Confessions of J. J. Rousseau HTML version

The extraordinary degree of strength a momentary effervescence had given me to quit the
Hermitage, left me the moment I was out of it. I was scarcely established in my new
habitation before I frequently suffered from retentions, which were accompanied by a
new complaint; that of a rupture, from which I had for some time, without knowing what
it was, felt great inconvenience. I soon was reduced to the most cruel state. The physician
Thieiry, my old friend, came to see me, and made me acquainted with my situation. The
sight of all the apparatus of the infirmities of years, made me severely feel that when the
body is no longer young, the heart is not so with impunity. The fine season did not restore
me, and I passed the whole year, 1758, in a state of languor, which made me think I was
almost at the end of my career. I saw, with impatience, the closing scene approach.
Recovered from the chimeras of friendship, and detached from everything which had
rendered life desirable to me, I saw nothing more in it that could make it agreeable; all I
perceived was wretchedness and misery, which prevented me from enjoying myself. I
sighed after the moment when I was to be free and escape from my enemies. But I must
follow the order of events.
My retreat to Montmorency seemed to disconcert Madam d'Epinay; probably she did not
expect it. My melancholy situation, the severity of the season, the general dereliction of
me by my friends, all made her and Grimm believe, that by driving me to the last
extremity, they should oblige me to implore mercy, and thus, by vile meanness, render
myself contemptible, to be suffered to remain in an asylum which honor commanded me
to leave. I left it so suddenly that they had not time to prevent the step from being taken,
and they were reduced to the alternative of double or quit, to endeavor to ruin me
entirely, or to prevail upon me to return. Grimm chose the former; but I am of opinion
Madam d'Epinay would have preferred the latter, and this from her answer to my last
letter, in which she seemed to have laid aside the airs she had given herself in the
preceding ones, and to give an opening to an accommodation. The long delay of this
answer, for which she made me wait a whole month, sufficiently indicates the difficulty
she found in giving it a proper turn, and the deliberations by which it was preceded. She
could not make any further advances without exposing herself; but after her former
letters, and my sudden retreat from her house, it is impossible not to be struck with the
care she takes in this letter not to suffer an offensive expression to escape her. I will copy
it at length to enable my reader to judge of what she wrote:
GENEVA, January 17, 1758.
"SIR: I did not receive your letter of the 17th of December until yesterday. It was sent me
in a box filled with different things, and which has been all this time upon the road. I
shall answer only the postscript. You may recollect, sir, that we agreed the wages of the
gardener of the Hermitage should pass through your hands, the better to make him feel
that he depended upon you, and to avoid the ridiculous and indecent scenes which