Confessions of J. J. Rousseau HTML version

With this book begins the work of darkness, in which I have for the last eight years been
enveloped, though it has not by any means been possible for me to penetrate the dreadful
obscurity. In the abyss of evil into which I am plunged, I feel the blows reach me, without
perceiving the hand by which they are directed or the means it employs. Shame and
misfortune seem of themselves to fall upon me. When in the affliction of my heart I
suffer a groan to escape me, I have the appearance of a man who complains without
reason, and the authors of my ruin have the inconceivable art of rendering the public
unknown to itself, or without its perceiving the effects of it, accomplice in their
conspiracy. Therefore, in my narrative of circumstances relative to myself, of the
treatment I have received, and all that has happened to me, I shall not be able to indicate
the hand by which the whole has been directed, nor assign the causes, while I state the
effect. The primitive causes are all given in the preceding books; and everything in which
I am interested, and all the secret motives pointed out. But it is impossible for me to
explain, even by conjecture, that in which the different causes are combined to operate
the strange events of my life. If amongst my readers one even of them should be generous
enough to wish to examine the mystery to the bottom, and discover the truth, let him
carefully read over a second time the three preceding books, afterwards at each fact he
shall find stated in the books which follow, let him gain such information as is within his
reach, and go back from intrigue to intrigue, and from agent to agent, until he comes to
the first mover of all. I know where his researches will terminate; but in the meantime I
lose myself in the crooked and obscure subterraneous path through which his steps must
be directed.
During my stay at Yverdon, I became acquainted with all the family of my friend Roguin,
and amongst others with his niece, Madam Boy de la Tour, and her daughters, whose
father, as I think I have already observed, I formerly knew at Lyons. She was at Yverdon,
upon a visit to her uncle and his sister; her eldest daughter, about fifteen years of age,
delighted me by her fine understanding and excellent disposition. I conceived the most
tender friendship for the mother and the daughter. The latter was destined by M. Rougin
to the colonel, his nephew, a man already verging towards the decline of life, and who
showed me marks of great esteem and affection; but although the heart of the uncle was
set upon this marriage, which was much wished for by the nephew also, and I was greatly
desirous to promote the satisfaction of both, the great disproportion of age, and the
extreme repugnancy of the young lady, made me join with the mother in postponing the
ceremony, and the affair was at length broken off. The colonel has since married
Mademoiselle Dillan, his relation, beautiful, and amiable as my heart could wish, and
who has made him the happiest of husbands and fathers. However, M. Rougin has not yet
forgotten my opposition to his wishes. My consolation is in the certainty of having
discharged to him, and his family, the duty of the most pure friendship, which does not
always consist in being agreeable, but in advising for the best.
I did not remain long in doubt about the reception which awaited me at Geneva, had I
chosen to return to that city. My book was burned there, and on the 18th of June, nine