segments from Rousseau's Confessions
on which the Ferrand-Minard chapters of Mr.
Mee are based:
I was also acquainted at Montmorency with several fathers of the oratory, and amongst others Father Berthier, professor of natural philosophy; to whom, notwithstanding some little tincture of pedantry, I become attached on account of a certain air of cordial good nature which I observed in him. I had, however, some difficulty to reconcile this great simplicity with the desire and the art he had of everywhere thrusting himself into the company of the great, as well as that of the women, devotees, and philosophers. He knew how to accommodate himself to every one. I was greatly pleased with the man, and spoke of my satisfaction to all my other acquaintances. Apparently what I said of him came to his ear. He one day thanked me for having thought him a good-natured man. I observed something in his forced smile which, in my eyes, totally changed his physiognomy, and which has since frequently occurred to my mind. I cannot better compare this smile than to that of Panurge purchasing the Sheep of Dindenaut. Our acquaintance had begun a little time after my arrival at the Hermitage, to which place he frequently came to see me. I was already settled at Montmorency when he left it to go and reside at Paris. He often saw Madam le Vasseur there. One day, when I least expected anything of the kind, he wrote to me in behalf of that woman, informing me that Grimm offered to maintain her, and to ask my permission to accept the offer. This I understood consisted in a pension of three hundred livres, and that Madam le Vasseur was to come and live at Deuil, between the Chevrette and Montmorency. I will not say what impression the application made on me. It would have been less surprising had Grimm had ten thousand livres a year, or any relation more easy to comprehend with that woman, and had not such a crime been made of my taking her to the country, where, as if she had become younger, he was now pleased to think of placing her. I perceived the good old lady had no other reason for asking my permission, which she might easily have done without, but the fear of losing what I already gave her, should I think ill of the step she took. Although this charity appeared to be very extraordinary, it did not strike me so much then as afterwards. But had I known even everything I have since discovered, I would still as readily have given my consent as I did and was obliged to do, unless I had exceeded the offer of M. Grimm. Father Berthier afterwards cured me a little of my opinion of his good nature and cordiality with which I had so unthinkingly charged him.
This same Father Berthier was acquainted with two men, who, for what reason I know not, were to become so with me; there was but little similarity between their taste and mine. They were the children of Melchisedec, of whom neither the country nor the family was known, no more than, in all probability, the real name. They were Jansenists, and passed for priests in disguise, perhaps on account of their ridiculous manner of wearing long swords, to which they appeared to have been fastened. The prodigious mystery in all their proceedings gave them the appearance of the heads of a party, and I never had the lead doubt of their being the authors of the Gazette Ecclesiastique. The one, tall, smooth-tongued, and sharping, was named Ferrand; the other, short, squat, a sneerer, and punctilious, was a M. Minard. They called each other cousin. They lodged at Paris with D'Alembert, in the house of his nurse named Madam Rousseau, and had taken at Montmorency a little apartment to pass the summers there. They did everything for themselves, and had neither a servant nor runner; each had his turn weekly to purchase provisions, do the business of the kitchen, and sweep the house. They managed tolerably well, and we sometimes ate with each other. I know not for what reason they gave themselves any concern about me: for my part, my only motive for beginning an acquaintance with them was their playing at chess, and to make a poor little party I suffered four hours' fatigue. As they thrust themselves into all companies, and wished to intermeddle in everything, Theresa called them the gossips, and by this name they were long known at Montmorency.
Such, with my host M. Mathas,
who was a good man, were my principal
country acquaintance. I still had a sufficient number at Paris to live
there agreeably whenever I chose it, out of the sphere of men of
letters, amongst whom Duclos was the only friend I reckoned: for De
Leyre was still too young, and although, after having been a witness to
the maneuvers of the philosophical tribe against me, he had withdrawn
from it, at least I thought so, I could not yet forget the facility
with which he made himself the mouthpiece of all the people of that
Jean Jacques Rousseau, Confessions, Book X
The printing of Emile, after having been again taken in hand, was continued and completed without much difficulty; and I remarked this singularity, that after the curtailings so much insisted upon in the first two volumes, the last two were passed over without an objection, and their contents did not delay the publication for a moment. I had, however, some uneasiness which I must not pass over in silence. After having been afraid of the Jesuits, I began to fear the Jansenists and philosophers. An enemy to party, faction and cabal, I never heard the least good of persons concerned in them. The gossips had quitted their old abode, and taken up their residence by the side of me, so that in their chamber, everything said in mine, and upon the terrace, was distinctly heard; and from their garden it would have been easy to scald the low wall by which it was separated from my alcove. This was become my study; my table was covered with proof-sheets of Emile and the Contrat Social, and stitching these sheets as they were sent to me, I had all my volumes a long time before they were published. My negligence and the confidence I had in M. Mathas, in whose garden I was shut up, frequently made me forget to lock the door at night, and in the morning I several times found it wide open: this, however, would not have given me the least inquietude had I not thought my papers seemed to have been deranged. After having several times made the same remark, I became more careful, and locked the door. The lock was a bad one, and the key turned in it no more than half round. As I became more attentive, I found my papers in a much greater confusion than they were when I left everything open. At length I missed one of my volumes without knowing what was become of it until the morning of the third day, when I again found it upon the table. I never suspected either M. Mathas or his nephew M. du Moulin, knowing myself to be beloved by both, and my confidence in them was unbounded. That I had in the gossips began to diminish. Although they were Jansenists, I knew them to have some connection with D'Alembert, and moreover they all three lodged in the same house. This gave me some uneasiness, and put me more upon my guard. I removed my papers from the alcove to my chamber, and dropped my acquaintance with these people, having learned they had shown in several houses the first volume of Emilius, which I had been imprudent enough to lend them. Although they continued until my departure to be my neighbors, I never, after my first suspicions, had the least communication with them. The Contrat Social appeared a month or two before Emile. Rey, whom I had desired never secretly to introduced into France any of my books, applied to the magistrate for leave to send this book by Rouen, to which place he sent his package by sea. He received no answer, and his bales, after remaining at Rouen several months, were returned to him, but not until an attempt had been made to confiscate them; this, probably, would have been done had not he made a great clamor. Several persons, whose curiosity the work had excited, sent to Amsterdam for copies, which were circulated without being much noticed. Maulion, who had heard of this, and had, I believe, seen the work, spoke to me on the subject with an air of mystery which surprised me, and would likewise have made me uneasy if, certain of having conformed to every rule, I had not by virtue of my grand maxim, kept my mind calm. I moreover had no doubt but M. de Choiseul, already well disposed towards me, and sensible of the eulogium of his administration, which my esteem for him had induced me to make in the work, would support me against the malevolence of Madam de Pompadour.
Jean Jacques Rousseau, Confessions, Book XI