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purse contains money it secures my independence, and exempts me from the trouble of seeking other money, a trouble of which I have always had a perfect horror; and the dread of seeing the end of my independence makes me unwilling to part with my

The money that we possess is the instrument of liberty, that which we lack and strive to obtain is the instrument of slavery. Thence it is that I hold fast to aught that I have, and yet covet nothing more.

My disinterestedness, then, is only idleness ; the pleasure of possessing is not in my estimation worth the trouble of acquiring: my dissipation is only another form of idleness; when we have an opportunity of disbursing pleasantly, we should make the best possible use of it. I am less tempted by money than by other objects, because between the moment of possessing the money and that of using it to obtain the desired object there is always an interval, however short; whereas to possess the thing is to enjoy it. I see a thing, and it tempts me; but if I see only the means of acquiring it, I am not tempted. Therefore it is that I have been a pilferer, and am so even now, in the way of mere trifles to which I take a fancy, and which I find it easier to take than to ask for; but I never in my life recollect having taken a liard from any one, except about fifteen years ago, when I stole seven livres and ten sous. The story is worth recounting, as it exhibits a marvelous concurrence of effrontery and stupidity that I should scarcely credit, did it relate to any but myself.

It was in Paris ; I was walking with Monsieur de Francueil at the Palais-Royal, at five o'clock in the afternoon; he pulled out his watch, looked at it, and said to me, “ Suppose we go to the Opera ?” “ With all my heart.” We go; he takes two tickets, gives me one, and enters before me with the other; I follow, find the door crowded, and, looking in, see every one standing; judging, therefore, that Monsieur de Francueil might suppose me concealed by the company, I go out, ask for my counterfoil, and getting the money returned, leave the house, without considering that by the time I had reached the outer door every one would be seated, and Monsieur de Francueil might readily perceive I was not there.

As nothing could be more opposite to my natural inclination than this proceeding, I note it to show that there are moments of delirium when men ought not to be judged by their ctions: this was not stealing the money, it was stealing the


use for which it was destined : the less it was a robbery, the more was it an infamy.

I should never end these details were I to describe all the gradations through which I passed, during my apprenticeship, from the sublimity of a hero to the baseness of a knave. Though I entered into most of the vices of my situation, I had no relish for its pleasures : the amusements of my companions were displeasing, and when too much restraint had made my business wearisome, I had nothing to amuse me. This renewed my taste for reading, which had long been neglected. I thus committed a fresh offense : books made me neglect my work, and brought on additional punishment, while inclination, strengthened by constraint, became an unconquerable passion. La Tribu, a woman who owned a well-known lending library, furnished me with all kinds: good or bad, I perused them with avidity, and without discrimination. I read in the workshop ; I read while going on errands ; I read in odd corners, sometimes for hours together ; my head was turned with reading, it absorbed me wholly. My master watched me, surprised me, chastised me, took away my books. How


of these were torn, burnt, flung out of the window! How many of La Tribu's volumes lost their fellows! When I had not wherewith to pay her, I brought her my linen, my suits of clothes; the three sous that I received every Sunday were duly handed to her.

It will be said, “At length, then, money became necessary." True; but this happened at a time when reading had deprived me both of resolution and activity: totally occupied by this new inclination, I only wished to read, I robbed no longer. This is another of my peculiarities; a mere nothing frequently calls me off from what I appear most attached to; I give in to the new idea; it becomes a passion, and immediately every former desire is forgotten. My heart beat with impatience to run over the new book I carried in my pocket; the first moment I was alone, I seized the opportunity to draw it out, and thought no longer of rummaging my master's closet. I cannot believe that I would have pilfered, even had my expenses been more costly. La Tribu gave me credit, and, when once I had the book in my possession, I thought no more of the trifle I was to pay for it. As money came it naturally passed to this woman; and when she chanced to be pressing, nothing was so conveniently at hand as my own effects; to steal in advance required foresight, and robbing to pay was no temptation.

The frequent reproaches and blows I received, together with my private and ill-chosen studies, rendered me reserved, unsociable, and almost deranged my reason. Though my taste had not preserved me from silly, unmeaning books, by good fortune I was a stranger to licentious or obscene ones : not that La Tribu (who was very accommodating) made any scruple of lending these ; on the contrary, to enhance their worth, she spoke of them with an air of mystery which produced an effect she had not foreseen, for both shame and disgust made me constantly refuse them. Chance so well seconded my bashful disposition that I was past the age of thirty before I saw any of those dangerous compositions, to which a fine lady of fashion has no other objection than that they must be read with one hand.

In less than a year I had exhausted La Tribu's scanty library, and was unhappy for want of further amusement. My reading, though frequently ill chosen, had worn off my childish follies, and brought back my heart to nobler sentiments than my condition had inspired; meantime, disgusted with all within my reach, and hopeless of attaining aught else, my present situation appeared miserable. My passions began to acquire strength, I felt their influence, without knowing to what object they would conduct me. I was as far from guessing the truth as if I had been sexless, and, though past the age of boyhood, could not see beyond. At this time my imagination took a turn which helped to calm my increasing emotions, and, indeed, saved me from myself ; it was, to contemplate those situations, in the books I had read, which produced the most striking effect on my mind — to recall, combine, and apply them to myself in such a manner as to become one of the personages my recollection presented, and be continually in those fancied circumstances which were most agreeable to my inclinations; in a word, by contriving to place myself in these fictitious situations, the idea of my real one was in a great measure obliterated. This fondness for imaginary objects, and the facility with which I could gain possession of them, completed my disgust for everything around me, and fixed that inclination for solitude which has ever since been predominant. We shall have more than once occasion to remark the odd effects of a disposition misanthropic and melancholy in appearance, but which proceed, in fact, from a heart too affectionate, too ardent, which, for want of society with similar dispositions, is constrained to content itself with

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fictions. It is sufficient, at present, to have traced the origin of a propensity which has modified my passions, and, restraining them within bounds, has rendered me idle in action, though too ardent in desire.


The return of spring had increased my fond delirium, and in my erotic transports I had composed for the last parts of “ Julie" several letters, wherein evident marks of the rapture in which I wrote them are found. Amongst others, I may quote those from the Élysée, and the excursion upon the lake, which, if my memory does not deceive me, are at the end of the fourth part. Whoever, in reading these letters, does not feel his heart soften and melt into the tenderness by which they were dictated, ought to lay down the book : nature has refused him the means of judging of sentiment.

Precisely at the same time I received a second unforeseen visit from Madame d'Houdetot. In the absence of her husband, who was captain of the gendarmerie, and of her lover, who was also in the service, she had come to Eaubonne, in the midst of the Valley of Montmorency, where she had taken a pretty house, and thence she made a new excursion to the Hermitage. She came on horseback, and dressed in men's clothes. Although I am not very fond of this kind of masquerade, I was struck with the romantic appearance she made, and for once it was with love. As this was the first and only time in all my life, and the consequences will forever render it terrible to my remembrance, I must take permission to enter into some particulars on the subject.

Madame la Comtesse d'Houdetot was nearly thirty years of age, and not handsome; her face was marked by the smallpox, her complexion was coarse, she was short-sighted, and her eyes were rather round; nevertheless she had a youthful

1 air, and her physiognomy, possessing vivacity and sweetness, was attractive. She had an abundance of long black hair, which hung down in natural curls much below her waist ; her figure was neatly formed, and she was at once awkward and graceful in her movements ; her wit was natural and pleasing ; gayety, heedlessness, and ingenuousness were happily combined ; she abounded in charming sallies, which were so little

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