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Eloge de M. Rouleau de Geneve.-The Eulogy of Mr. Rouffeau. HOUGH we find, in this title, neither the name of the Author nor that of the Printer, nor yet that of the place where this piece was published, we fee plainly, by the contents, that it comes from Paris, and that it is Mr. Paliffot, who here appears again in the field of panegyric. But he comes in fuch a form, that we are tempted to confider him as a snake in the grafs, who glides through flowers and infects them with his venom. To speak without a figure, we find an ill-difguifed fpirit of malignity fermenting through the whole of this publication. The Author tells us, that the memoirs of Mr. Rouffeau's life, which have been compofed by himself, and are soon to be published, render it unneceffary to make any inquiries into his private conduct and character; intimating, at the fame time, that fuch inquiries might prove fruitlefs. He thinks, therefore, that it is by his writings only, that an eftimate should be made of this extraordinary man: and, of confequence, this is the method he follows in the pretended eulogy now before us. But how does he proceed? He begins by laying before his readers the contradictory paffages, that are to be found in Rouf feau's writings, on the fubject of religion, in order, as we fear, to prepoffefs our minds with impreffions of the levity and precipitation of a man, whofe ardent feelings and flaming fancy made him more capable of painting real or feeming contrafts, than of finding out the method, which wife reflection might fuggeft, of reconciling them.-However, as an eulogy requires fome kind of praife of the perfon who is its fubject, Mr. PaLISSOT endeavours to make us think that he does juftice to the memory of the citizen of Geneva. He, however, fcarcely allows the faint praife he bestows, time to make an impreffion on the mind, before he effaces it with keen cenfure. He applauds the fublime and mafterly touches with which Rouffeau's pencil drew the character of the founder of the Chriftian religion; but he laments (good man!) in the following page. fome expreffions relative to Chrift, which fhew that the noble painter was infected with the Socinian herefy.-He célebrates Jean Jacques as a model of French eloquence, and then regales us with a whole page of his barbarisms. But his favourite object (and that which he feems to have had principally in view in compofing this eulogy) is to cenfure the contradictory conduct of Rouffeau with refpect to Voltaire: and here, no doubt, the former is reprehenfible, and may be juftly charged with inconftancy and caprice.
The Public have always perceived fomething excentric andextravagant in the citizen of Geneva, and could not but difcern thofe offenfive effufions of pride and felf-applaufe which he was perpetually throwing out, without any kind of difguife, in his writings and conduct :-but the fame Public beheld, with no fmall degree of toleration and indulgence, thofe failings, which were compensated by the most splendid marks of integrity, fentiment, and genius. They confidered (at least the most judicious part of the public confidered) Rouffeau as an honest man, who loved himself prodigiously because he thought himself such, and who, perhaps, exaggerated his virtue because it was his,whofe judgment and reflecting powers fuffered by an irregular quantity and motion of thofe animal fpirits, which are fuppofed to connect the two substances, but whofe heart was made: to feel the great, the good, the beautiful, and the affecting, and whose vivid fancy gave them fuch forms as made others feel them alfo. Thefe qualities to fuch, as in their eftimations of human characters, weigh virtues and infirmities with an equitable balance, have procured indulgence to Jean Jacques, and our Author does not seem to behold this indulgence with much complaifance. He seems somewhat vexed, as well as aftonished, that the abfurdities and inconfiftence that were always chequering the conduct and character of Rouffeau, and that would have covered (fays he) any other man with lafting ridicule, were fcarcely perceived by the Public, and were in no wife prejudicial to his fame: which, perhaps, is faying too much, for Rouffeau paffes in the esteem of many as an example of what Pope fays:
Great wits to madness nearly are allied.
He was too much the fport of an ungoverned imagination and tu- › multuous paffions, to be an object of calm refpect, or to excite any fentiments of admiration that were not mixed (we mean in judicious minds) with a feeling that expreffed fome fuch propofition as this, 'tis a pity that fuch a man fhould be fo extravagant! One of Mr. Paliffot's great vexations is, that the Public pardoned in Rousseau many things that it would not have pardoned in Voltaire.- However that may be, with respect to the fact, the reafon alleged for it. by our Eulogift is false; it is also injurious to the Public, and does not give a very high idea of the liberality of Mr. PALISSOT'S fentiments, for the reafon comes to this, that Voltaire was a rich old fellow, and Rouffeau a poor devil; and that the former of confequence excited envy, and the other compaffion. We believe the indulgence of the Public towards Rouffeau was owing to confiderations of a very different kind :-individuals may envy each other, but the Public envies no man; because no man can, properly speaking, be the rival of the Public.-The Public,. erroneous as its judgments may often be, loves integrity and
virtue, and we believe, that, if it be true that Voltaire has met with lefs indulgence from the Public than Rousseau, this must be owing to the different judgment which the Public has formed of the moral characters of these two celebrated men.
Mr. PALISSOT obferves that Mr. Rouffeau having described and felt the fiery intoxication of love in all its ardour, obtained, on this account, more especially from the female fex, a degree of admiration that bordered upon enthufiafm, and that this fex, from the dominion they exercise over the opinions of the other (in France, perhaps), may have contributed to put Rouffeau's reputation on a footing of rivality with that of M. de Voltaire. Such rivalship, indeed, appears to our Author as the greatest exaggeration of Rouffeau's merit that can be conceived; and the whole obfervation appears to us filly and far-fetched. No man of a found judgment ever confidered Rouffeau and Voltaire as in the class of rivalship:-they resembled each other as little as Democritus and Heraclitus; they had not, either in their characters or geniuses, thofe points of fimilarity that lay the foundations of a comparison. We would wish to see these two originals drawn by an able painter, not by the profligate pencil of a LINGUET, to whom truth and falfehood, vice and virtue are indifferent only as they answer his purposes, and who pronounced the fame fentence of impotent condemnation on Rouffeau's Emilius, and the nonfenfical and impious book called the Syftem of Nature *.
At the end of this Eulogy we find feveral paffages of letters and other literary quotations which Mr. Paliffot has collected to fhew the irregular motions of poor Rouffeau's perturbed spirit.— All these are defigned by PALISSOT as an attack upon his moral character, or at leaft, they are intended to fhew that his character was a kind of problem. Our Author thinks that the folution of the problem will be found in the Memoirs of his own Life, written by this fingular man, which are expected with impatience, and which, perhaps, the philofophical fect (treated without ceremony in this Work) will have credit enough to withhold from the eye of the Public. Mr. PALISSOT has found means of coming at fome of the paragraphs that serve as an introduction to thefe Memoirs. Thele paragraphs are, indeed, both extraordinary and extravagant. However, as he pledges his honour and good faith for their authenticity, we shall communicate them here to our Readers; they are perfectly in
* See the Annales Politiques of that eloquent perverter of truth and justice, who feizes every occafion (be it natural or unnatural) of flattering the French monks and clergy, whom he is known to abhor, abuses the philofophy whom he is known fecretly to esteem, and affumes, in politics, all kinds of colours, however contradictory.
Rouffeau's manner; they carry an internal evidence of authenticity, and are as follows:
I form an undertaking, which is without example, and in the execution of which I fhall have no imitators.-I fhall hold up to view a man in all the truth of nature-and that man is myself.
1, alone, know what paffes in my heart: and I know mankind :-I am not like any man whom I have feen, and I even believe that I am not like any man that exists: I mean not by this to say, that I am better or worse than others: I am different from all. I fhall not determine whether nature did well or ill when the broke the mould in which the caft me: of this the Reader can only judge when he has read thefe Memoirs.-Let the laft trumpet found when it will-I will approach, with this book in my hand, to the tribunal of the Supreme Judge.—I will fay boldly-Here are the records of what I have done, of what I have thought, of what I am:-I have declared my virtues and my vices with the fame opennefs-I have concealed nothingdifguifed nothing-palliated nothing-I have fhewn myself guilty and vile, when I was really fuch: I have disclosed the Inward retirements of my heart, as they lie open to thee, O Eternal Being!-Gather together around me the innumerable multitude of my fellow-creatures-let them hear my confeffionlet them blush for my unworthiness-let them bewail all the variety of my wretched nefs-but-let each, in his turn, lay open his heart before thy throne,-and then, let any dare to fay to THEE,-I was better than that man.”
Mr. PALISSOT hints fome finifter conclufions from this very odd paffage. As for us, we think, that Mr. Rousseau ran no rifk, on the part of men, from this pompous challenge: for none, but the proud Pharifee in the parable, would come forward and fay to the Supreme Judge, I was better than that man; but we believe many, that were really better than him, will appear at that great day of trial, yet without boafting of their fuperiority. The beft of men are the most modeft in their pretenfions, and are too fenfible of their infirmities to make any comparisons, but such as tend to increase their humility.
We have now done with Mr. PALISSOT's ambiguous Eulogy; and we imagine it will not be difagreeable to our Readers to find here an account of the last moments of Rouffeau, and of fome of the marks of generofity and friendship which his noble benefactor, the Marquis of Girardin, has fhewn to his memory. We have taken this account from a paper, of which the Author is univerfally believed to be very well informed; nay, we are affured that he had his information concerning the manner and circumftances of Mr. Rouffeau's death from the mouth of his widow.
Towards the end of May, in compliance with the earnest requefts of the Marquis de Girardin and his lady, Mr. Rousseau took up his refidence at Ermenonville, the estate of that nobleman. Here he dwelt with his wife in a neat little house, at a fmall distance from the caftle, feparated from it by a tuft of trees, and adjoining to a wood, where he walked every day, and gathered plants for his Herbal. The Marquis was, by his tafte. and character, juft the man, that Rouffeau wanted for a friend and companion: he was a zealous admirer of the philofophy of this fingular genius, loved a folitary life, and indulged the citizen of Geneva in his paffion for liberty and independence; the Marchionefs was of the fame turn. Accordingly, Rouffeau vifited them frequently he was always of their musical parties, and was fo pleased with one of their children, who was about ten years old, that he voluntarily took a fhare in his education; but his fudden death blafted this project, and the circumstances of the departure of this extraordinary man were as follows:
"Mr. Rouffeau rofe in perfect health, to all appearance, on Thursday morning at five o'clock (his usual hour in fummer), and walked with his young pupil. About feven he returned to his house alone, and afked his wife if breakfast was ready? Finding it was not, he told her he would go for fome moments into the wood, and defired her to call him when breakfast was on the table. He was accordingly called, returned home, drank a dish of coffee, went out again and came back a few minutes after. About eight, his wife went down ftairs to pay the account of a Smith, but fcarcely had the been a moment below, when he heard Mr. Rouffeau complain.. She returned immediately and found him fitting on a chair, with a ghaftly. counte'nance, his head reclining on his hand, and his elbow fuftained by a defk. What is the matter, my dear friend, faid fhe, are you indifpofed? I feel, anfwered he, a painful anxiety, and the keen pains of a cholic. Upon this Mrs. Rouffeau left the room, as if the intended to look for fomething, and fent to the caftle an account of her husband's illness. The Marchionefs, on this alarming news, ran with the utmost expedition to the cottage of the philofopher, and that she might not alarm him, she said the came to enquire whether the mufic that had been performed during the night in the open air before the caftle, had not difturbed him and Mrs. Rouffeau.-The philofopher replied, with the utmost tranquility of tone and afpect, Madam, I know very well that it is not any thing relative to mufic that brings you here: -I am very fenfible of your goodness:-but I am much out of order, and I beg it as a favour that you will leave me alone with my wife. to whom I have a great many things to fay at this inftant. Madame. de Girardin immediately withdrew. Upon this Mr. Rouffeau. defired his wife to fhut the door, to lock it on the infide, and