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A Popular History of France from the Earliest Time

He had just published Le Contrat Social


Rousseau

was right; he was a being apart; and the philosophers could not forgive him for his independence. His merits as well as his defects annoyed them equally: his "Lettre contre les Spectacles" had exasperated Voltaire, the stage at Deuces as in danger. "It is against that Jean Jacques of yours that I am most enraged," he writes in his correspondence with D'Alembert: "he has written several letters against the scandal to deacons of the Church of Geneva, to my ironmonger, to my cobbler. This arch-maniac, who might have been something if he had left himself in your hands, has some notion of standing aloof: he writes against theatricals after having done a bad play; he writes against France which is a mother to him; he picks up four or five rotten old hoops off Diogenes' tub and gets inside them to bay; he cuts his friends; he writes to me myself the most impertinent letter that ever fanatic scrawled. He writes to me in so many words, 'You have corrupted Geneva in requital of the asylum she gave you;' as if I cared to soften the manners of Geneva, as if I wanted an asylum, as if I had taken any in that city of Socinian preachers, as if I were under any obligation to that city!"

More moderate and more equitable than Voltaire, D'Alembert felt the danger of discord amongst the philosophical party. In vain he wrote to the irritated poet: "I come to Jean Jacques, not Jean Jacques Lefranc de Pompignan, who thinks he is somebody, but to Jean Jacques Rousseau,

who thinks be is a cynic, and who is only inconsistent and ridiculous. I grant that he has written you an impertinent letter; I grant that you and your friends have reason to complain of that; in spite of all this, however, I do not approve of your declaring openly against him, as you are doing, and, thereanent, I need only quote to you your own words: 'What will become of the little flock, if it is divided and scattered?' We do not find that Plato, or Aristotle, or Sophocles, or Euripides, wrote against Diogenes, although Diogenes said something insulting to them all. Jean Jacques is a sick man with a good deal of wit, and one who only has wit when he has fever; he must neither be cured nor have his feelings hurt." Voltaire replied with haughty temper to these wise counsels, and the philosophers remained forever embroiled with Rousseau.

Isolated henceforth by the good as well as by the evil tendencies of his nature, Jean Jacques stood alone against the philosophical circle which he had dropped, as well as against the Protestant or Catholic clergy whose creeds he often offended. He had just published _Le Contrat Social,_ "The Gospel,"; says M. Saint-Marc Girardin, "of the theory as to the sovereignty of the state representing the sovereignty of the people." The governing powers of the time had some presentiment of its danger; they had vaguely comprehended what weapons might be sought therein by revolutionary instincts and interests; their anxiety and their anger as yet brooded silently; the director of publications (_de la librairie_), M. de Malesherbes, was one of the friends and almost one of the disciples of Rousseau whom he shielded; he himself corrected the proofs of the _Emile_ which Rousseau had just finished. The book had barely begun to appear, when, on the 8th of June, 1762, Rousseau was awakened by a message from la Marchale de Luxembourg: the Parliament had ordered _Emile_ to be burned, and its author arrested. Rousseau took flight, reckoning upon finding refuge at Geneva. The influence of the French government pursued him thither; the Grand Council condemned _Emile_. One single copy had arrived at Geneva it was this which was burned by the hand of the common hangman, nine days after the, burning at Paris in the Place de Greve. "The Contrat Social has received its whipping on the back of Emile," was the saying at Geneva. "At the instigation of M. de Voltaire they have avenged upon me the cause of God," Jean Jacques declared.


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