Confessions of J. J. Rousseau HTML version
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.