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List Of Contents | Contents of Memoirs of the Comtesse du Barry
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"By one simple method; if he will not come to you, you must go
to him.  I would willingly accompany you, but he knows me, and
my presence would spoil all.  The best thing you can do is to
dress yourself quite plainly, as a lady from the country, taking
with you one of your female attendants.  You may take as a
pretext for your visit some music you would wish to have copied.
Be sure to treat M. de Rousseau as a mere copyist, and appear
never to have heard of his superior merit: do this, and you will
receive the best possible reception."

I greatly approved of the marechale 's advice, which I assured
her I would delay no longer than till the following day to put
into practice; and, after some further conversation upon
J.  J.  Rousseau, we parted.

Early the next day I set out for Paris accompanied by Henriette;
there, in pursuance of the suggestion of madame de Mirepoix, I
dressed myself as a person recently arrived from the country, and
Henriette, who was to accompany me, disguised herself as a villager.
I assure you, our personal attractions lost nothing by the change
of our attire.  From the rue de la Jussienne to the rue Platriere
is only a few steps; nevertheless, in the fear of being recognised,
I took a hired carriage.  Having reached our place of destination,
we entered, by a shabby door, the habitation of Jean Jacques Rousseau:
his apartments were on the fifth floor.  I can scarcely describe
to you, my friend, the emotions I experienced as I drew nearer
and nearer to the author of "Heloise."  At each flight of stairs
I was compelled to pause to collect my ideas, and my poor heart
beat as though I had been keeping an assignation.  At length,
however, we reached the fifth story; thereafter having rested a
few minutes to recover myself, I was about to knock at a door
which was opposite to me, when, as I approached, I heard a sweet
but tremulous voice singing a melancholy air, which I have never
since heard anywhere; the same voice repeated the romance to
which I was listening several times.  When it had entirely ceased
I profited by the silence to tap with my knuckles against the door,
but so feeble was the signal, that even Henriette, who was close
behind me, could not hear it.  She begged I would permit her to
ring a bell which hung near us; and, having done so, a step was
heard approaching the door, and, in a minute or two, it was
opened by a man of about sixty years of age, who, seeing two
females, took off his cap with a sort of clumsy gallantry, at
which I affected to be much flattered.

"Pray, sir," said I, endeavouring to repress my emotion, "does a
person named Rousseau, a copier of music, live here?"

"Yes, madam; I am he.  What is your pleasure?"

"I have been told, sir, that you are particularly skilful in
copying music cheaply; I should be glad if you would undertake
to copy these airs I have brought with me."

"Have the goodness to walk in, madam."

We crossed a small obscure closet, which served as a species of
antechamber, and entered the sitting-room of M. de Rousseau,
who seated me in an arm-chair, and motioning to Henriette to sit
down, once more inquired my wishes respecting the music.

"Sir," said I, "as I live in the country, and but very rarely
visit Paris, I should be obliged to you to get it done as early
as possible."

"Willingly, madam; I have not much upon my hands just now."

I then gave to Jean Jacques Rousseau the roll of music I had
brought.  He begged I would continue seated, requested permission
to keep on his cap, and went to a little table to examine the
music I had brought.

Upon my first entrance I had perceived a close and confined smell
in these miserable apartments, but, by degrees, I became accustomed
to it, and began to examine the chamber in which I sat with as
strict a scrutiny as though I had intended making an inventory
of its contents.  Three old elbow-chairs, some rickety stools, a
writing-table, on which were two or three volumes of music, some
dried plants laid on white-brown paper; beside the table stood an
old spinet, and, close to the latter article of furniture, sat a
fat and well-looking cat.  Over the chimney hung an old silver
watch; the walls of the room were adorned with about half a
dozen views of Switzerland and some inferior engravings, two
only, which occupied the most honourable situations, struck me;
one represented Frederick II, and under the picture were written
some lines (which I cannot now recollect) by Rousseau himself;
the other engraving, which hung opposite, was the likeness of a
very tall, thin, old man, whose dress was nearly concealed by the
dirt which had been allowed to accumulate upon it; I could only
distinguish that it was ornamented with a broad riband.  When I
had sufficiently surveyed this chamber, the simplicity of which,
so closely bordering on want and misery, pained me to the heart,
I directed my attention to the extraordinary man who was the
occasion of my visit.  He was of middle height, slightly bent by
age, with a large and expansive chest; his features were common
in their cast, but possessed of the most perfect regularity.  His
eyes, which he from time to time raised from the music he was
considering, were round and sparkling but small, and the heavy
brows which hung over them, conveyed an idea of gloom and severity;
but his mouth, which was certainly the most beautiful and fascinating
in its expression I ever saw, soon removed this unfavourable
impression.  Altogether there belonged to his countenance a
smile of mixed sweetness and sadness, which bestowed on it an
indescribable charm.

To complete my description, I must not forget to add his dress,
which consisted of a dirty cotton cap, to which were fixed strings
of a riband that had once been scarlet; a pelisse with arm-holes,
a flannel waistcoat, snuff-coloured breeches, gray stockings, and
shoes slipped down at the heel, after the fashion of slippers.
Such was the portrait, and such the abode of the man who believed
himself to be one of the potentates of the earth and who, in fact,
had once owned his little court and train of courtiers; for, in
the century in which he lived, talent had become as arbitrary as
sovereign power--thanks to the stupidity of some of our grandees
and the caprice of Frederick of Prussia.

Meanwhile my host, undisturbed by my reflections, had quietly
gone over his packet of music.  He found amongst it an air from "
," which I had purposely placed there; he
half turned towards me and looking steadfastly at me, as if he
would force the truth from my lips.

"Madam," said he, "do you know the author of this little composition?"

"Yes," replied I, with an air of as great simplicity as I could
assume, "it is written by a person of the same name as yourself,
who writes books and composes operas.  Is he any relation to you?"

My answer and question disarmed the suspicions of Jean Jacques,
who was about to reply, but stopped himself, as if afraid of
uttering a falsehood, and contented himself with smiling and
casting down his eyes.  Taking courage from his silence, I ventured
to add,--"The M. de Rousseau who composed this pretty air has
written much beautiful music and many very clever works.  Should I
ever know the happiness of becoming a mother I shall owe to him
the proper care and education of my child."  Rousseau made no
reply, but he turned his eyes towards me, and at this moment the
expression of his countenance was perfectly celestial, and I could
readily imagine how easily he might have inspired a warmer sentiment
than that of admiration.

Whilst we were conversing in this manner, a female, between the
age of forty and fifty, entered the room.  She saluted me with
great affectation of politeness, and then, without speaking to
Rousseau, went and seated herself familiarly upon a chair on the
other side of the table: this was Therese, a sort of factotum,
who served the master of these apartments both as servant and
mistress.  I could not help regarding this woman with a feeling
of disgust; she had a horrible cough, which she told us was more
than usually troublesome on that day.  I had heard of her avarice;
therefore to prevent the appearance of having called upon an
unprofitable errand, I inquired of Jean Jacques Rousseau how
much the music would cost.

"Six sous a page, madam," replied he, "is the usual price."

"Shall I, sir," asked I, "leave you any cash in hand for the
purchase of what paper you will require?"

"No, I thank you, madam," replied Rousseau, smiling; "thank
God!  I am not yet so far reduced that I cannot purchase it for
you.  I have a trifling annuity--"

"And you would be a much richer man," screamed Therese, "if you
would insist upon those people at the opera paying you what they
owe you."  These words were accompanied with a shrug of the
shoulders, intended to convey a vast idea of her own opinion.

Rousseau made no reply; indeed he appeared to me like a frightened
child in the presence of its nurse; and I could quickly see, that
from the moment of her entering the room he had become restless
and dejected, he fidgeted on his seat, and seemed like a person
in excessive pain.  At length he rose, and requesting my pardon
for absenting himself, he added, "My wife will have the honour
to entertain you whilst I am away."  With these words he opened
a small glass-door, and disappeared in the neighbouring room.

When we were alone with Therese, she lost no time in opening
the conversation.

"Madam," cried she, "I trust you will have the goodness to excuse
M. Rousseau; he is very unwell; it is really extremely vexatious."

I replied that M. Rousseau had made his own excuses.  Just then
Therese, wishing to give herself the appearance of great utility,
cried out,

"Am I wanted there, M. Rousseau?"

"No, no, no," replied Jean Jacques, in a faint voice, which died
away as if at a distance.

He soon after re-entered the room.

"Madam," said he, "have the kindness to place your music in other
hands to copy; I am truly concerned that I cannot execute your

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