By Author [ A  B  C  D  E  F  G  H  I  J  K  L  M  N  O  P  Q  R  S  T  U  V  W  X  Y  Z |  Other Symbols ]
  By Title [ A  B  C  D  E  F  G  H  I  J  K  L  M  N  O  P  Q  R  S  T  U  V  W  X  Y  Z |  Other Symbols ]
  By Language
all Classics books content using ISYS

Download this book: [ ASCII | HTML | PDF ]

Look for this book on Amazon

We have new books nearly every day.
If you would like a news letter once a week or once a month
fill out this form and we will give you a summary of the books for that week or month by email.

Title: The Confessions of Jean Jacques Rousseau — Complete
Author: Rousseau, Jean-Jacques
Language: English
As this book started as an ASCII text book there are no pictures available.
Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

*** Start of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "The Confessions of Jean Jacques Rousseau — Complete" ***

This book is indexed by ISYS Web Indexing system to allow the reader find any word or number within the document.


By Jean Jacques Rousseau

(In 12 books)

Privately Printed for the Members of the Aldus Society

London, 1903

[Illustration: cover]

[Illustration: titlepage]

[Illustration: frontispiece]

[Illustration: rousseau]



|Among the notable books of later times--we may say, without
exaggeration, of all time--must be reckoned The Confessions of Jean
Jacques Rousseau. It deals with leading personages and transactions of
a momentous epoch, when absolutism and feudalism were rallying for
their last struggle against the modern spirit, chiefly represented by
Voltaire, the Encyclopedists, and Rousseau himself--a struggle to which,
after many fierce intestine quarrels and sanguinary wars throughout
Europe and America, has succeeded the prevalence of those more tolerant
and rational principles by which the statesmen of our own day are

On these matters, however, it is not our province to enlarge; nor is
it necessary to furnish any detailed account of our author’s political,
religious, and philosophic axioms and systems, his paradoxes and his
errors in logic: these have been so long and so exhaustively disputed
over by contending factions that little is left for even the most
assiduous gleaner in the field. The inquirer will find, in Mr. John
Money’s excellent work, the opinions of Rousseau reviewed succinctly and
impartially. The ‘Contrat Social’, the ‘Lettres Ecrites de la Montagne’,
and other treatises that once aroused fierce controversy, may therefore
be left in the repose to which they have long been consigned, so far as
the mass of mankind is concerned, though they must always form part of
the library of the politician and the historian. One prefers to turn to
the man Rousseau as he paints himself in the remarkable work before us.

That the task which he undertook in offering to show himself--as Persius
puts it--‘Intus et in cute’, to posterity, exceeded his powers, is
a trite criticism; like all human enterprises, his purpose was only
imperfectly fulfilled; but this circumstance in no way lessens the
attractive qualities of his book, not only for the student of history
or psychology, but for the intelligent man of the world. Its
startling frankness gives it a peculiar interest wanting in most other

Many censors have elected to sit in judgment on the failings of this
strangely constituted being, and some have pronounced upon him very
severe sentences. Let it be said once for all that his faults and
mistakes were generally due to causes over which he had but little
control, such as a defective education, a too acute sensitiveness, which
engendered suspicion of his fellows, irresolution, an overstrained sense
of honour and independence, and an obstinate refusal to take advice from
those who really wished to befriend him; nor should it be forgotten that
he was afflicted during the greater part of his life with an incurable

Lord Byron had a soul near akin to Rousseau’s, whose writings naturally
made a deep impression on the poet’s mind, and probably had an influence
on his conduct and modes of thought: In some stanzas of ‘Childe Harold’
this sympathy is expressed with truth and power; especially is the
weakness of the Swiss philosopher’s character summed up in the following
admirable lines:

         “Here the self-torturing sophist, wild Rousseau,
          The apostle of affliction, he who threw
          Enchantment over passion, and from woe
          Wrung overwhelming eloquence, first drew
          The breath which made him wretched; yet he knew
          How to make madness beautiful, and cast
          O’er erring deeds and thoughts a heavenly hue
          Of words, like sunbeams, dazzling as they passed
          The eyes, which o’er them shed tears feelingly and fast.

         “His life was one long war with self-sought foes,
          Or friends by him self-banished; for his mind
          Had grown Suspicion’s sanctuary, and chose,
          For its own cruel sacrifice, the kind,
          ‘Gainst whom he raged with fury strange and blind.
          But he was frenzied,--wherefore, who may know?
          Since cause might be which skill could never find;
          But he was frenzied by disease or woe
          To that worst pitch of all, which wears a reasoning show.”

One would rather, however, dwell on the brighter hues of the picture
than on its shadows and blemishes; let us not, then, seek to “draw
his frailties from their dread abode.” His greatest fault was his
renunciation of a father’s duty to his offspring; but this crime he
expiated by a long and bitter repentance. We cannot, perhaps, very
readily excuse the way in which he has occasionally treated the memory
of his mistress and benefactress. That he loved Madame de Warens--his
‘Mamma’--deeply and sincerely is undeniable, notwithstanding which he
now and then dwells on her improvidence and her feminine indiscretions
with an unnecessary and unbecoming lack of delicacy that has an
unpleasant effect on the reader, almost seeming to justify the remark of
one of his most lenient critics--that, after all, Rousseau had the soul
of a lackey. He possessed, however, many amiable and charming qualities,
both as a man and a writer, which were evident to those amidst whom
he lived, and will be equally so to the unprejudiced reader of the
Confessions. He had a profound sense of justice and a real desire for
the improvement and advancement of the race. Owing to these excellences
he was beloved to the last even by persons whom he tried to repel,
looking upon them as members of a band of conspirators, bent upon
destroying his domestic peace and depriving him of the means of

Those of his writings that are most nearly allied in tone and spirit to
the ‘Confessions’ are the ‘Reveries d’un Promeneur Solitaire’ and ‘La
Nouvelle Heloise’. His correspondence throws much light on his life and
character, as do also parts of ‘Emile’. It is not easy in our day to
realize the effect wrought upon the public mind by the advent of ‘La
Nouvelle Heloise’. Julie and Saint-Preux became names to conjure with;
their ill-starred amours were everywhere sighed and wept over by the
tender-hearted fair; indeed, in composing this work, Rousseau may be
said to have done for Switzerland what the author of the Waverly Novels
did for Scotland, turning its mountains, lakes and islands, formerly
regarded with aversion, into a fairyland peopled with creatures whose
joys and sorrows appealed irresistibly to every breast. Shortly after
its publication began to flow that stream of tourists and travellers
which tends to make Switzerland not only more celebrated but more
opulent every year. It, is one of the few romances written in the
epistolary form that do not oppress the reader with a sense of languor
and unreality; for its creator poured into its pages a tide of passion
unknown to his frigid and stilted predecessors, and dared to depict
Nature as she really is, not as she was misrepresented by the modish
authors and artists of the age. Some persons seem shy of owning an
acquaintance with this work; indeed, it has been made the butt of
ridicule by the disciples of a decadent school. Its faults and its
beauties are on the surface; Rousseau’s own estimate is freely expressed
at the beginning of the eleventh book of the Confessions and elsewhere.
It might be wished that the preface had been differently conceived and
worded; for the assertion made therein that the book may prove dangerous
has caused it to be inscribed on a sort of Index, and good folk who
never read a line of it blush at its name. Its “sensibility,” too, is
a little overdone, and has supplied the wits with opportunities for
satire; for example, Canning, in his ‘New Morality’:

              “Sweet Sensibility, who dwells enshrined
               In the fine foldings
               Sweet child of sickly Fancy!--her of yore
               From her loved France Rousseau to exile bore;
               And while ‘midst lakes and mountains wild he ran,
               Full of himself, and shunned the haunts of man,
               Taught her o’er each lone vale and Alpine, steep
               To lisp the story of his wrongs and weep.”

As might be imagined, Voltaire had slight sympathy with our social
reformer’s notions and ways of promulgating them, and accordingly took
up his wonted weapons--sarcasm and ridicule--against poor Jean-Jacques.
The quarrels of these two great men cannot be described in this place;
but they constitute an important chapter in the literary and social
history of the time. In the work with which we are immediately
concerned, the author seems to avoid frequent mention of Voltaire, even
where we should most expect it. However, the state of his mind when he
penned this record of his life should be always remembered in relation
to this as well as other occurrences.

Rousseau had intended to bring his autobiography down to a later date,
but obvious causes prevented this: hence it is believed that a summary
of the chief events that marked his closing years will not be out of
place here.

On quitting the Ile de Saint-Pierre he travelled to Strasbourg, where
he was warmly received, and thence to Paris, arriving in that city on
December 16, 1765. The Prince de Conti provided him with a lodging in
the Hotel Saint-Simon, within the precincts of the Temple--a place of
sanctuary for those under the ban of authority. ‘Every one was eager
to see the illustrious proscript, who complained of being made a daily
show, “like Sancho Panza in his island of Barataria.” During his short
stay in the capital there was circulated an ironical letter purporting
to come from the Great Frederick, but really written by Horace Walpole.
This cruel, clumsy, and ill-timed joke angered Rousseau, who ascribed it
to, Voltaire. A few sentences may be quoted:

     “My Dear Jean-Jacques,--You have renounced Geneva, your native
     place.  You have caused your expulsion from Switzerland, a country
     so extolled in your writings; France has issued a warrant against
     you: so do you come to me.  My states offer you a peaceful retreat.
     I wish you well, and will treat you well, if you will let me.  But,
     if you persist in refusing my help, do not reckon upon my telling
     any one that you did so.  If you are bent on tormenting your spirit
     to find new misfortunes, choose whatever you like best.  I am a
     king, and can procure them for you at your pleasure; and, what will
     certainly never happen to you in respect of your enemies, I will
     cease to persecute you as soon as you cease to take a pride in being
     persecuted.  Your good friend,

Early in 1766 David Hume persuaded Rousseau to go with him to England,
where the exile could find a secure shelter. In London his appearance
excited general attention. Edmund Burke had an interview with him and
held that inordinate vanity was the leading trait in his character.
Mr. Davenport, to whom he was introduced by Hume, generously offered
Rousseau a home at Wootton, in Staffordshire, near the Peak Country; the
latter, however, would only accept the offer on condition that he should
pay a rent of L 30 a year. He was accorded a pension of L 100 by George
III., but declined to draw after the first annual payment. The climate
and scenery of Wootton being similar to those of his native country, he
was at first delighted with his new abode, where he lived with Therese,
and devoted his time to herborising and inditing the first six books
of his Confessions. Soon, however, his old hallucinations acquired
strength, and Rousseau convinced himself that enemies were bent upon his
capture, if not his death. In June, 1766, he wrote a violent letter to
Hume, calling him “one of the worst of men.” Literary Paris had
combined with Hume and the English Government to surround him--as he
supposed--with guards and spies; he revolved in his troubled mind all
the reports and rumours he had heard for months and years; Walpole’s
forged letter rankled in his bosom; and in the spring of 1767 he fled;
first to Spalding, in Lincolnshire, and subsequently to Calais, where he
landed in May.

On his arrival in France his restless and wandering disposition forced
him continually to change his residence, and acquired for him the title
of “Voyageur Perpetuel.” While at Trye, in Gisors, in 1767--8, he wrote
the second part of the Confessions. He had assumed the surname of Renou,
and about this time he declared before two witnesses that Therese was
his wife--a proceeding to which he attached the sanctity of marriage.
In 1770 he took up his abode in Paris, where he lived continuously for
seven years, in a street which now bears his name, and gained a living
by copying music. Bernardin de Saint-Pierre, the author of ‘Paul
and Virginia’, who became acquainted with him in 1772, has left some
interesting particulars of Rousseau’s daily mode of life at this period.
Monsieur de Girardin having offered him an asylum at Ermemonville in the
spring of 1778, he and Therese went thither to reside, but for no long
time. On the 3d of July, in the same year, this perturbed spirit at last
found rest, stricken by apoplexy. A rumor that he had committed suicide
was circulated, but the evidence of trustworthy witnesses, including a
physician, effectually contradicts this accusation. His remains, first
interred in the Ile des Peupliers, were, after the Revolution, removed
to the Pantheon. In later times the Government of Geneva made some
reparation for their harsh treatment of a famous citizen, and erected
his statue, modelled by his compatriot, Pradier, on an island in the

              “See nations, slowly wise and meanly just,
               To buried merit raise the tardy bust.”

November, 1896.                                             S. W. ORSON.

                             THE CONFESSIONS


                              J. J. ROUSSEAU


|I have entered upon a performance which is without example,
whose accomplishment will have no imitator. I mean to present my
fellow-mortals with a man in all the integrity of nature; and this man
shall be myself.

I know my heart, and have studied mankind; I am not made like any one
I have been acquainted with, perhaps like no one in existence; if not
better, I at least claim originality, and whether Nature did wisely
in breaking the mould with which she formed me, can only be determined
after having read this work.

Whenever the last trumpet shall sound, I will present myself before the
sovereign judge with this book in my hand, and loudly proclaim, thus
have I acted; these were my thoughts; such was I. With equal freedom and
veracity have I related what was laudable or wicked, I have concealed no
crimes, added no virtues; and if I have sometimes introduced superfluous
ornament, it was merely to occupy a void occasioned by defect of memory:
I may have supposed that certain, which I only knew to be probable, but
have never asserted as truth, a conscious falsehood. Such as I was,
I have declared myself; sometimes vile and despicable, at others,
virtuous, generous and sublime; even as thou hast read my inmost soul:
Power eternal! assemble round thy throne an innumerable throng of my
fellow-mortals, let them listen to my confessions, let them blush at
my depravity, let them tremble at my sufferings; let each in his turn
expose with equal sincerity the failings, the wanderings of his heart,
and, if he dare, aver, I was better than that man.

I was born at Geneva, in 1712, son of Isaac Rousseau and Susannah
Bernard, citizens. My father’s share of a moderate competency, which was
divided among fifteen children, being very trivial, his business of a
watchmaker (in which he had the reputation of great ingenuity) was his
only dependence. My mother’s circumstances were more affluent; she was
daughter of a Mons. Bernard, minister, and possessed a considerable
share of modesty and beauty; indeed, my father found some difficulty in
obtaining her hand.

The affection they entertained for each other was almost as early as
their existence; at eight or nine years old they walked together every
evening on the banks of the Treille, and before they were ten, could
not support the idea of separation. A natural sympathy of soul confined
those sentiments of predilection which habit at first produced; born
with minds susceptible of the most exquisite sensibility and tenderness,
it was only necessary to encounter similar dispositions; that moment
fortunately presented itself, and each surrendered a willing heart.

The obstacles that opposed served only to give a decree of vivacity
to their affection, and the young lover, not being able to obtain his
mistress, was overwhelmed with sorrow and despair. She advised him to
travel--to forget her. He consented--he travelled, but returned
more passionate than ever, and had the happiness to find her equally
constant, equally tender. After this proof of mutual affection, what
could they resolve?--to dedicate their future lives to love!
the resolution was ratified with a vow, on which Heaven shed its

Fortunately, my mother’s brother, Gabriel Bernard, fell in love with one
of my father’s sisters; she had no objection to the match, but made the
marriage of his sister with her brother an indispensable preliminary.
Love soon removed every obstacle, and the two weddings were celebrated
the same day: thus my uncle became the husband of my aunt, and their
children were doubly cousins german. Before a year was expired, both had
the happiness to become fathers, but were soon after obliged to submit
to a separation.

My uncle Bernard, who was an engineer, went to serve in the empire and
Hungary, under Prince Eugene, and distinguished himself both at the
siege and battle of Belgrade. My father, after the birth of my only
brother, set off, on recommendation, for Constantinople, and was
appointed watchmaker to the Seraglio. During his absence, the beauty,
wit, and accomplishments of my mother attracted a number of admirers,
among whom Mons. de la Closure, Resident of France, was the most
assiduous in his attentions.

     [They were too brilliant for her situation, the minister, her
     father, having bestowed great pains on her education.  She was taught
     drawing, singing, and to play on the theorbo; had learning, and
     wrote very agreeable verses.  The following is an extempore piece
     which she composed in the absence of her husband and brother, in a
     conversation with some person relative to them, while walking with
     her sister-in-law, and their two children:

                    Ces deux messieurs, qui sont absens,
                    Nous sont chers de bien des manieres;
                    Ce sont nos amis, nos amans,
                    Ce sont nos maris et nos freres,
                    Et les peres de ces enfans.

                    These absent ones, who just claim
                    Our hearts, by every tender name,
                    To whom each wish extends
                    Our husbands and our brothers are,
                    The fathers of this blooming pair,
                    Our lovers and our friends.]

His passion must have been extremely violent, since after a period of
thirty years I have seen him affected at the very mention of her name.
My mother had a defence more powerful even than her virtue; she tenderly
loved my father, and conjured him to return; his inclination seconding
his request, he gave up every prospect of emolument, and hastened to

I was the unfortunate fruit of this return, being born ten months after,
in a very weakly and infirm state; my birth cost my mother her life, and
was the first of my misfortunes. I am ignorant how my father supported
her loss at that time, but I know he was ever after inconsolable. In
me he still thought he saw her he so tenderly lamented, but could never
forget I had been the innocent cause of his misfortune, nor did he
ever embrace me, but his sighs, the convulsive pressure of his arms,
witnessed that a bitter regret mingled itself with his caresses, though,
as may be supposed, they were not on this account less ardent. When he
said to me, “Jean Jacques, let us talk of your mother,” my usual reply
was, “Yes, father, but then, you know, we shall cry,” and immediately
the tears started from his eyes. “Ah!” exclaimed he, with agitation,
“Give me back my wife; at least console me for her loss; fill up, dear
boy, the void she has left in my soul. Could I love thee thus wert thou
only my son?” Forty years after this loss he expired in the arms of his
second wife, but the name of the first still vibrated on his lips, still
was her image engraved on his heart.

Such were the authors of my being: of all the gifts it had pleased
Heaven to bestow on them, a feeling heart was the only one that
descended to me; this had been the source of their felicity, it was the
foundation of all my misfortunes.

I came into the world with so few signs of life, that they entertained
but little hope of preserving me, with the seeds of a disorder that
has gathered strength with years, and from which I am now relieved at
intervals, only to suffer a different, though more intolerable evil.
I owed my preservation to one of my father’s sisters, an amiable and
virtuous girl, who took the most tender care of me; she is yet living,
nursing, at the age of four-score, a husband younger than herself,
but worn out with excessive drinking. Dear aunt! I freely forgive your
having preserved my life, and only lament that it is not in my power to
bestow on the decline of your days the tender solicitude and care you
lavished on the first dawn of mine. My nurse, Jaqueline, is likewise
living: and in good health--the hands that opened my eyes to the light
of this world may close them at my death. We suffer before we think; it
is the common lot of humanity. I experienced more than my proportion of
it. I have no knowledge of what passed prior to my fifth or sixth year;
I recollect nothing of learning to read, I only remember what effect
the first considerable exercise of it produced on my mind; and from that
moment I date an uninterrupted knowledge of myself.

Every night, after supper, we read some part of a small collection of
romances which had been my mother’s. My father’s design was only to
improve me in reading, and he thought these entertaining works were
calculated to give me a fondness for it; but we soon found ourselves so
interested in the adventures they contained, that we alternately read
whole nights together, and could not bear to give over until at the
conclusion of a volume. Sometimes, in a morning, on hearing the swallows
at our window, my father, quite ashamed of this weakness, would cry,
“Come, come, let us go to bed; I am more a child than thou art.”

I soon acquired, by this dangerous custom, not only an extreme
facility in reading and comprehending, but, for my age, a too intimate
acquaintance with the passions. An infinity of sensations were familiar
to me, without possessing any precise idea of the objects to which they
related--I had conceived nothing--I had felt the whole. This confused
succession of emotions did not retard the future efforts of my reason,
though they added an extravagant, romantic notion of human life, which
experience and reflection have never been able to eradicate.

My romance reading concluded with the summer of 1719, the following
winter was differently employed. My mother’s library being quite
exhausted, we had recourse to that part of her father’s which had
devolved to us; here we happily found some valuable books, which was by
no means extraordinary, having been selected by a minister that truly
deserved that title, in whom learning (which was the rage of the times)
was but a secondary commendation, his taste and good sense being
most conspicuous. The history of the Church and Empire by Le Sueur,
Bossuett’s Discourses on Universal History, Plutarch’s Lives,
the history of Venice by Nani, Ovid’s Metamorphoses, La Bruyere,
Fontenelle’s World, his Dialogues of the Dead, and a few volumes of
Moliere, were soon ranged in my father’s closet, where, during the hours
he was employed in his business, I daily read them, with an avidity and
taste uncommon, perhaps unprecedented at my age.

Plutarch presently became my greatest favorite. The satisfaction I
derived from repeated readings I gave this author, extinguished my
passion for romances, and I shortly preferred Agesilaus, Brutus, and
Aristides, to Orondates, Artemenes, and Juba. These interesting studies,
seconded by the conversations they frequently occasioned with my father,
produced that republican spirit and love of liberty, that haughty and
invincible turn of mind, which rendered me impatient of restraint or
servitude, and became the torment of my life, as I continually found
myself in situations incompatible with these sentiments. Incessantly
occupied with Rome and Athens, conversing, if I may so express myself
with their illustrious heroes; born the citizen of a republic, of a
father whose ruling passion was a love of his country, I was fired with
these examples; could fancy myself a Greek or Roman, and readily give
into the character of the personage whose life I read; transported by
the recital of any extraordinary instance of fortitude or intrepidity,
animation flashed from my eyes, and gave my voice additional strength
and energy. One day, at table, while relating the fortitude of Scoevola,
they were terrified at seeing me start from my seat and hold my hand
over a hot chafing--dish, to represent more forcibly the action of that
determined Roman.

My brother, who was seven years older than myself, was brought up to
my father’s profession. The extraordinary affection they lavished on
me might be the reason he was too much neglected: this certainly was a
fault which cannot be justified. His education and morals suffered
by this neglect, and he acquired the habits of a libertine before he
arrived at an age to be really one. My father tried what effect placing
him with a master would produce, but he still persisted in the same ill
conduct. Though I saw him so seldom that it could hardly be said we
were acquainted, I loved him tenderly, and believe he had as strong
an affection for me as a youth of his dissipated turn of mind could be
supposed capable of. One day, I remember, when my father was correcting
him severely, I threw myself between them, embracing my brother, whom
I covered with my body, receiving the strokes designed for him; I
persisted so obstinately in my protection, that either softened by my
cries and tears, or fearing to hurt me most, his anger subsided, and he
pardoned his fault. In the end, my brother’s conduct became so bad that
he suddenly disappeared, and we learned some time after that he was in
Germany, but he never wrote to us, and from that day we heard no news of
him: thus I became an only son.

If this poor lad was neglected, it was quite different with his brother,
for the children of a king could not be treated with more attention and
tenderness than were bestowed on my infancy, being the darling of the
family; and what is rather uncommon, though treated as a beloved, never
a spoiled child; was never permitted, while under paternal inspection,
to play in the street with other children; never had any occasion
to contradict or indulge those fantastical humors which are usually
attributed to nature, but are in reality the effects of an injudicious
education. I had the faults common to my age, was talkative, a glutton,
and sometimes a liar, made no scruple of stealing sweetmeats, fruits,
or, indeed, any kind of eatables; but never took delight in mischievous
waste, in accusing others, or tormenting harmless animals. I recollect,
indeed, that one day, while Madam Clot, a neighbor of ours, was gone to
church, I made water in her kettle: the remembrance even now makes me
smile, for Madame Clot (though, if you please, a good sort of creature)
was one of the most tedious grumbling old women I ever knew. Thus have I
given a brief, but faithful, history of my childish transgressions.

How could I become cruel or vicious, when I had before my eyes only
examples of mildness, and was surrounded by some of the best people in
the world? My father, my aunt, my nurse, my relations, our friends, our
neighbors, all I had any connection with, did not obey me, it is true,
but loved me tenderly, and I returned their affection. I found so little
to excite my desires, and those I had were so seldom contradicted, that
I was hardly sensible of possessing any, and can solemnly aver I was an
absolute stranger to caprice until after I had experienced the authority
of a master.

Those hours that were not employed in reading or writing with my father,
or walking with my governess, Jaqueline, I spent with my aunt; and
whether seeing her embroider, or hearing her sing, whether sitting or
standing by her side, I was ever happy. Her tenderness and unaffected
gayety, the charms of her figure and countenance have left such
indelible impressions on my mind, that her manner, look, and attitude
are still before my eyes; I recollect a thousand little caressing
questions; could describe her clothes, her head-dress, nor have the two
curls of fine black hair which hung on her temples, according to the
mode of that time, escaped my memory.

Though my taste, or rather passion, for music, did not show itself
until a considerable time after, I am fully persuaded it is to her I am
indebted for it. She knew a great number of songs, which she sung with
great sweetness and melody. The serenity and cheerfulness which were
conspicuous in this lovely girl, banished melancholy, and made all round
her happy.

The charms of her voice had such an effect on me, that not only several
of her songs have ever since remained on my memory, but some I have not
thought of from my infancy, as I grow old, return upon my mind with a
charm altogether inexpressible. Would any one believe that an old dotard
like me, worn out with care and infirmity, should sometime surprise
himself weeping like a child, and in a voice querulous, and broken by
age, muttering out one of those airs which were the favorites of
my infancy? There is one song in particular, whose tune I perfectly
recollect, but the words that compose the latter half of it constantly
refuse every effort to recall them, though I have a confused idea of the
rhymes. The beginning, with what I have been able to recollect of the
remainder, is as follows:

                    Tircis, je n’ose
                    Ecouter ton Chalumeau
                    Sous l’Ormeau;
                    Car on en cause
                    Deja dans notre hameau.
                    ----   ---- -------
                    ------ --- un Berger
                    sans danger,
                    Et toujours l’epine est sons la rose.

I have endeavored to account for the invincible charm my heart feels on
the recollection of this fragment, but it is altogether inexplicable.
I only know, that before I get to the end of it, I always find my voice
interrupted by tenderness, and my eyes suffused with tears. I have
a hundred times formed the resolution of writing to Paris for the
remainder of these words, if any one should chance to know them: but
I am almost certain the pleasure I take in the recollection would be
greatly diminished was I assured any one but my poor aunt Susan had sung

Such were my affections on entering this life. Thus began to form and
demonstrate itself, a heart, at once haughty and tender, a character
effeminate, yet invincible; which, fluctuating between weakness and
courage, luxury and virtue, has ever set me in contradiction to myself;
causing abstinence and enjoyment, pleasure and prudence, equally to shun

This course of education was interrupted by an accident, whose
consequences influenced the rest of my life. My father had a quarrel
with M. G----, who had a captain’s commission in France, and was related
to several of the Council. This G----, who was an insolent, ungenerous
man, happening to bleed at the nose, in order to be revenged, accused my
father of having drawn his sword on him in the city, and in consequence
of this charge they were about to conduct him to prison. He insisted
(according to the law of this republic) that the accuser should be
confined at the same time; and not being able to obtain this, preferred
a voluntary banishment for the remainder of his life, to giving up a
point by which he must sacrifice his honor and liberty.

I remained under the tuition of my uncle Bernard, who was at that
time employed in the fortifications of Geneva. He had lost his eldest
daughter, but had a son about my own age, and we were sent together to
Bossey, to board with the Minister Lambercier. Here we were to learn
Latin, with all the insignificant trash that has obtained the name of

Two years spent in this village softened, in some degree, my Roman
fierceness, and again reduced me to a state of childhood. At Geneva,
where nothing was exacted, I loved reading, which was, indeed, my
principal amusement; but, at Bossey, where application was expected, I
was fond of play as a relaxation. The country was so new, so charming
in my idea, that it seemed impossible to find satiety in its enjoyments,
and I conceived a passion for rural life, which time has not been able
to extinguish; nor have I ever ceased to regret the pure and tranquil
pleasures I enjoyed at this place in my childhood; the remembrance
having followed me through every age, even to that in which I am
hastening again towards it.

M. Lambercier was a worthy, sensible man, who, without neglecting our
instruction, never made our acquisitions burthensome, or tasks
tedious. What convinces me of the rectitude of his method is, that
notwithstanding my extreme aversion to restraint, the recollection of
my studies is never attended with disgust; and, if my improvement was
trivial, it was obtained with ease, and has never escaped memory.

The simplicity of this rural life was of infinite advantage in opening
my heart to the reception of true friendship. The sentiments I had
hitherto formed on this subject were extremely elevated, but altogether
imaginary. The habit of living in this peaceful manner soon united me
tenderly to my cousin Bernard; my affection was more ardent than that
I had felt for my brother, nor has time ever been able to efface it.
He was a tall, lank, weakly boy, with a mind as mild as his body was
feeble, and who did not wrong the good opinion they were disposed to
entertain for the son of my guardian. Our studies, amusements, and
tasks, were the same; we were alone; each wanted a playmate; to separate
would in some measure, have been to annihilate us. Though we had not
many opportunities of demonstrating our attachment to each other, it was
certainly extreme; and so far from enduring the thought of separation,
we could not even form an idea that we should ever be able to submit to
it. Each of a disposition to be won by kindness, and complaisant, when
not soured by contradiction, we agreed in every particular. If, by
the favor of those who governed us he had the ascendant while in
their presence, I was sure to acquire it when we were alone, and this
preserved the equilibrium so necessary in friendship. If he hesitated in
repeating his task, I prompted him; when my exercises were finished, I
helped to write his; and, in our amusements, my disposition being most
active, ever had the lead. In a word, our characters accorded so well,
and the friendship that subsisted between us was so cordial, that during
the five years we were at Bossey and Geneva we were inseparable: we
often fought, it is true, but there never was any occasion to separate
us. No one of our quarrels lasted more than a quarter of an hour, and
never in our lives did we make any complaint of each other. It may be
said, these remarks are frivolous; but, perhaps, a similiar example
among children can hardly be produced.

The manner in which I passed my time at Bossey was so agreeable to my
disposition, that it only required a longer duration absolutely to have
fixed my character, which would have had only peaceable, affectionate,
benevolent sentiments for its basis. I believe no individual of our
kind ever possessed less natural vanity than myself. At intervals, by
an extraordinary effort, I arrived at sublime ideas, but presently sunk
again into my original languor. To be loved by every one who knew me was
my most ardent wish. I was naturally mild, my cousin was equally so, and
those who had the care of us were of similiar dispositions. Everything
contributed to strengthen those propensities which nature had implanted
in my breast, and during the two years I was neither the victim nor
witness of any violent emotions.

I knew nothing so delightful as to see every one content, not only with
me, but all that concerned them. When repeating our catechism at church,
nothing could give me greater vexation, on being obliged to hesitate,
than to see Miss Lambercier’s countenance express disapprobation and
uneasiness. This alone was more afflicting to me than the shame
of faltering before so many witnesses, which, notwithstanding, was
sufficiently painful; for though not oversolicitous of praise, I was
feelingly alive to shame; yet I can truly affirm, the dread of being
reprimanded by Miss Lambercier alarmed me less than the thought of
making her uneasy.

Neither she nor her brother were deficient in a reasonable severity, but
as this was scarce ever exerted without just cause, I was more afflicted
at their disapprobation than the punishment. Certainly the method
of treating youth would be altered if the distant effects this
indiscriminate, and frequently indiscreet method produces, were more
conspicuous. I would willingly excuse myself from a further explanation,
did not the lesson this example conveys (which points out an evil as
frequent as it is pernicious) forbid my silence.

As Miss Lambercier felt a mother’s affection, she sometimes exerted a
mother’s authority, even to inflicting on us when we deserved it, the
punishment of infants. She had often threatened it, and this threat of
a treatment entirely new, appeared to me extremely dreadful; but I found
the reality much less terrible than the idea, and what is still more
unaccountable, this punishment increased my affection for the person who
had inflicted it. All this affection, aided by my natural mildness, was
scarcely sufficient to prevent my seeking, by fresh offences, a return
of the same chastisement; for a degree of sensuality had mingled with
the smart and shame, which left more desire than fear of a repetition.
I was well convinced the same discipline from her brother would have
produced a quite contrary effect; but from a man of his disposition this
was not probable, and if I abstained from meriting correction it was
merely from a fear of offending Miss Lambercier, for benevolence, aided
by the passions, has ever maintained an empire over me which has given
law to my heart.

This event, which, though desirable, I had not endeavored to accelerate,
arrived without my fault; I should say, without my seeking; and I
profited by it with a safe conscience; but this second, was also the
last time, for Miss Lambercier, who doubtless had some reason to imagine
this chastisement did not produce the desired effect, declared it was
too fatiguing, and that she renounced it for the future. Till now we had
slept in her chamber, and during the winter, even in her bed; but two
days after another room was prepared for us, and from that moment I had
the honor (which I could very well have dispensed with) of being treated
by her as a great boy.

Who would believe this childish discipline, received at eight years old,
from the hands of a woman of thirty, should influence my propensities,
my desires, my passions, for the rest of my life, and that in quite a
contrary sense from what might naturally have been expected? The very
incident that inflamed my senses, gave my desires such an extraordinary
turn, that, confined to what I had already experienced, I sought no
further, and, with blood boiling with sensuality, almost from my birth,
preserved my purity beyond the age when the coldest constitutions lose
their insensibility; long tormented, without knowing by what, I gazed on
every handsome woman with delight; imagination incessantly brought
their charms to my remembrance, only to transform them into so many Miss

If ever education was perfectly chaste, it was certainly that I
received; my three aunts were not only of exemplary prudence, but
maintained a degree of modest reserve which women have long since
thought unnecessary. My father, it is true, loved pleasure, but his
gallantry was rather of the last than the present century, and he never
expressed his affection for any woman he regarded in terms a virgin
could have blushed at; indeed, it was impossible more attention should
be paid to that regard we owe the morals of children than was uniformly
observed by every one I had any concern with. An equal degree of
reserve in this particular was observed at M. Lambercier’s, where a good
maid-servant was discharged for having once made use of an expression
before us which was thought to contain some degree of indelicacy. I
had no precise idea of the ultimate effect of the passions, but the
conception I had formed was extremely disgusting; I entertained a
particular aversion for courtesans, nor could I look on a rake without a
degree of disdain mingled with terror.

These prejudices of education, proper in themselves to retard the first
explosions of a combustible constitution, were strengthened, as I have
already hinted, by the effect the first moments of sensuality produced
in me, for notwithstanding the troublesome ebullition of my blood, I
was satisfied with the species of voluptuousness I had already been
acquainted with, and sought no further.

Thus I passed the age of puberty, with a constitution extremely ardent,
without knowing or even wishing for any other gratification of the
passions than what Miss Lambercier had innocently given me an idea of;
and when I became a man, that childish taste, instead of vanishing, only
associated with the other. This folly, joined to a natural timidity, has
always prevented my being very enterprising with women, so that I have
passed my days in languishing in silence for those I most admired,
without daring to disclose my wishes.

To fall at the feet of an imperious mistress, obey her mandates, or
implore pardon, were for me the most exquisite enjoyments, and the more
my blood was inflamed by the efforts of a lively imagination the more I
acquired the appearance of a whining lover.

It will be readily conceived that this mode of making love is not
attended with a rapid progress or imminent danger to the virtue of
its object; yet, though I have few favors to boast of, I have not
been excluded from enjoyment, however imaginary. Thus the senses, in
concurrence with a mind equally timid and romantic, have preserved
my moral chaste, and feelings uncorrupted, with precisely the same
inclinations, which, seconded with a moderate portion of effrontery,
might have plunged me into the most unwarrantable excesses.

I have made the first, most difficult step, in the obscure and painful
maze of my Confessions. We never feel so great a degree of repugnance
in divulging what is really criminal, as what is merely ridiculous. I
am now assured of my resolution, for after what I have dared disclose,
nothing can have power to deter me. The difficulty attending these
acknowledgments will be readily conceived, when I declare, that during
the whole of my life, though frequently laboring under the most violent
agitation, being hurried away with the impetuosity of a passion which
(when in company with those I loved) deprived me of the faculty of
sight and hearing, I could never, in the course of the most unbounded
familiarity, acquire sufficient resolution to declare my folly, and
implore the only favor that remained to bestow.

In thus investigating the first traces of my sensible existence, I find
elements, which, though seemingly incompatible, have united to produce
a simple and uniform effect; while others, apparently the same, have,
by the concurrence of certain circumstances, formed such different
combinations, that it would never be imagined they had any affinity; who
would believe, for example, that one of the most vigorous springs of my
soul was tempered in the identical source from whence luxury and ease
mingled with my constitution and circulated in my veins? Before I quit
this subject, I will add a striking instance of the different effects
they produced.

One day, while I was studying in a chamber contiguous to the kitchen,
the maid set some of Miss Lambercier’s combs to dry by the fire, and on
coming to fetch them some time after, was surprised to find the teeth of
one of them broken off. Who could be suspected of this mischief? No one
but myself had entered the room: I was questioned, but denied having any
knowledge of it. Mr. and Miss Lambercier consult, exhort, threaten, but
all to no purpose; I obstinately persist in the denial; and, though
this was the first time I had been detected in a confirmed falsehood,
appearances were so strong that they overthrew all my protestations.
This affair was thought serious; the mischief, the lie, the obstinacy,
were considered equally deserving of punishment, which was not now to
be administered by Miss Lambercier. My uncle Bernard was written to; he
arrived; and my poor cousin being charged with a crime no less serious,
we were conducted to the same execution, which was inflicted with great
severity. If finding a remedy in the evil itself, they had sought ever
to allay my depraved desires, they could not have chosen a shorter
method to accomplish their designs, and, I can assure my readers, I was
for a long time freed from the dominion of them.

As this severity could not draw from me the expected acknowledgment,
which obstinacy brought on several repetitions, and reduced me to a
deplorable situation, yet I was immovable, and resolutely determined to
suffer death rather than submit. Force, at length, was obliged to
yield to the diabolical infatuation of a child, for no better name was
bestowed on my constancy, and I came out of this dreadful trial,
torn, it is true, but triumphant. Fifty years have expired since this
adventure--the fear of punishment is no more. Well, then, I aver, in the
face of Heaven, I was absolutely innocent: and, so far from breaking, or
even touching the comb, never came near the fire. It will be asked, how
did this mischief happen? I can form no conception of it, I only know my
own innocence.

Let any one figure to himself a character whose leading traits were
docility and timidity, but haughty, ardent, and invincible, in its
passions; a child, hitherto governed by the voice of reason, treated
with mildness, equity, and complaisance, who could not even support
the idea of injustice, experiencing, for the first time, so violent an
instance of it, inflicted by those he most loved and respected. What
perversion of ideas! What confusion in the heart, the brain, in all my
little being, intelligent and moral!--let any one, I say, if possible,
imagine all this, for I am incapable of giving the least idea of what
passed in my mind at that period.

My reason was not sufficiently established to enable me to put myself in
the place of others, and judge how much appearances condemned me, I only
beheld the rigor of a dreadful chastisement, inflicted for a crime I
had not committed; yet I can truly affirm, the smart I suffered, though
violent, was inconsiderable compared to what I felt from indignation,
rage, and despair. My cousin, who was almost in similar circumstances,
having been punished for an involuntary fault as guilty of a premediated
crime, became furious by my example. Both in the same bed, we embraced
each other with convulsive transport; we were almost suffocated;
and when our young hearts found sufficient relief to breathe out our
indigination, we sat up in the bed, and with all our force, repeated a
hundred times, Carnifex! Carnifex! Carnifex! executioner, tormentor.

Even while I write this I feel my pulse quicken, and should I live a
hundred thousand years, the agitation of that moment would still be
fresh in my memory. The first instance of violence and oppression is so
deeply engraved on my soul, that every relative idea renews my emotion:
the sentiment of indignation, which in its origin had reference only
to myself, has acquired such strength, and is at present so completely
detached from personal motives, that my heart is as much inflamed at the
sight or relation of any act of injustice (whatever may be the object,
or wheresoever it may be perpetrated) as if I was the immediate
sufferer. When I read the history of a merciless tyrant, or the dark
and the subtle machination of a knavish designing priest, I could on the
instant set off to stab the miscreants, though I was certain to perish
in the attempt.

I have frequently fatigued myself by running after and stoning a cock, a
cow, a dog, or any animal I saw tormenting another, only because it was
conscious of possessing superior strength. This may be natural to me,
and I am inclined to believe it is, though the lively impression of the
first injustice I became the victim of was too long and too powerfully
remembered not to have added considerable force to it.

This occurrence terminated my infantine serenity; from that moment I
ceased to enjoy a pure unadulterated happiness, and on a retrospection
of the pleasure of my childhood, I yet feel they ended here. We continue
at Bossey some months after this event, but were like our first parents
in the Garden of Eden after they had lost their innocence; in appearance
our situation was the same, in effect it was totally different.

Affection, respect; intimacy, confidence, no longer attached the pupils
to their guides; we beheld them no longer as divinities, who could read
the secrets of our hearts; we were less ashamed of committing faults,
more afraid of being accused of them: we learned to dissemble, to rebel,
to lie: all the vices common to our years began to corrupt our happy
innocence, mingle with our sports, and embitter our amusements. The
country itself, losing those sweet and simple charms which captivate the
heart, appeared a gloomy desert, or covered with a veil that concealed
its beauties. We cultivated our little gardens no more: our flowers were
neglected. We no longer scratched away the mould, and broke out into
exclamations of delight, on discovering that the grain we had sown began
to shoot. We were disgusted with our situation; our preceptors were
weary of us. In a word, my uncle wrote for our return, and we left Mr.
and Miss Lambercier without feeling any regret at the separation.

Near thirty years passed away from my leaving Bossey, without once
recalling the place to my mind with any degree of satisfaction; but
after having passed the prime of life, as I decline into old age (while
more recent occurrences are wearing out apace) I feel these remembrances
revive and imprint themselves on my heart, with a force and charm that
every day acquires fresh strength; as if, feeling life fleet from me,
I endeavored to catch it again by its commencement. The most trifling
incident of those happy days delight me, for no other reason than being
of those days. I recall every circumstance of time, place, and persons;
I see the maid or footman busy in the chamber, a swallow entering the
window, a fly settling on my hand while repeating my lessons. I see
the whole economy of the apartment; on the right hand Mr. Lambercier’s
closet, with a print representing all the popes, a barometer, a large
almanac, the windows of the house (which stood in a hollow at the bottom
of the garden) shaded by raspberry shrubs, whose shoots sometimes found
entrance; I am sensible the reader has no occasion to know all this, but
I feel a kind of necessity for relating it. Why am I not permitted
to recount all the little anecdotes of that thrice happy age, at the
recollection of whose joys I ever tremble with delight? Five or six
particularly--let us compromise the matter--I will give up five, but
then I must have one, and only one, provided I may draw it out to its
utmost length, in order to prolong my satisfaction.

If I only sought yours, I should choose that of Miss Lambercier’s
backside, which by an unlucky fall at the bottom of the meadow, was
exposed to the view of the King of Sardinia, who happened to be passing
by; but that of the walnut tree on the terrace is more amusing to me,
since here I was an actor, whereas, in the abovementioned scene I was
only a spectator; and I must confess I see nothing that should occasion
risibility in an accident, which, however laughable in itself, alarmed
me for a person I loved as a mother, or perhaps something more.

Ye curious readers, whose expectations are already on the stretch for
the noble history of the terrace, listen to the tragedy, and abstain
from trembling, if you can, at the horrible catastrophe!

At the outside of the courtyard door, on the left hand, was a
terrace; here they often sat after dinner; but it was subject to one
inconvenience, being too much exposed to the rays of the sun; to obviate
this defect, Mr. Lambercier had a walnut tree set there, the planting
of which was attended with great solemnity. The two boarders were
godfathers, and while the earth was replacing round the root, each held
the tree with one hand, singing songs of triumph. In order to water it
with more effect, they formed a kind of luson around its foot: myself
and cousin, who were every day ardent spectators of this watering,
confirmed each other in the very natural idea that it was nobler to
plant trees on the terrace than colors on a breach, and this glory we
were resolved to procure without dividing it with any one.

In pursuance of this resolution, we cut a slip off a willow, and planted
it on the terrace, at about eight or ten feet distance from the august
walnut tree. We did not forget to make a hollow round it, but the
difficulty was how to procure a supply of water, which was brought from
a considerable distance, and we not permitted to fetch it: but water was
absolutely necessary for our willow, and we made use of every stratagem
to obtain it.

For a few days everything succeeded so well that it began to bud, and
throw out small leaves, which we hourly measured convinced (tho’ now
scarce a foot from the ground) it would soon afford us a refreshing
shade. This unfortunate willow, by engrossing our whole time, rendered
us incapable of application to any other study, and the cause of our
inattention not being known, we were kept closer than before. The fatal
moment approached when water must fail, and we were already afflicted
with the idea that our tree must perish with drought. At length
necessity, the parent of industry, suggested an invention, by which we
might save our tree from death, and ourselves from despair; it was to
make a furrow underground, which would privately conduct a part of the
water from the walnut tree to our willow. This undertaking was executed
with ardor, but did not immediately succeed--our descent was not
skilfully planned--the water did not run, the earth falling in
and stopping up the furrow; yet, though all went contrary, nothing
discouraged us, ‘omnia vincit labor improbus’. We made the bason deeper,
to give the water a more sensible descent; we cut the bottom of a box
into narrow planks; increased the channel from the walnut tree to our
willow and laying a row flat at the bottom, set two others inclining
towards each other, so as to form a triangular channel; we formed a kind
of grating with small sticks at the end next the walnut tree, to prevent
the earth and stones from stopping it up, and having carefully covered
our work with well-trodden earth, in a transport of hope and fear
attended the hour of watering. After an interval, which seemed an age
of expectation, this hour arrived. Mr. Lambercier, as usual, assisted
at the operation; we contrived to get between him and our tree, towards
which he fortunately turned his back. They no sooner began to pour the
first pail of water, than we perceived it running to the willow; this
sight was too much for our prudence, and we involuntarily expressed our
transport by a shout of joy. The sudden exclamation made Mr. Lambercier
turn about, though at that instant he was delighted to observe how
greedily the earth, which surrounded the root of his walnut tree,
imbibed the water. Surprised at seeing two trenches partake of it,
he shouted in his turn, examines, perceives the roguery, and, sending
instantly for a pick axe, at one fatal blow makes two or three of our
planks fly, crying out meantime with all his strength, an aqueduct! an
aqueduct! His strokes redoubled, every one of which made an impression
on our hearts; in a moment the planks, the channel, the bason, even
our favorite willow, all were ploughed up, nor was one word pronounced
during this terrible transaction, except the above mentioned
exclamation. An aqueduct! repeated he, while destroying all our hopes,
an aqueduct! an aqueduct!

It maybe supposed this adventure had a still more melancholy end for
the young architects; this, however, was not the case; the affair ended
here. Mr. Lambercier never reproached us on this account, nor was
his countenance clouded with a frown; we even heard him mention the
circumstance to his sister with loud bursts of laughter. The laugh of
Mr. Lambercier might be heard to a considerable distance. But what is
still more surprising after the first transport of sorrow had subsided,
we did not find ourselves violently afflicted; we planted a tree in
another spot, and frequently recollected the catastrophe of the former,
repeating with a significant emphasis, an aqueduct! an aqueduct! Till
then, at intervals, I had fits of ambition, and could fancy myself
Brutus or Aristides, but this was the first visible effect of my vanity.
To have constructed an aqueduct with our own hands, to have set a slip
of willow in competition with a flourishing tree, appeared to me a
supreme degree of glory! I had a juster conception of it at ten than
Caesar entertained at thirty.

The idea of this walnut tree, with the little anecdotes it gave rise to,
have so well continued, or returned to my memory, that the design which
conveyed the most pleasing sensations, during my journey to Geneva, in
the year 1754, was visiting Bossey, and reviewing the monuments of my
infantine amusement, above all, the beloved walnut tree, whose age at
that time must have been verging on a third of a century, but I was
so beset with company that I could not find a moment to accomplish my
design. There is little appearance now of the occasion being renewed;
but should I ever return to that charming spot, and find my favorite
walnut tree still existing, I am convinced I should water it with my

On my return to Geneva, I passed two or three years at my uncle’s,
expecting the determination of my friends respecting my future
establishment. His own son being devoted to genius, was taught drawing,
and instructed by his father in the elements of Euclid; I partook of
these instructions, but was principally fond of drawing. Meantime,
they were irresolute, whether to make me a watchmaker, a lawyer, or a
minister. I should have preferred being a minister, as I thought it must
be a charming thing to preach, but the trifling income which had been my
mother’s, and was to be divided between my brother and myself, was too
inconsiderable to defray the expense attending the prosecution of my
studies. As my age did not render the choice very pressing, I remained
with my uncle, passing my time with very little improvement, and paying
pretty dear, though not unreasonably, for my board.

My uncle, like my father, was a man of pleasure, but had not learned,
like him, to abridge his amusements for the sake of instructing his
family, consequently our education was neglected. My aunt was a devotee,
who loved singing psalms better than thinking of our improvement, so
that we were left entirely to ourselves, which liberty we never abused.

Ever inseparable, we were all the world to each other; and, feeling no
inclination to frequent the company of a number of disorderly lads of
our own age, we learned none of those habits of libertinism to which our
idle life exposed us. Perhaps I am wrong in charging myself and cousin
with idleness at this time, for, in our lives, we were never less so;
and what was extremely fortunate, so incessantly occupied with our
amusements, that we found no temptation to spend any part of our time
in the streets. We made cages, pipes, kites, drums, houses, ships, and
bows; spoiled the tools of my good old grandfather by endeavoring to
make watches in imitation of him; but our favorite amusement was
wasting paper, in drawing, washing, coloring, etc. There came an Italian
mountebank to Geneva, called Gamber-Corta, who had an exhibition of
puppets, that he made play a kind of comedy. We went once to see them,
but could not spare time to go again, being busily employed in making
puppets of our own and inventing comedies, which we immediately set
about making them perform, mimicking to the best of our abilities the
uncouth voice of Punch; and, to complete the business, my good aunt and
uncle Bernard had the patience to see and listen to our imitations; but
my uncle, having one day read an elaborate discourse to his family, we
instantly gave up our comedies, and began composing sermons.

These details, I confess, are not very amusing, but they serve to
demonstrate that the former part of our education was well directed,
since being, at such an early age, the absolute masters of our time,
we found no inclination to abuse it; and so little in want of other
companions, that we constantly neglected every occasion of seeking them.
When taking our walks together, we observed their diversions without
feeling any inclination to partake of them. Friendship so entirely
occupied our hearts, that, pleased with each other’s company the
simplest pastimes were sufficient to delight us.

We were soon remarked for being thus inseparable: and what rendered us
more conspicuous, my cousin was very tall, myself extremely short, so
that we exhibited a very whimsical contrast. This meagre figure, small,
sallow countenance, heavy air, and supine gait, excited the ridicule of
the children, who, in the gibberish of the country, nicknamed him ‘Barna
Bredanna’; and we no sooner got out of doors than our ears were assailed
with a repetition of “Barna Bredanna.” He bore this indignity with
tolerable patience, but I was instantly for fighting. This was what
the young rogues aimed at. I engaged accordingly, and was beat. My poor
cousin did all in his power to assist me, but he was weak, and a single
stroke brought him to the ground. I then became furious, and received
several smart blows, some of which were aimed at ‘Barna Bredanna’. This
quarrel so far increased the evil, that, to avoid their insults, we
could only show ourselves in the streets while they were employed at

I had already become a redresser of grievances; there only wanted a lady
in the way to be a knight-errant in form. This defect was soon supplied;
I presently had two. I frequently went to see my father at Nion, a small
city in the Vaudois country, where he was now settled. Being universally
respected, the affection entertained for him extended to me: and, during
my visits, the question seemed to be, who should show me most kindness.
A Madame de Vulson, in particular, loaded me with caresses; and, to
complete all, her daughter made me her gallant. I need not explain what
kind of gallant a boy of eleven must be to a girl of two and twenty;
the artful hussies know how to set these puppets up in front, to conceal
more serious engagements. On my part I saw no inequality between myself
and Miss Vulson, was flattered by the circumstance, and went into it
with my whole heart, or rather my whole head, for this passion certainly
reached no further, though it transported me almost to madness, and
frequently produced scenes sufficient to make even a cynic expire with

I have experienced two kinds of love, equally real, which have scarce
any affinity, yet each differing materially from tender friendship.
My whole life has been divided between these affections, and I have
frequently felt the power of both at the same instant. For example, at
the very time I so publically and tyrannically claimed Miss Vulson, that
I could not suffer any other of my sex to approach her, I had short, but
passionate, assignations with a Miss Goton, who thought proper to act
the schoolmistress with me. Our meetings, though absolutely childish,
afforded me the height of happiness. I felt the whole charm of mystery,
and repaid Miss Vulson in kind, when she least expected it, the use she
made of me in concealing her amours. To my great mortification,
this secret was soon discovered, and I presently lost my young

Miss Goton was, in fact, a singular personage. She was not handsome, yet
there was a certain something in her figure which could not easily be
forgotten, and this for an old fool, I am too often convinced of. Her
eyes, in particular, neither corresponded with her age, her height, nor
her manner; she had a lofty imposing air, which agreed extremely well
with the character she assumed, but the most extraordinary part of her
composition was a mixture of forwardness and reserve difficult to be
conceived; and while she took the greatest liberties with me, would
never permit any to be taken with her in return, treating me precisely
like a child. This makes me suppose she had either ceased herself to be
one, or was yet sufficiently so to behold as play the danger to which
this folly exposed her.

I was so absolutely in the power of both these mistresses, that when in
the presence of either, I never thought of her who was absent; in other
respects, the effects they produced on me bore no affinity. I could have
passed my whole life with Miss Vulson, without forming a wish to quit
her; but then, my satisfaction was attended with a pleasing serenity;
and, in numerous companies, I was particularly charmed with her. The
sprightly sallies of her wit, the arch glance of her eye, even jealousy
itself, strengthened my attachment, and I triumphed in the preference
she seemed to bestow on me, while addressed by more powerful rivals;
applause, encouragement, and smiles, gave animation to my happiness.
Surrounded by a throng of observers, I felt the whole force of love--I
was passionate, transported; in a tete-a-tete, I should have been
constrained, thoughtful, perhaps unhappy. If Miss Vulson was ill,
I suffered with her; would willingly have given up my own health to
establish hers (and, observe I knew the want of it from experience); if
absent, she employed my thoughts, I felt the want of her; when present,
her caresses came with warmth and rapture to my heart, though my senses
were unaffected. The familiarities she bestowed on me I could not
have supported the idea of her granting to another; I loved her with a
brother’s affection only, but experienced all the jealousy of a lover.

With Miss Goton this passion might have acquired a degree of fury; I
should have been a Turk, a tiger, had I once imagined she bestowed her
favors on any but myself. The pleasure I felt on approaching Miss Vulson
was sufficiently ardent, though unattended with uneasy sensations;
but at sight of Miss Goton, I felt myself bewildered--every sense was
absorbed in ecstasy. I believe it would have been impossible to have
remained long with her; I must have been suffocated with the violence
of my palpitations. I equally dreaded giving either of them displeasure;
with one I was more complaisant; with the other, more submissive. I
would not have offended Miss Vulson for the world; but if Miss Goton
had commanded me to throw myself into the flames, I think I should have
instantly obeyed her. Happily, both for her and myself, our amours; or
rather rendezvous, were not of long duration: and though my connection
with Miss Vulson was less dangerous, after a continuance of some greater
length, that likewise had its catastrophe; indeed the termination of a
love affair is good for nothing, unless it partakes of the romantic, and
can furnish out at least an exclamation.

Though my correspondence with Miss Vulson was less animated, it was
perhaps more endearing; we never separated without tears, and it can
hardly be conceived what a void I felt in my heart. I could neither
think nor speak of anything but her. These romantic sorrows were not
affected, though I am inclined to believe they did not absolutely centre
in her, for I am persuaded (though I did not perceive it at that time)
being deprived of amusement bore a considerable share in them.

To soften the rigor of absence, we agreed to correspond with each other,
and the pathetic expressions these letters contained were sufficient to
have split a rock. In a word, I had the honor of her not being able to
endure the pain of separation. She came to see me at Geneva.

My head was now completely turned; and during the two days she remained
here, I was intoxicated with delight. At her departure, I would have
thrown myself into the water after her, and absolutely rent the air with
my cries. The week following she sent me sweetmeats, gloves, etc. This
certainly would have appeared extremely gallant, had I not been informed
of her marriage at the same instant, and that the journey I had thought
proper to give myself the honor of, was only to buy her wedding suit.

My indignation may easily be conceived; I shall not attempt to describe
it. In this heroic fury, I swore never more to see the perfidious girl,
supposing it the greatest punishment that could be inflicted on her.
This, however, did not occasion her death, for twenty years after, while
on a visit to my father, being on the lake, I asked who those ladies
were in a boat not far from ours. “What!” said my father smiling,
“does not your heart inform you? It is your former flame, it is Madame
Christin, or, if you please, Miss Vulson.” I started at the almost
forgotten name, and instantly ordered the waterman to turn off, not
judging it worth while to be perjured, however favorable the opportunity
for revenge, in renewing a dispute of twenty years past, with a woman of

Thus, before my future destination was determined, did I fool away the
most precious moments of my youth. After deliberating a long time on
the bent of my natural inclination, they resolved to dispose of me in a
manner the most repugnant to them. I was sent to Mr. Masseron, the City
Register, to learn (according to the expression of my uncle Bernard)
the thriving occupation of a scraper. This nickname was inconceivably
displeasing to me, and I promised myself but little satisfaction in the
prospect of heaping up money by a mean employment. The assiduity and
subjection required, completed my disgust, and I never set foot in the
office without feeling a kind of horror, which every day gained fresh

Mr. Masseron, who was not better pleased with my abilities than I was
with the employment, treated me with disdain, incessantly upbraiding me
with being a fool and blockhead, not forgetting to repeat, that my uncle
had assured him I was a knowing one, though he could not find that I
knew anything. That he had promised to furnish him with a sprightly boy,
but had, in truth, sent him an ass. To conclude, I was turned out of the
registry, with the additional ignominy of being pronounced a fool by all
Mr. Masseron’s clerks, and fit only to handle a file.

My vocation thus determined, I was bound apprentice; not, however, to a
watchmaker, but to an engraver, and I had been so completely humiliated
by the contempt of the register, that I submitted without a murmur. My
master, whose name was M. Ducommon, was a young man of a very violent
and boorish character, who contrived in a short time to tarnish all the
amiable qualities of my childhood, to stupefy a disposition naturally
sprightly, and reduce my feelings, as well as my condition, to
an absolute state of servitude. I forgot my Latin, history, and
antiquities; I could hardly recollect whether such people as Romans ever
existed. When I visited my father, he no longer beheld his idol, nor
could the ladies recognize the gallant Jean Jacques; nay, I was so well
convinced that Mr. and Miss Lambercier would scarce receive me as their
pupil, that I endeavored to avoid their company, and from that time have
never seen them. The vilest inclinations, the basest actions, succeeded
my amiable amusements and even obliterated the very remembrance of them.
I must have had, in spite of my good education, a great propensity to
degenerate, else the declension could not have followed with such ease
and rapidity, for never did so promising a Caesar so quickly become a

The art itself did not displease me. I had a lively taste for drawing.
There was nothing displeasing in the exercise of the graver; and as
it required no very extraordinary abilities to attain perfection as
a watchcase engraver, I hoped to arrive at it. Perhaps I should
have accomplished my design, if unreasonable restraint, added to the
brutality of my master, had not rendered my business disgusting. I
wasted his time, and employed myself in engraving medals, which served
me and my companions as a kind of insignia for a new invented order of
chivalry, and though this differed very little from my usual employ,
I considered it as a relaxation. Unfortunately, my master caught me
at this contraband labor, and a severe beating was the consequence. He
reproached me at the same time with attempting to make counterfeit money
because our medals bore the arms of the Republic, though, I can truly
aver, I had no conception of false money, and very little of the true,
knowing better how to make a Roman As than one of our threepenny pieces.

My master’s tyranny rendered insupportable that labor I should otherwise
have loved, and drove me to vices I naturally despised, such as
falsehood, idleness, and theft. Nothing ever gave me a clearer
demonstration of the difference between filial dependence and abject
slavery, than the remembrance of the change produced in me at that
period. Hitherto I had enjoyed a reasonable liberty; this I had suddenly
lost. I was enterprising at my father’s, free at Mr. Lambercier’s,
discreet at my uncle’s; but, with my master, I became fearful, and from
that moment my mind was vitiated. Accustomed to live on terms of perfect
equality, to be witness of no pleasures I could not command, to see no
dish I was not to partake of, or be sensible of a desire I might not
express; to be able to bring every wish of my heart to my lips--what a
transition!--at my master’s I was scarce allowed to speak, was forced to
quit the table without tasting what I most longed for, and the room when
I had nothing particular to do there; was incessantly confined to my
work, while the liberty my master and his journeymen enjoyed, served
only to increase the weight of my subjection. When disputes happened to
arise, though conscious that I understood the subject better than any of
them, I dared not offer my opinion; in a word, everything I saw
became an object of desire, for no other reason than because I was not
permitted to enjoy anything. Farewell gayety, ease, those happy turns
of expressions, which formerly even made my faults escape correction. I
recollect, with pleasure, a circumstance that happened at my father’s,
which even now makes me smile. Being for some fault ordered to bed
without my supper, as I was passing through the kitchen, with my poor
morsel of bread in my hand, I saw the meat turning on the spit; my
father and the rest were round the fire; I must bow to every one as I
passed. When I had gone through this ceremony, leering with a wistful
eye at the roast meat, which looked so inviting, and smelt so savory, I
could not abstain from making that a bow likewise, adding in a pitiful
tone, good bye, roast meal! This unpremeditated pleasantry put them
in such good humor, that I was permitted to stay, and partake of it.
Perhaps the same thing might have produced a similar effect at my
master’s, but such a thought could never have occurred to me, or, if it
had, I should not have had courage to express it.

Thus I learned to covet, dissemble, lie, and, at length, to steal, a
propensity I never felt the least idea of before, though since that
time I have never been able entirely to divest myself of it. Desire
and inability united naturally led to this vice, which is the reason
pilfering is so common among footmen and apprentices, though the latter,
as they grow up, and find themselves in a situation where everything is
at their command, lose this shameful propensity. As I never experienced
the advantage, I never enjoyed the benefit.

Good sentiments, ill-directed, frequently lead children into vice.
Notwithstanding my continual wants and temptations, it was more than a
year before I could resolve to take even eatables. My first theft was
occasioned by complaisance, but it was productive of others which had
not so plausible an excuse.

My master had a journeyman named Verrat, whose mother lived in the
neighborhood, and had a garden at a considerable distance from the
house, which produced excellent asparagus. This Verrat, who had no
great plenty of money, took it in his head to rob her of the most
early production of her garden, and by the sale of it procure those
indulgences he could not otherwise afford himself; but not being very
nimble, he did not care to run the hazard of a surprise. After some
preliminary flattery, which I did not comprehend the meaning of, he
proposed this expedition to me, as an idea which had that moment struck
him. At first I would not listen to the proposal; but he persisted in
his solicitation, and as I could never resist the attacks of flattery,
at length prevailed. In pursuance of this virtuous resolution, I every
morning repaired to the garden, gathered the best of the asparagus, and
took it to the Holard where some good old women, who guessed how I
came by it, wishing to diminish the price, made no secret of their
suspicions; this produced the desired effect, for, being alarmed, I took
whatever they offered, which being taken to Mr. Verrat, was presently
metamorphosed into a breakfast, and divided with a companion of his;
for, though I procured it, I never partook of their good cheer, being
fully satisfied with an inconsiderable bribe.

I executed my roguery with the greatest fidelity, seeking only to please
my employer; and several days passed before it came into my head, to
rob the robber, and tithe Mr. Verrat’s harvest. I never considered the
hazard I run in these expeditions, not only of a torrent of abuse, but
what I should have been still more sensible of, a hearty beating; for
the miscreant, who received the whole benefit, would certainly have
denied all knowledge of the fact, and I should only have received a
double portion of punishment for daring to accuse him, since being only
an apprentice, I stood no chance of being believed in opposition to a
journeyman. Thus, in every situation, powerful rogues know how to save
themselves at the expense of the feeble.

This practice taught me it was not so terrible to thieve as I had
imagined: I took care to make this discovery turn to some account,
helping myself to everything within my reach, that I conceived an
inclination for. I was not absolutely ill-fed at my master’s, and
temperance was only painful to me by comparing it with the luxury he
enjoyed. The custom of sending young people from table precisely when
those things are served up which seem most tempting, is calculated to
increase their longing, and induces them to steal what they conceive
to be so delicious. It may be supposed I was not backward in this
particular: in general my knavery succeeded pretty well, though quite
the reverse when I happened to be detected.

I recollect an attempt to procure some apples, which was attended with
circumstances that make me smile and shudder even at this instant. The
fruit was standing in the pantry, which by a lattice at a considerable
height received light from the kitchen. One day, being alone in the
house, I climbed up to see these precious apples, which being out of my
reach, made this pantry appear the garden of Hesperides. I fetched the
spit--tried if it would reach them--it was too short--I lengthened it
with a small one which was used for game,--my master being very fond
of hunting, darted at them several times without success; at length was
more fortunate; being transported to find I was bringing up an apple,
I drew it gently to the lattice--was going to seize it when (who
can express my grief and astonishment!) I found it would not pass
through--it was too large. I tried every expedient to accomplish my
design, sought supporters to keep the spits in the same position, a
knife to divide the apple, and a lath to hold it with; at length, I so
far succeeded as to effect the division, and made no doubt of drawing
the pieces through; but it was scarcely separated, (compassionate
reader, sympathize with my affliction) when both pieces fell into the

[Illustration: 0028]

Though I lost time by this experiment, I did not lose courage, but,
dreading a surprise, I put off the attempt till next day, when I
hoped to be more successful, and returned to my work as if nothing had
happened, without once thinking of what the two obvious witnesses I had
left in the pantry deposed against me.

The next day (a fine opportunity offering) I renew the trial. I fasten
the spits together; get on the stool; take aim; am just going to dart at
my prey--unfortunately the dragon did not sleep; the pantry door opens,
my master makes his appearance, and, looking up, exclaims, “Bravo!”--The
horror of that moment returns--the pen drops from my hand.

A continual repetition of ill treatment rendered me callous; it seemed a
kind of composition for my crimes, which authorized me to continue them,
and, instead of looking back at the punishment, I looked forward to
revenge. Being beat like a slave, I judged I had a right to all
the vices of one. I was convinced that to rob and be punished were
inseparable, and constituted, if I may so express myself, a kind of
traffic, in which, if I perform my part of the bargain, my master
would take care not to be deficient in his; that preliminary settled,
I applied myself to thieving with great tranquility, and whenever this
interrogatory occurred to my mind, “What will be the consequence?” the
reply was ready, “I know the worst, I shall be beat; no matter, I was
made for it.”

I love good eating; am sensual, but not greedy; I have such a variety of
inclinations to gratify, that this can never predominate; and unless
my heart is unoccupied, which very rarely happens, I pay but little
attention to my appetite; to purloining eatables, but extended this
propensity to everything I wished to possess, and if I did not become a
robber in form, it was only because money never tempted me.

My master had a closet in the workshop, which he kept locked; this I
contrived to open and shut as often as I pleased, and laid his best
tools, fine drawings, impressions, in a word, everything he wished to
keep from me, under contribution.

These thefts were so far innocent, that they were always employed in his
service, but I was transported at having the trifles in my possession,
and imagined I stole the art with its productions. Besides what I have
mentioned, his boxes contained threads of gold and silver, a number of
small jewels, valuable medals, and money; yet, though I seldom had five
sous in my pocket, I do not recollect ever having cast a wishful look at
them; on the contrary, I beheld these valuables rather with terror than
with delight.

I am convinced the dread of taking money was, in a great measure, the
effect of education. There was mingled with the idea of it the fear of
infamy, a prison, punishment, and death: had I even felt the temptation,
these objects would have made me tremble; whereas my failings appeared a
species of waggery, and, in truth, they were little else; they could but
occasion a good trimming, and this I was already prepared for. A sheet
of fine drawing paper was a greater temptation than money sufficient to
have purchased a ream. This unreasonable caprice is connected with
one of the most striking singularities of my character, and has so far
influenced my conduct, that it requires a particular explanation.

My passions are extremely violent; while under their influence, nothing
can equal my impetuosity; I am an absolute stranger to discretion,
respect, fear, or decorum; rude, saucy, violent, and intrepid: no shame
can stop, no danger intimidate me. My mind is frequently so engrossed by
a single object, that beyond it the whole world is not worth a thought;
this is the enthusiasm of a moment, the next, perhaps, I am plunged in
a state of annihilation. Take me in my moments of tranquility, I am
indolence and timidity itself; a word to speak, the least trifle to
perform, appear an intolerable labor; everything alarms and terrifies
me; the very buzzing of a fly will make me shudder; I am so subdued by
fear and shame, that I would gladly shield myself from mortal view.

When obliged to exert myself, I am ignorant what to do! when forced
to speak, I am at a loss for words; and if any one looks at me, I am
instantly out of countenance. If animated with my subject, I express
my thoughts with ease, but, in ordinary conversations, I can say
nothing--absolutely nothing; and, being obliged to speak, renders them

I may add, that none of my predominant inclinations centre in those
pleasures which are to be purchased: money empoisons my delight; I must
have them unadulterated; I love those of the table, for instance, but
cannot endure the restraints of good company, or the intemperance of
taverns; I can enjoy them only with a friend, for alone it is equally
impossible; my imagination is then so occupied with other things, that I
find no pleasure in eating. Women who are to be purchased have no charms
for me; my beating heart cannot be satisfied without affection; it is
the same with every other enjoyment, if not truly disinterested, they
are absolutely insipid; in a word, I am fond of those things which are
only estimable to minds formed for the peculiar enjoyment of them.

I never thought money so desirable as it is usually imagined; if you
would enjoy you must transform it; and this transformation is frequently
attended with inconvenience; you must bargain, purchase, pay dear,
be badly served, and often duped. I buy an egg, am assured it is
new-laid--I find it stale; fruit in its utmost perfection--‘tis
absolutely green. I love good wine, but where shall I get it? Not at
my wine merchant’s--he will poison me to a certainty. I wish to be
universally respected; how shall I compass my design? I must make
friends, send messages, write letters, come, go, wait, and be frequently
deceived. Money is the perpetual source of uneasiness; I fear it more
than I love good wine.

A thousand times, both during and since my apprenticeship, have I gone
out to purchase some nicety, I approach the pastry-cook’s, perceive
some women at the counter, and imagine they are laughing at me. I pass
a fruit shop, see some fine pears, their appearance tempts me; but then
two or three young people are near, or a man I am acquainted with is
standing at the door; I take all that pass for persons I have some
knowledge of, and my near sight contributes to deceive me. I am
everywhere intimidated, restrained by some obstacle, and with money in
my pocket return as I went, for want of resolution to purchase what I
long for.

I should enter into the most insipid details was I to relate the
trouble, shame, repugnance, and inconvenience of all kinds which I have
experienced in parting with my money, whether in my own person, or by
the agency of others; as I proceed, the reader will get acquainted with
my disposition, and perceive all this without my troubling him with the

This once comprehended, one of my apparent contradictions will be easily
accounted for, and the most sordid avarice reconciled with the greatest
contempt of money. It is a movable which I consider of so little value,
that, when destitute of it, I never wish to acquire any; and when I have
a sum I keep it by me, for want of knowing how to dispose of it to my
satisfaction; but let an agreeable and convenient opportunity present
itself, and I empty my purse with the utmost freedom; not that I would
have the reader imagine I am extravagant from a motive of ostentation,
quite the reverse; it was ever in subservience to my pleasures, and,
instead of glorying in expense, I endeavor to conceal it. I so well
perceive that money is not made to answer my purposes, that I am almost
ashamed to have any, and, still more, to make use of it.

Had I ever possessed a moderate independence, I am convinced I should
have had no propensity to become avaricious. I should have required no
more, and cheerfully lived up to my income; but my precarious situation
has constantly and necessarily kept me in fear. I love liberty, and I
loathe constraint, dependence, and all their kindred annoyances. As long
as my purse contains money it secures my independence, and exempts
me from the trouble of seeking other money, a trouble of which I have
always had a perfect horror; and the dread of seeing the end of my
independence, makes me proportionately unwilling to part with my money.
The money that we possess is the instrument of liberty, that which we
lack and strive to obtain is the instrument of slavery. Thence it is
that I hold fast to aught that I have, and yet covet nothing more.

My disinterestedness, then, is in reality only idleness, the pleasure of
possessing is not in my estimation worth the trouble of acquiring:
and my dissipation is only another form of idleness; when we have an
opportunity of disbursing pleasantly we should make the best possible
use of it.

I am less tempted by money than by other objects, because between
the moment of possessing the money and that of using it to obtain the
desired object there is always an interval, however short; whereas to
possess the thing is to enjoy it. I see a thing and it tempts me; but if
I see not the thing itself but only the means of acquiring it, I am not
tempted. Therefore it is that I have been a pilferer, and am so even
now, in the way of mere trifles to which I take a fancy, and which I
find it easier to take than to ask for; but I never in my life recollect
having taken a farthing from any one, except about fifteen years ago,
when I stole seven francs and ten sous. The story is worth recounting,
as it exhibits a concurrence of ignorance and stupidity I should
scarcely credit, did it relate to any but myself.

It was in Paris: I was walking with M. de Franceul at the Palais Royal;
he pulled out his watch, he looked at it, and said to me, “Suppose we
go to the opera?”--“With all my heart.” We go: he takes two box tickets,
gives me one, and enters himself with the other; I follow, find the door
crowded; and, looking in, see every one standing; judging, therefore,
that M. de Franceul might suppose me concealed by the company, I go out,
ask for my ticket, and, getting the money returned, leave the house,
without considering, that by then I had reached the door every one would
be seated, and M. de Franceul might readily perceive I was not there.

As nothing could be more opposite to my natural inclination than this
abominable meanness, I note it, to show there are moments of delirium
when men ought not to be judged by their actions: this was not stealing
the money, it was only stealing the use of it, and was the more infamous
for wanting the excuse of a temptation.

I should never end these accounts, was I to describe all the gradations
through which I passed, during my apprenticeship, from the sublimity of
a hero to the baseness of a villain. Though I entered into most of the
vices of my situation, I had no relish for its pleasures; the amusements
of my companions were displeasing, and when too much restraint had made
my business wearisome, I had nothing to amuse me. This renewed my taste
for reading which had long been neglected. I thus committed a fresh
offence, books made me neglect my work, and brought on additional
punishment, while inclination, strengthened by constraint, became an
unconquerable passion. La Tribu, a well-known librarian, furnished me
with all kinds; good or bad, I perused them with avidity, and without

It will be said; “at length, then, money became necessary”--true; but
this happened at a time when a taste for study had deprived me both of
resolution and activity; totally occupied by this new inclination,
I only wished to read, I robbed no longer. This is another of my
peculiarities; a mere nothing frequently calls me off from what I appear
the most attached to; I give in to the new idea; it becomes a passion,
and immediately every former desire is forgotten.

Reading was my new hobby; my heart beat with impatience to run over the
new book I carried in my pocket; the first moment I was alone, I seized
the opportunity to draw it out, and thought no longer of rummaging my
master’s closet. I was even ashamed to think that I had been guilty of
such meanness; and had my amusements been more expensive, I no longer
felt an inclination to continue it. La Tribu gave me credit, and when
once I had the book in my possession, I thought no more of the trifle I
was to pay for it; as money came it naturally passed to this woman; and
when she chanced to be pressing, nothing was so conveniently at hand as
my own effects; to steal in advance required foresight, and robbing to
pay was no temptation.

The frequent blows I received from my master, with my private and
ill-chosen studies, rendered me reserved, unsociable, and almost
deranged my reason. Though my taste had not preserved me from silly
unmeaning books, by good fortune I was a stranger to licentious or
obscene ones; not that La Tribu (who was very accommodating) had any
scruple of lending these, on the contrary, to enhance their worth she
spoke of them with an air of mystery; this produced an effect she had
not foreseen, for both shame and disgust made me constantly refuse them.
Chance so well seconded my bashful disposition, that I was past the age
of thirty before I saw any of those dangerous compositions.

In less than a year I had exhausted La Tribu’s scanty library, and was
unhappy for want of further amusement. My reading, though frequently
bad, had worn off my childish follies, and brought back my heart to
nobler sentiments than my condition had inspired; meantime disgusted
with all within my reach, and thinking everything charming that was out
of it, my present situation appeared extremely miserable. My passions
began to acquire strength, I felt their influence, without knowing
whither they would conduct me. I sometimes, indeed, thought of my former
follies, but sought no further.

At this time my imagination took a turn which helped to calm my
increasing emotions; it was, to contemplate those situations in the
books I had read, which produced the most striking effect on my mind; to
recall, combine, and apply them to myself in such a manner, as to become
one of the personages my recollection presented, and be continually
in those fancied circumstances which were most agreeable to my
inclinations; in a word, by contriving to place myself in these
fictitious situations, the idea of my real one was in a great measure

This fondness for imaginary objects, and the facility with which I could
gain possession of them, completed my disgust for everything around
me, and fixed that inclination for solitude which has ever since been
predominant. We shall have more than once occasion to remark the effects
of a disposition, misanthropic and melancholy in appearance, but which
proceed, in fact, from a heart too affectionate, too ardent, which,
for want of similar dispositions, is constrained to content itself
with nonentities, and be satisfied with fiction. It is sufficient, at
present, to have traced the origin of a propensity which has modified my
passions, set bounds to each, and by giving too much ardor to my wishes,
has ever rendered me too indolent to obtain them.

Thus I attained my sixteenth year, uneasy, discontented with myself and
everything that surrounded me; displeased with my occupation; without
enjoying the pleasures common to my age, weeping without a cause,
sighing I knew not why, and fond of my chimerical ideas for want of more
valuable realities.

Every Sunday, after sermon-time, my companions came to fetch me out,
wishing me to partake of their diversions. I would willingly have been
excused, but when once engaged in amusement, I was more animated and
enterprising than any of them; it was equally difficult to engage or
restrain me; indeed, this was ever a leading trait in my character. In
our country walks I was ever foremost, and never thought of returning
till reminded by some of my companions. I was twice obliged to be from
my master’s the whole night, the city gates having been shut before I
could reach them. The reader may imagine what treatment this procured
me the following mornings; but I was promised such a reception for
the third, that I made a firm resolution never to expose myself to the
danger of it. Notwithstanding my determination, I repeated this dreaded
transgression, my vigilance having been rendered useless by a cursed
captain, named M. Minutoli, who, when on guard, always shut the gate he
had charge of an hour before the usual time. I was returning home with
my two companions, and had got within half a league of the city, when
I heard them beat the tattoo; I redouble my pace, I run with my utmost
speed, I approach the bridge, see the soldiers already at their posts,
I call out to them in a suffocated voice--it is too late; I am twenty
paces from the guard, the first bridge is already drawn up, and I
tremble to see those terrible horns advanced in the air which announce
the fatal and inevitable destiny, which from this moment began to pursue

I threw myself on the glacis in a transport of despair, while my
companions, who only laughed at the accident, immediately determined
what to do. My resolution, though different from theirs, was equally
sudden; on the spot, I swore never to return to my master’s, and the
next morning, when my companions entered the city, I bade them an
eternal adieu, conjuring them at the same time to inform my cousin
Bernard of my resolution, and the place where he might see me for the
last time.

From the commencement of my apprenticeship I had seldom seen him;
at first, indeed, we saw each other on Sundays, but each acquiring
different habits, our meetings were less frequent. I am persuaded his
mother contributed greatly towards this change; he was to consider
himself as a person of consequence, I was a pitiful apprentice;
notwithstanding our relationship, equality no longer subsisted between
us, and it was degrading himself to frequent my company. As he had
a natural good heart his mother’s lessons did not take an immediate
effect, and for some time he continued to visit me.

Having learned my resolution, he hastened to the spot I had appointed,
not, however, to dissuade me from it, but to render my flight agreeable,
by some trifling presents, as my own resources would not have carried
me far. He gave me among other things, a small sword, which I was
very proud of, and took with me as far as Turin, where absolute want
constrained me to dispose of it. The more I reflect on his behavior
at this critical moment, the more I am persuaded he followed the
instructions of his mother, and perhaps his father likewise: for, had
he been left to his own feelings, he would have endeavored to retain,
or have been tempted to accompany me; on the contrary, he encouraged the
design, and when he saw me resolutely determined to pursue it, without
seeming much affected, left me to my fate. We never saw or wrote to each
other from that time; I cannot but regret this loss, for his heart was
essentially good, and we seemed formed for a more lasting friendship.

Before I abandon myself to the fatality of my destiny, let me
contemplate for a moment the prospect that awaited me had I fallen into
the hands of a better master. Nothing could have been more agreeable to
my disposition, or more likely to confer happiness, than the peaceful
condition of a good artificer, in so respectable a line as engravers are
considered at Geneva. I could have obtained an easy subsistence, if not
a fortune; this would have bounded my ambition; I should have had
means to indulge in moderate pleasures, and should have continued in
my natural sphere, without meeting with any temptation to go beyond
it. Having an imagination sufficiently fertile to embellish with its
chimeras every situation, and powerful enough to transport me from
one to another, it was immaterial in which I was fixed: that was best
adapted to me, which, requiring the least care or exertion, left the
mind most at liberty; and this happiness I should have enjoyed. In
my native country, in the bosom of my religion, family and friends,
I should have passed a calm and peaceful life, in the uniformity of a
pleasing occupation, and among connections dear to my heart. I should
have been a good Christian, a good citizen, a good friend, a good man. I
should have relished my condition, perhaps have been an honor to it, and
after having passed a life of happy obscurity, surrounded by my family,
I should have died at peace. Soon it may be forgotten, but while
remembered it would have been with tenderness and regret.

Instead of this--what a picture am I about to draw!--Alas! why should
I anticipate the miseries I have endured? The reader will have but too
much of the melancholy subject.


|The moment in which fear had instigated my flight, did not seem more
terrible than that wherein I put my design in execution appeared
delightful. To leave my relations, my resources, while yet a child,
in the midst of my apprenticeship, before I had learned enough of
my business to obtain a subsistence; to run on inevitable misery and
danger: to expose myself in that age of weakness and innocence to all
the temptations of vice and despair; to set out in search of errors,
misfortunes, snares, slavery, and death; to endure more intolerable
evils than those I meant to shun, was the picture I should have drawn,
the natural consequence of my hazardous enterprise. How different was
the idea I entertained of it!--The independence I seemed to possess
was the sole object of my contemplation; having obtained my liberty,
I thought everything attainable: I entered with confidence on the vast
theatre of the world, which my merit was to captivate: at every step I
expected to find amusements, treasures, and adventures; friends ready to
serve, and mistresses eager to please me; I had but to show myself, and
the whole universe would be interested in my concerns; not but I
could have been content with something less; a charming society, with
sufficient means, might have satisfied me. My moderation was such, that
the sphere in which I proposed to shine was rather circumscribed, but
then it was to possess the very quintessence of enjoyment, and myself
the principal object. A single castle, for instance, might have bounded
my ambition; could I have been the favorite of the lord and lady, the
daughter’s lover, the son’s friend, and protector of the neighbors, I
might have been tolerably content, and sought no further.

In expectation of this modest fortune, I passed a few days in the
environs of the city, with some country people of my acquaintance, who
received me with more kindness than I should have met with in town;
they welcomed, lodged, and fed me cheerfully; I could be said to live on
charity, these favors were not conferred with a sufficient appearance of
superiority to furnish out the idea.

I rambled about in this manner till I got to Confignon, in Savoy, at
about two leagues distance from Geneva. The vicar was called M. de
Pontverre; this name, so famous in the history of the Republic, caught
my attention; I was curious to see what appearance the descendants of
the gentlemen of the spoon exhibited; I went, therefore, to visit this
M. de Pontverre, and was received with great civility.

He spoke of the heresy of Geneva, declaimed on the authority of holy
mother church, and then invited me to dinner. I had little to object
to arguments which had so desirable a conclusion, and was inclined to
believe that priests, who gave such excellent dinners, might be as
good as our ministers. Notwithstanding M. de Pontverre’s pedigree, I
certainly possessed most learning; but I rather sought to be a good
companion than an expert theologian; and his Frangi wine, which I
thought delicious, argued so powerfully on his side, that I should
have blushed at silencing so kind a host; I, therefore, yielded him the
victory, or rather declined the contest. Any one who had observed my
precaution, would certainly have pronounced me a dissembler, though, in
fact, I was only courteous.

Flattery, or rather condescension, is not always a vice in young people;
‘tis oftener a virtue. When treated with kindness, it is natural to
feel an attachment for the person who confers the obligation; we do
not acquiesce because we wish to deceive, but from dread of giving
uneasiness, or because we wish to avoid the ingratitude of rendering
evil for good. What interest had M. de Pontverre in entertaining,
treating with respect, and endeavoring to convince me? None but mine;
my young heart told me this, and I was penetrated with gratitude and
respect for the generous priest; I was sensible of my superiority, but
scorned to repay his hospitality by taking advantage of it. I had no
conception of hypocrisy in this forbearance, or thought of changing my
religion, nay, so far was the idea from being familiar to me, that
I looked on it with a degree of horror which seemed to exclude the
possibility of such an event; I only wished to avoid giving offence to
those I was sensible caressed me from that motive; I wished to cultivate
their good opinion, and meantime leave them the hope of success
by seeming less on my guard than I really was. My conduct in this
particular resembled the coquetry of some very honest women, who, to
obtain their wishes, without permitting or promising anything, sometimes
encourage hopes they never mean to realize.

Reason, piety, and love of order, certainly demanded that instead of
being encouraged in my folly, I should have been dissuaded from the ruin
I was courting, and sent back to my family; and this conduct any one
that was actuated by genuine virtue would have pursued; but it should be
observed that though M. de Pontverre was a religious man, he was not a
virtuous one, but a bigot, who knew no virtue except worshipping images
and telling his beads, in a word, a kind of missionary, who thought the
height of merit consisted in writing libels against the ministers of
Geneva. Far from wishing to send me back, he endeavored to favor
my escape, and put it out of my power to return even had I been so
disposed. It was a thousand to one but he was sending me to perish with
hunger, or become a villain; but all this was foreign to his purpose;
he saw a soul snatched from heresy, and restored to the bosom of the
church: whether I was an honest man or a knave was very immaterial,
provided I went to mass.

This ridiculous mode of thinking is not peculiar to Catholics; it is the
voice of every dogmatical persuasion where merit consists in belief, and
not in virtue.

“You are called by the Almighty,” said M. de Pontverre; “go to Annecy,
where you will find a good and charitable lady, whom the bounty of the
king enables to turn souls from those errors she has happily renounced.”
 He spoke of a Madam de Warens, a new convert, to whom the priests
contrived to send those wretches who were disposed to sell their faith,
and with these she was in a manner constrained to share a pension of two
thousand francs bestowed on her by the King of Sardinia. I felt myself
extremely humiliated at being supposed to want the assistance of a
good and charitable lady. I had no objection to be accommodated with
everything I stood in need of, but did not wish to receive it on the
footing of charity and to owe this obligation to a devotee was still
worse; notwithstanding my scruples the persuasions of M. de Pontverre,
the dread of perishing with hunger, the pleasures I promised myself from
the journey, and hope of obtaining some desirable situation, determined
me; and I set out though reluctantly, for Annecy. I could easily have
reached it in a day, but being in no great haste to arrive there, it
took me three. My head was filled with the ideas of adventures, and I
approached every country-seat I saw in my way, in expectation of having
them realized. I had too much timidity to knock at the doors, or even
enter if I saw them open, but I did what I dared--which was to sing
under those windows that I thought had the most favorable appearance;
and was very much disconcerted to find I wasted my breath to no purpose,
and that neither old nor young ladies were attracted by the melody of
my voice, or the wit of my poetry, though some songs my companions had
taught me I thought excellent and that I sung them incomparably. At
length I arrived at Annecy, and saw Madam de Warens.

As this period of my life, in a great measure, determined my character,
I could not resolve to pass it lightly over. I was in the middle of my
sixteenth year, and though I could not be called handsome, was well
made for my height; I had a good foot, a well turned leg, and animated
countenance; a well proportioned mouth, black hair and eyebrows, and
my eyes, though small and rather too far in my head, sparkling with
vivacity, darted that innate fire which inflamed my blood; unfortunately
for me, I knew nothing of all this, never having bestowed a single
thought on my person till it was too late to be of any service to me.
The timidity common to my age was heightened by a natural benevolence,
which made me dread the idea of giving pain. Though my mind had received
some cultivation, having seen nothing of the world, I was an absolute
stranger to polite address, and my mental acquisitions, so far from
supplying this defect, only served to increase my embarrassment, by
making me sensible of every deficiency.

Depending little, therefore, on external appearances, I had recourse to
other expedients: I wrote a most elaborate letter, where, mingling all
the flowers of rhetoric which I had borrowed from books with the phrases
of an apprentice, I endeavored to strike the attention, and insure the
good will of Madam de Warens. I enclosed M. de Pontverre’s letter in
my own and waited on the lady with a heart palpitating with fear and
expectation. It was Palm Sunday, of the year 1728; I was informed she
was that moment gone to church; I hasten after her, overtake, and speak
to her.--The place is yet fresh in my memory--how can it be otherwise?
often have I moistened it with my tears and covered it with kisses.--Why
cannot I enclose with gold the happy spot, and render it the object
of universal veneration? Whoever wishes to honor monuments of human
salvation would only approach it on their knees.

It was a passage at the back of the house, bordered on the left hand by
a little rivulet, which separated it from the garden, and, on the right,
by the court yard wall; at the end was a private door which opened into
the church of the Cordeliers. Madam de Warens was just passing this
door; but on hearing my voice, instantly turned about. What an effect
did the sight of her produce! I expected to see a devout, forbidding old
woman; M. de Pontverre’s pious and worthy lady could be no other in my
conception; instead of which, I see a face beaming with charms, fine
blue eyes full of sweetness, a complexion whose whiteness dazzled the
sight, the form of an enchanting neck, nothing escaped the eager eye of
the young proselyte; for that instant I was hers!--a religion preached
by such missionaries must lead to paradise!

My letter was presented with a trembling hand; she took it with a
smile--opened it, glanced an eye over M. de Pontverre’s and again
returned to mine, which she read through and would have read again,
had not the footman that instant informed her that service was
beginning--“Child,” said she, in a tone of voice which made every
nerve vibrate, “you are wandering about at an early age--it is really a
pity!”--and without waiting for an answer, added--“Go to my house, bid
them give you something for breakfast, after mass, I will speak to you.”

Louisa-Eleanora de Warens was of the noble and ancient family of La Tour
de Pit, of Vevay, a city in the country of the Vaudois. She was married
very young to a M. de Warens, of the house of Loys, eldest son of M. de
Villardin, of Lausanne; there were no children by this marriage, which
was far from being a happy one. Some domestic uneasiness made Madam de
Warens take the resolution of crossing the Lake, and throwing herself at
the feet of Victor Amadeus, who was then at Evian; thus abandoning
her husband, family, and country by a giddiness similar to mine, which
precipitation she, too, has found sufficient time and reason to lament.

The king, who was fond of appearing a zealous promoter of the Catholic
faith, took her under his protection, and complimented her with a
pension of fifteen hundred livres of Piedmont, which was a considerable
appointment for a prince who never had the character of being generous;
but finding his liberality made some conjecture he had an affection for
the lady, he sent her to Annecy escorted by a detachment of his guards,
where, under the direction of Michael Gabriel de Bernex, titular
bishop of Geneva, she abjured her former religion at the Convent of the

I came to Annecy just six years after this event; Madam de Warens
was then eight-and-twenty, being born with the century. Her beauty,
consisting more in the expressive animation of the countenance, than a
set of features, was in its meridian; her manner soothing and tender; an
angelic smile played about her mouth, which was small and delicate; she
wore her hair (which was of an ash color, and uncommonly beautiful) with
an air of negligence that made her appear still more interesting;
she was short, and rather thick for her height, though by no means
disagreeably so; but there could not be a more lovely face, a finer
neck, or hands and arms more exquisitely formed.

Her education had been derived from such a variety of sources, that it
formed an extraordinary assemblage. Like me, she had lost her mother at
her birth, and had received instruction as it chanced to present itself;
she had learned something of her governess, something of her father, a
little of her masters, but copiously from her lovers; particularly a
M. de Tavel, who, possessing both taste and information, endeavored to
adorn with them the mind of her he loved. These various instructions,
not being properly arranged, tended to impede each other, and she
did not acquire that degree of improvement her natural good sense was
capable of receiving; she knew something of philosophy and physic, but
not enough to eradicate the fondness she had imbibed from her father for
empiricism and alchemy; she made elixirs, tinctures, balsams, pretended
to secrets, and prepared magestry; while quacks and pretenders,
profiting by her weakness, destroyed her property among furnaces, drugs
and minerals, diminishing those charms and accomplishments which might
have been the delight of the most elegant circles. But though these
interested wretches took advantage of her ill-applied education to
obscure her natural good sense, her excellent heart retained its purity;
her amiable mildness, sensibility for the unfortunate, inexhaustible
bounty, and open, cheerful frankness, knew no variation; even at the
approach of old age, when attacked by various calamities, rendered more
cutting by indigence, the serenity of her disposition preserved to the
end of her life the pleasing gayety of her happiest days.

Her errors proceeded from an inexhaustible fund of activity, which
demanded perpetual employment. She found no satisfaction in the
customary intrigues of her sex, but, being formed for vast designs,
sought the direction of important enterprises and discoveries. In her
place Madam de Longueville would have been a mere trifler, in Madam de
Longueville’s situation she would have governed the state. Her talents
did not accord with her fortune; what would have gained her distinction
in a more elevated sphere, became her ruin. In enterprises which suited
her disposition, she arranged the plan in her imagination, which was
ever carried of its utmost extent, and the means she employed being
proportioned rather to her ideas than abilities, she failed by the
mismanagement of those upon whom she depended, and was ruined where
another would scarce have been a loser. This active disposition, which
involved her in so many difficulties, was at least productive of one
benefit as it prevented her from passing the remainder of her life in
the monastic asylum she had chosen, which she had some thought of. The
simple and uniform life of a nun, and the little cabals and gossipings
of their parlor, were not adapted to a mind vigorous and active, which,
every day forming new systems, had occasions for liberty to attempt
their completion.

The good bishop of Bernex, with less wit than Francis of Sales,
resembled him in many particulars, and Madam de Warens, whom he loved
to call his daughter, and who was like Madam de Chantel in several
respects, might have increased the resemblance by retiring like her
from the world, had she not been disgusted with the idle trifling of
a convent. It was not want of zeal prevented this amiable woman from
giving those proofs of devotion which might have been expected from a
new convert, under the immediate direction of a prelate. Whatever might
have influenced her to change her religion, she was certainly sincere
in that she had embraced; she might find sufficient occasion to repent
having abjured her former faith, but no inclination to return to it. She
not only died a good Catholic, but truly lived one; nay, I dare affirm
(and I think I have had the opportunity to read the secrets of her
heart) that it was only her aversion to singularity that prevented her
acting the devotee in public; in a word, her piety was too sincere to
give way to any affectation of it. But this is not the place to enlarge
on her principles: I shall find other occasions to speak of them.

Let those who deny the existence of a sympathy of souls, explain, if
they know how, why the first glance, the first word of Madam de Warens
inspired me, not only with a lively attachment, but with the most
unbounded confidence, which has since known no abatement. Say this was
love (which will at least appear doubtful to those who read the sequel
of our attachment) how could this passion be attended with sentiments
which scarce ever accompany its commencement, such as peace, serenity,
security, and confidence. How, when making application to an amiable and
polished woman, whose situation in life was so superior to mine, so far
above any I had yet approached, on whom, in a great measure, depended
my future fortune by the degree of interest she might take in it; how,
I say with so many reasons to depress me, did I feel myself as free, as
much at my ease, as if I had been perfectly secure of pleasing her! Why
did I not experience a moment of embarrassment, timidity or restraint?
Naturally bashful, easily confused, having seen nothing of the world,
could I, the first time, the first moment I beheld her, adopt caressing
language, and a familiar tone, as readily as after ten years’ intimacy
had rendered these freedoms natural? Is it possible to possess love,
I will not say without desires, for I certainly had them, but without
inquietude, without jealousy? Can we avoid feeling an anxious wish at
least to know whether our affection is returned? Yet such a question
never entered my imagination; I should as soon have inquired, do I love
myself; nor did she ever express a greater degree of curiosity; there
was, certainly, something extraordinary in my attachment to this
charming woman and it will be found in the sequel, that some
extravagances, which cannot be foreseen, attended it.

What could be done for me, was the present question, and in order to
discuss the point with greater freedom, she made me dine with her.
This was the first meal in my life where I had experienced a want of
appetite, and her woman, who waited, observed it was the first time
she had seen a traveller of my age and appearance deficient in that
particular: this remark, which did me no injury in the opinion of her
mistress, fell hard on an overgrown clown, who was my fellow guest, and
devoured sufficient to have served at least six moderate feeders. For
me, I was too much charmed to think of eating; my heart began to imbibe
a delicious sensation, which engrossed my whole being, and left no room
for other objects.

Madam de Warens wished to hear the particulars of my little history--all
the vivacity I had lost during my servitude returned and assisted the
recital. In proportion to the interest this excellent woman took in my
story, did she lament the fate to which I had exposed myself; compassion
was painted on her features, and expressed by every action. She could
not exhort me to return to Geneva, being too well aware that her words
and actions were strictly scrutinized, and that such advice would be
thought high treason against Catholicism, but she spoke so feelingly of
the affliction I must give my father, that it was easy to perceive
she would have approved my returning to console him. Alas! she little
thought how powerfully this pleaded against herself; the more eloquently
persuasive she appeared, the less could I resolve to tear myself from
her. I knew that returning to Geneva would be putting an insuperable
barrier between us, unless I repeated the expedient which had brought me
here, and it was certainly better to preserve than expose myself to the
danger of a relapse; besides all this, my conduct was predetermined, I
was resolved not to return. Madam de Warens, seeing her endeavors would
be fruitless, became less explicit, and only added, with an air of
commiseration, “Poor child! thou must go where Providence directs thee,
but one day thou wilt think of me.”--I believe she had no conception at
that time how fatally her prediction would be verified.

The difficulty still remained how I was to gain a subsistence? I have
already observed that I knew too little of engraving for that to furnish
my resource, and had I been more expert, Savoy was too poor a country
to give much encouragement to the arts. The above-mentioned glutton, who
ate for us as well as himself, being obliged to pause in order to gain
some relaxation from the fatigue of it, imparted a piece of advice,
which, according to him, came express from Heaven; though to judge by
its effects it appeared to have been dictated from a direct contrary
quarter: this was that I should go to Turin, where, in a hospital
instituted for the instruction of catechumens, I should find food, both
spiritual and temporal, be reconciled to the bosom of the church, and
meet with some charitable Christians, who would make it a point to
procure me a situation that would turn to my advantage. “In regard to
the expenses of the journey,” continued our advisor, “his grace, my lord
bishop, will not be backward, when once madam has proposed this holy
work, to offer his charitable donation, and madam, the baroness,
whose charity is so well known,” once more addressing himself to the
continuation of his meal, “will certainly contribute.”

I was by no means pleased with all these charities; I said nothing, but
my heart was ready to burst with vexation. Madam de Warens, who did not
seem to think so highly of this expedient as the projector pretended
to do, contented herself by saying, everyone should endeavor to promote
good actions, and that she would mention it to his lordship; but the
meddling devil, who had some private interest in this affair, and
questioned whether she would urge it to his satisfaction, took care to
acquaint the almoners with my story, and so far influenced those good
priests, that when Madam de Warens, who disliked the journey on my
account, mentioned it to the bishop, she found it so far concluded on,
that he immediately put into her hands the money designed for my little
viaticum. She dared not advance anything against it; I was approaching
an age when a woman like her could not, with any propriety, appear
anxious to retain me.

My departure being thus determined by those who undertook the management
of my concerns, I had only to submit; and I did it without much
repugnance. Though Turin was at a greater distance from Madam de Warens
than Geneva, yet being the capital of the country I was now in, it
seemed to have more connection with Annecy than a city under a different
government and of a contrary religion; besides, as I undertook this
journey in obedience to her, I considered myself as living under her
direction, which was more flattering than barely to continue in the
neighborhood; to sum up all, the idea of a long journey coincided
with my insurmountable passion for rambling, which already began
to demonstrate itself. To pass the mountains, to my eye appeared
delightful; how charming the reflection of elevating myself above my
companions by the whole height of the Alps! To see the world is an
almost irresistible temptation to a Genevan, accordingly I gave my

He who suggested the journey was to set off in two days with his wife. I
was recommended to their care; they were likewise made my purse-bearers,
which had been augmented by Madam de Warens, who, not contented with
these kindnesses, added secretly a pecuniary reinforcement, attended
with the most ample instructions, and we departed on the Wednesday
before Easter.

The day following, my father arrived at Annecy, accompanied by his
friend, a Mr. Rival, who was likewise a watchmaker; he was a man of
sense and letters, who wrote better verses than La Motte, and spoke
almost as well; what is still more to his praise, he was a man of the
strictest integrity, but whose taste for literature only served to make
one of his sons a comedian. Having traced me to the house of Madam de
Warens, they contented themselves with lamenting, like her, my fate,
instead of overtaking me, which, (as they were on horseback and I on
foot) they might have accomplished with the greatest ease.

My uncle Bernard did the same thing, he arrived at Consignon, received
information that I was gone to Annecy, and immediately returned back
to Geneva; thus my nearest relations seemed to have conspired with my
adverse stars to consign me to misery and ruin. By a similar negligence,
my brother was so entirely lost, that it was never known what was become
of him.

My father was not only a man of honor but of the strictest probity, and
endured with that magnanimity which frequently produces the most shining
virtues: I may add, he was a good father, particularly to me whom he
tenderly loved; but he likewise loved his pleasures, and since we had
been separated other connections had weakened his paternal affections.
He had married again at Nion, and though his second wife was too old
to expect children, she had relations; my father was united to another
family, surrounded by other objects, and a variety of cares prevented
my returning to his remembrance. He was in the decline of life and had
nothing to support the inconveniences of old age; my mother’s property
devolved to me and my brother, but, during our absence, the interest
of it was enjoyed by my father: I do not mean to infer that this
consideration had an immediate effect on his conduct, but it had an
imperceptible one, and prevented him making use of that exertion to
regain me which he would otherwise have employed; and this, I think,
was the reason that having traced me as far as Annecy, he stopped short,
without proceeding to Chambery, where he was almost certain I should be
found; and likewise accounts why, on visiting him several times since
my flight, he always received me with great kindness, but never made any
efforts to retain me.

This conduct in a father, whose affection and virtue I was so well
convinced of, has given birth to reflections on the regulation of my own
conduct which have greatly contributed to preserve the integrity of my
heart. It has taught me this great lesson of morality, perhaps the only
one that can have any conspicuous influence on our actions, that we
should ever carefully avoid putting our interests in competition with
our duty, or promise ourselves felicity from the misfortunes of others;
certain that in such circumstances, however sincere our love of virtue
may be, sooner or later it will give way and we shall imperceptibly
become unjust and wicked, in fact, however upright in our intentions.

This maxim, strongly imprinted on my mind, and reduced, though rather
too late, to practice, has given my conduct an appearance of folly and
whimsicality, not only in public, but still more among my acquaintances:
it has been said, I affected originality, and sought to act different
from other people; the truth is, I neither endeavor to conform or be
singular, I desire only to act virtuously and avoid situations, which,
by setting my interest in opposition to that of another person’s, might
inspire me with a secret, though involuntary wish to his disadvantage.

Two years ago, My Lord Marshal would have put my name in his will, which
I took every method to prevent, assuring him I would not for the world
know myself in the will of any one, much less in his; he gave up the
idea; but insisted in return, that I should accept an annuity on his
life; this I consented to. It will be said, I find my account in the
alteration; perhaps I may; but oh, my benefactor! my father, I am now
sensible that, should I have the misfortune to survive thee, I should
have everything to lose, nothing to gain.

This, in my idea, in true philosophy, the surest bulwark of human
rectitude; every day do I receive fresh conviction of its profound
solidity. I have endeavored to recommend it in all my latter writings,
but the multitude read too superficially to have made the remark. If I
survive my present undertaking, and am able to begin another, I mean, in
a continuation of Emilius, to give such a lively and marking example
of this maxim as cannot fail to strike attention. But I have made
reflections enough for a traveller, it is time to continue my journey.

It turned out more agreeable than I expected: my clownish conductor was
not so morose as he appeared to be. He was a middle-aged man, wore his
black, grizzly hair, in a queue, had a martial air, a strong voice, was
tolerably cheerful, and to make up for not having been taught any trade,
could turn his hand to every one. Having proposed to establish some
kind of manufactory at Annecy, he had consulted Madam de Warens, who
immediately gave into the project, and he was now going to Turin to lay
the plan before the minister and get his approbation, for which journey
he took care to be well rewarded.

This drole had the art of ingratiating himself with the priests, whom he
ever appeared eager to serve; he adopted a certain jargon which he had
learned by frequenting their company, and thought himself a notable
preacher; he could even repeat one passage from the Bible in Latin, and
it answered his purpose as well as if he had known a thousand, for he
repeated it a thousand times a day. He was seldom at a loss for money
when he knew what purse contained it; yet, was rather artful than
knavish, and when dealing out in an affected tone his unmeaning
discourses, resembled Peter the Hermit, preaching up the crusade with a
sabre at his side.

Madam Sabran, his wife, was a tolerable, good sort of woman; more
peaceable by day than by night; as I slept in the same chamber I was
frequently disturbed by her wakefulness, and should have been more
so had I comprehended the cause of it; but I was in the chapter of
dullness, which left to nature the whole care of my own instruction.

I went on gayly with my pious guide and his hopeful companion,
no sinister accident impeding our journey. I was in the happiest
circumstances both of mind and body that I ever recollect having
experienced; young, full of health and security, placing unbounded
confidence in myself and others; in that short but charming moment of
human life, whose expansive energy carries, if I may so express myself,
our being to the utmost extent of our sensations, embellishing all
nature with an inexpressible charm, flowing from the conscious and
rising enjoyment of our existence.

My pleasing inquietudes became less wandering: I had now an object on
which imagination could fix. I looked on myself as the work, the pupil,
the friend, almost the lover of Madam de Warens; the obliging things she
had said, the caresses she had bestowed on me; the tender interest she
seemed to take in everything that concerned me; those charming looks,
which seemed replete with love, because they so powerfully inspired
it, every consideration flattered my ideas during this journey, and
furnished the most delicious reveries, which, no doubt, no fear of my
future condition arose to embitter. In sending me to Turin, I thought
they engaged to find me an agreeable subsistence there; thus eased of
every care I passed lightly on, while young desires, enchanting hopes,
and brilliant prospects employed my mind; each object that presented
itself seemed to insure my approaching felicity. I imagined that every
house was filled with joyous festivity, the meadows resounded with
sports and revelry, the rivers offered refreshing baths, delicious fish
wantoned in these streams, and how delightful was it to ramble along
the flowery banks! The trees were loaded with the choicest fruits, while
their shade afforded the most charming and voluptuous retreats to happy
lovers; the mountains abounded with milk and cream; peace and leisure,
simplicity and joy, mingled with the charm of going I knew not whither,
and everything I saw carried to my heart some new cause for rapture.
The grandeur, variety, and real beauty of the scene, in some measure
rendered the charm reasonable, in which vanity came in for its share;
to go so young to Italy, view such an extent of country, and pursue the
route of Hannibal over the Alps, appeared a glory beyond my age; add
to all this our frequent and agreeable halts, with a good appetite and
plenty to satisfy it; for in truth it was not worth while to be sparing;
at Mr. Sabran’s table what I eat could scarce be missed. In the whole
course of my life I cannot recollect an interval more perfectly exempt
from care, than the seven or eight days I was passing from Annecy
to Turin. As we were obliged to walk Madam Sabran’s pace, it rather
appeared an agreeable jaunt than a fatiguing journey; there still
remains the most pleasing impressions of it on my mind, and the idea of
a pedestrian excursion, particularly among the mountains, has from this
time seemed delightful.

It was only in my happiest days that I travelled on foot, and ever with
the most unbounded satisfaction; afterwards, occupied with business and
encumbered with baggage, I was forced to act the gentleman and employ a
carriage, where care, embarrassment, and restraint, were sure to be
my companions, and instead of being delighted with the journey, I only
wished to arrive at the place of destination.

I was a long time at Paris, wishing to meet with two companions of
similar dispositions, who would each agree to appropriate fifty guineas
of his property and a year of his time to making the tour of Italy
on foot, with no other attendance than a young fellow to carry our
necessaries; I have met with many who seemed enchanted with the project,
but considered it only as a visionary scheme, which served well enough
to talk of, without any design of putting it in execution. One day,
speaking with enthusiasm of this project to Diderot and Grimm, they gave
into the proposal with such warmth that I thought the matter concluded
on; but it only turned out a journey on paper, in which Grimm thought
nothing so pleasing as making Diderot commit a number of impieties, and
shutting me up in the Inquisition for them, instead of him.

My regret at arriving so soon at Turin was compensated by the pleasure
of viewing a large city, and the hope of figuring there in a conspicuous
character, for my brain already began to be intoxicated with the fumes
of ambition; my present situation appeared infinitely above that of
an apprentice, and I was far from foreseeing how soon I should be much
below it.

Before I proceed, I ought to offer an excuse, or justification to
the reader for the great number of unentertaining particulars I am
necessitated to repeat. In pursuance of the resolution I have formed to
enter on this public exhibition of myself, it is necessary that nothing
should bear the appearance of obscurity or concealment. I should be
continually under the eye of the reader, he should be enabled to follow
me In all the wanderings of my heart, through every intricacy of my
adventures; he must find no void or chasm in my relation, nor lose sight
of me an instant, lest he should find occasion to say, what was he doing
at this time; and suspect me of not having dared to reveal the whole.
I give sufficient scope to malignity in what I say; it is unnecessary I
should furnish still more by my silence.

My money was all gone, even that I had secretly received from Madam
de Warens: I had been so indiscreet as to divulge this secret, and my
conductors had taken care to profit by it. Madam Sabran found means
to deprive me of everything I had, even to a ribbon embroidered with
silver, with which Madam de Warens had adorned the hilt of my sword;
this I regretted more than all the rest; indeed the sword itself would
have gone the same way, had I been less obstinately bent on retaining
it. They had, it is true, supported me during the journey, but left
me nothing at the end of it, and I arrived at Turin, without money,
clothes, or linen, being precisely in the situation to owe to my merit
alone the whole honor of that fortune I was about to acquire.

I took care in the first place to deliver the letters I was charged
with, and was presently conducted to the hospital of the catechumens, to
be instructed in that religion, for which, in return, I was to receive
subsistence. On entering, I passed an iron-barred gate, which was
immediately double-locked on me; this beginning was by no means
calculated to give me a favorable opinion of my situation. I was then
conducted to a large apartment, whose furniture consisted of a wooden
altar at the farther end, on which was a large crucifix, and round
it several indifferent chairs, of the same materials. In this hall of
audience were assembled four or five ill-looking banditti, my comrades
in instruction, who would rather have been taken for trusty servants
of the devil than candidates for the kingdom of heaven. Two of these
fellows were Sclavonians, but gave out they were African Jews, and
(as they assured me) had run through Spain and Italy, embracing the
Christian faith, and being baptised wherever they thought it worth their

Soon after they opened another iron gate, which divided a large balcony
that overlooked a court yard, and by this avenue entered our sister
catechumens, who, like me, were going to be regenerated, not by baptism
but a solemn abjuration. A viler set of idle, dirty, abandoned harlots,
never disgraced any persuasion; one among them, however, appeared pretty
and interesting; she might be about my own age, perhaps a year or two
older, and had a pair of roguish eyes, which frequently encountered
mine; this was enough to inspire me with the desire of becoming
acquainted with her, but she had been so strongly recommended to the
care of the old governess of this respectable sisterhood, and was so
narrowly watched by the pious missionary, who labored for her conversion
with more zeal than diligence, that during the two months we remained
together in this house (where she had already been three) I found it
absolutely impossible to exchange a word with her. She must have been
extremely stupid, though she had not the appearance of it, for never was
a longer course of instruction; the holy man could never bring her to
a state of mind fit for abjuration; meantime she became weary of her
cloister, declaring that, Christian or not, she would stay there no
longer; and they were obliged to take her at her word, lest she should
grow refractory, and insist on departing as great a sinner as she came.

This hopeful community were assembled in honor of the new-comer; when
our guides made us a short exhortation: I was conjured to be obedient
to the grace that Heaven had bestowed on me; the rest were admonished
to assist me with their prayers, and give me edification by their good
example. Our virgins then retired to another apartment, and I was left
to contemplate, at leisure, that wherein I found myself.

The next morning we were again assembled for instruction: I now began
to reflect, for the first time, on the step I was about to take, and the
circumstances which had led me to it.

I repeat, and shall perhaps repeat again, an assertion I have already
advanced, and of whose truth I every day receive fresh conviction, which
is, that if ever child received a reasonable and virtuous education, it
was myself. Born in a family of unexceptionable morals, every lesson
I received was replete with maxims of prudence and virtue. My father
(though fond of gallantry) not only possessed distinguished probity, but
much religion; in the world he appeared a man of pleasure, in his family
he was a Christian, and implanted early in my mind those sentiments he
felt the force of. My three aunts were women of virtue and piety; the
two eldest were professed devotees, and the third, who united all the
graces of wit and good sense, was, perhaps, more truly religious than
either, though with less ostentation. From the bosom of this amiable
family I was transplanted to M. Lambercier’s, a man dedicated to the
ministry, who believed the doctrine he taught, and acted up to its
precepts. He and his sister matured by their instructions those
principles of judicious piety I had already imbibed, and the means
employed by these worthy people were so well adapted to the effect
they meant to produce, that so far from being fatigued, I scarce ever
listened to their admonitions without finding myself sensibly affected,
and forming resolutions to live virtuously, from which, except in
moments of forgetfulness, I seldom swerved. At my uncle’s, religion was
far more tiresome, because they made it an employment; with my master I
thought no more of it, though my sentiments continued the same: I had no
companions to vitiate my morals: I became idle, careless, and obstinate,
but my principles were not impaired.

I possessed as much religion, therefore, as a child could be supposed
capable of acquiring. Why should I now disguise my thoughts? I am
persuaded I had more. In my childhood, I was not a child; I felt, I
thought as a man: as I advanced in years, I mingled with the ordinary
class; in my infancy I was distinguished from it. I shall doubtless
incur ridicule by thus modestly holding myself up for a prodigy--I am
content. Let those who find themselves disposed to it, laugh their fill;
afterward, let them find a child that at six years old is delighted,
interested, affected with romances, even to the shedding floods of
tears; I shall then feel my ridiculous vanity, and acknowledge myself in
an error.

Thus when I said we should not converse with children on religion, if we
wished them ever to possess any; when I asserted they were incapable of
communion with the Supreme Being, even in our confined degree, I drew my
conclusions from general observation; I knew they were not applicable
to particular instances: find J. J. Rousseau of six years old, converse
with them on religious subjects at seven, and I will be answerable that
the experiment will be attended with no danger.

It is understood, I believe, that a child, or even a man, is likely to
be most sincere while persevering in that religion in whose belief
he was born and educated; we frequently detract from, seldom make
any additions to it: dogmatical faith is the effect of education. In
addition to this general principle which attached me to the religion of
my forefathers, I had that particular aversion our city entertains for
Catholicism, which is represented there as the most monstrous idolatry,
and whose clergy are painted in the blackest colors. This sentiment was
so firmly imprinted on my mind, that I never dared to look into their
churches--I could not bear to meet a priest in his surplice, and never
did I hear the bells of a procession sound without shuddering with
horror; these sensations soon wore off in great cities, but frequently
returned in country parishes, which bore more similarity to the spot
where I first experienced them; meantime this dislike was singularly
contrasted by the remembrance of those caresses which priests in the
neighborhood of Geneva are fond of bestowing on the children of that
city. If the bells of the viaticum alarmed me, the chiming for mass
or vespers called me to a breakfast, a collation, to the pleasure of
regaling on fresh butter, fruits, or milk; the good cheer of M. de
Pontverre had produced a considerable effect on me; my former abhorrence
began to diminish, and looking on popery through the medium of amusement
and good living, I easily reconciled myself to the idea of enduring,
though I never entertained but a very transient and distant idea of
making a solemn profession of it.

At this moment such a transaction appeared in all its horrors; I
shuddered at the engagement I had entered into, and its inevitable
consequences. The future neophytes with which I was surrounded were not
calculated to sustain my courage by their example, and I could not help
considering the holy work I was about to perform as the action of a
villain. Though young, I was sufficiently convinced, that whatever
religion might be the true one, I was about to sell mine; and even
should I chance to chose the best, I lied to the Holy Ghost, and
merited the disdain of every good man. The more I considered, the more
I despised myself, and trembled at the fate which had led me into such a
predicament, as if my present situation had not been of my own seeking.
There were moments when these compunctions were so strong that had I
found the door open but for an instant, I should certainly have made
my escape; but this was impossible, nor was the resolution of any long
duration, being combated by too many secret motives to stand any chance
of gaining the victory.

My fixed determination not to return to Geneva, the shame that would
attend it, the difficulty of repassing the mountains, at a distance from
my country, without friends, and without resources, everything concurred
to make me consider my remorse of conscience, as a too late repentance.
I affected to reproach myself for what I had done, to seek excuses for
that I intended to do, and by aggravating the errors of the past, looked
on the future as an inevitable consequence. I did not say, nothing is
yet done, and you may be innocent if you please; but I said, tremble at
the crime thou hast committed, which hath reduced thee to the necessity
of filling up the measure of thine iniquities.

It required more resolution than was natural to my age to revoke those
expectations which I had given them reason to entertain, break those
chains with which I was enthralled, and resolutely declare I would
continue in the religion of my forefathers, whatever might be the
consequence. The affair was already too far advanced, and spite of all
my efforts they would have made a point of bringing it to a conclusion.

The sophism which ruined me has had a similar affect on the greater part
of mankind, who lament the want of resolution when the opportunity for
exercising it is over. The practice of virtue is only difficult from our
own negligence; were we always discreet, we should seldom have occasion
for any painful exertion of it; we are captivated by desires we might
readily surmount, give into temptations that might easily be resisted,
and insensibly get into embarrassing, perilous situations, from which we
cannot extricate ourselves but with the utmost difficulty; intimidated
by the effort, we fall into the abyss, saying to the Almighty, why
hast thou made us such weak creatures? But, notwithstanding our vain
pretexts, He replies, by our consciences, I formed ye too weak to get
out of the gulf, because I gave ye sufficient strength not to have
fallen into it.

I was not absolutely resolved to become a Catholic, but, as it was not
necessary to declare my intentions immediately, I gradually accustomed
myself to the idea; hoping, meantime, that some unforeseen event would
extricate me from my embarrassment. In order to gain time, I resolved to
make the best defence I possibly could in favor of my own opinion; but
my vanity soon rendered this resolution unnecessary, for on finding
I frequently embarrassed those who had the care of my instruction, I
wished to heighten my triumph by giving them a complete overthrow. I
zealously pursued my plan, not without the ridiculous hope of being able
to convert my convertors; for I was simple enough to believe, that could
I convince them of their errors, they would become Protestants; they did
not find, therefore, that facility in the work which they had expected,
as I differed both in regard to will and knowledge from the opinion they
had entertained of me.

Protestants, in general, are better instructed in the principles of
their religion than Catholics; the reason is obvious; the doctrine of
the former requires discussion, of the latter a blind submission;
the Catholic must content himself with the decisions of others, the
Protestant must learn to decide for himself; they were not ignorant of
this, but neither my age nor appearance promised much difficulty to
men so accustomed to disputation. They knew, likewise, that I had not
received my first communion, nor the instructions which accompany it;
but, on the other hand, they had no idea of the information I received
at M. Lambercier’s, or that I had learned the history of the church
and empire almost by heart at my father’s; and though, since that time,
nearly forgot, when warmed by the dispute (very unfortunately for these
gentlemen), it again returned to my memory.

A little old priest, but tolerably venerable, held the first conference;
at which we were all convened. On the part of my comrades, it was rather
a catechism than a controversy, and he found more pains in giving them
instruction than answering their objections; but when it came to my
turn, it was a different matter; I stopped him at every article, and did
not spare a single remark that I thought would create a difficulty: this
rendered the conference long and extremely tiresome to the assistants.
My old priest talked a great deal, was very warm, frequently rambled
from the subject, and extricated himself from difficulties by saying he
was not sufficiently versed in the French language.

The next day, lest my indiscreet objections should injure the minds of
those who were better disposed, I was led into a separate chamber and
put under the care of a younger priest, a fine speaker; that is, one who
was fond of long perplexed sentences, and proud of his own abilities, if
ever doctor was. I did not, however, suffer myself to be intimidated
by his overbearing looks: and being sensible that I could maintain my
ground, I combated his assertions, exposed his mistakes, and laid about
me in the best manner I was able. He thought to silence me at once with
St. Augustine, St. Gregory, and the rest of the fathers, but found, to
his ineffable surprise, that I could handle these almost as dexterously
as himself; not that I had ever read them, or he either, perhaps, but I
retained a number of passages taken from my Le Sueur, and when he bore
hard on me with one citation, without standing to dispute, I parried
it with another, which method embarrassed him extremely. At length,
however, he got the better of me for two very potent reasons; in the
first place, he was of the strongest side; young as I was, I thought it
might be dangerous to drive him to extremities, for I plainly saw the
old priest was neither satisfied with me nor my erudition. In the next
place, he had studied, I had not; this gave a degree of method to
his arguments which I could not follow; and whenever he found himself
pressed by an unforeseen objection he put it off to the next conference,
pretending I rambled from the question in dispute. Sometimes he even
rejected all my quotations, maintaining they were false, and, offering
to fetch the book, defied me to find them. He knew he ran very little
risk, and that, with all my borrowed learning, I was not sufficiently
accustomed to books, and too poor a Latinist to find a passage in a
large volume, had I been ever so well assured it was there. I even
suspected him of having been guilty of a perfidy with which he accused
our ministers, and that he fabricated passages sometimes in order to
evade an objection that incommoded him.

Meanwhile the hospital became every day more disagreeable to me,
and seeing but one way to get out of it, I endeavored to hasten my
abjuration with as much eagerness as I had hitherto sought to retard it.

The two Africans had been baptised with great ceremony, they were
habited in white from head to foot to signify the purity of their
regenerated souls. My turn came a month after; for all this time was
thought necessary by my directors, that they might have the honor of a
difficult conversion, and every dogma of their faith was recapitulated,
in order to triumph the more completely over my new docility.

At length, sufficiently instructed and disposed to the will of my
masters, I was led in procession to the metropolitan church of St. John,
to make a solemn abjuration, and undergo a ceremony made use of on these
occasions, which, though not baptism, is very similar, and serves to
persuade the people that Protestants are not Christians. I was clothed
in a kind of gray robe, decorated with white Brandenburgs. Two men,
one behind, the other before me, carried copper basins which they kept
striking with a key, and in which those who were charitably disposed put
their alms, according as they found themselves influenced by religion or
good will for the new convert; in a word, nothing of Catholic pageantry
was omitted that could render the solemnity edifying to the populace, or
humiliating to me. The white dress might have been serviceable, but as
I had not the honor to be either Moor or Jew, they did not think fit to
compliment me with it.

The affair did not end here, I must now go to the Inquisition to be
absolved from the dreadful sin of heresy, and return to the bosom of the
church with the same ceremony to which Henry the Fourth was subjected
by his ambassador. The air and manner of the right reverend Father
Inquisitor was by no means calculated to dissipate the secret horror
that seized my spirits on entering this holy mansion. After several
questions relative to my faith, situation, and family, he asked me
bluntly if my mother was damned? Terror repressed the first gust of
indignation; this gave me time to recollect myself, and I answered, I
hope not, for God might have enlightened her last moments. The monk
made no reply, but his silence was attended with a look by no means
expressive of approbation.

All these ceremonies ended, the very moment I flattered myself I
should be plentifully provided for, they exhorted me to continue a
good Christian, and live in obedience to the grace I had received; then
wishing me good fortune, with rather more than twenty francs of small
money in my pocket, the produce of the above-mentioned collection,
turned me out, shut the door on me, and I saw no more of them!

Thus, in a moment, all my flattering expectations were at an end; and
nothing remained from my interested conversion but the remembrance of
having been made both a dupe and an apostate. It is easy to imagine
what a sudden revolution was produced in my ideas, when every brilliant
expectation of making a fortune terminated by seeing myself plunged in
the completest misery. In the morning I was deliberating what palace
I should inhabit, before night I was reduced to seek my lodging in the
street. It may be supposed that I gave myself up to the most violent
transports of despair, rendered more bitter by a consciousness that
my own folly had reduced me to these extremities; but the truth is,
I experienced none of these disagreeable sensations. I had passed
two months in absolute confinement; this was new to me; I was now
emancipated, and the sentiment I felt most forcibly, was joy at my
recovered liberty. After a slavery which had appeared tedious, I was
again master of my time and actions, in a great city, abundant in
resources, crowded with people of fortune, to whom my merit and talents
could not fail to recommend me. I had sufficient time before me to
expect this good fortune, for my twenty livres seemed an inexhaustible
treasure, which I might dispose of without rendering an account of to
anyone. It was the first time I had found myself so rich, and far from
giving way to melancholy reflections, I only adopted other hopes, in
which self-love was by no means a loser. Never did I feel so great a
degree of confidence and security; I looked on my fortune as already
made and was pleased to think I should have no one but myself to thank
for the acquisition of it.

The first thing I did was to satisfy my curiosity by rambling all over
the city, and I seemed to consider it as a confirmation of my liberty;
I went to see the soldiers mount guard, and was delighted with their
military accouterment; I followed processions, and was pleased with the
solemn music of the priests; I next went to see the king’s palace,
which I approached with awe, but seeing others enter, I followed their
example, and no one prevented me; perhaps I owed this favor to the small
parcel I carried under my arm; be that as it may, I conceived a high
opinion of my consequence from this circumstance, and already thought
myself an inhabitant there. The weather was hot; I had walked about till
I was both fatigued and hungry; wishing for some refreshment, I went
into a milk-house; they brought me some cream-cheese curds and whey,
and two slices of that excellent Piedmont bread, which I prefer to any
other; and for five or six sous I had one of the most delicious meals I
ever recollect to have made.

It was time to seek a lodging: as I already knew enough of the
Piedmontese language to make myself understood, this was a work of no
great difficulty; and I had so much prudence, that I wished to adapt it
rather to the state of my purse than the bent of my inclinations. In
the course of my inquiries, I was informed that a soldier’s wife, in
Po-street, furnished lodgings to servants out of place at only one sou a
night, and finding one of her poor beds disengaged, I took possession of
it. She was young and newly married, though she already had five or six
children. Mother, children and lodgers, all slept in the same chamber,
and it continued thus while I remained there. She was good-natured,
swore like a carman, and wore neither cap nor handkerchief; but she had
a gentle heart, was officious; and to me both kind and serviceable.

For several days I gave myself up to the pleasures of independence
and curiosity; I continued wandering about the city and its environs,
examining every object that seemed curious or new; and, indeed, most
things had that appearance to a young novice. I never omitted visiting
the court, and assisted regularly every morning at the king’s mass. I
thought it a great honor to be in the same chapel with this prince
and his retinue; but my passion for music, which now began to make its
appearance, was a greater incentive than the splendor of the court,
which, soon seen and always the same, presently lost its attraction.
The King of Sardinia had at that time the best music in Europe; Somis,
Desjardins, and the Bezuzzi shone there alternately; all these were
not necessary to fascinate a youth whom the sound of the most simple
instrument, provided it was just, transported with joy. Magnificence
only produced a stupid admiration, without any violent desire to partake
of it, my thoughts were principally employed in observing whether any
young princess was present that merited my homage, and whom I could make
the heroine of a romance.

Meantime, I was on the point of beginning one; in a less elevated
sphere, it is true, but where could I have brought it to a conclusion, I
should have found pleasures a thousand times more delicious.

Though I lived with the strictest economy, my purse insensibly grew
lighter. This economy was, however, less the effect of prudence than
that love of simplicity, which, even to this day, the use of the most
expensive tables has not been able to vitiate. Nothing in my idea,
either at that time or since, could exceed a rustic repast; give me
milk, vegetables, eggs, and brown bread, with tolerable wine and I shall
always think myself sumptuously regaled; a good appetite will furnish
out the rest, if the maitre d’ hotel, with a number of unnecessary
footmen, do not satiate me with their important attentions. Five or six
sous would then procure me a more agreeable meal than as many livres
would have done since; I was abstemious, therefore, for want of a
temptation to be otherwise: though I do not know but I am wrong to call
this abstinence, for with my pears, new cheese, bread and some glasses
of Montferrat wine, which you might have cut with a knife, I was the
greatest of epicures. Notwithstanding my expenses were very moderate,
it was possible to see the end of twenty livres; I was every day
more convinced of this, and, spite of the giddiness of youth, my
apprehensions for the future amounted almost to terror. All my castles
in the air were vanished, and I became sensible of the necessity of
seeking some occupation that would procure me a subsistence.

Even this was a work of difficulty; I thought of my engraving, but knew
too little of it to be employed as a journeyman, nor do masters abound
in Turin; I resolved, therefore, till something better presented itself,
to go from shop to shop, offering to engrave ciphers, or coats of arms,
on pieces of plate, etc., and hoped to get employment by working at a
low price; or taking what they chose to give me. Even this expedient did
not answer my expectations; almost all my applications were ineffectual,
the little I procured being hardly sufficient to produce a few scanty

Walking one morning pretty early in the ‘Contra nova’, I saw a young
tradeswoman behind a counter, whose looks were so charmingly attractive,
that, notwithstanding my timidity with the ladies, I entered the shop
without hesitation, offered my services as usual: and had the happiness
to have it accepted. She made me sit down and recite my little history,
pitied my forlorn situation; bade me be cheerful, and endeavored to
make me so by an assurance that every good Christian would give me
assistance; then (while she had occasion for) she went up stairs and
fetched me something for breakfast. This seemed a promising beginning,
nor was what followed less flattering: she was satisfied with my work,
and, when I had a little recovered myself, still more with my discourse.
She was rather elegantly dressed and notwithstanding her gentle looks
this appearance of gayety had disconcerted me; but her good-nature, the
compassionate tone of her voice, with her gentle and caressing manner,
soon set me at ease with myself; I saw my endeavors to please were
crowned with success, and this assurance made me succeed the more.
Though an Italian, and too pretty to be entirely devoid of coquetry,
she had so much modesty, and I so great a share of timidity, that our
adventure was not likely to be brought to a very speedy conclusion, nor
did they give us time to make any good of it. I cannot recall the few
short moments I passed with this lovely woman without being sensible of
an inexpressible charm, and can yet say, it was there I tasted in their
utmost perfection the most delightful, as well as the purest pleasures
of love.

She was a lively pleasing brunette, and the good nature that was painted
on her lovely face rendered her vivacity more interesting. She was
called Madam Basile: her husband, who was considerably older than
herself, consigned her, during his absence, to the care of a clerk,
too disagreeable to be thought dangerous; but who, notwithstanding, had
pretensions that he seldom showed any signs of, except of ill-humors, a
good share of which he bestowed on me; though I was pleased to hear
him play the flute, on which he was a tolerable musician. This second
Egistus was sure to grumble whenever he saw me go into his mistress’
apartment, treating me with a degree of disdain which she took care to
repay him with interest; seeming pleased to caress me in his presence,
on purpose to torment him. This kind of revenge, though perfectly to my
taste, would have been still more charming in a ‘tete a tete’, but
she did not proceed so far; at least, there was a difference in the
expression of her kindness. Whether she thought me too young, that it
was my place to make advances, or that she was seriously resolved to
be virtuous, she had at such times a kind of reserve, which, though not
absolutely discouraging, kept my passion within bounds.

I did not feel the same real and tender respect for her as I did for
Madam de Warens: I was embarrassed, agitated, feared to look, and hardly
dared to breathe in her presence, yet to have left her would have been
worse than death: How fondly did my eyes devour whatever they could gaze
on without being perceived! the flowers on her gown, the point of her
pretty foot, the interval of a round white arm that appeared between her
glove and ruffle, the least part of her neck, each object increased the
force of all the rest, and added to the infatuation. Gazing thus on
what was to be seen, and even more than was to be seen, my sight became
confused, my chest seemed contracted, respiration was every moment more
painful. I had the utmost difficulty to hide my agitation, to prevent my
sighs from being heard, and this difficulty was increased by the silence
in which we were frequently plunged. Happily, Madam Basile, busy at her
work, saw nothing of all this, or seemed not to see it: yet I sometimes
observed a kind of sympathy, especially at the frequent rising of her
handkerchief, and this dangerous sight almost mastered every effort, but
when on the point of giving way to my transports, she spoke a few
words to me with an air of tranquility, and in an instant the agitation

I saw her several times in this manner without a word, a gesture, or
even a look, too expressive, making the least intelligence between
us. The situation was both my torment and delight, for hardly in the
simplicity of my heart, could I imagine the cause of my uneasiness. I
should suppose these ‘tete a tete’ could not be displeasing to her,
at least, she sought frequent occasions to renew them; this was a very
disinterested labor, certainly, as appeared by the use she made, or ever
suffered me to make of them.

Being, one day, wearied with the clerk’s discourse, she had retired to
her chamber; I made haste to finish what I had to do in the back shop,
and followed her; the door was half open, and I entered without being
perceived. She was embroidering near a window on the opposite side of
the room; she could not see me; and the carts in the streets made too
much noise for me to be heard. She was always well dressed, but this
day her attire bordered on coquetry. Her attitude was graceful, her head
leaning gently forward, discovered a small circle of her neck; her
hair, elegantly dressed, was ornamented with flowers; her figure was
universally charming, and I had an uninterrupted opportunity to admire
it. I was absolutely in a state of ecstasy, and, involuntary, sinking on
my knees, I passionately extended my arms towards her, certain she could
not hear, and having no conception that she could see me; but there was
a chimney glass at the end of the room that betrayed all my proceedings.
I am ignorant what effect this transport produced on her; she did not
speak; she did not look on me; but, partly turning her head, with the
movement of her finger only, she pointed to the mat that was at her
feet--To start up, with an articulate cry of joy, and occupy the place
she had indicated, was the work of a moment; but it will hardly be
believed I dared attempt no more, not even to speak, raise my eyes
to hers, or rest an instant on her knees, though in an attitude which
seemed to render such a support necessary. I was dumb, immovable, but
far enough from a state of tranquility; agitation, joy, gratitude,
ardent indefinite wishes, restrained by the fear of giving displeasure,
which my unpractised heart too much dreaded, were sufficiently
discernible. She neither appeared more tranquil, nor less intimidated
than myself--uneasy at my present situation; confounded at having
brought me there, beginning to tremble for the effects of a sign which
she had made without reflecting on the consequences, neither giving
encouragement, nor expressing disapprobation, with her eyes fixed on her
work, she endeavored to appear unconscious of everything that passed;
but all my stupidity could not hinder me from concluding that she
partook of my embarrassment, perhaps, my transports, and was only
hindered by a bashfulness like mine, without even that supposition
giving me power to surmount it. Five or six years older than myself,
every advance, according to my idea, should have been made by her, and,
since she did nothing to encourage mine, I concluded they would offend
her. Even at this time, I am inclined to believe I thought right; she
certainly had wit enough to perceive that a novice like me had occasion,
not only for encouragement but instruction.

I am ignorant how this animated, though dumb scene would have ended, or
how long I should have continued immovable in this ridiculous, though
delicious, situation, had we not been interrupted--in the height of my
agitation, I heard the kitchen door open, which joined Madam Basile’s
chamber; who, being alarmed, said, with a quick voice and action, “Get
up! Here’s Rosina!” Rising hastily I seized one of her hands, which she
held out to me, and gave it two eager kisses; at the second I felt this
charming hand press gently on my lips. Never in my life did I enjoy so
sweet a moment; but the occasion I had lost returned no more, this being
the conclusion of our amours.

This may be the reason why her image yet remains imprinted on my heart
in such charming colors, which have even acquired fresh lustre since I
became acquainted with the world and women. Had she been mistress of
the least degree of experience, she would have taken other measures to
animate so youthful a lover; but if her heart was weak, it was
virtuous; and only suffered itself to be borne away by a powerful though
involuntary inclination. This was, apparently, her first infidelity,
and I should, perhaps, have found more difficulty in vanquishing her
scruples than my own; but, without proceeding so far, I experienced in
her company the most inexpressible delights. Never did I taste with any
other woman pleasures equal to those two minutes which I passed at
the feet of Madam Basile without even daring to touch her gown. I
am convinced no satisfaction can be compared to that we feel with a
virtuous woman we esteem; all is transport!--A sign with the finger,
a hand lightly pressed against my lips, were the only favors I ever
received from Madam Basile, yet the bare remembrance of these trifling
condescensions continues to transport me.

It was in vain I watched the two following days for another tete a tete;
it was impossible to find an opportunity; nor could I perceive on her
part any desire to forward it; her behavior was not colder, but more
distant than usual, and I believe she avoided my looks for fear of not
being able sufficiently to govern her own. The cursed clerk was more
vexatious than ever; he even became a wit, telling me, with a satirical
sneer, that I should unquestionably make my way among the ladies.
I trembled lest I should have been guilty of some indiscretion, and
looking at myself as already engaged in an intrigue, endeavored to cover
with an air of mystery an inclination which hitherto certainly had
no great need of it; this made me more circumspect in my choice
of opportunities, and by resolving only to seize such as should be
absolutely free from the danger of a surprise, I met none.

Another romantic folly, which I could never overcome, and which, joined
to my natural timidity, tended directly to contradict the clerk’s
predictions, is, I always loved too sincerely, too perfectly, I may say,
to find happiness easily attainable. Never were passions at the same
time more lively and pure than mine; never was love more tender, more
true, or more disinterested; freely would I have sacrificed my own
happiness to that of the object of my affection; her reputation was
dearer than my life, and I could promise myself no happiness for which I
would have exposed her peace of mind for a moment. This disposition has
ever made me employ so much care, use so many precautions, such secrecy
in my adventures, that all of them have failed; in a word, my want of
success with the women has ever proceeded from having loved them too

To return to our Egistus, the fluter; it was remarkable that in becoming
more insupportable, the traitor put on the appearance of complaisance.
From the first day Madam Basile had taken me under her protection, she
had endeavored to make me serviceable in the warehouse; and finding I
understood arithmetic tolerably well, she proposed his teaching me to
keep the books; a proposition that was but indifferently received by
this humorist, who might, perhaps, be fearful of being supplanted. As
this failed, my whole employ, besides what engraving I had to do, was
to transcribe some bills and accounts, to write several books over fair,
and translate commercial letters from Italian into French. All at once
he thought fit to accept the before rejected proposal, saying, he would
teach me bookkeeping by double-entry, and put me in a situation to
offer my services to M. Basile on his return; but there was something so
false, malicious, and ironical, in his air and manner, that it was by
no means calculated to inspire me with confidence. Madam Basile, replied
archly, that I was much obliged to him for his kind offer, but she hoped
fortune would be more favorable to my merits, for it would be a great
misfortune, with so much sense, that I should only be a pitiful clerk.

She often said, she would procure me some acquaintance that might be
useful; she doubtless felt the necessity of parting with me, and
had prudently resolved on it. Our mute declaration had been made on
Thursday, the Sunday following she gave a dinner. A Jacobin of good
appearance was among the guests, to whom she did me the honor to present
me. The monk treated me very affectionately, congratulated me on my late
conversion, mentioned several particulars of my story, which plainly
showed he had been made acquainted with it, then, tapping me familiarly
on the cheek, bade me be good, to keep up my spirits, and come to see
him at his convent, where he should have more opportunity to talk with
me. I judged him to be a person of some consequence by the deference
that was paid him; and by the paternal tone he assumed with Madam
Basile, to be her confessor. I likewise remember that his decent
familiarity was attended with an appearance of esteem, and even respect
for his fair penitent, which then made less impression on me than at
present. Had I possessed more experience how should I have congratulated
myself on having touched the heart of a young woman respected by her

The table not being large enough to accommodate all the company, a
small one was prepared, where I had the satisfaction of dining with our
agreeable clerk; but I lost nothing with regard to attention and
good cheer, for several plates were sent to the side-table which were
certainly not intended for him.

Thus far all went well; the ladies were in good spirits, and the
gentlemen very gallant, while Madam Basile did the honors of the table
with peculiar grace. In the midst of the dinner we heard a chaise stop
at the door, and presently some one coming up stairs--it was M. Basile.
Methinks I now see him entering, in his scarlet coat with gold buttons--
from that day I have held the color in abhorrence. M. Basile was a tall
handsome man, of good address: he entered with a consequential look
and an air of taking his family unawares, though none but friends were
present. His wife ran to meet him, threw her arms about his neck,
and gave him a thousand caresses, which he received with the utmost
indifference; and without making any return saluted the company and took
his place at table. They were just beginning to speak of his journey,
when casting his eye on the small table he asked in a sharp tone,
what lad that was? Madam Basile answered ingenuously. He then inquired
whether I lodged in the house; and was answered in the negative. “Why
not?” replied he, rudely, “since he stays here all day, he might as well
remain all night too.” The monk now interfered, with a serious and true
eulogium on Madam Basile: in a few words he made mine also, adding, that
so far from blaming, he ought to further the pious charity of his wife,
since it was evident she had not passed the bounds of discretion. The
husband answered with an air of petulance, which (restrained by
the presence of the monk) he endeavored to stifle; it was, however,
sufficient to let me understand he had already received information of
me, and that our worthy clerk had rendered me an ill office.

We had hardly risen from table, when the latter came in triumph from his
employer, to inform me, I must leave the house that instant, and never
more during my life dare to set foot there. He took care to aggravate
this commission by everything that could render it cruel and insulting.
I departed without a word, my heart overwhelmed with sorrow, less for
being obliged to quit this amiable woman, than at the thought of leaving
her to the brutality of such a husband. He was certainly right to wish
her faithful; but though prudent and wellborn, she was an Italian, that
is to say, tender and vindictive; which made me think, he was extremely
imprudent in using means the most likely in the world to draw on himself
the very evil he so much dreaded.

Such was the success of my first adventure. I walked several times up
and down the street, wishing to get a sight of what my heart incessantly
regretted; but I could only discover her husband, or the vigilant clerk,
who, perceiving me, made a sign with the ell they used in the shop,
which was more expressive than alluring: finding, therefore, that I was
so completely watched, my courage failed, and I went no more. I
wished, at least, to find out the patron she had provided me, but,
unfortunately, I did not know his name. I ranged several times round the
convent, endeavoring in vain to meet with him. At length, other events
banished the delightful remembrance of Madam Basile; and in a short
time I so far forgot her, that I remained as simple, as much a novice
as ever, nor did my penchant for pretty women even receive any sensible

Her liberality had, however, increased my little wardrobe, though she
had done this with precaution and prudence, regarding neatness more than
decoration, and to make me comfortable rather than brilliant. The coat I
had brought from Geneva was yet wearable, she only added a hat and some
linen. I had no ruffles, nor would she give me any, not but I felt a
great inclination for them. She was satisfied with having put it in my
power to keep myself clean, though a charge to do this was unnecessary
while I was to appear before her.

A few days after this catastrophe; my hostess, who, as I have already
observed, was very friendly, with great satisfaction informed me she
had heard of a situation, and that a lady of rank desired to see me. I
immediately thought myself in the road to great adventures; that being
the point to which all my ideas tended: this, however, did not prove so
brilliant as I had conceived it. I waited on the lady with the servant
who had mentioned me: she asked a number of questions, and my answers
not displeasing her, I immediately entered into her service not, indeed,
in the quality of favorite, but as a footman. I was clothed like
the rest of her people, the only difference being, they wore a
shoulder-knot, which I had not, and, as there was no lace on her
livery, it appeared merely a tradesman’s suit. This was the unforeseen
conclusion of all my great expectancies!

The Countess of Vercellis, with whom I now lived, was a widow without
children; her husband was a Piedmontese, but I always believed her to
be a Savoyard, as I could have no conception that a native of Piedmont
could speak such good French, and with so pure an accent. She was a
middle-aged woman, of a noble appearance and cultivated understanding,
being fond of French literature, in which she was well versed. Her
letters had the expression, and almost the elegance of Madam de
Savigne’s; some of them might have been taken for hers. My principal
employ, which was by no means displeasing to me, was to write from her
dictating; a cancer in the breast, from which she suffered extremely,
not permitting her to write herself.

Madam de Vercellis not only possessed a good understanding, but a strong
and elevated soul. I was with her during her last illness, and saw her
suffer and die, without showing an instant of weakness, or the least
effort of constraint; still retaining her feminine manners, without
entertaining an idea that such fortitude gave her any claim to
philosophy; a word which was not yet in fashion, nor comprehended by
her in the sense it is held at present. This strength of disposition
sometimes extended almost to apathy, ever appearing to feel as little
for others as herself; and when she relieved the unfortunate, it was
rather for the sake of acting right, than from a principle of real
commiseration. I have frequently experienced this insensibility, in some
measure, during the three months I remained with her. It would have been
natural to have had an esteem for a young man of some abilities, who
was incessantly under her observation, and that she should think, as
she felt her dissolution approaching, that after her death he would have
occasion for assistance and support: but whether she judged me unworthy
of particular attention, or that those who narrowly watched all her
motions, gave her no opportunity to think of any but themselves, she did
nothing for me.

I very well recollect that she showed some curiosity to know my story,
frequently questioning me, and appearing pleased when I showed her the
letters I wrote to Madam de Warens, or explained my sentiments; but as
she never discovered her own, she certainly did not take the right means
to come at them. My heart, naturally communicative, loved to display its
feelings, whenever I encountered a similar disposition; but dry, cold
interrogatories, without any sign of blame or approbation on my answers,
gave me no confidence. Not being able to determine whether my discourse
was agreeable or displeasing, I was ever in fear, and thought less of
expressing my ideas, than of being careful not to say anything that
might seem to my disadvantage. I have since remarked that this dry
method of questioning themselves into people’s characters is a common
trick among women who pride themselves on superior understanding. These
imagine, that by concealing their own sentiments, they shall the more
easily penetrate into those of others; being ignorant that this method
destroys the confidence so necessary to make us reveal them. A man, on
being questioned, is immediately on his guard: and if once he supposes
that, without any interest in his concerns, you only wish to set him
a-talking, either he entertains you with lies, is silent, or, examining
every word before he utters it, rather chooses to pass for a fool, than
to be the dupe of your curiosity. In short, it is ever a bad method to
attempt to read the hearts of others by endeavoring to conceal our own.

Madam de Vercellis never addressed a word to me which seemed to express
affection, pity, or benevolence. She interrogated me coldly, and
my answers were uttered with so much timidity, that she doubtless
entertained but a mean opinion of my intellects, for latterly she
never asked me any questions, nor said anything but what was absolutely
necessary for her service. She drew her judgment less from what I really
was, than from what she had made me, and by considering me as a footman
prevented my appearing otherwise.

I am inclined to think I suffered at that time by the same interested
game of concealed manoeuvre, which has counteracted me throughout my
life, and given me a very natural aversion for everything that has
the least appearance of it. Madam de Vercellis having no children,
her nephew, the Count de la Roque, was her heir, and paid his court
assiduously, as did her principal domestics, who, seeing her end
approaching, endeavored to take care of themselves; in short, so many
were busy about her, that she could hardly have found time to think of
me. At the head of her household was a M. Lorenzy, an artful genius,
with a still more artful wife; who had so far insinuated herself into
the good graces of her mistress, that she was rather on the footing of
a friend than a servant. She had introduced a niece of hers as lady’s
maid: her name was Mademoiselle Pontal; a cunning gypsy, that gave
herself all the airs of a waiting-woman, and assisted her aunt so well
in besetting the countess, that she only saw with their eyes, and acted
through their hands. I had not the happiness to please this worthy
triumvirate; I obeyed, but did not wait on them, not conceiving that
my duty to our general mistress required me to be a servant to her
servants. Besides this, I was a person that gave them some inquietude;
they saw I was not in my proper situation, and feared the countess would
discover it likewise, and by placing me in it, decrease their portions;
for such sort of people, too greedy to be just, look on every legacy
given to others as a diminution of their own wealth; they endeavored,
therefore, to keep me as much out of her sight as possible. She loved
to write letters, in her situation, but they contrived to give her a
distaste to it; persuading her, by the aid of the doctor, that it was
too fatiguing; and, under pretence that I did not understand how to wait
on her, they employed two great lubberly chairmen for that purpose; in
a word, they managed the affair so well, that for eight days before she
made her will, I had not been permitted to enter the chamber. Afterwards
I went in as usual, and was even more assiduous than any one, being
afflicted at the sufferings of the unhappy lady, whom I truly respected
and beloved for the calmness and fortitude with which she bore her
illness, and often did I shed tears of real sorrow without being
perceived by any one.

At length we lost her--I saw her expire. She had lived like a woman of
sense and virtue, her death was that of a philosopher. I can truly say,
she rendered the Catholic religion amiable to me by the serenity with
which she fulfilled its dictates, without any mixture of negligence
or affectation. She was naturally serious, but towards the end of her
illness she possessed a kind of gayety, too regular to be assumed, which
served as a counterpoise to the melancholy of her situation. She only
kept her bed two days, continuing to discourse cheerfully with those
about her to the very last.

She had bequeathed a year’s wages to all the under servants, but, not
being on the household list, I had nothing: the Count de la Roque,
however, ordered me thirty livres, and the new coat I had on, which M.
Lorenzy would certainly have taken from me. He even promised to procure
me a place; giving me permission to wait on him as often as I pleased.
Accordingly, I went two or three times, without being able to speak to
him, and as I was easily repulsed, returned no more; whether I did wrong
will be seen hereafter.

Would I had finished what I have to say of my living at Madam de
Vercellis’s. Though my situation apparently remained the same, I did
not leave her house as I had entered it: I carried with me the long and
painful remembrance of a crime; an insupportable weight of remorse which
yet hangs on my conscience, and whose bitter recollection, far from
weakening, during a period of forty years, seems to gather strength as I
grow old. Who would believe, that a childish fault should be productive
of such melancholy consequences? But it is for the more than probable
effects that my heart cannot be consoled. I have, perhaps, caused an
amiable, honest, estimable girl, who surely merited a better fate than
myself, to perish with shame and misery.

Though it is very difficult to break up housekeeping without confusion,
and the loss of some property; yet such was the fidelity of the
domestics, and the vigilance of M. and Madam Lorenzy, that no article
of the inventory was found wanting; in short, nothing was missing but
a pink and silver ribbon, which had been worn, and belonged to
Mademoiselle Pontal. Though several things of more value were in my
reach, this ribbon alone tempted me, and accordingly I stole it. As I
took no great pains to conceal the bauble, it was soon discovered;
they immediately insisted on knowing from whence I had taken it; this
perplexed me--I hesitated, and at length said, with confusion, that
Marion gave it me.

Marion was a young Mauriennese, and had been cook to Madam de Vercellis
ever since she left off giving entertainments, for being sensible she
had more need of good broths than fine ragouts, she had discharged her
former one. Marion was not only pretty, but had that freshness of color
only to be found among the mountains, and, above all, an air of modesty
and sweetness, which made it impossible to see her without affection;
she was besides a good girl, virtuous, and of such strict fidelity,
that everyone was surprised at hearing her named. They had not less
confidence in me, and judged it necessary to certify which of us was the
thief. Marion was sent for; a great number of people were present, among
whom was the Count de la Roque: she arrives; they show her the ribbon;
I accuse her boldly: she remains confused and speechless, casting a look
on me that would have disarmed a demon, but which my barbarous heart
resisted. At length, she denied it with firmness, but without anger,
exhorting me to return to myself, and not injure an innocent girl
who had never wronged me. With infernal impudence, I confirmed my
accusation, and to her face maintained she had given me the ribbon:
on which, the poor girl, bursting into tears, said these words--“Ah,
Rousseau! I thought you a good disposition--you render me very unhappy,
but I would not be in your situation.” She continued to defend herself
with as much innocence as firmness, but without uttering the least
invective against me. Her moderation, compared to my positive tone, did
her an injury; as it did not appear natural to suppose, on one side such
diabolical assurance; on the other, such angelic mildness. The affair
could not be absolutely decided, but the presumption was in my favor;
and the Count de la Roque, in sending us both away, contented himself
with saying, “The conscience of the guilty would revenge the innocent.”
 His prediction was true, and is being daily verified.

I am ignorant what became of the victim of my calumny, but there is
little probability of her having been able to place herself agreeably
after this, as she labored under an imputation cruel to her character in
every respect. The theft was a trifle, yet it was a theft, and, what
was worse, employed to seduce a boy; while the lie and obstinacy left
nothing to hope from a person in whom so many vices were united. I do
not even look on the misery and disgrace in which I plunged her as the
greatest evil: who knows, at her age, whither contempt and disregarded
innocence might have led her?--Alas! if remorse for having made her
unhappy is insupportable, what must I have suffered at the thought of
rendering her even worse than myself. The cruel remembrance of this
transaction, sometimes so troubles and disorders me, that, in my
disturbed slumbers, I imagine I see this poor girl enter and reproach me
with my crime, as though I had committed it but yesterday. While in
easy tranquil circumstances, I was less miserable on this account,
but, during a troubled agitated life, it has robbed me of the sweet
consolation of persecuted innocence, and made me wofully experience,
what, I think, I have remarked in some of my works, that remorse
sleeps in the calm sunshine of prosperity, but wakes amid the storms of
adversity. I could never take on me to discharge my heart of this weight
in the bosom of a friend; nor could the closest intimacy ever encourage
me to it, even with Madam de Warens: all I could do, was to own I had
to accuse myself of an atrocious crime, but never said in what it
consisted. The weight, therefore, has remained heavy on my conscience
to this day; and I can truly own the desire of relieving myself, in some
measure, from it, contributed greatly to the resolution of writing my

I have proceeded truly in that I have just made, and it will certainly
be thought I have not sought to palliate the turpitude of my offence;
but I should not fulfill the purpose of this undertaking, did I not, at
the same time, divulge my interior disposition, and excuse myself as far
as is conformable with truth.

Never was wickedness further from my thoughts, than in that cruel
moment; and when I accused the unhappy girl, it is strange, but strictly
true, that my friendship for her was the immediate cause of it. She was
present to my thoughts; I formed my excuse from the first object that
presented itself: I accused her with doing what I meant to have done,
and as I designed to have given her the ribbon, asserted she had given
it to me. When she appeared, my heart was agonized, but the presence
of so many people was more powerful than my compunction. I did not fear
punishment, but I dreaded shame: I dreaded it more than death, more than
the crime, more than all the world. I would have buried, hid myself
in the centre of the earth: invincible shame bore down every other
sentiment; shame alone caused all my impudence, and in proportion as I
became criminal, the fear of discovery rendered me intrepid. I felt no
dread but that of being detected, of being publicly, and to my face,
declared a thief, liar, and calumniator; an unconquerable fear of this
overcame every other sensation. Had I been left to myself, I should
infallibly have declared the truth. Or if M. de la Roque had taken me
aside, and said--“Do not injure this poor girl; if you are guilty own
it,”--I am convinced I should instantly have thrown myself at his feet;
but they intimidated, instead of encouraging me. I was hardly out of
my childhood, or rather, was yet in it. It is also just to make some
allowance for my age. In youth, dark, premeditated villainy is more
criminal than in a riper age, but weaknesses are much less so; my fault
was truly nothing more; and I am less afflicted at the deed itself than
for its consequences. It had one good effect, however, in preserving me
through the rest of my life from any criminal action, from the terrible
impression that has remained from the only one I ever committed; and I
think my aversion for lying proceeds in a great measure from regret
at having been guilty of so black a one. If it is a crime that can be
expiated, as I dare believe, forty years of uprightness and honor
on various difficult occasions, with the many misfortunes that have
overwhelmed my latter years, may have completed it. Poor Marion has
found so many avengers in this world, that however great my offence
towards her, I do not fear to bear the guilt with me. Thus have I
disclosed what I had to say on this painful subject; may I be permitted
never to mention it again.


|Leaving the service of Madam de Vercellis nearly as I had entered it,
I returned to my former hostess, and remained there five or six weeks;
during which time health, youth, and laziness, frequently rendered my
temperament importunate. I was restless, absent, and thoughtful: I wept
and sighed for a happiness I had no idea of, though at the same time
highly sensible of some deficiency. This situation is indescribable, few
men can even form any conception of it, because, in general, they have
prevented that plenitude of life, at once tormenting and delicious. My
thoughts were incessantly occupied with girls and women, but in a
manner peculiar to myself: these ideas kept my senses in a perpetual and
disagreeable activity, though, fortunately, they did not point out the
means of deliverance. I would have given my life to have met with a Miss
Goton, but the time was past in which the play of infancy predominated;
increase of years had introduced shame, the inseparable companion of
a conscious deviation from rectitude, which so confirmed my natural
timidity as to render it invincible; and never, either at that time or
since, could I prevail on myself to offer a proposition favorable to my
wishes (unless in a manner constrained to it by previous advances) even
with those whose scruples I had no cause to dread.

My stay at Madam de Vercellis’s had procured me some acquaintance, which
I thought might be serviceable to me, and therefore wished to retain.
Among others, I sometimes visited a Savoyard abbe, M. Gaime, who was
tutor to the Count of Melarede’s children. He was young, and not much
known, but possessed an excellent cultivated understanding, with great
probity, and was, altogether, one of the best men I ever knew. He was
incapable of doing me the service I then stood most in need of, not
having sufficient interest to procure me a situation, but from him
I reaped advantages far more precious, which have been useful to me
through life, lessons of pure morality, and maxims of sound judgment.

In the successive order of my inclinations and ideas, I had ever been
too high or too low. Achilles or Thersites; sometimes a hero, at others
a villain. M. Gaime took pains to make me properly acquainted with
myself, without sparing or giving me too much discouragement. He spoke
in advantageous terms of my disposition and talents, adding, that
he foresaw obstacles which would prevent my profiting by them; thus,
according to him, they were to serve less as steps by which I should
mount to fortune, than as resources which might enable me to exist
without one. He gave me a true picture of human life, of which,
hitherto, I had formed but a very erroneous idea, teaching me, that a
man of understanding, though destined to experience adverse fortune,
might, by skilful management, arrive at happiness; that there was no
true felicity without virtue, which was practicable in every situation.
He greatly diminished my admiration of grandeur, by proving that those
in a superior situation are neither better nor happier than those they
command. One of his maxims has frequently returned to my memory: it was,
that if we could truly read the hearts of others we should feel more
inclination to descend than rise: this reflection, the truth of which
is striking without extravagance, I have found of great utility, in the
various exigences of my life, as it tended to make me satisfied with
my condition. He gave me the first just conception of relative duties,
which my high-flown imagination had ever pictured in extremes, making
me sensible that the enthusiasm of sublime virtues is of little use in
society; that while endeavoring to rise too high we are in danger of
falling; and that a virtuous and uniform discharge of little duties
requires as great a degree of fortitude as actions which are called
heroic, and would at the same time procure more honor and happiness.
That it was infinitely more desirable to possess the lasting esteem of
those about us, than at intervals to attract admiration.

In properly arranging the various duties between man and man, it was
necessary to ascend to principles; the step I had recently taken, and
of which my present situation was the consequence, naturally led us to
speak of religion. It will easily be conceived that the honest M. Gaime
was, in a great measure, the original of the Savoyard Vicar; prudence
only obliging him to deliver his sentiments, on certain points, with
more caution and reserve, and explain himself with less freedom; but his
sentiments and councils were the same, not even excepting his advice to
return to my country; all was precisely as I have since given it to the
pubic. Dwelling no longer, therefore, on conversations which everyone
may see the substance of, I shall only add, that these wise instructions
(though they did not produce an immediate effect) were as so many seeds
of virtue and religion in my heart which were never rooted out, and only
required the fostering cares of friendship to bring to maturity.

Though my conversation was not very sincere, I was affected by his
discourses, and far from being weary, was pleased with them on account
of their clearness and simplicity, but above all because his heart
seemed interested in what he said. My disposition is naturally tender,
I have ever been less attached to people for the good they have really
done me than for that they designed to do, and my feelings in this
particular have seldom misled me: thus I truly esteemed M. Gaime. I
was in a manner his second disciple, which even at that time was of
inestimable service in turning me from a propensity to vice into which
my idleness was leading me.

One day, when I least expected it, I was sent for by the Count de la
Roque. Having frequently called at his house, without being able to
speak with him, I grew weary, and supposing he had either forgot me or
retained some unfavorable impression of me, returned no more: but I was
mistaken in both these conjectures. He had more than once witnessed the
pleasure I took in fulfilling my duty to his aunt: he had even mentioned
it to her, and afterwards spoke of it, when I no longer thought of it

He received me graciously, saying that instead of amusing me with
useless promises, he had sought to place me to advantage; that he had
succeeded, and would put me in a way to better my situation, but
the rest must depend on myself. That the family into which he should
introduce me being both powerful and esteemed, I should need no other
patrons; and though at first on the footing of a servant, I might
be assured, that if my conduct and sentiments were found above that
station, I should not long remain in it. The end of this discourse
cruelly disappointed the brilliant hopes the beginning had inspired.
“What! forever a footman?” said I to myself, with a bitterness which
confidence presently effaced, for I felt myself too superior to that
situation to fear long remaining there.

He took me to the Count de Gauvon, Master of the Horse to the Queen, and
Chief of the illustrious House of Solar. The air of dignity conspicuous
in this respectable old man, rendered the affability with which
he received me yet more interesting. He questioned me with evident
interest, and I replied with sincerity. He then told the Count de la
Roque, that my features were agreeable, and promised intellect, which he
believed I was not deficient in; but that was not enough, and time must
show the rest; after which, turning to me, he said, “Child, almost
all situations are attended with difficulties in the beginning; yours,
however, shall not have too great a portion of them; be prudent, and
endeavor to please everyone, that will be almost your only employment;
for the rest fear nothing, you shall be taken care of.” Immediately
after he went to the Marchioness de Breil, his daughter-in-law, to whom
he presented me, and then to the Abbe de Gauvon, his son. I was elated
with this beginning, as I knew enough of the world already to conclude,
that so much ceremony is not generally used at the reception of a
footman. In fact, I was not treated like one. I dined at the steward’s
table; did not wear a livery; and the Count de Favria (a giddy youth)
having commanded me to get behind his coach, his grandfather ordered
that I should get behind no coach, nor follow any one out of the house.
Meantime, I waited at table, and did, within doors, the business of a
footman; but I did it, as it were, of my own free will, without being
appointed to any particular service; and except writing some letters,
which were dictated to me, and cutting out some ornaments for the Count
de Favria, I was almost the absolute master of my time. This trial of my
discretion, which I did not then perceive, was certainly very dangerous,
and not very humane; for in this state of idleness I might have
contracted vices which I should not otherwise have given into.
Fortunately, it did not produce that effect; my memory retained the
lessons of M. Gaime, they had made an impression on my heart, and I
sometimes escaped from the house of my patron to obtain a repetition of
them. I believe those who saw me going out, apparently by stealth, had
no conception of my business. Nothing could be more prudent than the
advice he gave me respecting my conduct. My beginning was admirable;
so much attention, assiduity, and zeal, had charmed everyone. The Abby
Gaime advised me to moderate this first ardor, lest I should relax, and
that relaxation should be considered as neglect. “Your setting out,”
 said he, “is the rule of what will be expected of you; endeavor
gradually to increase your attentions, but be cautious how you diminish

As they paid but little attention to my trifling talents, and supposed
I possessed no more than nature had given me, there was no appearance
(notwithstanding the promises of Count de Gauvon) of my meeting with
any particular consideration. Some objects of more consequence had
intervened. The Marquis de Breil, son of the Count de Gauvon, was then
ambassador at Vienna; some circumstances had occurred at that court
which for some weeks kept the family in continual agitation, and left
them no time to think of me. Meantime I had relaxed but little in my
attentions, though one object in the family did me both good and harm,
making me more secure from exterior dissipation, but less attentive to
my duty.

Mademoiselle de Breil was about my own age, tolerably handsome, and
very fair complexioned, with black hair, which notwithstanding, gave
her features that air of softness so natural to the flaxen, and which my
heart could never resist. The court dress, so favorable to youth, showed
her fine neck and shape to advantage, and the mourning, which was then
worn, seemed to add to her beauty. It will be said, a domestic should
not take notice of these things; I was certainly to blame, yet I
perceived all this, nor was I the only one; the maitre d’ hotel and
valet de chambre spoke of her sometimes at table with a vulgarity that
pained me extremely. My head, however, was not sufficiently turned
to allow of my being entirely in love; I did not forget myself, or
my situation. I loved to see Mademoiselle de Breil; to hear her utter
anything that marked wit, sense, or good humor: my ambition, confined to
a desire of waiting on her, never exceeded its just rights. At table I
was ever attentive to make the most of them; if her footman quitted
her chair, I instantly supplied his place; in default of this, I stood
facing her, seeking in her eyes what she was about to ask for, and
watching the moment to change her plate. What would I not have given to
hear her command, to have her look at, or speak the smallest word to me!
but no, I had the mortification to be beneath her regard; she did not
even perceive I was there. Her brother, who frequently spoke to me
while at table, having one day said something which I did not consider
obliging, I made him so arch and well-turned an answer, that it drew her
attention; she cast her eyes upon me, and this glance was sufficient
to fill me with transport. The next day, a second occasion presented
itself, which I fortunately made use of. A great dinner was given; and I
saw, with astonishment, for the first time, the maitre d’ hotel waiting
at table, with a sword by his side, and hat on his head. By chance, the
discourse turned on the motto of the house of Solar, which was, with
the arms, worked in the tapestry: ‘Tel fiert qui ne fue pas’. As the
Piedmontese are not in general very perfect in the French language, they
found fault with the orthography, saying, that in the word fiert there
should be no ‘t’. The old Count de Gauvon was going to reply, when
happening to cast his eyes on me, he perceived I smiled without daring
to say anything; he immediately ordered me to speak my opinion. I then
said, I did not think the ‘t’ superfluous, ‘fiert’ being an old French
word, not derived from the noun ‘ferus’, proud, threatening; but from
the verb ‘ferit’, he strikes, he wounds; the motto, therefore, did not
appear to mean, some threat, but, ‘Some strike who do not kill’. The
whole company fixed their eyes on me, then on each other, without
speaking a word; never was a greater degree of astonishment; but what
most flattered me, was an air of satisfaction which I perceived on the
countenance of Mademoiselle de Breil. This scornful lady deigned to cast
on me a second look at least as valuable as the former, and turning to
her grandfather, appeared to wait with impatience for the praise
that was due to me, and which he fully bestowed, with such apparent
satisfaction, that it was eagerly chorused by the whole table. This
interval was short, but delightful in many respects; it was one of those
moments so rarely met with, which place things in their natural order,
and revenge depressed merit for the injuries of fortune. Some minutes
after Mademoiselle de Breil again raised her eyes, desiring me with
a voice of timid affability to give her some drink. It will easily be
supposed I did not let her wait, but advancing towards her, I was seized
with such a trembling, that having filled the glass too full, I spilled
some of the water on her plate, and even on herself. Her brother asked
me, giddily, why I trembled thus? This question increased my confusion,
while the face of Mademoiselle de Breil was suffused with a crimson

Here ended the romance; where it may be remarked (as with Madam Basile,
and others in the continuation of my life) that I was not fortunate in
the conclusion of my amours. In vain I placed myself in the antechamber
of Madam de Breil, I could not obtain one mark of attention from her
daughter; she went in and out without looking at me, nor had I the
confidence to raise my eyes to her; I was even so foolishly stupid, that
one day, on dropping her glove as she passed, instead of seizing and
covering it with kisses, as I would gladly have done, I did not dare
to quit my place, but suffered it to be taken up by a great booby of a
footman, whom I could willingly have knocked down for his officiousness.
To complete my timidity, I perceived I had not the good fortune to
please Madam de Breil; she not only never ordered, but even rejected, my
services; and having twice found me in her antechamber, asked me, dryly,
“If I had nothing to do?” I was obliged, therefore, to renounce this
dear antechamber; at first it caused me some uneasiness, but other
things intervening, I presently thought no more of it.

The disdain of Madam de Breil was fully compensated by the kindness of
her father-in-law, who at length began to think of me. The evening after
the entertainment, I have already mentioned, he had a conversation
with me that lasted half an hour, which appeared to satisfy him, and
absolutely enchanted me. This good man had less sense than Madam de
Vercellis, but possessed more feeling; I therefore succeeded much better
with him. He bade me attach myself to his son, the Abbe Gauvon, who
had an esteem for me, which, if I took care to cultivate, might be
serviceable in furnishing me with what was necessary to complete their
views for my future establishment. The next morning I flew to M. the
Abbe, who did not receive me as a servant, but made me sit by his
fireside, and questioned me with great affability. He soon found that
my education, which had attempted many things, had completed none; but
observing that I understood something of Latin, he undertook to teach me
more, and appointed me to attend him every morning. Thus, by one of the
whimsicalities which have marked the whole course of my life, at once
above and below my natural situation, I was pupil and footman in
the same house: and though in servitude, had a preceptor whose birth
entitled him to supply that place only to the children of kings.

The Abbe de Gauvon was a younger son, and designed by his family for a
bishopric, for which reason his studies had been pursued further than
is usual with people of quality. He had been sent to the university of
Sienna, where he had resided some years, and from whence he had brought
a good portion of cruscantism, designing to be that at Turin which the
Abbe de Dangeau was formerly at Paris. Being disgusted with theology,
he gave in to the belle-lettres, which is very frequent in Italy, with
those who have entered the career of prelacy. He had studied the poets,
and wrote tolerable Latin and Italian verses; in a word, his taste
was calculated to form mine, and give some order to that chaos of
insignificant trash with which my brain was encumbered; but whether
my prating had misled him, or that he could not support the trouble of
teaching the elementary parts of Latin, he put me at first too high; and
I had scarcely translated a few fables of Phoedrus before he put me
into Virgil, where I could hardly understand anything. It will be seen
hereafter that I was destined frequently to learn Latin, but never to
attain it. I labored with assiduity, and the abbe bestowed his attention
with a degree of kindness, the remembrance of which, even at this time,
both interests and softens me. I passed the greater part of the morning
with him as much for my own instruction as his service; not that he ever
permitted me to perform any menial office, but to copy, or write from
his dictating; and my employment of secretary was more useful than that
of scholar, and by this means I not only learned the Italian in its
utmost purity, but also acquired a taste for literature, and some
discernment of composition, which could not have been at La Tribu’s, and
which was useful to me when I afterwards wrote alone.

At this period of my life, without being romantic, I might reasonably
have indulged the hope of preferment. The abbe, thoroughly pleased with
me, expressed his satisfaction to everyone, while his father had such
a singular affection for me, that I was assured by the Count de Favria,
that he had spoken of me to the king; even Madam de Breil had laid aside
her disdainful looks; in short I was a general favorite, which gave
great jealousy to the other servants, who seeing me honored by the
instructions of their master’s son, were persuaded I should not remain
their equal.

As far as I could judge by some words dropped at random, and which I
reflected on afterwards, it appeared to me, that the House of Solar,
wishing to run the career of embassies, and hoping perhaps in time to
arrive at the ministry, wished to provide themselves with a person of
merit and talents, who depending entirely on them, might obtain their
confidence, and be of essential service. This project of the Count
de Gauvon was judicious, magnanimous, and truly worthy of a powerful
nobleman, equally provident and generous; but besides my not seeing, at
that time, its full extent, it was far too rational for my brain, and
required too much confinement.

My ridiculous ambition sought for fortune in the midst of brilliant
adventures, and not finding one woman in all this scheme, it appeared
tedious, painful and melancholy; though I should rather have thought
it more honorable on this account, as the species of merit generally
patronized by women is certainly less worthy that I was supposed to

Everything succeeded to my wish: I had obtained, almost forced, the
esteem of all; the trial was over, and I was universally considered as
a young man with flattering prospects, who was not at present in his
proper sphere, but was expected soon to reach it; but my place was not
assigned me by man, and I was to reach it by very difficult paths. I now
come to one of those characteristic traits, which are so natural to
me, and which, indeed, the reader might have observed without this

There were at Turin several new converts of my own stamp, whom I neither
liked nor wish to see; but I had met with some Genevese who were not of
this description, and among others a M. Mussard, nicknamed Wryneck,
a miniature painter, and a distant relation. This M. Mussard, having
learned my situation at the Count de Gauvon’s, came to see me, with
another Genevese, named Bacle, who had been my comrade during my
apprenticeship. This Bacle was a very sprightly, amusing young fellow,
full of lively sallies, which at his time of life appeared extremely
agreeable. At once, then, behold me delighted with M. Bacle; charmed to
such a degree that I found it impossible to quit him. He was shortly to
depart for Geneva; what a loss had I to sustain! I felt the whole force
of it, and resolving to make the best use of this precious interval,
I determined not to leave him, or, rather, he never quitted me, for
my head was not yet sufficiently turned to think of quitting the house
without leave, but it was soon perceived that he engrossed my whole
time, and he was accordingly forbid the house. This so incensed me, that
forgetting everything but my friend Bacle, I went neither to the
abbe nor the count, and was no longer to be found at home. I paid no
attention to repeated reprimands, and at length was threatened with
dismissal. This threat was my ruin, as it suggested the idea that it
was not absolutely necessary that Bacle should depart alone. From
that moment I could think of no other pleasure, no other situation or
happiness than taking this journey. To render the felicity still more
complete, at the end of it (though at an immense distance) I pictured to
myself Madam de Warens; for as to returning to Geneva, it never entered
into my imagination. The hills, fields, brooks and villages, incessantly
succeeded each other with new charms, and this delightful jaunt seemed
worthy to absorb my whole existence. Memory recalled, with inexpressible
pleasure, how charming the country had appeared in coming to Turin; what
then must it be, when, to the pleasure of independence, should be added
the company of a good-humored comrade of my own age and disposition,
without any constraint or obligation, but free to go or stay as we
pleased? Would it not be madness to sacrifice the prospect of so much
felicity to projects of ambition, slow and difficult in their execution,
and uncertain in their event? But even supposing them realized, and in
their utmost splendor, they were not worth one quarter of an hour of the
sweet pleasure and liberty of youth.

Full of these wise conclusions, I conducted myself so improperly, that
(not indeed without some trouble) I got myself dismissed; for on my
return one night the maitre de hotel gave me warning on the part of the
count. This was exactly what I wanted; for feeling, spite of myself,
the extravagance of my conduct, I wished to excuse it by the addition
of injustice and ingratitude, by throwing the blame on others, and
sheltering myself under the idea of necessity.

I was told the Count de Favria wished to speak with me the next morning
before my departure; but, being sensible that my head was so far turned
as to render it possible for me to disobey the injunction, the maitre de
hotel declined paying the money designed me, and which certainly I
had very ill earned, till after this visit; for my kind patrons being
unwilling to place me in the situation of a footman, I had not any fixed

The Count de Favria, though young and giddy, talked to me on this
occasion in the most sensible and serious manner: I might add, if it
would not be thought vain, with the utmost tenderness. He reminded me,
in the most flattering terms, of the cares of his uncle, and intentions
of his grandfather; after having drawn in lively colors what I was
sacrificing to ruin, he offered to make my peace, without stipulating
any conditions, but that I should no more see the worthless fellow who
had seduced me.

It was so apparent that he did not say all this of himself, that
notwithstanding my blind stupidity, I powerfully felt the kindness of
my good old master, but the dear journey was too firmly printed on
my imagination for any consideration to balance the charm. Bereft of
understanding, firm to my purpose, I hardened myself against conviction,
and arrogantly answered, that as they had thought fit to give me
warning, I had resolved to take it, and conceived it was now too late to
retract, since, whatever might happen to me, I was fully resolved not
to be driven a second time from the same house. The count, justly
irritated, bestowed on me some names which I deserved, and putting me
out of his apartment by the shoulders, shut the door on me. I departed
triumphant, as if I had gained the greatest victory, and fearful of
sustaining a second combat even had the ingratitude to leave the house
without thanking the abbe for his kindness.

To form a just conception of my delirium at that moment, the excess to
which my heart is subject to be heated by the most trifling incidents,
and the ardor with which my imagination seizes on the most attractive
objects should be conceived. At these times, plans the most ridiculous,
childish, and void of sense, flatter my favorite idea, and persuade me
that it is reasonable to sacrifice everything to the possession of
it. Would it be believed, that when near nineteen, any one could be so
stupid as to build his hopes of future subsistence on an empty phial?
For example:

The Abbe de Gauvon had made me a present, some weeks before, of a very
pretty heron fountain, with which I was highly delighted. Playing with
this toy, and speaking of our departure, the sage Bacle and myself
thought it might be of infinite advantage, and enable us to lengthen our
journey. What in the world was so curious as a heron fountain? This
idea was the foundation on which we built our future fortune: we were to
assemble the country people in every village we might pass through, and
delight them with the sight of it, when feasting and good cheer would be
sure to pour on us abundantly; for we were both firmly persuaded, that
provisions could cost nothing to those who grew and gathered them, and
if they did not stuff travellers, it was downright ill-nature.

We pictured in all parts entertainments and weddings, reckoning that
without any expense but wind from our lungs, and the water of our
fountain, we should be maintained through Piedmont, Savoy, France, and
indeed, all the world over. There was no end to our projected travels,
and we immediately directed our course northward, rather for the
pleasure of crossing the Alps, than from a supposed necessity of being
obliged to stop at any place.

Such was the plan on which I set out, abandoning without regret, my
preceptors, studies, and hopes, with the almost certain attainment of a
fortune, to lead the life of a real vagabond. Farewell to the capital;
adieu to the court, ambition, love, the fair, and all the great
adventures into which hope had led me during the preceding year!
I departed with my fountain and my friend Bacle, a purse lightly
furnished, but a heart over-flowing with pleasure, and only thinking how
to enjoy the extensive felicity which I supposed my project encircled.

This extravagant journey was performed almost as agreeably as I had
expected, though not exactly on the same plan; not but our fountain
highly amused the hostess and servants for some minutes at all the
ale-houses where we halted, yet we found it equally necessary to pay
on our departure; but that gave us no concern, as we never thought of
depending on it entirely until our money should be expended. An accident
spared us that trouble, our fountain was broken near Bramant, and in
good time, for we both felt (though without daring to own it to each
other) that we began to be weary of it. This misfortune rendered
us gayer than ever; we laughed heartily at our giddiness in having
forgotten that our clothes and shoes would wear out, or trusting to
renew them by the play of our fountain. We continued our journey as
merrily as we had begun it, only drawing faster towards that termination
where our drained purses made it necessary for us to arrive.

At Chambery I became pensive; not for the folly I had committed,
for never did any one think less of the past, but on account of the
reception I should meet with from Madam de Warens; for I looked on her
house as my paternal home. I had written her an account of my
reception at the Count de Gauvon’s; she knew my expectancies, and, in
congratulating me on my good fortune, had added some wise lessons on the
return I ought to make for the kindness with which they treated me.
She looked on my fortune as already made, if not destroyed by my own
negligence; what then would she say on my arrival? for it never entered
my mind that she might shut the door against me, but I dreaded the
uneasiness I might give her; I dreaded her reproaches, to me more
wounding than want; I resolved to bear all in silence, and, if possible
to appease her. I now saw nothing but Madam de Warens in the whole
universe, and to live in disgrace with her was impossible.

I was most concerned about my companion, whom I did not wish to offend,
and feared I should not easily get rid of. I prefaced this separation by
an affected coldness during the last day’s journey. The drole understood
me perfectly; in fact, he was rather giddy than deficient in point of
sense--I expected he would have been hurt at my inconstancy, but I was
quite mistaken; nothing affected my friend Bacle, for hardly had we set
foot in town, on our arrival in Annecy, before he said, “You are now at
home,”--embraced--bade me adieu--turned on his heel, and disappeared;
nor have I ever heard of him since.

How did my heart beat as I approached the habitation of Madam de Warens!
my legs trembled under me, my eyes were clouded with a mist, I neither
saw, heard, nor recollected any one, and was obliged frequently to stop
that I might draw breath, and recall my bewildered senses. Was it fear
of not obtaining that succor I stood in need of, which agitated me to
this degree? At the age I then was, does the fear of perishing with
hunger give such alarms? No: I declare with as much truth as pride, that
it was not in the power of interest or indigence, at any period of my
life, to expand or contract my heart. In the course of a painful life,
memorable for its vicissitudes, frequently destitute of an asylum,
and without bread, I have contemplated, with equal indifference, both
opulence and misery. In want I might have begged or stolen, as others
have done, but never could feel distress at being reduced to such
necessities. Few men have grieved more than myself, few have shed so
many tears; yet never did poverty, or the fear of falling into it, make
me heave a sigh or moisten my eyelids. My soul, in despite of fortune,
has only been sensible of real good and evil, which did not depend on
her; and frequently, when in possession of everything that could make
life pleasing, I have been the most miserable of mortals.

The first glance of Madam de Warens banished all my fears--my heart
leaped at the sound of her voice; I threw myself at her feet, and in
transports of the most lively joy, pressed my lips upon her hand. I
am ignorant whether she had received any recent information of me. I
discovered but little surprise on her countenance, and no sorrow. “Poor
child!” said she, in an affectionate tone, “art thou here again? I knew
you were too young for this journey; I am very glad, however, that it
did not turn out so bad as I apprehended.” She then made me recount my
history; it was not long, and I did it faithfully: suppressing only some
trifling circumstances, but on the whole neither sparing nor excusing

The question was, where I could lodge: she consulted her maid on this
point--I hardly dared to breathe during the deliberation; but when I
heard I was to sleep in the house, I could scarce contain my joy;
and saw the little bundle I brought with me carried into my destined
apartment with much the same sensations as St. Preux saw his chaise put
up at Madam de Wolmar’s. To complete all, I had the satisfaction to
find that this favor was not to be transitory; for at a moment when they
thought me attentive to something else, I heard Madam de Warens say,
“They may talk as they please, but since Providence has sent him back, I
am determined not to abandon him.”

Behold me, then, established at her house; not, however, that I date the
happiest days of my life from this period, but this served to prepare
me for them. Though that sensibility of heart, which enables us truly
to enjoy our being, is the work of Nature, and perhaps a mere effect of
organization, yet it requires situations to unfold itself, and without a
certain concurrence of favorable circumstances, a man born with the
most acute sensibility may go out of the world without ever having been
acquainted with his own temperament. This was my case till that time,
and such perhaps it might have remained had I never known Madam de
Warens, or even having known her, had I not remained with her long
enough to contract that pleasing habit of affectionate sentiments with
which she inspired me. I dare affirm, that those who only love, do not
feel the most charming sensations we are capable of: I am acquainted
with another sentiment, less impetuous, but a thousand times more
delightful; sometimes joined with love, but frequently separated from
it. This feeling is not simply friendship; it is more enchanting, more
tender; nor do I imagine it can exist between persons of the same sex;
at least I have been truly a friend, if ever a man was, and yet never
experienced it in that kind. This distinction is not sufficiently clear,
but will become so hereafter: sentiments are only distinguishable by
their effects.

Madam de Warens inhabited an old house, but large enough to have
a handsome spare apartment, which she made her drawing-room. I now
occupied this chamber, which was in the passage I have before mentioned
as the place of our first meeting. Beyond the brook and gardens was
a prospect of the country, which was by no means uninteresting to the
young inhabitant, being the first time, since my residence at Bossey,
that I had seen anything before my windows but walls, roofs, or the
dirty street. How pleasing then was this novelty! it helped to increase
the tenderness of my disposition, for I looked on this charming
landscape as the gift of my dear patroness, who I could almost fancy had
placed it there on purpose for me. Peaceably seated, my eyes pursued her
amidst the flowers and the verdure; her charms seemed to me confounded
with those of the spring; my heart, till now contracted, here found
means to expand itself, and my sighs exhaled freely in this charming

The magnificence I had been accustomed to at Turin was not to be found
at Madam de Warens’, but in lieu of it there was neatness, regularity,
and a patriarchal abundance, which is seldom attached to pompous
ostentation. She had very little plate, no china, no game in her
kitchen, or foreign wines in her cellar, but both were well furnished,
and at every one’s service; and her coffee, though served in earthenware
cups, was excellent. Whoever came to her house was invited to dine
there, and never did laborer, messenger, or traveller, depart without
refreshment. Her family consisted of a pretty chambermaid from Fribourg,
named Merceret; a valet from her own country called Claude Anet (of
whom I shall speak hereafter), a cook, and two hired chairmen when she
visited, which seldom happened. This was a great deal to be done out
of two thousand livres a year; yet, with good management, it might have
been sufficient in a country where land is extremely good, and money
very scarce. Unfortunately, economy was never her favorite virtue; she
contracted debts--paid them--thus her money passed from hand to hand
like a weaver’s shuttle, and quickly disappeared.

The arrangement of her housekeeping was exactly what I should have
chosen, and I shared it with satisfaction. I was least pleased with the
necessity of remaining too long at table. Madam de Warens was so much
incommoded with the first smell of soup or meat, as almost to occasion
fainting; from this she slowly recovered, talking meantime, and never
attempting to eat for the first half hour. I could have dined thrice in
the time, and had ever finished my meal long before she began; I then
ate again for company; and though by this means I usually dined twice,
felt no inconvenience from it. In short, I was perfectly at my ease,
and the happier as my situation required no care. Not being at this
time instructed in the state of her finances, I supposed her means
were adequate to her expense; and though I afterwards found the same
abundance, yet when instructed in her real situation, finding
her pension ever anticipated, prevented me from enjoying the same
tranquility. Foresight with me has always embittered enjoyment; in vain
I saw the approach of misfortunes, I was never the more likely to avoid

From the first moment of our meeting, the softest familiarity was
established between us: and in the same degree it continued during the
rest of her life. Child was my name, Mamma was hers, and child and mamma
we have ever continued, even after a number of years had almost effaced
the apparent difference of age between us. I think those names convey
an exact idea of our behavior, the simplicity of our manners, and above
all, the similarity of our dispositions. To me she was the tenderest of
mothers, ever preferring my welfare to her own pleasure; and if my own
satisfaction found some interest in my attachment to her, it was not to
change its nature, but only to render it more exquisite, and infatuate
me with the charm of having a mother young and handsome, whom I was
delighted to caress: I say literally, to caress, for never did it
enter into her imagination to deny me the tenderest maternal kisses and
endearments, or into my heart to abuse them. It will be said, at length
our connection was of a different kind: I confess it; but have patience,
that will come in its turn.

The sudden sight of her, on our first interview, was the only truly
passionate moment she ever inspired me with; and even that was
principally the work of surprise. With her I had neither transports nor
desires, but remained in a ravishing calm, sensible of a happiness I
could not define, and thus could I have passed my whole life, or even
eternity, without feeling an instant of uneasiness.

She was the only person with whom I never experienced that want of
conversation, which to me is so painful to endure. Our tete-a-tetes
were rather an inexhaustible chat than conversation, which could only
conclude from interruption. So far from finding discourse difficult, I
rather thought it a hardship to be silent; unless, when contemplating
her projects, she sunk into a reverie; when I silently let her meditate,
and gazing on her, was the happiest of men. I had another singular
fancy, which was that without pretending to the favor of a tete-a-tete,
I was perpetually seeking occasion to form them, enjoying such
opportunities with rapture; and when importunate visitors broke in upon
us, no matter whether it was man or woman, I went out murmuring, not
being able to remain a secondary object in her company; then, counting
the minutes in her antechamber, I used to curse these eternal visitors,
thinking it inconceivable how they could find so much to say, because I
had still more.

If ever I felt the full force of my attachment, it was when I did not
see her. When in her presence, I was only content; when absent, my
uneasiness reached almost to melancholy, and a wish to live with her
gave me emotions of tenderness even to tears. Never shall I forget one
great holiday, while she was at vespers, when I took a walk out of the
city, my heart full of her image, and the ardent wish to pass my life
with her. I could easily enough see that at present this was impossible;
that the happiness I enjoyed would be of short duration, and this idea
gave to my contemplations a tincture of melancholy, which, however, was
not gloomy, but tempered with a flattering hope. The ringing of bells,
which ever particularly affects me, the singing of birds, the fineness
of the day, the beauty of the landscape, the scattered country houses,
among which in idea I placed our future dwelling, altogether struck me
with an impression so lively, tender, melancholy, and powerful, that I
saw myself in ecstasy transported into that happy time and abode, where
my heart, possessing all the felicity it could desire, might taste it
with raptures inexpressible.

I never recollect to have enjoyed the future with such force of
illusions as at that time; and what has particularly struck me in
the recollection of this reverie, is that when realized, I found my
situation exactly as I had imagined it. If ever waking dream had an
appearance of a prophetic vision, it was assuredly this; I was only
deceived in its imaginary duration, for days, years, and life itself,
passed ideally in perfect tranquility, while the reality lasted but a
moment. Alas! my most durable happiness was but as a dream, which I had
no sooner had a glimpse of, than I instantly awoke.

I know not when I should have done, if I was to enter into a detail
of all the follies that affection for my dear Madam de Warens made
me commit. When absent from her, how often have I kissed the bed on a
supposition that she had slept there; the curtains and all the furniture
of my chamber, on recollecting they were hers, and that her charming
hands had touched them; nay, the floor itself, when I considered she had
walked there. Sometimes even in her presence, extravagancies escaped me,
which only the most violent passions seemed capable of inspiring; in a
word, there was but one essential difference to distinguish me from
an absolute lover, and that particular renders my situation almost

I had returned from Italy, not absolutely as I went there, but as no
one of my age, perhaps, ever did before, being equally unacquainted
with women. My ardent constitution had found resources in those means
by which youth of my disposition sometimes preserve their purity at
the expense of health, vigor, and frequently of life itself. My local
situation should likewise be considered--living with a pretty woman,
cherishing her image in the bottom of my heart, seeing her during
the whole day, at night surrounded with objects that recalled her
incessantly to my remembrance, and sleeping in the bed where I knew she
had slept. What a situation! Who can read this without supposing me on
the brink of the grave? But quite the contrary; that which might have
ruined me, acted as a preservative, at least for a time. Intoxicated
with the charm of living with her, with the ardent desire of passing my
life there, absent or present I saw in her a tender mother, an amiable
sister, a respected friend, but nothing more; meantime, her image filled
my heart, and left room far no other object. The extreme tenderness with
which she inspired me excluded every other woman from my consideration,
and preserved me from the whole sex: in a word, I was virtuous, because
I loved her. Let these particulars, which I recount but indifferently,
be considered, and then let any one judge what kind of attachment I had
for her: for my part, all I can say, is, that if it hitherto appears
extraordinary, it will appear much more so in the sequel.

My time passed in the most agreeable manner, though occupied in a way
which was by no means calculated to please me; such as having projects
to digest, bills to write fair, receipts to transcribe, herbs to pick,
drugs to pound, or distillations to attend; and in the midst of
all this, came crowds of travellers, beggars, and visitors of all
denominations. Some times it was necessary to converse at the same time
with a soldier, an apothecary, a prebendary, a fine lady, and a lay
brother. I grumbled, swore, and wished all this troublesome medley at
the devil, while she seemed to enjoy it, laughing at my chagrin till the
tears ran down her cheeks. What excited her mirth still more, was to
see that my anger was increased by not being able myself to refrain from
laughter. These little intervals, in which I enjoyed the pleasure
of grumbling, were charming; and if, during the dispute, another
importunate visitor arrived, she would add to her amusement by
maliciously prolonging the visit, meantime casting glances at me for
which I could almost have beat her; nor could she without difficulty
refrain from laughter on seeing my constrained politeness, though every
moment glancing at her the look of a fury, while, even in spite of
myself, I thought the scene truly diverting.

All this, without being pleasing in itself, contributed to amuse,
because it made up a part of a life which I thought delightful. Nothing
that was performed around me, nothing that I was obliged to do, suited
my taste, but everything suited my heart; and I believe, at length, I
should have liked the study of medicine, had not my natural distaste
to it perpetually engaged us in whimsical scenes, that prevented my
thinking of it in a serious light. It was, perhaps, the first time that
this art produced mirth. I pretended to distinguish a physical book by
its smell, and what was more diverting, was seldom mistaken. Madam
de Warens made me taste the most nauseous drugs; in vain I ran, or
endeavored to defend myself; spite of resistance or wry faces, spite
of my struggles, or even of my teeth, when I saw her charming fingers
approach my lips, I was obliged to give up the contest.

[Illustration: 0098]

When shut up in an apartment with all her medical apparatus, any one who
had heard us running and shouting amidst peals of laughter would rather
have imagined we had been acting a farce than preparing opiates or

My time, however, was not entirely passed in these fooleries; in the
apartment which I occupied I found a few books: there was the Spectator,
Puffendorf, St. Everemond, and the Henriade. Though I had not my old
passion for books, yet I amused myself with reading a part of them. The
Spectator was particularly pleasing and serviceable to me. The Abbe de
Gauvon had taught me to read less eagerly, and with a greater degree
of attention, which rendered my studies more serviceable. I accustomed
myself to reflect on elocution and the elegance of composition;
exercising myself in discerning pure French from my provincial idiom.
For example, I corrected an orthographical fault (which I had in common
with all Genevese) by these two lines of the Henriade:

     Soit qu’ un ancient respect pour le sang de leurs maitres,
     Parlat encore pour lui dans le coeur de ces traitres

I was struck with the word ‘parlat’, and found a ‘t’ was necessary to
form the third person of the subjunctive, whereas I had always written
and pronounced it parla, as in the present of the indicative.

Sometimes my studies were the subject of conversation with Madam de
Warens; sometimes I read to her, in which I found great satisfaction;
and as I endeavored to read well, it was extremely serviceable to me.
I have already observed that her mind was cultivated; her understanding
was at this time in its meridian. Several people of learning having been
assiduous to ingratiate themselves, had taught her to distinguish
works of merit; but her taste (if I may so express myself) was rather
Protestant; ever speaking warmly of Bayle, and highly esteeming St.
Evremond, though long since almost forgotten in France: but this did not
prevent her having a taste for literature, or expressing her thoughts
with elegance. She had been brought up with polite company, and coming
young to Savoy, by associating with people of the best fashion, had lost
the affected manners of her own country, where the ladies mistake wit
for sense, and only speak in epigram.

Though she had seen the court but superficially, that glance was
sufficient to give her a competent idea of it; and notwithstanding
secret jealousies and the murmurs excited by her conduct and running in
debt, she ever preserved friends there, and never lost her pension.
She knew the world, and was useful. This was her favorite theme in our
conversations, and was directly opposite to my chimerical ideas, though
the kind of instruction I particularly had occasion for. We read
Bruyere together; he pleased her more than Rochefoucault, who is a
dull, melancholy author, particularly to youth, who are not fond
of contemplating man as he really is. In moralizing she sometimes
bewildered herself by the length of her discourse; but by kissing her
lips or hand from time to time I was easily consoled, and never found
them wearisome.

This life was too delightful to be lasting; I felt this, and the
uneasiness that thought gave me was the only thing that disturbed my
enjoyment. Even in playfulness she studied my disposition, observed and
interrogated me, forming projects for my future fortune, which I could
readily have dispensed with. Happily it was not sufficient to know my
disposition, inclinations and talents; it was likewise necessary to find
a situation in which they would be useful, and this was not the work of
a day. Even the prejudices this good woman had conceived in favor of my
merit put off the time of calling it into action, by rendering her more
difficult in the choice of means; thus (thanks to the good opinion she
entertained of me), everything answered to my wish; but a change soon
happened which put a period to my tranquility.

A relation of Madam de Warens, named M. d’Aubonne, came to see her;
a man of great understanding and intrigue, being, like her, fond of
projects, though careful not to ruin himself by them. He had offered
Cardinal Fleury a very compact plan for a lottery, which, however, had
not been approved of, and he was now going to propose it to the court
of Turin, where it was accepted and put into execution. He remained some
time at Annecy, where he fell in love with the Intendant’s lady, who was
very amiable, much to my taste and the only person I saw with pleasure
at the house of Madam de Warens. M. d’Aubonne saw me, I was strongly
recommended by his relation; he promised, therefore, to question and see
what I was fit for, and, if he found me capable, to seek me a situation.
Madam de Warens sent me to him two or three mornings, under pretense of
messages, without acquainting me with her real intention. He spoke to me
gayly, on various subjects, without any appearance of observation; his
familiarity presently set me talking, which by his cheerful and jesting
manner he encouraged without restraint--I was absolutely charmed with
him. The result of his observations was, that notwithstanding the
animation of my countenance, and promising exterior, if not absolutely
silly, I was a lad of very little sense, and without ideas of learning;
in fine, very ignorant in all respects, and if I could arrive at being
curate of some village, it was the utmost honor I ought ever to aspire
to. Such was the account he gave of me to Madam de Warens. This was not
the first time such an opinion had been formed of me, neither was it the
last; the judgment of M. Masseron having been repeatedly confirmed.

The cause of these opinions is too much connected with my character not
to need a particular explanation; for it will not be supposed that I
can in conscience subscribe to them; and with all possible impartiality,
whatever M. Masseron, M. d’Aubonne and many others may have said, I
cannot help thinking them mistaken.

Two things very opposite, unite in me, and in a manner which I cannot
myself conceive. My disposition is extremely ardent, my passions
lively and impetuous, yet my ideas are produced slowly, with great
embarrassment and after much afterthought. It might be said my heart and
understanding do not belong to the same individual. A sentiment takes
possession of my soul with the rapidity of lightning, but instead of
illuminating, it dazzles and confounds me; I feel all, but see nothing;
I am warm, but stupid; to think I must be cool. What is astonishing,
my conception is clear and penetrating, if not hurried: I can make
excellent impromptus at leisure, but on the instant, could never say or
do anything worth notice. I could hold a tolerable conversation by the
post, as they say the Spaniards play at chess, and when I read that
anecdote of a duke of Savoy, who turned himself round, while on a
journey, to cry out ‘a votre gorge, marchand de Paris!’ I said, “Here is
a trait of my character!”

This slowness of thought, joined to vivacity of feeling, I am not only
sensible of in conversation, but even alone. When I write, my ideas are
arranged with the utmost difficulty. They glance on my imagination and
ferment till they discompose, heat, and bring on a palpitation; during
this state of agitation, I see nothing properly, cannot write a single
word, and must wait till it is over. Insensibly the agitation subsides,
the chaos acquires form, and each circumstance takes its proper place.
Have you never seen an opera in Italy? where during the change of scene
everything is in confusion, the decorations are intermingled, and
any one would suppose that all would be overthrown; yet by little and
little, everything is arranged, nothing appears wanting, and we feel
surprised to see the tumult succeeded by the most delightful spectacle.
This is a resemblance of what passes in my brain when I attempt to
write; had I always waited till that confusion was past, and then
pointed, in their natural beauties, the objects that had presented
themselves, few authors would have surpassed me.

Thence arises the extreme difficulty I find in writing; my manuscripts,
blotted, scratched, and scarcely legible, attest the trouble they cost
me; nor is there one of them but I have been obliged to transcribe four
or five times before it went to press. Never could I do anything when
placed at a table, pen in hand; it must be walking among the rocks, or
in the woods; it is at night in my bed, during my wakeful hours, that I
compose; it may be judged how slowly, particularly for a man who has not
the advantage of verbal memory, and never in his life could retain by
heart six verses. Some of my periods I have turned and returned in my
head five or six nights before they were fit to be put to paper: thus it
is that I succeed better in works that require laborious attention, than
those that appear more trivial, such as letters, in which I could never
succeed, and being obliged to write one is to me a serious punishment;
nor can I express my thoughts on the most trivial subjects without it
costing me hours of fatigue. If I write immediately what strikes me, my
letter is a long, confused, unconnected string of expressions, which,
when read, can hardly be understood.

It is not only painful to me to give language to my ideas but even
to receive them. I have studied mankind, and think myself a tolerable
observer, yet I know nothing from what I see, but all from what I
remember, nor have I understanding except in my recollections. From
all that is said, from all that passes in my presence, I feel nothing,
conceive nothing, the exterior sign being all that strikes me;
afterwards it returns to my remembrance; I recollect the place, the
time, the manner, the look, and gesture, not a circumstance escapes me;
it is then, from what has been done or said, that I imagine what has
been thought, and I have rarely found myself mistaken.

So little master of my understanding when alone, let any one judge what
I must be in conversation, where to speak with any degree of ease you
must think of a thousand things at the same time: the bare idea that I
should forget something material would be sufficient to intimidate me.
Nor can I comprehend how people can have the confidence to converse in
large companies, where each word must pass in review before so many,
and where it would be requisite to know their several characters and
histories to avoid saying what might give offence. In this particular,
those who frequent the world would have a great advantage, as they know
better where to be silent, and can speak with greater confidence; yet
even they sometimes let fall absurdities; in what predicament then must
he be who drops as it were from the clouds? It is almost impossible he
should speak ten minutes with impunity.

In a tete-a-tete there is a still worse inconvenience; that is; the
necessity of talking perpetually, at least, the necessity of answering
when spoken to, and keeping up the conversation when the other is
silent. This insupportable constraint is alone sufficient to disgust me
with variety, for I cannot form an idea of a greater torment than being
obliged to speak continually without time for recollection. I know not
whether it proceeds from my mortal hatred of all constraint; but if I
am obliged to speak, I infallibly talk nonsense. What is still worse,
instead of learning how to be silent when I have absolutely nothing to
say, it is generally at such times that I have a violent inclination:
and endeavoring to pay my debt of conversation as speedily as possible,
I hastily gabble a number of words without ideas, happy when they
only chance to mean nothing; thus endeavoring to conquer or hide my
incapacity, I rarely fail to show it.

I think I have said enough to show that, though not a fool, I have
frequently passed for one, even among people capable of judging; this
was the more vexatious, as my physiognomy and eyes promised otherwise,
and expectation being frustrated, my stupidity appeared the more
shocking. This detail, which a particular occasion gave birth to, will
not be useless in the sequel, being a key to many of my actions which
might otherwise appear unaccountable; and have been attributed to a
savage humor I do not possess. I love society as much as any man, was
I not certain to exhibit myself in it, not only disadvantageously, but
totally different from what I really am. The plan I have adopted of
writing and retirement, is what exactly suits me. Had I been present, my
worth would never have been known, no one would even have suspected it;
thus it was with Madam Dupin, a woman of sense, in whose house I lived
for several years; indeed, she has often since owned it to me: though
on the whole this rule may be subject to some exceptions. I shall now
return to my history.

The estimate of my talents thus fixed, the situation I was capable
of promised, the question only remained how to render me capable of
fulfilling my destined vocation. The principle difficulty was, I did not
know Latin enough for a priest. Madam de Warens determined to have me
taught for some time at the seminary, and accordingly spoke of it to
the Superior, who was a Lazarist, called M. Gras, a good-natured little
fellow, half blind, meagre, gray-haired, insensible, and the least
pedantic of any Lazarist I ever knew; which, in fact, is saying no great

He frequently visited Madam de Warens, who entertained, caressed, and
made much of him, letting him sometimes lace her stays, an office he was
willing enough to perform. While thus employed, she would run about the
room, this way or that, as occasion happened to call her. Drawn by the
lace, Monsieur the Superior followed, grumbling, repeating at every
moment, “Pray, madam, do stand still;” the whole forming a scene truly

M. Gras willingly assented to the project of Madam de Warens, and, for a
very moderate pension, charged himself with the care of instructing me.
The consent of the bishop was all that remained necessary, who not only
granted it, but offered to pay the pension, permitting me to retain the
secular habit till they could judge by a trial what success they might
have in my improvement.

What a change! but I was obliged to submit; though I went to the
seminary with about the same spirits as if they had been taking me to
execution. What a melancholy abode! especially for one who left the
house of a pretty woman. I carried one book with me, that I had borrowed
of Madam de Warens, and found it a capital resource! it will not be
easily conjectured what kind of book this was--it was a music book.
Among the talents she had cultivated, music was not forgotten; she had a
tolerable good voice, sang agreeably, and played on the harpsichord. She
had taken the pains to give me some lessons in singing, though before
I was very uninformed in that respect, hardly knowing the music of
our psalms. Eight or ten interrupted lessons, far from putting me in
a condition to improve myself, did not teach me half the notes;
notwithstanding, I had such a passion for the art, that I determined to
exercise myself alone. The book I took was not of the most easy kind; it
was the cantatas of Clerambault. It may be conceived with what attention
and perseverance I studied, when I inform my reader, that without
knowing anything of transposition or quantity, I contrived to sing with
tolerable correctness, the first recitative and air in the cantata of
Alpheus and Arethusa; it is true this air is, so justly set, that it is
only necessary to recite the verses in their just measure to catch the

There was at the seminary a curst Lazarist, who by undertaking to teach
me Latin made me detest it. His hair was coarse, black and greasy, his
face like those formed in gingerbread, he had the voice of a buffalo,
the countenance of an owl, and the bristles of a boar in lieu of a
beard; his smile was sardonic, and his limbs played like those of
a puppet moved by wires. I have forgotten his odious name, but the
remembrance of his frightful precise countenance remains with me, though
hardly can I recollect it without trembling; especially when I call to
mind our meeting in the gallery, when he graciously advanced his filthy
square cap as a sign for me to enter his apartment, which appeared more
dismal in my apprehension than a dungeon. Let any one judge the contrast
between my present master and the elegant Abbe de Gauvon.

Had I remained two months at the mercy of this monster, I am certain my
head could not have sustained it; but the good M. Gras, perceiving I was
melancholy, grew thin, and did not eat my victuals, guessed the cause of
my uneasiness (which indeed was not very difficult) and taking me from
the claws of this beast, by another yet more striking contrast, placed
me with the gentlest of men, a young Faucigneran abbe, named M. Gatier,
who studied at the seminary, and out of complaisance for M. Gras, and
humanity to myself, spared some time from the prosecution of his
own studies in order to direct mine. Never did I see a more pleasing
countenance than that of M. Gatier. He was fair complexioned, his beard
rather inclined to red; his behavior like that of the generality of
his countrymen (who under a coarseness of countenance conceal much
understanding), marked in him a truly sensible and affectionate soul.
In his large blue eyes there was a mixture of softness, tenderness, and
melancholy, which made it impossible to see him without feeling one’s
self interested. From the looks and manner of this young abbe he might
have been supposed to have foreseen his destiny, and that he was born to
be unhappy.

His disposition did not belie his physiognomy: full of patience and
complaisance, he rather appeared to study with than to instruct me.
So much was not necessary to make me love him, his predecessor having
rendered that very easy; yet, notwithstanding all the time he bestowed
on me, notwithstanding our mutual good inclinations, and that his plan
of teaching was excellent, with much labor, I made little progress. It
is very singular, that with a clear conception I could never learn
much from masters except my father and M. Lambercier; the little I know
besides I have learned alone, as will be seen hereafter. My spirit,
impatient of every species of constraint, cannot submit to the law of
the moment; even the fear of not learning prevents my being attentive,
and a dread of wearying those who teach, makes me feign to understand
them; thus they proceed faster than I can comprehend, and the conclusion
is I learn nothing. My understanding must take its own time and cannot
submit to that of another.

The time of ordination being arrived, M. Gatier returned to his province
as deacon, leaving me with gratitude, attachment, and sorrow for his
loss. The vows I made for him were no more answered than those I offered
for myself. Some years after, I learned, that being vicar of a parish,
a young girl was with child by him, being the only one (though he
possessed a very tender heart) with whom he was ever in love. This was
a dreadful scandal in a diocese severely governed, where the priests
(being under good regulation) ought never to have children--except by
married women. Having infringed this politic law, he was put in prison,
defamed, and driven from his benefice. I know not whether it was ever
after in his power to reestablish his affairs; but the remembrance of
his misfortunes, which were deeply engraven on my heart, struck me when
I wrote Emilius, and uniting M. Gatier with M. Gaime, I formed from
these two worthy priests the character of the Savoyard Vicar, and
flatter myself the imitation has not dishonored the originals.

While I was at the seminary, M. d’Aubonne was obliged to quit Annecy,
Moultou being displeased that he made love to his wife, which was
acting like a dog in the manger, for though Madam Moultou was extremely
amiable, he lived very ill with her, treating her with such brutality
that a separation was talked of. Moultou, by repeated oppressions, at
length procured a dismissal from his employment: he was a disagreeable
man; a mole could not be blacker, nor an owl more knavish. It is
said the provincials revenge themselves on their enemies by songs; M.
d’Aubonne revenged himself on his by a comedy, which he sent to Madam
de Warens, who showed it to me. I was pleased with it, and immediately
conceived the idea of writing one, to try whether I was so silly as the
author had pronounced me. This project was not executed till I went to
Chambery, where I wrote ‘The Lover of Himself’. Thus when I said in the
preface to that piece, “it was written at eighteen,” I cut off a few

Nearly about this time an event happened, not very important in itself,
but whose consequence affected me, and made a noise in the world when
I had forgotten it. Once a week I was permitted to go out; it is not
necessary to say what use I made of this liberty. Being one Sunday at
Madam de Warens, a building belonging to the Cordeliers, which joined
her house, took fire; this building which contained their oven, being
full of dry fagots, blazed violently and greatly endangered the house;
for the wind happening to drive the flames that way, it was covered with
them. The furniture, therefore, was hastily got out and carried into the
garden which fronted the windows, on the other side the before-mentioned
brook. I was so alarmed that I threw indiscriminately everything that
came to hand out of the window, even to a large stone mortar, which at
another time I should have found it difficult to remove, and should have
thrown a handsome looking-glass after it had not some one prevented
me. The good bishop, who that day was visiting Madam de Warens, did not
remain idle; he took her into the garden, where they went to prayers
with the rest that were assembled there, and where sometime afterwards,
I found them on their knees, and presently joined them. While the good
man was at his devotions, the wind changed, so suddenly and critically,
that the flames which had covered the house and began to enter the
windows, were carried to the other side of the court, and the house
received no damage. Two years after, Monsieur de Berner being dead, the
Antoines, his former brethren, began to collect anecdotes which might
serve as arguments of his beatification; at the desire of Father Baudet,
I joined to these an attestation of what I have just related, in doing
which, though I attested no more than the truth, I certainly acted ill,
as it tended to make an indifferent occurrence pass for a miracle. I had
seen the bishop in prayer, and had likewise seen the wind change during
the prayer, and even much to the purpose, all this I could certify
truly; but that one of these facts was the cause of the other, I ought
not to have attested, because it is what I could not possibly be assured
of. Thus much I may say, that as far as I can recollect what my ideas
were at that time, I was sincerely, and in good earnest a Catholic. Love
of the marvellous is natural to the human heart; my veneration for the
virtuous prelate, and secret pride in having, perhaps, contributed to
the event in question, all helped to seduce me; and certainly, if this
miracle was the effect of ardent prayer, I had a right to claim a share
of the merits.

More than thirty years after, when I published the ‘Lettres de
la Montagne’, M. Feron (I know not by what means) discovered this
attestation, and made use of it in his paper. I must confess the
discovery was very critically timed, and appeared very diverting, even
to me.

I was destined to be the outcast of every condition; for notwithstanding
M. Gatier gave the most favorable account he possibly could of my
studies, they plainly saw the improvement I received bore no proportion
to the pains taken to instruct me, which was no encouragement to
continue them: the bishop and superior, therefore, were disheartened,
and I was sent back to Madam de Warens, as a subject not even fit to
make a priest of; but as they allowed, at the same time, that I was
a tolerably good lad, and far from being vicious, this account
counterbalanced the former, and determined her not to abandon me.

I carried back in triumph the dear music book, which had been so useful
to me, the air of Alpheus and Arethusa being almost all I had learned at
the seminary. My predilection for this art started the idea of making
a musician of, me. A convenient opportunity offered; once a week, at
least, she had a concert at her house, and the music-master from the
cathedral, who directed this little band, came frequently to see her.
This was a Parisian, named M. le Maitre, a good composer, very lively,
gay, young, well made, of little understanding, but, upon the whole, a
good sort of man. Madam de Warens made us acquainted; I attached myself
to him, and he seemed not displeased with me. A pension was talked of,
and agreed on; in short, I went home with him, and passed the winter
the more agreeably at his chambers, as they were not above twenty paces
distant from Madam de Warens’, where we frequently supped together. It
may easily be supposed that this situation, ever gay, and singing with
the musicians and children of the choir, was more pleasing to me than
the seminary and fathers of St. Lazarus. This life, though free, was
regular; here I learned to prize independence, but never to abuse
it. For six whole months I never once went out except to see Madam de
Warens, or to church, nor had I any inclination to it. This interval is
one of those in which I enjoyed the greatest satisfaction, and which I
have ever recollected with pleasure. Among the various situations I
have been placed in, some were marked with such an idea of virtuous
satisfaction, that the bare remembrance affects me as if they were yet
present. I vividly recollect the time, the place, the persons, and even
the temperature of the air, while the lively idea of a certain local
impression peculiar to those times, transports me back again to the very
spot; for example, all that was repeated at our meetings, all that was
sung in the choir, everything that passed there; the beautiful and noble
habits of the canons, the chasubles of the priests, the mitres of the
singers, the persons of the musicians; an old lame carpenter who played
the counter-bass, a little fair abbe who performed on the violin, the
ragged cassock which M. le Maitre, after taking off his sword, used to
put over his secular habit, and the fine surplice with which he covered
the rags of the former, when he went to the choir; the pride with which
I held my little flute to my lips, and seated myself in the orchestra,
to assist in a recitative which M. le Maitre had composed on purpose for
me; the good dinner that afterwards awaited us, and the good appetites
we carried to it. This concourse of objects, strongly retraced in my
memory, has charmed me a hundred time as much, or perhaps more, than
ever the reality had done. I have always preserved an affection for a
certain air of the ‘Conditor alme Syderum’, because one Sunday in Advent
I heard that hymn sung on the steps of the cathedral, (according to
the custom of that place) as I lay in bed before daybreak. Mademoiselle
Merceret, Madam de Warens’ chambermaid, knew something of music; I shall
never forget a little piece that M. le Maitre made me sing with her, and
which her mistress listened to with great satisfaction. In a word, every
particular, even down to the servant Perrine, whom the boys of the
choir took such delight in teasing. The remembrance of these times of
happiness and innocence frequently returning to my mind, both ravish and
affect me.

I lived at Annecy during a year without the least reproach, giving
universal satisfaction. Since my departure from Turin I had been guilty
of no folly, committed none while under the eye of Madam de Warens. She
was my conductor, and ever led me right; my attachment for her became
my only passion, and what proves it was not a giddy one, my heart
and understanding were in unison. It is true that a single sentiment,
absorbing all my faculties, put me out of a capacity of learning even
music: but this was not my fault, since to the strongest inclination, I
added the utmost assiduity. I was attentive and thoughtful; what could
I do? Nothing was wanting towards my progress that depended on me;
meantime, it only required a subject that might inspire me to occasion
the commission of new follies: that subject presented itself, chance
arranged it, and (as will be seen hereafter) my inconsiderate head gave
in to it.

One evening, in the month of February, when it was very cold, being all
sat round the fire, we heard some one knock at the street door. Perrine
took a light, went down and opened it: a young man entering, came
upstairs, presented himself with an easy air, and making M. Maitre
a short, but well-turned compliment, announced himself as a French
musician, constrained by the state of his finances to take this liberty.
The heart of the good Le Maitre leaped at the name of a French musician,
for he passionately loved both his country and profession; he therefore
offered the young traveller his service--and use of his apartment, which
he appeared to stand much in need of, and which he accepted without
much ceremony. I observed him while he was chatting and warming himself
before supper; he was short and thick, having some fault in his shape,
though without any particular deformity; he had (if I may so express
myself) an appearance of being hunchbacked, with flat shoulders, and I
think he limped. He wore a black coat, rather worn than old, which
hung in tatters, a very fine but dirty shirt, frayed ruffles; a pair of
splatterdashes so large that he could have put both legs into either of
them, and, to secure himself from the snow, a little hat, only fit to
be carried under his arm. With this whimsical equipage, he had, however,
something elegant in his manners and conversation; his countenance
was expressive and agreeable, and he spoke with facility if not with
modesty; in short, everything about him bore the mark of a young
debauchee, who did not crave assistance like a beggar, but as a
thoughtless madcap. He told us his name was Venture de Villeneuve, that
he came from Paris, had lost his way, and seeming to forget that he had
announced himself for a musician, added that he was going to Grenoble to
see a relation that was a member of Parliament.

During supper we talked of music, on which subject he spoke well: he
knew all the great virtuosi, all the celebrated works, all the actors,
actresses, pretty women, and powerful lords; in short nothing was
mentioned but what he seemed thoroughly acquainted with. Though no
sooner was any topic started, than by some drollery, which set every
one a-laughing, he made them forget what had been said. This was on a
Saturday; the next day there was to be music at the cathedral: M. le
Maitre asked if he would sing there--“Very willingly.”--“What part would
he chose?”--“The counter-tenor:” and immediately began speaking of other
things. Before he went to church they offered him his part to
peruse, but he did not even look at it. This Gasconade surprised Le
Maitre--“You’ll see,” said he, whispering to me, “that he does not know
a single note.”--I replied: “I am very much afraid of him.” I followed
them into the church; but was extremely uneasy, and when they began, my
heart beat violently, so much was I interested in his behalf.

I was presently out of pain: he sung his two recitatives with all
imaginable taste and judgment; and what was yet more, with a very
agreeable voice. I never enjoyed a more pleasing surprise. After
mass, M. Venture received the highest compliments from the canons and
musicians, which he answered jokingly, though with great grace. M. le
Maitre embraced him heartily; I did the same; he saw I was rejoiced at
his success, and appeared pleased at my satisfaction.

It will easily be surmised, that after having been delighted with M.
Bacle, who had little to attract my admiration, I should be infatuated
with M. Venture, who had education, wit, talents, and a knowledge of
the world, and might be called an agreeable rake. This was exactly what
happened, and would, I believe, have happened to any other young man
in my place; especially supposing him possessed of better judgment to
distinguish merit, and more propensity to be engaged by it; for Venture
doubtless possessed a considerable share, and one in particular, very
rare at his age, namely, that of never being in haste to display his
talents. It is true, he boasted of many things he did not understand,
but of those he knew (which were very numerous) he said nothing,
patiently waiting some occasion to display them, which he then did with
ease, though without forwardness, and thus gave them more effect. As
there was ever some intermission between the proofs of his various
abilities, it was impossible to conjecture whether he had ever
discovered all his talents. Playful, giddy, inexhaustible, seducing in
conversation, ever smiling, but never laughing, and repeating the rudest
things in the most elegant manner--even the most modest women were
astonished at what they endured from him: it was in vain for them to
determine to be angry; they could not assume the appearance of it. It
was extraordinary that with so many agreeable talents, in a country
where they are so well understood, and so much admired, he so long
remained only a musician.

My attachment to M. Venture, more reasonable in its cause, was also less
extravagant in its effects, though more lively and durable than that
I had conceived for M. Bacle. I loved to see him, to hear him, all his
actions appeared charming, everything he said was an oracle to me, but
the enchantment did not extend far enough to disable me from quitting
him. I spoke of him with transport to Madam de Warens, Le Maitre
likewise spoke in his praise, and she consented we should bring him to
her house. This interview did not succeed; he thought her affected,
she found him a libertine, and, alarmed that I had formed such an ill
acquaintance, not only forbade me bringing him there again, but likewise
painted so strongly the danger I ran with this young man, that I became
a little more circumspect in giving in to the attachment; and very
happily, both for my manners and wits, we were soon separated.

M. le Maitre, like most of his profession, loved good wine; at table he
was moderate, but when busy in his closet he must drink. His maid was so
well acquainted with this humor that no sooner had he prepared his
paper to compose, and taken his violoncello, than the bottle and glass
arrived, and was replenished from time to time: thus, without being ever
absolutely intoxicated, he was usually in a state of elevation. This
was really unfortunate, for he had a good heart, and was so playful that
Madam de Warens used to call him the kitten. Unhappily, he loved his
profession, labored much and drank proportionately, which injured his
health, and at length soured his temper. Sometimes he was gloomy and
easily offended, though incapable of rudeness, or giving offence to any
one, for never did he utter a harsh word, even to the boys of the choir:
on the other hand, he would not suffer another to offend him, which was
but just: the misfortune was, having little understanding, he did not
properly discriminate, and was often angry without cause.

The Chapter of Geneva, where so many princes and bishops formerly
thought it an honor to be seated, though in exile it lost its ancient
splendor, retained (without any diminution) its pride. To be admitted,
you must either be a gentleman or Doctor of Sorbonne. If there is
a pardonable pride, after that derived from personal merit, it is
doubtless that arising from birth, though, in general, priests having
laymen in their service treat them with sufficient haughtiness, and thus
the canons behaved to poor Le Maitre. The chanter, in particular, who
was called the Abbe de Vidonne, in other respects a well-behaved man,
but too full of his nobility, did not always show him the attention
his talents merited. M. le Maitre could not bear these indignities
patiently; and this year, during passion week, they had a more serious
dispute than ordinary. At an institution dinner that the bishop gave the
canons, and to which M. Maitre was always invited, the abbe failed in
some formality, adding, at the same time, some harsh words, which the
other could not digest; he instantly formed the resolution to quit them
the following night; nor could any consideration make him give up his
design, though Madam de Warens (whom he went to take leave of) spared
no pains to appease him. He could not relinquish the pleasure of leaving
his tyrants embarrassed for the Easter feast, at which time he knew they
stood in greatest need of him. He was most concerned about his
music, which he wished to take with him; but this could not easily be
accomplished, as it filled a large case, and was very heavy, and could
not be carried under the arm.

Madam de Warens did what I should have done in her situation; and
indeed, what I should yet do: after many useless efforts to retain
him, seeing he was resolved to depart, whatever might be the event,
she formed the resolution to give him every possible assistance. I
must confess Le Maitre deserved it of her, for he was (if I may use the
expression) dedicated to her service, in whatever appertained to either
his art or knowledge, and the readiness with which he obliged gave
a double value to his complaisance: thus she only paid back, on an
essential occasion, the many favors he had been long conferring on her;
though I should observe, she possessed a soul that, to fulfill such
duties, had no occasion to be reminded of previous obligations.
Accordingly she ordered me to follow Le Maitre to Lyons, and to continue
with him as long as he might have occasion for my services. She has
since avowed, that a desire of detaching me from Venture had a great
hand in this arrangement. She consulted Claude Anet about the conveyance
of the above-mentioned case. He advised, that instead of hiring a beast
at Annecy, which would infallibly discover us, it would be better, at
night, to take it to some neighboring village, and there hire an ass to
carry it to Seyssel, which being in the French dominions, we should have
nothing to fear. This plan was adopted; we departed the same night
at seven, and Madam de Warens, under pretense of paying my expenses,
increased the purse of poor Le Maitre by an addition that was very
acceptable. Claude Anet, the gardiner, and myself, carried the case
to the first village, then hired an ass, and the same night reached

I think I have already remarked that there are times in which I am
so unlike myself that I might be taken for a man of a direct opposite
disposition; I shall now give an example of this. M. Reydelet, curate of
Seyssel, was canon of St. Peter’s, consequently known to M. le Maitre,
and one of the people from whom he should have taken most pains to
conceal himself; my advice, on the contrary, was to present ourselves to
him, and, under some pretext, entreat entertainment as if we visited him
by consent of the chapter. Le Maitre adopted the idea, which seemed to
give his revenge the appearance of satire and waggery; in short, we went
boldly to Reydelet, who received us very kindly. Le Maitre told him he
was going to Bellay by desire of the bishop, that he might superintend
the music during the Easter holidays, and that he proposed returning
that way in a few days. To support this tale, I told a hundred others,
so naturally that M. Reydelet thought me a very agreeable youth, and
treated me with great friendship and civility. We were well regaled and
well lodged: M. Reydelet scarcely knew how to make enough of us; and we
parted the best friends in the world, with a promise to stop longer on
our return. We found it difficult to refrain from laughter, or wait till
we were alone to give free vent to our mirth: indeed, even now, the bare
recollection of it forces a smile, for never was waggery better or
more fortunately maintained. This would have made us merry during the
remainder of our journey, if M. le Maitre (who did not cease drinking)
had not been two or three times attacked with a complaint that he
afterwards became very subject to, and which resembled an epilepsy.
These fits threw me into the most fearful embarrassments, from which I
resolved to extricate myself with the first opportunity.

According to the information given to M. Reydelet, we passed our Easter
holidays at Bellay, and though not expected there, were received by
the music-master, and welcomed by every one with great pleasure. M. le
Maitre was of considerable note in his profession, and, indeed, merited
that distinction. The music-master of Bellay (who was fond of his own
works) endeavored to obtain the approbation of so good a judge; for
besides being a connoisseur, M. le Maitre was equitable, neither a
jealous, ill-natured critic, nor a servile flatterer. He was so superior
to the generality of country music-masters and they were so sensible of
it, that they treated him rather as their chief than a brother musician.

Having passed four or five days very agreeably at Bellay, we departed,
and continuing our journey without meeting with any accidents, except
those I have just spoken of, arrived at Lyons, and were lodged at Notre
Dame de Pitie. While we waited for the arrival of the before-mentioned
case (which by the assistance of another lie, and the care of our good
patron, M. Reydelet, we had embarked on the Rhone) M. le Maitre went to
visit his acquaintance, and among others Father Cato, a Cordelier, who
will be spoken of hereafter, and the Abbe Dortan, Count of Lyons, both
of whom received him well, but afterwards betrayed him, as will be seen
presently; indeed, his good fortune terminated with M. Reydelet.

Two days after our arrival at Lyons, as we passed a little street not
far from our inn, Le Maitre was attacked by one of his fits; but it was
now so violent as to give me the utmost alarm. I screamed with terror,
called for help, and naming our inn, entreated some one to bear him to
it, then (while the people were assembled, and busy round a man that had
fallen senseless in the street) he was abandoned by the only friend on
whom he could have any reasonable dependence; I seized the instant
when no one heeded me, turned the corner of the street and disappeared.
Thanks to Heaven, I have made my third painful confession; if many such
remained, I should certainly abandon the work I have undertaken.

Of all the incidents I have yet related, a few traces are remaining
in the places where I have lived; but what I have to relate in the
following book is almost entirely unknown; these are the greatest
extravagancies of my life, and it is happy they had not worse
conclusions. My head, (if I may use the simile) screwed up to the
pitch of an instrument it did not naturally accord with, had lost
its diapason; in time it returned to it again, when I discontinued my
follies, or at least gave in to those more consonant to my disposition.
This epoch of my youth I am least able to recollect, nothing having
passed sufficiently interesting to influence my heart, to make me
clearly retrace the remembrance. In so many successive changes, it is
difficult not to make some transpositions of time or place. I
write absolutely from memory, without notes or materials to help
my recollection. Some events are as fresh in my idea as if they had
recently happened, but there are certain chasms which I cannot fill up
but by the aid of recital, as confused as the remaining traces of those
to which they refer. It is possible, therefore, that I may have erred
in trifles, and perhaps shall again, but in every matter of importance
I can answer that the account is faithfully exact, and with the same
veracity the reader may depend I shall be careful to continue it.

My resolution was soon taken after quitting Le Maitre; I set out
immediately for Annecy. The cause and mystery of our departure had
interested me for the security of our retreat: this interest, which
entirely employed my thoughts for some days, had banished every other
idea; but no sooner was I secure and in tranquility, than my predominant
sentiment regained its place. Nothing flattered, nothing tempted me, I
had no wish but to return to Madam de Warens; the tenderness and truth
of my attachment to her had rooted from my heart every imaginable
project, and all the follies of ambition, I conceived no happiness
but living near her, nor could I take a step without feeling that the
distance between us was increased. I returned, therefore, as soon
as possible, with such speed, and with my spirits in such a state of
agitation, that though I recall with pleasure all my other travels, I
have not the least recollection of this, only remembering my leaving
Lyons and reaching Annecy. Let anyone judge whether this last event can
have slipped my memory, when informed that on my arrival I found Madam
de Warens was not there, having set out for Paris.

I was never well informed of the motives of this journey. I am certain
she would have told me had I asked her, but never was man less curious
to learn the secrets of his friend. My heart is ever so entirely filled
with the present, or with past pleasures, which become a principal part
of my enjoyment, that there is not a chink or corner for curiosity to
enter. All that I conceive from what I heard of it, is, that in the
revolution caused at Turin by the abdication of the King of Sardinia,
she feared being forgotten, and was willing by favor of the intrigues of
M. d’ Aubonne to seek the same advantage in the court of France, where
she has often told me she should have preferred it, as the multiplicity
of business there prevents your conduct from being so closely inspected.
If this was her business, it is astonishing that on her return she
was not ill received; be that as it will, she continued to enjoy her
allowance without any interruption. Many people imagined she was charged
with some secret commission, either by the bishop, who then had business
at the court of France, where he himself was soon after obliged to go,
or some one yet more powerful, who knew how to insure her a gracious
reception at her return. If this was the case, it is certain the
ambassadress was not ill chosen, since being young and handsome, she had
all the necessary qualifications to succeed in a negotiation.


|Let any one judge my surprise and grief at not finding her on my
arrival. I now felt regret at having abandoned M. le Maitre, and my
uneasiness increased when I learned the misfortunes that had befallen
him. His box of music, containing all his fortune, that precious box,
preserved with so much care and fatigue, had been seized on at Lyons by
means of Count Dortan, who had received information from the Chapter
of our having absconded with it. In vain did Le Maitre reclaim his
property, his means of existence, the labor of his life; his right to
the music in question was at least subject to litigation, but even that
liberty was not allowed him, the affair being instantly decided on the
principal of superior strength. Thus poor Le Maitre lost the fruit of
his talents, the labor of his youth, and principal dependence for the
support of old age.

Nothing was wanting to render the news I had received truly afflicting,
but I was at an age when even the greatest calamities are to be
sustained; accordingly I soon found consolation. I expected shortly to
hear news of Madam de Warens, though I was ignorant of the address,
and she knew nothing of my return. As to my desertion of Le Maitre
(all things considered) I did not find it so very culpable. I had been
serviceable to him at his retreat; it was not in my power to give him
any further assistance. Had I remained with him in France it would not
have cured his complaint. I could not have saved his music, and should
only have doubled his expense: in this point of view I then saw my
conduct; I see it otherwise now. It frequently happens that a villainous
action does not torment us at the instant we commit it, but on
recollection, and sometimes even after a number of years have elapsed,
for the remembrance of crimes is not to be extinguished.

The only means I had to obtain news of Madam de Warens was to remain
at Annecy. Where should I seek her in Paris? or how bear the expense of
such a journey? Sooner or later there was no place where I could be
so certain to hear of her as that I was now at; this consideration
determined me to remain there, though my conduct was very indifferent.
I did not go to the bishop, who had already befriended me, and might
continue to do so; my patroness was not present, and I feared his
reprimands on the subject of our flight; neither did I go to the
seminary, M. Gras was no longer there; in short, I went to none of my
acquaintances. I should gladly have visited the intendant’s lady,
but did not dare; I did worse, I sought out M. Venture, whom
(notwithstanding my enthusiasm) I had never thought of since my
departure. I found him quite gay, in high spirits, and the universal
favorite of the ladies of Annecy.

This success completed my infatuation; I saw nothing but M. Venture; he
almost made me forget even Madam de Warens. That I might profit more at
ease by his instructions and example, I proposed to share his lodgings,
to which he readily consented. It was at a shoemaker’s; a pleasant,
jovial fellow, who, in his county dialect, called his wife nothing but
trollop; an appellation which she certainly merited. Venture took care
to augment their differences, though under an appearance of doing
the direct contrary, throwing out in a distant manner, and provincial
accents, hints that produced the utmost effect, and furnished such
scenes as were sufficient to make any one die with laughter. Thus the
mornings passed without our thinking of them; at two or three o’clock
we took some refreshment. Venture then went to his various engagements,
where he supped, while I walked alone, meditating on his great merit,
coveting and admiring his rare talents, and cursing my own unlucky
stars, that did not call me to so happy a life. How little did I then
know of myself! mine had been a thousand times more delightful, had I
not been such a fool, or known better how to enjoy it.

Madam de Warens had taken no one with her but Anet: Merceret, the
chambermaid, whom I have before mentioned, still remained in the house.
Merceret was something older than myself, not pretty, but tolerably
agreeable; good-natured, free from malice, having no fault to my
knowledge but being a little refractory with her mistress. I often went
to see her; she was an old acquaintance, who recalled to my remembrance
one more beloved, and this made her dear to me. She had several friends,
and among others one Mademoiselle Giraud, a Genevese, who, for the
punishment of my sins, took it in her head to have an inclination for
me, always pressing Merceret, when she returned her visits, to bring
me with her. As I liked Merceret, I felt no disinclination to accompany
her; besides I met there with some young people whose company pleased
me. For Mademoiselle Giraud, who offered every kind of enticement,
nothing could increase the aversion I had for her. When she drew near
me, with her dried black snout, smeared with Spanish snuff, it was with
the utmost difficulty that I could refrain from expressing my distaste;
but, being pleased with her visitors, I took patience. Among these
were two girls who (either to pay their court to Mademoiselle Giraud or
myself) paid me every possible attention. I conceived this to be only
friendship; but have since thought it depended only on myself to have
discovered something more, though I did not even think of it at the

There was another reason for my stupidity. Seamstresses, chambermaids,
or milliners, never tempted me; I sighed for ladies! Every one has his
peculiar taste, this has ever been mine; being in this particular of a
different opinion from Horace. Yet it is not vanity of riches or
rank that attracts me; it is a well-preserved complexion, fine hands,
elegance of ornaments, an air of delicacy and neatness throughout the
whole person; more in taste, in the manner of expressing themselves,
a finer or better made gown, a well-turned ankle, small foot, ribbons,
lace, and well-dressed hair; I even prefer those who have less natural
beauty, provided they are elegantly decorated. I freely confess this
preference is very ridiculous; yet my heart gives in to it spite of my
understanding. Well, even this advantage presented itself, and it only
depended on my own resolution to have seized the opportunity.

How do I love, from time to time, to return to those moments of my
youth, which were so charmingly delightful; so short, so scarce, and
enjoyed at so cheap a rate!--how fondly do I wish to dwell on them!
Even yet the remembrance of these scenes warms my heart with a chaste
rapture, which appears necessary to reanimate my drooping courage, and
enable me to sustain the weariness of my latter days.

The appearance of Aurora seemed so delightful one morning that, putting
on my clothes, I hastened into the country, to see the rising of the
sun. I enjoyed that pleasure in its utmost extent; it was one week
after midsummer; the earth was covered with verdure and flowers, the
nightingales, whose soft warblings were almost concluded, seemed to vie
with each other, and in concert with birds of various kinds to bid adieu
to spring, and hail the approach of a beautiful summer’s day: one of
those lovely days that are no longer to be enjoyed at my age, and which
have never been seen on the melancholy soil I now inhabit.

I had rambled insensibly, to a considerable distance from the town--the
heat augmented--I was walking in the shade along a valley, by the side
of a brook, I heard behind me the steps of horses, and the voice of
some females who, though they seemed embarrassed, did not laugh the less
heartily on that account. I turn round, hear myself called by name, and
approaching, find two young people of my acquaintance, Mademoiselle de
G---- and Mademoiselle Galley, who, not being very excellent horsewomen,
could not make their horses cross the rivulet.

Mademoiselle de G---- was a young lady of Berne, very amiable; who,
having been sent from that country for some youthful folly, had imitated
Madam de Warens, at whose house I had sometimes seen her; but not
having, like her, a pension, she had been fortunate in this attachment
to Mademoiselle Galley, who had prevailed on her mother to engage her
young friend as a companion, till she could be otherwise provided for.
Mademoiselle Galley was one year younger than her friend, handsomer,
more delicate, more ingenious, and to complete all, extremely well made.
They loved each other tenderly, and the good disposition of both could
not fail to render their union durable, if some lover did not derange
it. They informed me they were going to Toune, an old castle belonging
to Madam Galley, and implored my assistance to make their horses cross
the stream, not being able to compass it themselves. I would have given
each a cut or two with the whip, but they feared I might be kicked, and
themselves thrown; I therefore had recourse to another expedient, I took
hold of Mademoiselle Galley’s horse and led him through the brook,
the water reaching half-way up my legs. The other followed without any
difficulty. This done, I would have paid my compliments to the ladies,
and walked off like a great booby as I was, but after whispering each
other, Mademoiselle de G---- said, “No, no, you must not think to escape
thus; you have got wet in our service, and we ought in conscience to
take care and dry you. If you please you must go with us, you are
now our prisoner.” My heart began to beat--I looked at Mademoiselle
Galley--“Yes, yes,” added she, laughing at my fearful look; “our
prisoner of war; come, get up behind her, we shall give a good account
of you.”--“But, mademoiselle,” continued I, “I have not the honor to
be acquainted with your mother; what will she say on my arrival?”--“Her
mother,” replied Mademoiselle de G---- “is not at Toune, we are alone,
we shall return at night, and you shall come back with us.”

The stroke of electricity has not a more instantaneous effect than these
words produced on me. Leaping behind Mademoiselle de G----, I trembled
with joy, and when it became necessary to clasp her in order to hold
myself on, my heart beat so violently that she perceived it, and told
me hers beat also from a fear of falling. In my present posture, I might
naturally have considered this an invitation to satisfy myself of the
truth of her assertion, yet I did not dare, and during the whole way my
arm served as a girdle (a very close one, I must confess), without being
a moment displaced. Some women that may read this would be for giving me
a box on the ear, and, truly, I deserved it.

The gayety of the journey, and the chat of these girls, so enlivened me,
that during the whole time we passed together we never ceased talking a
moment. They had set me so thoroughly at ease, that my tongue spoke
as fast as my eyes, though not exactly the same things. Some minutes,
indeed, when I was left alone with either, the conversation became a
little embarrassed, but neither of them was absent long enough to allow
time for explaining the cause.

Arrived at Toune, and myself well dried, we breakfasted together; after
which it was necessary to settle the important business of preparing
dinner. The young ladies cooked, kissing from time to time the farmer’s
children, while the poor scullion looked on grumbling. Provisions had
been sent for from town, and there was everything necessary for a good
dinner, but unhappily they had forgotten wine; this forgetfulness was by
no means astonishing to girls who seldom drank any, but I was sorry for
the omission, as I had reckoned on its help, thinking it might add to my
confidence. They were sorry likewise, and perhaps from the same motive;
though I have no reason to say this, for their lively and charming
gayety was innocence itself; besides, there were two of them, what could
they expect from me? they went everywhere about the neighborhood to seek
for wine, but none could be procured, so pure and sober are the peasants
in those parts. As they were expressing their concern, I begged them not
to give themselves any uneasiness on my account, for while with them I
had no occasion for wine to intoxicate me. This was the only gallantry
I ventured at during the whole of the day, and I believe the sly rogues
saw well enough that I said nothing but the truth.

We dined in the kitchen; the two friends were seated on the benches, one
on each side the long table, and their guest at the end, between them,
on a three--legged stool. What a dinner! how charming the remembrance!
While we can enjoy, at so small an expense, such pure, such true
delights, why should we be solicitous for others? Never did those
‘petite soupes’, so celebrated in Paris, equal this; I do not only say
for real pleasure and gayety, but even for sensuality.

After dinner, we were economical; instead of drinking the coffee we
had reserved at breakfast, we kept it for an afternoon collation, with
cream, and some cake they had brought with them. To keep our appetites
in play, we went into the orchard, meaning to finish our dessert with
cherries. I got into a tree, throwing them down bunches, from which they
returned the stones through the branches. One time, Mademoiselle Galley,
holding out her apron, and drawing back her head, stood so fair, and
I took such good aim, that I dropped a bunch into her bosom. On her
laughing, I said to myself, “Why are not my lips cherries? How gladly
would I throw them there likewise.”

Thus the day passed with the greatest freedom, yet with the utmost
decency; not a single equivocal word, not one attempt at double-meaning
pleasantry; yet this delicacy was not affected, we only performed the
parts our hearts dictated; in short, my modesty, some will say my folly,
was such that the greatest familiarity that escaped me was once kissing
the hand of Mademoiselle Galley; it is true, the attending circumstances
helped to stamp a value on this trifling favor; we were alone, I was
embarrassed, her eyes were fixed on the ground, and my lips, instead
of uttering words, were pressed on her hand, which she drew gently back
after the salute, without any appearance of displeasure. I know not what
I should have said to her; but her friend entered, and at that moment I
thought her ugly.

At length, they bethought themselves, that they must return to town
before night; even now we had but just time to reach it by daylight;
and we hastened our departure in the same order we came. Had I pleased
myself, I should certainly have reversed this order, for the glance of
Mademoiselle Galley had reached my heart, but I dared not mention it,
and the proposal could not reasonably come from her. On the way, we
expressed our sorrow that the day was over, but far from complaining of
the shortness of its duration, we were conscious of having prolonged it
by every possible amusement.

I quitted them in nearly the same spot where I had taken them up. With
what regret did we part! With what pleasure did we form projects
to renew our meeting! Delightful hours, which we passed innocently
together, yet were worth ages of familiarity! The sweet remembrance
of those days cost those amiable girls nothing; the tender union which
reigned among us equalled more lively pleasures, with which it could not
have existed. We loved each other without shame or mystery, and wished
to continue our reciprocal affection. There is a species of enjoyment
connected with innocence of manners which is superior to any other,
because it has no interval; for myself, the remembrance of such a day
touches me nearer, delights me more, and returns with greater rapture
to my heart than any other pleasure I ever tasted. I hardly knew what I
wished with those charming girls. I do not say: that had the arrangement
been in my power, I should have divided my heart between them; I
certainly felt some degree of preference: though I should have been
happy to have had Mademoiselle de G----, for a mistress, I think, by
choice, I should have liked her better as a confidante; be that as it
may, I felt on leaving them as though I could not live without either.
Who would have thought that I should never see them more; and that here
our ephemeral amours must end?

Those who read this will not fail to laugh at my gallantries, and
remark, that after very promising preliminaries, my most forward
adventures concluded by a kiss of the hand: yet be not mistaken, reader,
in your estimate of my enjoyments; I have, perhaps, tasted more real
pleasure in my amours, which concluded by a kiss of the hand, than you
will ever have in yours, which, at least, begin there.

Venture, who had gone to bed late the night before, came in soon after
me. I did not now see him with my usual satisfaction, and took care not
to inform him how I had passed the day. The ladies had spoken of him
slightingly, and appeared discontented at finding me in such bad hands;
this hurt him in my esteem; besides, whatever diverted my ideas from
them was at this time disagreeable. However, he soon brought me back to
him and myself, by speaking of the situation of my affairs, which
was too critical to last; for, though I spent very little, my slender
finances were almost exhausted. I was without resource; no news of Madam
de Warens; not knowing what would become of me, and feeling a cruel pang
at heart to see the friend of Mademoiselle Galley reduced to beggary.

I now learned from Venture that he had spoken of me to the Judge Major,
and would take me next day to dine with him; that he was a man who
by means of his friends might render me essential service. In other
respects he was a desirable acquaintance, being a man of wit and
letters, of agreeable conversation, one who possessed talents and loved
them in others. After this discourse (mingling the most serious concerns
with the most trifling frivolity) he showed me a pretty couplet, which
came from Paris, on an air in one of Mouret’s operas, which was then
playing. Monsieur Simon (the judge major) was so pleased with this
couplet, that he determined to make another in answer to it, on the same
air. He had desired Venture to write one, and he wished me to make a
third, that, as he expressed it, they might see couplets start up next
day like incidents in a comic romance.

In the night (not being able to sleep) I composed a couplet, as my first
essay in poetry. It was passable; better, or at least composed with more
taste than it would have been the preceding night, the subject being
tenderness, to which my heart was now entirely disposed. In the morning
I showed my performance to Venture, who, being pleased with the couplet,
put it in his pocket, without informing me whether he had made his. We
dined with M. Simon, who treated us very politely. The conversation was
agreeable; indeed it could not be otherwise between two men of natural
good sense, improved by reading. For me, I acted my proper part, which
was to listen without attempting to join in the conversation. Neither of
them mentioned the couplet nor do I know that it ever passed for mine.
M. Simon appeared satisfied with my behavior; indeed, it was almost all
he saw of me at this interview. We had often met at Madam de Warens,
but he had never paid much attention to me; it is from this dinner,
therefore, that I date our acquaintance, which, though of no use in
regard to the object I then had in view, was afterwards productive of
advantages which make me recollect it with pleasure. I should be wrong
not to give some account of this person, since from his office of
magistrate, and the reputation of wit on which he piqued himself, no
idea could be formed of it. The judge major, Simon, certainly was not
two feet high; his legs spare, straight, and tolerably long, would have
added something to his stature had they been vertical, but they stood in
the direction of an open pair of compasses. His body was not only short,
but thin, being in every respect of most inconceivable smallness--when
naked he must have appeared like a grasshopper. His head was of the
common size, to which appertained a well-formed face, a noble look, and
tolerably fine eyes; in short, it appeared a borrowed head, stuck on a
miserable stump. He might very well have dispensed with dress, for his
large wig alone covered him from head to foot.

He had two voices, perfectly different, which intermingled perpetually
in his conversation, forming at first a diverting, but afterwards a very
disagreeable contrast. One grave and sonorous, was, if I may hazard
the expression, the voice of his head: the other, clear, sharp, and
piercing, the voice of his body. When he paid particular attention, and
spoke leisurely, so as to preserve his breath, he could continue his
deep tone; but if he was the least animated, or attempted a lively
accent, his voice sounded like the whistling of a key, and it was with
the utmost difficulty that he could return to the bass.

With the figure I have just described, and which is by no means
overcharged, M. Simon was gallant, ever entertaining the ladies with
soft tales, and carrying the decoration of his person even to foppery.
Willing to make use of every advantage he, during the morning, gave
audience in bed, for when a handsome head was discovered on the pillow
no one could have imagined what belonged to it. This circumstance gave
birth to scenes, which I am certain are yet remembered by all Annecy.

One morning, when he expected to give audience in bed, or rather on the
bed, having on a handsome night-cap ornamented with rose-colored ribbon,
a countryman arriving knocked at the door; the maid happened to be out;
the judge, therefore, hearing the knock repeated, cried “Come in,” and,
as he spoke rather loud, it was in his shrill tone. The man entered,
looked about, endeavoring to discover whence the female voice proceeded
and at length seeing a handsome head-dress set off with ribbons, was
about to leave the room, making the supposed lady a hundred apologies.
M. Simon, in a rage, screamed the more; and the countryman, yet more
confirmed in his opinion, conceiving himself to be insulted, began
railing in his turn, saying that, “Apparently, she was nothing better
than a common streetwalker, and that the judge major should be ashamed
of setting such ill examples.” The enraged magistrate, having no other
weapon than the jordan under his bed, was just going to throw it at the
poor fellow’s head as his servant returned.

This dwarf, ill-used by nature as to his person, was recompensed by
possessing an understanding naturally agreeable, and which he had been
careful to cultivate. Though he was esteemed a good lawyer, he did not
like his profession, delighting more in the finer parts of literature,
which he studied with success: above all, he possessed that superficial
brilliancy, the art of pleasing in conversation, even with the ladies.
He knew by heart a number of little stories, which he perfectly well
knew how to make the most of; relating with an air of secrecy, and as an
anecdote of yesterday, what happened sixty years before. He understood
music, and could sing agreeably; in short, for a magistrate, he had
many pleasing talents. By flattering the ladies of Annecy, he became
fashionable among them, appearing continually in their train. He even
pretended to favors, at which they were much amused. A Madam D’Epigny
used to say “The greatest favor he could aspire to, was to kiss a lady
on her knees.”

As he was well read, and spoke fluently, his conversation was both
amusing and instructive. When I afterwards took a taste for study,
I cultivated his acquaintance, and found my account in it: when
at Chambery, I frequently went from thence to see him. His praises
increased my emulation, to which he added some good advice respecting
the prosecution of my studies, which I found useful. Unhappily, this
weakly body contained a very feeling soul. Some years after, he was
chagrined by I know not what unlucky affair, but it cost him his life.
This was really unfortunate, for he was a good little man, whom at a
first acquaintance one laughed at, but afterwards loved. Though our
situations in life were very little connected with each other, as I
received some useful lessons from him, I thought gratitude demanded that
I should dedicate a few sentences to his memory.

As soon as I found myself at liberty, I ran into the street where
Mademoiselle Galley lived, flattering myself that I should see someone
go in or out, or at least open a window, but I was mistaken, not even
a cat appeared, the house remaining as close all the time as if it had
been uninhabited. The street was small and lonely, any one loitering
about was, consequently, more likely to be noticed; from time to time
people passed in and out of the neighborhood; I was much embarrassed,
thinking my person might be known, and the cause that brought me there
conjectured; this idea tortured me, for I have ever preferred the honor
and happiness of those I love to my own pleasures.

At length, weary of playing the Spanish lover, and having no guitar, I
determined to write to Mademoiselle de G----. I should have preferred
writing to her friend, but did not dare take that liberty, as it
appeared more proper to begin with her to whom I owed the acquaintance,
and with whom I was most familiar. Having written my letter, I took it
to Mademoiselle Giraud, as the young ladies had agreed at parting,
they having furnished me with this expedient. Mademoiselle Giraud was a
quilter, and sometimes worked at Madam Galley’s, which procured her free
admission to the house. I must confess, I was not thoroughly satisfied
with this messenger, but was cautious of starting difficulties, fearing
that if I objected to her no other might be named, and it was impossible
to intimate that she had an inclination to me herself. I even felt
humiliated that she should think I could imagine her of the same sex as
those young ladies: in a word, I accepted her agency rather than none,
and availed myself of it at all events.

At the very first word, Giraud discovered me. I must own this was not a
difficult matter, for if sending a letter to young girls had not spoken
sufficiently plain, my foolish embarrassed air would have betrayed
me. It will easily be supposed that the employment gave her little
satisfaction, she undertook it, however, and performed it faithfully.
The next morning I ran to her house and found an answer ready for me.
How did I hurry away that I might have an opportunity to read and
kiss it alone! though this need not been told, but the plan adopted by
Mademoiselle Giraud (and in which I found more delicacy and moderation
than I had expected) should. She had sense enough to conclude that her
thirty-seven years, hare’s eyes, daubed nose, shrill voice, and black
skin, stood no chance against two elegant young girls, in all the height
and bloom of beauty; she resolved, therefore, nether to betray nor
assist them, choosing rather to lose me entirely than entertain me for

As Merceret had not heard from her mistress for some time, she thought
of returning to Fribourg, and the persuasions of Giraud determined her;
nay more, she intimated it was proper someone should conduct her to
her father’s and proposed me. As I happened to be agreeable to little
Merceret, she approved the idea, and the same day they mentioned it to
me as a fixed point. Finding nothing displeasing in the manner they had
disposed of me, I consented, thinking it could not be above a week’s
journey at most; but Giraud, who had arranged the whole affair, thought
otherwise. It was necessary to avow the state of my finances, and the
conclusion was, that Merceret should defray my expenses; but to retrench
on one hand what was expended on the other, I advised that her little
baggage should be sent on before, and that we should proceed by easy
journeys on foot.

I am sorry to have so many girls in love with me, but as there is
nothing to be very vain of in the success of these amours, I think I may
tell the truth without scruple. Merceret, younger and less artful than
Giraud, never made me so many advances, but she imitated my manners, my
actions, repeated my words, and showed me all those little attentions I
ought to have had for her. Being very timorous, she took great care that
we should both sleep in the same chamber; a circumstance that usually
produces some consequences between a lad of twenty and a girl of

For once, however, it went no further; my simplicity being such,
that though Merceret was by no means a disagreeable girl, an idea of
gallantry never entered my head, and even if it had, I was too great a
novice to have profited by it. I could not imagine how two young persons
could bring themselves to sleep together, thinking that such familiarity
must require an age of preparation. If poor Merceret paid my expenses
in hopes of any return, she was terribly cheated, for we arrived at
Fribourg exactly as we had quitted Annecy.

I passed through Geneva without visiting any one. While going over the
bridges, I found myself so affected that I could scarcely proceed. Never
could I see the walls of that city, never could I enter it, without
feeling my heart sink from excess of tenderness, at the same time that
the image of liberty elevated my soul. The ideas of equality, union, and
gentleness of manners, touched me even to tears, and inspired me with
a lively regret at having forfeited all these advantages. What an error
was I in! but yet how natural! I imagined I saw all this in my native
country, because I bore it in my heart.

It was necessary to pass through Nion: could I do this without seeing
my good father? Had I resolved on doing so, I must afterwards have died
with regret. I left Merceret at the inn, and ventured to his house. How
wrong was I to fear him! On seeing me, his soul gave way to the parental
tenderness with which it was filled. What tears were mingled with our
embraces! He thought I was returned to him: I related my history, and
informed him of my resolution. He opposed it feebly, mentioning the
dangers to which I exposed myself, and telling me the shortest follies
were best, but did not attempt to keep me by force, in which particular
I think he acted right; but it is certain he did not do everything in
his power to detain me, even by fair means. Whether after the step I
had taken, he thought I ought not to return, or was puzzled at my age
to know what to do with me--I have since found that he conceived a very
unjust opinion of my travelling companion. My step-mother, a good woman,
a little coaxingly put on an appearance of wishing me to stay to supper;
I did not, however, comply, but told them I proposed remaining longer
with them on my return; leaving as a deposit my little packet, that had
come by water, and would have been an incumbrance, had I taken it with
me. I continued my journey the next morning, well satisfied that I had
seen my father, and had taken courage to do my duty.

We arrived without any accident at Fribourg. Towards the conclusion of
the journey, the politeness of Mademoiselle Merceret rather diminished,
and, after our arrival, she treated me even with coldness. Her father,
who was not in the best circumstances, did not show me much attention,
and I was obliged to lodge at an alehouse. I went to see them the next
morning, and received an invitation to dine there, which I accepted. We
separated without tears at night; I returned to my paltry lodging, and
departed the second day after my arrival, almost without knowing whither
to go to.

This was a circumstance of my life in which Providence offered me
precisely what was necessary to make my days pass happily. Merceret was
a good girl, neither witty, handsome, nor ugly; not very lively, but
tolerably rational, except while under the influence of some little
humors, which usually evaporated in tears, without any violent outbreak
of temper. She had a real inclination for me; I might have married her
without difficulty, and followed her father’s business. My taste for
music would have made me love her; I should have settled at Fribourg,
a small town, not pretty, but inhabited by very worthy people--I should
certainly have missed great pleasures, but should have lived in peace to
my last hour, and I must know best what I should have gained by such a

I did not return to Nion, but to Lausanne, wishing to gratify myself
with a view of that beautiful lake which is seen there in its utmost
extent. The greater part of my secret motives have not been so
reasonable. Distant expectation has rarely strength enough to influence
my actions; the uncertainty of the future ever making me regard projects
whose execution requires a length of time as deceitful lures. I give
in to visionary scenes of hope as well as others, provided they cost
nothing, but if attended with any trouble, I have done with them. The
smallest, the most trifling pleasure that is conveniently within my
reach, tempts me more than all the joys of paradise. I must except,
however, those pleasures which are necessarily followed by pain; I only
love those enjoyments which are unadulterated, which can never be the
case where we are conscious they must be followed by repentance.

It was necessary I should arrive at some place, and the nearest was
best; for having lost my way on the road, I found myself in the evening
at Moudon, where I spent all that remained of my little stock except ten
creuzers, which served to purchase my next day’s dinner. Arriving in
the evening at Lausanne, I went into an ale-house, without a penny in
my pocket to pay for my lodging, or knowing what would become of me. I
found myself extremely hungry--setting, therefore, a good face on the
matter, I ordered supper, made my meal, went to bed without thought
and slept with great composure. In the morning, having breakfasted and
reckoned with my host, I offered to leave my waistcoat in pledge for
seven batz, which was the amount of my expenses. The honest man refused
this, saying, thank Heaven, he had never stripped any one, and would not
now begin for seven batz, adding I should keep my waistcoat and pay him
when I could. I was affected with this unexpected kindness, but felt
it less than I ought to have done, or have since experienced on the
remembrance of it. I did not fail sending him his money, with thanks,
by one I could depend on. Fifteen years after, passing Lausanne, on my
return from Italy, I felt a sensible regret at having forgotten the name
of the landlord and house. I wished to see him, and should have felt
real pleasure in recalling to his memory that worthy action. Services
which doubtless have been much more important, but rendered with
ostentation, have not appeared to me so worthy of gratitude as the
simple unaffected humanity of this honest man.

As I approached Lausanne, I thought of my distress, and the means of
extricating myself, without appearing in want to my step-mother. I
compared myself, in this walking pilgrimage, to my friend Venture, on
his arrival at Annecy, and was so warmed with the idea, that without
recollecting that I had neither his gentility nor his talents, I
determined to act the part of little Venture at Lausanne, to teach
music, which I did not understand, and say I came from Paris, where I
had never been.

In consequence of this noble project (as there was no company where
I could introduce myself without expense, and not choosing to venture
among professional people), I inquired for some little inn, where I
could lodge cheap, and was directed to one named Perrotet, who took
in boarders. This Perrotet, who was one of the best men in the world,
received me very kindly, and after having heard my feigned story and
profession, promised to speak of me, and endeavored to procure me
scholars, saying he should not expect any money till I had earned it.
His price for board, though moderate in itself, was a great deal to me;
he advised me, therefore, to begin with half board, which consisted of
good soup only for dinner, but a plentiful supper at night. I closed
with this proposition, and the poor Perrotet trusted me with great
cheerfulness, sparing, meantime, no trouble to be useful to me.

Having found so many good people in my youth, why do I find so few in
my age? Is their race extinct? No; but I do not seek them in the same
situation I did formerly, among the commonality, where violent passions
predominate only at intervals, and where nature speaks her genuine
sentiments. In more elevated stations they are entirely smothered, and
under the mask of sentiment, only interest or vanity is heard.

Having written to my father from Lausanne, he sent my packet and some
excellent advice, of which I should have profited better. I have already
observed that I have moments of inconceivable delirium, in which I
am entirely out of myself. The adventure I am about to relate is an
instance of this: to comprehend how completely my brain was turned, and
to what degree I had ‘Venturised’ (if I may be allowed the expression),
the many extravagances I ran into at the same time should be considered.
Behold me, then, a singing master, without knowing how to note a common
song; for if the five or six months passed with Le Maitre had improved
me, they could not be supposed sufficient to qualify me for such an
undertaking; besides, being taught by a master was enough (as I have
before observed) to make me learn ill. Being a Parisian from Geneva, and
a Catholic in a Protestant country, I thought I should change my name
with my religion and country, still approaching as near as possible to
the great model I had in view. He called himself Venture de Villeneuve.
I changed, by anagram, the name Rousseau into that of Vaussore, calling
myself Monsieur Vaussore de Villeneuve. Venture was a good composer,
though he had not said so; without knowing anything of the art, I
boasted of my skill to every one. This was not all: being presented to
Monsieur de Freytorens, professor of law, who loved music, and who gave
concerts at his house, nothing would do but I must give him a proof
of my talents, and accordingly I set about composing a piece for his
concerts, as boldly as if I had really understood the science. I had
the constancy to labor a fortnight at this curious business, to copy it
fair, write out the different parts, and distribute them with as much
assurance as if they had been masterpieces of harmony; in short (what
will hardly be believed, though strictly true), I tacked a very pretty
minuet to the end of it, that was commonly played about the streets, and
which many may remember from these words, so well known at that time:

                         Quel caprice!
                         Quelle injustice!
                         Quoi! ta Clarice
                         Trahirait tes feux!  &c.

Venture had taught me this air with the bass, set to other words, by the
help of which I had retained it: thus at the end of my composition, I
put this minuet and bass, suppressing the words, and uttering it for my
own as confidently as if I had been speaking to the inhabitants of
the moon. They assembled to perform my piece; I explain to each the
movement, taste of execution, and references to his part--I was fully
occupied. They were five or six minutes preparing, which were for me so
many ages: at length, everything is adjusted, myself in a conspicuous
situation, a fine roll of paper in my hand, gravely preparing to beat
time. I gave four or five strokes with my paper, attending with “take
care!” they begin--No, never since French operas existed was there such
a confused discord! The minuet, however, presently put all the company
in good humor; hardly was it begun, before I heard bursts of laughter
from all parts, every one congratulated me on my pretty taste for music,
declaring this minuet would make me spoken of, and that I merited the
loudest praise. It is not necessary to describe my uneasiness, or to own
how much I deserved it.

Next day, one of the musicians, named Lutold, came to see me and was
kind enough to congratulate me on my success. The profound conviction
of my folly, shame, regret, and the state of despair to which I was
reduced, with the impossibility of concealing the cruel agitation of my
heart, made me open it to him; giving, therefore, a loose to my tears,
not content with owning my ignorance, I told all, conjuring him to
secrecy; he kept his word, as every one will suppose. The same evening,
all Lausanne knew who I was, but what is remarkable, no one seemed
to know, not even the good Perrotet, who (notwithstanding what had
happened) continued to lodge and board me.

I led a melancholy life here; the consequences of such an essay had not
rendered Lausanne a very agreeable residence. Scholars did not present
themselves in crowds, not a single female, and not a person of the city.
I had only two or three great dunces, as stupid as I was ignorant, who
fatigued me to death, and in my hands were not likely to edify much.

At length, I was sent for to a house, where a little serpent of a girl
amused herself by showing me a parcel of music that I could not read
a note of, and which she had the malice to sing before her master, to
teach him how it should be executed; for I was so unable to read an air
at first sight, that in the charming concert I have just described, I
could not possibly follow the execution a moment, or know whether they
played truly what lay before them, and I myself had composed.

In the midst of so many humiliating circumstances, I had the pleasing
consolation, from time to time, of receiving letters from my two
charming friends. I have ever found the utmost consolatory virtue in the
fair; when in disgrace, nothing softens my affliction more than to be
sensible that an amiable woman is interested for me. This correspondence
ceased soon after, and was never renewed: indeed it was my own fault,
for in changing situations I neglected sending my address, and forced by
necessity to think perpetually of myself, I soon forgot them.

It is a long time since I mentioned Madam de Warens, but it should not
be supposed I had forgotten her; never was she a moment absent from my
thoughts. I anxiously wished to find her, not merely because she
was necessary to my subsistence, but because she was infinitely more
necessary to my heart. My attachment to her (though lively and tender,
as it really was) did not prevent my loving others, but then it was not
in the same manner. All equally claimed my tenderness for their charms,
but it was those charms alone I loved, my passion would not have
survived them, while Madam de Warens might have become old or ugly
without my loving her the less tenderly. My heart had entirely
transmitted to herself the homage it first paid to her beauty, and
whatever change she might experience, while she remained herself, my
sentiments could not change. I was sensible how much gratitude I owed to
her, but in truth, I never thought of it, and whether she served me or
not, it would ever have been the same thing. I loved her neither from
duty, interest, nor convenience; I loved her because I was born to love
her. During my attachment to another, I own this affection was in some
measure deranged; I did not think so frequently of her, but still with
the same pleasure, and never, in love or otherwise, did I think of her
without feeling that I could expect no true happiness in life while in a
state of separation.

Though in so long a time I had received no news from Madam de Warens, I
never imagined I had entirely lost her, or that she could have forgotten
me. I said to myself, she will know sooner or later that I am wandering
about, and will find some means to inform me of her situation: I am
certain I shall find her. In the meantime, it was a pleasure to live
in her native country, to walk in the streets where she had walked, and
before the houses that she had lived in; yet all this was the work
of conjecture, for one of my foolish peculiarities was, not daring to
inquire after her, or even pronounce her name without the most absolute
necessity. It seemed in speaking of her that I declared all I felt, that
my lips revealed the secrets of my heart, and in some degree injured the
object of my affection. I believe fear was likewise mingled with this
idea; I dreaded to hear ill of her. Her management had been much
spoken of, and some little of her conduct in other respects; fearing,
therefore, that something might be said which I did not wish to hear, I
preferred being silent on the subject.

As my scholars did not take up much of my time, and the town where she
was born was not above four leagues from Lausanne, I made it a walk of
three or four days; during which time a most pleasant emotion never left
me. A view of the lake of Geneva and its admirable banks, had ever, in
my idea, a particular attraction which I cannot describe; not arising
merely from the beauty of the prospect, but something else, I know not
why, more interesting, which affects and softens me. Every time I have
approached the Vaudois country I have experienced an impression composed
of the remembrance of Madam de Warens, who was born there; of my father,
who lived there; of Miss Vulson, who had been my first love, and of
several pleasant journeys I had made there in my childhood, mingled with
some nameless charm, more powerfully attractive than all the rest. When
that ardent desire for a life of happiness and tranquility (which ever
follows me, and for which I was born) inflames my mind, ‘tis ever to
the country of Vaud, near the lake, in those charming plains, that
imagination leads me. An orchard on the banks of that lake, and no
other, is absolutely necessary; a firm friend, an amiable woman, a cow,
and a little boat; nor could I enjoy perfect happiness on earth without
these concomitants. I laugh at the simplicity with which I have several
times gone into that country for the sole purpose of seeking this
imaginary happiness when I was ever surprised to find the inhabitants,
particularly the women, of a quite different disposition to what I
sought. How strange did this appear to me! The country and people who
inhabit it, were never, in my idea, formed for each other.

Walking along these beautiful banks, on my way to Vevay, I gave myself
up to the soft melancholy; my heart rushed with ardor into a thousand
innocent felicities; melting to tenderness, I sighed and wept like a
child. How often, stopping to weep more at my ease, and seated on a
large stone, did I amuse myself with seeing my tears drop into the

On my arrival at Vevay, I lodged at the Key, and during the two days
I remained there, without any acquaintance, conceived a love for that
city, which has followed me through all my travels, and was finally the
cause that I fixed on this spot, in the novel I afterwards wrote, for
the residence of my hero and heroines. I would say to any one who has
taste and feeling, go to Vevay, visit the surrounding country, examine
the prospects, go on the lake and then say, whether nature has not
designed this country for a Julia, a Clara, and a St. Preux; but do not
seek them there. I now return to my story.

Giving myself out for a Catholic, I followed without mystery or scruple
the religion I had embraced. On a Sunday, if the weather was fine, I
went to hear mass at Assans, a place two leagues distant from Lausanne,
and generally in company with other Catholics, particularly a Parisian
embroiderer, whose name I have forgotten. Not such a Parisian as myself,
but a real native of Paris, an arch-Parisian from his maker, yet honest
as a peasant. He loved his country so well, that he would not doubt my
being his countryman, for fear he should not have so much occasion to
speak of it. The lieutenant-governor, M. de Crouzas, had a gardener, who
was likewise from Paris, but not so complaisant; he thought the glory
of his country concerned, when any one claimed that honor who was not
really entitled to it; he put questions to me, therefore, with an air
and tone, as if certain to detect me in a falsehood, and once, smiling
malignantly, asked what was remarkable in the ‘Marcheneuf’? It may be
supposed I asked the question; but I have since passed twenty years at
Paris, and certainly know that city, yet was the same question repeated
at this day, I should be equally embarrassed to answer it, and from this
embarrassment it might be concluded I had never been there: thus,
even when we meet with truths, we are subject to build our opinions on
circumstances, which may easily deceive us.

I formed no ideas, while at Lausanne, that were worth recollecting,
nor can I say exactly how long I remained there; I only know that not
finding sufficient to subsist on, I went from thence to Neuchatel, where
I passed the winter. Here I succeeded better, I got some scholars, and
saved enough to pay my good friend Perrotet, who had faithfully sent my
baggage, though at that time I was considerably in his debt.

By continuing to teach music, I insensibly gained some knowledge of it.
The life I led was sufficiently agreeable, and any reasonable man might
have been satisfied, but my unsettled heart demanded something more. On
Sundays, or whenever I had leisure, I wandered, sighing and thoughtful,
about the adjoining woods, and when once out of the city never
returned before night. One day, being at Boudry, I went to dine at
a public-house, where I saw a man with a long beard, dressed in a
violet-colored Grecian habit, with a fur cap, and whose air and manner
were rather noble. This person found some difficulty in making himself
understood, speaking only an unintelligible jargon, which bore more
resemblance to Italian than any other language. I understood almost all
he said, and I was the only person present who could do so, for he was
obliged to make his request known to the landlord and others about him
by signs. On my speaking a few words in Italian, which he perfectly
understood, he got up and embraced me with rapture; a connection was
soon formed, and from that moment, I became his interpreter. His
dinner was excellent, mine rather worse than indifferent, he gave me
an invitation to dine with him, which I accepted without much ceremony.
Drinking and chatting soon rendered us familiar, and by the end of the
repast we had all the disposition in the world to become inseparable
companions. He informed me he was a Greek prelate, and ‘Archimandrite’
of Jerusalem; that he had undertaken to make a gathering in Europe for
the reestablishment of the Holy Sepulchre, and showed me some very fine
patents from the czarina, the emperor, and several other sovereigns. He
was tolerably content with what he had collected hitherto, though he had
experienced inconceivable difficulties in Germany; for not understanding
a word of German, Latin, or French, he had been obliged to have recourse
to his Greek, Turkish Lingua Franca, which did not procure him much in
the country he was travelling through; his proposal, therefore, to
me was, that I should accompany him in the quality of secretary and
interpreter. In spite of my violet-colored coat, which accorded
well enough with the proposed employment, he guessed from my meagre
appearance, that I should easily be gained; and he was not mistaken. The
bargain was soon made, I demanded nothing, and he promised liberally;
thus, without any security or knowledge of the person I was about to
serve, I gave myself up entirely to his conduct, and the next day behold
me on an expedition to Jerusalem.

We began our expedition unsuccessfully by the canton of Fribourg.
Episcopal dignity would not suffer him to play the beggar, or solicit
help from private individuals; but we presented his commission to the
Senate, who gave him a trifling sum. From thence we went to Berne, where
we lodged at the Falcon, then a good inn, and frequented by respectable
company; the public table being well supplied and numerously attended. I
had fared indifferently so long, that I was glad to make myself amends,
therefore took care to profit by the present occasion. My lord, the
Archimandrite, was himself an excellent companion, loved good cheer, was
gay, spoke well for those who understood him, and knew perfectly well
how to make the most of his Grecian erudition. One day, at dessert while
cracking nuts, he cut his finger pretty deeply, and as it bled freely
showed it to the company, saying with a laugh, “Mirate, signori; questo
a sangue Pelasgo.”

At Berne, I was not useless to him, nor was my performance so bad as
I had feared: I certainly spoke better and with more confidence than
I could have done for myself. Matters were not conducted here with
the same simplicity as at Fribourg; long and frequent conferences were
necessary with the Premiers of the State, and the examination of his
titles was not the work of a day; at length, everything being adjusted,
he was admitted to an audience by the Senate; I entered with him as
interpreter, and was ordered to speak. I expected nothing less, for it
never entered my mind, that after such long and frequent conferences
with the members, it was necessary to address the assembly collectively,
as if nothing had been said. Judge my embarrassment!--a man so bashful
to speak, not only in public, but before the whole of the Senate of
Berne! to speak impromptu, without a single moment for recollection;
it was enough to annihilate me--I was not even intimidated. I described
distinctly and clearly the commission of the Archimandrite; extolled
the piety of those princes who had contributed, and to heighten that of
their excellencies by emulation, added that less could not be expected
from their well-known munificence; then, endeavoring to prove that this
good work was equally interesting to all Christians, without distinction
of sect; and concluded by promising the benediction of Heaven to all
those who took part in it. I will not say that my discourse was the
cause of our success, but it was certainly well received; and on our
quitting the Archimandrite was gratified by a very genteel present, to
which some very handsome compliments were added on the understanding
of his secretary; these I had the agreeable office of interpreting; but
could not take courage to render them literally.

This was the only time in my life that I spoke in public, and before
a sovereign; and the only time, perhaps, that I spoke boldly and well.
What difference in the disposition of the same person. Three years ago,
having been to see my old friend, M. Roguin, at Yverdon, I received a
deputation to thank me for some books I had presented to the library of
that city; the Swiss are great speakers; these gentlemen, accordingly,
made me a long harangue, which I thought myself obliged in honor to
answer, but so embarrassed myself in the attempt, that my head became
confused, I stopped short, and was laughed at. Though naturally timid,
I have sometimes acted with confidence in my youth, but never in my
advanced age: the more I have seen of the world the less I have been
able to adapt its manners.

On leaving Berne, we went to Soleurre: the Archimandrite designing
to re-enter Germany, and return through Hungary or Poland to his own
country. This would have been a prodigious tour; but as the contents of
his purse rather increased than diminished during his journey, he was in
no haste to return. For me, who was almost as much pleased on horseback
as on foot, I would have desired no better than to have travelled thus
during my whole life; but it was pre-ordained that my journey should
soon end.

The first thing we did after our arrival at Soleurre, was to pay our
respects to the French ambassador there. Unfortunately for my bishop,
this chanced to be the Marquis de Bonac, who had been ambassador at the
Porte, and was acquainted with every particular relative to the Holy
Sepulchre. The Archimandrite had an audience that lasted about a quarter
of an hour, to which I was not admitted, as the ambassador spoke French
and Italian at least as well as myself. On my Grecian’s retiring, I was
prepared to follow him, but was detained: it was now my turn. Having
called myself a Parisian, as such, I was under the jurisdiction of his
excellency: he therefore asked me who I was? exhorting me to tell the
truth; this I promised to do, but entreated a private audience, which
was immediately granted. The ambassador took me to his closet, and shut
the door; there, throwing myself at his feet, I kept my word, nor
should I have said less, had I promised nothing, for a continual wish
to unbosom myself, puts my heart perpetually upon my lips. After having
disclosed myself without reserve to the musician Lutold, there was no
occasion to attempt acting the mysterious with the Marquis de Bonac, who
was so well pleased with my little history, and the ingenuousness
with which I had related it, that he led me to the ambassadress, and
presented me, with an abridgment of my recital. Madam de Bonac received
me kindly, saying, I must not be suffered to follow that Greek monk.
It was accordingly resolved that I should remain at their hotel till
something better could be done for me. I wished to bid adieu to my
poor Archimandrite, for whom I had conceived an attachment, but was not
permitted; they sent him word that I was to be detained there, and
in quarter of an hour after, I saw my little bundle arrive. M. de la
Martiniere, secretary of the embassy, had in a manner the care of me;
while following him to the chamber appropriated to my use, he said,
“This apartment was occupied under the Count de Luc, by a celebrated
man of the same name as yourself; it is in your power to succeed him in
every respect, and cause it to be said hereafter, Rousseau the First,
Rousseau the Second.” This similarity which I did not then expect, would
have been less flattering to my wishes could I have foreseen at what
price I should one day purchase the distinction.

What M. de la Martiniere had said excited my curiosity; I read the
works of the person whose chamber I occupied, and on the strength of the
compliment that had been paid me (imagining I had a taste for poetry)
made my first essay in a cantata in praise of Madam de Bonac. This
inclination was not permanent, though from time to time I have composed
tolerable verses. I think it is a good exercise to teach elegant
turns of expression, and to write well in prose, but could never find
attractions enough in French poetry to give entirely in to it.

M. de la Martiniere wished to see my style, and asked me to write the
detail I had before made the ambassador; accordingly I wrote him a
long letter, which I have since been informed was preserved by M. de
Marianne, who had long been attached to the Marquis de Bonac, and has
since succeeded M. de Martiniere as secretary to the embassy of M. de

The experience I began to acquire tended to moderate my romantic
projects; for example, I did not fall in love with Madam de Bonac, but
also felt I did not stand much chance of succeeding in the service of
her husband. M. de la Martiniere was already in the only place that
could have satisfied my ambition, and M. de Marianne in expectancy:
thus my utmost hopes could only aspire to the office of under secretary,
which did not infinitely tempt me: this was the reason that when
consulted on the situation I should like to be placed in, I expressed a
great desire to go to Paris. The ambassador readily gave in to the idea,
which at least tended to disembarrass him of me. M. de Merveilleux,
interpreting secretary to the embassy, said, that his friend, M. Godard,
a Swiss colonel, in the service of France, wanted a person to be with
his nephew, who had entered very young into the service, and made
no doubt that I should suit him. On this idea, so lightly formed, my
departure was determined; and I, who saw a long journey to perform with
Paris at the end of it, was enraptured with the project. They gave me
several letters, a hundred livres to defray the expenses of my journey,
accompanied with some good advice, and thus equipped I departed.

I was a fortnight making the journey, which I may reckon among the
happiest days of my life. I was young, in perfect health, with plenty
of money, and the most brilliant hopes, add to this, I was on foot, and
alone. It may appear strange, I should mention the latter circumstance
as advantageous, if my peculiarity of temper is not already familiar
to the reader. I was continually occupied with a variety of pleasing
chimeras, and never did the warmth of my imagination produce more
magnificent ones. When offered an empty place in a carriage, or any
person accosted me on the road, how vexed was I to see that fortune
overthrown, whose edifice, while walking, I had taken such pains to

For once my ideas were all martial: I was going to live with a military
man; nay, to become one, for it was concluded I should begin with being
a cadet. I already fancied myself in regimentals, with a fine white
feather nodding on my hat, and my heart was inflamed by the noble idea.
I had some smattering of geometry and fortification; my uncle was an
engineer; I was in a manner a soldier by inheritance. My short sight,
indeed, presented some little obstacle, but did not by any means
discourage me, as I reckoned to supply that defect by coolness and
intrepidity. I had read, too, that Marshal Schomberg was remarkably
shortsighted, and why might not Marshal Rousseau be the same? My
imagination was so warm by these follies, that it presented nothing but
troops, ramparts, gabions, batteries, and myself in the midst of fire
and smoke, an eyeglass in hand, commanding with the utmost tranquility.
Notwithstanding, when the country presented a delightful prospect, when
I saw charming groves and rivulets, the pleasing sight made me sigh with
regret, and feel, in the midst of all this glory, that my heart was not
formed for such havoc; and soon without knowing how, I found my thoughts
wandering among my dear sheep-folds, renouncing forever the labor of

How much did Paris disappoint the idea I had formed of it! The exterior
decorations I had seen at Turin, the beauty of the streets, the symmetry
and regularity of the houses, contributed to this disappointment, since
I concluded that Paris must be infinitely superior. I had figured to
myself a splendid city, beautiful as large, of the most commanding
aspect, whose streets were ranges of magnificent palaces, composed of
marble and gold. On entering the faubourg St. Marceau, I saw nothing but
dirty stinking streets, filthy black houses, an air of slovenliness and
poverty, beggars, carters, butchers, cries of tisane and old hats. This
struck me so forcibly, that all I have since seen of real magnificence
in Paris could never erase this first impression, which has ever given
me a particular disgust to residing in that capital; and I may say,
the whole time I remained there afterwards, was employed in seeking
resources which might enable me to live at a distance from it. This is
the consequence of too lively imagination, which exaggerates even beyond
the voice of fame, and ever expects more than is told. I have heard
Paris so flatteringly described, that I pictured it like the ancient
Babylon, which, perhaps, had I seen, I might have found equally faulty,
and unlike that idea the account had conveyed. The same thing happened
at the Opera-house, to which I hastened the day after my arrival! I was
sensible of the same deficiency at Versailles! and some time after on
viewing the sea. I am convinced this would ever be the consequence of a
too flattering description of any object; for it is impossible for
man, and difficult even for nature herself, to surpass the riches of my

By the reception I met with from all those to whom my letters were
addressed, I thought my fortune was certainly made. The person who
received me the least kindly was M. de Surbeck, to whom I had the
warmest recommendation. He had retired from the service, and lived
philosophically at Bagneux, where I waited on him several times without
his offering me even a glass of water. I was better received by Madam
de Merveilleux, sister-in-law to the interpreter, and by his nephew, who
was an officer in the guards. The mother and son not only received me
kindly, but offered me the use of their table, which favor I frequently
accepted during my stay at Paris.

Madam de Merveilleux appeared to have been handsome; her hair was of
a fine black, which, according to the old mode, she wore curled on the
temples. She still retained (what do not perish with a set of features)
the beauties of an amiable mind. She appeared satisfied with mine,
and did all she could to render me service; but no one seconded her
endeavors, and I was presently undeceived in the great interest they had
seemed to take in my affairs. I must, however, do the French nation the
justice to say, they do not so exhaust themselves with protestations, as
some have represented, and that those they make are usually sincere;
but they have a manner of appearing interested in your affairs, which is
more deceiving than words. The gross compliments of the Swiss can only
impose upon fools; the manners of the French are more seducing, and at
the same time so simple, that you are persuaded they do not express all
they mean to do for you, in order that you may be the more agreeably
surprised. I will say more; they are not false in their protestations,
being naturally zealous to oblige, humane, benevolent, and even
(whatever may be said to the contrary) more sincere than any other
nation; but they are too flighty: in effect they feel the sentiments
they profess for you, but that sentiment flies off as instantaneously as
it was formed. In speaking to you, their whole attention is employed on
you alone, when absent you are forgotten. Nothing is permanent in their
hearts, all is the work of the moment.

Thus I was greatly flattered, but received little service. Colonel
Godard, for whose nephew I was recommended, proved to be an avaricious
old wretch, who, on seeing my distress (though he was immensely rich),
wished to have my services for nothing, meaning to place me with his
nephew, rather as a valet without wages than a tutor. He represented
that as I was to be continually engaged with him, I should be excused
from duty, and might live on my cadet’s allowance; that is to say, on
the pay of a soldier: hardly would he consent to give me a uniform,
thinking the clothing of the army might serve. Madam de Merveilleux,
provoked at his proposals, persuaded me not to accept them; her son
was of the same opinion; something else was to be thought on, but no
situation was procured. Meantime, I began to be necessitated; for the
hundred livres with which I had commenced my journey could not last
much longer; happily, I received a small remittance from the ambassador,
which was very serviceable, nor do I think he would have abandoned me
had I possessed more patience; but languishing, waiting, soliciting,
are to me impossible: I was disheartened, displeased, and thus all my
brilliant expectations came once more to nothing. I had not all this
time forgotten my dear Madam de Warens, but how was I to find her? Where
should I seek her? Madam de Merveilleux, who knew my story, assisted me
in the search, but for a long time unavailingly; at length, she informed
me that Madam de Warens had set out from Paris about two months
before, but it was not known whether for Savoy or Turin, and that some
conjectured she was gone to Switzerland. Nothing further was necessary
to fix my determination to follow her, certain that wherever she might
be, I stood more chance of finding her at those places than I could
possibly do at Paris.

Before my departure, I exercised my new poetical talent in an epistle to
Colonel Godard, whom I ridiculed to the utmost of my abilities. I showed
this scribble to Madam de Merveilleux, who, instead of discouraging me,
as she ought to have done, laughed heartily at my sarcasms, as well
as her son, who, I believe, did not like M. Godard; indeed, it must
be confessed, he was a man not calculated to obtain affection. I was
tempted to send him my verses, and they encouraged me in it; accordingly
I made them up in a parcel directed to him, and there being no post then
at Paris by which I could conveniently send this, I put it in my pocket,
and sent it to him from Auxerre, as I passed through that place. I
laugh, even yet, sometimes, at the grimaces I fancy he made on reading
this panegyric, where he was certainly drawn to the life; it began thus:

          Tu croyois, vieux Penard, qu’ une folle manie
          D’ elever ton neveu m’inspireroit l’envie.

This little piece, which, it is true, was but indifferently written;
did not want for salt, and announced a turn for satire; it is,
notwithstanding, the only satirical writing that ever came from my pen.
I have too little hatred in my heart to take advantage of such a talent;
but I believe it may be judged from those controversies, in which from
time to time I have been engaged in my own defence, that had I been of
a vindictive disposition, my adversaries would rarely have had the
laughter on their side.

What I most regret, is not having kept a journal of my travels, being
conscious that a number of interesting details have slipped my memory;
for never did I exist so completely, never live so thoroughly, never was
so much myself, if I dare use the expression, as in those journeys made
on foot. Walking animates and enlivens my spirits; I can hardly think
when in a state of inactivity; my body must be exercised to make my
judgment active. The view of a fine country, a succession of agreeable
prospects, a free air, a good appetite, and the health I gained by
walking; the freedom of inns, and the distance from everything that can
make me recollect the dependence of my situation, conspire to free my
soul, and give boldness to my thoughts, throwing me, in a manner, into
the immensity of beings, where I combine, choose and appropriate them
to my fancy, without constraint or fear. I dispose of all nature as
I please; my heart wandering from object to object, approximates and
unites with those that please it, is surrounded by charming images, and
becomes intoxicated with delicious sensations. If, attempting to render
these permanent, I am amused in describing to myself, what glow of
coloring, what energy of expression, do I give them!--It has been
said, that all these are to be found in my works, though written in the
decline of life. Oh! had those of my early youth been seen, those made
during my travels, composed, but never written!--Why did I not write
them? will be asked; and why should I have written them? I may answer.
Why deprive myself of the actual charm of my enjoyments to inform others
what I enjoyed? What to me were readers, the public, or all the world,
while I was mounting the empyrean. Besides, did I carry pens, paper
and ink with me? Had I recollected all these, not a thought would have
occurred worth preserving. I do not foresee when I shall have ideas;
they come when they please, and not when I call for them; either they
avoid me altogether, or rushing in crowds, overwhelm me with their force
and number. Ten volumes a day would not suffice barely to enumerate
my thoughts; how then should I find time to write them? In stopping, I
thought of nothing but a hearty dinner; on departing, of nothing but a
charming walk; I felt that a new paradise awaited me at the door, and
eagerly leaped forward to enjoy it.

Never did I experience this so feelingly as in the perambulation I am
now describing. On coming to Paris, I had confined myself to ideas which
related to the situation I expected to occupy there. I had rushed
into the career I was about to run, and should have completed it with
tolerable eclat, but it was not that my heart adhered to. Some real
beings obscured my imagined ones--Colonel Godard and his nephew could
not keep pace with a hero of my disposition. Thank Heaven, I was soon
delivered from all these obstacles, and could enter at pleasure into
the wilderness of chimeras, for that alone remained before me, and I
wandered in it so completely that I several times lost my way; but this
was no misfortune, I would not have shortened it, for, feeling with
regret, as I approached Lyons, that I must again return to the material
world, I should have been glad never to have arrived there.

One day, among others, having purposely gone out of my way to take a
nearer view of a spot that appeared delightful, I was so charmed with
it, and wandered round it so often, that at length I completely lost
myself, and after several hours’ useless walking, weary, fainting with
hunger and thirst, I entered a peasant’s hut, which had not indeed a
very promising appearance, but was the only one I could discover near
me. I thought it was here, as at Geneva, or in Switzerland, where
the inhabitants, living at ease, have it in their power to exercise
hospitality. I entreated the countryman to give me some dinner, offering
to pay for it: on which he presented me with some skimmed milk and
coarse barley-bread, saying it was all he had. I drank the milk
with pleasure, and ate the bread, chaff and all; but it was not very
restorative to a man sinking with fatigue. The countryman, who watched
me narrowly, judged the truth of my story by my appetite, and presently
(after having said that he plainly saw I was an honest, good-natured
young man, and did not come to betray him) opened a little trap door by
the side of his kitchen, went down, and returned a moment after with a
good brown loaf of pure wheat, the remains of a well-flavored ham, and
a bottle of wine, the sight of which rejoiced my heart more than all the
rest: he then prepared a good thick omelet, and I made such a dinner as
none but a walking traveller ever enjoyed.

When I again offered to pay, his inquietude and fears returned; he not
only would have no money, but refused it with the most evident emotion;
and what made this scene more amusing, I could not imagine the motive
of his fear. At length, he pronounced tremblingly those terrible words,
“Commissioners,” and “Cellar-rats,” which he explained by giving me to
understand that he concealed his wine because of the excise, and his
bread on account of the tax imposed on it; adding, he should be an
undone man, if it was suspected he was not almost perishing with want.
What he said to me on this subject (of which I had not the smallest
idea) made an impression on my mind that can never be effaced, sowing
seeds of that inextinguishable hatred which has since grown up in my
heart against the vexations these unhappy people suffer, and against
their oppressors. This man, though in easy circumstances, dare not
eat the bread gained by the sweat of his brow, and could only escape
destruction by exhibiting an outward appearance of misery!--I left his
cottage with as much indignation as concern, deploring the fate of those
beautiful countries, where nature has been prodigal of her gifts, only
that they may become the prey of barbarous exactors.

The incident which I have just related, is the only one I have a
distinct remembrance of during this journey: I recollect, indeed, that
on approaching Lyons, I wished to prolong it by going to see the banks
of the Lignon; for among the romances I had read with my father, Astrea
was not forgotten and returned more frequently to my thoughts than any
other. Stopping for some refreshment (while chatting with my hostess),
I inquired the way to Forez, and was informed that country was an
excellent place for mechanics, as there were many forges, and much iron
work done there. This eulogium instantly calmed my romantic curiosity,
for I felt no inclination to seek Dianas and Sylvanders among a
generation of blacksmiths. The good woman who encouraged me with this
piece of information certainly thought I was a journeyman locksmith.

I had some view in going to Lyons: on my arrival, I went to the
Chasattes, to see Mademoiselle du Chatelet, a friend of Madam de Warens,
for whom I had brought a letter when I came there with M. le Maitre,
so that it was an acquaintance already formed. Mademoiselle du Chatelet
informed me her friend had passed through Lyons, but could not tell
whether she had gone on to Piedmont, being uncertain at her departure
whether it would not be necessary to stop in Savoy; but if I choose, she
would immediately write for information, and thought my best plan would
be to remain at Lyons till she received it. I accepted this offer; but
did not tell Mademoiselle du Chatelet how much I was pressed for an
answer, and that my exhausted purse would not permit me to wait long. It
was not an appearance of coolness that withheld me, on the contrary, I
was very kindly received, treated on the footing of equality, and this
took from me the resolution of explaining my circumstances, for I could
not bear to descend from a companion to a miserable beggar.

I seem to have retained a very connecting remembrance of that part of
my life contained in this book; yet I think I remember, about the same
period, another journey to Lyons, (the particulars of which I cannot
recollect) where I found myself much straitened, and a confused
remembrance of the extremities to which I was reduced does not
contribute to recall the idea agreeably. Had I been like many others,
had I possessed the talent of borrowing and running in debt at
every ale-house I came to, I might have fared better; but in that my
incapacity equalled my repugnance, and to demonstrate the prevalence of
both, it will be sufficient to say, that though I have passed almost my
whole life in indifferent circumstances, and frequently have been near
wanting bread, I was never once asked for money by a creditor without
having it in my power to pay it instantly; I could never bear to
contract clamorous debts, and have ever preferred suffering to owing.

Being reduced to pass my nights in the streets, may certainly be
called suffering, and this was several times the case at Lyons, having
preferred buying bread with the few pence I had remaining, to bestowing
them on a lodging; as I was convinced there was less danger of dying for
want of sleep than of hunger. What is astonishing, while in this
unhappy situation, I took no care for the future, was neither uneasy nor
melancholy, but patiently waited an answer to Mademoiselle du Chatelet’s
letter, and lying in the open air, stretched on the earth, or on a
bench, slept as soundly as if reposing on a bed of roses. I remember,
particularly, to have passed a most delightful night at some distance
from the city, in a road which had the Rhone, or Soane, I cannot
recollect which, on the one side, and a range of raised gardens, with
terraces, on the other. It had been a very hot day, the evening was
delightful, the dew moistened the fading grass, no wind was stirring,
the air was fresh without chillness, the setting sun had tinged the
clouds with a beautiful crimson, which was again reflected by the water,
and the trees that bordered the terrace were filled with nightingales
who were continually answering each other’s songs. I walked along in a
kind of ecstasy, giving up my heart and senses to the enjoyment of so
many delights, and sighing only from a regret of enjoying them alone.
Absorbed in this pleasing reverie, I lengthened my walk till it grew
very late, without perceiving I was tired; at length, however, I
discovered it, and threw myself on the step of a kind of niche, or false
door, in the terrace wall. How charming was the couch! the trees formed
a stately canopy, a nightingale sat directly over me, and with his soft
notes lulled me to rest: how pleasing my repose; my awaking more so. It
was broad day; on opening my eyes I saw the water, the verdure, and
the admirable landscape before me. I arose, shook off the remains
of drowsiness, and finding I was hungry, retook the way to the city,
resolving, with inexpressible gayety, to spend the two pieces of six
francs I had yet remaining in a good breakfast. I found myself so
cheerful that I went all the way singing; I even remember I sang a
cantata of Batistin’s called the Baths of Thomery, which I knew by
heart. May a blessing light on the good Batistin and his good cantata,
which procured me a better breakfast than I had expected, and a still
better dinner which I did not expect at all! In the midst of my singing,
I heard some one behind me, and turning round perceived an Antonine, who
followed after and seemed to listen with pleasure to my song. At length
accosting me, he asked, If I understood music. I answered, “A little,”
 but in a manner to have it understood I knew a great deal, and as he
continued questioning of me, related a part of my story. He asked me,
If I had ever copied music? I replied, “Often,” which was true: I had
learned most by copying. “Well,” continued he, “come with me, I can
employ you for a few days, during which time you shall want for nothing;
provided you consent not to quit my room.” I acquiesced very willingly,
and followed him.

This Antonine was called M. Rotichon; he loved music, understood it, and
sang in some little concerts with his friends; thus far all was innocent
and right, but apparently this taste had become a furor, part of which
he was obliged to conceal. He conducted me into a chamber, where I found
a great quantity of music: he gave me some to copy, particularly the
cantata he had heard me singing, and which he was shortly to sing

I remained here three or four days, copying all the time I did not eat,
for never in my life was I so hungry, or better fed. M. Rolichon brought
my provisions himself from the kitchen, and it appeared that these good
priests lived well, at least if every one fared as I did. In my life, I
never took such pleasure in eating, and it must be owned this good cheer
came very opportunely, for I was almost exhausted. I worked as heartily
as I ate, which is saying a great deal; ‘tis true I was not as correct
as diligent, for some days after, meeting M. Rolichon in the street,
he informed me there were so many omissions, repetitions, and
transpositions, in the parts I had copied, that they could not be
performed. It must be owned, that in choosing the profession of music,
I hit on that I was least calculated for; yet my voice was good and I
copied neatly; but the fatigue of long works bewilders me so much, that
I spend more time in altering and scratching out than in pricking down,
and if I do not employ the strictest attention in comparing the several
parts, they are sure to fail in the execution. Thus, through endeavoring
to do well, my performance was very faulty; for aiming at expedition, I
did all amiss. This did not prevent M. Rolichon from treating me well to
the last, and giving me half-a-crown at my departure, which I certainly
did not deserve, and which completely set me up, for a few days after I
received news from Madam de Warens, who was at Chambery, with money
to defray the expenses of my journey to her, which I performed with
rapture. Since then my finances have frequently been very low, but never
at such an ebb as to reduce me to fasting, and I mark this period with a
heart fully alive to the bounty of Providence, as the last of my life in
which I sustained poverty and hunger.

I remained at Lyons seven or eight days to wait for some little
commissions with which Madam de Warens had charged Mademoiselle du
Chatelet, who during this interval I visited more assiduously than
before, having the pleasure of talking with her of her friend, and being
no longer disturbed by the cruel remembrance of my situation, or painful
endeavors to conceal it. Mademoiselle du Chatelet was neither young nor
handsome, but did not want for elegance; she was easy and obliging while
her understanding gave price to her familiarity. She had a taste for
that kind of moral observation which leads to the knowledge of mankind,
and from her originated that study in myself. She was fond of the works
of Le Sage, particularly Gil Blas, which she lent me, and recommended to
my perusal. I read this performance with pleasure, but my judgment was
not yet ripe enough to relish that sort of reading. I liked romances
which abounded with high-flown sentiments.

Thus did I pass my time at the grate of Mademoiselle du Chatelet, with
as much profit as pleasure. It is certain that the interesting and
sensible conversation of a deserving woman is more proper to form the
understanding of a young man than all the pedantic philosophy of books.
I got acquainted at the Chasattes with some other boarders and their
friends, and among the rest, with a young person of fourteen, called
Mademoiselle Serre, whom I did not much notice at that time, though
I was in love with her eight or nine years afterwards, and with great
reason, for she was a most charming girl.

I was fully occupied with the idea of seeing Madam de Warens, and this
gave some respite to my chimeras, for finding happiness in real objects
I was the less inclined to seek it in nonentities. I had not only found
her, but also by her means, and near her, an agreeable situation, having
sent me word that she had procured one that would suit me, and by which
I should not be obliged to quit her. I exhausted all my conjectures in
guessing what this occupation could be, but I must have possessed the
art of divination to have hit it on the right. I had money sufficient to
make my journey agreeable: Mademoiselle du Chatelet persuaded me to hire
a horse, but this I could not consent to, and I was certainly right,
for by so doing I should have lost the pleasure of the last pedestrian
expedition I ever made; for I cannot give that name to those excursions
I have frequently taken about my own neighborhood, while I lived at

It is very singular that my imagination never rises so high as when my
situation is least agreeable or cheerful. When everything smiles around
me, I am least amused; my heart cannot confine itself to realities,
cannot embellish, but must create. Real objects strike me as they really
are, my imagination can only decorate ideal ones. If I would paint the
spring, it must be in winter; if describe a beautiful landscape, it must
be while surrounded with walls; and I have said a hundred times, that
were I confined in the Bastille, I could draw the most enchanting
picture of liberty. On my departure from Lyons, I saw nothing but an
agreeable future, the content I now with reason enjoyed was as great
as my discontent had been at leaving Paris, notwithstanding, I had not
during this journey any of those delightful reveries I then enjoyed. My
mind was serene, and that was all; I drew near the excellent friend
I was going to see, my heart overflowing with tenderness, enjoying in
advance, but without intoxication, the pleasure of living near her; I
had always expected this, and it was as if nothing new had happened.
Meantime, I was anxious about the employment Madam de Warens had
procured me, as if that alone had been material. My ideas were calm and
peaceable, not ravishing and celestial; every object struck my sight
in its natural form; I observed the surrounding landscape, remarked
the trees, the houses, the springs, deliberated on the cross-roads, was
fearful of losing myself, yet did not do so; in a word, I was no longer
in the empyrean, but precisely where I found myself, or sometimes
perhaps at the end of my journey, never farther.

I am in recounting my travels, as I was in making them, loath to arrive
at the conclusion. My heart beat with joy as I approached my dear Madam
de Warens, but I went no faster on that account. I love to walk at
my ease, and stop at leisure; a strolling life is necessary to me:
travelling on foot, in a fine country, with fine weather and having an
agreeable object to terminate my journey, is the manner of living of all
others most suited to my taste.

It is already understood what I mean by a fine country; never can a
flat one, though ever so beautiful, appear such in my eyes: I must have
torrents, fir trees, black woods, mountains to climb or descend, and
rugged roads with precipices on either side to alarm me. I experienced
this pleasure in its utmost extent as I approached Chambery, not far
from a mountain which is called Pas de l’Echelle. Above the main road,
which is hewn through the rock, a small river runs and rushes into
fearful chasms, which it appears to have been millions of ages in
forming. The road has been hedged by a parapet to prevent accidents,
which enabled me to contemplate the whole descent, and gain vertigoes
at pleasure; for a great part of my amusement in these steep rocks, is,
they cause a giddiness and swimming in my head, which I am particularly
fond of, provided I am in safety; leaning, therefore, over the parapet,
I remained whole hours, catching, from time to time, a glance of the
froth and blue water, whose rushing caught my ear, mingled with the
cries of ravens, and other birds of prey that flew from rock to rock,
and bush to bush, at six hundred feet below me. In places where the
slope was tolerably regular, and clear enough from bushes to let stones
roll freely, I went a considerable way to gather them, bringing those I
could but just carry, which I piled on the parapet, and then threw down
one after the other, being transported at seeing them roll, rebound,
and fly into a thousand pieces, before they reached the bottom of the

Near Chambery I enjoyed an equal pleasing spectacle, though of a
different kind; the road passing near the foot of the most charming
cascade I ever saw. The water, which is very rapid, shoots from the top
of an excessively steep mountain, falling at such a distance from its
base that you may walk between the cascade and the rock without any
inconvenience; but if not particularly careful it is easy to be deceived
as I was, for the water, falling from such an immense height, separates,
and descends in a rain as fine as dust, and on approaching too near this
cloud, without perceiving it, you may be wet through in an instant.

At length I arrived at Madam de Warens; she was not alone, the
intendant-general was with her. Without speaking a word to me, she
caught my hand, and presenting me to him with that natural grace which
charmed all hearts, said: “This, sir, is the poor young man I mentioned;
deign to protect him as long as he deserves it, and I shall feel no
concern for the remainder of his life.” Then added, addressing herself
to me, “Child, you now belong to the king, thank Monsieur the Intendant,
who furnishes you with the means of existence.” I stared without
answering, without knowing what to think of all this; rising ambition
almost turned my head; I was already prepared to act the intendant
myself. My fortune, however, was not so brilliant as I had imagined,
but it was sufficient to maintain me, which, as I was situated, was a
capital acquisition. I shall now explain the nature of my employment.

King Victor Amadeus, judging by the event of preceding wars, and the
situation of the ancient patrimony of his fathers, that he should not
long be able to maintain it, wished to drain it beforehand. Resolving,
therefore, to tax the nobility, he ordered a general survey of the whole
country, in order that it might be rendered more equal and productive.
This scheme, which was begun under the father, was completed by the son:
two or three hundred men, part surveyors, who were called geometricians,
and part writers, who were called secretaries, were employed in this
work: among those of the latter description Madam de Warens had got me
appointed. This post, without being very lucrative, furnished the means
of living eligibly in that country; the misfortune was, this employment
could not be of any great duration, but it put me in train to procure
something better, as by this means she hoped to insure the particular
protection of the intendant, who might find me some more settled
occupation before this was concluded.

I entered on my new employment a few days after my arrival, and as there
was no great difficulty in the business, soon understood it; thus, after
four or five years of unsettled life, folly, and suffering, since my
departure from Geneva, I began, for the first time, to gain my bread
with credit.

These long details of my early youth must have appeared trifling, and
I am sorry for it: though born a man, in a variety of instances, I was
long a child, and am so yet in many particulars. I did not promise the
public a great personage: I promised to describe myself as I am, and
to know me in my advanced age it was necessary to have known me in my
youth. As, in general, objects that are present make less impression
on me than the bare remembrance of them (my ideas being all from
recollection), the first traits which were engraven on my mind have
distinctly remained: those which have since been imprinted there, have
rather combined with the former than effaced them. There is a certain,
yet varied succession of affections and ideas, which continue to
regulate those that follow them, and this progression must be known in
order to judge rightly of those they have influenced. I have studied
to develop the first causes, the better to show the concatenation of
effects. I would be able by some means to render my soul transparent
to the eyes of the reader, and for this purpose endeavor to show it in
every possible point of view, to give him every insight, and act in such
a manner, that not a motion should escape him, as by this means he may
form a judgment of the principles that produce them.

Did I take upon myself to decide, and say to the reader, “Such is my
character,” he might think that if I did not endeavor to deceive him, I
at least deceived myself; but in recounting simply all that has happened
to me, all my actions, thoughts, and feelings, I cannot lead him into an
error, unless I do it wilfully, which by this means I could not easily
effect, since it is his province to compare the elements, and judge of
the being they compose: thus the result must be his work, and if he is
then deceived the error will be his own. It is not sufficient for this
purpose that my recitals should be merely faithful, they must also be
minute; it is not for me to judge of the importance of facts, I ought
to declare them simply as they are, and leave the estimate that is to be
formed of them to him. I have adhered to this principle hitherto, with
the most scrupulous exactitude, and shall not depart from it in the
continuation; but the impressions of age are less lively than those of
youth; I began by delineating the latter: should I recollect the rest
with the same precision, the reader, may, perhaps, become weary and
impatient, but I shall not be dissatisfied with my labor. I have but one
thing to apprehend in this undertaking: I do not dread saying too
much, or advancing falsities, but I am fearful of not saying enough, or
concealing truths.


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

[Illustration: 0162]

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

[Illustration: 0268]

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

I will now return to my journey.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

          O Mort! viens terminer les malheurs de ma vie.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


|At the end of the preceding book a pause was necessary. With this begins
the long chain of my misfortunes deduced from their origin.

Having lived in the two most splendid houses in Paris, I had,
notwithstanding my candor and modesty, made some acquaintance. Among
others at Dupin’s, that of the young hereditary prince of Saxe-Gotha,
and of the Baron de Thun, his governor; at the house of M. de la
Popliniere, that of M. Seguy, friend to the Baron de Thun, and known
in the literary world by his beautiful edition of Rousseau. The baron
invited M. Seguy and myself to go and pass a day or two at Fontenai sous
bois, where the prince had a house. As I passed Vincennes, at the sight
of the dungeon, my feelings were acute; the effect of which the
baron perceived on my countenance. At supper the prince mentioned the
confinement of Diderot. The baron, to hear what I had to say, accused
the prisoner of imprudence; and I showed not a little of the same in the
impetuous manner in which I defended him. This excess of zeal, inspired
by the misfortune which had befallen my friend, was pardoned, and the
conversation immediately changed. There were present two Germans in the
service of the prince. M. Klupssel, a man of great wit, his chaplain,
and who afterwards, having supplanted the baron, became his governor.
The other was a young man named M. Grimm, who served him as a reader
until he could obtain some place, and whose indifferent appearance
sufficiently proved the pressing necessity he was under of immediately
finding one. From this very evening Klupssel and I began an acquaintance
which soon led to friendship. That with the Sieur Grimm did not make
quite so rapid a progress; he made but few advances, and was far from
having that haughty presumption which prosperity afterwards gave him.
The next day at dinner, the conversation turned upon music; he spoke
well on the subject. I was transported with joy when I learned from him
he could play an accompaniment on the harpsichord. After dinner was over
music was introduced, and we amused ourselves the rest of the afternoon
on the harpischord of the prince. Thus began that friendship which, at
first, was so agreeable to me, afterwards so fatal, and of which I shall
hereafter have so much to say.

At my return to Paris, I learned the agreeable news that Diderot was
released from the dungeon, and that he had on his parole the castle and
park of Vincennes for a prison, with permission to see his friends. How
painful was it to me not to be able instantly to fly to him! But I was
detained two or three days at Madam Dupin’s by indispensable business.
After ages of impatience, I flew to the arms of my friend. He was not
alone: D’ Alembert and the treasurer of the Sainte Chapelle were with
him. As I entered I saw nobody but himself, I made but one step,
one cry; I riveted my face to his: I pressed him in my arms, without
speaking to him, except by tears and sighs: I stifled him with my
affection and joy. The first thing he did, after quitting my arms, was
to turn himself towards the ecclesiastic, and say: “You see, sir, how
much I am beloved by my friends.” My emotion was so great, that it was
then impossible for me to reflect upon this manner of turning it to
advantage; but I have since thought that, had I been in the place of
Diderot, the idea he manifested would not have been the first that would
have occurred to me.

I found him much affected by his imprisonment. The dungeon had made a
terrible impression upon his mind, and, although he was very agreeably
situated in the castle, and at liberty to walk where he pleased in the
park, which was not inclosed even by a wall, he wanted the society of
his friends to prevent him from yielding to melancholy. As I was the
person most concerned for his sufferings, I imagined I should also
be the friend, the sight of whom would give him consolation; on which
account, notwithstanding very pressing occupations, I went every two
days at farthest, either alone, or accompanied by his wife, to pass the
afternoon with him.

The heat of the summer was this year (1749) excessive. Vincennes is two
leagues from Paris. The state of my finances not permitting me to pay
for hackney coaches, at two o’clock in the afternoon, I went on foot,
when alone, and walked as fast as possible, that I might arrive the
sooner. The trees by the side of the road, always lopped, according to
the custom of the country, afforded but little shade, and exhausted
by fatigue, I frequently threw myself on the ground, being unable to
proceed any further. I thought a book in my hand might make me moderate
my pace. One day I took the Mercure de France, and as I walked and read,
I came to the following question proposed by the academy of Dijon, for
the premium of the ensuing year, ‘Has the progress of sciences and arts
contributed to corrupt or purify morals?’

The moment I had read this, I seemed to behold another world, and became
a different man. Although I have a lively remembrance of the impression
it made upon me, the detail has escaped my mind, since I communicated
it to M. de Malesherbes in one of my four letters to him. This is one of
the singularities of my memory which merits to be remarked. It serves me
in proportion to my dependence upon it; the moment I have committed
to paper that with which it was charged, it forsakes me, and I have
no sooner written a thing than I had forgotten it entirely. This
singularity is the same with respect to music. Before I learned the
use of notes I knew a great number of songs; the moment I had made a
sufficient progress to sing an air set to music, I could not recollect
any one of them; and, at present, I much doubt whether I should be able
entirely to go through one of those of which I was the most fond. All
I distinctly recollect upon this occasion is, that on my arrival at
Vincennes, I was in an agitation which approached a delirium. Diderot
perceived it; I told him the cause, and read to him the prosopopoeia
of Fabricius, written with a pencil under a tree. He encouraged me to
pursue my ideas, and to become a competitor for the premium. I did so,
and from that moment I was ruined.

All the rest of my misfortunes during my life were the inevitable effect
of this moment of error.

My sentiments became elevated with the most inconceivable rapidity
to the level of my ideas. All my little passions were stifled by the
enthusiasm of truth, liberty, and virtue; and, what is most astonishing,
this effervescence continued in my mind upwards of five years, to as
great a degree perhaps as it has ever done in that of any other man.
I composed the discourse in a very singular manner, and in that style
which I have always followed in my other works. I dedicated to it the
hours of the night in which sleep deserted me, I meditated in my bed
with my eyes closed, and in my mind turned over and over again my
periods with incredible labor and care; the moment they were finished
to my satisfaction, I deposited them in my memory, until I had an
opportunity of committing them to paper; but the time of rising and
putting on my clothes made me lose everything, and when I took up my pen
I recollected but little of what I had composed. I made Madam le Vasseur
my secretary; I had lodged her with her daughter, and husband, nearer to
myself; and she, to save me the expense of a servant, came every morning
to make my fire, and to do such other little things as were necessary.
As soon as she arrived I dictated to her while in bed what I had
composed in the night, and this method, which for a long time I
observed, preserved me many things I should otherwise have forgotten.

As soon as the discourse was finished, I showed it to Diderot. He was
satisfied with the production, and pointed out some corrections he
thought necessary to be made.

However, this composition, full of force and fire, absolutely wants
logic and order; of all the works I ever wrote, this is the weakest
in reasoning, and the most devoid of number and harmony. With whatever
talent a man may be born, the art of writing is not easily learned.

I sent off this piece without mentioning it to anybody, except, I think,
to Grimm, with whom, after his going to live with the Comte de Vriese, I
began to be upon the most intimate footing. His harpsichord served as a
rendezvous, and I passed with him at it all the moments I had to spare,
in singing Italian airs, and barcaroles; sometimes without intermission,
from morning till night, or rather from night until morning; and when
I was not to be found at Madam Dupin’s, everybody concluded I was with
Grimm at his apartment, the public walk, or theatre. I left off going to
the Comedie Italienne, of which I was free, to go with him, and pay, to
the Comedie Francoise, of which he was passionately fond. In short, so
powerful an attraction connected me with this young man, and I became so
inseparable from him, that the poor aunt herself was rather neglected,
that is, I saw her less frequently; for in no moment of my life has my
attachment to her been diminished.

This impossibility of dividing, in favor of my inclinations, the little
time I had to myself, renewed more strongly than ever the desire I had
long entertained of having but one home for Theresa and myself; but the
embarrassment of her numerous family, and especially the want of money
to purchase furniture, had hitherto withheld me from accomplishing it.
An opportunity to endeavor at it presented itself, and of this I took
advantage. M. de Francueil and Madam Dupin, clearly perceiving that
eight or nine hundred livres a year were unequal to my wants, increased,
of their own accord, my salary to fifty guineas; and Madam Dupin,
having heard I wished to furnish myself lodgings, assisted me with some
articles for that purpose. With this furniture and that Theresa already
had, we made one common stock, and, having an apartment in the Hotel de
Languedoc, Rue de Grenelle-Saint-Honore, kept by very honest people,
we arranged ourselves in the best manner we could, and lived there
peaceably and agreeably during seven years, at the end of which I
removed to go and live at the Hermitage.

Theresa’s father was a good old man, very mild in his disposition, and
much afraid of his wife; for this reason he had given her the surname
of Lieutenant Criminal, which Grimm, jocosely, afterwards transferred to
the daughter. Madam le Vasseur did not want sense, that is address; and
pretended to the politeness and airs of the first circles; but she had a
mysterious wheedling, which to me was insupportable, gave bad advice to
her daughter, endeavored to make her dissemble with me, and separately,
cajoled my friends at my expense, and that of each other; excepting
these circumstances, she was a tolerably good mother, because she found
her account in being so, and concealed the faults of her daughter to
turn them to her own advantage. This woman, who had so much of my care
and attention, to whom I made so many little presents, and by whom I
had it extremely at heart to make myself beloved, was, from the
impossibility of my succeeding in this wish, the only cause of the
uneasiness I suffered in my little establishment. Except the effects of
this cause I enjoyed, during these six or seven years, the most perfect
domestic happiness of which human weakness is capable. The heart of
my Theresa was that of an angel; our attachment increased with our
intimacy, and we were more and more daily convinced how much we were
made for each other. Could our pleasures be described, their simplicity
would cause laughter. Our walks, tete-a-tete, on the outside of
the city, where I magnificently spent eight or ten sous in each
guinguette.--[Ale-house]--Our little suppers at my window, seated
opposite to each other upon two little chairs, placed upon a trunk,
which filled up the spare of the embrasure. In this situation the window
served us as a table, we respired the fresh air, enjoyed the prospect
of the environs and the people who passed; and, although upon the fourth
story, looked down into the street as we ate.

Who can describe, and how few can feel, the charms of these repasts,
consisting of a quartern loaf, a few cherries, a morsel of cheese, and
half-a-pint of wine which we drank between us? Friendship, confidence,
intimacy, sweetness of disposition, how delicious are your reasonings!
We sometimes remained in this situation until midnight, and never
thought of the hour, unless informed of it by the old lady. But let us
quit these details, which are either insipid or laughable; I have always
said and felt that real enjoyment was not to be described.

Much about the same time I indulged in one not so delicate, and the last
of the kind with which I have to reproach myself. I have observed that
the minister Klupssel was an amiable man; my connections with him were
almost as intimate as those I had with Grimm, and in the end became as
familiar; Grimm and he sometimes ate at my apartment. These repasts,
a little more than simple, were enlivened by the witty and extravagant
wantonness of expression of Klupssel, and the diverting Germanicisms of
Grimm, who was not yet become a purist.

Sensuality did not preside at our little orgies, but joy, which was
preferable, reigned in them all, and we enjoyed ourselves so well
together that we knew not how to separate. Klupssel had furnished a
lodging for a little girl, who, notwithstanding this, was at the service
of anybody, because he could not support her entirely himself. One
evening as we were going into the coffee-house, we met him coming out to
go and sup with her. We rallied him; he revenged himself gallantly, by
inviting us to the same supper, and there rallying us in our turn.
The poor young creature appeared to be of a good disposition, mild and
little fitted to the way of life to which an old hag she had with
her, prepared her in the best manner she could. Wine and conversation
enlivened us to such a degree that we forgot ourselves. The amiable
Klupssel was unwilling to do the honors of his table by halves, and we
all three successively took a view of the next chamber, in company with
his little friend, who knew not whether she should laugh or cry. Grimm
has always maintained that he never touched her; it was therefore to
amuse himself with our impatience, that he remained so long in the
other chamber, and if he abstained, there is not much probability of his
having done so from scruple, because previous to his going to live
with the Comte de Friese, he lodged with girls of the town in the same
quarter of St. Roch.

I left the Rue des Moineaux, where this girl lodged, as much ashamed as
Saint Preux left the house in which he had become intoxicated, and when
I wrote his story I well remembered my own. Theresa perceived by some
sign, and especially by my confusion, I had something with which
I reproached myself; I relieved my mind by my free and immediate
confession. I did well, for the next day Grimm came in triumph to relate
to her my crime with aggravation, and since that time he has never
failed maliciously to recall it to her recollection; in this he was
the more culpable, since I had freely and voluntarily given him my
confidence, and had a right to expect he would not make me repent of
it. I never had a more convincing proof than on this occasion, of the
goodness of my Theresa’s heart; she was more shocked at the behavior of
Grimm than at my infidelity, and I received nothing from her but tender
reproaches, in which there was not the least appearance of anger.

The simplicity of mind of this excellent girl was equal to her goodness
of heart; and this is saying everything: but one instance of it, which
is present to my recollection, is worthy of being related. I had told
her Klupssel was a minister, and chaplain to the prince of Saxe-Gotha.
A minister was to her so singular a man, that oddly confounding the most
dissimilar ideas, she took it into her head to take Klupssel for the
pope; I thought her mad the first time she told me when I came in, that
the pope had called to see me. I made her explain herself and lost not
a moment in going to relate the story to Grimm and Klupssel, who amongst
ourselves never lost the name of pope. We gave to the girl in the Rue
des Moineaux the name of Pope Joan. Our laughter was incessant; it
almost stifled us. They, who in a letter which it hath pleased them to
attribute to me, have made me say I never laughed but twice in my life,
did not know me at this period, nor in my younger days; for if they had,
the idea could never have entered into their heads.

The year following (1750), not thinking more of my discourse; I learned
it had gained the premium at Dijon. This news awakened all the ideas
which had dictated it to me, gave them new animation, and completed
the fermentation of my heart of that first leaven of heroism and virtue
which my father, my country, and Plutarch had inspired in my infancy.
Nothing now appeared great in my eyes but to be free and virtuous,
superior to fortune and opinion, and independent of all exterior
circumstances; although a false shame, and the fear of disapprobation at
first prevented me from conducting myself according to these principles,
and from suddenly quarreling with the maxims of the age in which I
lived, I from that moment took a decided resolution to do it.--[And of
this I purposely delayed the execution, that irritated by contradiction,
it might be rendered triumphant.]

While I was philosophizing upon the duties of man, an event happened
which made me better reflect upon my own. Theresa became pregnant for
the third time. Too sincere with myself, too haughty in my mind
to contradict my principles by my actions, I began to examine the
destination of my children, and my connections with the mother,
according to the laws of nature, justice, and reason, and those of
that religion, pure, holy, and eternal, like its author, which men
have polluted while they pretended to purify it, and which by their
formularies they have reduced to a religion of words, since the
difficulty of prescribing impossibilities is but trifling to those by
whom they are not practised.

If I deceived myself in my conclusions, nothing can be more astonishing
than the security with which I depended upon them. Were I one of those
men unfortunately born deaf to the voice of nature, in whom no sentiment
of justice or humanity ever took the least root, this obduracy would be
natural. But that warmth of heart, strong sensibility, and facility
of forming attachments; the force with which they subdue me; my
cruel sufferings when obliged to break them; the innate benevolence I
cherished towards my fellow-creatures; the ardent love I bear to great
virtues, to truth and justice, the horror in which I hold evil of every
kind; the impossibility of hating, of injuring or wishing to injure
anyone; the soft and lively emotion I feel at the sight of whatever is
virtuous, generous and amiable; can these meet in the same mind with the
depravity which without scruple treads under foot the most pleasing of
all our duties? No, I feel, and openly declare this to be impossible.
Never in his whole life could J. J. be a man without sentiment or an
unnatural father. I may have been deceived, but it is impossible I
should have lost the least of my feelings. Were I to give my reasons, I
should say too much; since they have seduced me, they would seduce many
others. I will not therefore expose those young persons by whom I may
be read to the same danger. I will satisfy myself by observing that my
error was such, that in abandoning my children to public education
for want of the means of bringing them up myself; in destining them
to become workmen and peasants, rather than adventurers and
fortune-hunters, I thought I acted like an honest citizen, and a good
father, and considered myself as a member of the republic of Plato.
Since that time the regrets of my heart have more than once told me
I was deceived; but my reason was so far from giving me the same
intimation, that I have frequently returned thanks to Heaven for having
by this means preserved them from the fate of their father, and that
by which they were threatened the moment I should have been under the
necessity of leaving them. Had I left them to Madam d’Upinay, or Madam
de Luxembourg, who, from friendship, generosity, or some other motive,
offered to take care of them in due time, would they have been more
happy, better brought up, or honester men? To this I cannot answer;
but I am certain they would have been taught to hate and perhaps betray
their parents: it is much better that they have never known them.

My third child was therefore carried to the foundling hospital as well
as the two former, and the next two were disposed of in the same manner;
for I have had five children in all. This arrangement seemed to me to be
so good, reasonable and lawful, that if I did not publicly boast of
it, the motive by which I was withheld was merely my regard for their
mother: but I mentioned it to all those to whom I had declared our
connection, to Diderot, to Grimm, afterwards to M. d’Epinay, and
after another interval to Madam de Luxembourg; and this freely and
voluntarily, without being under the least necessity of doing it, having
it in my power to conceal the step from all the world; for La Gouin was
an honest woman, very discreet, and a person on whom I had the greatest
reliance. The only one of my friends to whom it was in some measure my
interest to open myself, was Thierry the physician, who had the care of
my poor aunt in one of her lyings in, in which she was very ill. In
a word, there was no mystery in my conduct, not only on account of my
never having concealed anything from my friends, but because I
never found any harm in it. Everything considered, I chose the best
destination for my children, or that which I thought to be such. I could
have wished, and still should be glad, had I been brought up as they
have been.

Whilst I was thus communicating what I had done, Madam le Vasseur did
the same thing amongst her acquaintance, but with less disinterested
views. I introduced her and her daughter to Madam Dupin, who, from
friendship to me, showed them the greatest kindness. The mother confided
to her the secret of the daughter. Madam Dupin, who is generous
and kind, and to whom she never told how attentive I was to her,
notwithstanding my moderate resources, in providing for everything,
provided on her part for what was necessary, with a liberality which, by
order of her mother, the daughter concealed from me during my residence
in Paris, nor ever mentioned it until we were at the Hermitage, when she
informed me of it, after having disclosed to me several other secrets of
her heart. I did not know Madam Dupin, who never took the least notice
to me of the matter, was so well informed: I know not yet whether Madam
de Chenonceaux, her daughter-in-law, was as much in the secret: but
Madam de Brancueil knew the whole and could not refrain from prattling.
She spoke of it to me the following year, after I had left her house.
This induced me to write her a letter upon the subject, which will be
found in my collections, and wherein I gave such of my reasons as I
could make public, without exposing Madam le Vasseur and her family;
the most determinative of them came from that quarter, and these I kept
profoundly secret.

I can rely upon the discretion of Madam Dupin, and the friendship of
Madam de Chenonceaux; I had the same dependence upon that of Madam de
Francueil, who, however, was long dead before my secret made its way
into the world. This it could never have done except by means of the
persons to whom I intrusted it, nor did it until after my rupture with
them. By this single fact they are judged; without exculpating myself
from the blame I deserve, I prefer it to that resulting from their
malignity. My fault is great, but it was an error. I have neglected my
duty, but the desire of doing an injury never entered my heart; and the
feelings of a father were never more eloquent in favor of children whom
he never saw. But: betraying the confidence of friendship, violating the
most sacred of all engagements, publishing secrets confided to us, and
wantonly dishonoring the friend we have deceived, and who in detaching
himself from our society still respects us, are not faults, but baseness
of mind, and the last degree of heinousness.

I have promised my confession and not my justification; on which account
I shall stop here. It is my duty faithfully to relate the truth, that of
the reader to be just; more than this I never shall require of him.

The marriage of M. de Chenonceaux rendered his mother’s house still more
agreeable to me, by the wit and merit of the new bride, a very amiable
young person, who seemed to distinguish me amongst the scribes of M.
Dupin. She was the only daughter of the Viscountess de Rochechouart, a
great friend of the Comte de Friese, and consequently of Grimm’s, who
was very attentive to her. However, it was I who introduced him to her
daughter; but their characters not suiting each other, this connection
was not of long duration; and Grimm, who from that time aimed at what
was solid, preferred the mother, a woman of the world, to the daughter
who wished for steady friends, such as were agreeable to her, without
troubling her head about the least intrigue, or making any interest
amongst the great. Madam Dupin no longer finding in Madam de Chenonceaux
all the docility she expected, made her house very disagreeable to her,
and Madam de Chenonceaux, having a great opinion of her own merit, and,
perhaps, of her birth, chose rather to give up the pleasures of society,
and remain almost alone in her apartment, than to submit to a yoke she
was not disposed to bear. This species of exile increased my attachment
to her, by that natural inclination which excites me to approach the
wretched, I found her mind metaphysical and reflective, although at
times a little sophistical; her conversation, which was by no means
that of a young woman coming from a convent, had for me the greatest
attractions; yet she was not twenty years of age. Her complexion was
seducingly fair; her figure would have been majestic had she held
herself more upright. Her hair, which was fair, bordering upon ash
color, and uncommonly beautiful, called to my recollection that of my
poor mamma in the flower of her age, and strongly agitated my heart. But
the severe principles I had just laid down for myself, by which at all
events I was determined to be guided, secured me from the danger of her
and her charms. During the whole summer I passed three or four hours a
day in a tete-a-tete conversation with her, teaching her arithmetic,
and fatiguing her with my innumerable ciphers, without uttering a single
word of gallantry, or even once glancing my eyes upon her. Five or six
years later I should not have had so much wisdom or folly; but it was
decreed I was never to love but once in my life, and that another person
was to have the first and last sighs of my heart.

Since I had lived in the house of Madam Dupin, I had always been
satisfied with my situation, without showing the least sign of a desire
to improve it. The addition which, in conjunction with M. de Francueil,
she had made to my salary, was entirely of their own accord. This year
M. de Francueil, whose friendship for me daily increased, had it in his
thoughts to place me more at ease, and in a less precarious situation.
He was receiver-general of finance. M. Dudoyer, his cash-keeper, was old
and rich, and wished to retire. M. de Francueil offered me his place,
and to prepare myself for it, I went during a few weeks, to Dudoyer, to
take the necessary instructions. But whether my talents were ill-suited
to the employment, or that M. Dudoyer, who I thought wished to procure
his place for another, was not in earnest in the instructions he gave
me, I acquired by slow degrees, and very imperfectly, the knowledge
I was in want of, and could never understand the nature of accounts,
rendered intricate, perhaps designedly. However, without having
possessed myself of the whole scope of the business, I learned enough of
the method to pursue it without the least difficulty; I even entered
on my new office; I kept the cashbook and the cash; I paid and received
money, took and gave receipts; and although this business was so
ill suited to my inclinations as to my abilities, maturity of years
beginning to render me sedate, I was determined to conquer my disgust,
and entirely devote myself to my new employment.

Unfortunately for me, I had no sooner begun to proceed without
difficulty, than M. de Francueil took a little journey, during which I
remained intrusted with the cash, which, at that time, did not amount
to more than twenty-five to thirty thousand livres. The anxiety of mind
this sum of money occasioned me, made me perceive I was very unfit to be
a cash-keeper, and I have no doubt but my uneasy situation, during his
absence, contributed to the illness with which I was seized after his

I have observed in my first part that I was born in a dying state. A
defect in the bladder caused me, during my early years, to suffer an
almost continual retention of urine, and my Aunt Susan, to whose care I
was intrusted, had inconceivable difficulty in preserving me. However,
she succeeded, and my robust constitution at length got the better of
all my weakness, and my health became so well established that except
the illness from languor, of which I have given an account, and frequent
heats in the bladder which the least heating of the blood rendered
troublesome, I arrived at the age of thirty almost without feeling my
original infirmity. The first time this happened was upon my arrival at
Venice. The fatigue of the voyage, and the extreme heat I had suffered,
renewed the burnings, and gave me a pain in the loins, which continued
until the beginning of winter. After having seen padoana, I thought
myself near the end of my career, but I suffered not the least
inconvenience. After exhausting my imagination more than my body for my
Zulietta, I enjoyed better health than ever. It was not until after
the imprisonment of Diderot that the heat of blood, brought on by my
journeys to Vincennes during the terrible heat of that summer, gave me a
violent nephritic colic, since which I have never recovered my primitive
good state of health.

At the time of which I speak, having perhaps fatigued myself too much in
the filthy work of the cursed receiver-general’s office, I fell into a
worse state than ever, and remained five or six weeks in my bed in the
most melancholy state imaginable. Madam Dupin sent me the celebrated
Morand who, notwithstanding his address and the delicacy of his touch,
made me suffer the greatest torments. He advised me to have recourse to
Daran, who, in fact gave me some relief: but Morand, when he gave Madam
Dupin an account of the state I was in, declared to her I should not be
alive in six months. This afterwards came to my ear, and made me reflect
seriously on my situation and the folly of sacrificing the repose of the
few days I had to live to the slavery of an employment for which I
felt nothing but disgust. Besides, how was it possible to reconcile the
severe principles I had just adopted to a situation with which they had
so little relation? Should not I, the cash-keeper of a receiver-general
of finances, have preached poverty and disinterestedness with a very ill
grace? These ideas fermented so powerfully in my mind with the fever,
and were so strongly impressed, that from that time nothing could remove
them; and, during my convalescence, I confirmed myself with the greatest
coolness in the resolutions I had taken during my delirium. I forever
abandoned all projects of fortune and advancement, resolved to pass in
independence and poverty the little time I had to exist. I made every
effort of which my mind was capable to break the fetters of prejudice,
and courageously to do everything that was right without giving myself
the least concern about the judgment of others. The obstacles I had to
combat, and the efforts I made to triumph over them, are inconceivable.
I succeeded as much as it was possible I should, and to a greater degree
than I myself had hoped for. Had I at the same time shaken off the yoke
of friendship as well as that of prejudice, my design would have been
accomplished, perhaps the greatest, at least the most useful one to
virtue, that mortal ever conceived; but whilst I despised the foolish
judgments of the vulgar tribe called great and wise, I suffered myself
to be influenced and led by persons who called themselves my friends.
These, hurt at seeing me walk alone in a new path, while I seemed to
take measures for my happiness, used all their endeavors to render me
ridiculous, and that they might afterwards defame me, first strove to
make me contemptible. It was less my literary fame than my personal
reformation, of which I here state the period, that drew upon me their
jealousy; they perhaps might have pardoned me for having distinguished
myself in the art of writing; but they could never forgive my setting
them, by my conduct, an example, which, in their eyes, seemed to reflect
on themselves. I was born for friendship; my mind and easy disposition
nourished it without difficulty. As long as I lived unknown to the
public I was beloved by all my private acquaintance, and I had not a
single enemy. But the moment I acquired literary fame, I had no longer
a friend. This, was a great misfortune; but a still greater was that of
being surrounded by people who called themselves my friends, and used
the rights attached to that sacred name to lead me on to destruction.
The succeeding part of these memoirs will explain this odious
conspiracy. I here speak of its origin, and the manner of the first
intrigue will shortly appear.

In the independence in which I lived, it was, however, necessary to
subsist. To this effect I thought of very simple means: which were
copying music at so much a page. If any employment more solid would have
fulfilled the same end I would have taken it up; but this occupation
being to my taste, and the only one which, without personal attendance,
could procure me daily bread, I adopted it. Thinking I had no longer
need of foresight, and, stifling the vanity of cash-keeper to a
financier, I made myself a copyist of music. I thought I had made an
advantageous choice, and of this I so little repented, that I never
quitted my new profession until I was forced to do it, after taking a
fixed resolution to return to it as soon as possible.

The success of my first discourse rendered the execution of this
resolution more easy. As soon as it had gained the premium, Diderot
undertook to get it printed. Whilst I was in my bed, he wrote me a note
informing me of the publication and effect: “It takes,” said he, “beyond
all imagination; never was there an instance of a like success.”

This favor of the public, by no means solicited, and to an unknown
author, gave me the first real assurance of my talents, of which,
notwithstanding an internal sentiment, I had always had my doubts. I
conceived the great advantage to be drawn from it in favor of the way of
life I had determined to pursue; and was of opinion, that a copyist
of some celebrity in the republic of letters was not likely to want

The moment my resolution was confirmed, I wrote a note to M. de
Francueil, communicating to him my intentions, thanking him and Madam
Dupin for all goodness, and offering them my services in the way of my
new profession. Francueil did not understand my note, and, thinking I
was still in the delirium of fever, hastened to my apartment; but he
found me so determined, that all he could say to me was without the
least effect. He went to Madam Dupin, and told her and everybody he met,
that I had become insane. I let him say what he pleased, and pursued the
plan I had conceived. I began the change in my dress; I quitted laced
clothes and white stockings; I put on a round wig, laid aside my sword,
and sold my watch; saying to myself, with inexpressible pleasure: “Thank
Heaven! I shall no longer want to know the hour!” M. de Francueil had
the goodness to wait a considerable time before he disposed of my place.
At length perceiving me inflexibly resolved, he gave it to M. d’Alibard,
formerly tutor to the young Chenonceaux, and known as a botanist by his
Flora Parisiensis.

     [I doubt not but these circumstances are now differently related by
     M. Francueil and his consorts: but I appeal to what he said of them
     at the time and long afterwards, to everybody he knew, until the
     forming of the conspiracy, and of which men of common sense and
     honor, must have preserved a remembrance.]

However austere my sumptuary reform might be, I did not at first extend
it to my linen, which was fine and in great quantity, the remainder of
my stock when at Venice, and to which I was particularly attached. I had
made it so much an object of cleanliness, that it became one of luxury,
which was rather expensive. Some persons, however, did me the favor to
deliver me from this servitude. On Christmas Eve, whilst the governesses
were at vespers, and I was at the spiritual concert, the door of a
garret, in which all our linen was hung up after being washed, was
broken open. Everything was stolen; and amongst other things, forty-two
of my shirts, of very fine linen, and which were the principal part of
my stock. By the manner in which the neighbors described a man whom they
had seen come out of the hotel with several parcels whilst we were all
absent, Theresa and myself suspected her brother, whom we knew to be a
worthless man. The mother strongly endeavored to remove this suspicion,
but so many circumstances concurred to prove it to be well founded,
that, notwithstanding all she could say, our opinions remained still the
same: I dared not make a strict search for fear of finding more than
I wished to do. The brother never returned to the place where I lived,
and, at length, was no more heard of by any of us. I was much grieved
Theresa and myself should be connected with such a family, and I
exhorted her more than ever to shake off so dangerous a yoke. This
adventure cured me of my inclination for fine linen, and since that time
all I have had has been very common, and more suitable to the rest of my

Having thus completed the change of that which related to my person, all
my cares tendered to render it solid and lasting, by striving to root
out from my heart everything susceptible of receiving an impression from
the judgment of men, or which, from the fear of blame, might turn me
aside from anything good and reasonable in itself. In consequence of the
success of my work, my resolution made some noise in the world also,
and procured me employment; so that I began my new profession with
great appearance of success. However, several causes prevented me
from succeeding in it to the same degree I should under any other
circumstances have done. In the first place my ill state of health. The
attack I had just had, brought on consequences which prevented my ever
being so well as I was before; and I am of opinion, the physicians, to
whose care I intrusted myself, did me as much harm as my illness. I was
successively under the hands of Morand, Daran, Helvetius, Malouin, and
Thyerri: men able in their profession, and all of them my friends, who
treated me each according to his own manner, without giving me the least
relief, and weakened me considerably. The more I submitted to their
direction, the yellower, thinner, and weaker I became. My imagination,
which they terrified, judging of my situation by the effect of their
drugs, presented to me, on this side of the tomb, nothing but continued
sufferings from the gravel, stone, and retention of urine. Everything
which gave relief to others, ptisans, baths, and bleeding, increased my
tortures. Perceiving the bougees of Daran, the only ones that had any
favorable effect, and without which I thought I could no longer exist,
to give me a momentary relief, I procured a prodigious number of them,
that, in case of Daran’s death, I might never be at a loss. During the
eight or ten years in which I made such frequent use of these, they
must, with what I had left, have cost me fifty louis.

It will easily be judged, that such expensive and painful means did
not permit me to work without interruption; and that a dying man is not
ardently industrious in the business by which he gains his daily bread.

Literary occupations caused another interruption not less prejudicial
to my daily employment. My discourse had no sooner appeared than the
defenders of letters fell upon me as if they had agreed with each to do
it. My indignation was so raised at seeing so many blockheads, who did
not understand the question, attempt to decide upon it imperiously, that
in my answer I gave some of them the worst of it. One M. Gautier, of
Nancy, the first who fell under the lash of my pen, was very roughly
treated in a letter to M. Grimm. The second was King Stanislaus,
himself, who did not disdain to enter the lists with me. The honor he
did me, obliged me to change my manner in combating his opinions; I
made use of a graver style, but not less nervous; and without failing in
respect to the author, I completely refuted his work. I knew a Jesuit,
Father de Menou, had been concerned in it. I depended on my judgment to
distinguish what was written by the prince, from the production of
the monk, and falling without mercy upon all the jesuitical phrases,
I remarked, as I went along, an anachronism which I thought could come
from nobody but the priest. This composition, which, for what reason I
knew not, has been less spoken of than any of my other writings, is the
only one of its kind. I seized the opportunity which offered of showing
to the public in what manner an individual may defend the cause of truth
even against a sovereign. It is difficult to adopt a more dignified and
respectful manner than that in which I answered him. I had the happiness
to have to do with an adversary to whom, without adulation, I could show
every mark of the esteem of which my heart was full; and this I did
with success and a proper dignity. My friends, concerned for my safety,
imagined they already saw me in the Bastile. This apprehension never
once entered my head, and I was right in not being afraid. The good
prince, after reading my answer, said: “I have enough of at; I will
not return to the charge.” I have, since that time received from him
different marks of esteem and benevolence, some of which I shall have
occasion to speak of; and what I had written was read in France, and
throughout Europe, without meeting the least censure.

In a little time I had another adversary whom I had not expected; this
was the same M. Bordes, of Lyons, who ten years before had shown me much
friendship, and from whom I had received several services. I had not
forgotten him, but had neglected him from idleness, and had not sent him
my writings for want of an opportunity, without seeking for it, to
get them conveyed to his hands. I was therefore in the wrong, and he
attacked me; this, however, he did politely, and I answered in the same
manner. He replied more decidedly. This produced my last answer; after
which I heard no more from him upon the subject; but he became my most
violent enemy, took the advantage of the time of my misfortunes, to
publish against me the most indecent libels, and made a journey to
London on purpose to do me an injury.

All this controversy employed me a good deal, and caused me a great loss
of my time in my copying, without much contributing to the progress of
truth, or the good of my purse. Pissot, at that time my bookseller, gave
me but little for my pamphlets, frequently nothing at all, and I never
received a farthing for my first discourse. Diderot gave it him. I was
obliged to wait a long time for the little he gave me, and to take it
from him in the most trifling sums. Notwithstanding this, my copying
went on but slowly. I had two things together upon my hands, which was
the most likely means of doing them both ill.

They were very opposite to each other in their effects by the different
manners of living to which they rendered me subject. The success of
my first writings had given me celebrity. My new situation excited
curiosity. Everybody wished to know that whimsical man who sought not
the acquaintance of any one, and whose only desire was to live free and
happy in the manner he had chosen; this was sufficient to make the thing
impossible to me. My apartment was continually full of people, who,
under different pretences, came to take up my time. The women employed a
thousand artifices to engage me to dinner. The more unpolite I was with
people, the more obstinate they became. I could not refuse everybody.
While I made myself a thousand enemies by my refusals, I was incessantly
a slave to my complaisance, and, in whatever manner I made my
engagements, I had not an hour in a day to myself.

I then perceived it was not so easy to be poor and independent, as I had
imagined. I wished to live by my profession: the public would not suffer
me to do it. A thousand means were thought of to indemnify me for the
time I lost. The next thing would have been showing myself like Punch,
at so much each person. I knew no dependence more cruel and degrading
than this. I saw no other method of putting an end to it than refusing
all kinds of presents, great and small, let them come from whom they
would. This had no other effect than to increase the number of givers,
who wished to have the honor of overcoming my resistance, and to force
me, in spite of myself, to be under an obligation to them.

Many, who would not have given me half-a-crown had I asked it from them,
incessantly importuned me with their offers, and, in revenge for my
refusal, taxed me with arrogance and ostentation.

It will naturally be conceived that the resolutions I had taken, and the
system I wished to follow, were not agreeable to Madam le Vasseur. All
the disinterestedness of the daughter did not prevent her from following
the directions of her mother; and the governesses, as Gauffecourt called
them, were not always so steady in their refusals as I was. Although
many things were concealed from me, I perceived so many as were
necessary to enable me to judge that I did not see all, and this
tormented me less by the accusation of connivance, which it was so easy
for me to foresee, than by the cruel idea of never being master in
my own apartments, nor even of my own person. I prayed, conjured, and
became angry, all to no purpose; the mother made me pass for an eternal
grumbler, and a man who was peevish and ungovernable. She held perpetual
whisperings with my friends; everything in my little family was
mysterious and a secret to me; and, that I might not incessantly expose
myself to noisy quarrelling, I no longer dared to take notice of what
passed in it. A firmness of which I was not capable, would have been
necessary to withdraw me from this domestic strife. I knew how to
complain, but not how to act: they suffered me to say what I pleased,
and continued to act as they thought proper.

This constant teasing, and the daily importunities to which I was
subject, rendered the house, and my residence at Paris, disagreeable to
me. When my indisposition permitted me to go out, and I did not suffer
myself to be led by my acquaintance first to one place and then to
another, I took a walk, alone, and reflected on my grand system,
something of which I committed to paper, bound up between two covers,
which, with a pencil, I always had in my pocket. In this manner, the
unforeseen disagreeableness of a situation I had chosen entirely led me
back to literature, to which unsuspectedly I had recourse as a means of
releaving my mind, and thus, in the first works I wrote, I introduced
the peevishness and ill-humor which were the cause of my undertaking
them. There was another circumstance which contributed not a little
to this; thrown into the world despite of myself, without having the
manners of it, or being in a situation to adopt and conform myself to
them, I took it into my head to adopt others of my own, to enable me to
dispense with those of society. My foolish timidity, which I could not
conquer, having for principle the fear of being wanting in the common
forms, I took, by way of encouraging myself, a resolution to tread them
under foot. I became sour and cynic from shame, and affected to despise
the politeness which I knew not how to practice. This austerity,
conformable to my new principles, I must confess, seemed to ennoble
itself in my mind; it assumed in my eyes the form of the intrepidity
of virtue, and I dare assert it to be upon this noble basis, that it
supported itself longer and better than could have been expected from
anything so contrary to my nature. Yet, not withstanding, I had the
name of a misanthrope, which my exterior appearance and some happy
expressions had given me in the world: it is certain I did not support
the character well in private, that my friends and acquaintance led this
untractable bear about like a lamb, and that, confining my sarcasms
to severe but general truths, I was never capable of saying an uncivil
thing to any person whatsoever.

The ‘Devin du Village’ brought me completely into vogue, and presently
after there was not a man in Paris whose company was more sought after
than mine. The history of this piece, which is a kind of era in my life,
is joined with that of the connections I had at that time. I must
enter a little into particulars to make what is to follow the better

I had a numerous acquaintance, yet no more than two friends: Diderot and
Grimm. By an effect of the desire I have ever felt to unite everything
that is dear to me, I was too much a friend to both not to make them
shortly become so to each other. I connected them: they agreed well
together, and shortly become more intimate with each other than with
me. Diderot had a numerous acquaintance, but Grimm, a stranger and a
new-comer, had his to procure, and with the greatest pleasure I procured
him all I could. I had already given him Diderot. I afterwards brought
him acquainted with Gauffecourt. I introduced him to Madam Chenonceaux,
Madam D’Epinay, and the Baron d’Holbach; with whom I had become
connected almost in spite of myself. All my friends became his: this was
natural: but not one of his ever became mine; which was inclining to the
contrary. Whilst he yet lodged at the house of the Comte de Friese, he
frequently gave us dinners in his apartment, but I never received the
least mark of friendship from the Comte de Friese, Comte de Schomberg,
his relation, very familiar with Grimm, nor from any other person, man
or woman, with whom Grimm, by their means, had any connection. I except
the Abbe Raynal, who, although his friend, gave proofs of his being
mine; and in cases of need, offered me his purse with a generosity
not very common. But I knew the Abbe Raynal long before Grimm had any
acquaintance with him, and had entertained a great regard for him on
account of his delicate and honorable behavior to me upon a slight
occasion, which I shall never forget.

The Abbe Raynal is certainly a warm friend; of this I saw a proof, much
about the time of which I speak, with respect to Grimm himself, with
whom he was very intimate. Grimm, after having been sometime on a
footing of friendship with Mademoiselle Fel, fell violently in love with
her, and wished to supplant Cahusac. The young lady, piquing herself on
her constancy, refused her new admirer. He took this so much to heart,
that the appearance of his affliction became tragical. He suddenly fell
into the strangest state imaginable. He passed days and nights in a
continued lethargy. He lay with his eyes open; and although his pulse
continued to beat regularly, without speaking, eating, or stirring, yet
sometimes seeming to hear what was said to him, but never answering,
not even by a sign, and remaining almost as immovable as if he had been
dead, yet without agitation, pain, or fever. The Abbe Raynal and myself
watched over him; the abbe, more robust, and in better health than I
was, by night, and I by day, without ever both being absent at one time.
The Comte de Friese was alarmed, and brought to him Senac, who, after
having examined the state in which he was, said there was nothing to
apprehend, and took his leave without giving a prescription. My
fears for my friend made me carefully observe the countenance of the
physician, and I perceived him smile as he went away. However, the
patient remained several days almost motionless, without taking anything
except a few preserved cherries, which from time to time I put upon his
tongue, and which he swallowed without difficulty. At length he, one
morning, rose, dressed himself, and returned to his usual way of life,
without either at that time or afterwards speaking to me or the Abbe
Raynal, at least that I know of, or to any other person, of this
singular lethargy, or the care we had taken of him during the time it

The affair made a noise, and it would really have been a wonderful
circumstance had the cruelty of an opera girl made a man die of despair.
This strong passion brought Grimm into vogue; he was soon considered as
a prodigy in love, friendship, and attachments of every kind. Such an
opinion made his company sought after, and procured him a good reception
in the first circles; by which means he separated from me, with whom he
was never inclined to associate when he could do it with anybody else.
I perceived him to be on the point of breaking with me entirely; for
the lively and ardent sentiments, of which he made a parade, were those
which with less noise and pretensions, I had really conceived for him. I
was glad he succeeded in the world; but I did not wish him to do this
by forgetting his friend. I one day said to him: “Grimm, you neglect me,
and I forgive you for it. When the first intoxication of your success
is over, and you begin to perceive a void in your enjoyments, I hope
you will return to your friend, whom you will always find in the same
sentiments; at present do not constrain yourself, I leave you at liberty
to act as you please, and wait your leisure.” He said I was right, made
his arrangements in consequence, and shook off all restraint, so that I
saw no more of him except in company with our common friends.

Our chief rendezvous, before he was connected with Madam d’Epinay as he
afterwards became, was at the house of Baron d’Holbach. This said baron
was the son of a man who had raised himself from obscurity. His fortune
was considerable, and he used it nobly, receiving at his house men of
letters and merit: and, by the knowledge he himself had acquired, was
very worthy of holding a place amongst them. Having been long attached
to Diderot, he endeavored to become acquainted with me by his means,
even before my name was known to the world. A natural repugnancy
prevented me a long time from answering his advances. One day, when he
asked me the reason of my unwillingness, I told him he was too rich. He
was, however, resolved to carry his point, and at length succeeded. My
greatest misfortune proceeded from my being unable to resist the force
of marked attention. I have ever had reason to repent of having yielded
to it.

Another acquaintance which, as soon as I had any pretensions to it, was
converted into friendship, was that of M. Duclos. I had several years
before seen him, for the first time, at the Chevrette, at the house of
Madam d’Epinay, with whom he was upon very good terms. On that day we
only dined together, and he returned to town in the afternoon. But we
had a conversation of a few moments after dinner. Madam d’Epinay had
mentioned me to him, and my opera of the ‘Muses Gallantes’. Duclos,
endowed with too great talents not to be a friend to those in whom the
like were found, was prepossessed in my favor, and invited me to go and
see him. Notwithstanding my former wish, increased by an acquaintance,
I was withheld by my timidity and indolence, as long as I had no other
passport to him than his complaisance. But encouraged by my first
success, and by his eulogiums, which reached my ears, I went to see him;
he returned my visit, and thus began the connection between us, which
will ever render him dear to me. By him, as well as from the testimony
of my own heart, I learned that uprightness and probity may sometimes be
connected with the cultivation of letters.

Many other connections less solid, and which I shall not here
particularize, were the effects of my first success, and lasted until
curiosity was satisfied. I was a man so easily known, that on the next
day nothing new was to be discovered in me. However, a woman, who at
that time was desirous of my acquaintance, became much more solidly
attached to me than any of those whose curiosity I had excited: this was
the Marchioness of Crequi, niece to M. le Bailli de Froulay, ambassador
from Malta, whose brother had preceded M. de Montaigu in the embassy to
Venice, and whom I had gone to see on my return from that city. Madam de
Crequi wrote to me: I visited her: she received me into her friendship.
I sometimes dined with her. I met at her table several men of letters,
amongst others M. Saurin, the author of Spartacus, Barnevelt, etc.,
since become my implacable enemy; for no other reason, at least that
I can imagine, than my bearing the name of a man whom his father has
cruelly persecuted.

It will appear that for a copyist, who ought to be employed in his
business from morning till night, I had many interruptions, which
rendered my days not very lucrative, and prevented me from being
sufficiently attentive to what I did to do it well; for which reason,
half the time I had to myself was lost in erasing errors or beginning
my sheet anew. This daily importunity rendered Paris more unsupportable,
and made me ardently wish to be in the country. I several times went to
pass a few days at Mercoussis, the vicar of which was known to Madam le
Vasseur, and with whom we all arranged ourselves in such a manner as not
to make things disagreeable to him. Grimm once went thither with us.

     [Since I have neglected to relate here a trifling, but memorable
     adventure I had with the said Grimm one day, on which we were to
     dine at the fountain of St. Vandrille, I will let it pass: but when
     I thought of it afterwards, I concluded that he was brooding in his
     heart the conspiracy he has, with so much success, since carried
     into execution.]

The vicar had a tolerable voice, sung well, and, although he did not
read music, learned his part with great facility and precision. We
passed our time in singing the trios I had composed at Chenonceaux. To
these I added two or three new ones, to the words Grimm and the vicar
wrote, well or ill. I cannot refrain from regretting these trios
composed and sung in moments of pure joy, and which I left at Wootton,
with all my music. Mademoiselle Davenport has perhaps curled her hair
with them; but they are worthy of being preserved, and are, for the
most part, of very good counterpoint. It was after one of these little
excursions in which I had the pleasure of seeing the aunt at her ease
and very cheerful, and in which my spirits were much enlivened, that I
wrote to the vicar very rapidly and very ill, an epistle in verse which
will be found amongst my papers.

I had nearer to Paris another station much to my liking with M. Mussard,
my countryman, relation and friend, who at Passy had made himself a
charming retreat, where I have passed some very peaceful moments. M.
Mussard was a jeweller, a man of good sense, who, after having acquired
a genteel fortune, had given his only daughter in marriage to M. de
Valmalette, the son of an exchange broker, and maitre d’hotel to the
king, took the wise resolution to quit business in his declining years,
and to place an interval of repose and enjoyment between the hurry and
the end of life. The good man Mussard, a real philosopher in practice,
lived without care, in a very pleasant house which he himself had built
in a very pretty garden, laid out with his own hands. In digging the
terraces of this garden he found fossil shells, and in such great
quantities that his lively imagination saw nothing but shells in nature.
He really thought the universe was composed of shells and the remains of
shells, and that the whole earth was only the sand of these in different
stratae. His attention thus constantly engaged with his singular
discoveries, his imagination became so heated with the ideas they gave
him, that, in his head, they would soon have been converted into
a system, that is into folly, if, happily for his reason, but
unfortunately for his friends, to whom he was dear, and to whom his
house was an agreeable asylum, a most cruel and extraordinary disease
had not put an end to his existence. A constantly increasing tumor in
his stomach prevented him from eating, long before the cause of it was
discovered, and, after several years of suffering, absolutely occasioned
him to die of hunger. I can never, without the greatest affliction of
mind, call to my recollection the last moments of this worthy man,
who still received with so much pleasure Leneips and myself, the only
friends whom the sight of his sufferings did not separate from him
until his last hour, when he was reduced to devouring with his eyes the
repasts he had placed before us, scarcely having the power of swallowing
a few drops of weak tea, which came up again a moment afterwards. But
before these days of sorrow, how many have I passed at his house, with
the chosen friends he had made himself! At the head of the list I place
the Abbe Prevot, a very amiable man, and very sincere, whose heart
vivified his writings, worthy of immortality, and who, neither in his
disposition nor in society, had the least of the melancholy coloring
he gave to his works. Procope, the physician, a little Esop, a favorite
with the ladies; Boulanger, the celebrated posthumous author of
‘Despotisme Oriental’, and who, I am of opinion, extended the systems
of Mussard on the duration of the world. The female part of his friends
consisted of Madam Denis, niece to Voltaire, who, at that time, was
nothing more than a good kind of woman, and pretended not to wit: Madam
Vanloo, certainly not handsome, but charming, and who sang like an
angel: Madam de Valmalette, herself, who sang also, and who, although
very thin, would have been very amiable had she had fewer pretensions.
Such, or very nearly such, was the society of M. Mussard, with which I
should had been much pleased, had not his conchyliomania more engaged
my attention; and I can say, with great truth, that, for upwards of six
months, I worked with him in his cabinet with as much pleasure as he
felt himself.

He had long insisted upon the virtue of the waters of Passy, that they
were proper in my case, and recommended me to come to his house to
drink them. To withdraw myself from the tumult of the city, I at length
consented, and went to pass eight or ten days at Passy, which, on
account of my being in the country, were of more service to me than the
waters I drank during my stay there. Mussard played the violincello, and
was passionately found of Italian music. This was the subject of a
long conversation we had one evening after supper, particularly the
‘opera-buffe’ we had both seen in Italy, and with which we were highly
delighted. My sleep having forsaken me in the night, I considered in
what manner it would be possible to give in France an idea of this kind
of drama. The ‘Amours de Ragonde’ did not in the least resemble it. In
the morning, whilst I took my walk and drank the waters, I hastily threw
together a few couplets to which I adapted such airs as occurred to
me at the moments. I scribbled over what I had composed, in a kind of
vaulted saloon at the end of the garden, and at tea. I could not refrain
from showing the airs to Mussard and to Mademoiselle du Vernois, his
‘gouvernante’, who was a very good and amiable girl. Three pieces of
composition I had sketched out were the first monologue: ‘J’ai perdu mon
serviteur;’--the air of the Devin; ‘L’amour croit s’il s’inquiete;’ and
the last duo: ‘A jamais, Colin, je t’engage, etc.’ I was so far from
thinking it worth while to continue what I had begun, that, had it not
been for the applause and encouragement I received from both Mussard and
Mademoiselle, I should have thrown my papers into the fire and thought
no more of their contents, as I had frequently done by things of much
the same merit; but I was so animated by the encomiums I received, that
in six days, my drama, excepting a few couplets, was written. The music
also was so far sketched out, that all I had further to do to it after
my return from Paris, was to compose a little of the recitative, and
to add the middle parts, the whole of which I finished with so much
rapidity, that in three weeks my work was ready for representation. The
only thing now wanting, was the divertissement, which was not composed
until a long time afterwards.

My imagination was so warmed by the composition of this work that I had
the strongest desire to hear it performed, and would have given anything
to have seen and heard the whole in the manner I should have chosen,
which would have been that of Lully, who is said to have had ‘Armide’
performed for himself only. As it was not possible I should hear the
performance unaccompanied by the public, I could not see the effect of
my piece without getting it received at the opera. Unfortunately it was
quite a new species of composition, to which the ears of the public were
not accustomed; and besides the ill success of the ‘Muses Gallantes’
gave too much reason to fear for the Devin, if I presented it in my own
name. Duclos relieved me from this difficulty, and engaged to get the
piece rehearsed without mentioning the author. That I might not discover
myself, I did not go to the rehearsal, and the ‘Petits violons’, by
whom it was directed, knew not who the author was until after a general
plaudit had borne the testimony of the work.

     [Rebel and Frauneur, who, when they were very young, went together
     from house to house playing on the violin, were so called.]

Everybody present was so delighted with it, that, on the next day,
nothing else was spoken of in the different companies. M. de Cury,
Intendant des Menus, who was present at the rehearsal, demanded the
piece to have it performed at court. Duclos, who knew my intentions, and
thought I should be less master of my work at the court than at Paris,
refused to give it. Cury claimed it authoratively. Duclos persisted in
his refusal, and the dispute between them was carried to such a length,
that one day they would have gone out from the opera-house together had
they not been separated. M. de Cury applied to me, and I referred him
to Duclos. This made it necessary to return to the latter. The Duke
d’Aumont interfered; and at length Duclos thought proper to yield to
authority, and the piece was given to be played at Fontainebleau.

The part to which I had been most attentive, and in which I had kept at
the greatest distance from the common track, was the recitative. Mine
was accented in a manner entirely new, and accompanied the utterance of
the word. The directors dared not suffer this horrid innovation to pass,
lest it should shock the ears of persons who never judge for themselves.
Another recitative was proposed by Francueil and Jelyotte, to which I
consented; but refused at the same time to have anything to do with it

When everything was ready and the day of performance fixed, a
proposition was made me to go to Fontainebleau, that I might at least be
at the last rehearsal. I went with Mademoiselle Fel, Grimm, and I think
the Abbe Raynal, in one of the stages to the court. The rehearsal was
tolerable: I was more satisfied with it than I expected to have been.
The orchestra was numerous, composed of the orchestras of the opera
and the king’s band. Jelyotte played Colin, Mademoiselle Fel, Colette,
Cuvillier the Devin: the choruses were those of the opera. I said but
little; Jelyotte had prepared everything; I was unwilling either to
approve of or censure what he had done; and notwithstanding I had
assumed the air of an old Roman, I was, in the midst of so many people,
as bashful as a schoolboy.

The next morning, the day of performance, I went to breakfast at the
coffee-house ‘du grand commun’, where I found a great number of people.
The rehearsal of the preceding evening, and the difficulty of getting
into the theatre, were the subjects of conversation. An officer present
said he entered with the greatest ease, gave a long account of what had
passed, described the author, and related what he had said and done;
but what astonished me most in this long narrative, given with as much
assurance as simplicity, was that it did not contain a syllable of
truth. It was clear to me that he who spoke so positively of the
rehearsal had not been at it, because, without knowing him, he had
before his eyes that author whom he said he had seen and examined so
minutely. However, what was more singular still in this scene, was its
effect upon me. The officer was a man rather in years, he had nothing of
the appearance of a coxcomb; his features appeared to announce a man
of merit; and his cross of Saint Louis, an officer of long standing.
He interested me: notwithstanding his impudence. Whilst he uttered his
lies, I blushed, looked down, and was upon thorns; I, for some time,
endeavored within myself to find the means of believing him to be in an
involuntary error. At length, trembling lest some person should know me,
and by this means confound him, I hastily drank my chocolate, without
saying a word, and, holding down my head, I passed before him, got out
of the coffee-house as soon as possible, whilst the company were making
their remarks upon the relation that had been given. I was no sooner in
the street than I was in a perspiration, and had anybody known and named
me before I left the room, I am certain all the shame and embarrassment
of a guilty person would have appeared in my countenance, proceeding
from what I felt the poor man would have had to have suffered had his
lie been discovered.

I come to one of the critical moments of my life, in which it is
difficult to do anything more than to relate, because it is almost
impossible that even narrative should not carry with it the marks of
censure or apology. I will, however, endeavor to relate how and upon
what motives I acted, with out adding either approbation or censure.

I was on that day in the same careless undress as usual, with a long
beard and wig badly combed. Considering this want of decency as an act
of courage, I entered the theatre wherein the king, queen, the royal
family, and the whole court were to enter immediately after. I was
conducted to a box by M. de Cury, and which belonged to him. It was very
spacious, upon the stage and opposite to a lesser, but more elevated
one, in which the king sat with Madam de Pompadour.

As I was surrounded by women, and the only man in front of the box, I
had no doubt of my having been placed there purposely to be exposed to
view. As soon as the theatre was lighted up, finding I was in the midst
of people all extremely well dressed, I began to be less at my ease,
and asked myself if I was in my place? whether or not I was properly
dressed? After a few minutes of inquietude: “Yes,” replied I, with
an intrepidity which perhaps proceeded more from the impossibility
of retracting than the force of all my reasoning, “I am in my place,
because I am going to see my own piece performed, to which I have been
invited, for which reason only I am come here; and after all, no person
has a greater right than I have to reap the fruit of my labor and
talents; I am dressed as usual, neither better nor worse; and if I once
begin to subject myself to public opinion, I shall shortly become a
slave to it in everything. To be always consistent with myself, I
ought not to blush, in any place whatever, at being dressed in a manner
suitable to the state I have chosen. My exterior appearance is simple,
but neither dirty nor slovenly; nor is a beard either of these in
itself, because it is given us by nature, and according to time, place
and custom, is sometimes an ornament. People think I am ridiculous, nay,
even absurd; but what signifies this to me? I ought to know how to bear
censure and ridicule, provided I do not deserve them.” After this little
soliloquy I became so firm that, had it been necessary, I could have
been intrepid. But whether it was the effect of the presence of his
majesty, or the natural disposition of those about me, I perceived
nothing but what was civil and obliging in the curiosity of which I
was the object. This so much affected me that I began to be uneasy for
myself, and the fate of my piece; fearing I should efface the favorable
prejudices which seemed to lead to nothing but applause. I was armed
against raillery; but, so far overcome, by the flattering and obliging
treatment I had not expected, that I trembled like a child when the
performance was begun.

I had soon sufficient reason to be encouraged. The piece was very ill
played with respect to the actors, but the musical part was well sung
and executed. During the first scene, which was really of a delightful
simplicity, I heard in the boxes a murmur of surprise and applause,
which, relative to pieces of the same kind, had never yet happened. The
fermentation was soon increased to such a degree as to be perceptible
through the whole audience, and of which, to speak--after the manner of
Montesquieu--the effect was augmented by itself. In the scene between
the two good little folks, this effect was complete. There is no
clapping of hands before the king; therefore everything was heard,
which was advantageous to the author and the piece. I heard about me a
whispering of women, who appeared as beautiful as angels. They said to
each other in a low voice: “This is charming: That is ravishing: There
is not a sound which does not go to the heart.” The pleasure of giving
this emotion to so many amiable persons moved me to tears; and these I
could not contain in the first duo, when I remarked that I was not the
only person who wept. I collected myself for a moment, on recollecting
the concert of M. de Treitorens. This reminiscence had the effect of the
slave who held the crown over the head of the general who triumphed,
but my reflection was short, and I soon abandoned myself without
interruption to the pleasure of enjoying my success. However, I am
certain the voluptuousness of the sex was more predominant than the
vanity of the author, and had none but men been present, I certainly
should not have had the incessant desire I felt of catching on my lips
the delicious tears I had caused to flow. I have known pieces excite
more lively admiration, but I never saw so complete, delightful,
and affecting an intoxication of the senses reign, during a whole
representation, especially at court, and at a first performance. They
who saw this must recollect it, for it has never yet been equalled.

The same evening the Duke d’ Aumont sent to desire me to be at the
palace the next day at eleven o’clock, when he would present me to the
king. M. de Cury, who delivered me the message, added that he thought a
pension was intended, and that his majesty wished to announce it to me
himself. Will it be believed that the night of so brilliant a day was
for me a night of anguish and perplexity? My first idea, after that of
being presented, was that of my frequently wanting to retire; this had
made me suffer very considerably at the theatre, and might torment
me the next day when I should be in the gallery, or in the king’s
apartment, amongst all the great, waiting for the passing of his
majesty. My infirmity was the principal cause which prevented me from
mixing in polite companies, and enjoying the conversation of the fair.
The idea alone of the situation in which this want might place me, was
sufficient to produce it to such a degree as to make me faint away, or
to recur to means to which, in my opinion, death was much preferable.
None but persons who are acquainted with this situation can judge of the
horror which being exposed to the risk of it inspires.

I then supposed myself before the king, presented to his majesty,
who deigned to stop and speak to me. In this situation, justness of
expression and presence of mind were peculiarly necessary in answering.
Would my timidity which disconcerts me in presence of any stranger
whatever, have been shaken off in presence of the King of France;
or would it have suffered me instantly to make choice of proper
expressions? I wished, without laying aside the austere manner I had
adopted, to show myself sensible of the honor done me by so great a
monarch, and in a handsome and merited eulogium to convey some great
and useful truth. I could not prepare a suitable answer without exactly
knowing what his majesty was to say to me; and had this been the case, I
was certain that, in his presence, I should not recollect a word of what
I had previously meditated. “What,” said I, “will become of me in this
moment, and before the whole court, if, in my confusion, any of my
stupid expressions should escape me?” This danger alarmed and terrified
me. I trembled to such a degree that at all events I was determined not
to expose myself to it.

I lost, it is true, the pension which in some measure was offered me;
but I at the same time exempted myself from the yoke it would have
imposed. Adieu, truth, liberty, and courage! How should I afterwards
have dared to speak of disinterestedness and independence? Had I
received the pension I must either have become a flatterer or remained
silent; and, moreover, who would have insured to me the payment of it!
What steps should I have been under the necessity of taking! How many
people must I have solicited! I should have had more trouble and anxious
cares in preserving than in doing without it. Therefore, I thought
I acted according to my principles by refusing, and sacrificing
appearances to reality. I communicated my resolution to Grimm, who said
nothing against it. To others I alleged my ill state of health, and left
the court in the morning.

My departure made some noise, and was generally condemned. My reasons
could not be known to everybody, it was therefore easy to accuse me of
foolish pride, and thus not irritate the jealousy of such as felt they
would not have acted as I had done. The next day Jelyotte wrote me a
note, in which he stated the success of my piece, and the pleasure it
had afforded the king. “All day long,” said he, “his majesty sings, with
the worst voice in his kingdom: ‘J’ai perdu mon serviteur: J’ai perdu
tout mon bonheur.’” He likewise added, that in a fortnight the Devin was
to be performed a second time; which confirmed in the eyes of the public
the complete success of the first.

Two days afterwards, about nine o’clock in the evening, as I was going
to sup with Madam D’Epinay, I perceived a hackney-coach pass by the
door. Somebody within made a sign to me to approach. I did so, and got
into it, and found the person to be Diderot. He spoke of the pension
with more warmth than, upon such a subject, I should have expected
from a philosopher. He did not blame me for having been unwilling to be
presented to the king, but severely reproached me with my indifference
about the pension. He observed that although on my own account I might
be disinterested, I ought not to be so on that of Madam Vasseur and
her daughter; that it was my duty to seize every means of providing for
their subsistence; and that as, after all, it could not be said I
had refused the pension, he maintained I ought, since the king seemed
disposed to grant it to me, to solicit and obtain it by one means or
another. Although I was obliged to him for his good wishes, I could not
relish his maxims, which produced a warm dispute, the first I ever had
with him. All our disputes were of this kind, he prescribing to me what
he pretended I ought to do, and I defending myself because I was of a
different opinion.

It was late when we parted. I would have taken him to supper at Madam
d’ Epinay’s, but he refused to go; and, notwithstanding all the efforts
which at different times the desire of uniting those I love induced me
to make, to prevail upon him to see her, even that of conducting her to
his door which he kept shut against us, he constantly refused to do it,
and never spoke of her but with the utmost contempt. It was not until
after I had quarrelled with both that they became acquainted and that he
began to speak honorably of her.

From this time Diderot and Grimm seemed to have undertaken to alienate
from me the governesses, by giving them to understand that if they were
not in easy circumstances the fault was my own, and that they never
would be so with me. They endeavored to prevail on them to leave me,
promising them the privilege for retailing salt, a snuff shop, and I
know not what other advantages by means of the influence of Madam d’
Epinay. They likewise wished to gain over Duclos and d’Holbach, but
the former constantly refused their proposals. I had at the time some
intimation of what was going forward, but I was not fully acquainted
with the whole until long afterwards; and I frequently had reason to
lament the effects of the blind and indiscreet zeal of my friends, who,
in my ill state of health, striving to reduce me to the most melancholy
solitude, endeavored, as they imagined, to render me happy by the means
which, of all others, were the most proper to make me miserable.

In the carnival following the conclusion of the year 1753, the Devin
was performed at Paris, and in this interval I had sufficient time to
compose the overture and divertissement. This divertissement, such as it
stands engraved, was to be in action from the beginning to the end, and
in a continued subject, which in my opinion, afforded very agreeable
representations. But when I proposed this idea at the opera-house,
nobody would so much as hearken to me, and I was obliged to tack
together music and dances in the usual manner: on this account the
divertissement, although full of charming ideas which do not diminish
the beauty of scenes, succeeded but very middlingly. I suppressed the
recitative of Jelyotte, and substituted my own, such as I had first
composed it, and as it is now engraved; and this recitative a little
after the French manner, I confess, drawled out, instead of pronounced
by the actors, far from shocking the ears of any person, equally
succeeded with the airs, and seemed in the judgment of the public to
possess as much musical merit. I dedicated my piece to Duclos, who had
given it his protection, and declared it should be my only dedication.
I have, however, with his consent, written a second; but he must have
thought himself more honored by the exception, than if I had not written
a dedication to any person.

I could relate many anecdotes concerning this piece, but things of
greater importance prevent me from entering into a detail of them at
present. I shall perhaps resume the subject in a supplement. There is
however one which I cannot omit, as it relates to the greater part of
what is to follow. I one day examined the music of D’Holbach, in his
closet. After having looked over many different kinds, he said, showing
me a collection of pieces for the harpsichord: “These were composed for
me; they are full of taste and harmony, and unknown to everybody
but myself. You ought to make a selection from them for your
divertissement.” Having in my head more subjects of airs and symphonies
than I could make use of, I was not the least anxious to have any
of his. However, he pressed me so much, that, from a motive of
complaisance, I chose a Pastoral, which I abridged and converted into
a trio, for the entry of the companions of Colette. Some months
afterwards, and whilst the Devin still continued to be performed, going
into Grimms I found several people about his harpsichord, whence he
hastily rose on my arrival. As I accidently looked toward his music
stand, I there saw the same collection of the Baron d’Holbach, opened
precisely at the piece he had prevailed upon me to take, assuring me
at the same time that it should never go out of his hands. Some time
afterwards, I again saw the collection open on the harpischord of M.
d’Papinay, one day when he gave a little concert. Neither Grimm, nor
anybody else, ever spoke to me of the air, and my reason for mentioning
it here is that some time afterwards, a rumor was spread that I was not
the author of Devin. As I never made a great progress in the practical
part, I am persuaded that had it not been for my dictionary of music, it
would in the end have been said I did not understand composition.

Sometime before the ‘Devin du Village’ was performed, a company of
Italian Bouffons had arrived at Paris, and were ordered to perform
at the opera-house, without the effect they would produce there being
foreseen. Although they were detestable, and the orchestra, at that
time very ignorant, mutilated at will the pieces they gave, they did the
French opera an injury that will never be repaired. The comparison of
these two kinds of music, heard the same evening in the same theatre,
opened the ears of the French; nobody could endure their languid music
after the marked and lively accents of Italian composition; and the
moment the Bouffons had done, everybody went away. The managers were
obliged to change the order of representation, and let the performance
of the Bouffons be the last. ‘Egle Pigmalion’ and ‘le Sylphe’ were
successively given: nothing could bear the comparison. The ‘Devin du
Village’ was the only piece that did it, and this was still relished
after ‘la Serva Padrona’. When I composed my interlude, my head was
filled with these pieces, and they gave me the first idea of it: I was,
however, far from imagining they would one day be passed in review by
the side of my composition. Had I been a plagiarist, how many pilferings
would have been manifest, and what care would have been taken to point
them out to the public! But I had done nothing of the kind. All attempts
to discover any such thing were fruitless: nothing was found in my music
which led to the recollection of that of any other person; and my whole
composition compared with the pretended original, was found to be as
new as the musical characters I had invented. Had Mondonville or Rameau
undergone the same ordeal, they would have lost much of their substance.

The Bouffons acquired for Italian music very warm partisans. All Paris
was divided into two parties, the violence of which was greater than if
an affair of state or religion had been in question. One of them, the
most powerful and numerous, composed of the great, of men of fortune,
and the ladies, supported French music; the other, more lively and
haughty, and fuller of enthusiasm, was composed of real connoisseurs,
and men of talents, and genius. This little group assembled at the
opera-house, under the box belonging to the queen. The other party
filled up the rest of the pit and the theatre; but the heads were mostly
assembled under the box of his majesty. Hence the party names of Coin du
Roi, Coin de la Reine,--[King’s corner,--Queen’s corner.]--then in great
celebrity. The dispute, as it became more animated, produced several
pamphlets. The king’s corner aimed at pleasantry; it was laughed at by
the ‘Petit Prophete’. It attempted to reason; the ‘Lettre sur la Musique
Francoise’ refuted its reasoning. These two little productions, the
former of which was by Grimm, the latter by myself, are the only ones
which have outlived the quarrel; all the rest are long since forgotten.

But the Petit Prophete, which, notwithstanding all I could say, was for
a long time attributed to me, was considered as a pleasantry, and did
not produce the least inconvenience to the author: whereas the letter
on music was taken seriously, and incensed against me the whole
nation, which thought itself offended by this attack on its music. The
description of the incredible effect of this pamphlet would be worthy
of the pen of Tacitus. The great quarrel between the parliament and the
clergy was then at its height. The parliament had just been exiled;
the fermentation was general; everything announced an approaching
insurrection. The pamphlet appeared: from that moment every other
quarrel was forgotten; the perilous state of French music was the only
thing by which the attention of the public was engaged, and the only
insurrection was against myself. This was so general that it has never
since been totally calmed. At court, the bastile or banishment was
absolutely determined on, and a ‘lettre de cachet’ would have been
issued had not M. de Voyer set forth in the most forcible manner that
such a step would be ridiculous. Were I to say this pamphlet probably
prevented a revolution, the reader would imagine I was in a dream. It
is, however, a fact, the truth of which all Paris can attest, it
being no more than fifteen years since the date of this singular fact.
Although no attempts were made on my liberty, I suffered numerous
insults; and even my life was in danger. The musicians of the opera
orchestra humanely resolved to murder me as I went out of the theatre.
Of this I received information; but the only effect it produced on me
was to make me more assiduously attend the opera; and I did not learn,
until a considerable time afterwards, that M. Ancelot, officer in the
mousquetaires, and who had a friendship for me, had prevented the effect
of this conspiracy by giving me an escort, which, unknown to myself,
accompanied me until I was out of danger. The direction of the
opera-house had just been given to the hotel de ville. The first exploit
performed by the Prevot des Marchands, was to take from me my freedom of
the theatre, and this in the most uncivil manner possible. Admission was
publicly refused me on my presenting myself, so that I was obliged to
take a ticket that I might not that evening have the mortification to
return as I had come. This injustice was the more shameful, as the
only price I had set on my piece when I gave it to the managers was a
perpetual freedom of the house; for although this was a right, common
to every author, and which I enjoyed under a double title, I expressly
stipulated for it in presence of M. Duclos. It is true, the treasurer
brought me fifty louis, for which I had not asked; but, besides the
smallness of the sum, compared with that which, according to the rule,
established in such cases, was due to me, this payment had nothing in
common with the right of entry formerly granted, and which was entirely
independent of it. There was in this behavior such a complication of
iniquity and brutality, that the public, notwithstanding its animosity
against me, which was then at its highest, was universally shocked at
it, and many persons who insulted me the preceding evening, the next day
exclaimed in the open theatre, that it was shameful thus to deprive
an author of his right of entry; and particularly one who had so well
deserved it, and was entitled to claim it for himself and another
person. So true is the Italian proverb: Ogn’un ama la giustizia in cosa
d’altrui.--[Every one loves justice in the affairs of another.]

In this situation the only thing I had to do was to demand my work,
since the price I had agreed to receive for it was refused me. For this
purpose I wrote to M. d’Argenson, who had the department of the opera.
I likewise enclosed to him a memoir which was unanswerable; but this, as
well as my letter, was ineffectual, and I received no answer to either.
The silence of that unjust man hurt me extremely, and did not contribute
to increase the very moderate good opinion I always had of his character
and abilities. It was in this manner the managers kept my piece while
they deprived me of that for which I had given it them. From the weak to
the strong, such an act would be a theft: from the strong to the weak,
it is nothing more than an appropriation of property, without a right.

With respect to the pecuniary advantages of the work, although it did
not produce me a fourth part of the sum it would have done to any other
person, they were considerable enough to enable me to subsist several
years, and to make amends for the ill success of copying, which went on
but very slowly. I received a hundred louis from the king; fifty from
Madam de Pompadour, for the performance at Bellevue, where she herself
played the part of Colin; fifty from the opera; and five hundred livres
from Pissot, for the engraving; so that this interlude, which cost me no
more than five or six weeks’ application, produced, notwithstanding the
ill treatment I received from the managers and my stupidity at court,
almost as much money as my ‘Emilius’, which had cost me twenty years’
meditation, and three years’ labor. But I paid dearly for the pecuniary
ease I received from the piece, by the infinite vexations it brought
upon me. It was the germ of the secret jealousies which did not appear
until a long time afterwards. After its success I did not remark,
either in Grimm, Diderot, or any of the men of letters, with whom I
was acquainted, the same cordiality and frankness, nor that pleasure in
seeing me, I had previously experienced. The moment I appeared at the
baron’s, the conversation was no longer general; the company divided
into small parties; whispered into each other’s ears; and I remained
alone, without knowing to whom to address myself. I endured for a long
time this mortifying neglect; and, perceiving that Madam d’Holbach, who
was mild and amiable, still received me well, I bore with the vulgarity
of her husband as long as it was possible. But he one day attacked me
without reason or pretence, and with such brutality, in presence of
Diderot, who said not a word, and Margency, who since that time has
often told me how much he admired the moderation and mildness of
my answers, that, at length driven from his house, by this unworthy
treatment, I took leave with a resolution never to enter it again. This
did not, however, prevent me from speaking honorably of him and his
house, whilst he continually expressed himself relative to me in the
most insulting terms, calling me that ‘petit cuistre’: the little
college pedant, or servitor in a college, without, however, being able
to charge me with having done either to himself or any person to whom
he was attached the most trifling injury. In this manner he verified my
fears and predictions. I am of opinion my pretended friends would have
pardoned me for having written books, and even excellent ones, because
this merit was not foreign to themselves; but that they could not
forgive my writing an opera, nor the brilliant success it had; because
there was not one amongst them capable of the same, nor in a situation
to aspire to like honors. Duclos, the only person superior to jealousy,
seemed to become more attached to me: he introduced me to Mademoiselle
Quinault, in whose house I received polite attention, and civility to as
great an extreme, as I had found a want of it in that of M. d’Holbach.

Whilst the performance of the ‘Devin du Village’ was continued at the
opera-house, the author of it had an advantageous negotiation with the
managers of the French comedy. Not having, during seven or eight years,
been able to get my ‘Narcissis’ performed at the Italian theatre, I had,
by the bad performance in French of the actors, become disgusted with
it, and should rather have had my piece received at the French theatre
than by them. I mentioned this to La None, the comedian, with whom I had
become acquainted, and who, as everybody knows, was a man of merit
and an author. He was pleased with the piece, and promised to get it
performed without suffering the name of the author to be known; and in
the meantime procured me the freedom of the theatre, which was extremely
agreeable to me, for I always preferred it to the two others. The piece
was favorably received, and without the author’s name being mentioned;
but I have reason to believe it was known to the actors and actresses,
and many other persons. Mademoiselles Gauffin and Grandval played the
amorous parts; and although the whole performance was, in my opinion,
injudicious, the piece could not be said to be absolutely ill played.
The indulgence of the public, for which I felt gratitude, surprised me;
the audience had the patience to listen to it from the beginning to the
end, and to permit a second representation without showing the least
sign of disapprobation. For my part, I was so wearied with the first,
that I could not hold out to the end; and the moment I left the theatre,
I went into the Cafe de Procope, where I found Boissi, and others of my
acquaintance, who had probably been as much fatigued as myself. I there
humbly or haughtily avowed myself the author of the piece, judging it
as everybody else had done. This public avowal of an author of a piece
which had not succeeded, was much admired, and was by no means painful
to myself. My self-love was flattered by the courage with which I made
it: and I am of opinion, that, on this occasion, there was more pride
in speaking, than there would have been foolish shame in being
silent. However, as it was certain the piece, although insipid in the
performance would bear to be read, I had it printed: and in the preface,
which is one of the best things I ever wrote, I began to make my
principles more public than I had before done.

I soon had an opportunity to explain them entirely in a work of the
greatest importance: for it was, I think, this year, 1753, that the
programma of the Academy of Dijon upon the ‘Origin of the Inequality
of Mankind’ made its appearance. Struck with this great question, I was
surprised the academy had dared to propose it: but since it had shown
sufficient courage to do it, I thought I might venture to treat it, and
immediately undertook the discussion.

That I might consider this grand subject more at my ease, I went to St.
Germain for seven or eight days with Theresa, our hostess, who was a
good kind of woman, and one of her friends. I consider this walk as one
of the most agreeable ones I ever took. The weather was very fine. These
good women took upon themselves all the care and expense. Theresa amused
herself with them; and I, free from all domestic concerns, diverted
myself, without restraint, at the hours of dinner and supper. All the
rest of the day wandering in the forest, I sought for and found there
the image of the primitive ages of which I boldly traced the history. I
confounded the pitiful lies of men; I dared to unveil their nature;
to follow the progress of time, and the things by which it has been
disfigured; and comparing the man of art with the natural man, to show
them, in their pretended improvement, the real source of all their
misery. My mind, elevated by these contemplations, ascended to the
Divinity, and thence, seeing my fellow creatures follow in the blind
track of their prejudices that of their errors and misfortunes, I cried
out to them, in a feeble voice, which they could not hear: “Madmen! know
that all your evils proceed from yourselves!”

From these meditations resulted the discourse on Inequality, a work more
to the taste of Diderot than any of my other writings, and in which his
advice was of the greatest service to me.

     [At the time I wrote this, I had not the least suspicion of the
     grand conspiracy of Diderot and Grimm.  Otherwise I should easily
     have discovered how much the former abused my confidence, by giving
     to my writings that severity and melancholy which were not to be
     found in them from the moments he ceased to direct me.  The passage
     of the philosopher, who argues with himself, and stops his ears
     against the complaints of a man in distress, is after his manner:
     and he gave me others still more extraordinary; which I could never
     resolve to make use of.  But, attributing, this melancholy to that
     he had acquired in the dungeon of Vincennes, and of which there is a
     very sufficient dose in his Clairoal, I never once suspected the
     least unfriendly dealing. ]

It was, however, understood but by few readers, and not one of these
would ever speak of it. I had written it to become a competitor for the
premium, and sent it away fully persuaded it would not obtain it; well
convinced it was not for productions of this nature that academies were

This excursion and this occupation enlivened my spirits and was of
service to my health. Several years before, tormented by my disorder,
I had entirely given myself up to the care of physicians, who, without
alleviating my sufferings, exhausted my strength and destroyed my
constitution. At my return from St. Germain, I found myself stronger
and perceived my health to be improved. I followed this indication,
and determined to cure myself or die without the aid of physicians and
medicine. I bade them forever adieu, and lived from day to day, keeping
close when I found myself indisposed, and going abroad the moment I
had sufficient strength to do it. The manner of living in Paris amidst
people of pretensions was so little to my liking; the cabals of men
of letters, their little candor in their writings, and the air of
importance they gave themselves in the world, were so odious to me;
I found so little mildness, openness of heart and frankness in the
intercourse even of my friends; that, disgusted with this life of
tumult, I began ardently to wish to reside in the country, and not
perceiving that my occupation permitted me to do it, I went to pass
there all the time I had to spare. For several months I went after
dinner to walk alone in the Bois de Boulogne, meditating on subjects for
future works, and not returning until evening.

Gauffecourt, with whom I was at that time extremely intimate, being on
account of his employment obliged to go to Geneva, proposed to me the
journey, to which I consented. The state of my health was such as to
require the care of the governess; it was therefore decided she should
accompany us, and that her mother should remain in the house. After thus
having made our arrangements, we set off on the first of June, 1754.

This was the period when at the age of forty-two, I for the first time
in my life felt a diminution of my natural confidence to which I had
abandoned myself without reserve or inconvenience. We had a private
carriage, in which with the same horses we travelled very slowly.
I frequently got out and walked. We had scarcely performed half our
journey when Theresa showed the greatest uneasiness at being left in the
carriage with Gauffecourt, and when, notwithstanding her remonstrances,
I would get out as usual, she insisted upon doing the same, and walking
with me. I chid her for this caprice, and so strongly opposed it, that
at length she found herself obliged to declare to me the cause whence
it proceeded. I thought I was in a dream; my astonishment was beyond
expression, when I learned that my friend M. de Gauffecourt, upwards
of sixty years of age, crippled by the gout, impotent and exhausted by
pleasures, had, since our departure, incessantly endeavored to corrupt a
person who belonged to his friend, and was no longer young nor handsome,
by the most base and shameful means, such as presenting to her a purse,
attempting to inflame her imagination by the reading of an abominable
book, and by the sight of infamous figures, with which it was filled.
Theresa, full of indignation, once threw his scandalous book out of
the carriage; and I learned that on the first evening of our journey,
a violent headache having obliged me to retire to bed before supper, he
had employed the whole time of this tete-a-tete in actions more worthy
of a satyr than a man of worth and honor, to whom I thought I had
intrusted my companion and myself. What astonishment and grief of heart
for me! I, who until then had believed friendship to be inseparable from
every amiable and noble sentiment which constitutes all its charm, for
the first time in my life found myself under the necessity of connecting
it with disdain, and of withdrawing my confidence from a man for whom
I had an affection, and by whom I imagined myself beloved! The wretch
concealed from me his turpitude; and that I might not expose Theresa, I
was obliged to conceal from him my contempt, and secretly to harbor in
my heart such sentiments as were foreign to its nature. Sweet and sacred
illusion of friendship! Gauffecourt first took the veil from before
my eyes. What cruel hands have since that time prevented it from again
being drawn over them!

At Lyons I quitted Gauffecourt to take the road to Savoy, being unable
to be so near to mamma without seeing her. I saw her--Good God, in what
a situation! How contemptible! What remained to her of primitive virtue?
Was it the same Madam de Warens, formerly so gay and lively, to whom
the vicar of Pontverre had given me recommendations? How my heart was
wounded! The only resource I saw for her was to quit the country. I
earnestly but vainly repeated the invitation I had several times given
her in my letters to come and live peacefully with me, assuring her I
would dedicate the rest of my life, and that of Theresa, to render her
happy. Attached to her pension, from which, although it was regularly
paid, she had not for a long time received the least advantage, my
offers were lost upon her. I again gave her a trifling part of
the contents of my purse, much less than I ought to have done, and
considerably less than I should have offered her had not I been certain
of its not being of the least service to herself. During my residence
at Geneva, she made a journey into Chablais, and came to see me at
Grange-canal. She was in want of money to continue her journey: what
I had in my pocket was insufficient to this purpose, but an hour
afterwards I sent it her by Theresa. Poor mamma! I must relate this
proof of the goodness of her heart. A little diamond ring was the last
jewel she had left. She took it from her finger, to put it upon that of
Theresa, who instantly replaced it upon that whence it had been taken,
kissing the generous hand which she bathed with her tears. Ah! this
was the proper moment to discharge my debt! I should have abandoned
everything to follow her, and share her fate: let it be what it would. I
did nothing of the kind. My attention was engaged by another attachment,
and I perceived the attachment I had to her was abated by the slender
hopes there were of rendering it useful to either of us. I sighed after
her, my heart was grieved at her situation, but I did not follow her.
Of all the remorse I felt this was the strongest and most lasting. I
merited the terrible chastisement with which I have since that time
incessantly been overwhelmed: may this have expiated my ingratitude!
Of this I appear guilty in my conduct, but my heart has been too much
distressed by what I did ever to have been that of an ungrateful man.

Before my departure from Paris I had sketched out the dedication of my
discourse on the ‘Inequality of Mankind’. I finished it at Chambery, and
dated it from that place, thinking that, to avoid all chicane, it was
better not to date it either from France or Geneva. The moment I arrived
in that city I abandoned myself to the republican enthusiasm which had
brought me to it. This was augmented by the reception I there met with.
Kindly treated by persons of every description, I entirely gave myself
up to a patriotic zeal, and mortified at being excluded from the rights
of a citizen by the possession of a religion different from that of my
forefathers, I resolved openly to return to the latter. I thought the
gospel being the same for every Christian, and the only difference in
religious opinions the result of the explanations given by men to
that which they did not understand, it was the exclusive right of the
sovereign power in every country to fix the mode of worship, and these
unintelligible opinions; and that consequently it was the duty of
a citizen to admit the one, and conform to the other in the manner
prescribed by the law. The conversation of the encyclopaedists, far
from staggering my faith, gave it new strength by my natural aversion
to disputes and party. The study of man and the universe had everywhere
shown me the final causes and the wisdom by which they were directed.
The reading of the Bible, and especially that of the New Testament,
to which I had for several years past applied myself, had given me a
sovereign contempt for the base and stupid interpretations given to the
words of Jesus Christ by persons the least worthy of understanding his
divine doctrine. In a word, philosophy, while it attached me to the
essential part of religion, had detached me from the trash of the little
formularies with which men had rendered it obscure. Judging that for a
reasonable man there were not two ways of being a Christian, I was
also of opinion that in each country everything relative to form and
discipline was within the jurisdiction of the laws. From this principle,
so social and pacific, and which has brought upon me such cruel
persecutions, it followed that, if I wished to be a citizen of Geneva, I
must become a Protestant, and conform to the mode of worship established
in my country. This I resolved upon; I moreover put myself under the
instructions of the pastor of the parish in which I lived, and which
was without the city. All I desired was not to appear at the consistory.
However, the ecclesiastical edict was expressly to that effect; but it
was agreed upon to dispense with it in my favor, and a commission
of five or six members was named to receive my profession of faith.
Unfortunately, the minister Perdriau, a mild and an amiable man, took
it into his head to tell me the members were rejoiced at the thoughts of
hearing me speak in the little assembly. This expectation alarmed me
to such a degree that having night and day during three weeks studied a
little discourse I had prepared, I was so confused when I ought to
have pronounced it that I could not utter a single word, and during
the conference I had the appearance of the most stupid schoolboy.
The persons deputed spoke for me, and I answered yes and no, like a
blockhead; I was afterwards admitted to the communion, and reinstated in
my rights as a citizen. I was enrolled as such in the lists of
guards, paid by none but citizens and burgesses, and I attended at
a council-general extraordinary to receive the oath from the syndic
Mussard. I was so impressed with the kindness shown me on this occasion
by the council and the consistory, and by the great civility and
obliging behavior of the magistrates, ministers and citizens, that,
pressed by the worthy De Luc, who was incessant in his persuasions, and
still more so by my own inclination, I did not think of going back
to Paris for any other purpose than to break up housekeeping, find a
situation for M. and Madam le Vasseur, or provide for their subsistence,
and then return with Theresa to Geneva, there to settle for the rest of
my days.

After taking this resolution I suspended all serious affairs the better
to enjoy the company of my friends until the time of my departure.
Of all the amusements of which I partook, that with which I was most
pleased, was sailing round the lake in a boat, with De Luc, the father,
his daughter-in-law, his two sons, and my Theresa. We gave seven days
to this excursion in the finest weather possible. I preserved a lively
remembrance of the situation which struck me at the other extremity of
the lake, and of which I, some years afterwards, gave a description in
my New Eloisa.

The principal connections I made at Geneva, besides the De Lucs, of
which I have spoken, were the young Vernes, with whom I had already been
acquainted at Paris, and of whom I then formed a better opinion than I
afterwards had of him. M. Perdriau, then a country pastor, now professor
of Belles Lettres, whose mild and agreeable society will ever make me
regret the loss of it, although he has since thought proper to detach
himself from me; M. Jalabert, at that time professor of natural
philosophy, since become counsellor and syndic, to whom I read my
discourse upon Inequality (but not the dedication), with which he
seemed to be delighted; the Professor Lullin, with whom I maintained a
correspondence until his death, and who gave me a commission to purchase
books for the library; the Professor Vernet, who, like most other
people, turned his back upon me after I had given him proofs of
attachment and confidence of which he ought to have been sensible, if a
theologian can be affected by anything; Chappins, clerk and successor to
Gauffecourt, whom he wished to supplant, and who, soon afterwards, was
himself supplanted; Marcet de Mezieres, an old friend of my father’s,
and who had also shown himself to be mine: after having well deserved of
his country, he became a dramatic author, and, pretending to be of the
council of two hundred, changed his principles, and, before he died,
became ridiculous. But he from whom I expected most was M. Moultou, a
very promising young man by his talents and his brilliant imagination,
whom I have always loved, although his conduct with respect to me was
frequently equivocal, and, not withstanding his being connected with my
most cruel enemies, whom I cannot but look upon as destined to become
the defender of my memory and the avenger of his friend.

In the midst of these dissipations, I neither lost the taste for my
solitary excursions, nor the habit of them; I frequently made long
ones upon the banks of the lake, during which my mind, accustomed to
reflection, did not remain idle; I digested the plan already formed of
my political institutions, of which I shall shortly have to speak; I
meditated a history of the Valais; the plan of a tragedy in prose, the
subject of which, nothing less than Lucretia, did not deprive me of
the hope of succeeding, although I had dared again to exhibit that
unfortunate heroine, when she could no longer be suffered upon any
French stage. I at that time tried my abilities with Tacitus, and
translated the first books of his history, which will be found amongst
my papers.

After a residence of four months at Geneva, I returned in the month of
October to Paris; and avoided passing through Lyons that I might not
again have to travel with Gauffecourt. As the arrangement I had made did
not require my being at Geneva until the spring following, I returned,
during the winter, to my habits and occupations; the principal of the
latter was examining the proof sheets of my discourse on the Inequality
of Mankind, which I had procured to be printed in Holland, by the
bookseller Rey, with whom I had just become acquainted at Geneva. This
work was dedicated to the republic; but as the publication might be
unpleasing to the council, I wished to wait until it had taken its
effect at Geneva before I returned thither. This effect was not
favorable to me; and the dedication, which the most pure patriotism had
dictated, created me enemies in the council, and inspired even many of
the burgesses with jealousy. M. Chouet, at that time first syndic, wrote
me a polite but very cold letter, which will be found amongst my papers.
I received from private persons, amongst others from Du Luc and De
Jalabert, a few compliments, and these were all. I did not perceive that
a single Genevese was pleased with the hearty zeal found in the work.
This indifference shocked all those by whom it was remarked. I remember
that dining one day at Clichy, at Madam Dupin’s, with Crommelin,
resident from the republic, and M. de Mairan, the latter openly declared
the council owed me a present and public honors for the work, and that
it would dishonor itself if it failed in either. Crommelin, who was a
black and mischievous little man, dared not reply in my presence, but he
made a frightful grimace, which however forced a smile from Madam Dupin.
The only advantage this work procured me, besides that resulting from
the satisfaction of my own heart, was the title of citizen given me by
my friends, afterwards by the public after their example, and which I
afterwards lost by having too well merited.

This ill success would not, however, have prevented my retiring to
Geneva, had not more powerful motives tended to the same effect. M.
D’Epinay, wishing to add a wing which was wanting to the chateau of the
Chevrette, was at an immense expense in completing it. Going one day
with Madam D’Epinay to see the building, we continued our walk a quarter
of a league further to the reservoir of the waters of the park which
joined the forest of Montmorency, and where there was a handsome kitchen
garden, with a little lodge, much out of repair, called the Hermitage.
This solitary and very agreeable place had struck me when I saw it
for the first time before my journey to Geneva. I had exclaimed in my
transport: “Ah, madam, what a delightful habitation! This asylum was
purposely prepared for me.” Madam D’Epinay did not pay much attention to
what I said; but at this second journey I was quite surprised to find,
instead of the old decayed building, a little house almost entirely new,
well laid out, and very habitable for a little family of three persons.
Madam D’Epinay had caused this to be done in silence, and at a very
small expense, by detaching a few materials and some of the work men
from the castle. She now said to me, on remarking my surprise: “My dear,
here behold your asylum; it is you who have chosen it; friendship offers
it to you. I hope this will remove from you the cruel idea of separating
from me.” I do not think I was ever in my life more strongly or more
deliciously affected. I bathed with tears the beneficent hand of my
friend; and if I were not conquered from that very instant even, I was
extremely staggered. Madam D’Epinay, who would not be denied, became
so pressing, employed so many means, so many people to circumvent
me, proceeding even so far as to gain over Madam le Vasseur and
her daughter, that at length she triumphed over all my resolutions.
Renouncing the idea of residing in my own country, I resolved, I
promised, to inhabit the Hermitage; and, whilst the building was drying,
Madam D’Epinay took care to prepare furniture, so that everything was
ready the following spring.

[Illustration: frontispiece]

One thing which greatly aided me in determining, was the residence
Voltaire had chosen near Geneva; I easily comprehended this man would
cause a revolution there, and that I should find in my country the
manners, which drove me from Paris; that I should be under the necessity
of incessantly struggling hard, and have no other alternative than that
of being an unsupportable pedant, a poltroon, or a bad citizen. The
letter Voltaire wrote me on my last work, induced me to insinuate my
fears in my answer; and the effect this produced confirmed them. From
that moment I considered Geneva as lost, and I was not deceived. I
perhaps ought to have met the storm, had I thought myself capable of
resisting it. But what could I have done alone, timid, and speaking
badly, against a man, arrogant, opulent, supported by the credit of the
great, eloquent, and already the idol of the women and young men? I was
afraid of uselessly exposing myself to danger to no purpose. I listened
to nothing but my peaceful disposition, to my love of repose, which, if
it then deceived me, still continues to deceive me on the same subject.
By retiring to Geneva, I should have avoided great misfortunes; but I
have my doubts whether, with all my ardent and patriotic zeal, I should
have been able to effect anything great and useful for my country.

Tronchin, who about the same time went to reside at Geneva, came
afterwards to Paris and brought with him treasures. At his arrival he
came to see me, with the Chevalier Jaucourt. Madam D’Epinay had a strong
desire to consult him in private, but this it was not easy to do. She
addressed herself to me, and I engaged Tronchin to go and see her.
Thus under my auspices they began a connection, which was afterwards
increased at my expense. Such has ever been my destiny: the moment I
had united two friends who were separately mine, they never failed
to combine against me. Although, in the conspiracy then formed by
the Tronchins, they must all have borne me a mortal hatred. He still
continued friendly to me: he even wrote me a letter after his return
to Geneva, to propose to me the place of honorary librarian. But I had
taken my resolution, and the offer did not tempt me to depart from it.

About this time I again visited M. d’Holbach. My visit was occasioned
by the death of his wife, which, as well as that of Madam Francueil,
happened whilst I was at Geneva. Diderot, when he communicated to me
these melancholy events, spoke of the deep affliction of the husband.
His grief affected my heart. I myself was grieved for the loss of that
excellent woman, and wrote to M. d’Holbach a letter of condolence. I
forgot all the wrongs he had done me, and at my return from Geneva, and
after he had made the tour of France with Grimm and other friends to
alleviate his affliction, I went to see him, and continued my visits
until my departure for the Hermitage. As soon as it was known in
his circle that Madam D’Epinay was preparing me a habitation there,
innumerable sarcasms, founded upon the want I must feel of the flattery
and amusement of the city, and the supposition of my not being able to
support the solitude for a fortnight, were uttered against me. Feeling
within myself how I stood affected, I left him and his friends to say
what they pleased, and pursued my intention. M. d’Holbach rendered me
some services in finding a place for the old Le Vasseur, who was eighty
years of age and a burden to his wife, from which she begged me to
relieve her.

     [This is an instance of the treachery of my memory.  A long time
     after I had written what I have stated above, I learned, in
     conversing with my wife, that it was not M. d’Holbach, but M. de
     Chenonceaux, then one of the administrators of the Hotel Dieu, who
     procured this place for her father.  I had so totally forgotten the
     circumstance, and the idea of M. d’Holbach’s having done it was so
     strong in my mind that I would have sworn it had been him.]

He was put into a house of charity, where, almost as soon as he arrived
there, age and the grief of finding himself removed from his family sent
him to the grave. His wife and all his children, except Theresa, did not
much regret his loss. But she, who loved him tenderly, has ever since
been inconsolable, and never forgiven herself for having suffered him,
at so advanced an age, to end his days in any other house than her own.

Much about the same time I received a visit I little expected, although
it was from a very old acquaintance. My friend Venture, accompanied by
another man, came upon me one morning by surprise. What a change did I
discover in his person! Instead of his former gracefulness, he appeared
sottish and vulgar, which made me extremely reserved with him. My eyes
deceived me, or either debauchery had stupefied his mind, or all his
first splendor was the effect of his youth, which was past. I saw him
almost with indifference, and we parted rather coolly. But when he was
gone, the remembrance of our former connection so strongly called to
my recollection that of my younger days, so charmingly, so prudently
dedicated to that angelic woman (Madam de Warens) who was not much
less changed than himself; the little anecdotes of that happy time,
the romantic day of Toune passed with so much innocence and enjoyment
between those two charming girls, from whom a kiss of the hand was the
only favor, and which, notwithstanding its being so trifling, had
left me such lively, affecting and lasting regrets; and the ravishing
delirium of a young heart, which I had just felt in all its force,
and of which I thought the season forever past for me. The tender
remembrance of these delightful circumstances made me shed tears over my
faded youth and its transports for ever lost to me. Ah! how many tears
should I have shed over their tardy and fatal return had I foreseen the
evils I had yet to suffer from them.

Before I left Paris, I enjoyed during the winter which preceded my
retreat, a pleasure after my own heart, and of which I tasted in all
its purity. Palissot, academician of Nancy, known by a few dramatic
compositions, had just had one of them performed at Luneville before the
King of Poland. He perhaps thought to make his court by representing in
his piece a man who had dared to enter into a literary dispute with the
king. Stanislaus, who was generous, and did not like satire, was filled
with indignation at the author’s daring to be personal in his presence.
The Comte de Tressan, by order of the prince, wrote to M. d’Alembert, as
well as to myself, to inform me that it was the intention of his
majesty to have Palissot expelled his academy. My answer was a strong
solicitation in favor of Palissot, begging M. de Tressan to intercede
with the king in his behalf. His pardon was granted, and M. de Tressan,
when he communicated to me the information in the name of the monarch,
added that the whole of what had passed should be inserted in the
register of the academy. I replied that this was less granting a pardon
than perpetuating a punishment. At length, after repeated solicitations,
I obtained a promise, that nothing relative to the affair should be
inserted in the register, and that no public trace should remain of it.
The promise was accompanied, as well on the part of the king as on that
of M. de Tressan, with assurance of esteem and respect, with which I was
extremely flattered; and I felt on this occasion that the esteem of
men who are themselves worthy of it, produced in the mind a sentiment
infinitely more noble and pleasing than that of vanity. I have
transcribed into my collection the letters of M. de Tressan, with my
answers to them: and the original of the former will be found amongst my
other papers.

I am perfectly aware that if ever these memoirs become public, I here
perpetuate the remembrance of a fact of which I would wish to efface
every trace; but I transmit many others as much against my inclination.
The grand object of my undertaking, constantly before my eyes, and
the indispensable duty of fulfilling it to its utmost extent, will not
permit me to be turned aside by trifling considerations, which would
lead me from my purpose. In my strange and unparalleled situation, I
owe too much to truth to be further than this indebted to any person
whatever. They who wish to know me well must be acquainted with me in
every point of view, in every relative situation, both good and bad. My
confessions are necessarily connected with those of many other people:
I write both with the same frankness in everything that relates to that
which has befallen me; and am not obliged to spare any person more than
myself, although it is my wish to do it. I am determined always to be
just and true, to say of others all the good I can, never speaking of
evil except when it relates to my own conduct, and there is a necessity
for my so doing. Who, in the situation in which the world has placed me,
has a right to require more at my hands? My confessions are not intended
to appear during my lifetime, nor that of those they may disagreeably
affect. Were I master of my own destiny, and that of the book I am now
writing, it should never be made public until after my death and theirs.
But the efforts which the dread of truth obliges my powerful enemies
to make to destroy every trace of it, render it necessary for me to do
everything, which the strictest right, and the most severe justice, will
permit, to preserve what I have written. Were the remembrance of me to
be lost at my dissolution, rather than expose any person alive, I would
without a murmur suffer an unjust and momentary reproach. But since
my name is to live, it is my duty to endeavor to transmit with it to
posterity the remembrance of the unfortunate man by whom it was borne,
such as he really was, and not such as his unjust enemies incessantly
endeavored to describe him.


|My impatience to inhabit the Hermitage not permitting me to wait
until the return of fine weather, the moment my lodging was prepared
I hastened to take possession of it, to the great amusement of the
‘Coterie Holbachique’, which publicly predicted I should not be able
to support solitude for three months, and that I should unsuccessfully
return to Paris, and live there as they did. For my part, having for
fifteen years been out of my element, finding myself upon the eve
of returning to it, I paid no attention to their pleasantries. Since
contrary to my inclinations, I have again entered the world, I have
incessantly regretted my dear Charmettes, and the agreeable life I led
there. I felt a natural inclination to retirement and the country: it
was impossible for me to live happily elsewhere. At Venice, in the train
of public affairs, in the dignity of a kind of representation, in the
pride of projects of advancement; at Paris, in the vortex of the great
world, in the luxury of suppers, in the brilliancy of spectacles, in the
rays of splendor; my groves, rivulets, and solitary walks, constantly
presented themselves to my recollection, interrupted my thought,
rendered me melancholy, and made me sigh with desire. All the labor to
which I had subjected myself, every project of ambition which by fits
had animated my ardor, all had for object this happy country retirement,
which I now thought near at hand. Without having acquired a genteel
independence, which I had judged to be the only means of accomplishing
my views, I imagined myself, in my particular situation, to be able to
do without it, and that I could obtain the same end by a means quite
opposite. I had no regular income; but I possessed some talents, and
had acquired a name. My wants were few, and I had freed myself from all
those which were most expensive, and which merely depended on prejudice
and opinion. Besides this, although naturally indolent, I was laborious
when I chose to be so. and my idleness was less that of an indolent man,
than that of an independent one who applies to business when it pleases
him. My profession of a copyist of music was neither splendid nor
lucrative, but it was certain. The world gave me credit for the
courage I had shown in making choice of it. I might depend upon having
sufficient employment to enable me to live. Two thousand livres
which remained of the produce of the ‘Devin du Village’, and my other
writings, were a sum which kept me from being straitened, and several
works I had upon the stocks promised me, without extorting money from
the booksellers, supplies sufficient to enable me to work at my ease
without exhausting myself, even by turning to advantage the leisure of
my walks. My little family, consisting of three persons, all of whom
were usefully employed, was not expensive to support. Finally, from
my resources, proportioned to my wants and desires, I might reasonably
expect a happy and permanent existence, in that manner of life which my
inclination had induced me to adopt.

I might have taken the interested side of the question, and, instead of
subjecting my pen to copying, entirely devoted it to works which, from
the elevation to which I had soared, and at which I found myself capable
of continuing, might have enabled me to live in the midst of abundance,
nay, even of opulence, had I been the least disposed to join the
manoeuvres of an author to the care of publishing a good book. But I
felt that writing for bread would soon have extinguished my genius, and
destroyed my talents, which were less in my pen than in my heart, and
solely proceeded from an elevated and noble manner of thinking, by which
alone they could be cherished and preserved. Nothing vigorous or
great can come from a pen totally venal. Necessity, nay, even avarice,
perhaps, would have made me write rather rapidly than well. If the
desire of success had not led me into cabals, it might have made me
endeavor to publish fewer true and useful works than those which might
be pleasing to the multitude; and instead of a distinguished author,
which I might possibly become, I should have been nothing more than a
scribbler. No: I have always felt that the profession of letters was
illustrious in proportion as it was less a trade. It is too difficult to
think nobly when we think for a livelihood. To be able to dare even to
speak great truths, an author must be independent of success. I gave my
books to the public with a certainty of having written for the general
good of mankind, without giving myself the least concern about what was
to follow. If the work was thrown aside, so much the worse for such as
did not choose to profit by it. Their approbation was not necessary to
enable me to live, my profession was sufficient to maintain me had not
my works had a sale, for which reason alone they all sold.

It was on the ninth of August, 1756, that I left cities, never to reside
in them again: for I do not call a residence the few days I afterwards
remained in Paris, London, or other cities, always on the wing, or
contrary to my inclinations. Madam d’Epinay came and took us all three
in her coach; her farmer carted away my little baggage, and I was
put into possession the same day. I found my little retreat simply
furnished, but neatly, and with some taste. The hand which had lent its
aid in this furnishing rendered it inestimable in my eyes, and I thought
it charming to be the guest of my female friend in a house I had made
choice of, and which she had caused to be built purposely for me.

Although the weather was cold, and the ground lightly covered with snow,
the earth began to vegetate: violets and primroses already made their
appearance, the trees began to bud, and the evening of my arrival was
distinguished by the song of the nightingale, which was heard almost
under my window, in a wood adjoining the house. After a light sleep,
forgetting when I awoke my change of abode, I still thought myself in
the Rue Grenelle, when suddenly this warbling made me give a start,
and I exclaimed in my transport: “At length, all my wishes are
accomplished!” The first thing I did was to abandon myself to the
impression of the rural objects with which I was surrounded. Instead of
beginning to set things in order in my new habitation, I began by doing
it for my walks, and there was not a path, a copse, a grove, nor a
corner in the environs of my place of residence that I did not visit the
next day. The more I examined this charming retreat, the more I found it
to my wishes. This solitary, rather than savage, spot transported me
in idea to the end of the world. It had striking beauties which are but
seldom found near cities, and never, if suddenly transported thither,
could any person have imagined himself within four leagues of Paris.

After abandoning myself for a few days to this rural delirium, I began
to arrange my papers, and regulate my occupations. I set apart, as I
had always done, my mornings to copying, and my afternoons to walking,
provided with my little paper book and a pencil, for never having
been able to write and think at my ease except ‘sub dio’, I had no
inclination to depart from this method, and I was persuaded the forest
of Montmorency, which was almost at my door, would in future be my
closet and study. I had several works begun; these I cast my eye over.
My mind was indeed fertile in great projects, but in the noise of the
city the execution of them had gone on but slowly. I proposed to myself
to use more diligence when I should be less interrupted. I am of opinion
I have sufficiently fulfilled this intention; and for a man frequently
ill, often at La Chevrette, at Epinay, at Raubonne, at the castle of
Montmorency, at other times interrupted by the indolent and curious, and
always employed half the day in copying, if what I produced during the
six years I passed at the Hermitage and at Montmorency be considered, I
am persuaded it will appear that if, in this interval, I lost my time,
it was not in idleness.

Of the different works I had upon the stocks, that I had longest
resolved in my mind which was most to my taste, to which I destined a
certain portion of my life, and which, in my opinion, was to confirm
the reputation I had acquired, was my ‘Institutions Politiques’. I had,
fourteen years before, when at Venice, where I had an opportunity of
remarking the defects of that government so much boasted of, conceived
the first idea of them. Since that time my views had become much more
extended by the historical study of morality. I had perceived everything
to be radically connected with politics, and that, upon whatever
principles these were founded, a people would never be more than that
which the nature of the government made them; therefore the great
question of the best government possible appeared to me to be reduced
to this: What is the nature of a government the most proper to form the
most virtuous and enlightened, the wisest and best people, taking the
last epithet in its most extensive meaning? I thought this question
was much if not quite of the same nature with that which follows: What
government is that which, by its nature, always maintains itself nearest
to the laws, or least deviates from the laws. Hence, what is the law?
and a series of questions of similar importance. I perceived these led
to great truths, useful to the happiness of mankind, but more especially
to that of my country, wherein, in the journey I had just made to it,
I had not found notions of laws and liberty either sufficiently just or
clear. I had thought this indirect manner of communicating these to
my fellow-citizens would be least mortifying to their pride, and might
obtain me forgiveness for having seen a little further than themselves.

Although I had already labored five or six years at the work, the
progress I had made in it was not considerable. Writings of this kind
require meditation, leisure and tranquillity. I had besides written the
‘Institutions Politiques’, as the expression is, ‘en bonne fortune’, and
had not communicated my project to any person; not even to Diderot. I
was afraid it would be thought too daring for the age and country in
which I wrote, and that the fears of my friends would restrain me from
carrying it into execution.

     [It was more especially the wise severity of Duclos which inspired
     me with this fear; as for Diderot, I know not by what means all my
     conferences with him tended to make me more satirical than my
     natural disposition inclined me to be.  This prevented me from
     consulting him upon an undertaking, in which I wished to introduce
     nothing but the force of reasoning without the least appearance of
     ill humor or partiality.  The manner of this work may be judged of
     by that of the ‘Contrat Social’, which is taken from it.]

I did not yet know that it would be finished in time, and in such a
manner as to appear before my decease. I wished fearlessly to give to
my subject everything it required; fully persuaded that not being of
a satirical turn, and never wishing to be personal, I should in equity
always be judged irreprehensible. I undoubtedly wished fully to enjoy
the right of thinking which I had by birth; but still respecting the
government under which I lived, without ever disobeying its laws, and
very attentive not to violate the rights of persons, I would not from
fear renounce its advantages.

I confess, even that, as a stranger, and living in France, I found my
situation very favorable in daring to speak the truth; well knowing
that continuing, as I was determined to do, not to print anything in the
kingdom without permission, I was not obliged to give to any person in
it an account of my maxims nor of their publication elsewhere. I should
have been less independent even at Geneva, where, in whatever place my
books might have been printed, the magistrate had a right to criticise
their contents. This consideration had greatly contributed to make me
yield to the solicitations of Madam d’Epinay, and abandon the project of
fixing my residence at Geneva. I felt, as I have remarked in my Emilius,
that unless an author be a man of intrigue, when he wishes to render his
works really useful to any country whatsoever, he must compose them in
some other.

What made me find my situation still more happy, was my being persuaded
that the government of France would, perhaps, without looking upon me
with a very favorable eye, make it a point to protect me, or at least
not to disturb my tranquillity. It appeared to me a stroke of simple,
yet dexterous policy, to make a merit of tolerating that which there was
no means of preventing; since, had I been driven from France, which
was all government had the right to do, my work would still have
been written, and perhaps with less reserve; whereas if I were left
undisturbed, the author remained to answer for what he wrote, and
a prejudice, general throughout all Europe, would be destroyed by
acquiring the reputation of observing a proper respect for the rights of

They who, by the event, shall judge I was deceived, may perhaps be
deceived in their turn. In the storm which has since broken over my
head, my books served as a pretence, but it was against my person that
every shaft was directed. My persecutors gave themselves but little
concern about the author, but they wished to ruin Jean Jacques; and
the greatest evil they found in my writings was the honor they might
possibly do me. Let us not encroach upon the future. I do not know that
this mystery, which is still one to me, will hereafter be cleared up to
my readers; but had my avowed principles been of a nature to bring upon
me the treatment I received, I should sooner have become their victim,
since the work in which these principles are manifested with most
courage, not to call it audacity, seemed to have had its effect previous
to my retreat to the Hermitage, without I will not only say my having
received the least censure, but without any steps having been taken to
prevent the publication of it in France, where it was sold as publicly
as in Holland. The New Eloisa afterwards appeared with the same
facility, I dare add; with the same applause: and, what seems
incredible, the profession of faith of this Eloisa at the point of death
is exactly similar to that of the Savoyard vicar. Every strong idea
in the Social Contract had been before published in the discourse
on Inequality; and every bold opinion in Emilius previously found
in Eloisa. This unrestrained freedom did not excite the least murmur
against the first two works; therefore it was not that which gave cause
to it against the latter.

Another undertaking much of the same kind, but of which the project
was more recent, then engaged my attention: this was the extract of the
works of the Abbe de Saint Pierre, of which, having been led away by the
thread of my narrative, I have not hitherto been able to speak. The idea
was suggested to me, after my return from Geneva, by the Abbe Malby, not
immediately from himself, but by the interposition of Madam Dupin, who
had some interest in engaging me to adopt it. She was one of the three
or four pretty women of Paris, of whom the Abbe de Saint Pierre had
been the spoiled child, and although she had not decidedly had the
preference, she had at least partaken of it with Madam d’Aiguillon.
She preserved for the memory of the good man a respect and an affection
which did honor to them both; and her self-love would have been
flattered by seeing the still-born works of her friend brought to life
by her secretary. These works contained excellent things, but so badly
told that the reading of them was almost insupportable; and it is
astonishing the Abbe de Saint Pierre, who looked upon his readers as
schoolboys, should nevertheless have spoken to them as men, by the
little care he took to induce them to give him a hearing. It was for
this purpose that the work was proposed to me as useful in itself, and
very proper for a man laborious in manoeuvre, but idle as an author,
who finding the trouble of thinking very fatiguing, preferred, in things
which pleased him, throwing a light upon and extending the ideas of
others, to producing any himself. Besides, not being confined to the
functions of a translator, I was at liberty sometimes to think for
myself; and I had it in my power to give such a form to my work, that
many important truths would pass in it under the name of the Abbe de
Saint Pierre, much more safely than under mine. The undertaking also was
not trifling; the business was nothing less than to read and meditate
twenty-three volumes, diffuse, confused, full of long narrations and
periods, repetitions, and false or little views, from amongst which
it was necessary to select some few that were good and useful, and
sufficiently encouraging to enable me to support the painful labor. I
frequently wished to have given it up, and should have done so, could
I have got it off my hands with a great grace; but when I received the
manuscripts of the abbe, which were given to me by his nephew, the Comte
de Saint Pierre, I had, by the solicitation of St. Lambert, in some
measure engaged to make use of them, which I must either have done, or
have given them back. It was with the former intention I had taken the
manuscripts to the Hermitage, and this was the first work to which I
proposed to dedicate my leisure hours.

I had likewise in my own mind projected a third, the idea of which I
owed to the observations I had made upon myself and I felt the more
disposed to undertake this work, as I had reason to hope I could make
it a truly useful one, and perhaps, the most so of any that could be
offered to the world, were the execution equal to the plan I had laid
down. It has been remarked that most men are in the course of their
lives frequently unlike themselves, and seem to be transformed into
others very different from what they were. It was not to establish a
thing so generally known that I wished to write a book; I had a newer
and more important object. This was to search for the causes of these
variations, and, by confining my observations to those which depend on
ourselves, to demonstrate in what manner it might be possible to direct
them, in order to render us better and more certain of our dispositions.
For it is undoubtedly more painful to an honest man to resist desires
already formed, and which it is his duty to subdue, than to prevent,
change, or modify the same desires in their source, were he capable of
tracing them to it. A man under temptation resists once because he has
strength of mind, he yields another time because this is overcome; had
it been the same as before he would again have triumphed.

By examining within myself, and searching in others what could be the
cause of these different manners of being, I discovered that, in a great
measure they depended on the anterior impressions of external objects;
and that, continually modified by our senses and organs, we, without
knowing it, bore in our ideas, sentiments, and even actions, the effect
of these modifications. The striking and numerous observations I had
collected were beyond all manner of dispute, and by their natural
principle seemed proper to furnish an exterior regimen, which varied
according to circumstances, might place and support the mind in the
state most favorable to virtue. From how many mistakes would reason
be preserved, how many vices would be stifled in their birth, were
it possible to force animal economy to favor moral order, which it so
frequently disturbs! Climate, seasons, sounds, colors, light, darkness,
the elements, ailments, noise, silence, motion, rest, all act on the
animal machine, and consequently on the mind: all offer a thousand
means, almost certain of directing in their origin the sentiments by
which we suffer ourselves to be governed. Such was the fundamental idea
of which I had already made a sketch upon paper, and whence I hoped
for an effect the more certain, in favor of persons well disposed,
who, sincerely loving virtue, were afraid of their own weakness, as it
appeared to me easy to make of it a book as agreeable to read as it
was to compose. I have, however, applied myself but very little to
this work, the title of which was to have been ‘Morale Sensitive’ ou
le Materialisme du Sage.----Interruptions, the cause of which will soon
appear, prevented me from continuing it, and the fate of the sketch,
which is more connected with my own than it may appear to be, will
hereafter be seen.

Besides this, I had for some time meditated a system of education, of
which Madam de Chenonceaux, alarmed for her son by that of her husband,
had desired me to consider. The authority of friendship placed this
object, although less in itself to my taste, nearer to my heart than any
other. On which account this subject, of all those of which I have
just spoken, is the only one I carried to its utmost extent. The end I
proposed to myself in treating of it should, I think, have procured the
author a better fate. But I will not here anticipate this melancholy
subject. I shall have too much reason to speak of it in the course of my

These different objects offered me subjects of meditation for my walks;
for, as I believed I had already observed, I am unable to reflect when I
am not walking: the moment I stop, I think no more, and as soon as I am
again in motion my head resumes its workings. I had, however, provided
myself with a work for the closet upon rainy days. This was my
dictionary of music, which my scattered, mutilated, and unshapen
materials made it necessary to rewrite almost entirely. I had with me
some books necessary to this purpose; I had spent two months in making
extracts from others, I had borrowed from the king’s library, whence I
was permitted to take several to the Hermitage. I was thus provided with
materials for composing in my apartment when the weather did not permit
me to go out, and my copying fatigued me. This arrangement was so
convenient that it made it turn to advantage as well at the Hermitage
as at Montmorency, and afterwards even at Motiers, where I completed the
work whilst I was engaged in others, and constantly found a change of
occupation to be a real relaxation.

During a considerable time I exactly followed the distribution I had
prescribed myself, and found it very agreeable; but as soon as the fine
weather brought Madam d’Epinay more frequently to Epinay, or to the
Chervette, I found that attentions, in the first instance natural to me,
but which I had not considered in my scheme, considerably deranged my
projects. I have already observed that Madam d’Epinay had many amiable
qualities; she sincerely loved her friends; served them with zeal; and,
not sparing for them either time or pains, certainly deserved on their
part every attention in return. I had hitherto discharged this duty
without considering it as one, but at length I found that I had given
myself a chain of which nothing but friendship prevented me from feeling
the weight, and this was still aggravated by my dislike to numerous
societies. Madam d’ Epinay took advantage of these circumstances to make
me a proposition seemingly agreeable to me, but which was more so to
herself; this was to let me know when she was alone, or had but little
company. I consented, without perceiving to what a degree I engaged
myself. The consequence was that I no longer visited her at my own
hour--but at hers, and that I never was certain of being master of
myself for a day together. This constraint considerably diminished
the pleasure I had in going to see her. I found the liberty she had so
frequently promised was given me upon no other condition than that of my
never enjoying it; and once or twice when I wished to do this there
were so many messages, notes, and alarms relative to my health, that I
perceived that I could have no excuse but being confined to my bed,
for not immediately running to her upon the first intimation. It
was necessary I should submit to this yoke, and I did it, even more
voluntarily than could be expected from so great an enemy to dependence:
the sincere attachment I had to Madam D’Epinay preventing me, in a great
measure, from feeling the inconvenience with which it was accompanied.
She, on her part, filled up, well or ill, the void which the absence
of her usual circle left in her amusements. This for her was but a very
slender supplement, although preferable to absolute solitude, which she
could not support. She had the means of doing it much more at her ease
after she began with literature, and at all events to write novels,
letters, comedies, tales, and other trash of the same kind. But she was
not so much amused in writing these as in reading them; and she never
scribbled over two or three pages--at one sitting--without being
previously assured of having, at least, two or three benevolent auditors
at the end of so much labor. I seldom had the honor of being one of the
chosen few except by means of another. When alone, I was, for the most
part, considered as a cipher in everything; and this not only in the
company of Madam D’Epinay, but in that of M. d’Holbach, and in every
place where Grimm gave the ‘ton’. This nullity was very convenient to
me, except in a tete-a-tete, when I knew not what countenance to put on,
not daring to speak of literature, of which it was not for me to say a
word; nor of gallantry, being too timid, and fearing, more than death,
the ridiculousness of an old gallant; besides that, I never had such an
idea when in the company of Madam D’Epinay, and that it perhaps would
never have occurred to me, had I passed my whole life with her; not that
her person was in the least disagreeable to me; on the contrary, I loved
her perhaps too much as a friend to do it as a lover. I felt a pleasure
in seeing and speaking to her. Her conversation, although agreeable
enough in a mixed company, was uninteresting in private; mine, not more
elegant or entertaining than her own, was no great amusement to her.
Ashamed of being long silent, I endeavored to enliven our tete-a-tete
and, although this frequently fatigued me, I was never disgusted with
it. I was happy to show her little attentions, and gave her little
fraternal kisses, which seemed not to be more sensual to herself; these
were all. She was very thin, very pale, and had a bosom which resembled
the back of her hand. This defect alone would have been sufficient to
moderate my most ardent desires; my heart never could distinguish
a woman in a person who had it; and besides other causes useless to
mention, always made me forget the sex of this lady.

Having resolved to conform to an assiduity which was necessary, I
immediately and voluntarily entered upon it, and for the first year
at least, found it less burthensome than I could have expected. Madam
d’Epinay, who commonly passed the summer in the country, continued there
but a part of this; whether she was more detained by her affairs in
Paris, or that the absence of Grimm rendered the residence of the
Chevrette less agreeable to her, I know not. I took the advantage of the
intervals of her absence, or when the company with her was numerous, to
enjoy my solitude with my good Theresa and her mother, in such a manner
as to taste all its charms. Although I had for several years past been
frequently in the country, I seldom had enjoyed much of its pleasures;
and these excursions, always made in company with people who considered
themselves as persons of consequence, and rendered insipid by
constraint, served to increase in me the natural desire I had for rustic
pleasures. The want of these was the more sensible to me as I had the
image of them immediately before my eyes. I was so tired of saloons,
jets d’eau, groves, parterres, and of more fatiguing persons by whom
they were shown; so exhausted with pamphlets, harpsichords, trios,
unravellings of plots, stupid bon mots, insipid affections, pitiful
storytellers, and great suppers; that when I gave a side glance at
a poor simple hawthorn bush, a hedge, a barn, or a meadow; when, in
passing through a hamlet, I scented a good chervil omelette, and heard
at a distance the burden of a rustic song of the Bisquieres; I wished
all rouge, furbelows and ambergris at the devil, and envying the dinner
of the good housewife, and the wine of her own vineyard, I heartily
wished to give a slap on the chaps to Monsieur le Chef and Monsieur le
Maitre, who made me dine at the hour of supper, and sup when I should
have been asleep, but especially to Messieurs the lackeys, who devoured
with their eyes the morsel I put into my mouth, and upon pain of my
dying with thirst, sold me the adulterated wine of their master, ten
times dearer than that of a better quality would have cost me at a
public house.

At length I was settled in an agreeable and solitary asylum, at liberty
to pass there the remainder of my days, in that peaceful, equal, and
independent life for which I felt myself born. Before I relate the
effects this situation, so new to me, had upon my heart, it is proper
I should recapitulate its secret affections, that the reader may better
follow in their causes the progress of these new modifications.

I have always considered the day on which I was united to Theresa as
that which fixed my moral existence. An attachment was necessary for
me, since that which should have been sufficient to my heart had been so
cruelly broken. The thirst after happiness is never extinguished in the
heart of man. Mamma was advancing into years, and dishonored herself! I
had proofs that she could never more be happy here below; it therefore
remained to me to seek my own happiness, having lost all hopes of
partaking of hers. I was sometimes irresolute, and fluctuated from one
idea to another, and from project to project. My journey to Venice would
have thrown me into public life, had the man with whom, almost against
my inclination, I was connected there had common sense. I was easily
discouraged, especially in undertakings of length and difficulty. The
ill success of this disgusted me with every other; and, according to
my old maxims, considering distant objects as deceitful allurements,
I resolved in future to provide for immediate wants, seeing nothing in
life which could tempt me to make extraordinary efforts.

It was precisely at this time we became acquainted. The mild character
of the good Theresa seemed so fitted to my own, that I united myself to
her with an attachment which neither time nor injuries have been able to
impair, and which has constantly been increased by everything by
which it might have been expected to be diminished. The force of this
sentiment will hereafter appear when I come to speak of the wounds she
has given my heart in the height of my misery, without my ever having,
until this moment, once uttered a word of complaint to any person

When it shall be known, that after having done everything, braved
everything, not to separate from her; that after passing with her twenty
years in despite of fate and men; I have in my old age made her my wife,
without the least expectation or solicitation on her part, or promise
or engagement on mine, the world will think that love bordering upon
madness, having from the first moment turned my head, led me by degrees
to the last act of extravagance; and this will no longer appear doubtful
when the strong and particular reasons which should forever have
prevented me from taking such a step are made known. What, therefore,
will the reader think when I shall have told him, with all the truth he
has ever found in me, that, from the first moment in which I saw her,
until that wherein I write, I have never felt the least love for her,
that I never desired to possess her more than I did to possess Madam de
Warens, and that the physical wants which were satisfied with her person
were, to me, solely those of the sex, and by no means proceeding from
the individual? He will think that, being of a constitution different
from that of other men, I was incapable of love, since this was not one
of the sentiments which attached me to women the most dear to my heart.
Patience, O my dear reader! the fatal moment approaches in which you
will be but too much undeceived.

I fall into repetitions; I know it; and these are necessary. The first
of my wants, the greatest, strongest and most insatiable, was wholly
in my heart; the want of an intimate connection, and as intimate as
it could possibly be: for this reason especially, a woman was more
necessary to me than a man, a female rather than a male friend.
This singular want was such that the closest corporal union was not
sufficient: two souls would have been necessary to me in the same body,
without which I always felt a void. I thought I was upon the point
of filling it up forever. This young person, amiable by a thousand
excellent qualities, and at that time by her form, without the shadow of
art or coquetry, would have confined within herself my whole existence,
could hers, as I had hoped it would, have been totally confined to me.
I had nothing to fear from men; I am certain of being the only man she
ever really loved and her moderate passions seldom wanted another, not
even after I ceased in this respect to be one to her. I had no
family; she had one; and this family was composed of individuals whose
dispositions were so different from mine, that I could never make it my
own. This was the first cause of my unhappiness. What would I not have
given to be the child of her mother? I did everything in my power to
become so, but could never succeed. I in vain attempted to unite all our
interests: this was impossible. She always created herself one different
from mine, contrary to it, and to that even of her daughter, which
already was no longer separated from it. She, her other children, and
grand-children, became so many leeches, and the least evil these did to
Theresa was robbing her. The poor girl, accustomed to submit, even to
her nieces, suffered herself to be pilfered and governed without saying
a word; and I perceived with grief that by exhausting my purse, and
giving her advice, I did nothing that could be of any real advantage
to her. I endeavored to detach her from her mother; but she constantly
resisted such a proposal. I could not but respect her resistance, and
esteemed her the more for it; but her refusal was not on this account
less to the prejudice of us both. Abandoned to her mother and the rest
of her family, she was more their companion than mine, and rather at
their command than mistress of herself. Their avarice was less ruinous
than their advice was pernicious to her; in fact, if, on account of the
love she had for me, added to her good natural disposition, she was not
quite their slave, she was enough so to prevent in a great measure
the effect of the good maxims I endeavored to instil into her, and,
notwithstanding all my efforts, to prevent our being united.

Thus was it, that notwithstanding a sincere and reciprocal attachment,
in which I had lavished all the tenderness of my heart, the void in that
heart was never completely filled. Children, by whom this effect should
have been produced, were brought into the world, but these only made
things worse. I trembled at the thought of intrusting them to a family
ill brought up, to be still worse educated. The risk of the education of
the foundling hospital was much less. This reason for the resolution
I took, much stronger than all those I stated in my letter to Madam de
Francueil, was, however, the only one with which I dared not make her
acquainted; I chose rather to appear less excusable than to expose
to reproach the family of a person I loved. But by the conduct of her
wretched brother, notwithstanding all that can be said in his defence,
it will be judged whether or not I ought to have exposed my children to
an education similar to his.

Not having it in my power to taste in all its plentitude the charms
of that intimate connection of which I felt the want, I sought for
substitutes which did not fill up the void, yet they made it less
sensible. Not having a friend entirely devoted to me, I wanted others,
whose impulse should overcome my indolence; for this reason I cultivated
and strengthened my connection with Diderot and the Abbe de Condillac,
formed with Grimm a new one still more intimate, till at length by
the unfortunate discourse, of which I have related some particulars,
I unexpectedly found myself thrown back into a literary circle which I
thought I had quitted forever.

My first steps conducted me by a new path to another intellectual world,
the simple and noble economy of which I cannot contemplate without
enthusiasm. I reflected so much on the subject that I soon saw nothing
but error and folly in the doctrine of our sages, and oppression and
misery in our social order. In the illusion of my foolish pride, I
thought myself capable of destroying all imposture; and thinking that,
to make myself listened to, it was necessary my conduct should agree
with my principles, I adopted the singular manner of life which I
have not been permitted to continue, the example of which my pretended
friends have never forgiven me, which at first made me ridiculous, and
would at length have rendered me respectable, had it been possible for
me to persevere.

Until then I had been good; from that moment I became virtuous, or at
least infatuated with virtue. This infatuation had begun in my head, but
afterwards passed into my heart. The most noble pride there took root
amongst the ruins of extirpated vanity. I affected nothing; I became
what I appeared to be, and during four years at least, whilst this
effervescence continued at its greatest height, there is nothing great
and good that can enter the heart of man, of which I was not capable
between heaven and myself. Hence flowed my sudden eloquence; hence, in
my first writings, that fire really celestial, which consumed me, and
whence during forty years not a single spark had escaped, because it was
not yet lighted up.

I was really transformed; my friends and acquaintance scarcely knew
me. I was no longer that timid, and rather bashful than modest man,
who neither dared to present himself, nor utter a word; whom a single
pleasantry disconcerted, and whose face was covered with a blush the
moment his eyes met those of a woman. I became bold, haughty, intrepid,
with a confidence the more firm, as it was simple, and resided in my
soul rather than in my manner. The contempt with which my profound
meditations had inspired me for the manners, maxims and prejudices of
the age in which I lived, rendered me proof against the raillery
of those by whom they were possessed, and I crushed their little
pleasantries with a sentence, as I would have crushed an insect with my

What a change! All Paris repeated the severe and acute sarcasms of the
same man who, two years before, and ten years afterwards, knew not how
to find what he had to say, nor the word he ought to employ. Let the
situation in the world the most contrary to my natural disposition be
sought after, and this will be found. Let one of the short moments of
my life in which I became another man, and ceased to be myself, be
recollected, this also will be found in the time of which I speak; but,
instead of continuing only six days, or six weeks, it lasted almost
six years, and would perhaps still continue, but for the particular
circumstances which caused it to cease, and restored me to nature, above
which I had wished to soar.

The beginning of this change took place as soon as I had quitted
Paris, and the sight of the vices of that city no longer kept up the
indignation with which it had inspired me. I no sooner had lost sight
of men than I ceased to despise them, and once removed from those who
designed me evil, my hatred against them no longer existed. My
heart, little fitted for hatred, pitied their misery, and even their
wickedness. This situation, more pleasing but less sublime, soon allayed
the ardent enthusiasm by which I had so long been transported; and I
insensibly, almost to myself even, again became fearful, complaisant and
timid; in a word, the same Jean Jacques I before had been.

Had this resolution gone no further than restoring me to myself, all
would have been well; but unfortunately it rapidly carried me away to
the other extreme. From that moment my mind in agitation passed the
line of repose, and its oscillations, continually renewed, have never
permitted it to remain here. I must enter into some detail of this
second revolution; terrible and fatal era, of a fate unparalleled
amongst mortals.

We were but three persons in our retirement; it was therefore natural
our intimacy should be increased by leisure and solitude. This was the
case between Theresa and myself. We passed in conversations in the shade
the most charming and delightful hours, more so than any I had hitherto
enjoyed. She seemed to taste of this sweet intercourse more than I had
until then observed her to do; she opened her heart, and communicated
to me, relative to her mother and family, things she had had resolution
enough to conceal for a great length of time. Both had received from
Madam Dupin numerous presents, made them on my account, and mostly for
me, but which the cunning old woman, to prevent my being angry, had
appropriated to her own use and that of her other children, without
suffering Theresa to have the least share, strongly forbidding her to
say a word to me of the matter: an order the poor girl had obeyed with
an incredible exactness.

But another thing which surprised me more than this had done, was the
discovery that besides the private conversations Diderot and Grimm had
frequently had with both to endeavor to detach them from me, in which,
by means of the resistance of Theresa, they had not been able to
succeed, they had afterwards had frequent conferences with the mother,
the subject of which was a secret to the daughter. However, she knew
little presents had been made, and that there were mysterious goings
backward and forward, the motive of which was entirely unknown to her.
When we left Paris, Madam le Vasseur had long been in the habit of going
to see Grimm twice or thrice a month, and continuing with him for hours
together, in conversation so secret that the servant was always sent out
of the room.

I judged this motive to be of the same nature with the project into
which they had attempted to make the daughter enter, by promising
to procure her and her mother, by means of Madam d’Epinay, a salt
huckster’s license, or snuff-shop; in a word, by tempting her with
the allurements of gain. They had been told that, as I was not in a
situation to do anything for them, I could not, on their account, do
anything for myself. As in all this I saw nothing but good intentions, I
was not absolutely displeased with them for it. The mystery was the only
thing which gave me pain, especially on the part of the old woman, who
moreover daily became more parasitical and flattering towards me. This,
however, did not prevent her from reproaching her daughter in private
with telling me everything, and loving me too much, observing to her she
was a fool and would at length be made a dupe.

This woman possessed, to a supreme degree, the art of multiplying
the presents made her, by concealing from one what she received from
another, and from me what she received from all. I could have pardoned
her avarice, but it was impossible I should forgive her dissimulation.
What could she have to conceal from me whose happiness she knew
principally consisted in that of herself and her daughter? What I had
done for the daughter I had done for myself, but the services I rendered
the mother merited on her part some acknowledgment. She ought, at least,
to have thought herself obliged for them to her daughter, and to have
loved me for the sake of her by whom I was already beloved. I had raised
her from the lowest state of wretchedness; she received from my hands
the means of subsistence, and was indebted to me for her acquaintance
with the persons from whom she found means to reap considerable benefit.
Theresa had long supported her by her industry, and now maintained her
with my bread. She owed everything to this daughter, for whom she had
done nothing, and her other children, to whom she had given marriage
portions, and on whose account she had ruined herself, far from giving
her the least aid, devoured her substance and mine. I thought that in
such a situation she ought to consider me as her only friend and most
sure protector, and that, far from making of my own affairs a secret to
me, and conspiring against me in my house, it was her duty faithfully to
acquaint me with everything in which I was interested, when this came to
her knowledge before it did to mine. In what light, therefore, could
I consider her false and mysterious conduct? What could I think of
the sentiments with which she endeavored to inspire her daughter? What
monstrous ingratitude was hers, to endeavor to instil it into her from
whom I expected my greatest consolation?

These reflections at length alienated my affections from this woman, and
to such a degree that I could no longer look upon her but with contempt.
I nevertheless continued to treat with respect the mother of the friend
of my bosom, and in everything to show her almost the reverence of a
son; but I must confess I could not remain long with her without pain,
and that I never knew how to bear restraint.

This is another short moment of my life, in which I approached near to
happiness without being able to attain it, and this by no fault of my
own. Had the mother been of a good disposition we all three should have
been happy to the end of our days; the longest liver only would have
been to be pitied. Instead of which, the reader will see the course
things took, and judge whether or not it was in my power to change it.

Madam le Vasseur, who perceived I had got more full possession of the
heart of Theresa, and that she had lost ground with her, endeavored to
regain it; and instead of striving to restore herself to my good opinion
by the mediation of her daughter attempted to alienate her affections
from me. One of the means she employed was to call her family to her
aid. I had begged Theresa not to invite any of her relations to the
Hermitage, and she had promised me she would not. These were sent for
in my absence, without consulting her, and she was afterwards prevailed
upon to promise not to say anything of the matter. After the first step
was taken all the rest were easy. When once we make a secret of anything
to the person we love, we soon make little scruple of doing it in
everything; the moment I was at the Chevrette the Hermitage was full
of people who sufficiently amused themselves. A mother has always great
power over a daughter of a mild disposition; yet notwithstanding all the
old woman could do, she was never able to prevail upon Theresa to enter
into her views, nor to persuade her to join in the league against me.
For her part, she resolved upon doing it forever, and seeing on one side
her daughter and myself, who were in a situation to live, and that was
all; on the other, Diderot, Grimm, D’ Holbach and Madam d’Epinay, who
promised great things, and gave some little ones, she could not conceive
it was possible to be in the wrong with the wife of a farmer-general
and baron. Had I been more clear sighted, I should from this moment have
perceived I nourished a serpent in my bosom. But my blind confidence,
which nothing had yet diminished, was such that I could not imagine she
wished to injure the person she ought to love. Though I saw numerous
conspiracies formed on every side, all I complain of was the tyranny of
persons who called themselves my friends, and who, as it seemed, would
force me to be happy in the manner they should point out, and not in
that I had chosen for myself.

Although Theresa refused to join in the confederacy with her mother,
she afterwards kept her secret. For this her motive was commendable,
although I will not determine whether she did it well or ill. Two women,
who have secrets between them, love to prattle together; this attracted
them towards each other, and Theresa, by dividing herself, sometimes let
me feel I was alone; for I could no longer consider as a society that
which we all three formed.

I now felt the neglect I had been guilty of during the first years of
our connection, in not taking advantage of the docility with which her
love inspired her, to improve her talents and give her knowledge, which,
by more closely connecting us in our retirement would agreeably have
filled up her time and my own, without once suffering us to perceive
the length of a private conversation. Not that this was ever exhausted
between us, or that she seemed disgusted with our walks; but we had not
a sufficient number of ideas common to both to make ourselves a great
store, and we could not incessantly talk of our future projects which
were confined to those of enjoying the pleasures of life. The objects
around us inspired me with reflections beyond the reach of her
comprehension. An attachment of twelve years’ standing had no longer
need of words: we were too well acquainted with each other to have any
new knowledge to acquire in that respect. The resource of puns, jests,
gossiping and scandal, was all that remained. In solitude especially is
it, that the advantage of living with a person who knows how to think is
particularly felt. I wanted not this resource to amuse myself with her;
but she would have stood in need of it to have always found
amusement with me. The worst of all was our being obliged to hold our
conversations when we could; her mother, who become importunate, obliged
me to watch for opportunities to do it. I was under constraint in my
own house: this is saying everything; the air of love was prejudicial
to good friendship. We had an intimate intercourse without living in

The moment I thought I perceived that Theresa sometimes sought for a
pretext to elude the walks I proposed to her, I ceased to invite her to
accompany me, without being displeased with her for not finding in them
so much amusement as I did. Pleasure is not a thing which depends upon
the will. I was sure of her heart, and the possession of this was all I
desired. As long as my pleasures were hers, I tasted of them with her;
when this ceased to be the case I preferred her contentment to my own.

In this manner it was that, half deceived in my expectation, leading a
life after my own heart, in a residence I had chosen with a person who
was dear to me, I at length found myself almost alone. What I still
wanted prevented me from enjoying what I had. With respect to happiness
and enjoyment, everything or nothing, was what was necessary to me. The
reason of these observations will hereafter appear. At present I return
to the thread of my narrative.

I imagined that I possessed treasures in the manuscripts given me by the
Comte de St. Pierre. On examination I found they were a little more
than the collection of the printed works of his uncle, with notes and
corrections by his own hand, and a few other trifling fragments which
had not yet been published. I confirmed myself by these moral writings
in the idea I had conceived from some of his letters, shown me by Madam
de Crequi, that he had more sense and ingenuity than at first I had
imagined; but after a careful examination of his political works, I
discerned nothing but superficial notions, and projects that were useful
but impracticable, in consequence of the idea from which the author
never could depart, that men conducted themselves by their sagacity
rather than by their passions. The high opinion he had of the knowledge
of the moderns had made him adopt this false principle of improved
reason, the basis of all the institutions he proposed, and the source of
his political sophisms. This extraordinary man, an honor to the age in
which he lived, and to the human species, and perhaps the only person,
since the creation of mankind, whose sole passion was that of reason,
wandered in all his systems from error to error, by attempting to make
men like himself, instead of taking them as they were, are, and will
continue to be. He labored for imaginary beings, while he thought
himself employed for the benefit of his contemporaries.

All these things considered, I was rather embarrassed as to the form I
should give to my work. To suffer the author’s visions to pass was doing
nothing useful; fully to refute them would have been unpolite, as the
care of revising and publishing his manuscripts, which I had accepted,
and even requested, had been intrusted to me; this trust had imposed
on me the obligation of treating the author honorably. I at length
concluded upon that which to me appeared the most decent, judicious,
and useful. This was to give separately my own ideas and those of the
author, and, for this purpose, to enter into his views, to set them in
a new light, to amplify, extend them, and spare nothing which might
contribute to present them in all their excellence.

My work therefore was to be composed of two parts absolutely distinct:
one, to explain, in the manner I have just mentioned, the different
projects of the author; in the other, which was not to appear until
the first had had its effect, I should have given my opinion upon these
projects, which I confess might sometimes have exposed them to the fate
of the sonnet of the misanthrope. At the head of the whole was to
have been the life of the author. For this I had collected some good
materials, and which I flattered myself I should not spoil in making use
of them. I had been a little acquainted with the Abbe de St. Pierre, in
his old age, and the veneration I had for his memory warranted to me,
upon the whole, that the comte would not be dissatisfied with the manner
in which I should have treated his relation.

I made my first essay on the ‘Perpetual Peace’, the greatest and most
elaborate of all the works which composed the collection; and before I
abandoned myself to my reflections I had the courage to read everything
the abbe had written upon this fine subject, without once suffering
myself to be disgusted either by his slowness or his repetitions. The
public has seen the extract, on which account I have nothing to say upon
the subject. My opinion of it has not been printed, nor do I know that
it ever will be; however, it was written at the same time the extract
was made. From this I passed to the ‘Polysynodie’, or Plurality of
Councils, a work written under the regent to favor the administration
he had chosen, and which caused the Abbe de Saint Pierre to be expelled
from the academy, on account of some remarks unfavorable to the
preceding administration, and with which the Duchess of Maine and the
Cardinal de Polignac were displeased. I completed this work as I did
the former, with an extract and remarks; but I stopped here without
intending to continue the undertaking which I ought never to have begun.

The reflection which induced me to give it up naturally presents itself,
and it was astonishing I had not made it sooner.

Most of the writings of the Abbe de Saint Pierre were either
observations, or contained observations, on some parts of the government
of France, and several of these were of so free a nature, that it was
happy for him he had made them with impunity. But in the offices of all
the ministers of state the Abbe de St. Pierre had ever been considered
as a kind of preacher rather than a real politician, and he was suffered
to say what he pleased, because it appeared that nobody listened to him.
Had I procured him readers the case would have been different. He was a
Frenchman, and I was not one; and by repeating his censures, although in
his own name, I exposed myself to be asked, rather rudely, but without
injustice, what it was with which I meddled. Happily before I proceeded
any further, I perceived the hold I was about to give the government
against me, and I immediately withdrew. I knew that, living alone in
the midst of men more powerful than myself, I never could by any means
whatever be sheltered from the injury they chose to do me. There was but
one thing which depended upon my own efforts: this was, to observe such
a line of conduct that whenever they chose to make me feel the weight
of authority they could not do it without being unjust. The maxim which
induced me to decline proceeding with the works of the Abbe de Saint
Pierre, has frequently made me give up projects I had much more at
heart. People who are always ready to construe adversity into a crime,
would be much surprised were they to know the pains I have taken, that
during my misfortunes it might never with truth be said of me, Thou hast
deserved them.

After having given up the manuscript, I remained some time without
determining upon the work which should succeed it, and this interval of
inactivity was destructive; by permitting me to turn my reflections
on myself, for want of another object to engage my attention. I had no
project for the future which could amuse my imagination. It was not even
possible to form any, as my situation was precisely that in which all my
desires were united. I had not another to conceive, and yet there was a
void in my heart. This state was the more cruel, as I saw no other that
was to be preferred to it. I had fixed my most tender affections upon
a person who made me a return of her own. I lived with her without
constraint, and, so to speak, at discretion. Notwithstanding this, a
secret grief of mind never quitted me for a moment, either when she was
present or absent. In possessing Theresa, I still perceived she wanted
something to her happiness; and the sole idea of my not being everything
to her had such an effect upon my mind that she was next to nothing to

I had friends of both sexes, to whom I was attached by the purest
friendship and most perfect esteem; I depended upon a real return on
their part, and a doubt of their sincerity never entered my mind; yet
this friendship was more tormenting than agreeable to me, by their
obstinate perseverance and even by their affectation, in opposing my
taste, inclinations and manner of living; and this to such a degree,
that the moment I seemed to desire a thing which interested myself only,
and depended not upon them, they immediately joined their efforts to
oblige me to renounce it. This continued desire to control me in all my
wishes, the more unjust, as I did not so much as make myself acquainted
with theirs, became so cruelly oppressive, that I never received one of
their letters without feeling a certain terror as I opened it, and which
was but too well justified by the contents. I thought being treated like
a child by persons younger than myself, and who, of themselves, stood
in great need of the advice they so prodigally bestowed on me, was too
much: “Love me,” said I to them, “as I love you, but, in every other
respect, let my affairs be as indifferent to you, as yours are to me:
this is all I ask.” If they granted me one of these two requests, it was
not the latter.

I had a retired residence in a charming solitude, was master of my own
house, and could live in it in the manner I thought proper, without
being controlled by any person. This habitation imposed on me duties
agreeable to discharge, but which were indispensable. My liberty was
precarious. In a greater state of subjection than a person at the
command of another, it was my duty to be so by inclination. When I arose
in the morning, I never could say to myself, I will employ this day as
I think proper. And, moreover, besides my being subject to obey the
call of Madam d’Epinay, I was exposed to the still more disagreeable
importunities of the public and chance comers. The distance I was at
from Paris did not prevent crowds of idlers, not knowing how to spend
their time, from daily breaking in upon me, and, without the least
scruple, freely disposing of mine. When I least expected visitors I
was unmercifully assailed by them, and I seldom made a plan for the
agreeable employment of the day that was not counteracted by the arrival
of some stranger.

In short, finding no real enjoyment in the midst of the pleasures I had
been most desirous to obtain, I, by sudden mental transitions, returned
in imagination to the serene days of my youth, and sometimes exclaimed
with a sigh: “Ah! this is not Les Charmettes!”

The recollection of the different periods of my life led me to reflect
upon that at which I was arrived, and I found I was already on the
decline, a prey to painful disorders, and imagined I was approaching the
end of my days without having, tasted, in all its plentitude, scarcely
any one of the pleasures after which my heart had so much thirsted, or
having given scope to the lively sentiments I felt it had in reserve. I
had not favored even that intoxicating voluptuousness with which my
mind was richly stored, and which, for want of an object, was always
compressed, and never exhaled but by signs.

How was it possible that, with a mind naturally expansive, I, with whom
to live was to love, should not hitherto have found a friend entirely
devoted to me; a real friend: I who felt myself so capable of being such
a friend to another? How can it be accounted for that with such warm
affections, such combustible senses, and a heart wholly made up of
love, I had not once, at least, felt its flame for a determinate object?
Tormented by the want of loving, without ever having been able to
satisfy it, I perceived myself approaching the eve of old age, and
hastening on to death without having lived.

These melancholy but affecting recollections led me to others, which,
although accompanied with regret, were not wholly unsatisfactory.
I thought something I had not yet received was still due to me from

To what end was I born with exquisite faculties? To suffer them to
remain unemployed? the sentiment of conscious merit, which made me
consider myself as suffering injustice, was some kind of reparation, and
caused me to shed tears which with pleasure I suffered to flow.

These were my mediations during the finest season of the year, in the
month of June, in cool shades, to the songs of the nightingale, and the
warbling of brooks. Everything concurred in plunging me into that too
seducing state of indolence for which I was born, and from which my
austere manner, proceeding from a long effervescence, should forever
have delivered me. I unfortunately remembered the dinner of the Chateau
de Toune, and my meeting with the two charming girls in the same season,
in places much resembling that in which I then was. The remembrance of
these circumstances, which the innocence that accompanied them rendered
to me still more dear, brought several others of the nature to my
recollection. I presently saw myself surrounded by all the objects
which, in my youth, had given me emotion. Mademoiselle Galley,
Mademoiselle de Graffenried, Mademoiselle de Breil, Madam Basile, Madam
de Larnage, my pretty scholars, and even the bewitching Zulietta, whom
my heart could not forget. I found myself in the midst of a seraglio of
houris of my old acquaintance, for whom the most lively inclination was
not new to me. My blood became inflamed, my head turned, notwithstanding
my hair was almost gray, and the grave citizen of Geneva, the austere
Jean Jacques, at forty-five years of age, again became the fond
shepherd. The intoxication, with which my mind was seized, although
sudden and extravagant, was so strong and lasting, that, to enable me to
recover from it, nothing less than the unforeseen and terrible crisis it
brought on was necessary.

This intoxication, to whatever degree it was carried, went not so far as
to make me forget my age and situation, to flatter me that I could still
inspire love, nor to make me attempt to communicate the devouring flame
by which ever since my youth I had felt my heart in vain consumed. For
this I did not hope; I did not even desire it. I knew the season of love
was past; I knew too well in what contempt the ridiculous pretensions of
superannuated gallants were held, ever to add one to the number, and
I was not a man to become an impudent coxcomb in the decline of life,
after having been so little such during the flower of my age. Besides,
as a friend to peace, I should have been apprehensive of domestic
dissensions; and I too sincerely loved Theresa to expose her to the
mortification of seeing me entertain for others more lively sentiments
than those with which she inspired me for herself.

What step did I take upon this occasion? My reader will already have
guessed it, if he has taken the trouble to pay the least attention to my
narrative. The impossibility of attaining real beings threw me into
the regions of chimera, and seeing nothing in existence worthy of my
delirium, I sought food for it in the ideal world, which my imagination
quickly peopled with beings after my own heart. This resource never
came more apropos, nor was it ever so fertile. In my continual ecstasy I
intoxicated my mind with the most delicious sentiments that ever entered
the heart of man. Entirely forgetting the human species, I formed to
myself societies of perfect beings, whose virtues were as celestial as
their beauty, tender and faithful friends, such as I never found here
below. I became so fond of soaring in the empyrean, in the midst of the
charming objects with which I was surrounded, that I thus passed hours
and days without perceiving it; and, losing the remembrance of all other
things, I scarcely had eaten a morsel in haste before I was impatient to
make my escape and run to regain my groves. When ready to depart for
the enchanted world, I saw arrive wretched mortals who came to detain
me upon earth, I could neither conceal nor moderate my vexation; and
no longer master of myself, I gave them so uncivil a reception, that it
might justly be termed brutal. This tended to confirm my reputation as
a misanthrope, from the very cause which, could the world have read my
heart, should have acquired me one of a nature directly opposite.

In the midst of my exultation I was pulled down like a paper kite, and
restored to my proper place by means of a smart attack of my disorder.
I recurred to the only means that had before given me relief, and thus
made a truce with my angelic amours; for besides that it seldom happens
that a man is amorous when he suffers, my imagination, which is animated
in the country and beneath the shade of trees, languishes and becomes
extinguished in a chamber, and under the joists of a ceiling. I
frequently regretted that there existed no dryads; it would certainly
have been amongst these that I should have fixed my attachment.

Other domestic broils came at the same time to increase my chagrin.
Madam le Vasseur, while making me the finest compliments in the world,
alienated from me her daughter as much as she possibly could. I received
letters from my late neighborhood, informing me that the good old lady
had secretly contracted several debts in the name of Theresa, to whom
these became known, but of which she had never mentioned to me a word.
The debts to be paid hurt me much less than the secret that had been
made of them. How could she, for whom I had never had a secret, have one
from me? Is it possible to dissimulate with persons whom we love? The
‘Coterie Holbachique’, who found I never made a journey to Paris, began
seriously to be afraid I was happy and satisfied in the country, and
madman enough to reside there.

Hence the cabals by which attempts were made to recall me indirectly to
the city. Diderot, who did not immediately wish to show himself, began
by detaching from me De Leyre, whom I had brought acquainted with him,
and who received and transmitted to me the impressions Diderot chose to
give without suspecting to what end they were directed.

Everything seemed to concur in withdrawing me from my charming and mad
reverie. I was not recovered from the late attack I had when I received
the copy of the poem on the destruction of Lisbon, which I imagined to
be sent by the author. This made it necessary I should write to him
and speak of his composition. I did so, and my letter was a long
time afterwards printed without my consent, as I shall hereafter have
occasion to remark.

Struck by seeing this poor man overwhelmed, if I may so speak, with
prosperity and honor, bitterly exclaiming against the miseries of this
life, and finding everything to be wrong, I formed the mad project of
making him turn his attention to himself, and of proving to him that
everything was right. Voltaire, while he appeared to believe in God,
never really believed in anything but the devil; since his pretended
deity is a malicious being, who, according to him, had no pleasure
but in evil. The glaring absurdity of this doctrine is particularly
disgusting from a man enjoying the greatest prosperity; who, from the
bosom of happiness, endeavors, by the frightful and cruel image of all
the calamities from which he is exempt, to reduce his fellow creatures
to despair. I, who had a better right than he to calculate and weigh all
the evils of human life, impartially examined them, and proved to
him that of all possible evils there was not one to be attributed to
Providence, and which had not its source rather in the abusive use man
made of his faculties than in nature. I treated him, in this letter,
with the greatest respect and delicacy possible. Yet, knowing his
self-love to be extremely irritable, I did not send the letter
immediately to himself, but to Doctor Tronchin, his physician and
friend, with full power either to give it him or destroy it. Voltaire
informed me in a few lines that being ill, having likewise the care of a
sick person, he postponed his answer until some future day, and said not
a word on the subject. Tronchin, when he sent me the letter, inclosed in
it another, in which he expressed but very little esteem for the person
from whom he received it.

I have never published, nor even shown, either of these two letters, not
liking to make a parade of such little triumphs; but the originals are
in my collections. Since that time Voltaire has published the answer he
promised me, but which I never received. This is the novel of ‘Candide’,
of which I cannot speak because I have not read it.

All these interruptions ought to have cured me of my fantastic amours,
and they were perhaps the means offered me by Heaven to prevent their
destructive consequences; but my evil genius prevailed, and I had
scarcely begun to go out before my heart, my head, and my feet returned
to the same paths. I say the same in certain respects; for my ideas,
rather less exalted, remained this time upon earth, but yet were busied
in making so exquisite a choice of all that was to be found there
amiable of every kind, that it was not much less chimerical than the
imaginary world I had abandoned.

I figured to myself love and friendship, the two idols of my heart,
under the most ravishing images. I amused myself in adorning them with
all the charms of the sex I had always adored. I imagined two female
friends rather than two of my own sex, because, although the example
be more rare, it is also more amiable. I endowed them with different
characters, but analogous to their connection, with two faces, not
perfectly beautiful, but according to my taste, and animated with
benevolence and sensibility. I made one brown and the other fair, one
lively and the other languishing, one wise and the other weak, but of
so amiable a weakness that it seemed to add a charm to virtue. I gave
to one of the two a lover, of whom the other was the tender friend, and
even something more, but I did not admit either rivalry, quarrels, or
jealousy: because every painful sentiment is painful for me to imagine,
and I was unwilling to tarnish this delightful picture by anything which
was degrading to nature. Smitten with my two charming models, I drew my
own portrait in the lover and the friend, as much as it was possible to
do it; but I made him young and amiable, giving him, at the same time,
the virtues and the defects which I felt in myself.

That I might place my characters in a residence proper for them, I
successively passed in review the most beautiful places I had seen in my
travels. But I found no grove sufficiently delightful, no landscape that
pleased me. The valleys of Thessaly would have satisfied me had I but
once had a sight of them; but my imagination, fatigued with invention,
wished for some real place which might serve it as a point to rest upon,
and create in me an illusion with respect to the real existence of the
inhabitants I intended to place there. I thought a good while upon the
Borromean Islands, the delightful prospect of which had transported me,
but I found in them too much art and ornament for my lovers. I however
wanted a lake, and I concluded by making choice of that about which my
heart has never ceased to wander. I fixed myself upon that part of the
banks of this lake where my wishes have long since placed my residence
in the imaginary happiness to which fate has confined me. The native
place of my poor mamma had still for me a charm. The contrast of the
situations, the richness and variety of the sites, the magnificence, the
majesty of the whole, which ravishes the senses, affects the heart, and
elevates the mind, determined me to give it the preference, and I placed
my young pupils at Vervey. This is what I imagined at the first sketch;
the rest was not added until afterwards.

I for a long time confined myself to this vague plan, because it was
sufficient to fill my imagination with agreeable objects, and my heart
with sentiments in which it delighted. These fictions, by frequently
presenting themselves, at length gained a consistence, and took in my
mind a determined form. I then had an inclination to express upon
paper some of the situations fancy presented to me, and, recollecting
everything I had felt during my youth, thus, in some measure, gave an
object to that desire of loving, which I had never been able to satisfy,
and by which I felt myself consumed.

I first wrote a few incoherent letters, and when I afterwards wished to
give them connection, I frequently found a difficulty in doing it. What
is scarcely credible, although most strictly true, is my having written
the first two parts almost wholly in this manner, without having any
plan formed, and not foreseeing I should one day be tempted to make it
a regular work. For this reason the two parts afterwards formed of
materials not prepared for the place in which they are disposed, are
full of unmeaning expressions not found in the others.

In the midst of my reveries I had a visit from Madam d’Houdetot, the
first she had ever made me, but which unfortunately was not the last, as
will hereafter appear. The Comtesse d’Houdetot was the daughter of the
late M. de Bellegarde, a farmer-general, sister to M. d’Epinay, and
Messieurs de Lalive and De la Briche, both of whom have since been
introductors to ambassadors. I have spoken of the acquaintance I made
with her before she was married: since that event I had not seen
her, except at the fetes at La Chevrette, with Madam d’Epinay, her
sister-in-law. Having frequently passed several days with her, both
at La Chevrette and Epinay, I always thought her amiable, and that she
seemed to be my well-wisher. She was fond of walking with me; we were
both good walkers, and the conversation between us was inexhaustible.
However, I never went to see her in Paris, although she had several
times requested and solicited me to do it. Her connections with M.
de St. Lambert, with whom I began to be intimate, rendered her more
interesting to me, and it was to bring me some account of that friend
who was, I believe, then at Mahon, that she came to see me at the

This visit had something of the appearance of the beginning of a
romance. She lost her way. Her coachman, quitting the road, which
turned to the right, attempted to cross straight over from the mill
of Clairvaux to the Hermitage: her carriage stuck in a quagmire in the
bottom of the valley, and she got out and walked the rest of the road.
Her delicate shoes were soon worn through; she sunk into the dirt, her
servants had the greatest difficulty in extricating her, and she at
length arrived at the Hermitage in boots, making the place resound
with her laughter, in which I most heartily joined. She had to change
everything. Theresa provided her with what was necessary, and I
prevailed upon her to forget her dignity and partake of a rustic
collation, with which she seemed highly satisfied. It was late, and her
stay was short; but the interview was so mirthful that it pleased her,
and she seemed disposed to return. She did not however put this project
into execution until the next year: but, alas! the delay was not
favorable to me in anything.

I passed the autumn in an employment no person would suspect me of
undertaking: this was guarding the fruit of M. d’Epinay. The Hermitage
was the reservoir of the waters of the park of the Chevrette; there was
a garden walled round and planted with espaliers and other trees,
which produced M. d’Epinay more fruit than his kitchen-garden at the
Chevrette, although three-fourths of it were stolen from him. That I
might not be a guest entirely useless, I took upon myself the direction
of the garden and the inspection of the conduct of the gardener.
Everything went on well until the fruit season, but as this became ripe,
I observed that it disappeared without knowing in what manner it was
disposed of. The gardener assured me it was the dormice which eat it
all. I destroyed a great number of these animals, notwithstanding
which the fruit still diminished. I watched the gardener’s motions
so narrowly, that I found he was the great dormouse. He lodged at
Montmorency, whence he came in the night with his wife and children to
take away the fruit he had concealed in the daytime, and which he sold
in the market at Paris as publicly as if he had brought it from a garden
of his own. The wretch whom I loaded with kindness, whose children
were clothed by Theresa, and whose father, who was a beggar, I almost
supported, robbed us with as much ease as effrontery, not one of the
three being sufficiently vigilant to prevent him: and one night he
emptied my cellar.

Whilst he seemed to address himself to me only, I suffered everything,
but being desirous of giving an account of the fruit, I was obliged
to declare by whom a great part of it had been stolen. Madam d’Epinay
desired me to pay and discharge him, and look out for another; I did so.
As this rascal rambled about the Hermitage in the night, armed with a
thick club staff with an iron ferrule, and accompanied by other villains
like himself, to relieve the governesses from their fears, I made his
successor sleep in the house with us; and this not being sufficient
to remove their apprehensions, I sent to ask M. d’Epinay for a musket,
which I kept in the chamber of the gardener, with a charge not to make
use of it except an attempt was made to break open the door or scale
the walls of the garden, and to fire nothing but powder, meaning only
to frighten the thieves. This was certainly the least precaution a
man indisposed could take for the common safety of himself and family,
having to pass the winter in the midst of a wood, with two timid women.
I also procured a little dog to serve as a sentinel. De Leyre coming to
see me about this time, I related to him my situation, and we laughed
together at my military apparatus. At his return to Paris he wished
to amuse Diderot with the story, and by this means the ‘Coterie
d’Holbachique’ learned that I was seriously resolved to pass the winter
at the Hermitage. This perseverance, of which they had not imagined me
to be capable, disconcerted them, and, until they could think of some
other means of making my residence disagreeable to me, they sent back,
by means of Diderot, the same De Leyre, who, though at first he had
thought my precautions quite natural, now pretended to discover that
they were inconsistent with my principles, and styled them more than
ridiculous in his letters, in which he overwhelmed me with pleasantries
sufficiently bitter and satirical to offend me had I been the least
disposed to take offence. But at that time being full of tender and
affectionate sentiments, and not susceptible of any other, I perceived
in his biting sarcasms nothing more than a jest, and believed him only
jocose when others would have thought him mad.

By my care and vigilance I guarded the garden so well, that, although
there had been but little fruit that year the produce was triple that of
the preceding years; it is true, I spared no pains to preserve it, and I
went so far as to escort what I sent to the Chevrette and to Epinay,
and to carry baskets of it myself. The aunt and I carried one of these,
which was so heavy that we were obliged to rest at every dozen steps,
and which we arrived with it we were quite wet with perspiration.

As soon as the bad season began to confine me to the house, I wished
to return to my indolent amusements, but this I found impossible. I had
everywhere two charming female friends before my eyes, their friend,
everything by which they were surrounded, the country they inhabited,
and the objects created or embellished for them by my imagination. I
was no longer myself for a moment, my delirium never left me. After
many useless efforts to banish all fictions from my mind, they at length
seduced me, and my future endeavors were confined to giving them order
and coherence, for the purpose of converting them into a species of

What embarrassed me most was, that I had contradicted myself so openly
and fully. After the severe principles I had just so publicly asserted,
after the austere maxims I had so loudly preached, and my violent
invectives against books which breathed nothing but effeminacy and love,
could anything be less expected or more extraordinary, than to see me,
with my own hand, write my name in the list of authors of those books I
had so severely censured? I felt this incoherence in all its extent. I
reproached myself with it, I blushed at it and was vexed; but all this
could not bring me back to reason. Completely overcome, I was at all
risks obliged to submit, and to resolve to brave whatever the world
might say of it. Except only deliberating afterwards whether or not I
should show my work, for I did not yet suppose I should ever determine
to publish it.

This resolution taken, I entirely abandoned myself to my reveries, and,
by frequently resolving these in my mind, formed with them the kind
of plan of which the execution has been seen. This was certainly the
greatest advantage that could be drawn from my follies; the love of good
which has never once been effaced from my heart, turned them towards
useful objects, the moral of which might have produced its good effects.
My voluptuous descriptions would have lost all their graces, had they
been devoid of the coloring of innocence.

A weak girl is an object of pity, whom love may render interesting,
and who frequently is not therefore the less amiable; but who can see
without indignation the manners of the age; and what is more disgusting
than the pride of an unchaste wife, who, openly treading under foot
every duty, pretends that her husband ought to be grateful for her
unwillingness to suffer herself to be taken in the fact? Perfect beings
are not in nature, and their examples are not near enough to us. But
whoever says that the description of a young person born with good
dispositions, and a heart equally tender and virtuous, who suffers
herself, when a girl, to be overcome by love, and when a woman, has
resolution enough to conquer in her turn, is upon the whole scandalous
and useless, is a liar and a hypocrite; hearken not to him.

Besides this object of morality and conjugal chastity which is radically
connected with all social order, I had in view one more secret in behalf
of concord and public peace, a greater, and perhaps more important
object in itself, at least for the moment for which it was created. The
storm brought on by the ‘Encyclopedie’, far from being appeased, was at
the time at its height. Two parties exasperated against each other to
the last degree of fury soon resembled enraged wolves, set on for their
mutual destruction, rather than Christians and philosophers, who had
a reciprocal wish to enlighten and convince each other, and lead their
brethren to the way of truth. Perhaps nothing more was wanting to each
party than a few turbulent chiefs, who possessed a little power, to make
this quarrel terminate in a civil war; and God only knows what a civil
war of religion founded on each side upon the most cruel intolerance
would have produced. Naturally an enemy to all spirit of party, I had
freely spoken severe truths to each, of which they had not listened. I
thought of another expedient, which, in my simplicity, appeared to me
admirable: this was to abate their reciprocal hatred by destroying their
prejudices, and showing to each party the virtue and merit which in
the other was worthy of public esteem and respect. This project, little
remarkable for its wisdom, which supported sincerity in mankind, and
whereby I fell into the error with which I reproached the Abbe de
Saint Pierre, had the success that was to be expected from it: it
drew together and united the parties for no other purpose than that of
crushing the author. Until experience made me discover my folly, I
gave my attention to it with a zeal worthy of the motive by which I was
inspired; and I imagined the two characters of Wolmar and Julia in an
ecstasy, which made me hope to render them both amiable, and, what is
still more, by means of each other.

Satisfied with having made a rough sketch of my plan, I returned to the
situations in detail, which I had marked out; and from the arrangement
I gave them resulted the first two parts of the Eloisa, which I finished
during the winter with inexpressible pleasure, procuring gilt-paper to
receive a fair copy of them, azure and silver powder to dry the writing,
and blue narrow ribbon to tack my sheets together; in a word, I thought
nothing sufficiently elegant and delicate for my two charming girls, of
whom, like another Pygmalion, I became madly enamoured. Every evening,
by the fireside, I read the two parts to the governesses. The daughter,
without saying a word, was like myself moved to tenderness, and we
mingled our sighs; her mother, finding there were no compliments,
understood nothing of the matter, remained unmoved, and at the intervals
when I was silent always repeated: “Sir, that is very fine.”

Madam d’Epinay, uneasy at my being alone, in winter, in a solitary
house, in the midst of woods, often sent to inquire after my health. I
never had such real proofs of her friendship for me, to which mine never
more fully answered. It would be wrong in me were not I, among these
proofs, to make special mention of her portrait, which she sent me, at
the same time requesting instructions from me in what manner she
might have mine, painted by La Tour, and which had been shown at the
exhibition. I ought equally to speak of another proof of her attention
to me, which, although it be laughable, is a feature in the history of
my character, on account of the impression received from it. One day
when it froze to an extreme degree, in opening a packet she had sent me
of several things I had desired her to purchase for me, I found a little
under-petticoat of English flannel, which she told me she had worn, and
desired I would make of it an under-waistcoat.

This care, more than friendly, appeared to me so tender, and as if
she had stripped herself to clothe me, that in my emotion I repeatedly
kissed, shedding tears at the same time, both the note and the
petticoat. Theresa thought me mad. It is singular that of all the marks
of friendship Madam d’Epinay ever showed me this touched me the most,
and that ever since our rupture I have never recollected it without
being very sensibly affected. I for a long time preserved her little
note, and it would still have been in my possession had not it shared
the fate of my other notes received at the same period.

Although my disorder then gave me but little respite in winter, and a
part of the interval was employed in seeking relief from pain, this was
still upon the whole the season which since my residence in France I had
passed with most pleasure and tranquillity. During four or five
months, whilst the bad weather sheltered me from the interruptions of
importunate visits, I tasted to a greater degree than I had ever yet
or have since done, of that equal simple and independent life, the
enjoyment of which still made it more desirable to me; without any other
company than the two governesses in reality, and the two female cousins
in idea. It was then especially that I daily congratulated myself
upon the resolution I had had the good sense to take, unmindful of the
clamors of my friends, who were vexed at seeing me delivered from their
tyranny; and when I heard of the attempt of a madman, when De Leyre and
Madam d’Epinay spoke to me in letters of the trouble and agitation which
reigned in Paris, how thankful was I to Heaven for having placed me at a
distance from all such spectacles of horror and guilt. These would have
been continued and increased the bilious humor which the sight of public
disorders had given me; whilst seeing nothing around me in my retirement
but gay and pleasing objects, my heart was wholly abandoned to
sentiments which were amiable.

I remark here with pleasure the course of the last peaceful moments that
were left me. The spring succeeding to this winter, which had been so
calm, developed the germ of the misfortunes I have yet to describe; in
the tissue of which, a like interval, wherein I had leisure to respite,
will not be found.

I think however, I recollect, that during this interval of peace, and
in the bosom of my solitude, I was not quite undisturbed by the
Holbachiens. Diderot stirred me up some strife, and I am much
deceived if it was not in the course of this winter that the ‘Fils
Naturel’--[Natural Son]--of which I shall soon have occasion to speak,
made its appearance. Independently of the causes which left me but few
papers relative to that period, those even which I have been able to
preserve are not very exact with respect to dates. Diderot never dated
his letters--Madam d’Epinay and Madam d’ Houdetot seldom dated theirs
except the day of the week, and De Leyre mostly confined himself to the
same rules. When I was desirous of putting these letters in order I was
obliged to supply what was wanting by guessing at dates, so uncertain
that I cannot depend upon them. Unable therefore to fix with certainty
the beginning of these quarrels, I prefer relating in one subsequent
article everything I can recollect concerning them.

The return of spring had increased my amorous delirium, and in my
melancholy, occasioned by the excess of my transports, I had composed
for the last parts of Eloisa several letters, wherein evident marks of
the rapture in which I wrote them are found. Amongst others I may quote
those from the Elysium, and the excursion upon the lake, which, if my
memory does not deceive me, are at the end of the fourth part. Whoever,
in reading these letters, does not feel his heart soften and melt into
the tenderness by which they were dictated, ought to lay down the book:
nature has refused him the means of judging of sentiment.

Precisely at the same time I received a second unforeseen visit from
Madam d’Houdetot, in the absence of her husband, who was captain of the
Gendarmarie, and of her lover, who was also in the service. She had come
to Eaubonne, in the middle of the Valley of Montmorency, where she
had taken a pretty house, from thence she made a new excursion to the
Hermitage. She came on horseback, and dressed in men’s clothes. Although
I am not very fond of this kind of masquerade, I was struck with the
romantic appearance she made, and, for once, it was with love. As this
was the first and only time in all my life, the consequence of which
will forever render it terrible to my remembrance, I must take the
permission to enter into some particulars on the subject.

The Countess d’Houdetot was nearly thirty years of age, and not
handsome; her face was marked with the smallpox, her complexion coarse,
she was short-sighted, and her eyes were rather round; but she had fine
long black hair, which hung down in natural curls below her waist; her
figure was agreeable, and she was at once both awkward and graceful
in her motions; her wit was natural and pleasing; to this gayety,
heedlessness and ingenuousness were perfectly suited: she abounded in
charming sallies, after which she so little sought, that they sometimes
escaped her lips in spite of herself. She possessed several agreeable
talents, played the harpsichord, danced well, and wrote pleasing poetry.
Her character was angelic--this was founded upon a sweetness of mind,
and except prudence and fortitude, contained in it every virtue. She was
besides so much to be depended upon in all intercourse, so faithful in
society, even her enemies were not under the necessity of concealing
from her their secrets. I mean by her enemies the men, or rather the
women, by whom she was not beloved; for as to herself she had not a
heart capable of hatred, and I am of opinion this conformity with mine
greatly contributed towards inspiring me with a passion for her. In
confidence of the most intimate friendship, I never heard her speak ill
of persons who were absent, not even of her sister-in-law. She could
neither conceal her thoughts from anyone, nor disguise any of her
sentiments, and I am persuaded she spoke of her lover to her husband,
as she spoke of him to her friends and acquaintances, and to everybody
without distinction of persons. What proved, beyond all manner of
doubt, the purity and sincerity of her nature was, that subject to
very extraordinary absences of mind, and the most laughable
inconsiderateness, she was often guilty of some very imprudent ones
with respect to herself, but never in the least offensive to any person

She had been married very young and against her inclinations to the
Comte d’Houdetot, a man of fashion, and a good officer; but a man who
loved play and chicane, who was not very amiable, and whom she never
loved. She found in M. de Saint Lambert all the merit of her husband,
with more agreeable qualities of mind, joined with virtue and talents.
If anything in the manners of the age can be pardoned, i