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persuasion. His scornful diatribes against the domestic police of great houses, and the essential inhumanity of the ordinary household relations, are both excellent and of permanent interest. There is the full breath of a new humaneness in them. They were the right way of attacking the decrepitude of feudal luxury and insolence, and its imitation among the great farmers-general. This criticism of the conditions of domestic service marks a beginning of true democracy, as distinguished from the mere pulverisation of aristocracy. It rests on the claim of the common people to an equal consideration, as equally useful and equally capable of virtue and vice; and it implies the essential priority of social over political reform.
The story abounds in sumptuary detail. The table partakes of the general plenty, but this plenty is not ruinous. The senses are gratified without daintiness. The food is common, but excellent of its kind. The service is simple, yet exquisite. All that is mere show, all that depends on vulgar opinion, all fine and elaborate dishes whose value comes of their rarity, and whose names you must know before finding any goodness in them, are banished without recall. Even in such delicacies as they permit themselves, our friends abstain every day from certain things which are reserved for feasts on special occasions, and which are thus made more delightful without being more costly. What do you suppose these delicacies are ? Rare game, or fish from the sea, or dainties from abroad? Better than all that; some delicious vegetable
of the district, one of the savoury things that grow in our garden, some fish from the lake dressed in a peculiar way, some cheese from our mountains. The service is modest and rustic, but clean and smiling. Neither gold-laced liveries in sight of which you die of hunger, nor tall crystals laden with flowers for your only dessert, here take the place of honest dishes, Here people have not the art of nourishing the stomach through the eyes, but they know how to add grace to good cheer, to eat heartily without inconvenience, to drink merrily without losing reason, to sit long at table without weariness, and always to rise from it without disgust.'
One singularity in this ideal household was the avoidance of those middle exchanges between production and consumption, which enrich the shopkeeper but impoverish his customers. Not ane of these exchanges is made without loss, and the multiplication of these losses would weaken even a man of fortune. Wolmar seeks those real exchanges in which the convenience of each party to the bargain serves as profit for both. Thus the wool is sent to the factories, from which they receive cloth in exchange; wine, oil, and bread are produced in the house; the butcher pays himself in live cattle; the grocer receives grain in return for his goods; the wages of the labourers and the house-servants are derived from the produce of the land which they render valuable.2 It was reserved for Fourier, Cabet, and the rest, to carry to its highest i V. ii. 37.
2 V. ii. 47-52.
point this confusion of what is so fascinating in a book with what is practicable in society.
The expatiation on the loveliness of a well-ordered interior may strike the impatient modern as somewhat long, and the movement as very slow, just as people complain of the same things in Goethe's Wahlverwandtschaften. Such complaint only proves inability, which is or is not justifiable, to seize the spirit of the writer. The expatiation was long and the movement slow, because Rousseau was full of his thoughts; they were a deep and glowing part of himself, and did not merely skim swiftly and lightly through his mind. Anybody who takes the trouble may find out the difference between this expression of long mental brooding, and a merely elaborated diction. The length is an essential part of the matter. The whole work is the reflection of a series of slow inner processes, the many careful weavings of a lonely and miserable man's dreams. And Julie expressed the spirit and the joy of these dreams when she wrote, “People are only happy before they are happy. Man, so eager and so feeble, made to desire all and obtain little, has received from heaven a consoling force which brings all that he desires close to him, which subjects it to his imagination, which makes it sensible and present before him, which delivers it over to him. The land of chimera is the only one in this world that is worth dwelling in, and such is the nothingness of the human
i Rousseau considered that the Fourth and Sixth parts of the New Heloïsa were masterpieces of diction. Conf. ix. 334.
lot, that except the being who exists in and by him. self, there is nothing beautiful except that which does not exist.” 1
Closely connected with the vigorous attempt to fascinate his public with the charm of a serene, joyful, and ordered house, is the restoration of marriage in the New Heloïsa to a rank among high and honourable obligations, and its representation as the best support of an equable life of right conduct and fruitful harmonious emotion. Rousseau even invested it with the mysterious dignity as of some natural sacrament. “This chaste knot of nature is subject neither to the sovereign power nor to paternal authority,” he cried, “but only to the authority of the common Father.” And he pointed his remark by a bitter allusion to a celebrated case in which a great house had prevailed on the courts to annul the marriage of an elder son with a young actress, though her character was excellent, and though she had befriended him when he was abandoned by everybody else. This was one of the countless democratic thrusts in the book. In the case of its heroine, however, the author associated the zanctity of marriage not only with equality but with religion. We may imagine the spleen with which the philosophers, with both their hatred of the faith, and their light esteem of marriage bonds, read Julie's eloquent account of her emotions at the moment of
1 VI. viii. 298.
Conf., xi. 106. The La Bédoyère case, which began in 1745. See Barbier, iv. 54, 59. etc.
her union with Wolmar. “I seemed to behold the organ of Providence and to hear the voice of God, as the minister gravely pronounced the words of the holy service. The purity, the dignity, the sanctity of marriage, so vividly set forth in the words of scripture; its chaste and sublime duties, so important to the happiness, order, and peace of the human race, so sweet to fulfil even for their own sake—all this made such an impression on me that I seemed to feel within my breast a sudden revolution. An unknown power seemed all at once to arrest the disorder of
affections, and to restore them to accordance with the law of duty and of nature. The eternal eye that sees everything, I said to myself, now reads to the depth of my heart.” 1
She has all the well-known fervour of the proselyte, and never wearies of extolling the peace of the wedded state. Love is no essential to its perfection. “Worth, virtue, a certain accord not so much in condition and age as in character and temper, are enough between husband and wife; and
; this does not prevent the growth from such a union of
very tender attachment, which is none the less sweet for not being exactly love, and is all the more lasting.”
III. xviii. 84. 2 III. xx. 116. In the letter to Christopher de Beaumont (p. 102), he fires a double shot against the philosophers on the one hand, and the church on the other; exalting continence and purity, of which the philosophers in their reaction against asceticism thought lightly, and exalting marriage over the celibate state, which the churchmen associated with mysterious sanctity.