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Therefore, though Rousseau might justly complain that many others were false to him, he could never boast that he had been true to himself. This, while it lessens our commiseration for the pitiable victim of his own caprices, does not, ever, diminish in any degree the opprobrium which attaches to his persecutors. They were not all, it is true, equally reprehensible, because they acted under different conditions, and from motives the most various. When the French government attacked him, it was upon their traditionary principle that a political reformer should be rooted out from society. He assailed them, and they assailed him. He endeavored to show that they ruled by the right of power alone, and that the people were only bound to obey as long as they were themselves weak. He showed them to be corrupt, fraudulent, tyrannical. Therefore it is not surprising that they turned his weapons against himself, and sought to exclude him from every opportunity to propagate his ideas. It is even intelligible how they were animated to employ slander and vituperation to defame him. When men are charged with great crimes, which they cannot deny, they usually malign their accusers, in the hope of turning against them the obloquy intended for themselves.
explained the nature of virtue, yet dayly committed an infringement of its laws. He confesses a hundred base and humiliating actions, yet vaunts himself as a paragon of men. He writes the most how-beautiful advice for mothers, yet abandons his own children; spends years in elaborating a theory of education-pernicious though it was-yet allows his offspring to sink among the nameless swarms of the Foundling Hospital. It cannot, therefore, excite wonder that this man fluctuated in his religious belief. At one time he apostatized for the sake, he confesses, of gain, that he might live as a pensioner on the bounty of his friends. At another, rather than receive any one's bounty, he condemned himself to copy music at three half-pence a page, when he might have been writing works, every line of which an after generation would have prized more than gold.
Be this as it may, it is certain that Rousseau was not a Christian. He assailed religion, and in an ignorant country like France, he assailed it with the more effect because a venal Church had become the reproach of Europe through its cupidity and corruption. Corrupt as it was, however, the clergy were interested in upholding it, and, therefore, when Jean Jacques assaulted it, they naturally directed their persecutions against him. We may, indeed, in the spirit of our own age, believe that the wise reply to his declamation would have been to have reformed their Church and defended their religion, and not to have pelted him with stones at Motier, or forged libels on his personal character at Paris. Christianity conquers without persecution, which only exalts to martyrdom the miserable creatures that suffer it. But in the eighteenth century this was not understood. It was thought right to strangle every one who spoke as an enemy; and, accordingly, Rousseau saw his books burned, and was compelled to become an exile in search of an asylum.
This, we say, we can understand. We can understand, too, why the clergy of France, and, indeed, of all Europe, persecuted Rousseau. Whatever his apologists may say, he was a blasphemer against the Christian religion, and, consequently, against all religion, although he did not employ the vile and coarse invectives made use of by Voltaire. His system undoubtedly tended to the subversion of the national faith. Even the belief in a divinity was not fixed in his mind. His creed was a caprice. One day we find him saying, "I am certain that God exists of himself." But shortly after we find, "Frankly I confess that neither the pro nor con (on the existence of God) appears to me demonstrated." The same variableness characterized many of his other opinions. He loved the sciences, yet received a crown from those who reviled them. He wrote against dramatic performances, yet composed several operas. He extolled the amenities of friendship, and sought friends, yet broke faith with many of them. He not only praised, but
This, also, we can understand. But what we cannot understand is the baseness, the virulence, the duplicity, with which men who shared his opinions, who joined in his labors, who shook him by the hand, and called themselves his friends, slandered, reviled, and persecuted him. Horace Walpole forged a letter in the name of Frederic the Second, in which Rousseau's
monomania was confessed and put in a ridiculous light, in order to excite obloquy and contempt against him in England. Such an act, committed by such a man, it is not difficult to comprehend. There was very little that was respectable in Horace Walpole. There was very little that was remarkable, except his vanity, his stupidity, and his want of principle. He, consequently, might have been expected to play a little part. But why David Hume, the obsolete historian, should court Rousseau, and flatter him, and give him hospitality, while he was intriguing with his enemies, circulating calumnies against him, and ridiculing his character, is not so easily explained. Nor is there any intelligible reason assigned, that Diderot, Voltaire, d'Alembert, Helvetius, and Grimm should pursue him with such inveterate malignity, and conspire his ruin, while they propagated his works and applauded them, unless we believe they were jealous of his fame, or which is still more probable, that they were irritated by his refusal to become their tool.
Rousseau. He was a man of strong passions and weak principles, whose power of imagining was equal to his power of feeling; and this seduced him into every folly and every crime that held out an enticing reward. Being long without a moral dictator in that conscience which he himself describes as a law anterior to opinion, he seldom resisted an impulse, of whatever kind, provided it offered to secure him some pleasure. In the same manner, being without religious conviction, he made up his faith of fancies, and was little scrupulous in the dissemination of impious notions. Yet he was not guilty of that gratuitous wickedness which prompted the abominable blasphemies of Diderot, Helvetius, and Voltaire. If he was an intellectual Robespierre, they were the Dantons of literature-eloquent indeed, but cold-blooded, repulsive, and deformed.
The social theories of Rousseau were blotted by the prevailing sin of his life. Of the relations between man and woman, though he could expound the noblest law, he generally propagated lax idea. His example also was vicious in the extreme. He spent in dissoluteness his best years, and then marrying the very woman who had least claim to be his wife, deserted her children and his own. Nevertheless he was to some friends very faithful, and, in his system for the reconstruction of society, he recognized occasionally the purest principles.
This concourse of men, remarkable for their talent, but odious for their hostility to the Christian truth, forms one of the most remarkable features in the modern history of Europe. What phenomenon in literature was ever so extraordinary as the Encyclopédie? What machine was ever so cunningly devised? Had it been impregnated simply by the spirit of freedom, had it been designed only to overthrow the government, and had it not been filled with impiety and impurity, humanity would have blessed its labors. Had the Puritan spirit given its vitality to all this genius, what a revolution would that of France have been! But, instead of this, the corruption of politics produced the scandal of Christianity; atheism and not religion was offered as the cure of superstition, just as servitude and not freedom has been proposed as the cure for anarchy. In reality, however, the Romish Church opened its gates to infidelity. The Encyclopædists were naturally successors to the four and twenty fathers of Escobar; the monasteries produced the academies, and the sophists triumphed for a while, because the Jesuits-the pope's life-guards, as Frederic the Second called them-had been triumphant a century before.
It is as a politician that we can most respect Rousseau. In many passages he is violent, in many vague, in many fantastical. Yet, in the "Discourse on the Inequality of Man," and in the "Social Contract," he displays a perfect knowledge of the object of government, and of the relations between people and rulers. So completely was he master of the political condition of Christendom that he predicted, with singular accuracy, many events which afterward happened. Some of his forebodings referred to a period remoter than that at which we have arrived, and more than one of them seems likely to be fulfilled. Perhaps there are those who will not be disinclined to attach some faith to the following:-" The empire of Russia will endeavor to subjugate Europe; but in the struggle will herself be conquered. Her Tartar subjects, or her neighbors, will become her masters."
From this school of writers, however, it is necessary, in some degree, to separate
It is not, however, in these points that THE VISION OF A GODLESS WORLD. the value of Rosseau's political writings consists. It is in the fine analysis of the principles upon which despotism is founded, in the exposure of the truths by the diffusion of which it is undermined; in the description of the true nature and duties of governments, and the true rights and duties of nations. In this the philosopher is unrivaled. He came with his fiery inspiration, and quickened in France the principles of a liberty which she will assuredly one day enjoy, in spite of the burlesque of empire enacting in her capital.
A writer in the "Biographical Magazine" has said that it was well that Hume, the panegyrist of Monk, should be the maligner of Rousseau. Mr. Passmore Edwards's contributor is of this opinion, and we think rightly; but there have been others, and lately, who have remarked that this was not the only instance in which the Tory historian falsified the character of a public man. For ourselves, had he in his correspondence done justice to Rousseau, we should almost say that Rousseau's character was the only one which he had not falsified. But he was a consistent libeler.
Narrative and letters harmonize with their calumnies on the virtuous, and their apologies of profligacy. In fact, the only pity is that Hume did not choose from France a better man to slander than Rousseau. But, we doubt whether Rousseau lost more in the estimation of mankind through the unscrupulous detraction of one who had all the ferocity of a bigot, without a bigot's sincerity, or through the uncompromising eulogiums of his admirers. Unfortunately, the critics are few, and a man must either be pilloried as a criminal or consecrated as a martyr.
From the guilt of suicide, we think that history may fairly exonerate Rousseau. He died naturally, in 1778, in the arms of his wife, who, in his latter days, behaved with great affection to him.
Some have been of opinion that it would have been well to lose all the beauty of Rousseau's works, if the world could have been spared the vice he propagated. Whatever we may think of this, certainly we must grieve that so much eloquence, so much learning, and so much wisdom, were not bequeathed by a more pious and less irreligious man.
FROM THE GERMAN OF JEAN PAUL RICHTER.
my heart should ever become so hapless and so withered that every feeling in it which asserts the being of God should be destroyed, I would appall myself by reading over the following composition of mine; and it would cure me and give me back the feelings I had lost.
The aim of this poem is the excuse for its boldness. Men deny God's being with just as little feeling as most acknowledge it with. Even in our best systems of philosophy, we go on amassing mere words, counters, and medals, as misers collect cabinets of coins; and it is late before we convert the words into feelings, the coin into enjoyments. A person may believe in the immortality of the soul through twenty whole years, and, in the twentyfirst, on some great moment, be for the first time astounded at the riches contained in this belief, at the warmth of this fountain of Naptha.
Childhood, with her joys, and still more with her fears, resumes her wings and sparkles anew in our dreams, and plays like a glow-worm in the little night of the soul. Do not extinguish these flitting sparks. Leave us our dismal and painful dreams-half-shadows that set off the realities of life.
I was lying once, on a summer evening, in the sun, upon a hill, and fell asleep. Then I dreamed I awoke in a church-yard. The rolling wheels of the clock in the tower that was striking eleven had awakened me. I searched through the dark empty sky for the sun; for I imagined that an eclipse had drawn the vail of the moon over it. All the graves were open, and the iron doors of the charnel-house were swung to and fro by invisible hands: along the walls shadows were flitting, which no one cast; and other shadows were walking upright through the naked air. In the open coffins nothing continued to sleep, save the children. In the sky there was naught but a gray sultry cloud hanging in massy folds, and a huge shadow kept on drawing it in like a net, nearer, and closer, and hotter. Above me I heard the distant falls of avalanches; below me the first tread of an illimitable earthquake. The church heaved up and down, shaken by two ceaseless discords, which were warring against each other within, and
et; and Eternity was lying upon chaos, and gnawing it to pieces, and chewing the cud of what it had devoured. Scream on, ye discords! scatter these shades with your screaming: for He is not!"
The shades grew pale and dissolved, as white vapor, that the frost has given birth to, is melted by a breath of warmth; and the whole church became empty. Then
vainly striving to blend into a concord. At times a gray gleam leaped up on the windows, and at its touch the lead and iron melted and ran down. The net of cloud, and the reeling of the earth, drove me toward the porch, before which two fiery basilisks were hatching their venomous broods. I passed along amid unknown shadows that bore the marks of every century since the beginning of things. All-O! it was terrible to the heart!-the dead children, who had awaked in the church-yard, ran into the church, and threw themselves before the lofty form upon the altar, and said, "Jesus! have we no Father ?" And he answered with tears streaming down : "We are all orphans, I and you; we are without a Father."
the shadows were standing round the altar; and in each there was a quivering and throbbing of the breast instead of the heart. One dead man alone, who had been newly buried in the church, was still lying on his couch, without any quivering of his breast; and his face was smiling beneath the light of a happy dream. But, when one of the living entered, he awoke and smiled no more: toilsomely he drew up his heavy eyelid, but no eye was within; and his beating breast, instead of a heart, contained a wound. He lifted up his hands, and clasped them for prayer; but the arms lengthened and lowered themselves from his body, and the clasped hands dropped off. Overhead, in the vault of the church, stood the dial-plate of eternity, on which no number was to be read, nor any characters except its own name; only there was a black hand pointing thereat, on which the dead said they saw Time.
And when Christ saw the crushing throng of worlds, the torch-dance of the heavenly ignus fatui, and the coral banks of beating hearts, and when he saw one globe after another poured out its glimmering souls upon the dead sea, as a water-balloon strews its floating lights upon the waves; then with a grandeur that betokened the highest of finite beings, he lifted up his eye toward the nothingness and toward the infinite void above him, and said: "Moveless and voiceless nothing! cold, eternal necessity! frantic chance! can ye, or any of you, tell me? when do you dash to pieces the building and me? Dost thou know it, O chance! even thou, when thou stridest with thy hurricanes athwart the snow-dust of the stars, and puffest out one sun after another, while the sparkling dew of the constellations is parched up as thou passest along
Christ spake on: "I have gone through the midst of the worlds: I mounted into the suns, and flew with the milky way across the wilderness of heaven; but there is no God. I plunged down, as far as Being flings its shadow, and pried into the abyss, and cried: Father, where art thou?' but I heard only the everlasting tempest, which no one sways; and the glittering rainbow of beings was hanging, without a sun that had formed it, over the-how desolate is every one in the vast catabyss, and trickling down into it. And, when I looked up toward the limitless World for the eye of God, the World stared
acomb of the universe! There is none beside me save myself. O, Father! Father! where is thy world-sustaining
at me with an empty, bottomless eye-sock-breast, that I may rest on it? Alas! if
At this moment a tall majestic form, with a countenance of imperishable anguish, sank down from on high upon the altar; and all the dead cried, "Christ! is there no God?"
Here the screeching of the discords became more violent; the walls of the church tottered and burst asunder; and the church and the children sank down; and the whole earth and the sun sank after; and the whole of the immeasurable universe sank before us; and Christ remained standing upon the highest pinnacle of nature, and gazed into the globe of the universe, pierced through by a thousand suns, as it were into a cavern, burrowed into the heart of eternal night, wherein the suns were running like miners' lights, and the galaxies like veins of silver.
He answered, "There is none!" The shadow of every dead man trembled all over, not his breast merely; and, one after another, their trembling dispersed them.
every being is its own father and creator, why may it not also become its own destroying angel?
"Is that a man still beside me? Poor wretch! your little life is one of nature's sighs, or the mere echo of it; a mirror flings its rays on the clouds of dust from the ashes of the dead on your earth, and, forthwith, ye spring up, ye beclouded, fleeting images. Look down into the abyss, over which clouds of ashes are floating; mists full of worlds are rising out of the dead sea; the future is that rising mist, and that which is falling is the present. Dost thou know thy own
Here Christ looked down, and his eye filled with tears, and he said: "Alas! I was once upon it; then I was still happy; then I had still an Almighty Father, and still looked with gladness from the mountains to the unfathomable heavens; and, when my breast was pierced through, I pressed it to his soothing image, and said, even in the bitterness of death: 'Father, draw forth thy Son from his bleeding tabernacle, and raise him to thy heart.' Ah! ye over-happy inhabitants of the earth, ye earth, ye still believe in Him. Perchance, at this moment your sun is setting, and ye are falling on your knees in the midst of blossoms, and radiance, and dew, and are lifting up your blessed hands, and, while shedding a thousand tears of joy, are crying to the open heavens: 'Me, too, even me, dost thou know, thou Almighty One, and all my wounds; and after my death thou wilt receive me and close them all.' Miserable creatures! after death they will never be closed. The woe-begone mortal who lays his bleeding back in the earth to sleep till the coming of a fairer morning, full of truth, full of goodness and joy, will awake amid the storms of chaos, in the eternity of midnight; and no morning comes, and no healing hand, and no Almighty Father. Thou mortal beside me, if thou still livest, pray to Him now, else thou hast lost him for ever."
ity into a village church; and everything grew dense, and murky, and dismal; and the clapper of a bell stretched out its measureless length, about to strike the last hour of time, and to split the fabric of the world to atoms-when I awoke.
ing world, I saw the uplifted scales of the giant snake Eternity, that had spread itself around the universe; and the scales dropped down, and it wreathed itself twice round the universe; then it twined in a thousand folds around Nature, and squeezed world against world; and, with a crushing force, compressed the temple of infin
My soul wept with joy that it was again able to worship God; and my joy, and my tears, and my faith in him, were my prayer. And, as I stood up, the sun was glowing low down behind the full purple ears of corn, and was quietly throwing the reflection of its evening glory to the little moon that was rising without a dawn in the east; and between heaven and earth a joyous short-lived world was spreading out its tiny wings, and living, as I was, in the presence of an Almighty Father; and from the whole of nature around me came sounds of peace, like the voices of evening bells from afar.
HEOPHRASTUS, an ancient Greek writer, says that "the proud man regards the whole human race with contempt, himself excepted. If he has rendered a service to any man, he will remind him of it as he meets him in the street, and in a loud voice goad him with the obligation. He is never the first to accost any man; he returns the salute of no one in the public ways." This, as the reader sees, is a sweeping condemnation of that pride which is full of dross, and so expressive of a mean mind. Mostly, pride of person or dress creates vanity-one of the most contemptible of those numerous failings which besiege a frail human nature, and one into which the young may perhaps fall soonest of any. If a vulgar man have this exaggerated sentiment within him, nothing can be more clearly evinced; for his own person bears always the marks of it. You will find it in the redundant watch-chain, the inordinately blue and extensive cravat
in the coat elaborated out of an intense bad taste-in smoking cigars out of place
And, as I fell down and beheld the shin--in his conversation-in his manner-in
everything, in fact, this puerility betrays itself. Besides that it is ridiculous, it is also a dangerous sentiment. A self-love that has grown into a vanity of this kind easily breaks the slender bulwarks of moral obligation, and sticks at no means, however questionable, in order to support it.