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mind, the disorders of his body, and his unpardonable neglect of health, had rendered his recovery impossible. It was not until he had been
many years tormented by physicians, and racked by a painful malady, that he took up his pen ; and his years increased only to increase the visible effect of his mental and corporeal afflictions, which at length became so acute, that he frequently raved wildly, or fainted away under the excess of his pains.
It is observed by one of our refined critics, that “ all Rousseau wrote during his old age
is the effect of madness.” " Yes," replied his fair friend, with greater truth, “ but he « raved fo pleasantly, that we are delighted to
run mad with him.”,
The mind becomes more disposed to seek its « Guardian Angel and its God,” the nearer it approaches the confines of mortality. When the ardent fire of youth is extinguished, and the meridian heat of life's short day subfides into the soft tranquillity and refreshing quietude of its evening, we feel the important necessity of devoting fome few hours to pious meditation before we close our eyes in endless night; and the very idea of being able to possess this interval of holy leisure, and to hold this facred communion with God, recreates
the mind, like the approach of spring after a dull, a dreary, and a distressing winter.
PETRARCH scarcely perceived the approaches of old age. By constant activity he contrived to render retirement always happy, and year after year rolled unperceived away in pleasures and tranquillity. Seated in a verdant arbour in the vicinity of a Carthufian Monastery, about three miles from Milan, he wrote to his friend Settimo with a simplicity of heart unknown in modern times. “ Like a wearied traveller, I increase “ my pace in proportion as I approach the end of
my journey. I pass my days and nights in read
ing and writing: these agreeable occupations al“ternately relieve each other, and are the only “ fources from whence I derive my pleasures. I ss lie awake and think, and divert my mind by every means in my power,
ardour in“creases as new difficulties arise. Novelties incite, " and obstacles (harpen, my resistance. The la“ bours I endure are certain, for my hand is tired " of holding my pen : but whether I shall reap the “ harvest of my
toils I cannot tell. I am anxious " to transmit my name to posterity : but if I am “ disappointed in this wish, I am fatisfied the age “ in which I live, or at least my friends, will know
me, and this fame shall satisfy me. My health “ is so good, my conftitution fo robust, and my
U 4 “ temperament
temperament so warm, that neither the advance
in which I am incessantly attacked. I should cer-
A RURAL retreat, however lonely or obscure, contributes to increase the fame of those great and noble characters who relinquish the world at an advanced period of their lives, and pass the remainder of their days in rational solitude: their lustre beams from their retirement with brighter rays than those which shone around them in their earliest days, and on the theatre of their glory. « It is in solitude, in exile, and on the bed of “death,” says Pope, that the nobleft charac
of f antiquity Ahone with the greatest splendor;; it was then they performed the greatest
services; for it was during those periods that !
they became useful examples to the rest of
mankind.". And Rousseau appears to have entertained the same opinion. It is noble," says heal to exhibit to the eyes of men an example pof the life they ought to lead. The man who,
when age or ill health has deprived him of ac«tivity, dares to 'resound from his retreat the « voice of truth, and to announce to mankind the “ folly of those opinions which-render them mi. “ serable, is a public benefactor. I should be of « much less use to my countrymen, were I to “ live'among them, than I can possibly be in my “ retreat. Of what importance can it be, whe. " ther" I live in one place or another, provided I “ discharge my duties properly?”
A CERTAIN young lady of Germany, however, was of opinion that Rousseau was not entitled to praise. She maintained that he was a dangerous corrupter of the youthful mind, and that he had very improperly discharged his duties, by discovering in his Confefions the moral defects and vicious inclinations of his heart. « Such a work written
by a man of virtue,” said she would render him 5,"an object of abhorrence: but Rousseau, whose A writings are calculated to captivate the wicked,
proves, by his story of the Ruban volé, that he !“ pofleffes a heart of the blackest dye. · It is evi14 dent, from many passages in that publication, }" that it was vanity alone which guided his pen;
4 and from many others, that he felt himself con** scious he was disclosing falsehoods. There is no.
thing, in short, throughout the work, that bears the stamp of truth; and all it informs us of is, " that Madame de Warens was the original « from which he drew the character of Julia. " These unjustly celebrated Confessions contain, “ generally speaking, a great many fine words, « and but very few good thoughts. If, instead of “ rejecting every opportunity of advancing him“ self in life, he had engaged in some industrious
profession, he might have been more useful to " the world than he has been by the publication ~ of his dangerous writings."
This incomparable criticism upon Rousseau merits preservation; for, in my opinion, it is the only one of its kind. The Confeffions of Rousfeau are a work certainly not proper for the eye of youth; but to me it appears one of the most remarkable philosophic publications that the present age has produced. The fine style and enchanting colours in which it is written are its least merits. The most diftant pofterity will read it with rapture, without enquiring what age the venerable author had attained when he gave to the world this last proof of his fincerity.
Age, however advanced, is capable of enjoying real pleasure. A virtuous old man passes his days with serene gaiety, and receives, in the happiness he feels from the benedictions of all around him, a rich reward for the rectitude and integrity of