"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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