The Confessions of J. J. Rousseau, entire
Jean Jacques Rousseau

Part 2 out of 13

benefit as it prevented her from passing the remainder of her life in the
monastic asylum she had chosen, which she had some thought of. The
simple and uniform life of a nun, and the little cabals and gossipings of
their parlor, were not adapted to a mind vigorous and active, which,
every day forming new systems, had occasions for liberty to attempt their

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


A man, on being questioned, is immediately on his guard
A religion preached by such missionaries must lead to paradise!
Aversion to singularity
Avoid putting our interests in competition with our duty
Catholic must content himself with the decisions of others
Disgusted with the idle trifling of a convent
Dissembler, though, in fact, I was only courteous
Ever appearing to feel as little for others as herself
Flattery, or rather condescension, is not always a vice
Hopes, in which self-love was by no means a loser
I did not fear punishment, but I dreaded shame
I felt no dread but that of being detected
I only wished to avoid giving offence
Instead of being delighted with the journey only wished arrival
Left to nature the whole care of my own instruction
Making me sensible of every deficiency
Myself the principal object
Obtain their wishes, without permitting or promising anything
Piety was too sincere to give way to any affectation of it
Placing unbounded confidence in myself and others
Proportioned rather to her ideas than abilities
Protestants, in general, are better instructed
Read the hearts of others by endeavoring to conceal our own
Remorse sleeps in the calm sunshine of prosperity
Remorse wakes amid the storms of adversity
Sometimes encourage hopes they never mean to realize
The conscience of the guilty would revenge the innocent
Where merit consists in belief, and not in virtue
Whole universe would be interested in my concerns
Yielded him the victory, or rather declined the contest

(In 12 books)

Privately Printed for the Members of the Aldus Society

London, 1903


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

I had returned from Italy, not absolutely as I went there, but as no one
of my age, perhaps, ever did before, being equally unacquainted with
women. My ardent constitution had found resources in those means by
which youth of my disposition sometimes preserve their purity at the
expense of health, vigor, and frequently of life itself. My local
situation should likewise be considered--living with a pretty woman,
cherishing her image in the bottom of my heart, seeing her during the
whole day, at night surrounded with objects that recalled her incessantly
to my remembrance, and sleeping in the bed where I knew she had slept.
What a situation! Who can read this without supposing me on the brink of
the grave? But quite the contrary; that which might have ruined me,
acted as a preservative, at least for a time. Intoxicated with the charm
of living with her, with the ardent desire of passing my life there,
absent or present I saw in her a tender mother, an amiable sister, a
respected friend, but nothing more; meantime, her image filled my heart,
and left room far no other object. The extreme tenderness with which she


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