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commences with the following account of his first interview with Rousseau.
In the month of June 1772, a mutual friend accompanied me to the dwelling of J. J. Rousseau, which was then in the Rue Platrière nearly opposite the post office. We ascended three pair of stairs and knocked at the door, which was opened to us by Madame Rousseau. She said to us"Come in, gentlemen, my husband is at home." We passed through a small antichamber neatly set out with household furniture into a room where Rousseau was seated in a great coat and white cap, copying music. He rose with a smiling air and placed chairs for us, and then sat down again to his work, conversing with us at the same time.
'He was of middling stature and thin. One of his shoulders appeared a little higher than the other, either from a natural defect, from age, or from his habitual attitude. In other respects he was well proportioned. His complexion was dark with a tinge of red on the cheeks-his mouth handsome-his nose well formed-his forehead round and high, and his eyes full of fire. The lines, which fall obliquely from the nostrils towards the extremities of the mouth and give the face its expression, denoted in his acute sensibility and something like distress.
'His sunken eyes and heavy eyebrows indicated melancholy, and the furrows in his forehead profound sadness; while at the same time a number of small wrinkles at the outer corners of the eyes, which closed when he laughed, expressed a lively and even satirical wit. These opposite qualities predominated by turns in the general expression of his countenance, accordingly as his mind was affected by the different subjects that occurred in conversation. When tranquil, it exhibited something of them all; and inspired at the same time feelings of affection, respect, and pity.
Near him was a spinnet, which he occasionally touched. The furniture of the chamber consisted of two small beds of blue and white cotton and hangings of the same, a chest of drawers, a table, and a few chairs. There hung against the wall a plan of the wood and park of Montmorency, where he had lived, and an engraved portrait of the king of England, formerly his patron. His wife was seated at her needle work; a canary bird was singing in a cage which hung from the ceiling, and several sparrows were picking crumbs of bread at
a window that opened toward the street. At the antichamber window were placed several boxes and pots of indigenous plants. Altogether there was an air of neatness and quiet simplicity in this little establishment, which was singularly pleasing.
'He spoke to me at first of his travels; and the conversation afterwards turned upon the news of the day. He then read to us the manuscript of a letter he had just been writing, in answer to one in which the Marquis de Mirabeau requested him to publish something more upon political subjects. He entreats the Marquis not to insist upon his engaging again in the bustle of literary controversy. We talked of his works, and I told him that those which pleased me most were the Devin du Village and the third volume of Emile. He appeared to be charmed with my opinion. "They are also those," said he, "which I am best pleased to have written. My enemies may say what they will, but they will never compose a Devin du Village." He showed us a collection of several sorts of seeds which he had arranged in little boxes. I said to him, that I had never seen before so large a collection of seeds made by a person, who had so little land to sow them in. This remark made him laugh. When we took our leave, he conducted us to the head of the stairs.
'Some days afterwards he came to return my visit. He was dressed in a complete suit of nankeen with a round wig curled and powdered, his hat under his arm, and a little cane in his hand. His appearance was plain but very neat, as that of Soc rates is said to have been. I offered him a piece of marine eocoa with its fruit to increase his collection of seeds, and he accepted it. I shewed him a beautiful species of amaranth from the Cape, the flowers of which resemble strawberries and the leaves strips of gray cloth. He thought it very curious, but I could not offer it to him, as I had already presented it to another friend. As I accompanied him back across the Tuilleries, we perceived a smell of coffee. "There," said he, "is a perfume, of which I am very fond. When the other lodgers in the house where I live burn their coffee, my neighbours shut their doors to keep out the smell, but I open mine." "Then you are fond of coffee," said I. "Yes," said he, "ices and coffee are almost the only luxuries for which I have a taste." I had brought with me from the isle of Bourbon a bale of coffee, and had made up several parcels for presents to my friends. The
next day I sent him one of these with a billet, in which I said, that knowing his love for foreign seeds I requested his acceptance of these. He returned a very polite note, in which he thanked me for my attention. The day after I received another note, written in a different tone, of which the following is a copy.
"Sir, I had company with me yesterday and was unable to examine the parcel which you sent me. We are hardly acquainted yet, and you begin by making presents. Such proceedings place us on too unequal a footing, as my fortune does not allow me to make any in return. You will therefore take back your coffee, or we never meet again. "Accept my very humble salutations
J. J. ROUSSEAU." 'I wrote him in answer, that as I had obtained the coffee in the country were it grew, the quantity and quality of it were of little importance to me, but that I would leave him to make his own choice in regard to the alternative proposed. The dispute was finally accommodated upon my consenting to accept from him a root of ginseng and a work on ichthyology, which had lately been sent to him from Montpelier, and he invited me to dine with him the next day. I accordingly went to his lodgings at eleven o'clock in the morning. We conversed till half past twelve, when his wife laid the cloth. He took a bottle of wine, and putting it upon the table, asked me whether it would be enough for us, and whether I loved to drink. How many are to dine? said I. "Three," said he, "you, my wife, and I." When I dine alone, I replied, I generally drink half a bottle of wine, and when I am with my friends, a little more. "In that case," said he, "there will not be enough, and I must go down to the cellar for another bottle." His wife served two dishes, one of pastry, and the other under a cover. "There," said he, pointing to the pastry, "is your dish, and here is mine." "I am not particularly fond of pastry," said I, "but I trust you will permit me to taste of your dish." "By all means," said he, "they are both in common; but few people are fond of this. It is a Swiss dish, composed of pork, mutton, chestnuts, and vegetables stewed together." It proved to be excellent. These two dishes were succeeded by slices of beef in salad, biscuits and cheese, and finally coffee. "I do not offer you cordials," said he, "because I have none. I am like the cordelier who preached against adultery; I would rather drink a bottle of wine than a glass of cordial."
'During dinner we talked of the Indies and of the Greeks and Romans. Afterwards he shewed me several manuscripts, among which were a continuation of Emile, some letters on botany, a little poem in prose on a scripture subject, and some charming passages translated from Tasso. Do you intend to publish these works? "God forbid," replied he, "I wrote them merely for my amusement and that of my wife." "O yes!" said madame Rousseau, "they are very touching-poor Sophronia! I wept enough when my husband read that passage to me." She told me at length that it was nine o'clock, and I took my leave. The ten hours in succession, which I had passed, seemed but an instant.'
After this account of the commencement of their acquaintance, St Pierre enters into a number of details respecting the preceding events in the history of Rousseau, which are now much more fully known from the Confessions. The following passage describes the manner in which he disposed of his time at this period of his life, and the state of his pecuniary affairs.
'He rose in summer at five o'clock and copied music till half past seven, when he breakfasted. At breakfast he amused himself by arranging in papers the seeds, which he had collected in his walk the day before. After breakfast he copied music again till half past twelve, when he dined. At half past one he went out to a coffee house to take coffee, and we often met for this purpose at a house in the Elysian fields. In the afternoon he took his walk into the country to collect plants, always keeping his hat under his arm in the hottest weather, and in the sun. He thought that the action of the sun upon his head was beneficial. I sometimes represented to him that the covering of the head employed by different nations was uniformly thicker in proportion as their climate approached the equinoctial line, and mentioned in proof of this remark the turbans of the Turks and Persians, the high pointed hats of the Chinese and Siamese, and the mitres of the Arabians-all which nations endeavour to maintain a large volume of air between the surface of the head and the covering they wear upon it, with a view of moderating the action of the sun; while most of the northern nations wear a close cap. These remarks made no impression upon him, and he always replied by appealing to his own experience. I am inclined to think however that his subsequent illnesses were owing in part at least to this practice. He never went out when it rained. "I am just
the reverse," said he, "of the little figure in the Swiss barometer. When he comes in I go out, and when he goes out I come in." He returned from his walk a little before dark, supped and went to bed at half past nine.
'One morning I was at his house, when the servants of his customers came in the usual way to take the music he had copied or to bring him more. He received them uncovered and standing. To some he said, "the price is so much," and took their money; to others, "how soon must I return you this paper?"-to which the servants perhaps would answer, mistress wishes for it in a fortnight," and he would reply, "Oh that is impossible, I have a great deal of work, and cannot possibly do it in less than three weeks." Sometimes he accepted and sometimes refused the work that was proposed to him, and went through the whole business with perfect seriousness. When we were alone I could not help saying to him, "Why do not you turn your talents to some better account?" "Oh!" said he in answer, "there are two Rousseaus in the world-one rich, or capable of being so if he would, a singular, capricious, fantastic being-this is the public Rousseau. The other is obliged to work for his living, and that is the one before you." "But," said I, "why not choose some better employment than that of copying music?" "Every employment," said he, "has its inconveniences, and copying music is an occupation I am fond of. I do it for pleasure as well as for profit; and I should continue to do it, if I had a hundred thousand livres a year. Nor is it below the situation in which I am placed by fortune. I am the son of a workman and a workman myself. I do what I have done since I was fourteen years old." "But your works," said I, "ought to have put you at your ease: they have made the fortune of a great many booksellers." "Twenty thousand francs," said he, "is more than I have received from them. This however would have been a little fortune to me, if I had obtained it at once and invested it; but receiving it in small sums at different times, I spent it as it came. A Dutch bookseller has settled upon me out of gratitude, an annuity of six hundred francs, half of which is to be continued to my wife after my death. This is all my fortune. My little establishment costs me twenty-five hundred, and I am obliged to make up the difference by my labor." "But why," said I, "did you not sell your manuscripts dearer ?" In answer to this he observed that he had obtained as much as he could for them,