9781414215105 / 141421510X

The Confessions of J. J. Rousseau




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Excerpt from The Confessions of J. J. Rousseau

Part First of ray Confessions was written wholly from memory, and must of course contain a good many errors. Obliged, as I am, to write the Second from memory also, I shall, in all likelihood, make a good many more. The pleasing reminiscences of my happy years, years passed 'mid equal tranquillity and innocence, have left on my memory a thousand charming impressions I love incessantly to call to mind How different are those of the rest of my life will presently appear. To recall them is but to renew the bitterness thereof. Far from embittering my already too sad situation by such sorrowful reflections, I do my utmost to repel them; and I am at times so successful in this endeavor as to be unmost to recall them when I wish to. This facility in forgetting my misfortunes is a kind nepenthe heaven has granted me against the accumulated woes fated to fall on my doomed head. Memory, bringing up none but agreeable images, is the happy counterpoise to my wild and morbid imagination, ever casting before it the shadows of a dark and direful future.

The various papers I had collected to aid ray recollection and guide me in this my undertaking have all passed into other hands, nor can I ever again hope to obtain possession of them. I have but one faithful guide whereon to rely - the sequence of the sentiments that have marked the current of my life, and, thereby, faithfully chronicled the succession of events that either caused these emotions or flowed therefrom. I easily forget my misfortunes, but not so my faults, and still less can I forget any virtuous sentiment I have experienced. Too dear to my heart is their memory for them ever to be effaced. I may omit facts, transpose events and fall into errors touching dates; but I cannot possibly be mistaken as to what I have felt, nor yet as to what my feelings have led me to do. And, indeed, this is the main matter. The prime and proper object of my Confessions is unreservedly to lay bare my heart in every situation in which I have been placed. 'Tis the history of my.soul I have promised: to write it faithfully I need no other memorials -' t will suffice, as I have hitherto done, to retire within myself.

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