The Confessions of J. J. Rousseau, Book 7
Jean Jacques Rousseau

This etext was produced by David Widger

[NOTE: There is a short list of bookmarks, or pointers, at the end of the
file for those who may wish to sample the author's ideas before making an
entire meal of them. D.W.]

(In 12 books)

Privately Printed for the Members of the Aldus Society

London, 1903


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 adversity.

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 from 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 engravers 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 Cordier, 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

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 project.

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 himself.

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 letters.

[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

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

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. Bollau 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 court.

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 satisfaction.

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 Masehera'. 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, inconsequence 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

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 eat. 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

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 defect.

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, "(I)must make an acquaintance with the most amiable of
them all," 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 eat 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 respect."

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 conidenza', 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 mean 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.--[I have not been able to find this word in any dictionary,
nor does any Frenchman of letters of my acquaintance know what it means.-
-T.]--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.

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 Bourbonois undertook the vocal part. Remeau,
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
Grenadian prince 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

"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 enjoyed.

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 wishes.

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 along 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 operahouse; 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 suceeeded. 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

During the residence of Altuna at Paris, instead of going to eat at a
'Traiteurs', he and I commonly eat 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,

[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.]

an officer in the mousquetaires kept the young people in a certain kind
of order. 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 Prancueil 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
laquais, 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 Philosophiquiest' 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',--
[Letter concerning blind persons.]--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.


I am charged with the care of myself only
I strove to flatter my idleness
Men of learning more tenaciously retain their predjudices


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