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summers in one year.1 Rousseau happened to see the letter, and expressed a desire to make the acquaintance of a man who in returning home should think of that as one of his chief pleasures. To this we owe the following pictures of an interior from St. Pierre's hand :
In the month of June in 1772, a friend having offered to take me to see Jean Jacques Rousseau, he brought me to a house in the Rue Plâtrière, nearly opposite to the Hôtel de la Poste. We mounted to the fourth story. We knocked, and Madame Rousseau opened the door. “Come in, gentlemen,” she said, "you will find my husband.” We passed through a very small antechamber, where the household utensils were neatly arranged, and from that into a room where Jean Jacques was seated in an overcoat and a white cap, busy copying music. He rose with a smiling face, offered us chairs, and resumed his work, at the same time taking a part in conversation. He was thin and of middle height. One shoulder struck me as rather higher than the other otherwise he was very well proportioned. He had a brown complexion, some colour on his cheek-bones, a good mouth, a wellmade nose, a rounded and lofty brow, and eyes full of fire. The oblique lines falling from the nostrils to the extremity of the lips, and marking a physiognomy, in his case expressed great sensibility and something even painful.
One observed in his face three or four of the characteristics of melancholy—the deep receding eyes and the elevation of the eyebrows ; you saw profound sadness in the wrinkles of the brow; a keen and even caustic gaiety in a thousand little creases at the corners of the eyes, of
1 The life of Bernardin de St. Pierre (1737-1814) was nearly as irregular as that of his friend and master. But his character was essentially crafty and selfish, like that of many other senti. mentalists of the first order.
which the orbits entirely disappeared when he laughed.
. . Near him was a spinette on which from time to time he tried an air. Two little beds of blue and white striped calico, a table, and a few chairs, made the stock of his furniture. On the walls hung a plan of the forest and park of Montmorency, where he had once lived, and an engraving of the King of England, his old benefactor. His wife was sitting mending linen ; a canary sang in a cage hung from the ceiling ; sparrows came for crumbs on to the sills of the windows, which on the side of the street were open ; while in the window of the antechamber we noticed boxes and pots filled with such plants as it pleases nature to sow. There was in the whole effect of his little establishment an air of cleanness, peace, and simplicity, which was delightful.
A few days after, Rousseau returned the visit. “He wore a round wig, well powdered and curled, carrying a hat under his arm, and in a full suit of nankeen. His whole exterior was modest, but extremely neat.' He expressed his passion for good coffee, saying that this and ice were the only two luxuries for which he cared. St. Pierre happened to have brought some from the Isle of Bourbon, so on the following day he rashly sent Rousseau a small packet, which at first produced a polite letter of thanks; but the day after the letter of thanks came one of harsh protest against the ignominy of receiving presents which could not be returned, and bidding the unfortunate donor to choose between taking his coffee back or never seeing his new friend again. A fair bargain was ultimately arranged, St. Pierre receiving in exchange for his coffee some curious root or other, and a book on ichthyology. Immediately afterwards he went to dine with his sage.
He arrived at eleven in the forenoon, and they conversed until half-past twelve.
Then his wife laid the cloth. He took a bottle of wine, and as he put it on the table, asked whether we should have enough, or if I was fond of drinking. “How many are there of us," said I. “ Three,” he said ; "you, my wife, and myself.” “Well," I went on, “when I drink wine and am alone, I drink a good half-bottle, and I drink a trifle more when I am with friends.” " In that case,” he answered, “we shall not have enough ; I must go down into the cellar.” He brought up a second bottle. His wife served two dishes, one of small tarts, and another which was covered. He said, showing me the first, “That is your dish and the other is mine." "I don't eat much pastry,” I said, “but I hope to be allowed to taste what you have got.” “Oh, they are both common," he replied ; “but most people don't care for this. 'Tis a Swiss dish; a compound of lard, mutton, vegetables, and chestnuts.” It was excellent. After these two dishes, we had slices of beef in salad ; then biscuits and cheese ; after which his wife served the coffee.
One morning when I was at his house, I saw various domestics either coming for rolls of music, or bringing them to him to copy.
He received them standing and uncovered. He said to some, “ The price is so much," and received the money ; to others, “How soon must I return my copy ?" “My mistress would like to have it back in a fortnight.” “Oh, that's out of the question : I have work, I can't do it in less than three weeks.” I inquired why he did not take his talents to better market. “Ah," he answered, “there are two Rousseaus in the world ; one rich, or who might have been if he had chosen ; a man capricious, singular, fantastic ; this is the Rousseau of the public ; the other is obliged to work for his living, the Rousseau whom you see.”1
They often took long rambles together, and all proceeded most harmoniously, unless St. Pierre offered to pay for such refreshment as they might take, when a furious explosion was sure to follow. Here is one more picture, without explosion.
An Easter Monday Excursion to Mont Valérien. We made an appointment at a café in the Champs Elysées. In the morning we took some chocolate. The wind was westerly, and the air fresh. The sun was surrounded by white clouds, spread in masses over an azure sky. Reaching the Bois de Boulogne by eight o'clock, Jean Jacques set to work botanising. As he collected his little harvest, we kept walking along. We had gone through part of the wood, when in the midst of the solitude we perceived two young girls, one of whom was arranging the other's hair. - [Reminded them of some verses of Virgil.] ...
Arrived on the edge of the river, we crossed the ferry with a number of people whom devotion was taking to Mont Valérien. We climbed an extremely stiff slope, and were hardly on the top before hunger overtook us and we began to think of dining. Rousseau then led the way towards a hermitage, where he knew we could make sure of hospitality. The brother who opened to us, conducted us to the chapel, where they were reciting the litanies of providence, which are extremely beautiful. . . . When we had prayed, Jean Jacques said to me with genuine feeling : “Now I feel what is said in the gospel, “Where several of you are gathered together in my name, there
1 Euv., xii. 69, 73.
will I be in the midst of them.' There is a sentiment of peace and comfort here that penetrates the soul.” I replied, “If Fénelon were alive, you would be a Catholic.” “Ah," said he, the tears in his eyes, “if Fénelon were alive, I would seek to be his lackey.”
Presently we were introduced into the refectory; seated ourselves during the reading. The subject was the injustice of the complainings of man : God has brought him from nothing, he oweth him nothing. After the reading, Rousseau said to me in a voice of deep emotion : “Ah, how happy is the man who can believe. walked about for some time in the cloister and the gardens. They command an immense prospect. Paris in the distance reared her towers all covered with light, and made a crown to the far-spreading landscape. The brightness of the view contrasted with the great leaden clouds that rolled after one another from the west, and seemed to fill the valley. . . . In the afternoon rain came on, as we approached the Porte Maillot. We took shelter along with a crowd of other holiday folk under some chestnuttrees whose leaves were coming out. One of the waiters of a tavern perceiving Jean Jacques, rushed to him full of joy, exclaiming, “What, is it you, mon bonhomme ? Why, it is a whole age since we have seen you.” Rousseau replied cheerfully, “ 'Tis because my wife has been ill, and I myself have been out of sorts.”
pauvre bonhomme," replied the lad, “you must not stop here ; come in, come in, and I will find room for you.” He hurried us along to a room upstairs, where in spite of the crowd he procured for us chairs and a table, and bread and wine. I said to Jean Jacques, “He seems very familiar with you." He answered, “Yes, we have known one another some years. We used to come here in fine weather, my wife and I, to eat a cutlet of an evening.” 1
1 Euv., xii. 104, etc. ; and also the Préambule de l'Arcadie, Euv., vii. 64, 65. VOL. II,