« PreviousContinue »
he understand the language, he would live very happily in this country. He is particularly pleased that nobody makes him speeches or compliments.
What has chiefly begot a doubt of his sincerity are his great singularities, which some people take for affectation, and an art to gain celebrity : but his greatest singularity is the love of solitude, which, in a man so well calculated for the entertainment of company, and seemingly so sociable, appears very extraordinary. I can however an. swer for his sincerity in this particular. He would not stay in London above a fortnight. I settled him in a village about six miles from it: he is impatient to remove from thence, though the place and the house are both very agreeable to him; and, of a great variety of schemes which I propose to him, the most solitary, the most remote, the most savage place is always that which he prefers. In a few weeks he will certainly remove to Wales, and will board with a substantial farmer, who inhabits a lonely house amid forests and rivulets, and rocks and mountains. I have endeavoured to throw a hundred obstacles in the way, but nothing can divert bim; his obstinacy is here an invincible proof of his sincerity. I must, however, confess, that I think he has an inclination to complain of his health, more than I imagine he has reason for: he is not insincere, but fanciful, in that particular. I know not how your inquiries with regard to M. Rougemont have turned out.
Please tell Madame de Boufflers that I received her letter the day after I wrote mine. Assure her that Horace Walpole's letter was not founded on any pleasantry of mine; the only pleasantry in that letter came from his own mouth, in my company, at Lord Ossory's table, which my lord remembers very well. Tell her also that I like Mademoiselle Le Vasseur, upon acquaintance. She appears to me a good creature, more clever than she has been represented. She is only somewhat of a gossip, or what you call une commère,
Thus, dear madam, I have wrote you a long letter concerning a third person; and have left myself neither room nor leisure to say any thing either of you or of myself. I must therefore be more concise on that head. What can I say, but that I esteem and love you, and regret my being absent from you? I am more a stranger in this place than in Paris, and the manners are hy no means agreeable to me. There is a hardness in most characters, of which I now become more sensible than before. You have spoiled me for this country; and are obliged in conscience to be good to me when I shall return to you, which I hope will be soon. Remember me to Madame De Vierville and Madame De Maury, and to M. De Puiségur, as well as to M. De Barbantane. Embrace Madame De Boufflers in my name. I have only wrote to you and her since my arrival in London; which is a great crime I have been guilty of.
I have the honour to be, with great sincerity, your most obedient humble servant,
DAVID HUME TO M. SUARD.
Edinburgh, 19th November, 1766. I CANNOT sufficiently express, my dear sir, all the acknowledgments which I owe you for the pains you have taken in translating a work, which so little merited your attention, or the attention of the public. It is done entirely to my satisfaction, and the introduction in particular is wrote with great prudence and discretion in every point, except where your partiality to me appears too strongly. I accept of it, however, very willingly as a pledge of your affection. You and M. D'Alembert did well in softening some expressions, especially in the notes; and I shall take care to follow these corrections in the English edition. My paper, indeed, was not wrote for the public eye; and nothing but a train of unforeseen accidents could have engaged me to give
I am n
surprised, that those who do not consider nor weigh those circumstances, should blame this appeal to the public; but it is certain that if I had persevered in keeping silence, I should have passed for the guilty person, and those very people who blame me at present, would, with the appearance of reason, have thrown a much greater blame upon me.
This whole adventure I must regard as a misfortune in my life; and yet even after all is past, when it is easy to correct any errors, I am not sensible that I can accuse myself of any imprulence,-except of accepting of this ma when he
threw himself into my arms: and yet it would then have appeared cruel to refuse him. I am excusable for not expecting to meet with such a prodigy of pride and ferocity, because such a one never before existed. But after he had declared war against me in so violent a manner, it could not have been prudent in me to keep silence towards my friends, and to wait till he should find a proper time to stah my reputation. From my friends, the affair passed to the public, who interested themselves more in a private story than it was possible to imagine, and rendered it quite necessary to lay the whole before them. Yet, after all, if any one be pleased to think, that by greater prudence I could have avoided this disagreeable extremity, I am very willing to submit: it is not surely the first imprudence I have been guilty of.
I agree with you, that Rousseau will probably reply, and yet it is very difficult to imagine what he can possibly say, after having already entered into so long and minute and tedious a detail. It will be ridiculous in him to bring out any new facts of consequence, which he may pretend to have omitted ; after he has already mentioned the looks of my landladies and my own, as grounds of complaint. But whatever he may say, I am resolute to keep an absolute silence for the rest of my life; and allow every one to entertain what opinion they please with regard to this story. I fancy the only dispute in the world will be whether Rousseau is more wicked or mad, or whether he be not both in nearly equal propor. tions. You say that he has enthusiasts, who still: pretend to excuse him. Do they pretend then that D'Alembert, Horace Walpole, and I entered into a conspiracy against him to lead him into England, and ruin him by settling him in a most commodious and agreeable manner, and by doubling his income? For if this be not asserted, how can his outrageous behaviour towards me admit of any apology.
Could I look on Rousseau as one of the classics of your language, I should imagine that this story, silly as it is, might go to posterity, and interest them as much as it has done our contemporaries : but really his writings are so full of extravagance, that I cannot believe that their eloquence alone will be able to support them. He has a suspicion bimself that this is the case : I shall tell you the story, because I think it to his credit; for otherwise I would not repeat any thing that passed between us during the time of our familiarity. When we were on the road, he told me that he was resolved to improve himself in English ; and as he heard that there were two English translations of his Emile, be would procure them, he said, and read them and compare them: his knowledge of the subject would facilitate his advances in the language. Immediately on my arrival I procured the books for him. He kept them two or three days and then returned them, by telling me they could be of no use to him. He had not patience, he said, to read them; he was in the same case with regard to the original, and all his other writings, which,