In Whitman's Hand


About this Item

Title: Rousseau's Confessions

Creators: Walt Whitman, Julia Kavanaugh, unknown author

Date: After 1850

Whitman Archive ID: duk.00174

Source: Trent Collection of Whitmaniana, David M. Rubenstein Rare Book & Manuscript Library, Duke University. Transcribed from digital images of the original item. For a description of the editorial rationale behind our treatment of the marginalia and annotations, see our statement of editorial policy.

Editorial note: Clipping is reprinted from Volume 2 of Julia Kavanaugh's Woman in France During the Eighteenth Century, first published in 1850.

Notes written on manuscript: On surface 1, in an unknown hand: "3"

Contributors to digital file: Lauren Grewe, Nicole Gray, Ty Alyea, and Matt Cohen


Paste-on | Whitman's Notes on Paste-on | Whitman's Highlighting on Paste-on | Erasure | Overwrite

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J.J. Rousseau—

Celtic, not Saxon

Born 1712—Died 1778 —some say by suicide.—


"Rousseau's Confessions" translated N.Y. 1856.

An American poet may read Rousseau, but shall never imitate himm.— He is a curious study, and will cause some contempt

Born in Switzerland—parents decent farmers substantial bourgeoisie


—a sort of vagabond

—copyist of music


Lost his mother early—


One brother—not much together


Father a quiet, easy person.—


Jean Jacques left home—lived with various persons—worked —was bashful—learned a little of everything—his "Confessions" are a singular opening up of the trivial incidents, some quite disgusting, which find their tally in every man's life— —Madame de Warrens—                                                                                       over leaf


A sensitive, Frenchy, frivolous, keen, proud, unhappy, restless, contemplative nature


Note how "character" is built up, after all—from the beginning—


How the pompous "history" and "Bi‑
ography" come down to just such as we are.

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After many wanderings, the last ten years of Rousseau's life, were in and around Paris.—He was very poor; he lived in a garret, and earned his food by copying music.—He was old, discouraged, not robust, not popular, not happy.— Six Thus ten yearswWhat a ten years those must have been.^! and what an ending to them!—Six weeks before his death, he ^Rousseau was invited to a country mansion a few some miles away.—he went.— There he walked, meditated—thought who knows what? The day of He spent in botanizing The day before his the night of his death.—Did he, indeed ^or did he not, die of suicide?

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Rousseau's Confessions—

Swinton's translation, fall of 1856
were in 1766, Rousseau, 564 years old, took refuge T[illegible] ([illegible],)in Wooton, Staffordshire, England, and wrote this frivolous, chattering, repulsive, book, that still has a great lesson in its pages, and whose revelations one keeps reading somehow to the end.—

Rousseau born 1712 died ^a suicid[illegible] 177[illegible] a Genevese (Swiss) a rover, vagabond, copyist of music, never rich, exiled from Fra[illegible]


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—Whilst in the triumph of America France already hailed her own revolution, she bade a last farewell to the chiefs of the old sceptic philosophy and the new democratic theories, Voltaire and Rousseau, who died in the spring of the year 1778, within a month of each other.

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finishing stroke George Steers's lead

☞ Remember in those days there were no journals—no "reviews," or masses of cheap literature demanded—


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