The Confessions of J. J. Rousseau — Volume 01
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The Confessions of J. J. Rousseau — Volume 01


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The Project Gutenberg EBook of The Confessions of J. J. Rousseau, Book I. by Jean Jacques RousseauThis eBook is for the use of anyone anywhere at no cost and with almost no restrictions whatsoever. You may copy it,give it away or re-use it under the terms of the Project Gutenberg License included with this eBook or online atwww.gutenberg.netTitle: The Confessions of J. J. Rousseau, Book I.Author: Jean Jacques RousseauRelease Date: December 6, 2004 [EBook #3901]Language: English*** START OF THIS PROJECT GUTENBERG EBOOK ROUSSEAU ***Produced by David WidgerTHE CONFESSIONS OF JEAN JACQUES ROUSSEAU(In 12 books)Privately Printed for the Members of the Aldus SocietyLondon, 1903BOOK I.CONTENTS: Introduction—S.W. Orson Book I.INTRODUCTION.Among the notable books of later times-we may say, without exaggeration, of all time—must be reckoned TheConfessions 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 byVoltaire, the Encyclopedists, and Rousseau himself—a struggle to which, after many fierce intestine quarrels andsanguinary wars throughout Europe and America, has succeeded the prevalence of those more tolerant and rationalprinciples by which the statesmen of our own day are actuated.On these matters, however, it is not our province to enlarge; nor is it necessary to furnish any detailed ...



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The Project Gutenberg EBook of The Confessionsof J. J. Rousseau, Book I. by Jean JacquesRousseauThis eBook is for the use of anyone anywhere atno cost and with almost no restrictions whatsoever.You may copy it, give it away or re-use it under theterms of the Project Gutenberg License includedwith this eBook or online at www.gutenberg.netTitle: The Confessions of J. J. Rousseau, Book I.Author: Jean Jacques RousseauRelease Date: December 6, 2004 [EBook #3901]Language: English*E*B* OSTOAK RRT OOUFS STEHIASU  P**R*OJECT GUTENBERGProduced by David WidgerTHE CONFESSIONS OF JEAN JACQUESROUSSEAU(In 12 books)
Privately Printed for the Members of the AldusSocietyLondon, 1903BOOK I.CONTENTS:     Introduction—S.W. Orson     Book I.INTRODUCTION.Among the notable books of later times-we maysay, without exaggeration, of all time—must bereckoned The Confessions of Jean JacquesRousseau. It deals with leading personages andtransactions of a momentous epoch, whenabsolutism and feudalism were rallying for their laststruggle against the modern spirit, chieflyrepresented by Voltaire, the Encyclopedists, andRousseau himself—a struggle to which, after manyfierce intestine quarrels and sanguinary warsthroughout Europe and America, has succeededthe prevalence of those more tolerant and rationalprinciples by which the statesmen of our own dayare actuated.On these matters, however, it is not our province
to enlarge; nor is it necessary to furnish anydetailed account of our author's political, religious,and philosophic axioms and systems, hisparadoxes and his errors in logic: these have beenso long and so exhaustively disputed over bycontending factions that little is left for even themost assiduous gleaner in the field. The inquirerwill find, in Mr. John Money's excellent work, theopinions of Rousseau reviewed succinctly andimpartially. The 'Contrat Social', the 'Lattres Ecritesde la Montagne', and other treatises that oncearoused fierce controversy, may therefore be left inthe repose to which they have long beenconsigned, so far as the mass of mankind isconcerned, though they must always form part ofthe library of the politician and the historian. Oneprefers to turn to the man Rousseau as he paintshimself in the remarkable work before us.That the task which he undertook in offering toshow himself—as Persius puts it—'Intus et in cute',to posterity, exceeded his powers, is a tritecriticism; like all human enterprises, his purposewas only imperfectly fulfilled; but this circumstancein no way lessens the attractive qualities of hisbook, not only for the student of history orpsychology, but for the intelligent man of the world.Its startling frankness gives it a peculiar interestwanting in most other autobiographies.Many censors have elected to sit in judgment onthe failings of this strangely constituted being, andsome have pronounced upon him very severesentences. Let it be said once for all that his faults
and mistakes were generally due to causes overwhich he had but little control, such as a defectiveeducation, a too acute sensitiveness, whichengendered suspicion of his fellows, irresolution,an overstrained sense of honour andindependence, and an obstinate refusal to takeadvice from those who really wished to befriendhim; nor should it be forgotten that he was afflictedduring the greater part of his life with an incurabledisease.Lord Byron had a soul near akin to Rousseau's,whose writings naturally made a deep impressionon the poet's mind, and probably had an influenceon his conduct and modes of thought: In somestanzas of 'Childe Harold' this sympathy isexpressed with truth and power; especially is theweakness of the Swiss philosopher's charactersummed up in the following admirable lines:         "Here the self-torturing sophist, wildRousseau,          The apostle of affliction, he who threw          Enchantment over passion, and from woe          Wrung overwhelming eloquence, first drew          The breath which made him wretched; yethe knew          How to make madness beautiful, and cast          O'er erring deeds and thoughts a heavenlyeuh          Of words, like sunbeams, dazzling as theypassed          The eyes, which o'er them shed tearsfeelingly and fast.
         "His life was one long war with self-sought,seof          Or friends by him self-banished; for his mind          Had grown Suspicion's sanctuary, andchose,          For its own cruel sacrifice, the kind,          'Gainst whom he raged with fury strangeand blind.          But he was frenzied,-wherefore, who may?wonk          Since cause might be which skill could nevernif;d          But he was frenzied by disease or woe          To that worst pitch of all, which wears areasoning show."One would rather, however, dwell on the brighterhues of the picture than on its shadows andblemishes; let us not, then, seek to "draw hisfrailties from their dread abode." His greatest faultwas his renunciation of a father's duty to hisoffspring; but this crime he expiated by a long andbitter repentance. We cannot, perhaps, veryreadily excuse the way in which he hasoccasionally treated the memory of his mistressand benefactress. That he loved Madame deWarens—his 'Mamma'—deeply and sincerely isundeniable, notwithstanding which he now and thendwells on her improvidence and her feminineindiscretions with an unnecessary and unbecominglack of delicacy that has an unpleasant effect onthe reader, almost seeming to justify the remark ofone 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 tothose amidst whom he lived, and will be equally soto the unprejudiced reader of the Confessions. Hehad a profound sense of justice and a real desirefor the improvement and advancement of the race.Owing to these excellences he was beloved to thelast even by persons whom he tried to repel,looking upon them as members of a band ofconspirators, bent upon destroying his domesticpeace and depriving him of the means ofsubsistence.Those of his writings that are most nearly allied intone and spirit to the 'Confessions' are the'Reveries d'un Promeneur Solitaire' and 'LaNouvelle Heloise'. His correspondence throwsmuch light on his life and character, as do alsoparts of 'Emile'. It is not easy in our day to realizethe effect wrought upon the public mind by theadvent of 'La Nouvelle Heloise'. Julie and Saint-Preux became names to conjure with; their ill-starred amours were everywhere sighed and weptover by the tender-hearted fair; indeed, incomposing this work, Rousseau may be said tohave done for Switzerland what the author of theWaverly Novels did for Scotland, turning itsmountains, lakes and islands, formerly regardedwith aversion, into a fairyland peopled withcreatures whose joys and sorrows appealedirresistibly to every breast. Shortly after itspublication began to flow that stream of touristsand travellers which tends to make Switzerland notonly more celebrated but more opulent every year.
It, is one of the few romances written in theepistolary form that do not oppress the reader witha sense of languor and unreality; for its creatorpoured into its pages a tide of passion unknown tohis frigid and stilted predecessors, and dared todepict Nature as she really is, not as she wasmisrepresented by the modish authors and artistsof the age. Some persons seem shy of owning anacquaintance with this work; indeed, it has beenmade the butt of ridicule by the disciples of adecadent school. Its faults and its beauties are onthe surface; Rousseau's own estimate is freelyexpressed at the beginning of the eleventh book ofthe Confessions and elsewhere. It might be wishedthat the preface had been differently conceivedand worded; for the assertion made therein thatthe book may prove dangerous has caused it to beinscribed on a sort of Index, and good folk whonever read a line of it blush at its name. Its"sensibility," too, is a little overdone, and hassupplied the wits with opportunities for satire; forexample, Canning, in his 'New Morality':              "Sweet Sensibility, who dwells enshrined               In the fine foldins of the feeling mind….               Sweet child of sickly Fancy!-her of yore               From her loved France Rousseau toexile bore;               And while 'midst lakes and mountainswild he ran,               Full of himself, and shunned the hauntsof man,               Taught her o'er each lone vale andAlpine, steep
               To lisp the story of his wrongs andweep."As might be imagined, Voltaire had slight sympathywith our social reformer's notions and ways ofpromulgating them, and accordingly took up hiswonted weapons—sarcasm and ridicule—againstpoor Jean-Jacques. The quarrels of these twogreat men cannot be described in this place; butthey constitute an important chapter in the literaryand social history of the time. In the work withwhich we are immediately concerned, the authorseems to avoid frequent mention of Voltaire, evenwhere we should most expect it. However, thestate of his mind when he penned this record of hislife should be always remembered in relation to thisas well as other occurrences.Rousseau had intended to bring his autobiographydown to a later date, but obvious causes preventedthis: hence it is believed that a summary of thechief events that marked his closing years will notbe out of place here.On quitting the Ile de Saint-Pierre he travelled toStrasbourg, where he was warmly received, andthence to Paris, arriving in that city on DecemberI6, 1765. The Prince de Conti provided him with alodging in the Hotel Saint-Simon, within theprecincts of the Temple—a place of sanctuary forthose under the ban of authority. 'Every one waseager to see the illustrious proscript, whocomplained of being made a daily show, "likeSancho Panza in his island of Barataria." During his
short stay in the capital there was circulated anironical letter purporting to come from the GreatFrederick, but really written by Horace Walpole.This cruel, clumsy, and ill-timed joke angeredRousseau, who ascribed it to, Voltaire. A fewsentences may be quoted:"My Dear Jean-Jacques,—You haverenounced Geneva, your native place. Youhave caused your expulsion fromSwitzerland, a country so extolled in yourwritings; France has issued a warrant againstyou: so do you come to me. My states offeryou a peaceful retreat. I wish you well, andwill treat you well, if you will let me. But, ifyou persist in refusing my help, do notreckon upon my telling any one that you didso. If you are bent on tormenting your spiritto find new misfortunes, choose whateveryou like best. I am a king, and can procurethem for you at your pleasure; and, what willcertainly never happen to you in respect ofyour enemies, I will cease to persecute youas soon as you cease to take a pride inbeing persecuted. Your good friend,"FREDERICK."Early in 1766 David Hume persuaded Rousseau togo with him to England, where the exile could find asecure shelter. In London his appearance excitedgeneral attention. Edmund Burke had an interviewwith him and held that inordinate vanity was theleading trait in his character. Mr. Davenport, to
whom he was introduced by Hume, generouslyoffered Rousseau a home at Wootton, inStaffordshire, near the, Peak Country; the latter,however, would only accept the offer on conditionthat he should pay a rent of L 30 a year. He wasaccorded a pension of L 100 by George III., butdeclined to draw after the first annual payment.The climate and scenery of Wootton being similarto those of his native country, he was at firstdelighted with his new abode, where he lived withTherese, and devoted his time to herborising andinditing the first six books of his Confessions.Soon, however, his old hallucinations acquiredstrength, and Rousseau convinced himself thatenemies were bent upon his capture, if not hisdeath. In June, 1766, he wrote a violent letter toHume, calling him "one of the worst of men."Literary Paris had combined with Hume and theEnglish Government to surround him—as hesupposed —with guards and spies; he revolved inhis troubled mind all the reports and rumours hehad heard for months and years; Walpole's forgedletter rankled in his bosom; and in the spring of1767 he fled; first to Spalding, in Lincolnshire, andsubsequently to Calais, where he landed in May.On his arrival in France his restless and wanderingdisposition forced him continually to change hisresidence, and acquired for him the title of"Voyageur Perpetuel." While at Trye, in Gisors, in1767—8, he wrote the second part of theConfessions. He had assumed the surname ofRenou, and about this time he declared before twowitnesses that Therese was his wife—a proceeding