Confessions of J. J. Rousseau HTML version

My impatience to inhabit the Hermitage not permitting me to wait until the return of fine
weather, the moment my lodging was prepared I hastened to take possession of it, to the
great amusement of the 'Coterie Holbachaque', which publicly predicted I should not be
able to support solitude for three months, and that I should unsuccessfully return to Paris,
and live there as they did. For my part, having for fifteen years been out of my element,
finding myself upon the eve of returning to it, I paid no attention to their pleasantries.
Since contrary to my inclinations, I have again entered the world, I have incessantly
regretted my dear Charmettes, and the agreeable life I led there. I felt a natural inclination
to retirement and the country: it was impossible for me to live happily elsewhere. At
Venice, in the train of public affairs, in the dignity of a kind of representation, in the pride
of projects of advancement; at Paris, in the vortex of the great world, in the luxury of
suppers, in the brilliancy of spectacles, in the rays of splendor; my groves, rivulets, and
solitary walks, constantly presented themselves to my recollection, interrupted my
thought, rendered me melancholy, and made me sigh with desire. All the labor to which I
had subjected myself, every project of ambition which by fits had animated my ardor, all
had for object this happy country retirement, which I now thought near at hand. Without
having acquired a genteel independence, which I had judged to be the only means of
accomplishing my views, I imagined myself, in my particular situation, to be able to do
without it, and that I could obtain the same end by a means quite opposite. I had no
regular income; but I possessed some talents, and had acquired a name. My wants were
few, and I had freed myself from all those which were most expensive, and which merely
depended on prejudice and opinion. Besides this, although naturally indolent, I was
laborious when I chose to be so. and my idleness was less that of an indolent man, than
that of an independent one who applies to business when it pleases him. My profession of
a copyist of music was neither splendid nor lucrative, but it was certain. The world gave
me credit for the courage I had shown in making choice of it. I might depend upon having
sufficient employment to enable me to live. Two thousand livres which remained of the
produce of the 'Devin du Village', and my other writings, were a sum which kept me from
being straitened, and several works I had upon the stocks promised me, without extorting
money from the booksellers, supplies sufficient to enable me to work at my ease without
exhausting myself, even by turning to advantage the leisure of my walks. My little
family, consisting of three persons, all of whom were usefully employed, was not
expensive to support. Finally, from my resources, proportioned to my wants and desires, I
might reasonably expect a happy and permanent existence, in that manner of life which
my inclination had induced me to adopt.
I might have taken the interested side of the question, and, instead of subjecting my pen
to copying, entirely devoted it to works which, from the elevation to which I had soared,
and at which I found myself capable of continuing, might have enabled me to live in the
midst of abundance, nay, even of opulence, had I been the least disposed to join the
manoeuvres of an author to the care of publishing a good book. But I felt that writing for
bread would soon have extinguished my genius, and destroyed my talents, which were
less in my pen than in my heart, and solely proceeded from an elevated and noble manner