Rousseau, John James

, an eccentric genius of our own times, has enabled us to give an account of him by a publication which himself left behind him, under the title of “Les Confessions de J. J. Rousseau, suivies des Reveries du Promeneur Solitaire,” Geneve, 1783, 2 volumes, 8vo. He was born at Geneva in 1711; his parents were, Isaac Rousseau, an ingenious watch-maker, and Susannah Bernard, the daughter of a clergyman, who was more rich than her husband (he having fifteen brothers and sisters). She had also wisdom and beauty, so that she was no easy prize; but a love, which commenced in their childhood, at length, after many difficulties, produced a happy marriage. And at the same time his mother’s brother, Gabriel, an engineer, married one of his father’s sisters. After the birth of one son, his father went to Constantinople, and was watch-maker to the seraglio; and ten months after his return our author was born, infirm and sickly, and cost his mother her life. The sensibility which was all that his parents left him, constituted (he says) their happiness, but occasioned all his misfortunes. He was “born almost dying,” but was preserved and reared by the tenderness of an aunt (his father’s sister). He remembers not how he learned to read, but only recollects that his first studies were some romances left by his mother, which engaged his father, as well as himself, whole nights, and gave him a very early knowledge of the passions, and also wild and romantic notions of human life. The romances ended with the summer of 1719. Better books succeeded, furnished by the library of his mother’s father, viz. “Le Sueur’s History of the Church and the Empire;” “Bossuet’s Discourses on Universal History;” “Plutarch’s Lives;” ‘ Nani’s History of Venice;“Ovid’s Metamorphoses;“”La Bruyere;“ | ”Fontenelle’s Worlds, and Dialogues of the Dead“and some volumes of” Moliere.“Of thesePlutarchwere his favourite; and he soon preferred Agesilaus, Brutus, and Aristides, to Oroondates, Artamenes, aud Juba; and to these lives, and the conversations that they occasioned with his father, he imputes that free and republican spirit, that fierce and intractable character, which ever after was his torment. His brother, who was seven years older, and followed his father’s business, being neglected in his education, behaved so ill, and was so incorrigible, that he fled into Germany, and was never heard of afterwards. On the contrary, the utmost attention was bestowed on John James, and he was almost idolized by all. Yet he had (he owns) all the faults of his age he was a prater, a glutton, and sometimes a liar; he stole fruit, sweetmeats, and victuals but he never delighted in being mischievous or wasteful, hi accusing others, or in tormenting poor animals. He re^ Jates, however, an indelicate trick he played one Madame Clot while she was at prayers, which still, he says, diverts him, because” she was the most fretful old woman he ever knew.“His” taste, or rather passion, for music“he owed to his aunt Susan, who sang most sweetly; and he paints her in most pleasing colours. A dispute, which his father had with a French captain obliging him to quit Geneva, our author was left under the care of his uncle Bernard, then employed on the fortifications, who having a son of the same age, these cousins were boarded together at Bossey, at M. Lambercier’s, a clergyman, to learn Latin, and other branches of education. In this village he passed two happy years, and formed an affectionate friendship with his cousin Bernard. A slight offence, the breaking the teeth of a comb, with which he was charged, but denied it, and of which now, fifty years after, he avows his innocence, bub for which he was severely punished, and a like chastisement, which, for a like offence, was also unjustly inflicted on his cousin, gave both at last a distaste for this paradise, and great pleasure in being removed from it. This incident made a deep and lasting impression upon him, as did another about planting a willow and a walnut tree, for which we must refer to his own account. At his return to Geneva he continued two or three years wiih his uncle, losing his time, it not being determined whether he should be a watch-maker, an attorney, or a minister. To the last he was most inclined, but that the small remains of his | mother’s fortune would not admit. In the mean time he learned to draw, for which he had a taste, and readEuclid’s Elementswithes Cousin. Thus they led an idle, but not a vicious life, making cages, flutes, shuttle-cocks, drums, houses, cross-bows, and puppets, imitating Punch, acting plays, and at last makiog sermons. He often visited his father, wlxo was then settled at Nion, a small town in the country of Vaud, and there he recounts two amours (as he calls them) that he had, at the age of eleven, with two grown misses, whom he archly describes. At last he was placed with M. Massiron, register of the city, to learn his business; but, being by him soon dismissed for his stupidity, he was bound apprentice, not, however, to a watch-maker, but to an engraver, a brutal wretch, who not only treated him most inhumanly, but taught him to lie, to be idle, and to steal. Of the latter he gives some instances. In his sixteenth year, having twice on a Sunday been locked out of the city-gates, and being severely threatened by his master if he stayed out a third time, by an unlucky circumstance this event happening, he swore never to return again, sending word privately to his cousin Bernard of what he proposed, and where he might once more see him; which he did, not to dissuade him, but to make him some presents. They then parted with tears, but never met or corresponded more,” which was a pity, as they were made to love each other.“After making some reflections on what would have been his fate if he had fallen into the hands of a better master, he informs us that at Consignon, in Savoy, two leagues from Geneva, he had the curiosity to see the rector, M. de Pontverre, a name famous in their history, and accordingly went to visit him, and was well received, and regaled with such a good dinner as prevented hisreplyingto his host’s arguments in favour of holy mother Church, and against the heresy of Geneva. Instead of sending him back to his family, this devout priest endeavoured to convert him, and recommended him to mad. de Warens, a good charitable lady, lately converted, at Annecy, who had quitted her husband, her family, her country, and her religion, for a pension of 1500 Piedmontese livres, allowed her by the King of Sardinia. He arrived at Annecy on Palm- Sunday, 1728 and saw madam de Warens. This epoch of his life determined his character. He was then in the middle of his 16th year; though not handsome, he was well made, had black hair, | and small sparkling eyes, &c. charms, of which, unluckily, he was not unconscious. The lady too, who was then 28, he describes as being highly agreeable and engaging, and having many personal charms, although her size was small, and her stature short. Being told she was just gone to the Cordeliers church, he overtook her at the door, was struck with her appearance, so different from that of the old crabbed devotee which he had imagined, and was instantly proselyted to her religion. He gave her a letter from M. de Pontverre, to which he added one of his own. She glanced at the former, but read the latter, and would have read it again, if her servant had not reminded her of its being church-time. She then bade John James go to her house, ask for some breakfast, and wait her return from mass. Her accomplishments he paints in brilliant colours; considers her as a good Catholic; and, in short, at first sight, was inspired by her with the strongest attachment, and the utmost confidence. She kept him to dinner, and then inquiring his circumstances, urged him to go to Turin, where, in a seminary for the instruction of catechumens, he might be maintained till his conversion was accomplished; and engaged also to prevail on M. de Bernet, the titular bishop of Geneva, to contribute largely to the expence of his journey. This promise she performed. He gave his consent, being desirous of seeing the capital, and of climbing the Alps. She also reinforced his purse, gave him privately ample instructions; and, entrusting him to the care of a countryman and his wife, they parted on AshWednesday. The day after, his father” came in quest of him, accompanied by his friend M. Rixal, a watch-maker, like himself, and a good poet. They visited madam de Warens, but only lamented with her, instead of pursuing and overtaking him, which they might, they being on horseback, and he on foot. His brother had been lost by a like negligence. Having some independent fortune from their mother, it seemed as if their father connived at their flight in order to secure it to himself, an idea which gave our author great uneasiness. After a pleasantjourney with his two companions, he arrived at Turin, but without money, cloaths, or linen. His letters of recommendation admitted him into the seminary; a course of life, and a mode of instruction, with which he was soon disgusted. In two months, however, he made his abjuration, was baptized Ht the cathedral, absolved of h f eresy by the inquisitor^ and | then dismissed, with about 20 livres in his pocket; thus, at once, made an apostate and a dupe, with all his hopes in an instant annulled. After traversing the streets, and viewing the buildings, he took at night a mean lodging, where he continued some days. To the king’s chapel, in particular, he was frequently allured by his taste for music, which then began to discover itself. His purse, at last, being almost exhausted, he looked out for employment, and at last found it, as an engraver of plate, by means of a young woman, madame Basile, whose husband, a goldsmith, was abroad, and had left her under the care of a clerk, or an jEgisthus, as Rousseau styles him. Nothing, he declares, but what was innocent, passed betwixt him and this lady, though her charms made great impression on him; and soon after, her husband returning, and finding him at dinner with her confessor, the clerk, &c. immediately dismissed him the house. His landlady, a soldier’s wife, after this procured him the place of footman to the countess dowager of Vercullis, whose livery he wore; but his business was to write the letters which she dictated, a cancer in her breast preventing her writing them herself; letters, he says, equal to those of madam de Sevigne. This service terminated, in three months, with his lady’s death, who left him nothing, though she had great curiosity to know his history, and to read his letters to madam de Warens. He saw her expire with many tears her life having been that of a woman of wit and sense, her death being that of a sage. Her heir and nephew, the count de la Roque, gave him 30 livres and his new cloaths; but, on leaving this service, he committed, he owns, a diabolical action, by falsely accusing Marion, the cook, of giving him a rosecoloured silver ribbon belonging to one of the chambermaids, which was found upon him, and which he himself had stolen. This crime, which was an insupportable load on his conscience, he says, all his life after, and which he never avowed before, not even to Madam de Warens, was one principal inducement to his writing his “Confessions,” and he hopes, “has been expiated by his subsequent misfortunes, and by forty years of rectitude and honour in the most difficult situations.” On leaving this service, he returned to his lodgings, and, among other acquaintances that he had made, often visited M. Gaime, a Savoyard abbé, the original of the “Savoyard Vicar,” to whose virtuous and religious instructions, he professes the highest | obligations. The count de la Roque, though he neglected to call upon him, procured him, however, a place with the count de Gouvon, an equerry to the queen, where he lived much at his ease, and out of livery. Though happy in this family, being favoured by all, frequently waiting on the count’s beautiful grand -daughter, honoured with lessons by the abbe“, his younger son, and having reason to expect an establishment in the train of his eldest son, ambassador to Venice, he absurdly relinquished all this by obliging the count to dismiss him for his attachment to one of his countrymen, named Bacle, who inveigled him to accompany him in his way back to Geneva; and an artificial fountain, which the abbe* de Gouvon had given him, helped, as their purse was light, to maintain them till it broke. At Annecy he parted with his companion, and hastened to madam de Warens, who, instead of reproaching, lodged him in her best chamber, and” Little One“(Petit) was his name, and” Mama“hers. There he lived most happily and innocently, he declares, till a relation of” Mama,“a M. d’Aubonne, suggested that John-James was fit for nothing but the priesthood, but first advised his completing his education by learning Latin. To this the bishop not only consented, but gave him a pension. Reluctantly he obeyed, carrying to the seminary of St. Lazarus no book but Clerambault’s cantatas, learning nothing there but one of his airs, and therefore being soon dismissed for his insufficiency. Yet madam de Warens did not abandon him. His taste for music then made them think of his being a musician, and boarding for that purpose with M. le Maitre, the organist of the cathedral, who lived near” Mama,“and presided at her weekly concerts. There he continued for a year, but his passion for her prevented his learning even music. Le Maitre, disgusted with the Chapter, and determined to leave them, was accompanied in his flight, as far as Lyons, by John-James; but, being subject to fits, and attacked by one of them in the streets, he was deserted in distress by his faithless friend, who turned the corner, and left him. This is his third painful” Confession.“He instantly returned to Annecy and” Mama; but she, alas! was gone to Paris. After this, he informs us of the many girls that were enamoured of him: of his journey with one of them, on foot, to Fribourg; of his visiting his father, in his way, at Nion; and of his great distress at Lausanne, which reduced him to the expedient of teaching music, | which he knew not, saying he was of Paris, where he had never been, and changing his name to Voussore, the anagram of Rousseau. But here his ignorance and his imprudence exposed him to public shame, by his attempting what he could not execute. Being thus discomfited, and unable to subsist at Lausanne, he removed to Neufchatel, where he passed the winter. There he succeeded better, and, at length, by teaching music, insensibly learned it.

At Boudry, accidentally meeting a Greek bishop, Archimandrite of Jerusalem, who was making a collection in Europe to repair the holy sepulchre, our adventurer was prevailed upon to accompany him as his secretary and interpreter and, in consequence, travelled, alms’-gathering, through Switzerland; harangued the senate of Berne, &c. but at Soleure, the French ambassador, the marquis de Bonac, having made him discover who he was, detained him in his service, without allowing him even to take leave of his “poor Archimandrite,” and sent him (as he desired) to Paris, to travel with the nephew of M. Goddard, a Swiss colonel in the French service. This fortnight’s journey was the happiest time of his life. In his ideas of the magnificence of Paris, Versailles, &c. he greatly mistook. He was also much flattered, and little served. Colonel Goddard’s proposals being very inadequate to his expectations, he was advised to decline accepting them. Hearing that his dear “Mama” had been gone two months to Savoy, Turin, or Switzerland, he determined to follow her; and, on the road, sent by the post a paper of satirical verses, to the old avaricious colonel, the only satire that he ever wrote. At Lyons he visited mademoiselle du Chatelet, a friend of madam de Warens; but whether that lady was gone to Savoy or Piedmont, she could not inform him. She urged him, however, to stay at Lyons, till she wrote and had an answer, an offer which he accepted, although his purse was almost exhausted, and he was often reduced to lie in the streets, yet without concern or apprehension, choosing rather to pay for bread than a lodging. At length, M. Rolichon, an Antonian, accidentally hearing him sing in the street a cantata of Batistin, employed him some days in copying music, fed him well, and gave him a crown, which, he owns, he little deserved, his transcripts were so incorrect and faulty. And, soon after, he heard news of “Mama,” who was at Chambery, and received money to enable him to join her. He found her constant and affectionate, ana 1 | she immediately introduced him to the intendant, who had provided him the place of a secretary to the commissioners appointed by the king to make a general survey of the country, a place which, though not very lucrative, afforded him an honourable maintenance for the first time in his life. This happened in 1732, he being then near 21. He lodged with “Mama,” in whose affection, however, he had a formidable rival in her steward, Claude Anetj yet they all lived together on the best terms. The succeeding eight or nine years, viz. till 1741, when he set out for Paris, had few or no events. His taste for music made him resign his employment for that of teaching that science; and several of his young female scholars (all charming) he describes and introduces to his readers. To alienate him from other seducers, at length his “Mama” (he says) proposed to him being his mistress, and became so; yet sadness and sorrow embittered his delights, and, from the maternal light in which he had been accustomed to view this philosophical lady, who sinned, he adds, more through error than from passion, he deemed himself incestuous. And let it be remembered that she had a husband, and had had many other gallants. Such is his “good-hearted” heroine, the Aspasia of his Socrates, as he calls tier, and such was he. This is another of his “Confessions.” Thus madam de Warens, Rousseau, and Anet, lived together in the most perfect union, till a pleurisy deprived him of the latter. In consequence of the loss of this good manager, all her affairs were soon in the utmost disorder, though JohnJames succeeded to the stewardship, and though he pawned his own credit to support hers. Determining now to compose, and for that purpose, first to learn, music, he applied to the abbe Ulancnard, organist of the cathedral of Besanc,on. But, just as they were going to begin, he heard that his portmanteau, with all his cloaths, was seized at Rousses, a French custom-house on the borders of Switzerland, because he had accidentally, in a new waistcoat-pocket, a Jansenist parody of the first scene of Racine’s “Mithridates,” of which he had not read ten lines. This loss made him return to Chambery, totally disappointed, and resolved, in future, to attach himself solely to “Mama,” who, by degrees, reinstated his wardrobe. And still cotitin, ing to study Rameau, he succeeded, at last, in some compositions, which were much approved by good judges, and thus did not lose his scholars. From this aera | he dates his connexion with his old friend Gauffeconrt, an amiable man. since dead, and M. d Conzie, a Savoyard gentleman, then living. The extra* ityatn-e of his mistr* ss, in spite of all his remonstrances, made? uim absent himself from her, which increased their ex pe ices, but at the same time procured him many respectable friends, whom he name.-. His uncle Bernard was now dead in Carolina, whither he went in oruer to build Charles-tow1, as na* his cousin, in the service of tue king of Prussia. His health at this time visibly, but unaccountably, declined. “The sword cut the scabbard.” Besides his disorderly passions, his illness was partly occasioned by the tury vv:tn union he studied chess, shutting hunself up, for that purpose, whole days and nights, till he looked like a corpse, and partly by his concern and anxiety for madam de Warens, who by her maternal care and attention saved his life. Being ordered by her to drink milk in the country, he prevailed on her to accompany him, and, aoout the end of the summer of 1736, they settled at Charmett- j s, near the gate of Chambery, but solitary and retired, in a house whose situation he describes with rapture. “Moments dear and regretted.” However, not being able to bear milk, having recourse to water, which almost killed him, and leaving off wine, he lost his appetite, and had a violent nervous affection, which, at the end of some weeks, left him with a beating of his arteries, and tingling in his ears, which have lasted from that time to the present, 30 years after; and, from being a good sleeper, he became sleepless, and constantly short-breathed. “This accident, which might have destroyed his body, only destroyed his passions, and produced a happy effect on his soul.” “Mama” too, he says, was religious; yet, though she believed in purgatory, she did not believe in hell. The summer passed amidst their garden, their pigeons, their cows, &c. theauiumn in their vintage and their fruit-gathering; and in the winter they returned, as from exile, to town. Not thinking that he should live till spring, he did not stir out, nor see any one but madam de Warens and M. Salomon, their physician, an honest man, and a great Cartesian, whose conversation was better than all his prescriptions. In short, John-James studied hard, recovered, went abroad, saw all his acquaintance again, and, to his great surprise and joy, beheld the buds of the spring, and went with his mistress again to Charmettes. There, being soon fatigued with digging in the garden, he divided his time between | the pigeon-house (so taming those timid birds as to induce them to perch on his arms and head), bee-hives, and books of science, beginning with philosophy, and proceeding to elementary geometry, Latin (to him, who had no memory, the most difficult), history, geography, and astronomy. One night, as he was observing the stars in his garden, with a planisphere, a candle secured in a pai), a telescope, &c. dressed in a flapped hat, and a wadded pet-en-V air of “Mama’s,” he was taken by some peasants for a conjurer. In future, he observed without a light, and consulted his planisphere at home. The writings of Port-royal and of the Oratory had now made him half a Jansenist. But his confessor and another Jesuit set his mind at ease, and he had recourse to several ridiculous expedients to know whether he was in a state of salvation. In the mean time, their rural felicity continued, and, contrary to his advice, madam de Warens became by degrees a great farmer, of which he foresaw ruin must be the consequence.

In the ensuing winter he received some music from Italy, and, being now of age, it was agreed that he should go in the spring to Geneva, to demand the remains of his mother’s fortune. He went accordingly, and his father came also to Geneva, undisturbed, his affair being now buried in oblivion. No difficulty was occasioned by our author’s change of religion; his brother’s death not being legally proved, he could not claim his share, and therefore readily left it to contribute towards the maintenance of his father, who enjoyed it as long as be lived. At length he received his money, turned part of it into livres, and flew with the rest to “Mama,*’ who received it without affectation, and employed most of it for his use. His health, however, decayed visibly, and he was again horribly oppressed with the vapours. At length his researches into anatomy made him suspect that his disorder was a polypus in the heart. Salomon seemed struck with the same idea. And having heard that M Fizes, of Montpellier, had cured such a polypus, he went immediately to consult him, assisted by the supply from Geneva. But two ladies, whom he met at Moirans, especially the elder, Mad. N. at once banished his fever, his vapours, his polypus, and all his palpitations, except those which she herself had excited, and would not cure. Without knowing a word of English, he here thought proper to pass for an Englishman | and a Jacobite, and called himself Mr Budding. Leaving the other lady at Romans, with madam N. and an old sick marquis, he travelled slowly and agreeably to Saint Marcellin, Valence, Montelimar (before which the marquis left them), and at length, after having agreed to pass the winter together, these lovers (for such they became) parted with mutual regret. Filled with the ideas of madam N. and her daughter, whom she idolised, he mused from Pont St. Esprit to Remoulin. He visited Pont-du Card, the first work of the Romans that he had seen, and the Arena of Nimes, a work still more magnificent; in all these journeys forgetting that he was ill till he arrived at Montpellier. From abundant precaution he boarded with an Irish physician, named Fitz- Moris, and consulted M. Fizes, as madam N, had advised him. Finding that the doctors Jcnew nothing of his disorder, and only endeavoured to amuse him and make him” swallow his own money,“he left Montpellier at the end of November, after six weeks or two months stay, leaving twelve louis there for no purpose, save for a course of anatomy, just begun under M. Fitz-Moris, but which the horrible stench of dissected bodies rendered insupportable. Whether he should return to” Mama,“or go (as he had promised) to madam N. was now the question. Reason, however, here turned the scale. At Pont St. Esprit he burnt his direction, and took the road to Chambery,” for the first time in his life indebted to his studies, preferring his duty to pleasure, and deserving his own esteem.“At his return to madam de Warens, he found his place supplied by a young man of the Pays de Vaud, named Vintzenried, a journeyman barber, whom he paints in the most disgusting colours. This name not being noble enough, he changed it for that of M. de Courtilles, by which he was afterwards known at Chambery, and in Maurienne, where he married. He being every thing in the house, and Rousseau nothing, all his pleasures vanished like a dream, and at length he determined to quit this abode, once so dear, to which his” Mama" readily consented. And being invited to educate the children of M. de Maiby, grand provost of Lyons, he set out for that city, without regretting a separation of which the sole idea would formerly have been painful as death to them both. Unqualified for a preceptor, both by temper and manners, and much disgusted with his treatment by the provost, he quitted his | family in about a year; and sighing for madam de Warens, flew once more to throw himself at her feet. She received him with good nature, but he could not recover the past. His former happiness, he found, was dead for ever. He continued there, however, still foreseeing her approaching ruin, and the seizure of her person; and to retrieve her affairs, forming castles in the air, and having made an improvement (as he thought) in musical notes, from which he had great expectations, he sold nis books, and set out for Paris, to communicate his scheme to tht academy.

Such (he concludes) have been the errors and the faults of my youth. I have given a history of them with a fidelity with which my heart is satisfied. If, in the sequel, I have honoured my mature age with some virtues, I should have told them as frankly, and such was my design—But I must stop here. Time may undraw the curtain. If my memoir reaches posterity, one day or other it will perhaps learn what I had to say. Then it will know why I am silent.

An account of the last moments of this celebrated man may be an acceptable addition to his life. He rose in perfect health, to all appearance, on Thursday morning at five o’clock (his usual hour in summer), and walked with a young pupil, son to the marquis de Girardin, lord of Ermenonville in Fiance. About seven he returned to his house alone, and asked his wife if breakfast was ready. Finding it was not, he told her he would go for some moments into the wood, and desired her to call him when breakfast was on the table. He was accordingly called, returned home, drank a dish of coffee, went out again, and came back a few minutes after. About eight, his wife *


This lady he married in 1769, after having lived with her some years, and had by her five children, all of whom he basely sent to the hospital, Such was the man who talked of morality, and wrote upon education!

went down stairs to pay the account of a smith; but scarcely had she been a moment below, when she heard him complain. She returned immediately, and found him sitting on a chair, with a ghastly countenance, his head reclining on his hand, and his elbow sustained by a desk. “What is the matter, my dear friend,” said she, “are you indisposed” “I feel,” answered he, “a painful anxiety, and the keen pains of a cholic.” Upon this Mrs. Rousseau left the room, as if she intended to look for something, and sent to the castle an account of her husband’s illness. The marchioness, on this alarming news, | ran with the utmost expedition to the cottage of the philosopher; and, that she might not alarm him, she said she came to inquire whether the music that had been performed during the night in the open air before the castle, had not disturbed him and Mrs. Rousseau. The philosopher replied, with the utmost tranquillity of tone and aspect, “Madam, I know very well that it is not any thing relative to music that brings you here: I am very sensible of your goodness: but I am much out of order, and I beg it as a favour that you will leave me alone with my wife, to whom I haw a great many things to say at this instant.” Madam de Girardin immediately withdrew. Upon this, Rousseau desired his wife to shut the door, to lock it on the inside, and to come and sit by him. “I shall do so, my dear friend,” said she; “I am now sitting beside you—how do you find yourself?

Rousseau. “I grow worse—I feel a chilly cold—a shivering over my whole body—give me your hands, and see if you can warm me—Ah! that gentle warmth is pleasing—but the pains of the colic return—they are very keen

Mrs. Rousseau. “Do not you think, my dear friend, that it would be proper to take some remedy to remove these pains?

Rousseau. “My dear be so good as to open the windows, that I may have the pleasure of seeing once more the verdure of that field—how beautiful it is! how pure the air! how serene the sky!—What grandeur and magnificence in the aspect of nature!

Mrs. Rousseau “But, my good friend, why do these objects affect you so particularly at present?

Rousseau. “My dear—It was always my earnest desire that it would please God to take me out of the world before you—my prayer has been heard—and my wish will soon have its accomplishment. Look at that sun, whose smiling aspect seems to call me hence! There is my God—God himself—who opens to me the bosom of his paternal goodness, and invites me to taste and enjoy, at last, that eternal and unalterable tranquillity, which I have so long and so ardently panted after. My dear spouse —do not weep—you have always desired to see me happy. I am now going to be truly so! Do not leave me: I will have none but you to remain with me—you, alone, shall close my eyes.| Mrs. Rousseau. “My dear—my good friend—banish those apprehensions and let me give you something—I hope that this indisposition will not be of a long continuance!

Rousseau. “I feel in my breast something like sharp pins, which occasions violent pains—My dear—if I have ever given you any uneasiness and trouble, or exposed you, by our conjugal union, to misfortunes, which you would otherwise have avoided, I hope you will forgive me.

Mrs. Rousseau. “Alas! my dear friend, it is rather my duty to ask your pardon for any uneasy moments you may have suffered on my account, or through my means.

Rousseau. “Ah! my dear, how happy a thing is it to die, when one has no reason for remorse or self-reproach! —Eternal Being! the soul that I am now going to give thee back, is as pure, at this moment, as it was when it proceeded from thee: render it partaker of thy felicity! My dear—I have found in the marquis of Girardin and his lady the marks of even parental tenderness and affection: tell them that I revere their virtues, and that I thank them, with my dying breath, for all the proofs I have received of their goodness and friendship: I desire that you may have my body opened immediately after my death, and that you will order an exact account to be drawn up of the state of its various parts: tell monsieur and madame de Girardin, that I hope they will allow me to be buried in their gardens, in any part of them that they may think proper.

Mrs. Rousseau. “How you afflict me my dear friend! I intreat you, by the tender attachment you have always professed for me, to take something.

Rousseau. “I shall—since you desire it Ah! I feel in my head a strange motion! a blow which—I am tormented with pains—Being of Beings! God! (here he remained for a considerable time with his eyes raised to heaven)—my dear spouse! let me embrace you! help me to walk a little.

Here his extreme weakness prevented his walking without help; and Mrs. Rousseau being unable to support him, he fell gently on the floor, where, after having remained for some time motionless, he sent forth a deep sigh, and expired, July 1778. Next day his body was opened in presence of a competent number of witnesses; and an inquest being held by the proper officers, the surgeons declared | upon oath, that all the parts of the body were sound, and that a serous apoplexy, of which palpable marks appeared in the brain, was the cause of his death *. The marquis de Girardin ordered the body to be embalmed; after which it was laid in a coffin of oak, lined with lead, and was buried.

Such is the private life of Rousseau, as given by himself in his “Confessions.” These Confessions, M. Sennebier, author of the literary history of Geneva, very justly says, “appear a very dangerous book, and paint Rousseau in such colours as we should never have ventured to use in his portrait. The excellent analyses which we meet with of some sentiments, and the excellent anatomy which he gives of some actions, are not sufficient to counterbalance the detestable matter which is found in them, and the unceasing obliquities every where to be met with.” What renders this book the more pernicious is, not only the baseness of the vices which he has disclosed, but the manner in which he endeavoured to unite them with the virtues.

It becomes necessary now to recur to some particulars of Rousseau’s more public and literary life, which was in many respects as censurable as his private. The commencement of his literary career was in 1750. The academy of Dijon had proposed the question, “Whether the revival of the arts and sciences has contributed to the refinement of manners.” Rousseau, it is said, at first inclined to the affirmative side of the question; but Diderot told him it was a kind of pons asinorum, and advised him to support the negative, and he would answer for his success. Nor was he disappointed, for this paradoxical discourse was allowed to be admirably written, and replete with the deepest reasoning, and was publicly crowned with the approbation of the academicians. Several answers appeared Against it, one of which was written by Stanislaus, king of Poland, who was, however, so much an admirer of Rousseau, that when the latter was ridiculed on the stage of Nancy, by Palissot, in his “Comedie des Philosophes,” the king, then duke of Lorraine, deprived Palissot of his place at the academy of Nancy. On this occasion Rousseau, with far more sense, interceded for him, and obtained his restoration.


There was a current report that Rousseau had poisoned himself, which has been repeated more recently by the baroness S‘.aebl and others.

| In 1752 Rousseau wrote a comedy entitled “Narcisse, ou PAmant de lui-meme.” He also composed a musical entertainment of “Le Devin du Village,” which was represented with the greatest success at Paris. His next piece was “Lettre sur la Musique Franchise,” which was to prove that the French had no such thing as vocal music, and that, from the defects in their language, they could not have it. This able work so excited the resentment of the French, that he is said to have been burnt in effigy. In 1754- he returned to Geneva, where he abjured the catholic faith, and was restored to the rights of citizenship. He now wrote his e< Discours sur les Causes de l’inegalite parmi les Hommes, et sur TOrigine des Societes.“This endeavour to prove that all mankind are equal has (in the opinion of a modern critic, by no means partial to Rousseau’s character) been much misunderstood by critics, and misrepresented by wits. Even by the author’s confession, it is rather ajeu d’esprit than a philosophical inquiry; for he owns that the natural state, such as he represents it, did probably never take place, and probably never will; and if it had taken place, he seems to think it impossible that mankind should ever have emerged from it without some very extraordinary alteration in the course of nature. He also says that this natural state is not the most advantageous for man; for that the most delightful sentiments of the human mind could not exert themselves till man had relinquished his brutal and solitary nature, and become a domestic animal. At this period, and previous to the establishment of property, he places the age most favourable to human happiness; which is precisely what the poets have done before him, in their descriptions of the golden age. After publishing this rhapsody, Rousseau did not remain long at Geneva, but returned to France, and lived some time at Paris, after which he retired to Montuiorency, and published, in 1758, his” Lettre’‘ to M. D’Alembert on the design of establishing a theatre at Geneva, which he proved could not be necessary in a place circumstanced as Geneva was. D’Alembert and Marmontel, however, replied, and Voltaire appears from this time to have begun his hatred for Rousseau, with whom he and the rest of the philosophers had hitherto cordially co-operated against the Christian religion. Rousseau wanted that uniform hatred to revealed religion which the others called consistency, and his fancy was apt to ramble bevond the limits they had set. | In 1760 he published his ‘celebrated novel entitled “Lettres de clt ux A mans,” c. bui generally known by the title of “Julie, ou la Nnuvelie Heloise.” This epistolary romance, of which the plofc is ill-managed, and the arrangement bad, like all other works of genius, has its beauties as well as its defects. Some of the letters are, indeed, admirable, both for style and sentiment, but none of the personages are reaily interesting. The character of St. Preux is weak, and often forced. Julia is an assemblage of tenderness and pity, of elevation af soul, and of coquetry, of natural parts and pedancry. Wolmar is a violent man, and almost beyond the limits of nature. In fine, when he wishes to change his style, and adopt that of the speaker, he does not long support it, and every attempt embarrasses the author and cools the reader. In this novel, however, Rousseau’s talent of rendering every thing problematical, appears very conspicuous, as, in his arguments in favour of, and against, duelling, which afford an apology for suicide, and a just condemnation of it; of his facility in palliating the crime of adultery, aud his strong reasons to make it abhorred; on the one hand, in declamations against social happiness, on the other in transports in favour of humanity; here in violent rhapsodies against philosophers; there by a rage for adopting their opinions; the existence of God is attacked by sophistry, and atheists confuted by the most irrefragable arguments; the Christian religion combated by the most specious objections, and celebrated by the most sublime eulogies. Yet in the preface to this work the author attempts to justify his consistency; he says public spectacles are necessary for great cities, and romances for a corrupted people. “I have,” he adds, “viewed the manners of my age, and have published these letters. Why did I not live at a time when I ought to have thrown them into the fire?” He affects also to say that they were not intended for an extensive circulation, and that they will suit but few readers. With regard to their effects on the female sex, he pretends to satisfy his conscience with saying “No chaste young woman ever reads romance^; and I have given this book a decisive title, that on opening it a reader may know what to expect. She who, notwithstanding, shall dare to read a single page, is undone; but let her not impute her ruin to me the mischief was done before.| Such is the impudence of this man, who had made his work as seductive as possible, and would have been greatly mortified if it had not produced its effect. Whoever, indeed, reads his “Confessions” will see that sensuality was, first and last, his predominant vice, and that moral corruption became early familiar to him. The only wonder is, that he should ever have been considered as a moral teacher, because, in order to introduce his depraved sophistry with more effect, he mixed with it some moral lessons. Yet there was a time when this was a favourite work even in our country, and it is to be feared, has been the pattern of many others, which, although written with less ability, have been encouraged in the same circles which once gave a fashion to Rousseau. His next attempt was to recommend republicanism in a work entitled “Du Contrat Social, ou Principes du Droit Politiqtie,” in which he bore his part, along with the Encyclopaedists, in exciting those awful delusions which produced the French revolution and all its disastrous consequences. It was, however, less cautious than some of his former productions, and was immediately prohibited in France and Switzerland; and hence his lasting enmity to all existing establishments, civil and religious, which brought on what he and his friends were pleased to consider as persecution. This appeared particularly in his “Emilie, ou de l’Education,” which was published in 1762. In this work, with many remarks that may be useful, there are others so mischievous and impious, that whenever it produces an effect, it must be of the worst kind. It was not, however, his dogmas on education only, which excited the public hostility to this work, so much as his insolent declamation against all which the world had agreed to hold sacred, mixed, as in his former novel, with an affected admiration of the morals of the gospel, and the character of its founder; and it is remarkable that, in this last condescension, he so much displeased his former colleagues, Voltaire, D’Alembert, &c. that they joined the public voice, although from different and concealed motives. In truth, they thought, like others, that there was too much of an insane inconsistency about Rousseau, and that no party could rank him among its supporters. In the mean time, as soon as published, the French parliament condemned this book, and entered into a criminal prosecution against the author, which forced him to a precipitate retreat. He directed his steps to his native country, but Geneva shut | her gates against him, and both at Paris and Geneva, the “Emile” was burnt by the common hangman. At length he was for a time allowed to take shelter in Switzerland, where he published a letter to the archbishop of Paris, in answer to his tnandement for the burning of the “Emile;” and also his “JLettres de la Montagne,” in which occurs the following almost blasphemous paragraph: “How,” says he, “can I enter into a justification of this work? I, who think that I have effaced by it the faults of my whole life; I, who place the evils it has drawn upon me as a balance to those which I have committed; I who, filled with confidence, hope one day to say to the supreme Arbiter, ‘ Deign in thy clemency to judge a weak mortal:’ I have, it is true, done much ill upon earth, but I have published this writing.” In these letters too, he continued his hostility to revealed religion, in a manner that excited against him great indignation among the clergy of Neufchatel; and in September 1765, the populace attacked his house and his person, and with much difficulty he reached Strasburg in a very destitute condition, where he waited till the weather permitted, and then set out for Paris, and appeared in the habit of an Armenian. The celebrated Hume at this time resided in Paris, and being applied to in favour of Rousseau, undertook to find him an asylum in England, to which he accordingly conducted him in the beginning of the year 1766, and provided him with an agreeable situation. But Rousseau, whose vanity and perverse temper were ungovernable, and who thought he was not received in this country with the respect due to the first personage in Europe, which he conceived himself to be, took it in his head that Hume was in league with the French philosophers to injure his lame, and after abusing his benefactor in a letter, in the most gross manner, and even refusing a pension from the crown, left England in 1767, and went to France. At this period he published his “Dictionnaire de Musique.” Of this work Dr. Burney, after pointing out some defects, says, that “more good taste, intelligence, and extensive views are to be found in his original articles, not only than in any former musical dictionary, but in all the books on the subject of music which the literature of France can boast. And his ` Lettre sur la Musique Frangois,' may be safely pronounced the best piece of musical criticism that has ever been produced in any modern language. It must, however, be confessed, that his treatment | of French music is very sarcastic, not to say contemptuous; but the music, the national character avantageux, and exclusive admiration of their own music, required strong Ian* guage. It had been proved long since, that they were not to be laughed out of their bad taste in any one of the fine arts: the national architecture, painting, and sculpture, were, in general, bad, and not what a traveller returning from Italy could bear to look at: though there have been now and then individual French artists of every kind, who have travelled and studied antiquity as well as the great masters of the Italian school; and it is now said, that at the Institute they are trying seriously to correct their errors, and to establish a classical taste throughout the empire.

In 1768, he resumed his botanical pursuits, which he conducted with equal taste and judgment, by collecting and studying the plants on the mountains of Dauphine. During the year 1770, he appeared at a coffee-house in Paris in his ordinary dress, and took much pleasure in the admiration of the surrounding crowd. This seems always to be his ambition, and he was never content unless when occupying the public attention, even while he seemed conscious he could not draw the public respect. The conclusion of his life we have given before. The influence of his opinions was once most extensive in France, and reached even this country in a greater degree than could have been wished. One reason might be, that in England, for many years we were accustomed to contemplate Rousseau only as a man persecuted for freedom of opinion, and this excited a sympathy which tolerated more than mature reflection could justify. Rousseau was naturally a man of great talents, and might have been one of the first of philosophers, if his genius had not been perverted in early life. He does not appear to have been a man of learning: his education, we have seen, was neglected, and irregular: but imagination was his forte; and this, under the guidance of a sensual appetite, which never forsook him, led him to be the great master of seduction in morals, while his early association with Voltaire, D’Alembert, and Diderot, tempted him to rival them in impiety; and even when he quarrelled with them, as he did with all his contemj-or ies, he still pursued the object by himself; and his s -phistries, perhaps more than the wit and argument of his former colleagues, powerfully contributed to that delusion which afflicted the continent with so much misery.—Although Kousseau’s works | are less read now, he must ever be considered by the French as one of their first writers: and they continue to print very splendid editions of his works, the last and finest of which is that printed by Dulot, 1796—1801, 25 vols. royal eighteens, of which only 100 copies were struck off. 1


Rousseau’s Confessions.—Dict. Hist.—Senebier Hist. Lit. de Geneve.— Rees’s Cyclopædia.—Barruel’s Memoirs.