing, and seeing that our two handkerchiefs were not enough, he dragged me off to his mother's; she had a small garden hard by. The good woman nearly fell sick at sight of me in this condition; she kept strength enough to dress my wound, and after bathing it well, she applied flower-de-luce macerated in brandy, an excellent remedy much used in our country. Her tears and those of her son, went to my very heart, so that I looked upon them for a long while as my mother and my brother."[17]

If it were enough that our early instincts should be thus amiable and easy, then doubtless the dismal sloughs in which men and women lie floundering would occupy a very much more insignificant space in the field of human experience. The problem, as we know, lies in the discipline of this primitive goodness. For character in a state of society is not a tree that grows into uprightness by the law of its own strength, though an adorable instance here and there of rectitude and moral loveliness that seem intuitive may sometimes tempt us into a moment's belief in a contrary doctrine. In Rousseau's case this serious problem was never solved; there was no deliberate preparation of his impulses, prepossessions, notions; no foresight on the part of elders, and no gradual acclimatisation of a sensitive and ardent nature in the fixed principles which are essential to right conduct in the frigid zone of our relations with other people. It was one of the most elementary of Rousseau's many perverse and mischievous contentions, that it is their education by the older which ruins or wastes the abundant capacity for virtue that subsists naturally in the young. His mind seems never to have sought much more deeply for proof of this, than the fact that he himself was innocent and happy so long as he was allowed to follow without disturbance the easy simple proclivities of his own temperament. Circumstances were not indulgent enough to leave the experiment to complete itself within these very rudimentary conditions.

Rousseau had been surrounded, as he is always careful to protest, with a religious atmosphere. His father, though a man of pleasure, was possessed also not only of probity but of religion as well. His three aunts were all in their degrees gracious and devout. M. Lambercier at Bossey, "although Churchman and preacher," was still a sincere believer and nearly as good in act as in word. His inculcation of religion was so hearty, so discreet, so reasonable, that his pupils, far from being wearied by the sermon, never came away without being touched inwardly and stirred to make virtuous resolutions. With his Aunt Bernard devotion was rather more tiresome, because she made a business of it.[18] It would be a distinct error to suppose that all this counted for nothing, for let us remember that we are now engaged with the youth of the one great religious writer of France in the eighteenth century. When after many years Rousseau's character hardened, the influences which had surrounded his boyhood came out in their full force and the historian of opinion soon notices in his spirit and work a something which had no counterpart in the spirit and work of men who had been trained in Jesuit colleges. At the first outset, however, every trace of religious sentiment was obliterated from sight, and he was left unprotected against the shocks of the world and the flesh.

At the age of eleven Jean Jacques was sent into a notary's office, but that respectable calling struck him in the same repulsive and insufferable way in which it has struck many other boys of genius in all countries. Contrary to the usual rule, he did not rebel, but was ignominiously dismissed by his master[19] for dulness and inaptitude; his fellow-clerks pronounced him stupid and incompetent past hope. He was next apprenticed to an engraver,[20] a rough and violent man, who seems to have instantly plunged the boy into a demoralised stupefaction. The reality of contact with this coarse nature benumbed as by touch of torpedo the whole being of a youth who had hitherto lived on pure sensations and among those ideas which are nearest to sensations. There were no longer heroic Romans in Rousseau's universe. "The vilest tastes, the meanest bits of rascality, succeeded to my simple amusements, without even leaving the least idea behind. I must, in spite of the worthiest education, have had a strong tendency to degenerate." The truth was that he had never had any education in its veritable sense, as the process, on its negative side, of counteracting the inborn. There are two kinds, or perhaps we should more correctly say two degrees, of the constitution in which the reflective part is weak. There are the men who live on sensation, but who do so lustily, with a certain fulness of blood and active energy of muscle. There are others who do so passively, not searching for excitement, but acquiescing. The former by their sheer force and plenitude of vitality may, even in a world where reflection is a first condition, still go far. The latter succumb, and as reflection does nothing for them, and as their sensations in such a world bring them few blandishments, they are tolerably early surrounded with a self-diffusing atmosphere of misery. Rousseau had none of this energy which makes oppression bracing. For a time he sank.

It would be a mistake to let the story of the Confessions carry us into exaggerations. The brutality of his master and the harshness of his life led him to nothing very criminal, but only to wrong acts which are despicable by their meanness, rather than in any sense atrocious. He told lies as readily as the truth. He pilfered things to eat. He cunningly found a means of opening his master's private cabinet, and of using his master's best instruments by stealth. He wasted his time in idle and capricious tasks. When the man, with all the ravity of an adult moralist, describes these misdeeds of the boy, they assume a certain ugliness of mien, and excites a strong disgust which, when the misdeeds themselves are before us in actual life, we experience in a far more considerate form. The effect of calm, retrospective avowal is to create a kind of feeling which is essentially unlike our feeling at what is actually avowed. Still it is clear that his unlucky career as apprentice brought out in Rousseau slyness, greediness, slovenliness, untruthfulness, and the whole ragged regiment of the squalider vices. The evil of his temperament now and always was of the dull smouldering kind, seldom breaking out into active flame. There is a certain sordidness in the scene. You may complain that the details which Rousseau gives of his youthful days are insipid. Yet such things are the web and stuff of life, and these days of transition from childhood to full manhood in every case mark a crisis. These insipidities test the education of home and family, and they presage definitely what is to come. The roots of character, good or bad, are shown for this short space, and they remain unchanged, though most people learn from their fellows the decent and useful art of covering them over with a little dust, in the shape of accepted phrases and routine customs and a silence which is not oblivion.

After a time the character of Jean Jacques was absolutely broken down. He says little of the blows with which his offences were punished by his master, but he says enough to enable us to discern that they were terrible to him. This cowardice, if we choose to give the name to an overmastering physical horror, at length brought his apprentice days to an end. He was now in his sixteenth year. He was dragged by his comrades into sports for which he had little inclination, though he admits that once engaged in them he displayed an impetuosity that carried him beyond the others. Such pastimes naturally led them beyond the city walls, and on two occasions Rousseau found the gates closed on his return. His master when he presented himself in the morning gave him such greeting as we may imagine, and held out things beyond imagining as penalty for a second sin in this kind. The occasion came, as, alas, it nearly always does. "Half a league from the town," says Rousseau, "I hear the retreat sounded, and redouble my pace; I hear the drum beat, and run at the top of my speed: I arrive out of breath, bathed in sweat; my heart beats violently, I see from a distance the soldiers at their post, and call out with choking voice. It was too late. Twenty paces from the outpost sentinel, I saw the first bridge rising. I shuddered, as I watched those terrible horns, sinister and fatal augury of the inevitable lot which that moment was opening for me."[21]

In manhood when we have the resource of our own will to fall back upon, we underestimate the unsurpassed horror and anguish of such moments as this in youth, when we know only the will of others, and that this will is inexorable against us. Rousseau dared not expose himself to the fulfilment of his master's menace, and he ran away (1728). But for this, wrote the unhappy man long years after, "I should have passed, in the bosom of my religion, of my native land, of my family, and my friends, a mild and peaceful life, such as my character required, in the uniformity of work which suited my taste, and of a society after my heart. I should have been a good Christian, good citizen, good father of a family, good friend, good craftsman, good man in all. I should have been happy in my condition, perhaps I might have honoured it; and after living a life obscure and simple, but even and gentle, I should have died peacefully in the midst of my own people. Soon forgotten, I should at any rate have been regretted as long as any memory of me was left."[22]

As a man knows nothing about the secrets of his own individual organisation, this illusory mapping out of a supposed Possible need seldom be suspected of the smallest insincerity. The poor madman who declares that he is a king kept out of his rights only moves our pity, and we perhaps owe pity no less to those in all the various stages of aberration uncertificated by surgeons, down to the very edge of most respectable sanity, who accuse the injustice of men of keeping them out of this or that kingdom, of which in truth their own composition finally disinherited them at the moment when they were conceived in a mother's womb. The first of the famous Five Propositions of Jansen, which were a stumbling-block to popes and to the philosophy of the eighteenth-century foolishness, put this clear and permanent truth into a mystic and perishable formula, to the effect that there are some commandments of God which righteous and good men are absolutely unable to obey, though ever so disposed to do them, and God does not give them so much grace that they are able to observe them.

If Rousseau's sensations in the evening were those of terror, the day and its prospect of boundless adventures soon turned them into entire delight. The whole world was before him, and all the old conceptions of romance were instantly revived by the supposed nearness of their realisation. He roamed for two or three days among the villages in the neighbourhood of Geneva, finding such hospitality as he needed in the cottages of friendly peasants. Before long his wanderings brought him to the end of the territory of the little republic. Here he found himself in the domain of Savoy, where dukes and lords had for ages been the traditional foes of the freedom and the faith of Geneva, Rousseau came to the village of Confignon, and the name of the priest of Confignon recalled one of the most embittered incidents of the old feud. This feud had come to take new forms; instead of midnight expeditions to scale the city walls, the descendants of the Savoyard marauders of the sixteenth century were now intent with equivocal good will on rescuing the souls of the descendants of their old enemies from deadly heresy. At this time a systematic struggle was going on between the priests of Savoy and the ministers of Geneva, the former using every effort to procure the conversion of any Protestant on whom they could lay hands.[23] As it happened, the priest of Confignon was one of the most active in this good work.[24] He made the young Rousseau welcome, spoke to him of the heresies of Geneva and of the authority of the holy Church, and gave him some dinner. He could hardly have had a more easy convert, for the nature with which he had to deal was now swept and garnished, ready for the entrance of all devils or gods. The dinner went for much. "I was too good a guest," writes Rousseau in one of his few passages of humour, "to be a good theologian, and his Frangi wine, which struck me as excellent, was such a triumphant argument on his side, that I should have blushed to oppose so capital a host."[25] So it was agreed that he should be put in a way to be further instructed of these matters. We may accept Rousseau's assurance that he was not exactly a hypocrite in this rapid complaisance. He admits that any one who should have seen the artifices to which he resorted, might have thought him very false. But, he argues, "flattery, or rather concession, is not always a vice; it is oftener a virtue, especially in the young. The kindness with which a man receives us, attaches us to him; it is not to make a fool of him that we give way, but to avoid displeasing him, and not to return him evil for good." He never really meant to change his religion; his fault was like the coquetting of decent women, who sometimes, to gain their ends, without permitting anything or promising anything, lead men to hope more than they mean to hold good.[26] Thereupon follow some austere reflections on the priest, who ought to have sent him back to his friends; and there are strictures even upon the ministers of all dogmatic religions, in which the essential thing is not to do but to believe; their priests therefore, provided that they can convert a man to their faith, are wholly indifferent alike as to his worth and his worldly interests. All this is most just; the occasion for such a strain of remark, though so apposite on one side, is hardly well chosen to impress us. We wonder, as we watch the boy complacently hoodwinking his entertainer, what has become of the Roman severity of a few months back. This nervous eagerness to please, however, was the complementary element of a character of vague ambition, and it was backed by a stealthy consciousness of intellectual superiority, which perhaps did something, though poorly enough, to make such ignominy less deeply degrading.

The die was cast. M. Pontverre despatched his brand plucked from the burning to a certain Madame de Warens, a lady living at Annecy, and counted zealous for the cause of the Church. In an interview whose minutest circumstances remained for ever stamped in his mind (March 21, 1728), Rousseau exchanged his first words with this singular personage, whose name and character he has covered with doubtful renown. He expected to find some gray and wrinkled woman, saving a little remnant of days in good works. Instead of this, there turned round upon him a person not more than eight-and-twenty years old, with gentle caressing air, a fascinating smile, a tender eye. Madame de Warens read the letters he brought, and entertained their bearer cheerfully. It was decided after consultation that the heretic should be sent to a monastery at Turin, where he might be brought over in form to the true Church. At the monastery not only would the spiritual question of faith and the soul be dealt with, but at the same time the material problem of shelter and subsistence for the body would be solved likewise. Elated with vanity at the thought of seeing before any of his comrades the great land of promise beyond the mountains, heedless of those whom he had left, and heedless of the future before him and the object which he was about, the young outcast made his journey over the Alps in all possible lightness of heart. "Seeing country is an allurement which hardly any Genevese can ever resist. Everything that met my eye seemed the guarantee of my approaching happiness. In the houses I imagined rustic festivals; in the fields, joyful sports; along the streams, bathing and fishing; on the trees, delicious fruits; under their shade, voluptuous interviews; on the mountains, pails of milk and cream, a charming idleness, peace, simplicity, the delight of going forward without knowing whither."[27] He might justly choose out this interval as more perfectly free from care or anxiety than any other of his life. It was the first of the too rare occasions when his usually passive sensuousness was stung by novelty and hope into an active energy.

The seven or eight days of the journey came to an end, and the youth found himself at Turin without money or clothes, an inmate of a dreary monastery, among some of the very basest and foulest of mankind, who pass their time in going from one monastery to another through Spain and Italy, professing themselves Jews or Moors for the sake of being supported while the process of their conversion was going slowly forward. At the Hospice of the Catechumens the work of his conversion was begun in such earnest as the insincerity of at least one of the parties to it might allow. It is needless to enter into the circumstances of Rousseau's conversion to Catholicism. The mischievous zeal for theological proselytising has led to thousands of such hollow and degrading performances, but it may safely be said that none of them was ever hollower than this. Rousseau avows that he had been brought up in the heartiest abhorrence of the older church, and that he never lost this abhorrence. He fully explains that he accepted the arguments with which he was not very energetically plied, simply because he could not bear the idea of returning to Geneva, and he saw no other way out of his present destitute condition. "I could not dissemble from myself that the holy deed I was about to do, was at the bottom the action of a bandit." "The sophism which destroyed me," he says in one of those eloquent pieces of moralising, which bring ignoble action into a relief that exaggerates our condemnation, "is that of most men, who complain of lack of strength when it is already too late for them to use it. It is only through our own fault that virtue costs us anything; if we could be always sage, we should rarely feel the need of being virtuous. But inclinations that might be easily overcome, drag us on without resistance; we yield to light temptations of which we despise the hazard. Insensibly we fall into perilous situations, against which we could easily have shielded ourselves, but from which we can afterwards only make a way out by heroic efforts that stupefy us, and so we sink into the abyss, crying aloud to God, Why hast thou made me so weak? But in spite of ourselves, God gives answer to our conscience, 'I made thee too weak to come out from the pit, because I made thee strong enough to avoid falling into it.'"[28] So the hopeful convert did fall in, not as happens to the pious soul "too hot for certainties in this our life," to find rest in liberty of private judgment and an open Bible, but simply as a means of getting food, clothing, and shelter.[29] The boy was clever enough to make some show of resistance, and he turned to good use for this purpose the knowledge of Church history and the great Reformation controversy which he had picked up at M. Lambercier's. He was careful not to carry things too far, and exactly nine days after his admission into the Hospice, he "abjured the errors of the sect."[30] Two days after that he was publicly received into the kindly bosom of the true Church with all solemnity, to the high edification of the devout of Turin, who marked their interest in the regenerate soul by contributions to the extent of twenty francs in small money.

With that sum and formal good wishes the fathers of the Hospice of the Catechumens thrust him out of their doors into the broad world. The youth who had begun the day with dreams of palaces, found himself at night sleeping in a den where he paid a halfpenny for the privilege of resting in the same room with the rude woman who kept the house, her husband, her five or six children, and various other lodgers. This rough awakening produced no consciousness of hardship in a nature which, beneath all fantastic dreams, always remained true to its first sympathy with the homely lives of the poor. The woman of the house swore like a carter, and was always dishevelled and disorderly: this did not prevent Rousseau from recognising her kindness of heart and her staunch readiness to befriend. He passed his days in wandering about the streets of Turin, seeing the wonders of a capital, and expecting some adventure that should raise him to unknown heights. He went regularly to mass, watched the pomp of the court, and counted upon stirring a passion in the breast of a princess. A more important circumstance was the effect of the mass in awakening in his own breast his latent passion for music; a passion so strong that the poorest instrument, if it were only in tune, never failed to give him the liveliest pleasure. The king of Sardinia was believed to have the best performers in Europe; less than that was enough to quicken the musical susceptibility which is perhaps an invariable element in the most completely sensuous natures.

When the end of the twenty francs began to seem a thing possible, he tried to get work as an engraver. A young woman in a shop took pity on him, gave him work and food, and perhaps permitted him to make dumb and grovelling love to her, until her husband returned home and drove her client away from the door with threats and the waving of a wand not magical.[31] Rousseau's self-love sought an explanation in the natural fury of an Italian husband's jealousy; but we need hardly ask for any other cause than a shopkeeper's reasonable objection to vagabonds.

The next step of this youth, who was always dreaming of the love of princesses, was to accept with just thankfulness the position of lackey or footboy in the household of a widow. With Madame de Vercellis he passed three months, and at the end of that time she died. His stay here was marked by an incident that has filled many pages with stormful discussion. When Madame de Vercellis died, a piece of old rose-coloured ribbon was missing; Rousseau had stolen it, and it was found in his possession. They asked him whence he had taken it. He replied that it had been given to him by Marion, a young and comely maid in the house. In her presence and before the whole household he repeated his false story, and clung to it with a bitter effrontery that we may well call diabolic, remembering how the nervous terror of punishment and exposure sinks the angel in man. Our phrase, want of moral courage, really denotes in the young an excruciating physical struggle, often so keen that the victim clutches after liberation with the spontaneous tenacity and cruelty of a creature wrecked in mastering waters. Undisciplined sensations constitute egoism in the most ruthless of its shapes, and at this epoch, owing either to the brutalities which surrounded his apprentice life at Geneva, or to that rapid tendency towards degeneration which he suspected in his own character, Rousseau was the slave of sensations which stained his days with baseness. "Never," he says, in his account of this hateful action, "was wickedness further from me than at this cruel moment; and when I accused the poor girl, it is contradictory and yet it is true that my affection for her was the cause of what I did. She was present to my mind, and I threw the blame from myself on to the first object that presented itself. When I saw her appear my heart was torn, but the presence of so many people was too strong for my remorse. I feared punishment very little; I only feared disgrace, but I feared that more than death, more than crime, more than anything in the world. I would fain have buried myself in the depths of the earth; invincible shame prevailed over all, shame alone caused my effrontery, and the more criminal I became, the more intrepid was I made by the fright of confessing it. I could see nothing but the horror of being recognised and declared publicly to my face a thief, liar, and traducer."[32] When he says that he feared punishment little, his analysis of his mind is most likely wrong, for nothing is clearer than that a dread of punishment in any physical form was a peculiarly strong feeling with him at this time. However that may have been, the same over-excited imagination which put every sense on the alarm and led him into so abominable a misdemeanour, brought its own penalties. It led him to conceive a long train of ruin as having befallen Marion in consequence of his calumny against her, and this dreadful thought haunted him to the end of his life. In the long sleepless nights he thought he saw the unhappy girl coming to reproach him with a crime that seemed as fresh to him as if it had been perpetrated the day before.[33] Thus the same brooding memory which brought back to him the sweet pain of his gentle kinswoman's household melody, preserved the darker side of his history with equal fidelity and no less perfect continuousness. Rousseau expresses a hope and belief that this burning remorse would serve as expiation for his fault; as if expiation for the destruction of another soul could be anything but a fine name for self-absolution. We may, however, charitably and reasonably think that the possible consequences of his fault to the unfortunate Marion were not actual, but were as much a hallucination as the midnight visits of her reproachful spirit. Indeed, we are hardly condoning evil, in suggesting that the whole story from its beginning is marked with exaggeration, and that we who have our own lives to lead shall find little help in criticising at further length the exact heinousness of the ignoble falsehood of a boy who happened to grow up into a man of genius.[34]

After an interval of six weeks, which were passed in the garret or cellar of his rough patroness with kind heart and ungentle tongue, Rousseau again found himself a lackey in the house of a Piedmontese person of quality. This new master, the Count of Gouvon, treated him with a certain unusual considerateness, which may perhaps make us doubt the narrative. His son condescended to teach the youth Latin, and Rousseau presumed to entertain a passion for one of the daughters of the house, to whom he paid silent homage in the odd shape of attending to her wants at table with special solicitude. In this situation he had, or at least he supposed that he had, an excellent chance of ultimate advancement. But advancement here or elsewhere means a measure of stability, and Rousseau's temperament in his youth was the archtype of the mutable. An old comrade from Geneva visited him,[35] and as almost any incident is stimulating enough to fire the restlessness of imaginative youth, the gratitude which he professed to the Count of Gouvon and his family, the prudence with which he marked his prospects, the industry with which he profited by opportunity, all faded quickly into mere dead and disembodied names of virtues. His imagination again went over the journey across the mountains; the fields, the woods, the streams, began to absorb his whole life. He recalled with delicious satisfaction how charming the journey had seemed to him, and thought how far more charming it would be in the society of a comrade of his own age and taste, without duty, or constraint, or obligation to go or stay other than as it might please them. "It would be madness to sacrifice such a piece of good fortune to projects of ambition, which were slow, difficult, doubtful of execution, and which, even if they should one day be realised, were not with all their glory worth a quarter of an hour of true pleasure and freedom in youth."[36]

On these high principles he neglected his duties so recklessly that he was dismissed from his situation, and he and his comrade began their homeward wanderings with more than apostolic heedlessness as to what they should eat or wherewithal they should be clothed. They had a toy fountain; they hoped that in return for the amusement to be conferred by this wonder they should receive all that they might need. Their hopes were not fulfilled. The exhibition of the toy fountain did not excuse them from their reckoning. Before long it was accidentally broken, and to their secret satisfaction, for it had lost its novelty. Their naked, vagrancy was thus undisguised. They made their way by some means or other across the mountains, and their enjoyment of vagabondage was undisturbed by any thought of a future. "To understand my delirium at this moment," Rousseau says, in words which shed much light on darker parts of his history than fits of vagrancy, "it is necessary to know to what a degree my heart is subject to get aflame with the smallest things, and with what force it plunges into the imagination of the object that attracts it, vain as that object may be. The most grotesque, the most childish, the maddest schemes come to caress my favourite idea, and to show me the reasonableness of surrendering myself to it."[37] It was this deep internal vehemence which distinguished Rousseau all through his life from the commonplace type of social revolter. A vagrant sensuous temperament, strangely compounded with Genevese austerity; an ardent and fantastic imagination, incongruously shot with threads of firm reason; too little conscience and too much; a monstrous and diseased love of self, intertwined with a sincere compassion and keen interest for the great fellowship of his brothers; a wild dreaming of dreams that were made to look like sanity by the close and specious connection between conclusions and premisses, though the premisses happened to have the fault of being profoundly unreal:—this was the type of character that lay unfolded in the youth who, towards the autumn of 1729, reached Annecy, penniless and ragged, throwing himself once more on the charity of the patroness who had given him shelter eighteen months before. Few figures in the world at that time were less likely to conciliate the favour or excite the interest of an observer, who had not studied the hidden convolutions of human character deeply enough to know that a boy of eighteen may be sly, sensual, restless, dreamy, and yet have it in him to say things one day which may help to plunge a world into conflagration.

FOOTNOTES:

[1] Here is the line:—

Didier Rousseau. Jean - David. Noah. Isaac (b. 1680-5, d. 1745-7). Jean Francois. JEAN JACQUES. Jean. Theodore.

(Musset-Pathay, ii. 283.)

[2] Picot's Hist. de Geneve, iii. 114.

[3] Conf., i. 7.

[4] Lettre a D'Alembert, p. 187. Also Nouv. Hel., VI. v. 239.

[5] Conf., i. 9. Also Second Letter to M. de Malesherbes, p. 356.

[6] Reveries, iv. p. 189. "My master and counsellor, Plutarch," he says, when he lends a volume to Madame d'Epinay in 1756. Corr., i. 265.

[7] Dedication of the Discours sur l'Origine de l'Inegalite, p. 201. (June, 1754.)

[8] Conf., i. 1.

[9] Ib, i. 12.

[10] The tenacity of this grateful recollection is shown in letters to her (Madame Gonceru)—one in 1754 (Corr., i. 204), another as late as 1770 (vi. 129), and a third in 1762 (Oeuvr. et Corr. Ined., 392).

[11] Conf., i. 17-32.

[12] See also Conf., i. 43; iii. 185; vii. 73; xii. 188, n. 2.

[13] Conf., i. 27-31.

[14] Conf., i. 38-47.

[15] Lettre a D'Alembert(1758), 178, 179.

[16] Reveries, iv. 211, 212.

[17] Conf. 212, 213.

[18] Conf., ii. 102, 103.

[19] M. Masseron.

[20] M. Ducommun.

[21] Conf., i. 69.

[22] Conf., i. 72.

[23] J. Gaberel's Histoire de l'Eglise de Geneve (Geneva, 1853-62), vol. iii. p. 285.

[24] There is a minute in the register of the company of ministers, to the effect that the Sieur de Pontverre "is attracting many young men from this town, and changing their religion, and that the public ought to be warned." (Gaberel, iii. 224.)

[25] Conf., ii. 76.

[26] Conf., ii. 77.

[27] Conf., ii. 90-97.

[28] Conf., ii. 107

[29] See Emile, iv. 124, 125, where the youth who was born a Calvinist, finding himself a stranger in a strange land, without resource, "changed his religion to get bread."

[30] In the Confessions (ii. 115) he has grace enough to make the period a month; but the extract from the register of his baptism (Gaberel's Hist. de l'Eglise de Geneve, iii. 224), which has been recently published, shows that this is untrue: "Jean Jacques Rousseau, de Geneve (Calviniste), entre a l'hospice a l'age de 16 ans, le 12 avril, 1728. Abjura les erreurs de la secte le 21; et le 23 du meme mois lui fut administre le saint bapteme, ayant pour parrain le sieur Andre Ferrero et pour marraine Francoise Christine Rora (ou Rovea)."

A little further on (p. 119) he speaks of having been shut up "for two months," but this is not true even on his own showing.

[31] Madame Basile. Conf., ii. 121-135.

[32] Conf. ii. ad finem.

[33] Conf., ii. 144.

[34] Another version of the story mentioned by Musset-Pathay (i. 7) makes the object of the theft a diamond, but there is really no evidence in the matter beyond that given by Rousseau himself.

[35] Bacle, by name.

[36] Conf., iii. 168.

[37] Conf., iii. 170. A slightly idealised account of the situation is given in Emile, Bk. iv. 125.



CHAPTER III.

SAVOY.

The commonplace theory which the world takes for granted as to the relations of the sexes, makes the woman ever crave the power and guidance of her physically stronger mate. Even if this be a true account of the normal state, there is at any rate a kind of temperament among the many types of men, in which it seems as if the elements of character remain mere futile and dispersive particles, until compelled into unity and organisation by the creative shock of feminine influence. There are men, famous or obscure, whose lives might be divided into a number of epochs, each defined and presided over by the influence of a woman. For the inconstant such a calendar contains many divisions, for the constant it is brief and simple; for both alike it marks the great decisive phases through which character has moved.

Rousseau's temperament was deeply marked by this special sort of susceptibility in one of its least agreeable forms. His sentiment was neither robustly and courageously animal, nor was it an intellectual demand for the bright and vivacious sympathies in which women sometimes excel. It had neither bold virility, nor that sociable energy which makes close emotional companionship an essential condition of freedom of faculty and completeness of work. There is a certain close and sickly air round all his dealings with women and all his feeling for them. We seem to move not in the star-like radiance of love, nor even in the fiery flames of lust, but among the humid heats of some unknown abode of things not wholesome or manly. "I know a sentiment," he writes, "which is perhaps less impetuous than love, but a thousand times more delicious, which sometimes is joined to love, and which is very often apart from it. Nor is this sentiment friendship only; it is more voluptuous, more tender; I do not believe that any one of the same sex could be its object; at least I have been a friend, if ever man was, and I never felt this about any of my friends."[38] He admits that he can only describe this sentiment by its effects; but our lives are mostly ruled by elements that defy definition, and in Rousseau's case the sentiment which he could not describe was a paramount trait of his mental constitution. It was as a voluptuous garment; in it his imagination was cherished into activity, and protected against that outer air of reality which braces ordinary men, but benumbs and disintegrates the whole vital apparatus of such an organisation as Rousseau's. If he had been devoid of this feeling about women, his character might very possibly have remained sterile. That feeling was the complementary contribution, without which could be no fecundity.

When he returned from his squalid Italian expedition in search of bread and a new religion, his mind was clouded with the vague desire, the sensual moodiness, which in such natures stains the threshold of manhood. This unrest, with its mysterious torments and black delights, was banished, or at least soothed into a happier humour, by the influence of a person who is one of the most striking types to be found in the gallery of fair women.

I.

A French writer in the eighteenth century, in a story which deals with a rather repulsive theme of action in a tone that is graceful, simple, and pathetic, painted the portrait of a creature for whom no moralist with a reputation to lose can say a word; and we may, if we choose, fool ourselves by supposing her to be without a counterpart in the better-regulated world of real life, but, in spite of both these objections, she is an interesting and not untouching figure to those who like to know all the many-webbed stuff out of which their brothers and sisters are made. The Manon Lescaut of the unfortunate Abbe Prevost, kindly, bright, playful, tender, but devoid of the very germ of the idea of that virtue which is counted the sovereign recommendation of woman, helps us to understand Madame de Warens. There are differences enough between them, and we need not mistake them for one and the same type. Manon Lescaut is a prettier figure, because romance has fewer limitations than real life; but if we think of her in reading of Rousseau's benefactress, the vision of the imaginary woman tends to soften our judgment of the actual one, as well as to enlighten our conception of a character that eludes the instruments of a commonplace analysis.[39]

She was born at Vevai in 1700; she married early, and early disagreed with her husband, from whom she eventually went away, abandoning family, religion, country, and means of subsistence, with all gaiety of heart. The King of Sardinia happened to be keeping his court at a small town on the southern shores of the lake of Geneva, and the conversion of Madame de Warens to Catholicism by the preaching of the Bishop of Annecy,[40] gave a zest to the royal visit, as being a successful piece of sport in that great spiritual hunt which Savoy loved to pursue at the expense of the reformed church in Switzerland. The king, to mark his zeal for the faith of his house, conferred on the new convert a small pension for life; but as the tongues of the scandalous imputed a less pure motive for such generosity in a parsimonious prince, Madame de Warens removed from the court and settled at Annecy. Her conversion was hardly more serious than Rousseau's own, because seriousness was no condition of her intelligence on any of its sides or in any of its relations. She was extremely charitable to the poor, full of pity for all in misfortune, easily moved to forgiveness of wrong or ingratitude; careless, gay, open-hearted; having, in a word, all the good qualities which spring in certain generous soils from human impulse, and hardly any of those which spring from reflection, or are implanted by the ordering of society. Her reason had been warped in her youth by an instructor of the devil's stamp;[41] finding her attached to her husband and to her duties, always cold, argumentative, and impregnable on the side of the senses, he attacked her by sophisms, and at last persuaded her that the union of the sexes is in itself a matter of the most perfect indifference, provided only that decorum of appearance be preserved, and the peace of mind of persons concerned be not disturbed.[42] This execrable lesson, which greater and more unselfish men held and propagated in grave books before the end of the century, took root in her mind. If we accept Rousseau's explanation, it did so the more easily as her temperament was cold, and thus corroborated the idea of the indifference of what public opinion and private passion usually concur in investing with such enormous weightiness. "I will even dare to say," Rousseau declares, "that she only knew one true pleasure in the world, and that was to give pleasure to those whom she loved."[43] He is at great pains to protest how compatible this coolness of temperament is with excessive sensibility of character; and neither ethological theory nor practical observation of men and women is at all hostile to what he is so anxious to prove. The cardinal element of character is the speed at which its energies move; its rapidity or its steadiness, concentration or volatility; whether the thought and feeling travel as quickly as light or as slowly as sound. A rapid and volatile constitution like that of Madame de Warens is inconsistent with ardent and glowing warmth, which belongs to the other sort, but it is essentially bound up with sensibility, or readiness of sympathetic answer to every cry from another soul. It is the slow, brooding, smouldering nature, like Rousseau's own, in which we may expect to find the tropics.

To bring the heavy artillery of moral reprobation to bear upon a poor soul like Madame de Warens is as if one should denounce flagrant want of moral purpose in the busy movements of ephemera. Her activity was incessant, but it ended in nothing better than debt, embarrassment, and confusion. She inherited from her father a taste for alchemy, and spent much time in search after secret elixirs and the like. "Quacks, taking advantage of her weakness, made themselves her master, constantly infested her, ruined her, and wasted, in the midst of furnaces and chemicals, intelligence, talents, and charms which would have made her the delight of the best societies."[44] Perhaps, however, the too notorious vagrancy of her amours had at least as much to do with her failure to delight the best societies as her indiscreet passion for alchemy. Her person was attractive enough. "She had those points of beauty," says Rousseau, "which are desirable, because they reside rather in expression than in feature. She had a tender and caressing air, a soft eye, a divine smile, light hair of uncommon beauty. You could not see a finer head or bosom, finer arms or hands."[45] She was full of tricks and whimsies. She could not endure the first smell of the soup and meats at dinner; when they were placed on the table she nearly swooned, and her disgust lasted some time, until at the end of half an hour or so she took her first morsel.[46] On the whole, if we accept the current standard of sanity, Madame de Warens must be pronounced ever so little flighty; but a monotonous world can afford to be lenient to people with a slight craziness, if it only has hearty benevolence and cheerfulness in its company, and is free from egoism or rapacious vanity.

This was the person within the sphere of whose attraction Rousseau was decisively brought in the autumn of 1729, and he remained, with certain breaks of vagabondage, linked by a close attachment to her until 1738. It was in many respects the truly formative portion of his life. He acquired during this time much of his knowledge of books, such as it was, and his principles of judging them. He saw much of the lives of the poor and of the world's ways with them. Above all his ideal was revolutionised, and the recent dreams of Plutarchian heroism, of grandeur, of palaces, princesses, and a glorious career full in the world's eye, were replaced by a new conception of blessedness of life, which never afterwards faded from his vision, and which has held a front place in the imagination of literary Europe ever since. The notions or aspirations which he had picked up from a few books gave way to notions and aspirations which were shaped and fostered by the scenes of actual life into which he was thrown, and which found his character soft for their impression. In one way the new pictures of a future were as dissociated from the conditions of reality as the old had been, and the sensuous life of the happy valley in Savoy as little fitted a man to compose ideals for our gnarled and knotted world as the mental life among the heroics of sentimental fiction had done.

Rousseau's delight in the spot where Madame de Warens lived at Annecy was the mark of the new ideal which circumstances were to engender in him, and after him to spread in many hearts. His room looked over gardens and a stream, and beyond them stretched a far landscape. "It was the first time since leaving Bossey that I had green before my windows. Always shut in by walls, I had nothing under my eye but house-tops and the dull gray of the streets. How moving and delicious this novelty was to me! It brightened all the tenderness of my disposition. I counted the landscape among the kindnesses of my dear benefactress; it seemed as if she had brought it there expressly for me. I placed myself there in all peacefulness with her; she was present to me everywhere among the flowers and the verdure; her charms and those of spring were all mingled together in my eyes. My heart, which had hitherto been stifled, found itself more free in this ample space, and my sighs had more liberal vent among these orchard gardens."[47] Madame de Warens was the semi-divine figure who made the scene live, and gave it perfect and harmonious accent. He had neither transports nor desires by her side, but existed in a state of ravishing calm, enjoying without knowing what. "I could have passed my whole life and eternity itself in this way, without an instant of weariness. She is the only person with whom I never felt that dryness in conversation, which turns the duty of keeping it up into a torment. Our intercourse was not so much conversation as an inexhaustible stream of chatter, which never came to an end until it was interrupted from without. I only felt all the force of my attachment for her when she was out of my sight. So long as I could see her I was merely happy and satisfied, but my disquiet in her absence went so far as to be painful. I shall never forget how one holiday, while she was at vespers, I went for a walk outside the town, my heart full of her image and of an eager desire to pass all my days by her side. I had sense enough to see that for the present this was impossible, and that the bliss which I relished so keenly must be brief. This gave to my musing a sadness which was free from everything sombre, and which was moderated by pleasing hope. The sound of the bells, which has always moved me to a singular degree, the singing of the birds, the glory of the weather, the sweetness of the landscape, the scattered rustic dwellings in which my imagination placed our common home;—all this so struck me with a vivid, tender, sad, and touching impression that I saw myself as in an ecstasy transported into the happy time and the happy place where my heart, possessed of all the felicity that could bring it delight, without even dreaming of the pleasures of sense, should share joys inexpressible."[48]

There was still, however, a space to be bridged between the doubtful now and this delicious future. The harshness of circumstance is ever interposing with a money question, and for a vagrant of eighteen the first of all problems is a problem of economics. Rousseau was submitted to the observation of a kinsman of Madame de Warens,[49] and his verdict corresponded with that of the notary of Geneva, with whom years before Rousseau had first tried the critical art of making a living. He pronounced that in spite of an animated expression, the lad was, if not thoroughly inept, at least of very slender intelligence, without ideas, almost without attainments, very narrow indeed in all respects, and that the honour of one day becoming a village priest was the highest piece of fortune to which he had any right to aspire.[50] So he was sent to the seminary, to learn Latin enough for the priestly offices. He began by conceiving a deadly antipathy to his instructor, whose appearance happened to be displeasing to him. A second was found,[51] and the patient and obliging temper, the affectionate and sympathetic manner of his new teacher made a great impression on the pupil, though the progress in intellectual acquirement was as unsatisfactory in one case as in the other. It is characteristic of that subtle impressionableness to physical comeliness, which in ordinary natures is rapidly effaced by press of more urgent considerations, but which Rousseau's strongly sensuous quality retained, that he should have remembered, and thought worth mentioning years afterwards, that the first of his two teachers at the seminary of Annecy had greasy black hair, a complexion as of gingerbread, and bristles in place of beard, while the second had the most touching expression he ever saw in his life, with fair hair and large blue eyes, and a glance and a tone which made you feel that he was one of the band predestined from their birth to unhappy days. While at Turin, Rousseau had made the acquaintance of another sage and benevolent priest,[52] and uniting the two good men thirty years after he conceived and drew the character of the Savoyard Vicar.[53]

Shortly the seminarists reported that, though not vicious, their pupil was not even good enough for a priest, so deficient was he in intellectual faculty. It was next decided to try music, and Rousseau ascended for a brief space into the seventh heaven of the arts. This was one of the intervals of his life of which he says that he recalls not only the times, places, persons, but all the surrounding objects, the temperature of the air, its odour, its colour, a certain local impression only felt there, and the memory of which stirs the old transports anew. He never forgot a certain tune, because one Advent Sunday he heard it from his bed being sung before daybreak on the steps of the cathedral; nor an old lame carpenter who played the counter-bass, nor a fair little abbe who played the violin in the choir.[54] Yet he was in so dreamy, absent, and distracted a state, that neither his good-will nor his assiduity availed, and he could learn nothing, not even music. His teacher, one Le Maitre, belonged to that great class of irregular and disorderly natures with which Rousseau's destiny, in the shape of an irregular and disorderly temperament of his own, so constantly brought him into contact. Le Maitre could not work without the inspiration of the wine cup, and thus his passion for his art landed him a sot. He took offence at a slight put upon him by the precentor of the cathedral of which he was choir-master, and left Annecy in a furtive manner along with Rousseau, whom the too comprehensive solicitude of Madame de Warens despatched to bear him company. They went together as far as Lyons; here the unfortunate musician happened to fall into an epileptic fit in the street. Rousseau called for help, informed the crowd of the poor man's hotel, and then seizing a moment when no one was thinking about him, turned the street corner and finally disappeared, the musician being thus "abandoned by the only friend on whom he had a right to count."[55] It thus appears that a man maybe exquisitely moved by the sound of bells, the song of birds, the fairness of smiling gardens, and yet be capable all the time without a qualm of misgiving of leaving a friend senseless in the road in a strange place. It has ceased to be wonderful how many ugly and cruel actions are done by people with an extraordinary sense of the beauty and beneficence of nature. At the moment Rousseau only thought of getting back to Annecy and Madame de Warens. "It is not," he says in words of profound warning, which many men have verified in those two or three hours before the tardy dawn that swell into huge purgatorial aeons,—"it is not when we have just done a bad action, that it torments us; it is when we recall it long after, for the memory of it can never be thrust out."[56]

II.

When he made his way homewards again, he found to his surprise and dismay that his benefactress had left Annecy, and had gone for an indefinite time to Paris. He never knew the secret of this sudden departure, for no man, he says, was ever so little curious as to the private affairs of his friends. His heart, completely occupied with the present, filled its whole capacity and entire space with that, and except for past pleasures no empty corner was ever left for what was done with.[57] He says he was too young to take the desertion deeply to heart. Where he found subsistence we do not know. He was fascinated by a flashy French adventurer,[58] in whose company he wasted many hours, and the precious stuff of youthful opportunity. He passed a summer day in joyful rustic fashion with two damsels whom he hardly ever saw again, but the memory of whom and of the holiday that they had made with him remained stamped in his brain, to be reproduced many a year hence in some of the traits of the new Heloisa and her friend Claire.[59] Then he accepted an invitation from a former waiting-woman of Madame de Warens to attend her home to Freiburg. On this expedition he paid an hour's visit to his father, who had settled and remarried at Nyon. Returning from Freiburg, he came to Lausanne, where, with an audacity that might be taken for the first presage of mental disturbance, he undertook to teach music. "I have already," he says, "noted some moments of inconceivable delirium, in which I ceased to be myself. Behold me now a teacher of singing, without knowing how to decipher an air. Without the least knowledge of composition, I boasted of my skill in it before all the world; and without ability to score the slenderest vaudeville, I gave myself out for a composer. Having been presented to M. de Treytorens, a professor of law, who loved music and gave concerts at his house, I insisted on giving him a specimen of my talent, and I set to work to compose a piece for his concert with as much effrontery as if I knew all about it." The performance came off duly, and the strange impostor conducted it with as much gravity as the profoundest master. Never since the beginning of opera has the like charivari greeted the ears of men.[60] Such an opening was fatal to all chance of scholars, but the friendly tavern-keeper who had first taken him in did not lack either hope or charity. "How is it," Rousseau cried, many years after this, "that having found so many good people in my youth, I find so few in my advanced life? Is their stock exhausted? No; but the class in which I have to seek them now is not the same as that in which I found them then. Among the common people, where great passions only speak at intervals, the sentiments of nature make themselves heard oftener. In the higher ranks they are absolutely stifled, and under the mask of sentiment it is only interest or vanity that speaks."[61]

From Lausanne he went to Neuchatel, where he had more success, for, teaching others, he began himself to learn. But no success was marked enough to make him resist a vagrant chance. One day in his rambles falling in with an archimandrite of the Greek church, who was traversing Europe in search of subscriptions for the restoration of the Holy Sepulchre, he at once attached himself to him in the capacity of interpreter. In this position he remained for a few weeks, until the French minister at Soleure took him away from the Greek monk, and despatched him to Paris to be the attendant of a young officer.[62] A few days in the famous city, which he now saw for the first time, and which disappointed his expectations just as the sea and all other wonders disappointed them,[63] convinced him that here was not what he sought, and he again turned his face southwards in search of Madame de Warens and more familiar lands.

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