Confessions of J. J. Rousseau HTML version

The moment in which fear had instigated my flight, did not seem more terrible than that
wherein I put my design in execution appeared delightful. To leave my relations, my
resources, while yet a child, in the midst of my apprenticeship, before I had learned
enough of my business to obtain a subsistence; to run on inevitable misery and danger: to
expose myself in that age of weakness and innocence to all the temptations of vice and
despair; to set out in search of errors, misfortunes, snares, slavery, and death; to endure
more intolerable evils than those I meant to shun, was the picture I should have drawn,
the natural consequence of my hazardous enterprise. How different was the idea I
entertained of it!—The independence I seemed to possess was the sole object of my
contemplation; having obtained my liberty, I thought everything attainable: I entered with
confidence on the vast theatre of the world, which my merit was to captivate: at every
step I expected to find amusements, treasures, and adventures; friends ready to serve, and
mistresses eager to please me; I had but to show myself, and the whole universe would be
interested in my concerns; not but I could have been content with something less; a
charming society, with sufficient means, might have satisfied me. My moderation was
such, that the sphere in which I proposed to shine was rather circumscribed, but then it
was to possess the very quintessence of enjoyment, and myself the principal object. A
single castle, for instance, might have bounded my ambition; could I have been the
favorite of the lord and lady, the daughter's lover, the son's friend, and protector of the
neighbors, I might have been tolerably content, and sought no further.
In expectation of this modest fortune, I passed a few days in the environs of the city, with
some country people of my acquaintance, who received me with more kindness than I
should have met with in town; they welcomed, lodged, and fed me cheerfully; I could be
said to live on charity, these favors were not conferred with a sufficient appearance of
superiority to furnish out the idea.
I rambled about in this manner till I got to Confignon, in Savoy, at about two leagues
distance from Geneva. The vicar was called M. de Pontverre; this name, so famous in the
history of the Republic, caught my attention; I was curious to see what appearance the
descendants of the gentlemen of the spoon exhibited; I went, therefore, to visit this M. de
Pontverre, and was received with great civility.
He spoke of the heresy of Geneva, declaimed on the authority of holy mother church, and
then invited me to dinner. I had little to object to arguments which had so desirable a
conclusion, and was inclined to believe that priests, who gave such excellent dinners,
might be as good as our ministers. Notwithstanding M. de Pontverre's pedigree, I
certainly possessed most learning; but I rather sought to be a good companion than an
expert theologian; and his Frangi wine, which I thought delicious, argued so powerfully
on his side, that I should have blushed at silencing so kind a host; I, therefore, yielded
him the victory, or rather declined the contest. Any one who had observed my precaution,
would certainly have pronounced me a dissembler, though, in fact, I was only courteous.