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of scholastic discipline, had never otherwise acute mind of Rousseau. been taught to bridle his passion, Circumstances, or as he himself would to tame his enthusiasm, or square his call it, destiny, threw him, some years imagination agreeably to the dictates afterwards, when a youth of one or two of a healthy judgment. Of course, and twenty, for the second time, into the the first effect produced by such books hands of this lady. But, alas ! at this was a disgust for his mechanical occu- period his acquaintance was not without pation. We do not remember the dishonor. By degrees he secured for precise way in which this aversion himself an interest in her heart, which, showed itself, or whether Rousseau's however, in the headlong infatuatias father were living at the time; but of the moment, he was content to we distinctly recollect that the em- share with another. From this hour, bryo sophist ran away from his em- his mind received a warp; from this ployer, and pursued his course, un- hour, he learned to become sophistical, accompanied, except by a bounding in order to justify his own excesses, heart, and a slight-a very slight- and opinions insincere at first, acquirstock of money, over the heaths and ed by long habit, and by being perpetumountains of his native land. In one ally brooded over, an air of decided of these excursions, he chanced to truth. The daily romance of his light upon two young ladies whom he life--for Rousseau now lived wholly assisted over a running stream, and at with Madame de Warrens, unoccupiwhose house_o si ritè audita recor- ed, except in rambling about his subdamur"-he spent one or two delight- lime neighborhood, where he familiarful days. This incident, though tri- ized himself with the loftiest forins Aing and scarcely worth mention in it- of natural beauty, and fed and self, is important as it regards Rous- strengthened a strong but diseased mind seau. His ever-creative mind, fasci- -confirmed these opinions ; until, at nated by the courtesy of these fair length, all that was sound and sterling Unknowns, at once robed them in in thought gave place to art and sodrapery selected from the wardrobe of phistry. This meditative and impasa well-filled fancy; and, as the reali- sioned mode of life, which, while it ty of their appearance wore off, it laid strengthens the sensibility, wholly the foundation of that beautiful ideal- unfits it for society, was pursued by ism, which Madame de Warrens Rousseau for many years. Occasionstrengthened, Madame de Houdetot ally, indeed, he visited Paris, where confirmed, and which afterwards shone his exquisite relish for music, and the forth, to the admiration and regret of circumstance of his having composed thousands, in the unequalled character a successful opera, procured him adof Eloise.
mittance into the highest circles; but It was some time after this rencon- his mind could not adapt itself to the tre, that, fatigued with walking, hun- etiquette of a court,-his pride, too, gry, penniless, and dispirited—the forbade all approach to friendship, and past wretched, the future a blank he lived a hermiteren within the atmosthe young Rousseau knocked for cha- phere of Versailles. Before this, we rity at the gate of a good-natured should observe, he had, from some widow lady, named De Warrens, who cause or other, separated himself from at once, with all the generous inconsi- Madame de Warrens, and now lodged derateness of a woman, listened to his in the house of a Swiss family, with petition, gave him good advice, sup- one member of which, a girl named plied him with food and money, and Theresa, about nineteen years of sent him home. To this acquaintance age, he carried on a dishonorable in-thus strangely commenced-must be tercourse. As if this in itself were traced much, indeed the greater part, not sufficiently degrading, he rendered of those singular obliquities in judg- it still more so, by sending the poor ment and feeling which deformed the offsprings of his guilt to the Foundling
Hospital at Paris, upon some plausi proach. This evinced itself in the ble plea, which he had the insufferable most petty and humiliating manner. audacity to defend in conversation, If they ever invited him to the château, and also at considerable length it was, he said, to make a butt of him; in bis « Confessions." Meanwhile, if they respected his infirmities and to satisfy his notions of independence, his olitude, they treated him, he and secure what he called “ freedom would add, with contempt : either of thought and action,” he employed way, they were sure to be wrong, and himself in copying music, by which bimself the injured party. Such drudgery he contrived to earn a decent feelings—which, though carried to the subsistence up to the moment when he extreme in Rousseau, are by no was taken under the especial protec- means restricted to him-are the netion of the august family of Montmo- cessary results of an ill-balanced renci. Shortly after his introduction temperament. While youth lasts, to this family, at their express de- they are in some degree kept under by sire, conveyed to him in the most the generous buoyancy, and freedom flattering terms, Rousseau quitted from distrust, of that age; but as Paris, and went to reside with them at years roll on, and the simplicity of a small cottage, built for him near life becomes discolored with the taint their own mansion; where, partly to of the world, the counteracting power beguile leisure, partly to put forth his is lost, and the mind compelled to peculiar notions on all subjects where drift headlong at the mercy of a wild, the heart is concerned, he engaged in capricious, and jaundiced disposition. the composition of Eloise, which, Rousseau's invariable defect was the when published one or two years af- substitution of feeling for principle. terwards, turned the hearts and beads He had few speculative opinions indeof France, and rendered its author an pendently of sentiment: this with him object of universal attraction.
was everything ; it made him the It was about this period that the leading writer of his age, and it made fatal warp in judgment, of which we him a wretch. He seemed altogether have before spoken, put forth in to throw overboard the notion that Rousseau's mind all its most diseased man is as much a creature of reason and humiliating eccentricities. Nurs- as of sensibility; he objected to ed in solitude, be had formed notions Hume that he was dispassionate, and of friendship which reality was sure to Voltaire that he was a witas if to disappoint. He had expected to such peculiarities were not strictly meet in life with the, « faultless mon- within the province of nature, as sters” of fancy. Every fresh ac- much, and even more so, than his own quaintance was accordingly hailed at forced and heated fancy. But he first with the utmost enthusiasm, which, paid the penalty-and a dreadful penhowever, soon subsided; disgust en- alty it was of this infirm quality of sued, then suspicion, then alienation, mind. After hurrying from place to and, finally, invincible aversion. It place—from Geneva to the Hermiwas in this way that his connexion tage, from the Hermitage to the Bowith Diderot, D'Alembert, Voltaire, romean islands; after being driven Saint Lambert, Grimm (to whose from one country with contempt, and gossiping gemoirs we owe so much received in another with enthusiasm ; delightful scandal), and a hundred after wandering for years over Euothers, began : in this way, too, it ter- rope, and even venturing into the exminated. Even the noble family of treme recesses of Wales——this poor, the High Constable-to whom Rous- wretched misanthrope--alone, forlorn, seau was indebted for almost every deserted in his age, owning kindred comfort his hypochrondriacal temper- with none, rejecting pity with scorn, ament would permit him to enjoy- and repaying kindness with distrust; were not sec ure in his mind from re- a pensioner, yet professing indepen
dence; a slave, yet a braggart of his heads after the rain, revived the lanfreedom-returned once again to Pa- guid spirits of the invalid. For a ris, from which, after a brief, restless few minutes he remained absorbed in stay, he finally set out for one of the thought, in which state he was found adjacent provinces, there to close his by a neighbor who had accidentally eyes and die.
called in to pay him a visit. “ See,* The manner of his death has been said Rousseau, as he approached, variously related. Some say that he “how beautifully the sun is setting! committed suicide ; others, that he I know not why it is, but a presentiwas attacked with a fit of epilepsy; ment has just come over me, that I others, that he fell a victim to that am not doomed to survive it. Yet I unconquerable dejection which for should scarcely like to go before it years had been preying on and wither- has set, for it will be a satisfaction to ing the energies of his mind and body. me-strange, perhaps, as it may seem In this state of doubt we shall, as a to you—that we should both leave the matter of course, incline to the cha- world together." His friend (it is ritable side, and take as our guide a he himself that relates the story) was slight memoir penned a few days after struck by the singular melancholy of his decease, and widely circulated this remark, more especially as the throughout Paris. According to this philosopher's countenance bore but narrative, Rousseau had been ailing too evident an impress of its probable for some weeks ; but it was not until truth. Accordingly, he strove with within a day or two of his death that officious kindness to divert the stream he anticipated the slightest danger. of Rousseau's thoughts : he talked to His love of nature—and this, be it him of indifferent matters, hoping said to his honor, was an enthusiastic thereby that he would regain his passion that neither age nor infirmity cheerfulness, but was concerned to could quench-remained with him to find that every attempt was rain. the last. He rambled daily to a sum- Rousseau, at all times an egotist, was mer-house situated at the bottom of now solely occupied in the contemplahis garden, and there, seated with tion of himself and his approaching some favorite book in his hand, would change. His thoughts were immorasend his thoughts abroad into eternity, bly fixed on death: he felt, he reon whose threshold he was even then peatedly exclaimed, that he was fast unconsciously standing. A few declining; and, every now and then, friends who lived near him, and who, after closing his eyes for a minute or by respecting his infirmities, had, so, would languidly open them again, somehow or other, contrived to pre- as if for the purpose of remarking serve his good opinion, occasionally what progress the sun had made tocalled in to see him ; and to them only wards the west. He remained in was his approaching change apparent : this state of stupor for a considerable he himself was alternately sanguine time, when suddenly he shook it off, and desponding to the last. On the gazed about him with nearly all his morning of his dissolution, he had wonted animation, and after bursting risen sooner than usual, and after into a feeble rhapsody about his unpassing the earlier parts of the day in wearied love for nature, turned full pain, grew considerably better towards towards the sun, with the devotional evening, and requested to be wheeled aspect of a Parsee. By this time, out in a low garden-chair towards his the evening had far advanced, and his favorite summer-house. The day, friend endeavored to persuade him to until twelve o'clock had been clouded, return into the house. But no; his but it cleared up at noon, and the last moments, he was resolved, should freshness of the air, the hum of the be spent in the open air. And they insects, and the fragrant perfume of were so. Scarcely had the sun set, the flowers as they lifted up their when the eyes of Rousseau began al
so to close ; his breath grew thicker, self and fortunes to an atheist. By and was drawn at longer intervals ; he this person she has a large family'; but, strove to speak, but finding the effort though guiltless of infidelity towards vain, turned towards the friend at his him, her mind has received a taint: elbow, and pointed with his hand in she is, in fact, a speculative adultress, the direction of the red orb, which from whose impassioned soul the wife just at that moment dropped behind is unable to root out the mistress. the horizon. This was his last feeble Her very last letter-that affecting movement: an instant longer, and composition which it is scarcely posRousseau had ceased to live.
sible to read without tears—though We stop not to detail the particu- dated from a death-bed, breathes the lars of the sensation that his death spirit of guilty and incurable infatuaoccasioned throughout France; but, tion. To make matters worse, the contenting ourselves with this brief object of this infatuation returns, afand meagre, but impartial memoir, ter a long absence, from abroad; and, come at once to the consideration of notwithstanding that his presence his character as an author. And must be a perpetual memento of the here, if we could forget the insidious past, replete with danger, Madame de principles that every where pervade Wolmar (the married name of Eloise) his works, and lurk like thorns be- receives him with unfeigned ecstacy, neath the flowers of his intellect, our and not only insists on his taking up task would be one of unmixed praise. his abode exclusively with her, but But we cannot do so; a regard to the (grateful, no doubt, for the valuable decencies of life compels us to re- moral principles which he had instilled member that the writings of Rousseau into her own mind) is indiscreet-not teem with the most pestilential doc- to say mad-enough to propose him as trines, couched in language so beauti- a tutor to her children. As if her ful, so eloquent, that the fancy is flat- own invitation were not sufficient, her tered, while the judgment is wheedled husband is persuaded to add his enon to its destruction. The Eloise- treaties, even though that husband has that unequalled model of style and been previously made acquainted with grace-is full of a certain captivating the circumstance of Saint Preux's simplicity that seems the inspiration former intimacy with his wife. Now of an unsophisticated nature. But it all this, we roundly assert, is monsets out on wrong principles; it re- strous, and has no prototype in nature. quires the reader to grant that female When we say no prototype, we would modesty and virtue are consistent be understood to mean that it has newith immoral indulgences, that vice ver been, and never will be, found is only vice when detected, and that connected with that refined sensibi the heart is the best and most correct lity and exquisite sense of decorum moral guide through life. This last with which Rousseau bas invested is an extravagant Utopian doctrine, at these inconsistent creations of his fancy. variance with principle, at variance A wife anxious for her children's mowith all that has made society what it rals, proud of her husband, and pasis, and still contributes to preserve its sionately devoted to the pure and simdecorum. Yet it is the key to un- ple enjoyments of home, would never lock the mysteries of Eloise. The peril her own reputation, or that of heroine is there represented as a her family, by encouraging an atyoung lady full of superlative sensi- tachment framed in guilt, and at vability, without judgment, without riance with the most obvious duties. principle, though eternally boasting of If, however, she did encourage such both. Attached enthusiastically to attachment, she would not rest satisSaint Preux, the friend and instructer fied, as Eloise—and herein lies an adof her youth, she is yet compelled, by ditional violation of nature—is reprethe force of circumstances, to link her- sented to have been, with the mere theoretical enjoyments of guilt : she pitied, and monopolizes the tears due would at once reduce speculation to to her celestial adversary. Who, expractice. In like manner, a husband cept by the determined efforts of al described as being endowed with an strong mind, can bear for an instant to almost romantic sense of honor, and condemn Madame de Wolmar-the even with a sceptical turn of mind that beautiful-the sensitive--the confidhad its origin in principle, would ne- ing! Who can forget the highver, consistently with these qualities, wrought, impassioned youth, her exJook with indifference on the hazard- ceeding love of nature, of art, of all, ous condition of a wife who trod daily in short, that contributes to the grace, on a precipice enwreathed with flow- the ornament, and the simplicity of ers : he would either snatch her from existence ? Even up to the present the brink, or perish with her. But, moment, though years have elapsed, supposing he relied on her virtuous fasbions have changed, and literature self-possession for her safety, he has diverged into new channels, she is would then show himself utterly un- ever visibly before us. The rocks of acquainted with the human heart; so Meillerie breathe of her_Clarens is that, in either sense, whether viewed eloquent of her name-Veray whisas a man of the world, or a man of pers it through all her woods and the honor, (and Rousseau invests him evening breeze, as it sighs over the with both qualities in the extreme,) blue waters of Geneva, repeats the Monsieur de Wolmar must be set last parting that rent the souls of herdown as a picturesque but ludicrous self and her unforgotten lover. She anomaly.
has a distinct-a separate-an undiAs the characters of the Eloise are vided existence in our memories : for unnatural, so also are the sentiments the Eloise, be it observed, is not a —those, at least, which profess to book to be laid aside with childhood; adapt themselves to reality. They it grows with our growth, and strengthare couched, as we before observed, ens with our strength; we abjure its in sweet and honied language, yet in- principles, but, despite ourselves, we culcate the most pernicious morals. hug its sensibility to our hearts; and They bubble up with apparent even when we repudiate it as the true artlessness from a good and benevo- Liber Amoris, or Book of Love, it lent heart, yet are tainted all over with puts forth new claims to our admiramiasma. Vice is taught to lisp the tion by its exuberant fulness of ideas, sentiments of a generous wisdom : the its ingenious sophistry, and faultless language of the Cecropian Pallas is style. We own throughout its pages mouthed by the Cyprian Venus; the presence of a powerful and anaEloise prates of chastity, St. Preux lytical mind, that has studied-deeply of reason, and both, of the charms of studied the origin and progress of patriarchal innocence and simplicity. even its slightest emotions, and noted It was upon a principle pretty similar them down, fresh as they rose, one to this, and at least with equal since- after the other, from patient and acute rity, that the Gracchi complained of investigation, with all the overwhelmbedition. It has been the object with ing earnestness of sincerity. many undoubted moral authors, to The “Confessions," like the paint the fascinations of vice in the “ Eloise,” abounds in impassioned most alluring colors, in order to con- sentiment, but possesses in parts a trast it afterwards with the penalties vein of indignant sarcasm, of which it must pay perforce to virtue, and the other is devoid. It is the history thus to work out a more obvious and -and a mournful one it is of Rous. impressive homily. This is not the seau's own mind; of his progress case with Rousseau. Vice, through- from childhood to age, from first enout his Eloise, robed in the garb of thusiasm to final despair. It is full inodesty, is triumphant; she is even of detailed accounts of his connexion