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is one of the most robust men I have ever known. He passed ten hours in the night time above deck, during the most severe weather, when all the seamen were almost frozen to death, and he caught no harm. He says that his infirmity always increases upon a journey, yet was it almost imperceptible on the road from Paris to London.
His wearing the Armenian dress is a pure whim, which, however, he is resolved never to abandon. He has an excellent warm heart; and, in conversation, kindles often to a degree of heat which looks like inspiration. I love him much, and hope that I have some share in his affections.
I find that we shall have many ways of settling him to his satisfaction, and as he is learning the English very fast, he will afterwards be able to choose for himself. There is a gentleman of the name of Townsend, a man of four or five thousand a year, who lives very privately, within fifteen miles of London, and is a great admirer of our philosopher, as is also his wife. He has desired him to live with him, and offers to take any board he pleases. M. Rousseau was much pleased with this proposal, and is inclined to accept of it. The only difficulty is, that he insists positively on his gouvernante's sitting at table, a proposal which is not to be made to Mr. and Mrs. Townsend.
This woman forms the chief incumbrance to his settlement. M. de Luze, our companion, says that she passes for wicked, and quarrel. some, and tattling, and is thought to be the chief cause of his quitting Neufchatel. He himself owns her to be so dull, that she never knows in what year of the Lord she is, nor in what month or week ; and that she can never learn the different value of the pieces of money in any country. Yet she governs him as absolutely as a nurse does a child. In her absence his dog has acquired that ascendant. His affection for that. creature is beyond all expression or conception.
I have as yet scarce seen any body except Mr. Conway and Lady Aylesbury. Both of them told me they would visit Jean Jaques if I thought their company would not be disagreeable. I encouraged them to show him that mark of dis. tinction. Here I must also tell you of a good action which I did ; not but that it is better to conceal our good actions. But I consider not my seeking your approbation as an effect of vanity ; your suffrage is to me something like the satisfaction of my own conscience. While we were at Calais, I asked him whether, in case the king of England thought proper to gratify him with a pension, he would accept of it. I told him that the case was widely different from that of the king of Prussia, and I endeavoured to point out the difference; particularly in this circumstance, that a gratuity from the king of England could never in the least endanger bis independence. He replied : “ But would it not be using ill the king of Prussia, to whom I have since been much obliged ? However, on this head (added he), in case the offer be made me, I shall consult my father;" meaning Lord Mareschal. I told this story to General Conway, who seemed to embrace with zeal the notion of giving him a
pension, as honourable both to the king and na. tion. I shall suggest the same idea to men in power whom I may meet with, and I do not despair of succeeding.
Permit me to finish, by mentioning, in one word, my warm and indissoluble attachment to you, an attachment founded both on esteem and affection, not to mention gratitude. I speak not of my acknowledgments to the prince of Conti, because I should never finish were I to enter on that subject.
Please to remember me to Madame de Vierville and Madame de Barbantine : tell the latter that Rousseau says, no French author could have wrote in a more elegant style than the letter which he received from me at Strasburgh.
I write this the day after my arrival, so that I can give you no account of any of your friends, except Lady Hervey, who is well, and remembers you very kindly.
Please to direct to me, to the care of James Coutts, Esq. banker, in the Strand.
P. S. Since I wrote the above, I have received your obliging letter, directed to Calais. M. Rousseau says, the letter of the king of Prussia is forgery; and he suspects it to come from M. de Voltaire.
The project of Mr. Townsend, to my great mortification, has totally vanished, on account of Mademoiselle La Vasseur. Send all bis letters under my cover.
DAVID HUME TO THE MARCHIONESS DE
Liste Street, Leicester Fields, 16 Feb. 1766. You have sometimes, dear madam, been embarrassed between opposite opinions, with regard to the personal character of M. Rousseau: his enemies have sometimes made you doubt of his sincerity; and you have been pleased to ask my opinion on this head. After having lived so long with him, and seen him in a variety of lights, I am now better enabled to judge ; and I declare to you, that I have never known a man more amiable and more virtuous than he appears to me: he is mild, gentle, modest, affectionate, disinterested ; and, above all, endowed with a sensibility of heart in a supreme degree. Were I to seek for his faults, I should say, that they consisted in a little hasty impatience, which, as I am told, inclines him sometimes to say disobliging things to people that trouble him: he is also too delicate in the commerce of life : he is apt to entertain groundless suspicions of his best friends ; and his lively imagination, working upon them, feigns chimeras, and pushes him to great extremes. I have seen no instances of this disposition; but I cannot otherwise account for the violent animosities which have arisen between bim and several men of merit, with whom he was once intimately connected; and some who love him much have told me, that it is difficult to live much with him, and preserve his friendship; but for my part, I think I could pass all my life in his company,
without any danger of our quarrelling.
There is one circumstance that renders him very amiable, and may serve to abate the envy arising from his superior parts; which is, that he is endowed with a singular simplicity of manners, and is, indeed, a perfect child in the ordinary occurrences of life. This quality, joined to his great sensibility of heart, makes him to be easily governed by those who live with him. Shall I give you an instance ? He showed me the letter wbich he had received from the Corsicans, in which he is invited to come among them, to frame them a body of laws, and to be the Solon or Lycurgus of this new commonwealth. He told me, that he had once intended to comply with this invitation, but, on consulting Mademoiselle le Vasseur, he found she did not approve of the journey, upon which he laid aside all thoughts of it. His dog also has great influence with him, of which I shall give you an instance that may amuse you.
Soon after our arrival, I prevailed on bim to go to the playhouse, and see Garrick. Mrs. Garrick gave him her box, which is much concealed from the audience, but opposite to that of the king and queen; and their majesties were privately informed, that they might there expect to see M. Rousseau. When the hour came he told me that he had changed his resolution, and would not go: for what shall I do with Sultan ? That is the name of his dog. You must leave him behind, said I. But the first person, replied he, who opens the door, Sultan will run into the streets in search of me, and will be lost. You