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then added, that “were they ever to have any it would be all the worse
for them;” a sentence unintelligible to his readers, and probably to
himself also. When years after this he heard Gluck, with whose music he
was delighted, he observed to some one, “this man is setting French
words to very good music, as if on purpose to contradict me;” and upon
this reflection he broke off acquaintance with Gluck. However, his
letter on French music sorely wounded the national vanity, and he was
exposed to a sort of petty persecution in consequence of it. Rousseau
wrote next his letter to D’Alembert, ‘sur les Spectacles,’ which led to
a controversy between them. He wrote also the ‘Discours sur l’Origine de
l’Inégalité parmi les Hommes,’ for another prize of the Academy of
Dijon, with a dedication to the magistrates of his native town Geneva,
which was much admired as a specimen of dignified eloquence. The
discourse itself is composed in his accustomed paradoxical vein. He
maintains that men are not intended to be sociable beings; that they
have a natural bias for a solitary existence; that the condition of the
savage, untutored and free in his native wilds, is the natural and
proper state of man; and that every system of society is an infraction
of man’s rights, and a subversion of the order of nature. He assumes
that men are all born equal by nature, disregarding the daily evidence
of the contrary, in respect both of their physical and moral powers. His
idea of the equal rights of men, which he afterwards developed in the
‘Contrat Social,’ instead of being founded upon enlightened reason,
religion, and morality, rests upon the base of his favourite theory, of
man’s equality in a state of nature; while we know from experience, that
those savage tribes who approach nearest to this imaginary natural
state, acknowledge no other right than that of the strongest. Most of
Rousseau’s paradoxes proceed from the false position assumed in his
first dissertation, that a savage, unsocial state, is the very
perfection of man’s existence.

After the publication of this discourse Rousseau repaired to Geneva,
where he was well received by his countrymen. He there abjured
Catholicism and resumed the profession of the reformed religion. But he
soon returned to Paris; and, at the invitation of Madame d’Epinay, in
1756, took up his residence at the house called L’Hermitage, in the
valley of Montmorency, near Paris. It was in this pleasant retirement
that he began his celebrated novel ‘Julie, ou la Nouvelle Heloïse,’
which he finished in 1759. As a work of imagination and invention it is
little worth; but as a model of impassioned eloquence, it will be
admired as long as the French language shall continue to be spoken or
read by men. Rousseau, while he wrote it, was himself under the
influence of a passion which he had conceived for the beautiful Madame
d’Houdetot, Madame d’Epinay’s sister-in-law, a love totally hopeless and
ridiculous on his part, but which no doubt inspired him while engaged in
the composition of this work. When it appeared, many people, especially
women, thought that Julie was a real living object of his attachment,
and the supposition being favourable to the popularity of the book and
its author, Rousseau was not very anxious to undeceive them. He esteemed
the fourth portion of the work the best. “The first two parts are but
the desultory verbiage of feverish excitement, and yet I could never
alter them after I had once written them. The fifth and the sixth are
comparatively weak, but I let them remain out of consideration of their
moral utility.... My imagination cannot embellish the objects I see; it
must create its own objects. If I am to paint the spring, I must do it
in winter; if to describe a landscape, I must be shut up within walls:
were I confined in the Bastille, I should then write best on the charms
of liberty. I never could write as a matter of business, I can only do
it through impulse or passion.” (Rousseau’s ‘Notes to the Nouvelle
Heloïse,’ in Mercier and Le Tourneur’s edition.) He had great difficulty
in constructing his periods; he turned them and he altered them
repeatedly in his head, often while in bed, before he attempted to put
them on paper.

La Nouvelle Heloïse has been censured for the dangerous example it
affords, and for the interest it throws upon seduction and frailty. The
character of St. Preux is decidedly faulty, and even base, in spite of
all his sophistry, which however has probably led other young men placed
in a similar situation to forget the relative duties of society, and the
obligations of hospitality. Here we perceive also the influence of
Rousseau’s favourite paradox; for in a state of nature, such as Rousseau
has fancied it, the intimacy of St. Preux and Julie would have been
unobjectionable. But then the relative position of the teacher, his
pupil, and her parents, would not have been the same as in the novel,
for they would have been all savages together. Rousseau has however
redeemed the character of Julie after she becomes a wife, and he has
thus paid a sincere homage to the sacredness of the marriage bond, and
to the importance of conjugal duties, the basis of all society. Rousseau
was not a contemner of virtue; he felt its beauty, though his practice
was by no means modelled on its dictates. He tells us himself the
workings of his mind on this subject. “After much observation I thought
I perceived nothing but error and folly among philosophers, oppression
and misery in the social order. In the delusion of my foolish pride I
fancied myself born to dissipate all prejudices; but then I thought
that, in order to have my advice listened to, my conduct ought to
correspond to my principles. I had been till then good-hearted, I now
became virtuous. Whoever has the courage of showing himself such as he
is, must, if he be not totally depraved, become such as he ought to be.”
It was probably in compliance with his growing sense of moral duty, that
he married at last the woman he had so long been living with, when she
was forty-seven years of age, and, as he himself acknowledges, was not
possessed of any attractions of either mind or person, having nothing to
recommend her except her attention to him, especially in his frequent
fits of illness or despondency. He seems also to have bitterly repented,
in the latter years of his life, having in his youth sent his
illegitimate children to the foundling hospital.

Rousseau’s next work was the ‘Emile, ou de l’Education,’ which appeared
in 1762. It contains many excellent precepts, especially in the first
part, although, as a whole system, it may be considered as
impracticable, at least in any state of society which has yet been
formed upon the earth. It was remarked at the time, that the author,
after having brought up his Emile to manhood, ought to create a new
world for him to live in. Rousseau himself seems to have been of this
opinion, for when a Mr. Angar introduced to him his son, whom he said he
had educated according to the principles of the Emile, Rousseau quickly
replied, “So much the worse for you, and for your son too.” The ‘Emile,’
however, introduced some beneficial changes in the early treatment of
children. It discredited the absurd practice of swaddling infants like
mummies, to the manifest injury of their tender limbs; it induced
mothers of the higher ranks to suckle their children, instead of
committing them to the care of nurses; it corrected several wrong
principles of early education, such as that of ruling children through
fear, of considering them as slaves having no will of their own, and of
terrifying them by absurd stories and fables; it inculcated freedom of
body and mind, the necessity of amusement and relaxation, of appealing
to the feelings of children, of treating them like rational beings.
Rousseau may be truly called the benefactor of children. As he
proceeded, however, in his plan for boys grown older, Rousseau became
involved in some of his favourite speculations about religion and
metaphysics, which gave offence to both Catholics and Protestants. The
Parliament of Paris condemned the work. The Archbishop issued a
_mandement_ against it. The States-General of Holland likewise
proscribed the book. At Geneva, it was publicly burnt by the hand of the
executioner. The publication of the ‘Contrat Social, ou Principes du
Droit Politique,’ which appeared soon after, added to the storm against
the author. It contains much speculative truth, combined with much
ignorance of men’s nature and passions. The idea of a perfect and
universal model of government, without regard to local circumstances,
seems chimerical. It is a curious fact that Rousseau, after reading
Bernardin de St. Pierre’s political works, observed that they contained
projects which were impracticable on account of a fundamental error, out
of which the author was unable to extricate himself, namely, “that of
supposing that men in general and in all cases will conduct themselves
according to the dictates of reason and virtue, rather than according to
their passions.” Rousseau, in uttering these words, passed judgment on
his own ‘Contrat Social,’ which he afterwards also acknowledged having
written, “not for men but for angels.” In fact, he never meant it for
anything but a speculative treatise, and in his ‘Considérations sur le
Gouvernement de la Pologne,’ published some years after, having to write
for a practical purpose, he considerably modified his former principles.

In consequence of the excitement produced by these works, Rousseau left
Paris for Switzerland in 1762. He went first to Yverdun, but the Senate
of Berne enjoined him to leave its territory. He then repaired to
Neuchatel, which was subject to the King of Prussia, and of which the
old Marshal Keith was Governor. Keith received him very kindly, and
Rousseau took up his residence at the village of Motiers, in the Val de
Travers. There he wrote a Reply to the Archbishop of Paris, and a Letter
to the Magistrates of Geneva, in which he renounced his rights of
citizenship. He next wrote the “Lettres de la Montagne,” which is a
series of severe strictures on the political government and church of
Geneva. It is curious as a sketch of the old institutions of that
republic, written by one of its own citizens. This work increased the
existing irritation against its author, a feeling which spread even to
the villagers of Motiers, who are said to have annoyed their eccentric
visiter in various ways. Rousseau, however, is suspected of having
greatly magnified, if not invented, some of the acts of aggression of
which he complains. He spoke of them as amounting to a regular
conspiracy against his person, and removed his abode to the little
island of St. Pierre, on the lake of Bienne. Thence, after a time, as if
to court notice, he wrote a letter to the Senate of Berne, requesting
permission to remain on the island. For answer he received an order to
quit the territory of the canton in twenty-four hours. At the invitation
of his former friend Marshal Keith, he meditated a visit to Berlin. But
the advice of some friends in Paris induced him to change his mind, and
accept the friendly offer of our historian Hume, who was anxious to
procure for him a safe asylum in England, where he might quietly attend
to his studies and live in peace. Rousseau arrived in London in January,
1766; and in the following March, went to his intended home at Wootton
in Derbyshire. Knowing the man he had to deal with, Hume, with the real
kindness of character which he possessed, had sought by every means to
avoid shocking the irritable delicacy or vanity of his protégé: and the
residence which he procured for him in the house of a man of fortune,
Mr. Davenport, is said to have been unexceptionable. But before long he
quarrelled with both Hume and Davenport, left Wootton abruptly, and
returned to France. The ostensible cause of all this was the publication
of a letter in the newspapers, bearing the King of Prussia’s name, and
reflecting severely upon Rousseau’s weaknesses and eccentricities.
Rousseau accused Hume, or some of his friends, of having written it.
Hume protested in vain that he knew nothing of the matter. At last
Horace Walpole acknowledged himself to be the author. Rousseau, however,
would not be pacified, and attributed to Hume the blackest designs
against him. The correspondence that passed between the parties on the
subject is curious, and is given in the complete editions of our
author’s works. He afterwards seemed to say that during his residence in
England he had been subject to fits of insanity.

Returning to France, Rousseau led an unsettled life, with frequent
changes in his place of residence, until June, 1770. He then returned to
Paris, and took lodgings in the Rue Plâtrière, which has since been
called Rue J. J. Rousseau. It is to be noticed that in the interim he
had published his ‘Dictionnaire de Musique,’ a work which has the
reputation of being both imperfect and obscure. Indeed, notwithstanding
his passionate fondness for the art, he never attained to a profound
acquaintance with it. Passing through Lyons on his way to Paris, he
subscribed his mite towards the erection of a statue to Voltaire: thus
avenging himself for the coarse abuse which the latter had on many
occasions poured upon him, and which Rousseau never returned. Voltaire
is said to have been exceedingly annoyed at this. After his return to
the capital, he was overwhelmed with visits and invitations to dinner.
Though there was a prosecution pending against him for his ‘Emile,’ he
was left undisturbed: but at the same time he was cautioned not to
exhibit himself too conspicuously in public; advice which he utterly
disregarded. He soon relapsed into his former misanthropy, and became
subject to convulsive fits, which fearfully disfigured his features, and
gave a haggard expression to his looks. He fancied that every body was
conspiring against him, and he also complained of inward moral
sufferings which tortured his mind.

Among other imaginary grievances he thought that the French ministers
had imposed restrictions upon him with respect to his writings. One of
his friends applied to the Duc de Choiseuil to ascertain the fact. The
Duke’s answer, dated 1772, is as follows: “If ever I have engaged M.
Rousseau not to publish anything without my previous knowledge, of which
fact however I have no remembrance, it could only have been in order to
save him from fresh squabbles and annoyance. However, now that I have no
longer the power of protecting him (the Duke had resigned his
premiership), I fully acquit him of any engagement of the kind.”

As Rousseau was walking one day in the street Menil Montant, a large dog
that was running before the carriage of the President Saint Fargeau
tripped his legs, and he fell. The President alighted, expressed his
regret at the accident, and begged the sufferer to accept of his
carriage to return home. Rousseau, however, refused. The next day the
President sent to inquire after his health. “Tell your master to chain
up his dog,” was the only reply.

Being old and infirm, the labour of copying music had become too irksome
for him: still he would accept of no assistance from his friends, though
all his income consisted of an annuity of 1450 livres. His wife was also
in bad health, and provisions were very dear at the time; he therefore
began to look out for a country residence. A friend mentioned this to
the Marquis de Girardin, who immediately offered Rousseau a permanent
habitation at his château of Ermenonville, near Chantilly. Rousseau
accepted the proposal, and chose for his residence a detached cottage
near the family mansion. He removed to it in May, 1778, and appeared
more calm and contented in his new abode. He was fond of botany, and
used to take long walks in quest of flowers with one of M. de Girardin’s
sons. On July 1st he went out as usual, but returned home fatigued and
ill: he however slept quietly that night. Next morning he rose early
according to his custom, and went out to see the sun rise; he came back
to breakfast, after which he went to his room to dress, as he intended
to pay a visit to Madame de Girardin. His wife happening to enter his
room shortly after, found him sitting with his elbow leaning on a chest
of drawers. He said he was very ill, and complained of cold shivering
and of violent pain in his head. Madame de Girardin being informed of
this, came at once to visit him; but Rousseau, thanking her for all her
kindness to him, begged of her to return home and leave him alone for
the present. He then having requested his wife to sit by him, begged her
forgiveness for any pain or displeasure of which he might have been the
cause, and said that his end was approaching, that he died in peace, as
he never had intended or wished evil to any human being, and that he
hoped in the mercy of God. He begged that M. de Girardin would allow him
to be buried in his park. He gave directions to his wife about his
papers, and requested her particularly to have his body opened, that the
cause of his death might be ascertained. He then asked her to open the
window, “that he might once more behold the beautiful green of the
fields.” “How pure and beautiful is the sky!” he then observed, “there
is not a cloud. I trust the Almighty will receive me there above.” In so
saying, he fell on his face to the floor, and on raising him, life was
found to be extinct. On opening the body, a considerable quantity of
serum was found between the brain and its integuments. His sudden death
was attributed by many persons to suicide: but there is no direct
evidence of which we know to prove this. On the other side there is the
positive assertion of the physician who examined the body, that his
death was natural. Rousseau was buried in an island shaded by poplars,
on the little lake of the park of Ermenonville. A plain marble monument
was raised to his memory.

The first part of his ‘Confessions,’ which he had begun to write while
at Wootton, was published in 1781. He had himself fixed the year 1800
for the publication of the second part, judging that, by that time, the
persons mentioned in the work would be dead; but, through an abuse of
confidence on the part of the depositories of the MSS., it was published
in 1788. His autobiography does not include the latter years of his

Rousseau was temperate and frugal in his habits, disinterested and
warm-hearted, and impressed with strong feelings against oppression and
injustice. He was not envious of the fame or success of his brother
authors. He never sneered at religion like Voltaire and others of his
contemporaries, although in his speculative works he expressed his
doubts concerning revelation, and brought forth the arguments that
occurred to him on that side of the question: but he had none of the
fanaticism of incredulity against Christianity. Of the morality of the
Gospel he was a sincere admirer, and a most eloquent eulogist. “I
acknowledge,” he says in his ‘Emile,’ “that the majesty of the
Scriptures astonishes me, that the holiness of the Gospel speaks to my
heart. Look at the books of the philosophers; with all their pomp, how
little they appear by the side of that one book! Can a book so sublime,
and yet so simple, be the work of man? How prejudiced, how blind that
man must be, who can compare the son of Sophroniscus (Socrates) to the
son of Mary!” With such sentiments Rousseau could not long agree with
Helvetius, Diderot, D’Holbach, and their coterie. They, on their side,
ridiculed and abused him, because he was too sincere and independent for
them. “I have spent my life,” says Rousseau, “among infidels, without
being seduced by them; I loved and esteemed several of them, and yet
their doctrine was to me insufferable. I told them repeatedly that I
could not believe them.... I leave to my friends the task of
constructing the world by chance. I find in the very architects of this
new-fangled world, and in spite of themselves and their arguments, fresh
proofs of the existence of a God, a Creator of all.” A very good
collection of the moral maxims scattered about Rousseau’s works was
published under the title of ‘Esprit, Maximes et Principes de J. J.
Rousseau,’ 8vo., Neuchatel, 1774.

Rousseau set to music about 100 French romances, which he called
‘Consolations des Misères de ma Vie.’ Several editions of all his works
have been made at different times: that by Mercier and Le Tourneur, 38
vols. 4to., has been long considered as one of the best. The edition of
Lefevre, 22 vols. 8vo., 1819–20, and that of Lequien, 21 vols. 8vo.,
1821–2, are now preferred to all former ones.


_Engraved by W. Holl._


_From an Engraving by Tassaerts published in 1708 after a Painting by

Under the Superintendance of the Society for the Diffusion of Useful

_London, Published by Charles Knight, Ludgate Street._



John Harrison was born in May, 1693, at Foulby, in Yorkshire. His
father, who was a joiner, trained him from an early age to the same
business; but he soon began to study machinery. He turned his attention
to the mechanism of clocks; and, to obviate the irregularities produced
in their rate of going by variations of temperature, he invented the
method of compensation, employed in what is now called the _gridiron_
pendulum, before the year 1720. This contrivance consisted in
constructing a pendulum with bars of different metals, having different
rates of expansion so as to correct each other: it is described in all
popular treatises on physics. By this means it is stated that he had,
before the year above-mentioned, constructed two clocks which agreed
with each other within a second a month, and one of which did not vary,
on the whole, more than a minute in ten years.[10]

Footnote 10:

Folke’s Address to the Royal Society, Nov. 30, 1749.

This success induced him to turn his attention to watches, or rather to
time-keepers for naval purposes. It would be impossible without the help
of plates to render intelligible the rise and progress of his methods,
for which we must refer the reader to treatises of Horology. His first
instrument was tried upon the Humber, in rough weather, and succeeded so
well that he was recommended to carry it to London, for the inspection
of the Commissioners of Longitude.

The question of the discovery of the longitude had been considered of
national importance since the year 1714, when an Act was passed offering
10,000_l._, 15,000_l._, and 20,000_l._ for any method of discovering the
longitude within 60, 40, or 30 miles respectively. In 1735 Harrison
arrived in London with his time-piece, and showed it to several members
of the Royal Society. He obtained a certificate of its goodness, signed
by Halley, Smith, Bradley, Machin, and Graham, in consequence of which
he was allowed to proceed with it to Lisbon, in a king’s ship, in 1736.
The watch was found to correct the ship’s reckoning a degree and a half;
and the commissioners thereupon gave Harrison 500_l._, to enable him to
proceed. He finished a second time-piece in 1739, and a third in 1758,
each nearer to perfection than the former, and both abounding in
ingenious contrivances to overcome the effects of temperature, and of
the motion of a vessel at sea. In 1741 he obtained another certificate,
signed by almost every name of eminence in English science of the time.
In 1749 the gold medal of the Royal Society was awarded to him. In 1761,
having then a fourth time-piece in hand, but being convinced that the
third was sufficiently correct to come within the limits of the act of
parliament, he applied to the Commissioners for a trial of it.
Accordingly, in 1761 (Nov. 18), his son, William Harrison, was sent in a
king’s ship to Jamaica with the watch, and returned to Portsmouth, March
26, 1762. On arrival at Port Royal, Jan. 19, 1762, the watch was found
wrong only 5⅒ seconds; and at its return, only 1 minute 54½ seconds.
This was sufficient to determine the longitude within 18 miles; and
Harrison accordingly claimed 20,000_l._, in a petition to the House of
Commons, presented early in 1763. The Commissioners had awarded him
1,500_l._, and promised 1,000_l._ more after another voyage. Owing to

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