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tary. The opinion of some of his most intelligent and warmest admirers both at the time and since was in favor of the latter supposition. Among this number was Mad. de Stael, who took the strongest interest in the subject, and expressed her opinion in her letters upon Rousseau published soon after his death. Corancez, who was intimately acquainted with him for several of the last years of his life and who made the most exact inquiry on the spot where his death happened and elsewhere, came to the same conclusion. On the other hand, his wife and the family of Mr de Girardin positively affirmed that he died of apoplexy, and the surgeons who examined the body in order to certify the manner of his death confirm this relation. The particular facts, as far as they are known, appear to be the following.
His wife relates in a letter which she wrote to Mr Corancez in the year 1798 in answer to one from hiin making inquiries upon the subject, that on the day of his death, which was the 3d of July 1778, her husband rose early as usual, but did not go out according to his common practice. He was that day to give the first lesson in music to Mademoiselle de Girardin. The family breakfasted, but he ate nothing, either from indisposition or some other cause.
After breakfast his wife went out at his request upon some commission ; and at her return about 10 o'clock she heard the cries of her husband as she ascended the stairs. Upon entering the room, she found him lying upon the floor. He was sensible, and requested her to open the window and then to place him upon the bed. Some remedies were administered, and after taking them he rose from the bed and sat up.-While sitting, he was struck with another fit of apoplexy and fell from his chair with such violence, that he gave himself a severe wound in the forehead, which bled profusely. He died without uttering another word. The certificate of the surgeons is dated the same day, and states, that after a full view of the body they both make report, that M. Rousseau came to his death by a serous apoplexy.
The accounts which attribute his death to suicide are two. The first is related by Madame de Stael, who gives as her authority a Genevan, whom she does not name, but who she says lived much with Rousseau at the close of his life, and had inquired with great exactness into the circumstances of his death. This account states, that on the day when he died, he rose very early in good health, but affirmed that he should never see the sun again ; that he took some coffee, which he had prepared himself, and then walked out; that not long after he returned and soon began to suffer great pain, but would allow no assistance to be called, and died in the course of the morning. Corancez heard the same account from his father in law, with the variation that Rousseau went out before taking his coffee and brought back some plants, which he infused into it. Supposing the truth of these details, it is to be presumed that he gave himself poison.
The other account is that of Corancez himself, who went out to Ermenonville to visit Rousseau the very day of his
leath. Upon arriving at the last post house on the way to this place, the post master informed him of the unfortunate event; and expressed his surprise that a man, like Rousseau, should have committed suicide. Corancez inquired the manner, and was told that he had shot himself with a pistol. Upon his arrival he communicated this information to Mr de Girardin, who contradicted the statement with warmth, and proposed to Corancez to shew him the body, observing at the same time, that Rousseau had fallen from his seat and made a hole in his forehead. The offer of seeing the body was declined. The wound in the forehead, however inflicted, seems to have been deep, as Corancez was informed by the sculptor Houdon, who took a model of the face, that he found some difficulty in filling it up for this purpose. Corancez was told by Mad. Rousseau at this time, that her husband, just before his death, requested that the window might be opened, and looking out upon the landscape expressed the pleasure he felt at seeing once more before he died the face of nature, which had always been the object of his fond devotion. An engraved representation of this scene is frequently to be met with, having an inscription under it to the effect just mentioned. From all that he could learn by himself and others, Corancez drew the conclusion, that Rousseau had taken poison in his coffee, and finding his sufferings intense and long, had brought them to a close by a pistol.
This is all that is now, or probably ever will be known upon the subject. The direct evidence is strong in favor of the supposition of a natural death. The account of Madame Rousseau is sufficiently clear and probable. It is confirmed by Mr de Girardin, a person of the first respectability, who New Series, No. 11. 3
had apparently no motive for deception, and who had every means of obtaining information, as well from Madame Rousseau as from the female servant who lived in their apartment, and probably witnessed the event. It is also confirmed by the certificate of the surgeons. These authorities seem to establish satisfactorily the truth of the statement. On the other hand, it may be observed, that there is a contradiction in some trifling particulars between the letter of Madame Rousseau, and what is known with certainty of the circumstances. She affirms positively, that Mr and not Madame de Girardin came into the apartment of Rousseau at the time of his illness; while Corancez was told by Madame de Girardin herself, that it was she who saw him. But as this fact, true or false, has no connexion with the principal event, there could be no motive for deception, and the anxiety of Madame Rousseau to make her account correct, even in unimportant particulars, rather argues in favor of her veracity. Supposing, however, the perfect accuracy of the narrative of Madame Rousseau to the extent of her knowledge, her husband might still have taken poison without her knowing it, since she states herself, that he ate nothing at the usual hour of breakfast, and immediately after requested her to go out on business.
Her absence left him sufficient time to prepare and take his coffee. But this account, though it has come down in two or three different ways, and was evidently current at the time, cannot now be traced to any certain origin, which might serve to determine the degree of its authenticity. Contradicted as it is by so large a body of direct evidence, it throws but a slight shade of uncertainty upon the subject. The account of Corancez comes in a more authentic shape, but is also refuted more completely ; because the fact related in it could not be true without having been known to Madame Rousseau, Mr de Girardin, and the surgeons. If we admit this account therefore, we are obliged to suppose, (as Corancez himself does,) a combination among these persons to conceal the real state of the case ; and this is a very improbable thing, considering the respectability of some of them, and the slight inducement they could have for such a course of proceeding. There is, it is true, an appearance of deception in the story of a deep wound in the forehead occasioned by a fall from a seat : but it may be observed on the other hand, that had the wound been made by the dis
charge of a pistol at so small a distance, it would be at least equally singular that it was not deeper and more considerable than it seems to have been. Few heads treated in this way would give much scope to the art of the sculptor. Taking together all the evidence we have upon the subject, we should therefore conclude without much hesitation, that the probability, at least, is in a favor of a natural death : and this we believe is the opinion now generally entertained, although the present biographer leans to the other.
It is rather remarkable, that the correctness of the account of Corancez should not have been put to the test of an examination of the remains of Rousseau. Ample opportunity has been given for this purpose by their repeated transfer from place to place since his death. Not long after this event they were taken from Ermenonville at the request of the National Assembly, and deposited in the vault of the Pantheon, or Church of St Geneviève, where they remained undisturbed till within the last few months. Since the late change of ministry in France they have been removed, with those of Voltaire, from this place; and we observe with pleasure by the newspapers, that Mr de Girardin, whom we have had occasion to mention already, as a pupil of Rousseau, and one of the house of deputies, has requested permission to restore them to the Isle of Poplars. The conduct of the generals of the allied army upon their entry into France, forms an agreeable contrast with this ferocious persecution of the illustrious dead. They extended to the memory of Rousseau the same respect, which Marlborough and Eugene exhibited a century before for the living virtues of Fenelon, and exempted the village of Ermenonville from military contribution. Whatever may be in future the resting place of Rousseau's mortal remains, he has secured for his name a monument, which the caprice of ministerial authority is equally incapable of giving and of taking away. _'Avdpãoyapitocavürtão a ryn
, réos : The world itself,' says Thucydides,' is the sepulchre of illustrious men.'
of artificial monuments, the one erected to his memory, in conjunction with that of Fenelon by Bernardin de St Pierre, is perhaps as honorable as some others of a more imposing character.
St Pierre himself gives the following account of it in a note at the close of the Studies of Nature.
I happened to meet some time ago with one of those little plaster urns, which the Italians sell in the street for three or four sous, and the idea occurred to me to place it in my hermitage, with a suitable inscription, as a monument to J. J. Rousseau and Fenelon, in the manner of those, which the Chinese erect in honor of Confucius. There were two small escutcheons upon the urn, on one of which I wrote “J. J. Rousseau,' and upon the other · F. Fenelon.' I then set it up at the height of six feet from the floor, in a corner of my study, with the following inscription,'
A la gloire durable et pure
To Fenelon and Rousseau I erect
peace of neighhouring kingdoms, and they ask, To grace their sepulchre, no other tears But such as they have wiped from suffering eyes.