AN ACCOUNT OF THE CONTROVERSY BETWEEN Mr. HUME and Mr. ROUSSEAU.
August 1, 1766.
MY connection with Mr. Rousseau be∣gan in 1762, when the Parliament of Paris had issued an arret for apprehending him, on account of his Emilius. I was at that time at Edinburgh. A person of great worth wrote to me from Paris, that Mr. Rousseau intended to seek an asylum in England, and desired I would do him all the good offices in my power. As I conceived Mr. Rousseau had actually put his design in execution, I wrote to several of my friends in London, recommending this celebrated exile to their favour. I wrote also imme∣diately to Mr. Rousseau himself; assuring Page 2 him of my desire to oblige, and readiness to serve him. At the same time, I invited him to come to Edinburgh, if the situation would be agreeable, and offered him a retreat in my own house, so long as he should please to partake of it. There needed no other motive to excite me to this act of humanity, than the idea given me of Mr. Rousseau's personal character, by the friend who had recommended him, his well-known genius and abilities, and above all, his misfortunes; the very cause of which was an additional reason to interest me in his favour. The following is the answer I received.
Mr. ROUSSEAU to Mr. HUME.
Motiers-Travers, Feb. 19, 1763.
I DID not receive till lately, and at this place, the letter you did me the ho∣nour to direct to me at London, the 2d of July last, on the supposition that I was then arrived at that capital. I should doubtless have made choice of a retreat in your coun∣try, and as near as possible to yourself, if I had foreseen what a reception I was to meet with in my own. No other nation could claim a preference to England. And this Page 3 prepossession, for which I have dearly suf∣fered, was at that time too natural not to be very excusable; but to my great astonish∣ment, as well as that of the public, I have met with nothing but affronts and insults, where I hoped to have found consolation at least, if not gratitude. How many reasons have I not to regret the want of that asylum and philo∣sophical hospitality I should have found with you! My misfortunes indeed have con∣stantly seemed to lead me in a manner that way. The protection and kindness of my Lord Marshal, your worthy and illustrious countryman, hath brought Scotland home to me, if I may so express myself, in the midst of Switzerland; he hath made you so often bear a part in our conversation, hath brought me so well acquainted with your virtues, which I before was only with your talents, that he inspired me with the most tender friendship for you, and the most ardent desire of obtaining yours, before I even knew you were disposed to grant it. Judge then of the pleasure I seel, at finding this inclination reciprocal. No, Sir, I should pay your merit but half its due, if it were the subject only of my admiration. Your great impartiallty, together with your amazing penetration and genius, would lift you far above the rest of mankind, if you were less attached to them by the goodness Page 4 of your heart. My Lord Marshal, in ac∣quainting me that the amiableness of your disposition was still greater than the subli∣mity of your genius, rendered a correspond∣ence with you every day more desirable, and cherished in me those wishes which he inspired, of ending my days near you. Oh, Sir, that a better state of health, and more convenient circumstances, would but enable me to take such a journey in the manner I could like! Could I but hope to see you and my Lord Marshal one day settled in your own country; which should for ever after be mine; I should be thankful, in such a society, for the very misfortunes that led me into it, and should account the day of its commencement as the first of my life. Would to Heaven I might live to see that happy day, though now more to be desired than expected! With what transports should I not exclaim, on setting foot in that happy country which gave birth to David Hume and the Lord Marshal of Scotland!
J. J. R.
This letter is not published from a motive of vanity; as will be seen presently, when I give the reader a recantation of all the eu∣logies it contains; but only to compleat the Page 5 course of our correspondence, and to shew that I have been long since disposed to Mr. Rousseau's service.
From this time our correspondence en∣tirely ceased, till about the middle of last autumn (1765;) when it was renewed by the following accident. A certain lady of Mr. Rousseau's acquaintance, being on a journey to one of the French provinces, bordering on Switzerland, had taken that opportunity of paying a visit to our solitary philosopher, in his retreat at Motiers-Tra∣vers. To this lady he complained, that his situation in Newschatel was become ex∣tremely disagreeable, as well on account of the superstition of the people, as the resent∣ment of the clergy; and that he was afraid he should shortly be under the necessity of seeking an asylum elsewhere; in which case, England appeared to him, from the nature of its laws and government, to be the only place to which he could retire with perfect security; adding, that my Lord Marshal, his former protector, had advised him to put himself under my protection (that was the term he was pleased to make use of) and that he would accordingly address him∣self to me, if he thought it would not be giving me too much trouble.
I was at that time charged with the af∣fairs of England at the court of France; Page 6 but as I had the prospect of soon returning to London, I could not reject a proposal made to me under such circumstances, by a man so celebrated for his genius and misfor∣tunes. As soon as I was thus informed, therefore, of the situation and intentions of Mr. Rousseau, I wrote to him, making him an offer of my services; to which he re∣turned the following answer.
Mr. ROUSSEAU to Mr. HUME.
Strasbourg, Dec. 4, 1765.
YOUR goodness affects me as much as it does me honour. The best reply I can make to your offers is to accept them, which I do. I shall set out in five or six days to throw myself into your arms. Such is the advice of my Lord Marshal, my pro∣tector, friend and father; it is the advice also of Madam * * *† whose good sense and benevolence serve equally for my direction Page 7 and consolation; in fine, I may say it is the advice of my own heart, which takes a pleasure in being indebted to the most illu∣strious of my contemporaries, to a man whose goodness surpasses his glory. I sigh after a solitary and free retirement, wherein I might finish my days in peace. If this be procured me by means of your benevolent solicitude, I shall then enjoy at once the plea∣sure of the only blessing my heart desires, and also that of being indebted for it to you. I am, Sir, with all my heart, &c.
J. J. R.
Not that I had deferred till this time my endeavours to be useful to Mr. Rousseau. The following letter was communicated to me by Mr. Clairaut, some weeks before his death.
Mr. ROUSSEAU to Mr. CLAIRAUT.
Motiers-Travers, March 3, 1765.
THE remembrance of your former kindness, induces me to be again im∣portunate. It is to desire you will be so good, for the second time, to be the censor of one of my performances. It is a very paltry rhap∣sody, Page 8 which I compiled many years ago, under the title of A Musical Dictionary, and am now obliged to republish it for susistence. Amidst the torrent of misfortunes that over-whelm me, I am not in a situation to review the work; which, I know, is full of over∣sights and mistakes. If any interest you may take in the lot of the most unfortunate of mankind, should induce you to bestow a little more attention on his work than on that of another, I should be extremely obli∣ged to you, if you would take the trouble to correct such errors as you may meet with in the perusal. To point them out, without correcting them, would be doing nothing, for I am absolutely incapable of paying the least attention to such a work; so that if you would but condescend to alter, add, re∣trench, and in short use it as you would do your own, you would do a very great cha∣rity, for which I should be extremely thank∣ful. Accept, Sir, my most humble excuses and salutations.
J. J. R.
It is with reluctance I say it, but I am compelled to it; I now know of a certainty that this affectation of extreme poverty and distress was a mere pretence, a petty kind of imposture which Mr. Rousseau successfully employed to excite the compassion of the Page 9 public; but I was then very far from sus∣pecting any such artifice. I must own, I felt on this occasion an emotion of pity, mixed with indignation, to think a man of letters of such eminent merit, should be re∣duced, in spite of the simplicity of his man∣ner of living, to such extreme indigence; and that this unhappy state should be rendered more intolerable by sickness, by the approach of old age, and the implacable rage of per∣secution. I knew that many persons impu∣ted the wretchedness of Mr. Rousseau to his excessive pride, which induced him to refuse the assistance of his friend; but I thought this fault, if it were a fault, was a very respectable one. Too many men of letters have debated their character in stoop∣ing so low as to solicit the assistance of per∣sons of wealth or power, unworthy of af∣fording them protection; and I conceived that a noble pride, even though carried to excess, merited some indulgence in a man of genius, who, borne up by a sense of his own superiority and a love of independence, should have braved the storms of fortune and the in∣sults of mankind. I proposed, therefore, to serve Mr. Rousseau in his own way. I desired Mr. Clairaut, accordingly, to give me his letter; which I shewed to several of Mr. Rousseau's friends and patrons in Paris. At the same time, I proposed to them a Page 10 scheme, by which he might be relieved, without suspecting any thing of the matter. This was to engage the bookseller, who was to publish his dictionary, to give Mr. Rous∣seau a greater sum for the copy than he had offered, and to indemnify him by paying him the difference. But this project, which could not be executed without the assistance of Mr. Clairaut, fell to the ground, at the unexpected decease of that learned and re∣spectable academician.
Retaining, however, still the same idea of Mr. Rousseau's excessive poverty, I con∣stantly retained the same inclination to oblige him; and when I was informed of his intention to go to England under my conduct, I formed a scheme much of the same kind with that I could not execute at Paris. I wrote immediately to my friend, Mr. John Stewart, of Buckingham street, that I had an affair to communicate to him of so secret and delicate a nature, that I should not venture even to commit it to pa∣per, but that he might learn the particulars of Mr. Elliot (now Sir Gilbert Elliot) who would soon return from Paris to London. The plan was this, and was really communi∣cated by Mr. Elliot some time after to Mr. Stewart; who was at the same time en∣joined to the greatest secrecy.
Page 11 Mr. Stewart was to look out for some ho∣nest discreet farmer in his neighbourhood in the country, who might be willing to lodge and board Mr. Rousseau and his Gouvern∣ante, in a very decent and plentiful manner, at a pension which Mr. Stewart might settle at fifty or sixty pounds a year; the farmer engaging to keep such agreement a profound secret, and to receive from Mr. Rousseau only twenty or twenty-five pounds a year; I engaging to supply the difference.
It was not long besore Mr. Stewart wrote me word he had found a situation which he conceived might be agreeable; on which I desired he would get the apartment furnished in a proper and convenient manner at my expence. But this scheme, in which there could not possibly enter any motive of vanity on my part, secrecy being a necessary con∣dition of its execution, did not take place; other designs presenting themselves more con∣venient and agreeable. The sact, however, is well known both to Mr. Stewart and Sir Gilbert Elliot.
It will not be improper here to mention another plan concerted with the same inten∣tions. I had accompanied Mr. Rousseau into a very pleasant part of the county of Surry, where he spent two days at Colonel Webb's; Mr. Rousseau seeming to me highly delighted with the natural and solitary beau∣ties Page 12 of the place. Through the means of Mr. Stewart, therefore, I entered into treaty with Colonel Webb for the purchasing the house, with a little estate adjoining, in order to make a settlement for Mr. Rous∣seau. If after what has passed, Mr. Rous∣seau's testimony be of any validity, I may appeal to himself for the truth of what I advance. But be this as it will, these facts are well known to Mr. Stewart, to General Clarke, and in part to Colonel Webb.
But to proceed in my narrative. Mr. Rousseau came to Paris, provided with a passport, which his friends had obtained for him. I conducted him to England. For upwards of two months after our arrival, I employed myself, and my friends, in look∣ing out for some agreeable situation for him. We gave way to all his caprices; excused all his singularities; indulged him in all his humours; in short, neither time nor trouble was spared to procure him what he desired‖; Page 13 and, notwithstanding he rejected several of the projects which I had laid out for him, yet I thought myself sufficiently recompensed for my trouble, by the gratitude and even affection with which he appeared to repay my solicitude.
At length his present settlement was pro∣posed and approved. Mr. Davenport, a gentleman of family, fortune, and worth, offered him his house at Wooton, in the county of Derby, where he himself seldom resides, and at which Mr. Rousseau and his housekeeper are boarded, at a very moderate expence.
When Mr. Rousseau arrived at Wooton, he wrote me the following letter.
Mr. ROUSSEAU to Mr. HUME.
Wooton, March 22, 1766.
YOU see already, my dear patron, by the date of my letter, that I am ar∣rived at the place of my destination; but Page 14 you cannot see all the charms which I find in it; to do this, you should be acquainted with the situation, and be able to read my heart. You ought, however, to read at least those of my sentiments with respect to you, and which you have so well deserved. If I live in this agreeable asylum as happy as I hope to do, one of the greatest pleasures of my life will be, to reflect that I owe it to you. To make another happy, is to de∣serve to be happy one's self. May you there∣fore find in yourself the reward of all you have done for me! Had I been alone, I might perhaps have met with hospitality, but I should have never relished it so highly as I now do, in owing it to your friendship. Retain still that friendship for me, my dear patron; love me for my sake, who am so much indebted to you; love me for your own, for the good you have done me. I am sensible, of the full value of your sincere friendship; it is the object of my ardent wishes; I am ready to repay it with all mine, and feel something in my heart which may one day convince you that it is not with∣out its value. As, for the reasons agreed on between us, I shall receive nothing by the post, you will be pleased, when you have the goodness to write to me, to send your letters to Mr. Davenport. The affair of the carriage is not yet adjusted, because I Page 15 know I was imposed on: it is a trifling fault, however, which may be only the effect of an obliging vanity, unless it should happen to be repeated. If you were concerned in it, I would advise you to give up, once for all, these little impositions, which cannot proceed from any good motive, when con∣verted into snares for simplicity. I embrace you, my dear patron, with the same cor∣diality which I hope to find in you.
J. J. R.
Some few days after, I received from him another letter; of which the following is a copy.
Mr. ROUSSEAU to Mr. HUME.
Wooton, March 29, 1766.
YOU will see, my dear patron, by the letter Mr. Davenport will have transmitted you, how agreeably I find my∣self situated in this place. I might, per∣haps, be more at my ease if I were less no∣ticed; but the solicitude of so police an host as mine is too obliging to give offence; and as there is nothing in life without its in∣convenience, that of being too good, is one of those which is the most tolerable. I find a much greater inconvenience in not being able to make the servants understand me, Page 16 and particularly in my not understanding them. Luckily Mrs. le Vasseur serves me as interpreter, and her fingers speak better than my tongue. There is one advantage however attending my ignorance, which is a kind of compensation; it serves to tire and keep at a distance impertinent visitors. The minister of the parish came to see me yesterday, who, finding that I spoke to him only in French, would not speak to me in English, so that our interview was almost a silent one. I have taken a great fancy to this expedient, and shall make use of it with all my neighbours, if I have any. Nay, should I even learn to speak English, I would converse with them only in French, espe∣cially if I were so happy as to find they did not understand a word of that language. An artifice this, much of the same kind with that which the Negroes pretend is practised by the monkeys, who, they say, are capable of speech, but cannot be prevailed upon to talk, lest they should be set to work.
It is not true in any sense, that I agreed to accept of a model from Mr. Gosset as a pre∣sent. On the contrary, I asked him the price, which he told me was a guinea and half, adding that he intended to present me with it; an offer I did not accept. I desire you therefore to pay him for it, and Mr. Davenport will be so good as repay you the Page 17 money. And if Mr. Gosset does not consent to be paid for it, it must be returned to him, and purchased by some other hand. It is designed for Mr. du Peyrou, who desired long since to have my portrait, and caused one to be painted in miniature, which is not at all like me. You were more fortunate in this respect than he, but I am sorry that, by your assiduity to serve me, you deprived me of the pleasure of discharging the same friendly obligation with regard to yourself. Be so good, my dear patron, as to order the model to be sent to Messrs. Guinand and Hankey, Little St. Helen's, Bishopsgate-street, in order to be transmitted to Mr. du Peyrou by the first safe conveyance. It hath been a frost ever since I have been here: the snow falls daily; and the wind is cutting and severe: notwith∣standing all which, I had rather lodge in the hollow trunk of an old tree, in this country, than in the most superb apartment in London. Good day, my dear patron. I embrace you with all my heart.
J. J. R.
Mr. Rousseau and I having agreed not to lay each other under any restraint by a con∣tinued correspondence, the only subject of our future letters was the obtaining a pension for him from the king of England; which Page 18 was then in agitation; and of which affair the following is a concise and faithful rela∣tion.
As we were conversing together one eve∣ning at Calais, where we were detained by contrary winds, I asked Mr. Rousseau if he would not accept of a pension from the king of England, in case his majesty should be pleased to grant him one. To this he re∣plied, it was a matter of some difficulty to re∣solved on; but that he should be entirely di∣rected by the advice of my Lord Marshall. Encouraged by this answer, I no sooner ar∣rived in London, than I addressed myself to his majesty's ministers, and particularly to General Conway, Secretary of State, and General Graeme, Secretary and Chamberlain to the queen. Application was accordingly made to their majesties, who with their usual goodness consented, on condition only that the affair should not be made publick. Mr. Rousseau and I both wrote to my Lord Marshall; and Mr. Rousseau expressly ob∣served in his letter, that the circumstance of the affair's being to be kept secret, was very agreeable to him. The consent of my Lord Marshall arrived, as may readily be imagi∣ned; soon after which Mr. Rousseau set out for Wooton; while the business remained Page 19 some time in suspense, on account of the in∣disposition of General Conway.
In the mean time, I began to be afraid, from what I had observed of Mr. Rous∣seau's disposition and character, that his na∣tural restlessness of mind would prevent his enjoyment of that repose, to which the hospitality and security he found in Eng∣land, invited him. I saw, with infinite re∣gret, that he was born for storms and tu∣mults, and that the disgust which might succeed the peaceful enjoyment of solitude and tranquillity, would soon render him a burthen to himself and every body about him*. But, as I lived at the distance of an hundred and fifty miles from the place of his residence, and was constantly employed in doing him good offices, I did not expect that I myself should be the victim of this un∣happy disposition.
Page 20 It is necessary to introduce here a letter, which was written last winter, at Paris, in the name of the king of Prussia.
My dear JOHN JAMES,
YOU have renounced Geneva, your native soil. You have been driven from Switzerland, a country of which you have made such boast in your writings. In France you are outlawed: come then to me. I admire your talents, and amuse myself with your reveries; on which how∣ever, by the way, you bestow too much time and attention. It is high time to grow prudent and happy; you have made yourself sufficiently talked of for singularities little becoming a truly great man: show your enemies that you have sometimes com∣mon sense: this will vex them without hurt∣ing you. My dominions afford you a peace∣ful retreat: I am desirous to do you good, and will do it, if you can but think it such. But if you are determined to refuse my assist∣ance, you may expect that I shall say not a word about it to any one. If you persist in perplexing your brains to find out new mis∣fortunes, chuse such as you like best; I am a king and can make you as miserable as you can wish; at the same time, I will engage to do that which your enemies never will, I Page 21 will cease to persecute you, when you are no longer vain of persecution.
Your sincere friend, FREDERIC.
This letter was written by Mr. Horace Walpole, about three weeks before I left Paris; but though we lodged in the same hotel, and were often together, Mr. Wal∣pole, out of regard to me, carefully con∣cealed this piece of pleasantry till after my departure. He then shewed it to some friends, who took copies; and those of course presently multiplied: so that this little piece had been spread with rapidity all over Europe, and was in every body's hands when I saw it, for the first time, in London.
I believe every one will allow, who knows any thing of the liberty of this country, that such a piece of raillery could not, even by the utmost influence of kings, lords and commons, by all the authority ecclesiastical, civil and military, be kept from finding its way to the press. It was accordingly pub∣lished in the St. James's Chronicle, and a few days after I was very much surprized to find the following piece in the same paper.
Mr. ROUSSEAU to the AUTHOR of the St. James's Chronicle.
Wooton, April 7, 1766.
YOU have been wanting in that respect which every private person owes to crowned heads, in publickly ascribing to the king of Prussia, a letter full of baseness and extravagance; by which circumstance alone you might be very well assured he could not be the author. You have even dared to sub∣scribe his name, as if you had seen him write it with his own hand. I inform you, Sir, that this letter was fabricated at Paris, and, what rends and afflicts my heart, that the impostor hath his accomplices in England.
In justice to the king of Prussia, to truth and to myself, you ought therefore to print the letter I am now writing, and to which I set my name; by way of reparation for a fault, which you would undoubtedly re∣proach yourself for, if you knew of what atrociousness you have been made the instru∣ment. Sir, I make you my sincere saluta∣tions.
J. J. R.
Page 23 I was sorry to see Mr. Rousseau display such an excess of sensibility, on account of so simple and unavoidable an incident, as the publication of this pretended letter from the King of Prussia. But I should have accused myself of a most black and ma∣levolent disposition, if I had imagined Mr. Rousseau could have suspected me to have been the editor of it; or that he had inten∣tionally directed his resentment against me. He now informs me, however, that this was really the case. Just eight days before, I had received a letter, written in the most amicable terms imaginable*. I am, surely, the last man in the world, who, in common sense ought to be suspected; yet, without even the pretence of the smallest proof or probability, I am, of a sudden, the first man not only suspected, but certainly con∣cluded to be the publisher; I am, without further enquiry or explication, intentionally insulted in a public paper; I am, from the dearest friend, converted into a treacherous and malignant enemy; and all my present and past services are at one stroke very art∣fully cancelled. Were it not ridiculous to employ reasoning on such a subject, and with such a man, I might ask Mr. Rousseau,
But not imagining that I was the object of so black and ridiculous a suspicion, I pur∣sued my usual train, by serving my friend in the least doubtful manner. I renewed my applications to General Conway, as soon as the state of that gentleman's health permitted it: the General applies again to his Majesty: his Majesty's consent is renewed: the Mar∣quis of Rockingham, first commissioner of the Treasury, is also applied to: the whole affair is happily finished; and full of joy, I conveyed the intelligence to my friend. On which Mr. Conway soon after received the following letter.
Mr. ROUSSEAU to General CONWAY.
May 12, 1766.
AFFECTED with a most lively sense of the favour his Majesty hath honoured me with, and with that of your goodness, which procured it me; it affords me the most pleasing sensation to reflect, that the best of Kings, and the Minister most worthy of his confidence, are pleased to interest themselves in my fortune. This, Sir, is an advantage of which I am justly tenacious, and which I will never deserve to lose. But it is necessary I should speak to you with that frankness you admire. After the many misfortunes that have befallen me, I thought myself armed against all possible events: there have happened to me some, however, which I did not foresee; and which indeed an ingenuous mind ought not to have foreseen: hence it is that they affect me by so much the more severely. The trouble in which they involve me, indeed, deprives me of the ease and presence of mind necessary to direct my conduct: all I can reasonably do, under so distressed a situation, is to sus∣pend my resolutions about every affair of such importance as is that in agitation. So far Page 26 from refusing the beneficence of the King from pride, as is imputed to me, I am proud of acknowleging it, and am only sorry I cannot do it more publicly. But when I actually receive it, I would be able to give up myself entirely to those sentiments which it would naturally inspire, and to have an heart replete with gratitude for his Majesty's goodness, and yours. I am not at all afraid this manner of thinking will make any al∣teration in yours towards me. Deign, there∣fore, Sir, to preserve that goodness for me, till a more happy opportunity; when you will be satisfied that I defer taking the ad∣vantage of it, only to render myself more worthy of it. I beg of you, Sir, to accept of my most humble and respectful saluta∣tions.
J. J. R.
This letter appeared both to General Con∣way and to me a plain refusal, as long as the article of secrecy was insisted on; but as I knew that Mr. Rousseau had been acquaint∣ed with that condition from the beginning, I was the less surprized at his silence towards me. I thought, that my friend, conscious of having treated me ill in this affair, was ashamed to write to me; and having pre∣vailed on General Conway to keep the mat∣ter still open, I wrote a very friendly letter Page 27 to Mr. Rousseau, exhorting him to return to his former way of thinking, and to ac∣cept of the pension.
As to the deep distress which he mentions to General Conway, and which, he says, deprives him even of the use of his reason, I was set very much at ease on that head, by receiving a letter from Mr. Davenport; who told me, that his guest was at that very time extremely happy, easy, chearful, and even sociable. I saw plainly, in this event, the usual infirmity of my friend, who wishes to interest the world in his favour, by pas∣sing for sickly, and persecuted, and distres∣sed, and unfortunate, beyond all measure, even while he is the most happy and con∣tented. His pretences of an extreme sen∣sibility had been too frequently repeated, to have any effect on a man who was so well acquainted with them.
I waited three weeks in vain for an an∣swer: I thought this a little strange, and I even wrote so to Mr. Davenport; but hav∣ing to do with a very odd sort of a man, and still accounting for his silence, by supposing him ashamed to write to me, I was resolved not to be discouraged, nor to lose the oppor∣tunity of doing him an essential service, on account of a vain ceremonial. I accordingly renewed my applications to the Ministers, and was so happy as to be enabled to write Page 28 the following letter to Mr. Rousseau, the only one of so old a date of which I have a copy.
Mr. HUME to Mr. ROUSSEAU.
Lisle-street, Leicester-fields, 19 June, 1766.
AS I have not received any answer from you, I conclude, that you persevere in the same resolution of refusing all marks of his Majesty's goodness, as long as they must remain a secret. I have therefore ap∣plied to General Conway to have this con∣dition removed; and I was so fortunate as to obtain his promise that he would speak to the King for that purpose. It will only be requisite, said he, that we know previously from Mr. Rousseau, whe∣ther he would accept of a pension publicly granted him, that his Majesty may not be exposed to a second refusal. He gave me authority to write to you on that subject; and I beg to hear your resolution as soon as pos∣sible. If you give your consent, which I earnestly intreat you to do, I know, that I could depend on the good offices of the Duke of Richmond, to second General Conway's application; so that I have no doubt of success. I am, my Dear Sir,
Yours, with great sincerity, D. H.
Page 29 In five days I received the following an∣swer.
Mr. ROUSSEAU to Mr. HUME.
Wooton, June 23, 1766.
I Imagined, Sir, that my silence, truly in∣terpreted by your own conscience, had said enough; but since you have some de∣sign in not understanding me, I shall speak. You have but ill disguised yourself. I know you, and you are not ignorant of it. Before we had any personal connections, quarrels, or disputes; while we knew each other only by literary reputation, you affectionately made me the offer of the good offices of yourself and friends. Affected by this ge∣nerosity, I threw myself into your arms; you brought me to England, apparently to procure me an asylum, but in fact to bring me to dishonour. You applied to this noble work, with a zeal worthy of your heart, and a success worthy of your abilities. You needed not have taken so much pains: you live and converse with the world; I with my∣self in solitude. The public love to be de∣ceived, and you were formed to deceive them. I know one man, however, whom you can not deceive; I mean yourself. You know with what horrour my heart rejected the Page 30 first suspicion of your designs. You know I embraced you with tears in my eyes, and told you, if you were not the best of men, you must be the blackest of mankind. In reflecting on your private conduct, you must say to yourself sometimes, you are not the best of men: under which conviction, I doubt much if ever you will be the happiest.
I leave your friends and you to carry on your schemes as you please; giving up to you, without regret, my reputation during life; certain that sooner or later justice will be done to that of both. As to your good offices in matters of interest, which you have made use of as a mask, I thank you for them, and shall dispense with profiting by them. I ought not to hold a correspond∣ence with you any longer, or to accept of it to my advantage in any affair in which you are to be the mediator. Adieu, Sir, I wish you the truest happiness; but as we ought not to have any thing to say to each other for the future, this is the last letter you will receive from me.
J. J. R.
To this I immediately sent the following reply.
Mr. HUME to Mr. ROUSSEAU.
June 26, 1766.
AS I am conscious of having ever acted towards you the most friendly part, of having always given the most tender, the most active proofs of sincere affection; you may judge of my extreme surprize on per∣using your epistle. Such violent accusations, confined altogether to generals, it is as im∣possible to answer, as it is impossible to com∣prehend them. But affairs cannot, must not remain on that footing. I shall chari∣tably suppose, that some infamous calumni∣ator has belied me to you. But in that case, it is your duty, and I am persuaded it will be your inclination, to give me an oppor∣tunity of detecting him, and of justifying myself; which can only be done by your mentioning the particulars of which I am accused. You say, that I myself know that I have been false to you; but I say it loudly, and will say it to the whole world, that I know the contrary, that I know my friendship towards you has been unbounded and uninterrupted, and that though instances of it have been very generally remarked both in France and England, the smallest part of it only has as yet come to the knowlege Page 32 of the public. I demand, that you will produce me the man who will assert the contrary; and above all, I demand, that he will mention any one particular in which I have been wanting to you. You owe this to me; you owe it to yourself; you owe it to truth, and honour, and justice, and to every thing that can be deemed sacred among men. As an innocent man; I will not say, as your friend; I will not say, as your bene∣factor; but, I repeat it, as an innocent man, I claim the privilege of proving my innocence, and of refuting any scandalous lie which may have been invented against me. Mr. Davenport, to whom I have sent a copy of your letter, and who will read this before he delivers it, I am confident, will se∣cond my demand, and will tell you, that no∣thing possibly can be more equitable. Happily I have preserved the letter you wrote me after your arrival at Wooton; and you there ex∣press in the strongest terms, indeed in terms too strong, your satisfaction in my poor en∣deavours to serve you: the little epistolary intercourse which afterwards passed between us, has been all employed on my side to the most friendly purposes. Tell me, what has since given you offence? Tell me of what I am accused. Tell me the man who ac∣cuses me. Even after you have fulfilled all these conditions, to my satisfaction, and to Page 33 that of Mr. Davenport, you will have great difficulty to justify the employing such out∣rageous terms towards a man, with whom you have been so intimately connected, and whom, on many accounts, you ought to have treated with some regard and decency.
Mr. Davenport knows the whole transac∣tion about your pension, because I thought it necessary that the person who had under∣taken your settlement, should be fully ac∣quainted with your circumstances; lest he should be tempted to perform towards you concealed acts of generosity, which, if they accidentally came to your knowlege, might give you some grounds of offence. I am, Sir,
Mr. Davenport's authority procured me, in three weeks, the following enormous letter; which however has this advantage, that it confirms all the material circumstan∣ces of the foregoing narrative. I have sub∣joined a few notes relative to some facts which Mr. Rousseau hath not truly repre∣sented, and leave my readers to judge which of us deserves the greatest confidence.
Mr. ROUSSEAU to Mr. HUME.
Wooton, July 10, 1766.
I AM indisposed, and little in a situation to write; but you require an explana∣tion, and it must be given you: it was your own fault you had it not long since; but you did not desire it, and I was therefore silent: at present you do, and I have sent it. I will be a long one, for which I am very sorry; but I have much to say, and would put an end to the subject at once.
As I live retired from the world, I am ignorant of what passes in it. I have no party, no associates, no intrigues; I am told nothing, and I know only what I feel. But as care hath been taken to make me severely feel; that I well know. The first concern of those who engage in bad designs is to se∣cure themselves from legal proofs of detec∣tion: it would not be very adviseable to seek a remedy against them at law. The innate conviction of the heart admits of another kind of proof, which influences the senti∣ments of honest men. You well know the basis of mine.
You ask me, with great confidence, to name your accuser. That accuser, Sir, is Page 35 the only man in the world whose testimony I should admit against you; it is yourself. I shall give myself up without fear or reserve to the natural frankness of my disposition; being an enemy to every kind of artifice, I shall speak with the same freedom as if you were an indifferent person, on whom I placed all that confidence which I no longer have in you. I will give you an history of the emotions of my heart, and of what produced them; while, speaking of Mr. Hume in the third person, I shall make yourself the judge of what I ought to think of him. Notwith∣standing the length of my letter, I shall pur∣sue no other order than that of my ideas, beginning with the premises, and ending with the demonstration.
I quitted Switzerland, wearied out by the barbarous treatment I had undergone; but which affected only my personal security, while my honour was safe. I was going, as my heart directed me, to join my Lord Mar∣shal; when I received at Strasburg a most af∣fectionate invitation from Mr. Hume, to go over with him to England; where he pro∣mised me the most agreeable reception, and more tranquillity than I have met with. I he∣sitated some time between my old friend and my new one; in this I was wrong. I pre∣ferred the latter, and in this was still more so. But the desire of visiting in person a ce∣lebrated Page 36 nation, of which I had heard both so much good and so much ill, prevailed. Assured I could not lose George Keith, I was flattered with the acquisition of David Hume. His great merit, extraordinary abi∣lities, and established probity of character, made me desirous of annexing his friendship to that with which I was honoured by his illustrious countryman. Besides, I gloried not a little in setting an example to men of letters, in a sincere union between two men so different in their principles.
Before I had received an invitation from the King of Prussia, and my Lord Marshal, undetermined about the place of my retreat, I had desired, and obtained by the interest of my friends, a passport from the Court of France. I made use of this, and went to Paris to join Mr. Hume. He saw, and per∣haps saw too much of, the favourable reception I met with from a great Prince, and I will venture to say, of the public. I yielded, as it was my duty, though with reluctance, to that eclat; concluding how far it must excite the envy of my enemies. At the same time, I saw with pleasure the regard which the public entertained for Mr. Hume, sensibly increasing throughout Paris, on account of the good work he had undertaken with respect to me. Doubtless he was af∣fected Page 37 too; but I know not if it was in the same manner as I was.
We set out with one of my friends, who came to England almost entirely on my ac∣count. When we were landed at Dover, transported with the thoughts of having set foot in this land of liberty, under the conduct of so celebrated a person, I threw my arms round his neck, and pressed him to my heart, without speaking a syllable; bathing his checks, as I kissed them, with tears sufficiently expres∣sive. This was not the only, not the most re∣markable instance I have given him of the ef∣fusions of an heart full of sensibility. I know not what he does with the recollection of them, when that happens; but I have a notion they must be sometimes troublesome to him.
At our arrival in London, we were migh∣tily caressed and entertained: all ranks of people eagerly pressing to give me marks of their benevolence and esteem. Mr. Hume presented me politely to every body; and it was natural for me to ascribe to him, as I did, the best part of my good reception. My heart was full of him. I spoke in his praise to every one, I wrote to the same purpose to all my friends; my attachment to him ga∣thering every day new strength, while his appeared the most affectionate to me; of which he frequently gave me instances that touched me extremely. That of causing my Page 38 portrait to be painted, however, was not of the number. This seemed to me to carry with it too much the affectation of popula∣rity, and had an air of ostentation which by no means pleased me. All this, however, might have been easily excusable, had Mr. Hume been a man apt to throw away his money, or had a gallery of pictures with the portraits of his friends. After all, I freely confess, that, on this head, I may be in the wrong*.
But what appears to me an act of friend∣ship and generosity the most undoubted and estimable, in a word, the most worthy of Mr. Hume, was the care he took to solicit for me, of his own accord, a pension from the King; to which most assuredly I had no right to aspire. As I was a witness to the zeal he exerted in that affair, I was greatly affected with it. Nothing could flatter me more than a piece of service of that nature; not merely for the sake of interest; for, too much at∣tached, Page 39 perhaps, to what I actually possess, I am not capable of desiring what I have not, and as I am able to subsist on my labour and the assistance of my friends, I covet nothing more. But the honour of receiving testimo∣nies of the goodness, I will not say of so great a monarch, but of so good a father, so good a husband, so good a master, so good a friend, and above all, so worthy a man, was sensibly affecting: and when I consider∣ed farther, that the minister who had ob∣tained for me this favour, was a living instance of that probity which of all others is the most important to mankind, and at the same time hardly ever met with in the only character wherein it can be useful, I could not check the emotions of my pride, at having for my benefactors three men, who of all the world I could most desire to have my friends. Thus, so far from refusing the pension offered me, I only made one condition necessary for my acceptance; this was the consent of a person, whom I could not, without neglecting my duty, fail to consult.
Being honoured with the civilities of all the world, I endeavoured to make a proper return. In the mean time, my bad state of health, and being accustomed to live in the country, made my residence in town very disagreeable. Immediately country houses presented themselves in plenty; I had my Page 40 choice of all the counties of England. Mr. Hume took the trouble to receive these pro∣posals, and to represent them to me; accom∣panying me to two or three in the neighbour∣ing counties. I hesitated a good while in my choice, and he increased the difficulty of de∣termination. At length, I fixed on this place, and immediately Mr. Hume settled the affair; all difficulties vanished, and I de∣parted; arriving presently at this solitary, con∣venient, and agreeable habitation; where the owner of the house provides every thing, and nothing is wanting. I became tranquil, in∣dependant; and this seemed to be the wished for moment, when all my misfortunes should have an end. On the contrary, it was now they began; misfortunes more cruel than any I had yet experienced.
Hitherto I have spoken in the fulness of my heart, and to do justice, with the greatest pleasure, to the good offices of Mr. Hume. Would to Heaven that what remains for me to say were of the same nature! It would never give me pain to speak what would re∣dound to his honour; nor is it proper to set a value on benefits till one is accused of in∣gratitude; which is the case at present. I will venture to make one observation, there∣fore, which renders it necessary. In esti∣mating the services of Mr. Hume, by the time and the pains they took him up, they Page 41 were of an infinite value, and that still more from the good-will displayed in their per∣formance; but for the actual service they were of to me, it was much more in ap∣pearance than reality. I did not come over to beg my bread in England; I brought the means of subsistence with me. I came merely to seek an asylum in a country which is open to every stranger without distinction. I was, besides, not so totally unknown as that, if I had arrived alone, I should have wanted either assistance or service. If some persons have sought my acquaintance for the sake of Mr. Hume, others have sought it for my own. Thus when Mr. Davenport, for example, was so kind as to offer my present retreat, it was not for the sake of Mr. Hume, whom he did not know, and whom he saw only in order to desire him to make me his obliging proposal. So that when Mr. Hume endeavours to alienate from me this worthy man, he takes that from me which he did not give me*. All the good that hath been done me, would have been done me nearly the same without him, and perhaps better; but the evil would not have been done me at all: for Page 42 why should I have enemies in England? Why are those enemies all the friends of Mr. Hume? Who could have excited their en∣mity against me? It certainly was not I; who knew nothing of them, nor ever saw them in my life: I should not have had a single enemy had I come to England alone*.
I have hitherto dwelt upon public and no∣torious facts; which from their own nature, and my acknowledgment, have made the greatest eclat. Those which are to follow are particular and secret, at least in their cause, and all possible measures have been tak∣en to keep the knowledge of them from the public; but as they are well known to the person interested, they will not have the less influence toward his own conviction.
A very short time after our arrival in Lon∣don, I observed an absurd change in the minds of the people regarding me, which soon became very apparent. Before I arrived Page 43 in England, there was not a nation in Eu∣rope in which I had a greater reputation, I will venture to say, was held in greater esti∣mation. The public papers were full of en∣comiums on me, and a general outcry pre∣vailed on my persecutors*. This was the case at my arrival, which was published in the news papers with triumph; England prided itself in affording me refuge, and justly gloried on that occasion in its laws and government: when, all of a sudden, without the least assignable cause, the tone was changed; and that so speedily and totally, that of all the caprices of the public, never Page 44 was known any thing more surprizing. The signal was given in a certain Magazine, equally full of follies and falshoods, in which the author, being well informed, or pretend∣ing to be so, gives me out for the son of a musician. From this time*, I was con∣stantly spoken of in print in a very equivocal or slighting manner. Every thing that had been published concerning my misfortunes was misrepresented, altered, or placed in a wrong light, and always as much as possible to my disadvantage. So far was any body from speaking of the reception I met with at Paris, and which had made but too much noise, it was not generally supposed that I durst have appeared in that city; even one of Mr. Hume's friends being very much sur∣prized when I told him I came through it.
Accustomed as I had been too much to the inconstancy of the public, to be affected by this instance of it, I could not help being astonished, however, at a change, so very Page 45 sudden and general, that not one of those who had so much praised me in my absence, appeared, now I was present, to think even of my existence. I thought it something very odd that, immediately after the return of Mr. Hume, who had so much credit in Lon∣don, with so much influence over the book∣sellers and men of letters, and such great connections with them, his presence should produce an effect so contrary to what might have been expected; that among so many writers of every kind, not one of his friends should shew himself to be mine; while it was easy to be seen, that those who spoke of him were not his enemies, since, in no∣ticing his public character, they reported that I had come through France under his protection, and by favour of a passport which he had obtained of the court; nay, they almost went so far as to insinuate, that I came over in his retinue, and at his ex∣pence. All this was of little significa∣tion, and was only singular; but what was much more so, was, that his friends changed their tone with me as much as the public. I shall always take a pleasure in saying that they were still equally solicitous to serve me, and that they exerted themselves greatly in my favour; but so far were they from shewing me the same respect, particularly the gentleman at whose house we alighted Page 46 on our arrival, that he accompanied all his actions with discourse so rude, and sometimes so insulting, that one would have thought he had taken an occasion to oblige me, merely to have a right to express his con∣tempt*. His brother, who was at first very polite and obliging, altered his beha∣viour with so little reserve, that he would hardly deign to speak a single word to me even in their own house, in return to a civil salutation, or to pay any of those civilities which are usually paid in like circumstances to strangers. Nothing new had happened, however, except the arrival of J. J. Rous∣seau and David Hume: and certainly the cause of these alterations did not come from me, unless indeed too great a portion of sim∣plicity, discretion, and modesty, be the cause of offence in England. As to Mr. Hume, he was so far from assuming such a disgusting tone, that he gave into the other extreme. I have always looked upon flat∣terers Page 47 with an eye of suspicion: and he was so full of all kinds† of flattery, that he even obliged me, when I could bear it no longer‡, to tell him my sentiments on that head. His behaviour was such as to render few words necessary, yet I could have wish∣ed he had substituted, in the room of such gross encomiums, sometimes the language of a friend; but I never found any thing in his, which favoured of true friendship, not even in his manner of speaking of me to others in my presence. One would have thought that, in endeavouring to procure me patrons, he strove to deprive me of their good-will; that he sought rather to have me assisted than loved; and I have been sometimes surprized at the rude turn he Page 48 hath given to my behaviour before people who might not unreasonably have taken of∣fence at it. I shall give an example of what I mean. Mr. Pennick of the Museum, a friend of my Lord Marshal's, and minister of a parish where I was solicited to refide, came to see me. Mr. Hume made my ex∣cuses, while I myself was present, for not having paid him a visit. Doctor Matty, said he, invited us on Thursday to the Mu∣seum, where Mr. Rousseau should have seen you; but he chose rather to go with Mrs. Garrick to the play: we could not do both the same day*. You will confess, Sir, this was a strange method of recommending me to Mr. Pennick.
I know not what Mr. Hume might say in private of me to his acquaintance, but nothing was more extraordinary than their behaviour to me, even by his own confes∣sion, and even often through his own means. Although my purse was not empty, and I needed not that of any other person; which he very well knew; yet any one would have thought I was come over to subsist on the Page 49 charity of the public, and that nothing more was to be done than to give me alms in such a manner as to save me a little con∣fusion†. I must own, this constant and insolent piece of affectation was one of those things which made me averse to reside in London. This certainly was not the foot∣ing on which any man should have been in∣troduced in England, had there been a de∣sign of procuring him ever so little respect. This display of charity, however, may ad∣mit of a more favourable interpretation, and I consent it should. To proceed.
At Paris was published a fictitious letter from the King of Prussia, addressed to me, and replete with the most cruel malignity. I learned with surprize that it was one Mr. Walpole, a friend of Mr. Hume's, who was the editor; I asked him if it were true; in answer to which question, he only asked me, of whom I had the information. A mo∣ment before he had given me a card for this same Mr. Walpole, written to engage him Page 50 to bring over such papers as related to me from Paris, and which I wanted to have by a safe hand.
I was informed that the son of that quack* Tronchin, my most mortal enemy, was not only the friend of Mr. Hume, and under his protection, but that they both lodged in the same house together; and when Mr. Hume found that I knew it, he impart∣ed it in confidence; assuring me at the same time, that the son was by no means like the father. I lodged a few nights myself, toge∣ther with my governante, in the same house; and by the air and manner with which we were received by the landladies, who are his friends, I judged in what man∣ner either Mr. Hume, or that man, who, as he said, who by no means like his father, must have spoken to them both of her and me†.
Page 51 All these facts put together, added to a certain appearance of things on the whole, insensibly gave me an uneasiness, which I re∣jected with horror. In the mean time, I found the letters I wrote did not come to hand; those I received had often been open∣ed; and all went through the hands of Mr. Hume†. If at any time any one escaped Page 52 him, he could not conceal his eagerness to see it. One evening in particular I remem∣ber a very remarkable circumstance of this kind, that greatly struck me‡. As we were sitting one evening, after supper, silent by the fire-side, I caught his eyes intently fixed on mine, as indeed happened very Page 53 often; and that in a manner of which it is very difficult to give an idea; at that time he gave me a stedfast, piercing look, mixed with a sneer, which greatly disturbed me. To get rid of the embarrassment I lay under, I endeavoured to look full at him in my turn; but, in fixing my eyes against his, I felt the most inexpressible terror, and was obliged soon to turn them away. The speech and physiognomy of the good David is that of an honest man; but where, great God! did this good man borrow those eyes he fixes so sternly and unaccountably on those of his friends!
The impression of this look remained with me, and gave me much uneasiness. My trouble increased even to a degree of fainting; and if I had not been relieved by an effusion of tears, I had been suffocated. Presently after this I was seized with the most violent remorse; I even despised my∣self; till at length, in a transport, which I still remember with delight, I sprang on his neck, embraced him eagerly; while almost choked with sobbing, and bathed in tears, I cried out, in broken accents, No, no, David Hume cannot be treacherous; if he be not the best of men, he must be the basest of mankind. David Hume politely returned my embraces, and gently tapping me on the back, repeat∣ed several times, in a good-natured and easy Page 54 tone, Why, what my dear Sir! Nay, my dear Sir ! Oh! my dear Sir! He said no∣thing more. I felt my heart yearn within me. We went to bed; and I set out the next day for the country.
Arrived at this agreeable asylum, to which I have travelled so far in search of repose, I ought to find it in a retired, convenient, and pleasant habitation; the master of which, a man of understanding and worth, spares for nothing to render it agreeable to me. But what repose can be tasted in life, when the heart is agitated? Afflicted with the most cruel uncertainty, and ignorant what to think of a man whom I ought to love and esteem, I endeavoured to get rid of that fatal doubt, in placing confidence in my be∣nefactor. For, wherefore, from what un∣accountable caprice should be display so much apparent zeal for my happiness, and at the same time entertain secret designs against my honour. Among the several ob∣servations that disturbed me, each fact was in itself of no great moment; it was their concurrence that was surprizing; yet I thought, perhaps, that Mr. Hume, inform∣ed of other facts, of which I was ignorant, could have given me a satisfactory solution of them, had we come to an explana∣tion. The only thing that was inexpli∣cable, was, that he refused to come to such Page 55 an explanation; which both his honour and his friendship rendered equally necessary. I saw very well there was something in the affair which I did not comprehend, and which I earnestly wished to know. Before I came to an absolute determination, there∣fore, with regard to him, I was desirous of making another effort, and to try to recover him, if he had permitted himself to be seduced by my enemies, or in short to prevail on him to explain himself one way or other. Accordingly I wrote him a letter, which he ought to have found very na∣tural*, if he were guilty; but very extra∣ordinary, if he were innocent. For what could be more extraordinary than a letter full of gratitude for his services, and at the same time, of distrust of his sentiments; and in which, placing in a manner his actions on one side, and his sentiments on the other, instead of speaking of the proofs of friendship he had given me, I desired him to love me, for the good he had done me†? I did not take the precaution to pre∣serve Page 56 a copy of this letter; but as he hath done it, let him produce it: and whoever shall read it, and see therein a man labour∣ing under a secret trouble, which he is de∣sirous of expressing, and is afraid to do it, will, I am persuaded, be curious to know what kind of eclaircissement it produced, especially after the preceeding scene. None. Absolutely none at all. Mr. Hume con∣tented himself, in his answer, with only speaking of the obliging offices Mr. Daven∣port proposed to do for me. As for the rest, he said not a word of the principal subject of my letter, nor of the situation of my heart, of whose distress he could not be ignorant. I was more struck with this silence, than I had been with his phlegm during our last con∣versation. In this I was wrong; this silence was very natural after the other, and was no more than I ought to have expected. For when one hath ventured to declare to man's face, I am tempted to believe you a traitor, and he hath not the curiosity to ask you for what*, it may be depended on he will never have any such curiosity as long as he lives; and it is easy to judge of him from these slight indications.
After the receipt of his letter, which was long delayed, I determined at length to write Page 57 to him no more. Soon after, every thing served to confirm me in the resolution to break off all farther correspondence with him. Curious to the last degree concerning the minutest circumstance of my affairs, he was not content to learn them of me, in our fre∣quent conversations; but, as I learned, ne∣ver let slip an opportunity of being alone with my governante†, to interrogate her even importunately concerning my occupa∣tions, my resources, my friends, acquaint∣ances, their names, situations, place of abode, and all this after setting out with telling her he was well acquainted with the whole of my connections; nay, with the most jesu∣itical address, he would ask the same ques∣tions of us separately. One ought undoubt∣edly to interest one's self in the affairs of a friend; but one ought to be satisfied with what he thinks proper to let us know of them, particularly when people are so frank and in∣genuous as I am. Indeed all this petty inqui∣sitiveness is very little becoming a philosopher.
About the same time I received two other letters which had been opened. The one from Mr. Boswell, the seal of which was so Page 58 loose and disfigured, that Mr. Davenport, when he received it, remarked the same to Mr. Hume's servant. The other was from Mr. d'Ivernois, in Mr. Hume's packet, and which had been sealed up again by means of a hot iron, which, aukwardly applied, had burnt the paper round the impression. On this, I wrote to Mr. Davenport to desire him to take charge of all the letters which might be sent for me, and to trust none of them in any body's hands, under any pretext whatever. I know not whether Mr. Daven∣port, who certainly was far from thinking that precaution was to be observed with re∣gard to Mr. Hume, showed him my letter or not; but this I know, that the latter had all the reason in the world to think he had forfeited my confidence, and that he pro∣ceeded nevertheless in his usual manner, without troubling himself about the recovery of it.
But what was to become of me, when I saw, in the public papers, the pretended letter of the King of Prussia, which I had never before seen, that fictitious letter, printed in French and English, given for genuine, even with the signature of the King, and in which I knew the pen of Mr. d'Alembert as cer∣tainly as if I had seen him write it*?
Page 59 In a moment a ray of light discovered to me the secret cause of that touching and sud∣den change, which I had observed in the public respecting me; and I saw the plot which was put in execution at London, had been laid in Paris.
Mr. d'Alembert, another intimate friend of Mr. Hume's, had been long since my secret enemy, and lay in watch for opportu∣nities to injure me without exposing himself. He was the only person, among the men of letters, of my old acquaintance, who did not come to see me†, or send their civilities during my last passage through Paris. I knew his secret disposition, but I gave my∣self very little trouble about it, content∣ing myself with advising my friends of it occasionally. I remember that being asked about him one day by Mr. Hume, who afterwards asked my governante the same question, I told him that Mr. d'Alembert was a cunning, artful man. He contradicted me with a warmth that surprized me; not then knowing they stood so well with each other, and that it was his own cause he de∣fended.
Page 60 The perusal of the letter above mentioned alarmed me a good deal, when, perceiving that I had been brought over to England in consequence of a project which began to be put in execution, but of the end of which I was ignorant, I felt the danger without knowing what to guard against, or on whom to rely. I then recollected four terrify∣ing words Mr. Hume had made use of, and of which I shall speak hereafter. What could be thought of a paper in which my misfor∣tunes were imputed to me as a crime, which tended, in the midst of my distress, to de∣prive me of all compassion, and, to render its effects still more cruel, pretended to have been written by a Prince who had afforded me protection? What could I divine would be the consequence of such a beginning? The people in England read the public pa∣pers, and are in no wise prepossessed in favour of foreigners. Even a coat, cut in a dif∣ferent fashion from their own, is sufficient to excite a prejudice against them. What then had not a poor stranger to expect in his rural walks, the only pleasures of his life, when the good people in the neighbourhood were once thoroughly persuaded he was fond of being persecuted and pelted? Doubtless they would be ready enough to contribute to his favourite amusement. But my concern, my profound and cruel concern, the bitterest in∣deed Page 61 I ever felt, did not arise from the dan∣ger to which I was personally exposed. I had braved too many others to be much moved with that. The treachery of a false friend* to which I had fallen a prey, was the circumstance that filled my too sus∣ceptible heart with deadly sorrow. In the impetuosity of its first emotions, of which I never yet was master, and of which my ene∣mies have artfully taken the advantage, I wrote several letters full of disorder, in which I did not disguise either my anxiety or indig∣nation.
I have, Sir, so many things to mention, that I forget half of them by the way. For instance, a certain narrative in form of a let∣ter, concerning my manner of living at Montmorency, was given by the booksellers to Mr. Hume, who shewed it me. I agreed to its being printed, and Mr. Hume under∣took the care of its edition; but it never ap∣peared. Again, I had brought over with me a copy of the letters of Mr. du Peyrou, con∣taining a relation of the treatment I had met Page 62 with at Neuschatel. I gave them into the hands of the same bookseller to have them translated and reprinted. Mr. Hume charged himself with the care of them; but they ne∣ver appeared†. The supposititious letter of the King of Prussia, and its translation, had no sooner made their appearance, than I im∣mediately comprehended why the other pieces had been suppressed‡, and I wrote as much to the booksellers‖. I wrote several Page 63 other letters also, which probably were handed about London; till at length I em∣ployed the credit of a man of quality and merit, to insert a declaration of the imposture in the public papers. In this declaration. I concealed no part of my extreme concern; nor did I in the least disguise the cause.
Hitherto Mr. Hume seems to have walked in darkness. You will soon see him appear Page 64 in open day, and act without disguise. No∣thing more is necessary, in our behaviour toward cunning people, than to act ingenu∣ously; sooner or later they will infallibly be∣tray themselves.
When this pretended letter from the King of Prussia was first published in London, Mr. Hume, who certainly knew that it was fictitious, as I had told him so, yet said no∣thing of the matter, did not write to me, but was totally silent; and did not even think of making any declaration, of the truth, in favour of his absent friend*. It answered his purpose better to let the report take its course, as he did.
Mr. Hume having been my conductor into England, he was of course in a manner my patron and protector. If it were but na∣tural in him to undertake my defence, it was to less so that, when I had a public protestation to make, I should have addressed myself to him. Having already ceased writ∣ing to him†, however, I had no mind to renew our correspondence. I addressed my∣self therefore to another person. The first Page 65 slap on the face I gave my patron. He felt nothing of it.
In saying the letter was fabricated at Paris, it was of very little consequence to me whe∣ther it was understood particularly of Mr. d'Alembert, or of Mr. Walpole, whose name he borrowed on the occasion. But in adding that, what afflicted and tore my heart was, the impostor had got his accom∣plices in England; I expressed myself very clearly to their friend, who was in London, and was desirous of passing for mine. For certainly he was the only person in England, whose hatred could afflict and rend my heart. This was the second slap of the face I gave my patron. He did not feel, however, yet.
On the contrary, he maliciously pretended that my affliction arose solely from the pub∣lication of the above letter, in order to make me pass for a man who was excessively affected by satire. Whether I am vain or not, certain it is I was mortally afflicted; he knew it, and yet wrote me not a word. This affectionate friend, who had so much at heart the filling of my purse, gave him∣self no trouble to think my heart was bleed∣ing with sorrow.
Another piece appeared soon after, in the same papers, by the author of the former, and still if possible more cruel; in which the writer could not disguise his rage at the recep∣tion Page 66 I met with at Paris*. This however did not affect me; it told me nothing new. Mere libels may take their course without giving me any emotion; and the inconstant public may amuse themselves as long as they please with the subject. It is not an affair of con∣spirators, who, bent on the destruction of my honest fame, are determined by some means or other to effect it. It was necessary to change the battery.
The affair of the pension was not deter∣mined. It was not difficult, however, for Mr. Hume to obtain, from the humanity of the minister, and the generosity of the King, the favour of its determination. He was required to inform me of it, which he did. This, I must confess, was one of the critical moments of my life. How much did it cost me to do my duty! My preceding engage∣ments, the necessity of shewing a due respect for the goodness of the King, and for that of his minister, together with the desire of displaying how far I was sensible of both; add to these the advantage of being made a little more easy in circumstances in the de∣cline of life, surrounded as I was by enemies and evils; in fine, the embarrassment I was under to find a decent excuse for not accept∣ing Page 67 a benefit already half accepted; all these together made the necessity of that refusal very difficult and cruel: for necessary it was, or I should have been one of the meanest and basest of mankind to have voluntarily laid my∣self under an obligation to a man who had betrayed me.
I did my duty, though not without reluc∣tance. I wrote immediately to General Con∣way, and in the most civil and respectful manner possible, without giving an absolute refusal, excusing myself from accepting the pension for the present.
Now, Mr. Hume had been the only ne∣gotiator of this affair, nay the only person who had spoke of it. Yet I not only did not give him any answer, though it was he who wrote to me on the subject, but did not even so much as mention him in my letter to Ge∣neral Conway. This was the third slap of the face I gave my patron; which if he does not feel, it is certainly his own fault, he can feel nothing.
My letter was not clear, nor could it be so to General Conway, who did not know the motives of my refusal; but it was very plain to Mr. Hume, who knew them but too well. He pretended nevertheless to be deceived as well with regard to the cause of my discon∣tent, as to that of my declining the pension; and, in a letter he wrote me on the occasion, Page 68 gave me to understand that the king's good∣ness might be continued towards me, if I should reconsider the affair of the pension. In a word he seemed determined, at all events, to remain still my patron, in spite of my teeth. You will imagine, Sir, he did not expect my answer; and he had none. Much about this time, for I do not know exactly the date, nor is such precision neces∣sary, appeared a letter, from Mr. de Voltaire to me, with an English translation, which still improved on the original. The noble object of this ingenious performance, was to draw on me the hatred and contempt of the people, among whom I was come to reside. I made not the least doubt that my dear patron was one of the instruments of its publication; particularly when I saw that the writer, in endeavouring to alienate from me those who might render my life agreeable, had omitted the name of him who brought me over. He doubtless knew that it was superfluous, and that with regard to him, nothing more was necessary to be said. The omission of his name, so impoliticly forgot in this letter, recalled to my mind what Tacitus says of the picture of Brutus, omitted in a funeral solemnity, viz. that every body took notice of it, particularly because it was not there.
Mr. Hume was not mentioned; but he lives and converses with people that are men∣tioned. Page 69 It is well known his friends are all my enemies; there are abroad such people as Tronchin, d'Alembert, and Voltaire*; but it is much worse in London; for here I have no enemies but what are his friends. For why, indeed, should I have any other! Why should I have even them†? What have I done to Lord Littleton‡, whom I Page 70 don't even know? What have I done to Mr. Walpole, whom I know full as little? What do they know of me, except that I am unhappy, and a friend to their friend Hume? What can he have said to them, for it is only through him they know any thing of me? I can very well imagine that, consi∣dering the part he has to play, he does not unmask himself to every body; for then he would be disguised to no body. I can very well imagine, that he does not speak of me to General Conway and the Duke of Rich∣mond, as he does in his private conversations with Mr. Walpole, and his secret corre∣spondence with Mr. d'Alembert; but let any one discover the clue that hath been un∣ravelled since my arrival in London, and it will easily be seen whether Mr. Hume does not hold the principal thread. At length the moment arrived in which it was thought proper to strike the great blow; the effect of which was prepared for, by a fresh, satirical piece, put in the papers*. Page 71 Had there remained in me the least doubt, it would have been impossible to have har∣boured it after perusing this piece; as it con∣tained facts unknown to any body but Mr. Hume; exaggerated, it is true, in order to render them odious to the public.
It is said, in this paper, that my door was opened to the rich, and shut to the poor. Pray who knows when my door was open or shut, except Mr. Hume, with whom I lived, and by whom every body was intro∣duced that I saw? I will except one great personage, whom I gladly received without knowing him, and whom I should still have more gladly received if I had known him. It was Mr. Hume who told me his name, when he was gone; on which information, I was really chagrined that, as he deigned to mount up two pair of stairs, he was not received in the first floor. As to the poor, I have nothing to say about the matter. I was constantly desirous of seeing less company; but as I was unwilling to displease any one, I suffered myself to be directed in this af∣fair altogether by Mr. Hume, and endea∣voured to receive every body he introduced Page 72 as well as I could, without distinction, whe∣ther rich or poor. It is said in the same piece, that I received my relations very coldly, not to say any thing worse. This general charge relates to my having once re∣ceived with some indifference the only rela∣tion I have, out of Geneva, and that in the presence of Mr. Hume*. It must necessa∣rily be either Mr. Hume or this relation who furnished that piece of intelligence. Now, my cousin, whom I have always known for a friendly relation, and a worthy man, is incapable of furnishing materials for public satires against me. Add to this, that his situation in life confining him to the con∣versation of persons in trade, he has no connection with men of letters, or para∣graph-writers, and still less with satirists and libellers. So that the article could not come from him. At the worst, can I help imagining that Mr. Hume must have en∣deavoured to take advantage of what he said, and construed it in favour of his own pur∣pose? It is not improper to add, that after my rupture with Mr. Hume, I wrote an account of it to my cousin.
Page 73 In fine, it is said in the same paper, that I am apt to change my friends. No great subtlety is necessary to comprehend what this reflection is preparative to.
But let us distinguish facts. I have pre∣served some very valuable and solid friends for twenty-five to thirty years. I have others whose friendship is of a later date, but no less valuable, and which if I live, I may preserve still longer. I have not found, indeed, the same security in general among those friendships I have made with men of letters. I have for this reason sometimes changed them, and shall always change them, when they appear suspicious; for I am determined never to have friends by way of ceremony; I have them only with a view to shew them my affection.
If ever I was fully and clearly convinced of any thing, I am so convinced that Mr. Hume furnished the materials for the above paper.
But what is still more, I have not only that absolute conviction, but it is very clear to me that Mr. Hume intended I should: For how can it be supposed that a man of his subtlety should be so imprudent as to ex∣pose himself thus, if he had not intended it? What was his design in it? Nothing is more clear than this. It was to raise my resentment to the highest pitch, that he Page 74 might strike the blow he was preparing to give me with greater eclat. He knew he had nothing more to do than to put me in a passion, and I should be guilty of a number of absurdities. We are now arrived at the critical moment which is to shew whether he reasoned well or ill.
It is necessary to have all the presence of mind, all the phlegm and resolution of Mr. Hume, to be able to take the part he hath taken, after all that has passed between us. In the embarrassment I was under, in writing to General Conway, I could make use only of obscure expressions; to which Mr. Hume, in quality of my friend, gave what inter∣pretation he pleased. Supposing therefore, for he knew very well to the contrary, that it was the circumstance of secrecy which gave me uneasiness, he obtained the promise of the General to endeavour to remove it: but before any thing was done, it was pre∣viously necessary to know whether I would accept of the pension without that condi∣tion, in order not to expose his Majesty to a second refusal.
This was the decisive moment, the end and object of all his labours. An answer was required; he would have it. To pre∣vent effectually indeed my neglect of it, he sent to Mr. Davenport a duplicate of his letter to me; and, not content with this Page 75 precaution, wrote me word, in another billet, that he could not possibly stay any longer in London to serve me. I was giddy with amazement, on reading this note. Ne∣ver in my life did I meet with any thing so unaccountable.
At length he obtained from me the so much desired answer, and began presently to triumph. In writing to Mr. Davenport, he treated me as a monster of brutality and in∣gratitude. But he wanted to do still more. He thinks his measures well taken; no proof can be made to appear against him. He demands an explanation; he shall have it, and here it is.
That last stroke was a master-piece. He himself proves every thing, and that beyond reply.
I will suppose, though by way of impos∣sibility, that my complaints against Mr. Hume never reached his ears; that he knew nothing of them; but was as perfectly ig∣norant as if he had held no cabal with those who are acquainted with them, but had re∣sided all the while in China*. Yet the be∣haviour passing directly between us; the Page 76 last striking words, which I said to him in London; the letter which followed replete with fears and anxiety; my persevering silence still more expressive than words; my public and bitter complaints with regard to the let∣ter of Mr. d'Alembert; my letter to the Se∣cretary of State, who did not write to me, in answer to that which Mr. Hume wrote to me himself, and in which I did not mention him; and in fine my refusal, without deign∣ing to address myself to him, to acquiesce in an affair which he had managed in my fa∣vour, with my own privity, and without any opposition on my part: all this must have spoken in a very forcible manner, I will not say to any person of the least sensibility, but to every man of common sense.
Strange that, after I had ceased to corres∣pond with him for three months, when I had made no answer to any one of his letters, however important the subject of it, sur∣rounded with both public and private marks of that affliction which his infidelity gave me; a man of so enlightened an understanding, of so penetrating a genius by nature, and so dull by design, should see nothing, hear no∣thing, feel nothing, be moved at nothing; but, without one word of complaint, justi∣fication, or explanation, continue to give me the most pressing marks of his good will to serve me, in spite of myself! He wrote to Page 77 me affectionately, that he could not stay any longer in London to do me service, as if we had agreed that he should stay there for that purpose! This blindness, this insen∣sibility, this perseverance, are not in nature; they must be accounted for, therefore, from other motives. Let us set this behaviour in a still clearer light; for this is the decisive point.
Mr. Hume must necessarily have acted in this affair, either as one of the first or last of mankind. There is no medium. It remains to determine which of the two it hath been.
Could Mr. Hume, after so many instances of disdain on my part, have still the astonish∣ing generosity as to persevere sincerely to serve me? He knew it was impossible for me to accept his good offices, so long as I enter∣tained for him such sentiments as I had con∣ceived. He had himself avoided an expla∣nation. So that to serve me without justifying himself, would have been to render his ser∣vices useless; this therefore was no genero∣sity. If he supposed that in such circumstances I should have accepted his services, he must have supposed me to have been an infamous scoundrel. It was then in behalf of a man whom he supposed to be a scoundrel, that he so warmly solicited a pension from his Ma∣jesty. Can any thing be supposed more ex∣travagant?
Page 78 But let it be supposed that Mr. Hume, constantly pursuing his plan, should only have said to himself, This is the moment for its execution; for, by pressing Rousseau to accept the pension, he will be reduced either to accept or refuse it. If he accepts it, with the proofs I have in hand against him, I shall be able compleatly to disgrace him: if he refuses, after having accepted it, he will have no pretext, but must give a reason for such refusal. This is what I expect; if he ac∣cuses me he is ruined.
If, I say, Mr. Hume reasoned with him∣self in this manner, he did what was con∣sistent with his plan, and in that case very natural; indeed this is the only way in which his conduct in this affair can be explained, for upon any other supposition it is inexpli∣cable: if this be not demonstrable, nothing ever was so. The critical situation to which he had now reduced me, recalled strongly to my mind the four words I mentioned above; and which I heard him say and repeat, at a time when I did not comprehend their full force. It was the first night after our de∣parture from Paris. We slept in the same chamber, when, during the night, I heard him several times cry out with great vehe∣mence, in the French language, Je tiens J. J. Rousseau. [I have you, Rousseau.] Page 79 I know not whether he was awake or asleep*.
The expression was remarkable, coming from a man who is too well acquainted with the French language, to be mistaken with regard to the force or choice of words. I took those words however, and I could not then take them otherwise than in a favourable sense: notwithstanding the tone of voice in which they were spoken, was still less favour∣able than the expression. It is indeed im∣possible for me to give any idea of it; but it corresponds exactly with those terrible looks I have before mentioned. At every repeti∣tion of them I was seized with a shuddering, a kind of horror I could not resist; though a moment's recollection restored me, and made me smile at my terror. The next day all this was so perfectly obliterated, that I did not even once think of it during my stay in London, and its neighbourhood. It was not till my arrival in this place, that so many things have contributed to recall these words to mind; and indeed recall them every mo∣ment.
Page 80 These words, the tone of which dwells on my heart, as if I had but just heard them; those long and fatal looks so frequently cast on me; the patting me on the back, with the repetition of O, my dear Sir, in an∣swer to my suspicions of his being a trai∣tor: all this affects me to such a degree, after what preceded, that this recollection, had I no other, would be sufficient to pre∣vent any reconciliation or return of confi∣dence between us; not a night indeed passes over my head, but I think I hear, Rousseau, I have you, ring in my ears as if he had just pronounced them.
Yes, Mr. Hume, I know you have me; but that only by mere externals: you have me in the public opinion and judgment of mankind. You have my reputation, and perhaps my security, to do with as you will. The general prepossession is in your favour; it will be very easy for you to make me pass for the monster you have begun to represent me; and I already see the barbarous exulta∣tion of my implacable enemies. The public will no longer spare me. Without any far∣ther examination, every body is on the side of those who have conferred favours; because each is desirous to attract the same good offices, by displaying a sensibility of the obli∣gation. I foresee readily the consequences of all this, particularly in the country to Page 81 which you have conducted me; and where, being without friends and an utter stranger to every body, I lie almost entirely at your mercy. The sensible part of mankind, how∣ever, will comprehend that I must be so far from seeking this affair, that nothing more disagreeable or terrible could possibly have happened to me in my present situation. They will perceive that nothing but my in∣vincible aversion to all kind of falshood, and the possibility of my professing a regard for a person who had forfeited it, could have pre∣vented my dissimulation, at a time when it was on so many accounts my interest. But the sensible part of mankind are few, nor do they make the greatest noise in the world.
Yes, Mr. Hume, you have me by all the ties of this life; but you have no power over my probity or my fortitude, which, being independent either of you or of mankind, I will preserve in spite of you. Think not to frighten me with the fortune that awaits me. I know the opinions of mankind; I am ac∣customed to their injustice, and have learned to care little about it. If you have taken your resolution, as I have reason to believe you have, be assured mine is taken also. I am feeble indeed in body, but never possessed greater strength of mind.
Mankind may say and do what they will, it is of little consequence to me. What is of Page 82 consequence, however, is, that I should end as I have begun; that I should continue to preserve my ingenuousness and integrity to the end, whatever may happen; and that I should have no cause to reproach myself either with meanness in adversity, or inso∣lence in prosperity. Whatever disgrace at∣tends, or misfortune threatens me, I am ready to meet them. Though I am to be pitied, I am much less so than you, and all the revenge I shall take on you, is, to leave you the tormenting consciousness of being obliged, in spite of yourself, to have a respect for the unfortunate person you have op∣pressed.
In closing this letter, I am surprized at my having been able to write it. If it were possible to die with grief, every line was suf∣ficient to kill me with sorrow. Every cir∣cumstance of the affair is equally incompre∣hensible. Such conduct as yours hath been, is not in nature: it is contradictory to itself, and yet it is demonstrable to me that it has been such as I conceive. On each side of me there is a bottomless abyss! and I am lost in one or the other.
If you are guilty, I am the most unfor∣tunate of mankind; if you are innocent, I am the most culpable*. You even make Page 83 me desire to be that contemptible object. Yes, the situation to which you see me re∣duced, prostrate at your feet, crying out for mercy, and doing every thing to obtain it; publishing aloud my own unworthiness, and paying the most explicit homage to your vir∣tues, would be a state of joy and cordial ef∣fusion, after the grievous state of restraint and mortification into which you have plung∣ed me. I have but a word more to say. If you are guilty, write to me no more; it would be superfluous, for certainly you could not deceive me. If you are innocent, justify yourself. I know my duty, I love, and shall always love it, however difficult and severe. There is no state of abjection that a heart, not formed for it, may not recover from. Once again, I say, if you are innocent, deign to justify yourself; if you are not, adieu for ever.
J. J. R.
I hesitated some time whether I should make any reply to this strange memorial. At length I determined to write to Mr. Rous∣seau the following letter.
Mr. HUME to Mr. ROUSSEAU.
Lisle-street, Leicester-fields, July 22, 1766.
I SHALL only answer one article of your long letter: it is that which regards the conversation between us the evening be∣fore your departure. Mr. Davenport had imagined a good natured artifice, to make you believe that a retour chaise had offered for Wooton; and I believe he made an adver∣tisement be put in the papers, in order the better to deceive you. His purpose only was to save you some expences in the journey, which I thought a laudable project; though I had no hand either in contriving or con∣ducting it. You entertained, however, sus∣picions of his design, while we were sitting alone by my fire-side; and you reproached me with concurring in it. I endeavoured to pacify you, and to divert the discourse; but to no purpose. You sat sullen, and was either silent, or made me very peevish an∣swers. At last you rose up, and took a turn or two about the room; when all of a sud∣den, and to my great surprise, you clapped yourself on my knee, threw your arms about my neck, kissed me with seeming ardour, Page 85 and bedewed my face with tears. You ex∣claimed,
I was very much affected, I own; and, I believe, there passed a very tender scene between us. You added, by way of com∣pliment, that though I had many better titles to recommend me to posterity, yet perhaps my uncommon attachment and friendship to a poor unhappy persecuted man, would not altogether be overlooked.
This incident, Sir, was somewhat remark∣able; and it is impossible that either you or I could so soon have forgot it. But you have had the assurance to tell me the story twice in a manner so different, or rather so oppo∣site, that when I persist, as I do, in this ac∣count, it necessarily follows, that either you or I are a liar. You imagine, perhaps, that because the incident passed privately without a witness, the question will lie between the credibility of your assertion and of mine. But you shall not have this advantage or disad∣vantage, Page 86 which ever you are pleased to term it. I shall produce against you other proofs, which will put the matter beyond controversy.
First, You are not aware, that I have a letter under your hand, which is totally irre∣concilable with your account, and confirms mine*.
Secondly, I told the story the next day, or the day after, to Mr. Davenport, with a friendly view of preventing any such good natured artifices for the future. He surely remembers it.
Thirdly, As I thought the story much to your honour, I told it to several of my friends here. I even wrote it to Mde. de Boufflers at Paris. I believe no one will imagine, that I was preparing before-hand an apology, in case of a rupture with you; which, of all human events, I should then have thought the most incredible, especially as we were separated almost for ever, and I still conti∣nued to render you the most essential services.
Fourthly, The story, as I tell it, is con∣sistent and rational: there is not common sense in your account. What! because Page 87 sometimes, when absent in thought, I have a fixed look or stare, you suspect me to be a traitor, and you have the assurance to tell me of such black and ridiculous suspicions! Are not most studious men (and many of them more than I) subject to such reveries or fits of absence, without being exposed to such suspicions? You do not even pretend that, before you left London, you had any other solid grounds of suspicion against me.
I shall enter into no detail with regard to your letter: the other articles of it are as much without foundation as you yourself know this to be. I shall only add, in general, that I enjoyed about a month ago an uncommon pleasure, when I reflected, that through many difficulties, and by most assiduous care and pains, I had, beyond my most sanguine expectations, provided for your repose, ho∣nour and fortune. But I soon felt a very sensible uneasiness when I found that you had wantonly and voluntarily thrown away all these advantages, and was become the de∣clared enemy of your own repose, fortune, and honour: I cannot be surprized after this that you are my enemy. Adieu, and for ever. I am, Sir, yours.
To all these papers, I need only subjoin the following letter of Mr. Walpole to me, Page 88 which proves how ignorant and innocent I am of the whole matter of the King of Prus∣sia's letter.
Mr. WALPOLE to Mr. HUME.
Arlington Street, July 26, 1766.
I CANNOT be precise as to the time of my writing the King of Prussia's letter, but I do assure you, with the utmost truth, that it was several days before you left Paris, and before Rousseau's arrival there, of which I can give you a strong proof; for I not only suppressed the letter while you staid there, out of delicacy to you, but it was the reason why, out of delicacy to myself, I did not go to see him, as you often proposed to me; thinking it wrong to go and make a cordial visit to a man, with a letter in my pocket to laugh at him. You are at full liberty, dear Sir, to make use of what I say in your justi∣fication, either to Rousseau or any body else. I should be very sorry to have you blamed on my account: I have a hearty contempted of Rousseau, and am perfectly indifferent what any body thinks of the matter. If there is any fault, which I am far from thinking, let it lie on me. No parts can hinder my laughing at their possessor, if he Page 89 is a mountebank. If he has a bad and most ungrateful heart, as Rousseau has shown in your case, into the bargain, he will have my scorn likewise, as he will of all good and sen∣sible men. You may trust your sentence to such, who are as respectable judges as any that have pored over ten thousand more volumes.
Yours most sincerely, H. W.
Thus I have given a narrative, as concise as possible, of this extraordinary affair, which I am told has very much attracted the atten∣tion of the public, and which contains more unexpected incidents than any other in which I was ever engaged. The persons to whom I have shown the original papers which au∣thenticate the whole, have differed very much in their opinion, as well of the use I ought to make of them as of Mr. Rousseau's pre∣sent sentiments and state of mind. Some of them have maintained, that he is altogether insincere in his quarrel with me, and his opinion of my guilt, and that the whole pro∣ceeds from that excessive pride which forms the basis of his character, and which leads him both to seek the eclat of refusing the King of England's bounty, and to shake off the intolerable burthen of an obligation to me, by every sacrifice of honour, truth, and friendship, as well as of interest. They Page 90 found their sentiments on the absurdity of that first supposition on which he grounds his anger, viz. that Mr. Walpole's letter, which he knew had been every where dis∣persed both in Paris and London, was given to the press by me; and as this supposition is contrary to common sense on the one hand, and not supported even by the pretence of the slightest probability on the other, they conclude, that it never had any weight even with the person himself who lays hold of it. They confirm their sentiments by the number of fictions and lies, which he employs to jus∣tify his anger; fictions with regard to points, in which it is impossible for him to be mis∣taken. They also remark his real chearful∣ness and gaiety, amidst the deep melancholy with which he pretended to be oppressed. Not to mention the absurd reasoning which runs through the whole, and on which it is impossible for any man to rest his conviction; and though a very important interest is here abandoned, yet money is not universally the chief object with mankind; vanity weighs farther with some men, particularly with this philosopher; and the very oftentation of re∣fusing a pension from the King of England, an ostentation which, with regard to other Princes, he has often sought, might be of itself a sufficient motive for his present con∣duct.
Page 91 There are others of my friends, who re∣gard this whole affair in a more compas∣sionate light, and consider Mr. Rousseau as an object rather of pity than of anger. They suppose the same domineering pride and ingratitude to be the basis of his cha∣racter; but they are also willing to believe, that his brain has received a sensible shock, and that his judgment, set afloat, is carried to every side, as it is pushed by the current of his humours and of his passions. The ab∣surdity of his belief is no proof of its in∣sincerity. He imagines himself the sole im∣portant being in the universe: he fancies all mankind to be in a combination against him: his greatest benefactor, as hurting him most, is the chief object of his animosity: and though he supports all his whimsies by lies and fictions, this is so frequent a case with wicked men, who are in that middle state between sober reason and total frenzy, that it needs give no surprize to any body.
I own that I am much inclined to this lat∣ter opinion; though, at the same time, I question whether, in any period of his life, Mr. Rousseau was ever more in his senses than he is at present. The former brilliancy of his genius, and his great talents for writing, are no proof of the contrary. It is an old remark, that great wits are near allied to madness; and even in those frantic Page 92 letters which he has wrote to me, there are evidently strong traces of his wonted genius and eloquence. He has frequently told me, that he was composing his memoirs, in which justice should be done to his own character, to that of his friends, and to that of his enemies; and as Mr. Davenport in∣forms me that since his retreat into the coun∣try, he has been much employed in writing, I have reason to conclude that he is at pre∣sent finishing that undertaking. Nothing could be more unexpected to me than my passing so suddenly from the class of his friends to that of his enemies; but this transition being made, I must expect to be treated accordingly; and I own that this re∣flection gave me some anxiety*. A work of this nature, both from the celebrity of the person, and the strokes of eloquence in∣terspersed, would certainly attract the atten∣tion of the world; and it might be pub∣lished either after my death, or after that of the author. In the former case, there would be no body who could tell the story, or justify my memory. In the latter, my apology, wrote in opposition to a dead per∣son, Page 93 would lose a great deal of its authenti∣city. For this reason, I have at present col∣lected the whole story into one Narrative, that I may show it to my friends, and at any time have it in my power to make whatever use of it they and I should think proper. I am, and always have been, such a lover of peace, that nothing but necessity, or very forcible reasons, could have obliged me to give it to the public.
Seneca de beneficiis, lib. vii. cap. 19.
DECLARATION of Mr. D'ALEMBERT, relating to Mr. Walpole's Letter.
Addressed to the French Editors.
IT is with the greatest surprize I learn, from Mr. Hume, that Mr. Rousseau ac∣cuses me of being the author of the ironical letter addressed to him, in the public papers, under the name of the King of Prussia. Every body knows, both at Paris and Lon∣don, that such letter was written by Mr. Walpole; nor does he disown it. He ac∣knowleges only that he was a little assisted in regard to the stile, by a person he does not name, and whom perhaps he ought to name. As to my part, on whom the pub∣lic suspicions have fallen in this affair, I am not at all acquainted with Mr. Walpole: I don't even believe I ever spoke to him; having only happened to meet once occa∣sionally on a visit.—I have not only had not the least to do, either directly or indirectly, with the letter in question, but could mention above an hundred persons, among the friends as well as enemies of Mr. Rousseau, who have heard me greatly disapprove of it; be∣cause, as I said, we ought not to ridicule the unfortunate, especially when they do us no Page 95 harm. Besides, my respect for the King of Prussia, and the acknowledgments I owe him, might, I should have thought, have persuaded Mr. Rousseau, that I should not have taken such a liberty with the name of that prince, even tho' in pleasantry.
To this I shall add, that I never was an enemy to Mr. Rousseau, either open or se∣cret, as he pretends; and I defy him to produce the least proof of my having en∣deavoured to injure him in any shape what∣ever. I can prove to the contrary, by the most respectable witnesses, that I have al∣ways endeavoured to oblige him, whenever it lay in my power.
As to my pretended secret correspondence with Mr. Hume, it is very certain, that we did not begin to write to each other till about five or six months after his departure, on occasion of the quarrel arisen between him and Mr. Rousseau, and into which the lat∣ter thought proper unnecessarily to intro∣duce me.
I thought this declaration necessary, for my own sake, as well as for the sake of truth, and in regard to the situation of Mr. Rousseau: I sincerely lament his having so little confidence in the probity of mankind, and particularly in that of Mr. Hume.