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

Part 7 out of 13

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I thought I perceived in her a woman of great sensibility, simple in her
manners, and devoid of all coquetry:--I was no more deceived in her than
she in me. I began by declaring to her that I would never either abandon
or marry her. Love, esteem, artless sincerity were the ministers of my
triumph, and it was because her heart was tender and virtuous, that I was
happy without being presuming.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

O Mort! viens terminer les malheurs de ma vie.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

(In 12 books)

Privately Printed for the Members of the Aldus Society

London, 1903


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

While I was philosophizing upon the duties of man, an event happened
which made me better reflect upon my own. Theresa became pregnant for
the third time. Too sincere with myself, too haughty in my mind to
contradict my principles by my actions, I began to examine the
destination of my children, and my connections with the mother, according
to the laws of nature, justice, and reason, and those of that religion,
pure, holy, and eternal, like its author, which men have polluted while
they pretended to purify it, and which by their formularies they have
reduced to a religion of words, since the difficulty of prescribing
impossibilities is but trifling to those by whom they are not practised.

If I deceived myself in my conclusions, nothing can be more astonishing
than the security with which I depended upon them. Were I one of those
men unfortunately born deaf to the voice of nature, in whom no sentiment
of justice or humanity ever took the least root, this obduracy would be
natural. But that warmth of heart, strong sensibility, and facility of
forming attachments; the force with which they subdue me; my cruel
sufferings when obliged to break them; the innate benevolence I cherished
towards my fellow-creatures; the ardent love I bear to great virtues, to
truth and justice, the horror in which I hold evil of every kind; the
impossibility of hating, of injuring or wishing to injure anyone; the
soft and lively emotion I feel at the sight of whatever is virtuous,
generous and amiable; can these meet in the same mind with the depravity
which without scruple treads under foot the most pleasing of all our
duties? No, I feel, and openly declare this to be impossible. Never in
his whole life could J. J. be a man without sentiment or an unnatural
father. I may have been deceived, but it is impossible I should have
lost the least of my feelings. Were I to give my reasons, I should say
too much; since they have seduced me, they would seduce many others. I
will not therefore expose those young persons by whom I may be read to
the same danger. I will satisfy myself by observing that my error was
such, that in abandoning my children to public education for want of the
means of bringing them up myself; in destining them to become workmen and
peasants, rather than adventurers and fortune-hunters, I thought I acted
like an honest citizen, and a good father, and considered myself as a
member of the republic of Plato. Since that time the regrets of my heart
have more than once told me I was deceived; but my reason was so far from
giving me the same intimation, that I have frequently returned thanks to
Heaven for having by this means preserved them from the fate of their
father, and that by which they were threatened the moment I should have
been under the necessity of leaving them. Had I left them to Madam
d'Upinay, or Madam de Luxembourg, who, from friendship, generosity, or
some other motive, offered to take care of them in due time, would they
have been more happy, better brought up, or honester men? To this I
cannot answer; but I am certain they would have been taught to hate and
perhaps betray their parents: it is much better that they have never
known them.

My third child was therefore carried to the foundling hospital as well as
the two former, and the next two were disposed of in the same manner; for
I have had five children in all. This arrangement seemed to me to be so
good, reasonable and lawful, that if I did not publicly boast of it, the
motive by which I was withheld was merely my regard for their mother: but
I mentioned it to all those to whom I had declared our connection, to
Diderot, to Grimm, afterwards to M. d'Epinay, and after another interval
to Madam de Luxembourg; and this freely and voluntarily, without being
under the least necessity of doing it, having it in my power to conceal
the step from all the world; for La Gouin was an honest woman, very
discreet, and a person on whom I had the greatest reliance. The only one
of my friends to whom it was in some measure my interest to open myself,
was Thierry the physician, who had the care of my poor aunt in one of her
lyings in, in which she was very ill. In a word, there was no mystery in
my conduct, not only on account of my never having concealed anything
from my friends, but because I never found any harm in it. Everything
considered, I chose the best destination for my children, or that which I
thought to be such. I could have wished, and still should be glad, had I
been brought up as they have been.

Whilst I was thus communicating what I had done, Madam. le Vasseur did
the same thing amongst her acquaintance, but with less disinterested
views. I introduced her and her daughter to Madam Dupin, who, from
friendship to me, showed them the greatest kindness. The mother confided
to her the secret of the daughter. Madam Dupin, who is generous and
kind, and to whom she never told how attentive I was to her,
notwithstanding my moderate resources, in providing for everything,
provided on her part for what was necessary, with a liberality which, by
order of her mother, the daughter concealed from me during my residence
in Paris, nor ever mentioned it until we were at the Hermitage, when she
informed me of it, after having disclosed to me several other secrets of
her heart. I did not know Madam Dupin, who never took the least notice
to me of the matter, was so well informed: I know not yet whether Madam
de Chenonceaux, her daughter-in-law, was as much in the secret: but Madam
de Brancueil knew the whole and could not refrain from prattling. She
spoke of it to me the following year, after I had left her house. This
induced me to write her a letter upon the subject, which will be found in
my collections, and wherein I gave such of my reasons as I could make
public, without exposing Madam le Vasseur and her family; the most
determinative of them came from that quarter, and these I kept profoundly

I can rely upon the discretion of Madam Dupin, and the friendship of
Madam de Chenonceaux; I had the same dependence upon that of Madam de
Francuiel, who, however, was long dead before my secret made its way into
the world. This it could never have done except by means of the persons
to whom I intrusted it, nor did it until after my rupture with them. By
this single fact they are judged; without exculpating myself from the
blame I deserve, I prefer it to that resulting from their malignity. My
fault is great, but it was an error. I have neglected my duty, but the
desire of doing an injury never entered my heart; and the feelings of a
father were never more eloquent in favor of children whom he never saw.
But: betraying the confidence of friendship, violating the most sacred of
all engagements, publishing secrets confided to us, and wantonly
dishonoring the friend we have deceived, and who in detaching himself
from our society still respects us, are not faults, but baseness of mind,
and the last degree of heinousness.

I have promised my confession and not my justification; on which account
I shall stop here. It is my duty faithfully to relate the truth, that of
the reader to be just; more than this I never shall require of him.

The marriage of M. de Chenonceaux rendered his mother's house still more
agreeable to me, by the wit and merit of the new bride, a very amiable
young person, who seemed to distinguish me amongst the scribes of M.
Dupin. She was the only daughter of the Viscountess de Rochechouart, a
great friend of the Comte de Friese, and consequently of Grimm's who was
very attentive to her. However, it was I who introduced him to her
daughter; but their characters not suiting each other, this connection
was not of long duration; and Grimm, who from that time aimed at what was
solid, preferred the mother, a woman of the world, to the daughter who
wished for steady friends, such as were agreeable to her, without
troubling her head about the least intrigue, or making any interest
amongst the great. Madam Dupin no longer finding in Madam de Chenonceaux
all the docility she expected, made her house very disagreeable to her,
and Madam de Chenonceaux, having a great opinion of her own merit, and,
perhaps, of her birth, chose rather to give up the pleasures of society,
and remain almost alone in her apartment, than to submit to a yoke she
was not disposed to bear. This species of exile increased my attachment
to her, by that natural inclination which excites me to approach the
wretched, I found her mind metaphysical and reflective, although at times
a little sophistical; her conversation, which was by no means that of a
young woman coming from a convent, had for me the greatest attractions;
yet she was not twenty years of age. Her complexion was seducingly fair;
her figure would have been majestic had she held herself more upright.
Her hair, which was fair, bordering upon ash color, and uncommonly
beautiful, called to my recollection that of my poor mamma in the flower
of her age, and strongly agitated my heart. But the severe principles I
had just laid down for myself, by which at all events I was determined to
be guided, secured me from the danger of her and her charms. During the
whole summer I passed three or four hours a day in a tete-a-tete
conversation with her, teaching her arithmetic, and fatiguing her with my
innumerable ciphers, without uttering a single word of gallantry, or even
once glancing my eyes upon her. Five or six years later I should not
have had so much wisdom or folly; but it was decreed I was never to love
but once in my life, and that another person was to have the first and
last sighs of my heart.

Since I had lived in the house of Madam Dupin, I had always been
satisfied with my situation, without showing the least sign of a desire
to improve it. The addition which, in conjunction with M. de Francueil,
she had made to my salary, was entirely of their own accord. This year
M. de Francueil, whose friendship for me daily increased, had it in his
thoughts to place me more at ease, and in a less precarious situation.
He was receiver-general of finance. M. Dudoyer, his cash-keeper, was old
and rich, and wished to retire. M. de Francueil offered me his place,
and to prepare myself for it, I went during a few weeks, to Dudoyer, to
take the necessary instructions. But whether my talents were ill-suited
to the employment, or that M. Dudoyer, who I thought wished to procure
his place for another, was not in earnest in the instructions he gave me,
I acquired by slow degrees, and very imperfectly, the knowledge I was in
want of, and could never understand the nature of accounts, rendered
intricate, perhaps designedly. However, without having possessed myself
of the whole scope of the business, I learned enough of the method to
pursue it without the least difficulty; I even entered on my new office;
I kept the cashbook and the cash; I paid and received money, took and
gave receipts; and although this business was so ill suited to my
inclinations as to my abilities, maturity of years beginning to render me
sedate, I was determined to conquer my disgust, and entirely devote
myself to my new employment.

Unfortunately for me, I had no sooner begun to proceed without
difficulty, than M. de Francueil took a little journey, during which I
remained intrusted with the cash, which, at that time, did not amount to
more than twenty-five to thirty thousand livres. The anxiety of mind
this sum of money occasioned me, made me perceive I was very unfit to be
a cash-keeper, and I have no doubt but my uneasy situation, during his
absence, contributed to the illness with which I was seized after his

I have observed in my first part that I was born in a dying state. A
defect in the bladder caused me, during my early years, to suffer an
almost continual retention of urine, and my Aunt Susan, to whose care I
was intrusted, had inconceivable difficulty in preserving me. However,
she succeeded, and my robust constitution at length got the better of all
my weakness, and my health became so well established that except the
illness from languor, of which I have given an account, and frequent
heats in the bladder which the least heating of the blood rendered
troublesome, I arrived at the age of thirty almost without feeling my
original infirmity. The first time this happened was upon my arrival at
Venice. The fatigue of the voyage, and the extreme heat I had suffered,
renewed the burnings, and gave me a pain in the loins, which continued
until the beginning of winter. After having seen padoana, I thought
myself near the end of my career, but I suffered not the least
inconvenience. After exhausting my imagination more than my body for my
Zulietta, I enjoyed better health than ever. It was not until after the
imprisonment of Diderot that the heat of blood, brought on by my journeys
to Vincennes during the terrible heat of that summer, gave me a violent
nephritic colic, since which I have never recovered my primitive good
state of health.

At the time of which I speak, having perhaps fatigued myself too much in
the filthy work of the cursed receiver-general's office, I fell into a
worse state than ever, and remained five or six weeks in my bed in the
most melancholy state imaginable. Madam Dupin sent me the celebrated
Morand who, notwithstanding his address and the delicacy of his touch,
made me suffer the greatest torments. He advised me to have recourse to
Daran, who, in fact gave me some relief: but Morand, when he gave Madam
Dupin an account of the state I was in, declared to her I should not be
alive in six months. This afterwards came to my ear, and made me reflect
seriously on my situation and the folly of sacrificing the repose of the
few days I had to live to the slavery of an employment for which I felt
nothing but disgust. Besides, how was it possible to reconcile the
severe principles I had just adopted to a situation with which they had
so little relation? Should not I, the cash-keeper of a receiver-general
of finances, have preached poverty and disinterestedness with a very ill
grace? These ideas fermented so powerfully in my mind with the fever,
and were so strongly impressed, that from that time nothing could remove
them; and, during my convalescence, I confirmed myself with the greatest
coolness in the resolutions I had taken during my delirium. I forever
abandoned all projects of fortune and advancement, resolved to pass in
independence and poverty the little time I had to exist. I made every
effort of which my mind was capable to break the fetters of prejudice,
and courageously to do everything that was right without giving myself
the least concern about the judgment of others. The obstacles I had to
combat, and the efforts I made to triumph over them, are inconceivable.
I succeeded as much as it was possible I should, and to a greater degree
than I myself had hoped for. Had I at the same time shaken off the yoke
of friendship as well as that of prejudice, my design would have been
accomplished, perhaps the greatest, at least the most useful one to
virtue, that mortal ever conceived; but whilst I despised the foolish
judgments of the vulgar tribe called great and wise, I suffered myself to
be influenced and led by persons who called themselves my friends.
These, hurt at seeing me walk alone in a new path, while I seemed to take
measures for my happiness, used all their endeavors to render me
ridiculous, and that they might afterwards defame me, first strove to
make me contemptible. It was less my literary fame than my personal
reformation, of which I here state the period, that drew upon me their
jealousy; they perhaps might have pardoned me for having distinguished
myself in the art of writing; but they could never forgive my setting
them, by my conduct, an example, which, in their eyes, seemed to reflect
on themselves. I was born for friendship; my mind and easy disposition
nourished it without difficulty. As long as I lived unknown to the
public I was beloved by all my private acquaintance, and I had not a
single enemy. But the moment I acquired literary fame, I had no longer a
friend. This, was a great misfortune; but a still greater was that of
being surrounded by people who called themselves my friends, and used the
rights attached to that sacred name to lead me on to destruction. The
succeeding part of these memoirs will explain this odious conspiracy. I
here speak of its origin, and the manner of the first intrigue will
shortly appear.

In the independence in which I lived, it was, however, necessary to
subsist. To this effect I thought of very simple means: which were
copying music at so much a page. If any employment more solid would have
fulfilled the same end I would have taken it up; but this occupation
being to my taste, and the only one which, without personal attendance,
could procure me daily bread, I adopted it. Thinking I had no longer
need of foresight, and, stifling the vanity of cash-keeper to a
financier, I made myself a copyist of music. I thought I had made an
advantageous choice, and of this I so little repented, that I never
quitted my new profession until I was forced to do it, after taking a
fixed resolution to return to it as soon as possible.

The success of my first discourse rendered the execution of this
resolution more easy. As soon as it had gained the premium, Diderot
undertook to get it printed. Whilst I was in my bed, he wrote me a note
informing me of the publication and effect: "It takes," said he, "beyond
all imagination; never was there an instance of alike success."

This favor of the public, by no means solicited, and to an unknown
author, gave me the first real assurance of my talents, of which,
notwithstanding an internal sentiment, I had always had my doubts. I
conceived the great advantage to be drawn from it in favor of the way of
life I had determined to pursue; and was of opinion, that a copyist of
some celebrity in the republic of letters was not likely to want

The moment my resolution was confirmed, I wrote a note to M, de
Francueil, communicating to him my intentions, thanking him and Madam
Dupin for all goodness, and offering them my services in the way of my
new profession. Francueil did not understand my note, and, thinking I
was still in the delirium of fever, hastened to my apartment; but he
found me so determined, that all he could say to me was without the least
effect. He went to Madam Dupin, and told her and everybody he met, that
I had become insane. I let him say what he pleased, and pursued the plan
I had conceived. I began the change in my dress; I quitted laced clothes
and white stockings; I put on a round wig, laid aside my sword, and sold
my watch; saying to myself, with inexpressible pleasure: "Thank Heaven!
I shall no longer want to know the hour!" M. de Francueil had the
goodness to wait a considerable time before he disposed of my place. At
length perceiving me inflexibly resolved, he gave it to M. d'Alibard,
formerly tutor to the young Chenonceaux, and known as a botanist by his
Flora Parisiensis.

[I doubt not but these circumstances are now differently related by
M. Francueil and his consorts: but I appeal to what he said of them
at the time and long afterwards, to everybody he knew, until the
forming of the conspiracy, and of which men of common sense and
honor, must have preserved a remembrance.]

However austere my sumptuary reform might be, I did not at first extend
it to my linen, which was fine and in great quantity, the remainder of my
stock when at Venice, and to which I was particularly attached. I had
made it so much an object of cleanliness, that it became one of luxury,
which was rather expensive. Some persons, however, did me the favor to
deliver me from this servitude. On Christmas Eve, whilst the governesses
were at vespers, and I was at the spiritual concert, the door of a
garret, in which all our linen was hung up after being washed, was broken
open. Everything was stolen; and amongst other things, forty-two of my
shirts, of very fine linen, and which were the principal part of my
stock. By the manner in which the neighbors described a man whom they
had seen come out of the hotel with several parcels whilst we were all
absent, Theresa and myself suspected her brother, whom we knew to be a
worthless man. The mother strongly endeavored to remove this suspicion,
but so many circumstances concurred to prove it to be well founded, that,
notwithstanding all she could say, our opinions remained still the same:
I dared not make a strict search for fear of finding more than I wished
to do. The brother never returned to the place where I lived, and, at
length, was no more heard of by any of us. I was much grieved Theresa
and myself should be connected with such a family, and I exhorted her
more than ever to shake off so dangerous a yoke. This adventure cured me
of my inclination for fine linen, and since that time all I have had has
been very common, and more suitable to the rest of my dress.

Having thus completed the change of that which related to my person, all
my cares tendered to render it solid and lasting, by striving to root out
from my heart everything susceptible of receiving an impression from the
judgment of men, or which, from the fear of blame, might turn me aside
from anything good and reasonable in itself. In consequence of the
success of my work, my resolution made some noise in the world also,
and procured me employment; so that I began my new profession with great
appearance of success. However, several causes prevented me from
succeeding in it to the same degree I should under any other
circumstances have done. In the first place my ill state of health.
The attack I had just had, brought on consequences which prevented my
ever being so well as I was before; and I am of opinion, the physicians,
to whose care I intrusted myself, did me as much harm as my illness.
I was successively under the hands of Morand, Daran, Helvetius, Malouin,
and Thyerri: men able in their profession, and all of them my friends,
who treated me each according to his own manner, without giving me the
least relief, and weakened me considerably. The more I submitted to
their direction, the yellower, thinner, and weaker I became. My
imagination, which they terrified, judging of my situation by the effect
of their drugs, presented to me, on this side of the tomb, nothing but
continued sufferings from the gravel, stone, and retention of urine.
Everything which gave relief to others, ptisans, baths, and bleeding,
increased my tortures. Perceiving the bougees of Daran, the only ones
that had any favorable effect, and without which I thought I could no
longer exist, to give me a momentary relief, I procured a prodigious
number of them, that, in case of Daran's death, I might never be at a
loss. During the eight or ten years in which I made such frequent use of
these, they must, with what I had left, have cost me fifty louis.

It will easily be judged, that such expensive and painful means did not
permit me to work without interruption; and that a dying man is not
ardently industrious in the business by which he gains his daily bread.

Literary occupations caused another interruption not less prejudicial to
my daily employment. My discourse had no sooner appeared than the
defenders of letters fell upon me as if they had agreed with each to do
it. My indignation was so raised at seeing so many blockheads, who did
not understand the question, attempt to decide upon it imperiously, that
in my answer I gave some of them the worst of it. One M. Gautier, of
Nancy, the first who fell under the lash of my pen, was very roughly
treated in a letter to M. Grimm. The second was King Stanislaus,
himself, who did not disdain to enter the lists with me. The honor he
did me, obliged me to change my manner in combating his opinions; I made
use of a graver style, but not less nervous; and without failing in
respect to the author, I completely refuted his work. I knew a Jesuit,
Father de Menou, had been concerned in it. I depended on my judgment to
distinguish what was written by the prince, from the production of the
monk, and falling without mercy upon all the jesuitical phrases, I
remarked, as I went along, an anachronism which I thought could come from
nobody but the priest. This composition, which, for what reason I knew
not, has been less spoken of than any of my other writings, is the only
one of its kind. I seized the opportunity which offered of showing to
the public in what manner an individual may defend the cause of truth
even against a sovereign. It is difficult to adopt a more dignified and
respectful manner than that in which I answered him. I had the happiness
to have to do with an adversary to whom, without adulation, I could show
every mark of the esteem of which my heart was full; and this I did with
success and a proper dignity. My friends, concerned for my safety,
imagined they already saw me in the Bastile. This apprehension never
once entered my head, and I was right in not being afraid. The good
prince, after reading my answer, said: "I have enough of at; I will not
return to the charge." I have, since that time received from him
different marks of esteem and benevolence, some of which I shall have
occasion to speak of; and what I had written was read in France, and
throughout Europe, without meeting the least censure.

In a little time I had another adversary whom I had not expected; this
was the same M. Bordes, of Lyons, who ten years before had shown me much
friendship, and from whom I had received several services. I had not
forgotten him, but had neglected him from idleness, and had not sent him
my writings for want of an opportunity, without seeking for it, to get
them conveyed to his hands. I was therefore in the wrong, and he
attacked me; this, however, he did politely, and I answered in the same
manner. He replied more decidedly. This produced my last answer; after
which I heard no more from him upon the subject; but he became my most
violent enemy, took the advantage of the time of my misfortunes, to
publish against me the most indecent libels, and made a journey to London
on purpose to do me an injury.

All this controversy employed me a good deal, and caused me a great loss
of my time in my copying, without much contributing to the progress of
truth, or the good of my purse. Pissot, at that time my bookseller, gave
me but little for my pamphlets, frequently nothing at all, and I never
received a farthing for my first discourse. Diderot gave it him. I was
obliged to wait a long time for the little he gave me, and to take it
from him in the most trifling sums. Notwithstanding this, my copying
went on but slowly. I had two things together upon my hands, which was
the most likely means of doing them both ill.

They were very opposite to each other in their effects by the different
manners of living to which they rendered me subject. The success of my
first writings had given me celebrity. My new situation excited
curiosity. Everybody wished to know that whimsical man who sought not
the acquaintance of any one, and whose only desire was to live free and
happy in the manner he had chosen; this was sufficient to make the thing
impossible to me. My apartment was continually full of people, who,
under different pretences, came to take up my time. The women employed a
thousand artifices to engage me to dinner. The more unpolite I was with
people, the more obstinate they became. I could not refuse everybody.
While I made myself a thousand enemies by my refusals, I was incessantly
a slave to my complaisance, and, in whatever manner I made my
engagements, I had not an hour in a day to myself.

I then perceived it was not so easy to be poor and independent, as I had
imagined. I wished to live by my profession: the public would not suffer
me to do it. A thousand means were thought of to indemnify me for the
time I lost. The next thing would have been showing myself like Punch,
at so much each person. I knew no dependence more cruel and degrading
than this. I saw no other method of putting an end to it than refusing
all kinds of presents, great and small, let them come from whom they
would. This had no other effect than to increase the number of givers,
who wished to have the honor of overcoming my resistance, and to force
me, in spite of myself, to be under an obligation to them.

Many, who would not have given me half-a-crown had I asked it from them,
incessantly importuned me with their offers, and, in revenge for my
refusal, taxed me with arrogance and ostentation.

It will naturally be conceived that the resolutions I had taken, and the
system I wished to follow, were not agreeable to Madam le Vasseur. All
the disinterestedness of the daughter did not prevent her from following
the directions of her mother; and the governesses, as Gauffecourt called
them, were not always so steady in their refusals as I was. Although
many things were concealed from me, I perceived so many as were necessary
to enable me to judge that I did not see all, and this tormented me less
by the accusation of connivance, which it was so easy for me to foresee,
than by the cruel idea of never being master in my own apartments, nor
even of my own person. I prayed, conjured, and became angry, all to no
purpose; the mother made me pass for an eternal grumbler, and a man who
was peevish and ungovernable. She held perpetual whisperings with my
friends; everything in my little family was mysterious and a secret to
me; and, that I might not incessantly expose myself to noisy quarrelling,
I no longer dared to take notice of what passed in it. A firmness of
which I was not capable, would have been necessary to withdraw me from
this domestic strife. I knew how to complain, but not how to act: they
suffered me to say what I pleased, and continued to act as they thought

This constant teasing, and the daily importunities to which I was
subject, rendered the house, and my residence at Paris, disagreeable to
me. When my indisposition permitted me to go out, and I did not suffer
myself to be led by my acquaintance first to one place and then to
another, I took a walk, alone, and reflected on my grand system,
something of which I committed to paper, bound up between two covers,
which, with a pencil, I always had in my pocket. In this manner, the
unforeseen disagreeableness of a situation I had chosen entirely led me
back to literature, to which unsuspectedly I had recourse as a means of
releaving my mind, and thus, in the first works I wrote, I introduced the
peevishness and ill-humor which were the cause of my undertaking them.
There was another circumstance which contributed not a little to this;
thrown into the world despite of myself, without having the manners of
it, or being in a situation to adopt and conform myself to them, I took
it into my head to adopt others of my own, to enable me to dispense with
those of society. My foolish timidity, which I could not conquer, having
for principle the fear of being wanting in the common forms, I took, by
way of encouraging myself, a resolution to tread them under foot. I
became sour and cynic from shame, and affected to despise the politeness
which I knew not how to practice. This austerity, conformable to my new
principles, I must confess, seemed to ennoble itself in my mind; it
assumed in my eyes the form of the intrepidity of virtue, and I dare
assert it to be upon this noble basis, that it supported itself longer
and better than could have been expected from anything so contrary to my
nature. Yet, not withstanding, I had the name of a misanthrope, which my
exterior appearance and some happy expressions had given me in the world:
it is certain I did not support the character well in private, that my
friends and acquaintance led this untractable bear about like a lamb, and
that, confining my sarcasms to severe but general truths, I was never
capable of saying an uncivil thing to any person whatsoever.

The 'Devin du Village' brought me completely into vogue, and presently
after there was not a man in Paris whose company was more sought after
than mine. The history of this piece, which is a kind of era in my life,
is joined with that of the connections I had at that time. I must enter
a little into particulars to make what is to follow the better

I had a numerous acquaintance, yet no more than two friends: Diderot and
Grimm. By an effect of the desire I have ever felt to unite everything
that is dear to me, I was too much a friend to both not to make them
shortly become so to each other. I connected them: they agreed well
together, and shortly become more intimate with each other than with me.
Diderot had a numerous acquaintance, but Grimm, a stranger and a new-
comer, had his to procure, and with the greatest pleasure I procured him
all I could. I had already given him Diderot. I afterwards brought him
acquainted with Gauffecourt. I introduced him to Madam Chenonceaux,
Madam D'Epinay, and the Baron d'Holbach; with whom I had become connected
almost in spite of myself. All my friends became his: this was natural:
but not one of his ever became mine; which was inclining to the contrary.
Whilst he yet lodged at the house of the Comte de Friese, he frequently
gave us dinners in his apartment, but I never received the least mark of
friendship from the Comte de Friese, Comte de Schomberg, his relation,
very familiar with Grimm, nor from any other person, man or woman, with
whom Grimm, by their means, had any connection. I except the Abbe
Raynal, who, although his friend, gave proofs of his being mine; and in
cases of need, offered me his purse with a generosity not very common.
But I knew the Abbe Raynal long before Grimm had any acquaintance with
him, and had entertained a great regard for him on account of his
delicate and honorable behavior to me upon a slight occasion, which I
shall never forget.

The Abbe Raynal is certainly a warm friend; of this I saw a proof, much
about the time of which I speak, with respect to Grimm himself, with whom
he was very intimate. Grimm, after having been sometime on a footing of
friendship with Mademoiselle Fel, fell violently in love with her, and
wished to supplant Cahusac. The young lady, piquing herself on her
constancy, refused her new admirer. He took this so much to heart, that
the appearance of his affliction became tragical. He suddenly fell into
the strangest state imaginable. He passed days and nights in a continued
lethargy. He lay with his eyes open; and although his pulse continued to
beat regularly, without speaking eating, or stirring, yet sometimes
seeming to hear what was said to him, but never answering, not even by a
sign, and remaining almost as immovable as if he had been dead, yet
without agitation, pain, or fever. The Abbe Raynal and myself watched
over him; the abbe, more robust, and in better health than I was, by
night, and I by day, without ever both being absent at one time. The
Comte de Friese was alarmed, and brought to him Senac, who, after having
examined the state in which he was, said there was nothing to apprehend,
and took his leave without giving a prescription. My fears for my friend
made me carefully observe the countenance of the physician, and I
perceived him smile as he went away. However, the patient remained
several days almost motionless, without taking anything except a few
preserved cherries, which from time to time I put upon his tongue, and
which he swallowed without difficulty. At length he, one morning, rose,
dressed himself, and returned to his usual way of life, without either at
that time or afterwards speaking to me or the Abbe Raynal, at least that
I know of, or to any other person, of this singular lethargy, or the care
we had taken of him during the time it lasted.

The affair made a noise, and it would really have been a wonderful
circumstance had the cruelty of an opera girl made a man die of despair.
This strong passion brought Grimm into vogue; he was soon considered as a
prodigy in love, friendship, and attachments of every kind. Such an
opinion made his company sought after, and procured him a good reception
in the first circles; by which means he separated from me, with whom he
was never inclined to associate when he could do it with anybody else.
I perceived him to be on the point of breaking with me entirely; for the
lively and ardent sentiments, of which he made a parade, were those which
with less noise and pretensions, I had really conceived for him. I was
glad he succeeded in the world; but I did not wish him to do this by
forgetting his friend. I one day said to him: "Grimm, you neglect me,
and I forgive you for it. When the first intoxication of your success is
over, and you begin to perceive a void in your enjoyments, I hope you
will return to your friend, whom you will always find in the same
sentiments; at present do not constrain yourself, I leave you at liberty
to act as you please, and wait your leisure." He said I was right, made
his arrangements in consequence, and shook off all restraint, so that I
saw no more of him except in company with our common friends.

Our chief rendezvous, before he was connected with Madam d'Epinay as he
afterwards became, was at the house of Baron d'Holbach. This said baron
was the son of a man who had raised himself from obscurity. His fortune
was considerable, and he used it nobly, receiving at his house men of
letters and merit: and, by the knowledge he himself had acquired, was
very worthy of holding a place amongst them. Having been long attached
to Diderot, he endeavored to become acquainted with me by his means, even
before my name was known to the world. A natural repugnancy prevented me
a long time from answering his advances. One day, when he asked me the
reason of my unwillingness, I told him he was too rich. He was, however,
resolved to carry his point, and at length succeeded. My greatest
misfortune proceeded from my being unable to resist the force of marked
attention. I have ever had reason to repent of having yielded to it.

Another acquaintance which, as soon as I had any pretensions to it, was
converted into friendship, was that of M. Duclos. I had several years
before seen him, for the first time, at the Chevrette, at the house of
Madam d'Epinay, with whom he was upon very good terms. On that day we
only dined together, and he returned to town in the afternoon. But we
had a conversation of a few moments after dinner. Madam d'Epinay had
mentioned me to him, and my opera of the 'Muses Gallantes'. Duclos,
endowed with too great talents not to be a friend to those in whom the
like were found, was prepossessed in my favor, and invited me to go and
see him. Notwithstanding my former wish, increased by an acquaintance, I
was withheld by my timidity and indolence, as long as I had no other
passport to him than his complaisance. But encouraged by my first
success, and by his eulogiums, which reached my ears, I went to see him;
he returned my visit, and thus began the connection between us, which
will ever render him dear to me. By him, as well as from the testimony
of my own heart, I learned that uprightness and probity may sometimes be
connected with the cultivation of letters.

Many other connections less solid, and which I shall not here
particularize, were the effects of my first success, and lasted until
curiosity was satisfied. I was a man so easily known, that on the next
day nothing new was to be discovered in me. However, a woman, who at
that time was desirous of my acquaintance, became much more solidly
attached to me than any of those whose curiosity I had excited: this was
the Marchioness of Crequi, niece to M. le Bailli de Froulay, ambassador
from Malta, whose brother had preceded M. de Montaigu in the embassy to
Venice, and whom I had gone to see on my return from that city. Madam de
Crequi wrote to me: I visited her: she received me into her friendship.
I sometimes dined with her. I met at her table several men of letters,
amongst others M. Saurin, the author of Spartacus, Barnevelt, etc., since
become my implacable enemy; for no other reason, at least that I can
imagine, than my bearing the name of a man whom his father has cruelly

It will appear that for a copyist, who ought to be employed in his
business from morning till night, I had many interruptions, which
rendered my days not very lucrative, and prevented me from being
sufficiently attentive to what I did to do it well; for which reason,
half the time I had to myself was lost in erasing errors or beginning my
sheet anew. This daily importunity rendered Paris more unsupportable,
and made me ardently wish to be in the country. I several times went to
pass a few days at Mercoussis, the vicar of which was known to Madam le
Vasseur, and with whom we all arranged ourselves in such a manner as not
to make things disagreeable to him. Grimm once went thither with us.

[Since I have neglected to relate here a trifling, but memorable
adventure I had with the said Grimm one day, on which we were to
dine at the fountain of St. Vandrille, I will let it pass: but when
I thought of it afterwards, I concluded that he was brooding in his
heart the conspiracy he has, with so much success, since carried
into execution.]

The vicar had a tolerable voice, sung well, and, although he did not read
music, learned his part with great facility and precision. We passed our
time in singing the trios I had composed at Chenonceaux. To these I
added two or three new ones, to the words Grimm and the vicar wrote, well
or ill. I cannot refrain from regretting these trios composed and sung
in moments of pure joy, and which I left at Wootton, with all my music.
Mademoiselle Davenport has perhaps curled her hair with them; but they
are worthy of being preserved, and are, for the most part, of very good
counterpoint. It was after one of these little excursions in which I had
the pleasure of seeing the aunt at her ease and very cheerful, and in
which my spirits were much enlivened, that I wrote to the vicar very
rapidly and very ill, an epistle in verse which will be found amongst my

I had nearer to Paris another station much to my liking with M. Mussard,
my countryman, relation and friend, who at Passy had made himself a
charming retreat, where I have passed some very peaceful moments.
M. Mussard was a jeweller, a man of good sense, who, after having
acquired a genteel fortune, had given his only daughter in marriage to
M. de Valmalette, the son of an exchange broker, and maitre d'hotel to
the king, took the wise resolution to quit business in his declining
years, and to place an interval of repose and enjoyment between the hurry
and the end of life. The good man Mussard, a real philosopher in
practice, lived without care, in a very pleasant house which he himself
had built in a very pretty garden, laid out with his own hands. In
digging the terraces of this garden he found fossil shells, and in such
great quantities that his lively imagination saw nothing but shells in
nature. He really thought the universe was composed of shells and the
remains of shells, and that the whole earth was only the sand of these in
different stratae. His attention thus constantly engaged with his
singular discoveries, his imagination became so heated with the ideas
they gave him, that, in his head, they would soon have been converted
into a system, that is into folly, if, happily for his reason, but
unfortunately for his friends, to whom he was dear, and to whom his house
was an agreeable asylum, a most cruel and extraordinary disease had not
put an end to his existence. A constantly increasing tumor in his
stomach prevented him from eating, long before the cause of it was
discovered, and, after several years of suffering, absolutely occasioned
him to die of hunger. I can never, without the greatest affliction of
mind, call to my recollection the last moments of this worthy man, who
still received with so much pleasure, Leneips and myself, the only
friends whom the sight of his sufferings did not separate from him until
his last hour, when he was reduced to devouring with his eyes the repasts
he had placed before us, scarcely having the power of swallowing a few
drops of weak tea, which came up again a moment afterwards. But before
these days of sorrow, how many have I passed at his house, with the
chosen friends he had made himself! At the head of the list I place the
Abbe Prevot, a very amiable man, and very sincere, whose heart vivified
his writings, worthy of immortality, and who, neither in his disposition
nor in society, had the least of the melancholy coloring he gave to his
works. Procope, the physician, a little Esop, a favorite with the
ladies; Boulanger, the celebrated posthumous author of 'Despotisme
Oriental', and who, I am of opinion extended the systems of Mussard on
the duration of the world. The female part of his friends consisted of
Madam Denis, niece to Voltaire, who, at that time, was nothing more than
a good kind of woman, and pretended not to wit: Madam Vanloo, certainly
not handsome, but charming, and who sang like an angel: Madam de
Valmalette, herself, who sang also, and who, although very thin, would
have been very amiable had she had fewer pretensions. Such, or very
nearly such, was the society of M. Mussard, with which I should had been
much pleased, had not his conchyliomania more engaged my attention; and I
can say, with great truth, that, for upwards of six months, I worked with
him in his cabinet with as much pleasure as he felt himself.

He had long insisted upon the virtue of the waters of Passy, that they
were proper in my case, and recommended me to come to his house to drink
them. To withdraw myself from the tumult of the city, I at length
consented, and went to pass eight or ten days at Passy, which, on account
of my being in the country, were of more service to me than the waters I
drank during my stay there. Mussard played the violincello, and was
passionately found of Italian music. This was the subject of a long
conversation we had one evening after supper, particularly the 'opera-
buffe' we had both seen in Italy, and with which we were highly
delighted. My sleep having forsaken me in the night, I considered in
what manner it would be possible to give in France an idea of this kind
of drama. The 'Amours de Ragonde' did not in the least resemble it.
In the morning, whilst I took my walk and drank the waters, I hastily
threw together a few couplets to which I adapted such airs as occurred to
me at the moments. I scribbled over what I had composed, in a kind of
vaulted saloon at the end of the garden, and at tea. I could not refrain
from showing the airs to Mussard and to Mademoiselle du Vernois, his
'gouvernante', who was a very good and amiable girl. Three pieces of
composition I had sketched out were the first monologue: 'J'ai perdu mon
serviteur;'--the air of the Devin; 'L'amour croit s'il s'inquiete;' and
the last duo: 'A jamais, Colin, je t'engage, etc.' I was so far from
thinking it worth while to continue what I had begun, that, had it not
been for the applause and encouragement I received from both Mussard and
Mademoiselle, I should have throw n my papers into the fire and thought
no more of their contents, as I had frequently done by things of much the
same merit; but I was so animated by the encomiums I received, that in
six days, my drama, excepting a few couplets, was written. The music
also was so far sketched out, that all I had further to do to it after my
return from Paris, was to compose a little of the recitative, and to add
the middle parts, the whole of which I finished with so much rapidity,
that in three weeks my work was ready for representation. The only thing
now wanting, was the divertissement, which was not composed until a long
time afterwards.

My imagination was so warmed by the composition of this work that I had
the strongest desire to hear it performed, and would have given anything
to have seen and heard the whole in the manner I should have chosen,
which would have been that of Lully, who is said to have had 'Armide'
performed for himself only. As it was not possible I should hear the
performance unaccompanied by the public, I could not see the effect of my
piece without getting it received at the opera. Unfortunately it was
quite a new species of composition, to which the ears of the public were
not accustomed; and besides the ill success of the 'Muses Gallantes' gave
too much reason to fear for the Devin, if I presented it in my own name.
Duclos relieved me from this difficulty, and engaged to get the piece
rehearsed without mentioning the author. That I might not discover
myself, I did not go to the rehearsal, and the 'Petits violons',

[Rebel and Frauneur, who, when they were very young, went together
from house to house playing on the violin, were so called.]

by whom it was directed, knew not who the author was until after a
general plaudit had borne the testimony of the work. Everybody present
was so delighted with it, that, on the next day, nothing else was spoken
of in the different companies. M. de Cury, Intendant des Menus, who was
present at the rehearsal, demanded the piece to have it performed at
court. Duclos, who knew my intentions, and thought I should be less
master of my work at the court than at Paris, refused to give it. Cury
claimed it authoratively. Duclos persisted in his refusal, and the
dispute between them was carried to such a length, that one day they
would have gone out from the opera-house together had they not been
separated. M. de Cury applied to me, and I referred him to Duclos. This
made it necessary to return to the latter. The Duke d'Aumont interfered;
and at length Duclos thought proper to yield to authority, and the piece
was given to be played at Fontainebleau.

The part to which I had been most attentive, and in which I had kept at
the greatest distance from the common track, was the recitative. Mine
was accented in a manner entirely new, and accompanied the utterance of
the word. The directors dared not suffer this horrid innovation to pass,
lest it should shock the ears of persons who never judge for themselves.
Another recitative was proposed by Francueil and Jelyotte, to which I
consented; but refused at the same time to have anything to do with it

When everything was ready and the day of performance fixed, a proposition
was made me to go to Fontainebleau, that I might at least be at the last
rehearsal. I went with Mademoiselle Fel, Grimm, and I think the Abbe
Raynal, in one of the stages to the court. The rehearsal was tolerable:
I was more satisfied with it than I expected to have been. The orchestra
was numerous, composed of the orchestras of the opera and the king's
band. Jelyotte played Colin, Mademoiselle Fel, Colette, Cuvillier the
Devin: the choruses were those of the opera. I said but little; Jelyotte
had prepared everything; I was unwilling either to approve of or censure
what he had done; and notwithstanding I had assumed the air of an old
Roman, I was, in the midst of so many people, as bashful as a schoolboy.

The next morning, the day of performance, I went to breakfast at the
coffee-house 'du grand commun', where I found a great number of people.
The rehearsal of the preceding evening, and the difficulty of getting
into the theatre, were the subjects of conversation. An officer present
said he entered with the greatest ease, gave a long account of what had
passed, described the author, and related what he had said and done; but
what astonished me most in this long narrative, given with as much
assurance as simplicity, was that it did not contain a syllable of truth.
It was clear to me that he who spoke so positively of the rehearsal had
not been at it, because, without knowing him, he had before his eyes that
author whom he said he had seen and examined so minutely. However, what
was more singular still in this scene, was its effect upon me. The
officer was a man rather in years, he had nothing of the appearance of a
coxcomb; his features appeared to announce a man of merit; and his cross
of Saint Louis, an officer of long standing. He interested me:
notwithstanding his impudence. Whilst he uttered his lies, I blushed,
looked down, and was upon thorns; I, for some time, endeavored within
myself to find the means of believing him to be in an involuntary error.
At length, trembling lest some person should know me, and by this means
confound him, I hastily drank my chocolate, without saying a word, and,
holding down my head, I passed before him, got out of the coffee-house as
soon as possible, whilst the company were making their remarks upon the
relation that had been given. I was no sooner in the street than I was
in a perspiration, and had anybody known and named me before I left the
room, I am certain all the shame and embarrassment of a guilty person
would have appeared in my countenance, proceeding from what I felt the
poor man would have had to have suffered had his lie been discovered.

I come to one of the critical moments of my life, in which it is
difficult to do anything more than to relate, because it is almost
impossible that even narrative should not carry with it the marks of
censure or apology. I will, however, endeavor to relate how and upon
what motives I acted, with out adding either approbation or censure.

I was on that day in the same careless undress as usual, with a long
beard and wig badly combed. Considering this want of decency as an act
of courage, I entered the theatre wherein the king, queen, the royal
family, and the whole court were to enter immediately after. I was
conducted to a box by M. de Cury, and which belonged to him. It was very
spacious, upon the stage and opposite to a lesser, but more elevated one,
in which the king sat with Madam de Pompadour.

As I was surrounded by women, and the only man in front of the box, I had
no doubt of my having been placed there purposely to be exposed to view.
As soon as the theatre was lighted up, finding I was in the midst of
people all extremely well dressed, I began to be less at my ease, and
asked myself if I was in my place? whether or not I was properly
dressed? After a few minutes of inquietude: "Yes," replied I, with an
intrepidity which perhaps proceeded more from the impossibility of
retracting than the force of all my reasoning, "I am in my place, because
I am going to see my own piece performed, to which I have been invited,
for which reason only I am come here; and after all, no person has a
greater right than I have to reap the fruit of my labor and talents; I am
dressed as usual, neither better nor worse; and if I once begin to
subject myself to public opinion, I shall shortly become a slave to it in
everything. To be always consistent with myself, I ought not to blush,
in any place whatever, at being dressed in a manner suitable to the state
I have chosen. My exterior appearance is simple, but neither dirty nor
slovenly; nor is a beard either of these in itself, because it is given
us by nature, and according to time, place and custom, is sometimes an
ornament. People think I am ridiculous, nay, even absurd; but what
signifies this to me? I ought to know how to bear censure and ridicule,
provided I do not deserve them. "After this little soliloquy I became so
firm that, had it been necessary, I could have been intrepid. But
whether it was the effect of the presence of his majesty, or the natural
disposition of those about me, I perceived nothing but what was civil and
obliging in the curiosity of which I was the object. This so much
affected me that I began to be uneasy for myself, and the fate of my
piece; fearing I should efface the favorable prejudices which seemed to
lead to nothing but applause. I was armed against raillery; but, so far
overcome, by the flattering and obliging treatment I had not expected,
that I trembled like a child when the performance was begun.

I had soon sufficient reason to be encouraged. The piece was very ill
played with respect to the actors, but the musical part was well sung and
executed. During the first scene, which was really of a delightful
simplicity, I heard in the boxes a murmur of surprise and applause,
which, relative to pieces of the same kind, had never yet happened. The
fermentation was soon increased to such a degree as to be perceptible
through the whole audience, and of which, to speak--after the manner of
Montesquieu--the effect was augmented by itself. In the scene between
the two good little folks, this effect was complete. There is no
clapping of hands before the king; therefore everything was heard, which
was advantageous to the author and the piece. I heard about me a
whispering of women, who appeared as beautiful as angels. They said to
each other in a low voice: "This is charming: That is ravishing: There is
not a sound which does not go to the heart." The pleasure of giving this
emotion to so many amiable persons moved me to tears; and these I could
not contain in the first duo, when I remarked that I was not the only
person who wept. I collected myself for a moment, on recollecting the
concert of M. de Treitorens. This reminiscence had the effect of the
slave who held the crown over the head of the general who triumphed, but
my reflection was short, and I soon abandoned myself without interruption
to the pleasure of enjoying my success. However, I am certain the
voluptuousness of the sex was more predominant than the vanity of the
author, and had none but men been present, I certainly should not have
had the incessant desire I felt of catching on my lips the delicious
tears I had caused to flow. I have known pieces excite more lively
admiration, but I never saw so complete, delightful, and affecting an
intoxication of the senses reign, during a whole representation,
especially at court, and at a first performance. They who saw this must
recollect it, for it has never yet been equalled.

The same evening the Duke d' Aumont sent to desire me to be at the palace
the next day at eleven o'clock, when he would present me to the king.
M. de Cury, who delivered me the message, added that he thought a pension
was intended, and that his majesty wished to announce it to me himself.
Will it be believed that the night of so brilliant a day was for me
a night of anguish and perplexity? My first idea, after that of being
presented, was that of my frequently wanting to retire; this had made me
suffer very considerably at the theatre, and might torment me the next
day when I should be in the gallery, or in the king's apartment, amongst
all the great, waiting for the passing of his majesty. My infirmity was
the principal cause which prevented me from mixing in polite companies,
and enjoying the conversation of the fair. The idea alone of the
situation in which this want might place me, was sufficient to produce it
to such a degree as to make me faint away, or to recur to means to which,
in my opinion, death was much preferable. None but persons who are
acquainted with this situation can judge of the horror which being
exposed to the risk of it inspires.

I then supposed myself before the king, presented to his majesty, who
deigned to stop and speak to me. In this situation, justness of
expression and presence of mind were peculiarly necessary in answering.
Would my timidity which disconcerts me in presence of any stranger
whatever, have been shaken off in presence of the King of France; or
would it have suffered me instantly to make choice of proper expressions?
I wished, without laying aside the austere manner I had adopted, to show
myself sensible of the honor done me by so great a monarch, and in a
handsome and merited eulogium to convey some great and useful truth.
I could not prepare a suitable answer without exactly knowing what his
majesty was to say to me; and had this been the case, I was certain that,
in his presence, I should not recollect a word of what I had previously
meditated. "What," said I, "will become of me in this moment, and before
the whole court, if, in my confusion, any of my stupid expressions should
escape me?" This danger alarmed and terrified me. I trembled to such a
degree that at all events I was determined not to expose myself to it.

I lost, it is true, the pension which in some measure was offered me; but
I at the same time exempted myself from the yoke it would have imposed.
Adieu, truth, liberty, and courage! How should I afterwards have dared
to speak of disinterestedness and independence? Had I received the
pension I must either have become a flatterer or remained silent; and,
moreover, who would have insured to me the payment of it! What steps
should I have been under the necessity of taking! How many people must I
have solicited! I should have had more trouble and anxious cares in
preserving than in doing without it. Therefore, I thought I acted
according to my principles by refusing, and sacrificing appearances to
reality. I communicated my resolution to Grimm, who said nothing against
it. To others I alleged my ill state of health, and left the court in
the morning.

My departure made some noise, and was generally condemned. My reasons
could not be known to everybody, it was therefore easy to accuse me of
foolish pride, and thus not irritate the jealousy of such as felt they
would not have acted as I had done. The next day Jelyotte wrote me a
note, in which he stated the success of my piece, and the pleasure it had
afforded the king. "All day long," said he, "his majesty sings, with the
worst voice in his kingdom: 'J'ai perdu mon serviteur: J'ai perdu tout
mon bonheur.'" He likewise added, that in a fortnight the Devin was to
be performed a second time; which confirmed in the eyes of the public the
complete success of the first.

Two days afterwards, about nine o'clock in the evening, as I was going to
sup with Madam D'Epinay, I perceived a hackney-coach pass by the door.
Somebody within made a sign to me to approach. I did so, and got into
it, and found the person to be Diderot. He spoke of the pension with
more warmth than, upon such a subject, I should have expected from a
philosopher. He did not blame me for having been unwilling to be
presented to the king, but severely reproached me with my indifference
about the pension. He observed that although on my own account I might
be disinterested, I ought not to be so on that of Madam Vasseur and her
daughter; that it was my duty to seize every means of providing for their
subsistence; and that as, after all, it could not be said I had refused
the pension, he maintained I ought, since the king seemed disposed to
grant it to me, to solicit and obtain it by one means or another.
Although I was obliged to him for his good wishes, I could not relish his
maxims, which produced a warm dispute, the first I ever had with him.
All our disputes were of this kind, he prescribing to me what he
pretended I ought to do, and I defending myself because I was of a
different opinion.

It was late when we parted. I would have taken him to supper at Madam d'
Epinay's, but he refused to go; and, notwithstanding all the efforts
which at different times the desire of uniting those I love induced me to
make, to prevail upon him to see her, even that of conducting her to his
door which he kept shut against us, he constantly refused to do it, and
never spoke of her but with the utmost contempt. It was not until after
I had quarrelled with both that they became acquainted and that he began
to speak honorably of her.

From this time Diderot and Grimm seemed to have undertaken to alienate
from me the governesses, by giving them to understand that if they were
not in easy circumstances the fault was my own, and that they never would
be so with me. They endeavored to prevail on them to leave me, promising
them the privilege for retailing salt, a snuff shop, and I know not what
other advantages by means of the influence of Madam d' Epinay. They
likewise wished to gain over Duclos and d'Holback, but the former
constantly refused their proposals. I had at the time some intimation of
what was going forward, but I was not fully acquainted with the whole
until long afterwards; and I frequently had reason to lament the effects
of the blind and indiscreet zeal of my friends, who, in my ill state of
health, striving to reduce me to the most melancholy solitude,
endeavored, as they imagined, to render me happy by the means which, of
all others, were the most proper to make me miserable.

In the carnival following the conclusion of the year 1753, the Devin was
performed at Paris, and in this interval I had sufficient time to compose
the overture and divertissement. This divertissement, such as it stands
engraved, was to be in action from the beginning to the end, and in a
continued subject, which in my opinion, afforded very agreeable
representations. But when I proposed this idea at the opera-house,

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