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PREAMBLE TO THE ARCADIA. "; ""!

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As soon as they perceived that after an experience of Mankind so vexatious my heart panted only for a life of solitude ; that I had embraced principles from which I could not depart ; that my opinions respecting Nature were contrary to their systems; that I was not a person disposed to be either their puffer, or to court their protection; and that, in a word, they had embroiled me with my patron, whom they frequently abused to me in the view of alienating me from him, and to whom they assiduously paid their court; they then became my enemies. A great many vices are imputed to the Great; but I have always found many more in the Little who study to please them.

These last were too cunning to attack me openly with a Personage to whom I had given, in the very height of my misfortunes, proofs of a friendship so disinterested. On the contrary, in presence of that gentleman, as well as before myself, they passed high encomiums on my principles, and on some very simple acts of moderation which had resulted from them but they employed terms

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artfully

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artfully exaggerated, and appeared so uneasy about the opinion which the World would entertain of the matter, that it was easy to discern their great object was to induce me to renounce it, and that they commended my patience so extravagantly only to make me lose it. Thus they calumniated me under the guise of panegyric, and destroyed my reputation in feigning to pity me ; likewise those sorceresses of Thessaly, mentioned by Pliny, who blasted the harvests, the flocks, and the husbandmen, by speaking good of them.

I separated myself therefore from those artful men, who continued to justify themselves at my expence, in representing me as a person of a mistrustful disposition, after having abused my confidence in so many different ways.

Not but that I consider myself as reprehensible for a sensibility, too acute, to pain, whether physical or moral. A single prickle gives me more uneasiness than the smell of a hundred roses gives pleasures. The best company in the world appears to me intolerable, if I meet in it a single self-important, envious, evil-speaking, malignant, perfidious person. I am well aware that people of very great worth associate every day with persons of all these descriptions, support them, nay flatter them, and turn them to their own account; but I am well aware at the same time that these same people of worth bring into Society nothing but the jargon of the World ; whereas 1, for my part, always pour out my heart; that they pay deceivers in their own coin, and I with all I have, that is to say with my sentiments. Though my enemies may represent

me

me as of a mistrustful character, the greatest part of the errors of my life, especially as far as they are concerned, arose from an excess of confidence; and after all I would much rather have them complain that I mistrusted them without a cause than that they should have had themselves any reason to be mistrustful of me.

I endeavoured to make friends of the men of an opposite party, who had expressed an ardent inclination to attract me thither, before I joined it, but who the moment I came over, no longer put any value on my pretended merit. When they perceived that I did not adopt all their prejudices ; that I aimed at nothing but the discovery of truth; that, disposed to malign neither their enemies nor my own, I was not a fit person to be employed in cabal and intrigue ; that my feeble virtues, which they once so highly extolled, had procured me now thing lucrative; and that they were incapable of doing harm to any one ; in a word, that I no more belonged to their side than to that of their antagonists; they neglected me entirely, and even persecuted me in their turn. Thus I found by experience that in a selfish and corrupted age, our friends measure their consideration of us only by that which their own enemies entertain respecting us, and that they court us just in proportion as we can be useful, or render ourselves formidable, to them. I have every where seen confederacies of various sorts, and I have always found in them the same species of men. They march it is true under standards of different colours ; but they are always those of ambition. They have but one B 4

and

and the same object in view, namely to domineer. Nevertheless, the interest of their corps excepted, I never meet with two of them whose opinions did not differ as much as their faces. What is a source of joy to the one sinks the other into despair : to the one, evidence appears to be absurdity ; to the other, downright absurdity is evidence. What do I say? In the exact study, which I have made of men, in the view of finding a comforter among them, I have seen persons the most renowned differ completely from themselves, according as it was morning or night, as it was before or after dinner, as they were in public or in private. Books, even those which are most eagerly carried up, abound with contradictions. Thus I was made sensible, that the diseases of the mind were no less reduced to systematic methods of cure than those of the body, and that I had acted very imprudently, in adding the unskilfulness of the physicians to my own infirmities, as there are more patients, of every description, killed by remedies than by diseases. - While all this was going on, my calamities had not yet attained their final period. The ingratitude of men,

of whom I had deserved better things ; unexpected family mortifications; the total annihilation of my slender patrimony, scattered abroad to the four winds of Heaven in enterprizes undertaken for the service of my Country; the debts under which I lay oppressed by engagements of this kind; all my hopes of fortune blasted.......these combined calamities made dreadful inroads at once upon my health and my reason. I was attacked by a malady

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to which I had hitherto been a stranger. Fires, similar to those of lightning, affected the organs of vision. Every object presented itself to me double, and in motion. Like Edipus I saw two Suns. My heart was not less disturbed than my head. In the finest day of Summer, I could not cross the Seine in a boat, without undergoing anxieties unutterable ; even I, who had preserved my soul in tranquillity amidst a tempest off the Cape of Good Hope, on board a vessel struck with lightning. If I happened to pass simply through a public garden, by the side of a bason full of water, I underwent spasmodic affections of extreme horror. There were particular moments, in which I imagined myself bitten, without knowing how or when, by a mad dog. Much worse than this had actually befallen me; I had been bitten by the tooth of calumny.

One thing is absolutely certain, the paroxysms of this malady overtook me only when in the society of men.

I found it intolerable to continue in an apartment where there was company, especially if the doors where shut. I could not even cross an alley in a public garden, if several persons had got together in it. I derived no relief from the circumstance of their being unknown to me; I recollected, that I had been calumniated by my own friends, and for the most honourable actions of my life. When I was alone, my malady subsided : I felt myself likewise at my ease in places where I saw children only. I frequently went for this purpose and seated myself by the box of the horse-shoe in the Thuilleries, to look at the

children

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